5 Functional Medicine Hacks Men Can Do To Level-Up Their Health
In my years as a functional medicine expert, I have seen how women make up a large part of the wellness world. Even though men do care about their health, I tend to see more women patients, followers, and consumers of health-related products.
While I can’t tell you the exact reason why this is the case, I can tell you that over the last decade I have started to see a gradual shift of men wanting to be more included in the conversation, but not necessarily wanting to make a huge dietary or lifestyle change.
Thankfully, wellness isn’t a one-size-fits all approach. Sometimes, all men need to do to start reclaiming their health is to make little tweaks to their everyday practices. So if you, or the men in your life, are ready to take the next step in the wellness world, look no further than these functional medicine hacks for common conventional health practices.
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1. Pain management
Headaches and chronic pain can really inhibit your daily activities. It’s tempting to take ibuprofen to get through the day but it can actually contribute to more long-term health problems. In fact, ongoing ibuprofen use has been shown to damage your gut lining which can lead to leaky gut syndrome, inflammation, and more chronic pain.
Even if you aren’t ready to work with a doctor to address the root cause of your chronic pain, you can make the switch to natural pain relievers like curcumin that work to drive-down pain-inducing inflammation. If you struggle with frequent headaches, peppermint essential oil is another great option as it has a cooling effect when used topically.
2. Exercise routines
There is such a thing as too much of a good thing. When you exercise, you are actually causing an inflammatory response in your muscles that helps to enhance strength, flexibility and recovery times. But if you don’t give your body a break, inflammation never gets the chance to subside - leaving your body in a chronic state of inflammation. If you have stiff and achy joints that never go away, that’s probably your body’s way of telling you it’s on inflammation overload and needs a day off.
3. Protein powder
Speaking of exercise, you might also use protein powder on a daily basis before or after your workouts. Unfortunately, most conventional brands contain ingredients that are less than ideal and can contribute to hormone imbalances and other more serious health problems.
One of the biggest examples of this is soy. This phytoestrogen is one of the most common ingredients in protein powders and has been shown to contribute to brain fog and low libido in men since it can mimic estrogen in the body. I recommend looking for brands that use collagen powder instead as it contains subtypes that are already naturally occuring in your body. Not only will it not impact your hormones, it also has little-to-no taste so it can be added to a variety of shakes and other recipes without changing the flavor.
4. Mental health care
Mental health has been stigmatized for years, making men (and women) hesitant to seek the help they really need. Thankfully, this need has been noticed and it is easier than ever to access mental health care through apps and telehealth counseling sessions. These options make getting help when you need it more convenient for your busy schedule without having to sacrifice care quality or privacy.
5. Meal times
The concept of three meals a day has long been a societal norm. But research is finally starting to show how giving your body a break from food can actually lead to a variety of serious health benefits such as stabilized blood sugar, restored energy, reduced cravings, and more. If you want to learn more about intermittent fasting, check out my latest book Intuitive Fasting and see how you can implement this health practice into your own life.
Wellness isn’t always about making big changes. In fact, some of the most sustainable health practices are ones like these that are easy to implement. It’s easy to overthink wellness but in the end, all it really means is taking the steps toward intentionally caring for your health - whatever that looks like for you and your body.
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BY DR. WILL COLE
Dr. Will Cole, IFMCP, DNM, DC, leading functional medicine expert, consults people around the world via webcam and locally in Pittsburgh. He received his doctorate from Southern California University of Health Sciences and post doctorate education and training in functional medicine and clinical nutrition. He specializes in clinically researching underlying factors of chronic disease and customizing a functional medicine approach for thyroid issues, autoimmune conditions, hormonal imbalances, digestive disorders, and brain problems. Dr. Cole was named one of the top 50 functional medicine and integrative doctors in the nation and is the best selling author of Ketotarian and The Inflammation Spectrum.