Men, check your health and what you eat

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Men, check your health and what you eat

By Cherice Bronte-Tinkew R.D.

Men are less likely to go to a doctor for an annual check-up unless they are severely ill, or it is a requirement for their company or workplace.

Sometimes, it may result in a chronic non-communicable or lifestyle disease. Heart disease is the highest cause of death in Trinidad and Tobago according to the data released by Ministry of Health and Pan American Health Organization. Many of the symptoms are not noticed right away unless you are taking regular medical checks. Risk factors include being overweight or obese, smoking, lack of exercise, poor diet, high blood pressure and high blood sugar.

As a dietitian, I do hope men take the advice I am about to share. Don’t let the unwanted lifestyle diseases such as Heart Disease, Hypertension and Diabetes Mellitus sneak up on you one day at the doctor’s office.

Be proactive about a healthy diet

Let’s be honest about our family health history. Find out what can be passed on through genetics such as Diabetes Mellitus and Hypertension and take action to lower your risk. This can be predisposition to your getting them one day. You can look at your basic measurements. Is your waist circumference more than 40 inches? Find out if your cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar are in range.

Know your sources of fibre by using the ‘Caribbean Six’ food groups

Dietary fibre is a complex carbohydrate found in plant food sources such as whole grains, ground provisions, vegetables, fruits, peas, beans, and nuts. When present in one’s diet regularly it can reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, and colorectal cancer.

Fibre moves slowly through our digestive tract which can influence the way the body absorbs sugar from food and can lower cholesterol. High cholesterol can lead to increased risk of plaque in arteries. It is especially important to drink adequate water with fibre. The average is eight glasses, but more can be useful in our hot Caribbean climate.

Don’t be afraid to plan your meals

Some men rely heavily on others to plan or even make their meals, and by some, I mean the shop down the road or the fast-food place next to work. Do not fall into this routine of buying foods rich in salt or fat. In fact, it may be less expensive to pack lunches from home.

How about carrying sub sandwiches with tuna or chicken to work or a simple rice and peas ‘cook up’ with cucumbers at the side. Invest in a temperature-controlled lunch kit or a thermos if you are a fan of soups. Just add a fruit at the side and you are fuelled for the day and protecting your body from major health complications.

Drink adequate water and less of the alcohol and sweetened beverages

Don’t forget to drop the habit of drinking excess calories from sweetened beverages and alcohol. Yes, alcohol contains calories. One milligram of alcohol equals seven calories. The average beer can contain 150 calories and if you have two or more, you are basically drinking a lunch meal.

For sweetened beverages, according to Dietary Approaches to stop Hypertension, five servings of sweets or less are advised per week. This equals to 60 grams of sugar or less, approximately eight grams per day.

To put it in perspective, a 20-ounce soft drink can equal more than 60 grams of sugar whereas a teaspoon of sugar for tea or coffee equals four grams of sugar. Simply start reducing if these numbers are going higher in your daily intake or replace one drink with water.

Cherice Bronte-Tinkew is a registered dietician. She is a member of the Board of Nutritionists and Dietitians, and Vice President of the Trinidad and Tobago Association of Nutritionists and Dietitians.

Contact on FB/Instagram: JustCherNutrition ; Email:

Try this recipe! Peanut punch with a green twist

  • 2 tablespoons of crunchy peanut butter
  • 1 cup of low-fat milk
  • 1 banana
  • 2 ounces or 2 frozen spinach rolls (check your grocery store in the frozen vegetable aisle)
  • 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseeds
  • ¼ teaspoon of nutmeg
  • Crushed ice for blending
  • Add all ingredients to a blender and blend for at least 45 seconds.
  • Flaxseeds are a great source of Omega-3 fatty acids and dietary fibre. Adding spinach to smoothies is a great way of getting in vegetables if you don’t like eating them cooked. Kale is also another option. Crunchy peanut butter and milk provides a great source of protein (17 grams total) which makes the punch quite filling as a meal.

Photo by ELIAS VICARIO on Unsplash