Men, take it from someone who remembers his heyday fondly: if you’re in your 20s, you probably don’t think enough about your health.
After all, there’s not much to think about. You’re still young, strong, vital and wild, so you think checking things like your heart rate, blood sugar level, lung capacity and other boring metrics are more like your dad’s problem than yours.
Nothing can harm you, you figure, because you’re too young for these kind of issues! But as someone who used to feel the same, let me assure you: you’re not indestructible. If your philosophy is not to worry about your health until something bad happens, something bad inevitably will.
But it doesn’t have to. By being just a little more conscious about your health today, you can stave off future bodily harm and keep the good times rolling well into your 30s.
To that end, here are five things to keep in mind as you revel in your youth.
1. Boost Your Immunity
A lot of guys live and party hard in their 20s, but things like a lack of sleep and large quantities of alcohol can have long-term consequences that don’t manifest until a decade or two later. That’s why it’s important to protect yourself today.
Fortunately, your body already has a system for doing just that, and taking care of your immune system is easier than it seems. One of the most effective ways to give yourself a boost is to simply reduce the amount of shit you put into your body.
Limiting things like smoking and alcohol, and replacing fast food with a healthy option now and then, will go a long way.
Some of the best immunity-boosting foods include yogurt, chicken soup, beef and barley (though sadly not the kind you find in beer). Try including these in your daily menu as often as possible.
Check out this post for 11 more easy ways to clean up your diet.
2. Don’t Neglect Your Doctor
Regular appointments with your doctor aren’t just a way to avoid the flu; they can save your life, especially if potential threats are diagnosed early.
Common medical tests for young men include blood, diabetes and lipids tests. You should also have a heart checkup or a colonoscopy, especially if you have a history of colon cancer in the family.
What many guys don’t realize is that cardiac arrest, stroke and other cardiovascular problems don’t attack just their fathers, grandfathers and uncles – they can inflict you and your peers as well.
You may have a heart defect such as arrhythmia and not even know about it, so a regular medical check-up will put all your worries to rest.
3. Guard Your Teeth
Unless you get into fights a lot, chances are your teeth will make it through your 20s relatively unscathed (which may well be more than we can say for your liver).
Nevertheless, something can still go wrong if you don’t look after them adequately, and relying only on brushing isn’t enough, even if you do it methodically.
The easiest way to upgrade your dental care is by flossing. Young guys often don’t appreciate the benefits of flossing. Flossing eliminates food particles stuck between your teeth and minimizes the risk of heart diseases caused by bacteria in your mouth.
If you notice visible changes to your teeth or, especially, bleeding gums, be sure to consult a trustworthy dentist or oral surgeon who’ll recommend a proper gingivitis treatment that can protect your teeth and save your health.
Need a little more motivation? Find out why keeping your teeth clean affects not just your health, but your handsomeness.
4. Protect Your Largest Organ
(No, not that one.)
When you’re in your 20s, you don’t think much about your skin, because everything’s all right and you don’t expect anything bad to happen. But things can change in just a year or two and your skin, your largest organ, can shows signs of deterioration.
If you spend lots of time outside or are a big fan of indoor tanning (which is even worse, for about a million different reasons), you might want to start thinking about melanoma and other types of skin cancer.
While they can be treatable if noticed on time, avoiding them is even better. Simply limit your exposure to the sun and don’t even think about hitting the beach without sunscreen.
5. Protect Your Other Organ
(Yep, that one.)
If you happen to have an active love life, change partners frequently or have engaged in unprotected sex, you might want to take a step back and really ask yourself whether you’re being as safe, practical and healthy as possible.
It’s worth stressing again how important it is to see a doctor. What seems unimportant at first might turn out to be an STI, so if you notice some of the more common symptoms – from itching and irritation to painful urination – consult a specialist right away.
Also, make sure you’re protected against testicular cancer, too. It usually targets men between the ages of 18 and 35, but can be controlled if diagnosed early. Check your private regions on your own every once in awhile, and see if you notice bumps or any other changes.
Better Safe than Sorry
Again, being young is awesome, and part of being young necessarily means being at least a little bit reckless. But it doesn’t have to mean being stupid.
You don’t have to do much to improve your health – just make sure you do it regularly and thoroughly.
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