First off, male menopause and andropause are pretty unhelpful terms as they aren’t recognised by the NHS and cannot be compared to the female menopause. That said, midlife changes for men can be a difficult time, both emotionally and physically.
Men do not experience the often-dramatic drop in hormones menopausal women face however, men’s hormone levels and bodies do change as they age. This can be functional, physical and mental, and include loss of muscle, weight gain, tiredness, insomnia, mood swings and poor concentration.
While health awareness campaigns are great at cutting through macho attitudes to health, the truth is there is no good reason why men who sense change at this life stage should not actively monitor their diet and lifestyles and make positive changes to improve their health and mental outlook. From addressing heart health, to mood swings and insomnia.
Here, we share some top tips to help improve some of these symptoms.
Healthy diet/weight gain
Making the right food choices is important regardless of your age, but a healthy diet can help to protect against disease common with older age and maintain health whilst giving you the energy and nutrients you need to enjoy life. Midlife is a key time to make positive changes to your diet – with the average life expectancy for a male in the UK today being 80+ years, you’ve got 30+ years to go!
One of the symptoms of the ‘male menopause’ can be fat redistribution, such as developing a large belly, so it is more important than ever to enjoy a healthy diet and avoid weight gain.
- Walnuts are an ideal snack alternative to sugary snacks such as confectionery, cakes and biscuits as they are naturally low in sugar and offer a nutrient dense alternative including fibre, protein and certain key vitamins and minerals.
- NHS advice actually includes unsalted nuts as a suggested healthier snack option without added sugar
- Walnuts are a powerhouse of vitamins and minerals, including thiamin (vitamin B1), vitamin B6, folate, vitamin E, phosphorus, magnesium, copper, manganese and biotin. Walnuts also provide a source of pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), potassium, iron and zinc.
Once you reach your 50s, the risk of heart disease goes up, particularly for men. According to the British Heart Foundation in the UK, one in eight men and one in 14 women will die from coronary heart disease. The good news is that simple lifestyle tweaks such as changing your diet can have a big impact on your heart health.
- Choose unsaturated fats from plants, nuts and seeds such as olive oil, rapeseed oil, avocados and walnuts.
- Walnuts are the only tree nut to contain significant amounts of the plant-based essential omega-3 ALA (2.7g per 30g*), which helps maintain normal blood cholesterol levels. Raised blood cholesterol levels are a risk factor for cardiovascular disease such as heart attacks and strokes.
- A handful of walnuts a day (30g) can have a positive effect on the elasticity of the blood vessels helping to look after your cardiovascular system (as part of a balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle).
- Limit salt and eat potassium rich foods such plenty of fruit and vegetables, nuts, beans and lentils, oily fish and low-fat dairy to help maintain healthy blood pressure.
- A healthy handful of walnuts also contains 1.4g of fibre and 4.4g of protein and are naturally low in salt, making them a heart healthy choice.
One of the symptoms of the ‘male menopause’ is said to be mood swings and irritability. Experiencing these feelings can be unpleasant and have a negative impact on our daily lives. Although we cannot eat our way out of being anxious, stressed or depressed, what we eat can affect our energy, mood and brain function:
- Neurogenesis is the generation of new neurons (nerve cells) which has been linked to mood and cognition. One of the nutrients identified that supports neurogenesis are polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA), which walnuts are a good source of
- Lacking in certain vitamins such as thiamine (vitamin B1), and minerals such as iron, can make you feel tired and lacking in energy. Whilst other vitamins such as folate have been linked with an increased chance of feeling depressed, particularly in older people. Walnuts are a good source of folate, vitamin B6, copper and a source of iron and zinc which contribute to the normal function of the immune system as part of a healthy balanced diet and lifestyle.
- Consuming walnuts may be associated with a lower prevalence and frequency of depression symptoms. Researchers using data on 26,656 adult participants from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES survey) for 2005 through 2014 found that depression scores were 26% lower for walnut consumers and 8% lower for consumers of other nuts, compared to those who did not consume nuts at all.
- Walnuts are a source of zinc, low levels of which have been linked to low testosterone levels.
A lack of sleep can be linked to many health problems. Getting enough sleep is important for everyone, both men and women. Not having enough sleep can affect our hormones including those that signal hunger and satiety – the feeling of being full, which can lead to overeating.
Ensuring we get the right amount of and good quality of sleep depends on a range of factors, but nutrition can play an important part. For example, a deficiency in minerals such as magnesium has been linked to sleep problems
- Eating a large meal close to bedtime is not a good idea, and neither is going to bed hungry which can wake you up. Eating dinner earlier and then enjoying small tooth-friendly bedtime snacks such as walnuts can help with getting a good night’s rest
- For those working night shifts it’s important to eat healthy snacks that will aid sleep. Walnuts are a portable snack that provides protein and fibre
- Walnuts are also a rich source of magnesium and contain the essential amino acid tryptophan that converts to serotonin, a calming chemical in the brain.
If you found Male menopause: Practical tips to ease midlife changes helpful, you can find more content about health changes for older men on our Health channel.
 Arab L, Guo R, Elashoff D. Lower depression scores among Walnut Consumers in NHANES. Nutrients. 2019 Jan 26;11(2):275.doi: 10.3390/nu11020275Tags: andropause, male menopause Last modified: July 6, 2023