Dr. Jesse Mills wants men to pay more attention to their health
Men, in general, are not as engaged in health care as their female counterparts.
If you ask Jesse Mills, MD, urologist and director of The Men’s Clinic at UCLA, most men won’t go to the doctor unless their arm or penis is broken.
At least that is what he states in his new book, A Field Guide to Men’s Health.
Available Jan. 4, the text offers in-depth, yet easy-to-digest, health tips that men can apply to improve their overall health.
Dr. Mills discussed the evolving spectrum of men’s health and his new book.
“I call it a field guide because it’s a wilderness out there when it comes to health care,” Dr. Mills said. “If you open up your social media feed, you’re going to get bombarded with ads telling you to take this supplement and do these exercises. You can become completely overwhelmed.
“With this book, you can open to any page and learn something. It’s a continuous book, so you can read it cover to cover or you can open it up to a section that pertains to you, like fertility, weight gain or optimizing your libido. You’re going to learn something that you can actualize that day.”
A Field Guide to Men’s Health boasts seven chapters that cover topics such as sex, strength and fitness, nutrition, resetting the body, immunity, and fertility, among others.
Dr. Mills, a UCLA alum, was an undergrad literature major. His journey in medicine started after he graduated. His two areas of study allowed him to combine two passions.
“I wanted to find a way to meld my love for writing with my love for medicine while taking good care of people across the spectrum,” Dr. Mills said.
Physicians hold a unique position in society, he said, where they interact with the richest of the rich and the poorest of the poor. However, they can provide high-quality health care at any entry point.
Resetting the body and the mind
Dr. Mills said it’s important for men to reset both physiologically and psychologically. That begins with regular visits to the doctor. The problem has been that for the longest time, most men have not been doing their part when it comes to screening and checkups and that has to change, he said.
“As for us men, when we get done with our last pediatrician visit or after they check us for our last sports physical, we usually won’t see a physician for any regular checkups like women do when they turn 18,” he said.
“As men, we didn’t start doing that until 50, and now it’s 45 with the new suggested age for colon cancer screening, thanks largely in part to Chadwick Boseman’s untimely passing along with his advocacy.”
With so few men coming in for regular checkups or screenings between ages 18 and 45, a lot of things can go wrong.
Dr. Mills said men have to change that narrative by first changing their mindset to go see their physician and then begin the work of changing their body after their checkup.
“Working long hours without proper nutrition and exercise changes our whole brain chemistry, how we metabolize, and how our cortisol levels remain responsive,” Dr. Mills said. “So if you don’t see a physician to help steward you through all of that, you can end up in the wilderness again.”
Building a super-strong immune system
When it comes to men strengthening their immune system, Dr. Mills explained that the two most critical components are sleep and nutrition.
“The less sleep we get, the weaker we get. It messes up our stress hormone, blood sugar levels and it drastically declines testosterone," he said. "High testosterone levels are associated with strong immune systems.”
Nutrition also plays a major role in strengthening the immune system.
“It goes back to staying fit, eating healthy foods that are really rich in antioxidants and natural vitamins,” Dr. Mills said. “So, eating the leafy green vegetables, the dark fruits and good lean protein – all that stuff is going to boost the immune system.”
Optimizing sex, libido and fertility
When it comes to sex, the average male mind thinks about this topic daily. It’s a section of the book where men will probably be paying very close attention. Dr. Mills said for men to strengthen their sex lives they need to focus on both the mental and the physical.
“Strengthening your relationship is the most important thing,” he said. “To do that, you have to figure out how to decrease the stress between the partners.”
Dr. Mills said he often recommends that couples go on vacation when they are struggling with their sex lives.
“Vacations reduce stress. Stress causes erectile dysfunction,” Dr. Mills explained. “I’ll tell a couple take a vacation and tell me how the sex is. Come to find out that there’s nothing wrong with the guy other than the fact that he’s overly stressed and neither of the partners are operating in a way where they can optimize their sexual health.”
Sexual checkups for all men, all ages
According to Dr. Mills, men should begin having sexual checkups in their 20s and 30s to make sure their testosterone levels are fine and that they are able to get spontaneous erections. For men who struggle with erectile dysfunction, there are many remedies.
“The beautiful thing about sexual dysfunction is that you can get pills nowadays for cheap – if a guy is an appropriate candidate for that medication.”
However, Dr. Mills said the key to a healthier sex life often goes back to regular exercise and nutrition.
“For the most part, guys who exercise regularly and follow a clean diet are going to have higher levels of testosterone, higher libido and a stronger sex drive. Exercise does motivate that,” he said.
Dr. Mills said though some causes of male infertility are unknown doctors do know that it can often be reversed, but not always. Like erectile dysfunction, male infertility can be caused by stress. The more stressed a man is, often the lower his sperm count. Dr. Mills said improving stress levels can improve sperm count and fertility.
Infertility also can come down to the medications a man is taking. Certain anti-depressants can lead to a lower sperm count, as can blood pressure medications.
Obesity is another factor that can cause men to struggle with fertility.
“The heavier a guy is, it can sometimes affect his sperm,” Dr. Mills said. “The weight around his midsection and his thighs can make the sperm unhealthy also. If you’re sitting behind a computer terminal all day and your thighs and belly are getting bigger, chances are your sperm are suffocating.”
Dr. Mills reiterated that maintaining a healthy physique and a healthy weight can improve sperm count significantly.
Ignore the commercials, focus on nutrition
Many of the physiological health issues men experience can be linked to diet, Dr. Mills said.
“If you pay close attention to the marketing for food when it comes to men and women, there is a significant contrast,” Dr. Mills said. “With men, it’s about mass and eating more beef. With women, it’s eating yogurt after yoga class.
“There shouldn’t be gender differences in how we eat,” he said. “We should be eating more vegetables and fruits than meats and carbohydrates. When you’re looking for carbohydrates, instead of eating fries, try eating sweet potatoes or yams which are nutritionally rich and dense and help you feel full without compromising your nutrition.”
New year, new lifestyle
With A Field Guide to Men’s Health, Dr. Mills said he wanted to give men something with sound medical advice that would help them take control of their well-being.
“The best part about this book is that the doctor and patient become teammates,” he said. “This is about men developing a healthier lifestyle and getting back on track."
Whether it’s helping men find time within a 10- to 15-minute window to work out or giving them nutritional advice, Dr. Mills wants to see men take a step toward a healthier life.
“Everyone’s starting point is going to be different. The key is to start. We’re human beings and we were made to move,” Dr. Mills said.
“The more you do, the easier it gets. That’s the metric for better health.”
If you are a man, or know a man looking to take steps toward a better lifestyle, visit the Men’s Clinic at UCLA.