If you’ve ever consulted “Dr. Google” in an attempt to address a health concern, you’re not alone. More and more people are looking online for information about how to prevent, treat, and even diagnose medical conditions.
As the Chief Medical Officer of Vault Health– the first men’s telehealth startup offering direct-to-consumer prescription treatments testosterone replacement therapy to optimize their physical, sexual, and cognitive health– Dr. Myles Spar is an expert in integrative men’s healthcare and recognizes that accessible information is a good thing, but also knows that there’s a lot of inaccurate information out there.
“Whether it’s a well-meaning but misinformed blogger or a private company trying to dupe you into buying their supposed miracle cure, much of what you read online is just plain wrong. Don’t be fooled by common health myths,” says Dr. Spar.
Here are 9 “facts” that are completely false, as explained by Dr. Spar.
Myth #1: Low testosterone only affects older men and my doctor has never recommended I get my T levels tested, so they must be fine.
Fact: In most men, testosterone begins to decline after age 30. Common symptoms of low testosterone include fatigue, increased risk of cardiovascular disease, erectile dysfunction, moodiness, inability to focus, lower energy levels, and the inability to lose belly fat. When getting T levels tested, Dr. Spar recommends men make sure they get a complete hormone panel (not just the total T levels), which is just like what his practice offers at Vault Health. “Based on the complete hormone panel, we’re able to come up with a personalized testosterone replacement treatment plan available to help men reach their maximum cognitive, sexual, and physical performance,” he says.
Myth #2: Sleeping late on weekends helps you catch up.
Fact: Many of us have a tendency to push ourselves too hard and spread ourselves too thin. But if you think you can drive yourself into the ground during the week and then make up for it by sleeping in on the weekend, think again. In one recent study, researchers set out to determine if extra sleep on weekends could counteract the metabolic problems (like weight gain and reduced insulin sensitivity) often linked to insufficient sleep during the week. They found that not only did “catch-up” sleep not work to counter these issues, muscle- and liver-specific insulin sensitivity was worse in study subjects who had weekend recovery sleep. Dr. Spar says: “The main takeaway is that rather than depriving your body of sleep during the week and trying to make up for it on the weekends, it’s best to try to stick to a schedule that allows you to get adequate rest every night.”
Myth #3: Men hit their sexual peak at 18.
Fact: Contrary to popular belief, men are not at their sexual best when they’re teenagers. While it’s true that testosterone levels begin to spike around age 18, they continue to rise through the 20s and peak around age 30. This may explain why, according to one survey of over 12,000 people, men said they had the best sex of their lives at age 33. And testosterone isn’t the only factor when it comes to good sex. Dr. Spar says: “An older, more experienced man can have the kind of sex life he could only dream about at 18 (perhaps some of you who remember your early experiences with sex will not be surprised by this revelation). Of course, men of all ages can experience issues with sexual dysfunction.”
Myth #4: More protein means more muscle.
Fact: Many people consume more protein than they need, believing it will lead to increased muscle mass. But research indicates that high protein intake doesn’t lead to bigger muscles. A 2018 study looking at the effect of extra protein on the bodies of older men found that eating a high-protein diet had no significant impact on lean body mass, muscle performance, or physical function.
Myth #5: A slowing brain, lower energy levels, decreasing libido, and drops in concentration are all normal parts of getting older that cannot be prevented.
Fact: Men under the age of 65 shouldn’t feel their age at all, according to Dr. Spar. “If you’re feeling tired or have noticed a drop in your libido or concentration, there’s probably something going on with your health. It could be a change in diet, activity, increased stress, or something to do with hormones. Either way, it’s a big deal and should be addressed.” he says. There’s actually a lot men can do to increase libido and energy levels and ensure men are operating at their optimal cognitive, physical, and sexual performance levels. If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s best to set up a telehealth doctor’s appointment to check your T levels and learn about the different treatment plans and supplements available. After a quick telemedicine visit, a personalized treatment plan can be shipped overnight to your door.
Myth #6: ED only affects older men, so I don’t have to worry.
Fact: Actually, mild and moderate cases of ED affect approximately 52% of men between the ages of 40 and 70. These can be caused not only by age, but also by stress, tension between your partner, alcohol use, depression, opioid use, smoking, heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and many other conditions that can occur in young men, too. Dr. Spar says: “There are many testosterone replacement therapy options and personalized treatment plans available, though, including Vault’s ‘Sex Kit‘ which consists of two innovative treatments that work to help you get and maintain satisfying erections—regardless of age.”
Myth #7: Your genes decide your fate.
Fact: If you think genetic predisposition means certain conditions are inevitable, think again. Far from being at their mercy, you can up and down-regulate your genes through lifestyle choices like diet, exercise, and stress management. As Dr. Spar explains, the ever-expanding field of epigenetics (the study of how chemical and environmental factors impact our genetic health) has revealed many ways in which we can influence our genes. For example, one study found people who ate more fruits and vegetables were less likely to develop a cardiovascular disease even if they carried copies of the gene that increases the risk of heart problems, effectively “turning off” the gene.
Myth #8: There’s no such thing as too much exercise.
Fact: As an IRONMAN triathlete, it probably goes without saying that Dr. Spar is a proponent of pushing yourself to the edge of your limits. But he also knows that overtraining, a topic he explores here can lead to injury and may even be detrimental to your mental health. Dr. Spar is all for setting goals in order to drive meaningful growth and stimulate true authentic expression of what matters to you, but not at the expense of your health.
Myth #9: Fat is bad.
Fact: There’s no doubt that consuming trans fats has negative consequences, especially when it comes to your heart. Harvard Health reports that the risk of heart disease rises by 23% for every 2% of calories from trans fats consumed daily. However, as Dr. Spar explains, “good” fats like those found in olive oil have actually been shown to improve heart health. Many studies indicate consuming olive oil can improve cholesterol and keep blood vessels healthy. And, much like fish oil, olive oil seems to be of special help to people at risk of developing heart problems. One randomized clinical trial found a link between olive oil consumption and reduced risks of cardiovascular disease and mortality in individuals at high cardiovascular risk.
According to Dr. Spar, it can be hard to cut through all the false information out there and resistance to taking care of ourselves is nothing new in the world of men’s health. “We know that men are more likely to repress whatever might be going on in our lives rather than address it with our medical providers. As a result, men are more likely to die from preventable causes than women. But it doesn’t have to be that way,” he says.
For more information about men’s health and wellness tips, facts, and myths debunked, visit www.vaulthealth.com.