Smorgasbord Health 2017 -Top to Toe – The Male Reproductive System – Part One


men's health I am aware that some of you will have also seen these articles before on Men’s Health but I hope the message that they are trying to convey will encourage you to read again and also to share.

Understanding how our bodies work is the first step to prevention and then next and very vital step is knowing when something is not right. Early diagnosis saves lives and not only impacts your life but those closest to you.

The articles are aimed at increasing awareness about diseases, that if diagnosed early, can be monitored or treated to ensure that they do not reach a point where the outcome is fatal.

Both men and women are aware of the external components of their bodies but what lies beneath the skin is where silent killers prefer to lurk. Most of us did biology at school, but the nearest I got to seeing the internal reproductive organs, was the horrifying sight of a splayed dissected frog on a work bench one science lesson.

This means that most of us do not have a working knowledge of the organs or the systems that make up this amazing and miraculous system that reproduces another human being.

This series is not just aimed at men but to their partner in life.  They often notice changes in our bodies or our normal behaviour before we do. Also in the case of men, it is often their partners who are doing the shopping and the cooking. Diet and lifestyle play a crucial part in our health and having someone working with you to ensure you are eating a balanced diet is ideal.

Between 16 to 19 million men will die worldwide in the next 12 months. It is estimated that once you take out the non-medical reasons that over 65% of those men will die from noncommunicable diseases. This term applies largely to what I call Lifestyle induced disease.

The top killers of men are:-

  1. Cardiovascular disease
  2. Certain cancers such as lung and prostate,
  3. Chronic lung disease,
  4. Diabetes. 

The formula for most of these diseases that are lifestyle related are:

Diet + Lifestyle choices + lack of exercise + stress.

I will be posting articles on the male reproductive system since this is what makes men unique from women. This is as important for the women in your life as it is to you. Since diet and lifestyle plays such a fundamental role in our health it is also important that if you are in a relationship that you are on the same page about this.

In my years of working in nutrition with clients, I soon discovered that when I reached the point where I was designing an eating programme for someone to improve their health or to lose weight, I needed to ask their partner along.  This came about after a wife accosted me in the supermarket one day. She gave me a severe talking to about how her cooking had been good enough for 25 years for her husband and how dare I suggest otherwise. I do most of the cooking in our household and I do understand the issue. Actually we did all work together and her husband lost five stone and was able to come off his blood pressure meds.. She also lost two stone and gave him a run for his money.

My point being? If you do decide that you need to make changes to your diet and lifestyle to improve your health or diet, don’t do it in isolation. Work together with your partner and explain the reasons why you want to make the changes and the benefits at the end of the day.  In some cases this could mean you being around for several more years so it is an important discussion.

The male reproductive system

Although this first comment has raised many a laugh over the years…the drivers behind our reproductive systems are indeed all in the mind.  Of course we will have certain organs in place before birth. However, it is the master controllers in the brain that will send out messages at various stages in our lives to increase or decrease the reproductive system’s development and activity levels.

You can find the posts on the brain in this directory: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/smorgasbord-health-2017-top-to-toe/

For the purposes of this series though I want to focus on the physical aspects of the system.

Although the male reproductive system is not quite as complex as the female system it still is prone to infections and diseases that can affect men at different stages in their lives.

As with women, men’s reproductive organs are divided into two parts, the internal and external organs and the gonads called the testes. When boys reach puberty, between 10-14 years old, gonadotropic hormones are secreted by the pituitary gland in the brain and the gonads grow and become active. The gonadotropic hormones also stimulate the production of the androgens or testosterone hormones, which in turn will promote the growth, and development of external genitalia as well as stimulating changes in the larynx. One of the outward signs of a boy reaching puberty is his voice breaking and then becoming deeper over the next few months.

The male reproductive organs are external and internal and include the testicles; duct system made up of the epididymis and vas deferens, the spermatic cord, the seminal vesicles and the penis.

The testicles or testes are oval shaped and grow to about 2 inches (5 centimetres) in length and 1 inch (3 centimetres) in width. They are formed in the embryo from a ridge of tissue at the back of the abdomen. They gradually move down the abdomen during the pregnancy, reaching the scrotum in time for the birth. They consist of seminiferous tubules, where sperm is manufactured and interstitial cells which produce the hormone testosterone. As a boy matures he produces more and more testosterone, so in addition to his deepening voice, he will develop more body hair, bigger muscles and produce sperm.

Alongside the testes are the epididymis and the vas deferens of the male duct system. The epididymis consists of elaborately coiled tubes that are attached to the back of each testis. These carry the sperm into the vas deferens, an extension of the epididymis that has become a muscular tube that takes the sperm up into the penis in semen.

The testes and the duct system are protected by a skin bag called the scrotum. One of its main roles is to maintain a slightly lower temperature than the rest of the body otherwise the testes will be unable to produce sperm.

There is a complex connective system between the penis and the testes called the spermatic cord that not only suspends the testes but contains and protects the blood vessels, sperm and hormone carrying tubes, nerves and lymph system that supply the scrotum. It is also covered by a number of layers including the cremasteric muscle, which is responsible for contracting the scrotum in extremes of temperature or during ejaculation.

As the sperm move up the vas deferens they pause in a storage area called the ampulla where they are bathed in seminal fluid from the vesicles situated just above each side of the prostate gland. This fluid stimulates the sperm to move spontaneously and actively as it passes through the prostate gland and penis into the vagina.

The prostate gland is a very small walnut shaped structure that sits at the base of the bladder and surrounds the ejaculatory ducts at the base of the urethra. Its role is to produce an alkaline fluid that mixes with the semen from the vesicles before it is passed into the penis to be ejaculated. This probably acts as a booster for the sperm keeping them active and therefore more likely to fertilise an egg should the opportunity arise. Unfortunately problems with the prostate can arise as men age and this either results in difficulties with the bladder or actual disease of the prostate. I will cover that in more detail later in the series.

The shaft of the penis contains a central tube, the urethra, leading to a small hole in the head of the penis called the meatus. This enables urine to pass from the bladder and out of the body or allows for the ejaculation of semen during intercourse. Because the urethra has a dual purpose, a strong muscle ring at the connection between the bladder and the tube ensures that urine only passes through when intended.

The penis is made up of groups of tissue that are responsible for erections. These tissues are supplied with a rich network of blood vessels, which become distended when a man is aroused. The blood is unable to flow back into the body and the penis therefore stiffens and rises as the internal pressure increases. After ejaculation the blood flow reduces to normal levels and the penis returns to a flaccid state.

All boys are born with a fold of skin that protects the glans from injury. This is called the foreskin and during an erection this peels back to allow the tip to be stimulated during intercourse. A lubricant called smegma is produced by the foreskin and the skin on the glans to make this action smooth, but poor hygiene, or irritants can lead to severe infections. Circumcision is often carried out on baby boys for both religious and health reasons.

Next time- The hormone element – Testosterone.

©sallygeorginacronin – Forget the Viagra, Pass Me a Carrot – Men’s health workshop manual 2012.

Men’s Health Week Revisted – Key Risk Factors for major and fatal diseases – Number 1 – Obesity


men's health

Welcome to the second in the posts from Men’s Health Week last year and I hope that you will find the articles useful and informative.  If you read them last year then I would be grateful if you would still share on social media to reach a new audience.

On saturday I gave you some statistics that are pretty concerning.

An estimated 56 million people die each year worldwide.Tragically, 6 million children die before the age of five years old and of the remaining 50 million, more men than women will die at certain life stages. Particularly during the years 18 to 24. After that it will converge.

However, assuming that there is a more or less an even division, it is estimated that 25 million men will die in the next twelve months. It is even more disturbing that 65% to 75% of those men, depending on the report, will die from noncommunicable diseases.

Noncommunicable includes the top four diseases – Cardiovascular, cancer, diabetes and chronic lung diseases. Diseases that are usually lifestyle related.

That means that in the next twelve months 16.25 million to 18.75 million men will die from mainly preventable diseases. Or diseases that if detected early enough can be cured.

There is rarely just one factor that triggers a lifestyle related disease. It is usually a combination of all the following. However, there is no doubt that obesity not only impacts our size but also severely impairs the functions of both organs and operating systems in the body.

When I weighed 330lbs, twenty-five years ago, being that overweight was not common. The reasons were simply put down to eating too much. I discovered during my studies and my own weight loss that there were a number of factors in play. Today the rise in obesity has at least provided plenty of scope for intensive and desperate research programmes!

Being overweight in itself leads to the other six risk factors that I shall be covering.  I have therefore put it into pole position. I have written a number of posts on the subject that I have linked to and the serialisation of my own book. However, the decision for you to lose weight is not mine… but YOURS.

Do the simple sum below and determine if you are overweight. If you need to lose more than three stone you are obese and therefore at far greater risk of the other factors that could develop into a life threatening condition.

Scare tactics? Absolutely.  And if a doctor had not scared the wits out of me 22 years ago that pushed me to study and to change my lifestyle… I would not be here today.  I already had the other six risk factors.  Today I do not.

It is as simple as that.

Here are the seven main risk factors for cardiovascular disease, cancers, diabetes and other potentially fatal conditions.

  1. Being more than two to three stone overweight.
  2. Late diagnosis of fatal diseases
  3. High Blood Pressure,
  4. Poor balance between LDL (unhealthy) and HDL (healthy)cholesterol
  5. High Blood Glucose Levels.
  6. Low Exercise levels.
  7. Stress

Risk factor Number One – Obesity

Being more than two to three stone overweight puts enormous pressure on your body structurally and also on your major organs. Unhealthy fat is not just stored under your skin but around major organs and is especially dangerous if around your middle. A beer belly is not about the beer but is about the sugars.

The closer you are to a healthy weight the lower your risk for most of the major and fatal health issues such as cardiovascular disease, cancers and diabetes.

There are a number of ways to measure your weight but it can get complicated. I use this method for a quick and dirty check on weight.

Using the method for a medium framed men

As a base, use 106lbs up to five foot and then 7lbs for every inch over that height. Modify either way by 5% if you have a light frame or heavy frame.

A light framed man of 5’ 6” would have an optimum weight of: 106lbs + 70lbs = 176lbs Subtract 5% for light frame = 9lbs -This gives an optimum weight of 167lbs or 75.9Kilos.

Most of you will know if you are light, medium or large frame build but if you are unsure here are a couple of sites that will guide you through the process.

Take your wrist measurement with a tape measure and plug in with your height.

http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/imagepages/17182.htm

http://www.healthstatus.com/calculate/fsz

Further Information.

http://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancercauses/dietandphysicalactivity/bodyweightandcancerrisk/body-weight-and-cancer-risk-effects

http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=39840

Safe weight loss.

Dieting is as individual as we are and if you do need to lose weight safely and healthily then I do suggest that you join a group or find a qualified weight loss counsellor. Please do not use diet programmes that are chemically formulated, often full of sugar and have little nutritional content for your body’s needs. You are simply contributing to the billion dollar diet industry. For the same money you could buy an huge amount of fresh produce.

It is very important that you do not suddenly stop eating. You need a balanced and varied diet that supplies you with all the nutrients you need to be healthy.  This means cutting out the Industrially prepared foods and sticking to natural fresh vegetables, fruit, protein, eggs, dairy and some wholegrains. It definitely means cutting out the refined sugars that are loaded into prepared foods including those using artificial sweeteners.  These have the same effect on your body as actual sugar an can also be toxic.

I will be starting one of my six week weight loss programmes on the blog starting in a couple of weeks and that is aimed at losing a stone in that time safely and eating great food prepared well.

Next time another reason that men are at greater risk from early death. Millions of men do not go to a doctor in the early stages of a disease. This late diagnosis is costly.

Thank you for dropping by and please feel free to comment and share.

©sallygeorginacronin 2015

 

Men’s Health Week Revisited – Some statistics and the posts to come.


men's health

An estimated 56 million people die each year worldwide.Tragically, 6 million children die before the age of five years old and of the remaining 50 million, more men than women will die at certain life stages. Particularly during the years 18 to 24. After that it will converge.

However, assuming that there is a more or less an even division, it is estimated that 25 million men will die in the next twelve months. It is even more disturbing that 65% to 75% of those men, depending on the report, will die from noncommunicable diseases.

Noncommunicable includes the top four diseases – Cardiovascular, cancer, diabetes and chronic lung diseases. Diseases that are usually lifestyle related.

That means that in the next twelve months 16.25 million to 18.75 million men will die from mainly preventable diseases. Or diseases that if detected early enough can be cured.

I have worked with both men and women in my capacity as a health counsellor.  For weight management, but also pre-operative preparation and post-operative nutritional support. Men in particular will admit to only going to the doctor after several months of worrying symptoms or because they were nagged by their wives.

It is recognised that far too many men are being diagnosed with potentially fatal diseases too late.

There are a number of actually quite valid reasons for this. Some are personal, cultural and genetic! However, over the next few weeks as we revisit the posts from last year; I hope to convince all men to look at this from a different perspective.

If you have a partner and a family you owe it to them to be around for a very long time. If single you owe it to yourself to look after your greatest asset, which is your health. The reasons for not being checked are easily worked around and in my first post  I will show you strategies to do that. Ways to get checked for some of the key indicators to your health. Completely free or at a very reasonable cost, during hours that suit you, often with free expert advice and assistance thrown in.

During the the rest of the series I will post articles on the male reproductive system with symptoms you should be aware of. Prostate Cancer and how early diagnosis and targeted treatment can save your life.  Heart disease and symptoms to be keep an eye open for. Stress and how to manage to prevent your body developing many physical and mental lifestyle related health issues. Diabetes and how you, and the person buying and preparing your food, need to work together to reduce your risk. I also have a six week programme to reduce both Blood Pressure and LDL cholesterol levels.

I will be taking a look at some of the silent killers that we invite into our lives. One in particular would seem to be very innocuous.. and 11billion of them are eaten each year in the UK alone.

There are some guest posts lined up from men who have shared their health experiences and those of members of their families. Delighted that Geoff Le Pard, Kevin Cooper and John Maberry have contributed.

I hope that you will join me next Monday for the start of Men’s Health Week revisited and help spread the message to #Getchecked.

Smorgasbord Women’s Health Revisited – Cardiovascular Disease – Heart Attacks and Strokes


smorgasbord health

Welcome to another of last year’s posts featured in Women’s Health Week.  Many health issues are shared by men and women equally but there are some diseases that are either female specific or in the case of cardiovascular disease becoming more prevalent in women than every before.

Most of us dread hearing C for cancer but we should really be concerned about C for cardiovascular disease. The signs can be subtle and it is only when there is a catastrophic event that a condition might come to light. Understanding how your body works and keeping an eye out for abnormal tiredness, breathlessness and unusual heart rhythms is very important.

Key Indicators.

In the western world we can also have key indicators such as blood pressure, blood sugar and elevated LDL (low density lipoprotein) checked regularly.

Some facts about this silent killer.

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) – heart disease and stroke – is the biggest killer of women globally, killing more women than all cancers, tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS and malaria combined.

  • Heart disease and stroke cause 8.6 million deaths among women annually, a third of all deaths in women worldwide. Of this:
  • 3.4 million women die of ischemic heart disease
  • 3 million women die from stroke each year
  •  Remainder 2.2 million women die primarily of rheumatic heart disease, hypertensive heart disease, and inflammatory heart disease
  • Not just a male disease
  • Women in low- and middle-income countries fare worse than men, experiencing a higher proportion of CVD deaths than men
  • Women with diabetes have higher CVD mortality rates than men with diabetes
  • Younger women who have a heart attack have higher mortality than men of the same age
  • Women are more likely than men to become more disabled by stroke
  • Immediately following stroke, women are more likely to experience serious problems compared to men
  • However, women are less likely to be prescribed aspirin in prevention of a second attack, less likely to receive sophisticated pacemaker models and less likely to be recommended for potentially life-saving cardiac surgery

Under-recognition of the risk

  • Women do not perceive CVD as the greatest threat to their health.
  • Young women still feel more threatened by cancer than they do by CVD

Risk Factors

Risk factors for heart disease and stroke are largely similar for men and women.

    • Factors such as age and family history play a role, but it is estimated that the majority of CVD deaths are due to modifiable risk factors such as smoking, high cholesterol, unhealthy diet, high blood pressure, obesity, or diabetes
    • A woman who is obese, even if physically active, increases her risk of coronary heart disease by 2.48 times, compared to a woman of normal weight
    • Women who engage in physical activity for less than an hour per week have 1.48 times the risk of developing coronary heart disease, compared to women who do more than three hours of physical activity per week
    • Women who smoke double the risk of stroke. The more cigarettes smoked, the higher the risk
    • Exposure to second-hand smoke increases the risk of dying from heart disease by 15 per cent in women

Women with high blood pressure have 3.5 times the risk of developing coronary heart disease (CHD) compared to women with normal blood pressureIn the western world we can also have key indicators such as blood pressure, blood sugar and elevated LDL (low density lipoprotein) checked regularly.

blood pressure

Key Indicators.

In the western world we can also have key indicators such as blood pressure, blood sugar and elevated LDL (low density lipoprotein) checked regularly.

Ideal Blood Pressure for your age.

blood-pressure-chart-by-age1

Symptoms of a heart attack differ between men and women and here is what to be concerned about.

These six heart attack symptoms are common in women:

  • Chest pain or discomfort. Chest pain is the most common heart attack symptom, but some women may experience it differently than men. …
  • Pain in your arm(s), back, neck, or jaw. …
  • Stomach pain. …
  • Shortness of breath, nausea, or lightheadedness. …
  • Sweating. …
  • Fatigue.

It is also important to recognise the symptoms of a stroke in yourself or in others.

If any of these five symptoms appear suddenly, you may be having a stroke:

  • numbness or weakness of the arm, face, or leg, especially on just one side of the body.
  • confusion, trouble speaking, or understanding speech.
  • trouble seeing in one eye or both.
  • trouble walking, loss of balance, lack of coordination or dizziness.
  • Unable to raise arms above your head.

In both cases call Emergency services immediately or get someone you are with to do so.

Both of these outcomes can be avoided by regular checks for the Key Indicators.

For further information visit this link.

http://www.world-heart-federation.org/press/fact-sheets/cardiovascular-disease-in-women/

Infographic http://www.idealbloodpressure.com

For further information on the circulatory system there are a number of posts in the Health Directory in the menu.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/smorgasbord-health-directory/

Even if you read this post last year, it would be terrific if you could share to your wider readership base to get the message out there.. Thank you Sally