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Get Lean Diet for Men

March 23, 2015, last updated June 18, 2016
By Joseph Strongoli, Contributing Columnist

Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus, right? The differences
between the genders are large enough and numerous enough to make
such a statement sometimes seem less than hyperbole. While men may
enjoy certain physical ‘advantages’ over women, such as generally
being taller, stronger, and faster, one thing is for sure: it doesn’t help
them in the long run. Women on average live far longer than men. The
tortoise beats the hare every time.

According to the National Institute on Aging, women live longer than
men worldwide, by as much as 10 years in some places.

In the U.S. the average life expectancy at birth for women is 79 years,
and 72 for men.  The maximum recorded lifespan in 2010 was 123
years for females, and 116 for males. This alarming statistic is reflected
by the discrepancy in the elderly: among centenarians (people who are
at least 100 years of age )worldwide, women outnumber men 9 to 1!

Why Do Women Live Longer?

Lifespan is the length of life of an organism. It is a straightforward
measurement in aging research: its easy to measure, because either
you’re alive or you’re dead. Age researchers typically study three
factors that are key in determining an organism’s lifespan: genes,
environment, and behavior (like risk averse vs. aggressive behavior,
and diet).

There are a number of theories postulating the reason for why women
are built for the long run, and men are not.

One of the first such studies was published by Dr. I. Waldron in 1976 in
the Journal of Human Stress, in an attempt to explain the 60 percent
higher mortality rate of males over females in the US at the time.

Dr. Waldron concluded that 40 percent of this sex differential in
mortality was due to a twofold elevation of arteriosclerotic heart
disease among men, due to greater cigarette smoking among men, and
a greater prevalence of the competitive, aggressive Coronary Prone
Behavior Pattern among men, also known as Type A personality

In addition, Dr. Waldron noted that the higher prevalence of smoking in
men led to higher rates of lung cancer and emphysema, and that other
major causes of men’s higher death rates included accidents, suicide,
and cirrhosis of the liver.

Dr. Waldron concluded that “each of these is related to behaviors
which are encouraged or accepted more in men than in women in our
society—for example, using guns, being adventurous and acting
unafraid, working at hazardous jobs and drinking alcohol. To reduce
male mortality, we must change the social conditions which foster in
men the behaviors that elevate their mortality.”

Is Behavior the Only Reason Men Die Sooner?

So the first attempt at explaining the gap between gender lifespans
pegged behavior as the culprit: typical male behavior led to higher
mortality, and the aggressive hare lost out to the slow but steady
tortoise once again.

However, in the years since we have seen that behavior is not the
whole story. In fact, as the stereotypical, traditional gender roles in
society become ever more blurred, blended, and intermixed, we have
seen a decrease in the gap between male and female lifespans; as
women smoke, drink, work, and behave more and more like men, their
advantage in longevity diminishes more and more.  

Dr. Les Mayhew, a statistician at the City University in London notes
that male behavior is also changing: “The shift away from the macho
lifestyles towards the healthier approach more favored by women is
bringing with it the gift of longer life.”

Dr. Mayhew notes that because fewer men smoke, lung cancer rates
have plummeted. So male and female behavior is meeting somewhere in
the middle, and leveling out. But the decrease in the longevity
discrepancy is not total, and this would seem to indicate that while
behavioral traits do indeed play a role in determining lifespan, they are
not the only players at work here.

This is borne out in subsequent studies. A 2010 study at the Roswell
Park Cancer Institute by Dr. Mikhail Blagosklonny emphasized a
combination of evolutionary, environmental and behavioral factors in
the higher incidence of younger male fatalities.

He concludes that “young men are often engaged in competitive,
reckless, and dangerous activities. Therefore, even in modern society,
the accidental death rate is high in young men.” Moreover it is this type
of behavior, combined with societal and environmental factors over
generations that has contributed to an evolutionary disadvantage for
men: “Historically, the accidental death rate in men was much higher
even than it is now, due to a fierce competition for status and mates,
and due to fights and wars.  

And, according to evolutionary theory, a high accidental death rate
determines fast aging: if most men died young from accidental death,
then they could not live long enough to experience aging. Then there
was no natural selection to postpone aging. So accelerated aging in
men is predictable from an evolutionary perspective.”

The Role of the Mysterious mTOR Pathway in Men's Early Death

Dr. Blagosklonny further illuminates the picture with a mechanical
reason for accelerated aging in males. He cites the male "mTOR
pathway", an intracellular signaling pathway that stimulates cellular
growth, protein synthesis, and muscle growth.

In males, muscle hypertrophy (over-growth) and a heavy body help to
compete with other males, and in fact, men are generally larger than
women, thanks to the over-stimulation of their mTOR pathway and the
production of higher testosterone levels.

But this over-growth in muscle mass comes at a cost. In fact, aging is a
continuation of growth, both of which are driven by the mTOR
pathway. In agreement, mTOR is involved in age-related diseases such
as atherosclerosis, hypertension, heart failure, osteoporosis, type II
diabetes, neurodegeneration, and cancer.

Thus, over-activation of mTOR may provide advantages for males (such
as muscle hypertrophy, high levels of testosterone, and high
spermatogenesis) in early life, but at the cost of accelerated aging later
in life. Think of it in the following analogy: the male burns like the
firecracker; perhaps brighter, in terms of physicality, but ultimately the
cost of this volatility is burning out quicker. Women, on the other hand,
burn slower and steadier, less volatile, but for longer, like a candle. Dr.
Blagosklonny confirms this analogy: “Those who age slower, are

Women Are Built for the Long Haul

Not only are men ill-equipped to live longer, females are actually built
for the long haul. A study in 1998 by Dr. Thomas Perls at Harvard
University found that the female hormone estrogen lowers harmful
cholesterol and raises good cholesterol.

Moreover, Dr. Perls theorizes that menopause is an evolutionarily
advantageous trait: “Women’s life span depends on the balance of two
forces: One is the evolutionary drive to pass on her genes, the other is
the need to stay healthy enough to rear as many children as possible.
Menopause draws the line between the two. It protects older women
from the risks of bearing children late in life, and lets them live long
enough to take care of their children and grandchildren.”

Dr. Perls states that longer life means survival of the fittest, and women
are more fit than men. “The longer a women lives and the more slowly
she ages, the more offspring she can produce and rear to adulthood.
Therefore, evolution would naturally select the genes of such women
over those who die young.”

Historically, typical male behavior has given women the advantage in
longevity. But even as male and female behavior converges and
homogenizes, females have built in biological and evolutionary
advantages. It's important to understand that when you will die is a
probability, with various factors influencing it.

Ultimately, humans do not die from ‘healthy aging’ but from age-related
diseases. Because women
age slower than men, age-related diseases
are delayed in women, and they have built in advantages that decrease
their probability of dying at a younger age.

So how can men increase their probability for a longer life? The
following are our top 7 suggestions to increase male longevity. It is
important to note however the difference between lifespan, and
healthspan. The latter measures an organism’s years of good health
and bodily function. The former merely measures how long an
organism is alive --- we all know that being alive does not necessitate
good health. It’s an important distinction to make, as researchers at the
NIA have found things that improve health without actually increasing
lifespan (e.g., resveratrol, a compound found in wine).

Imagine increasing lifespan only to increase years of physical decline
and poor health --- not a pretty picture. It is important then to keep
the difference between healthspan and lifespan in mind, while trying to
improve and extend both.

Estrogen Treatment

Dr. Perl’s 1998 study at Harvard suggested that estrogen treatment
reduced the risk of dying from heart disease and stroke, as well as of
dying in general.

A 2002 study by Dr. M. Oettel at the Jenapharm Co. in Germany found
that estrogen treatment prevented
prostate cancer, improved
cardiovascular parameters, bone density, and  mental stress. All of
these were major factors in male longevity.

Testosterone Reduction

In Dr. Blagosklonny’s study above, he found that higher levels of
testosterone led to accelerated aging.

Could we slow aging in men by reducing their testosterone? Dr.
Thomas Kirkwood, director of the Institute for Aging and Health at
Newcastle University, says "yes".

He notes that male castration led to longer life in animals, and one
study found that castrated men in a Kansas rehabilitation institution
were found to live
on average 14 years longer than their uncastrated

In other words, castrated men lived as long as women on average.

While castration is extreme, there are other ways to lower
testosterone, such as  hormone replacement therapy. There are also
foods that lower testosterone.

Get Married

A 2007 study by Dr. Peter Gray at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas
found that married men with one wife in the Ariaal tribes in northern
Kenya had lower levels of testosterone than unmarried men, and that
men who had 2 wives or more had the lowest levels of testosterone of
all. Dr. Gray concludes that “testosterone levels are lower among
married men probably because they are investing less in mating effort,
male-male competition, and mate-seeking behavior.” So the best way
to live long like a woman may be to be with a woman!

Sirtuin: Anti-Aging Protein

A 2012 study at the Bar-Ilan University in Israel led by Dr. Y. Yanfiy et
al., found that a protein called "Sirtuin" can make male mice live about
16 percent longer than average.

This is exciting news because it’s the first time that the protein was
shown to extend life span in mammals; until this study, it had been
found to work for yeast, nematodes, and fruit flies.

While there is still skepticism that sirtuin could work for more complex
animals like humans, the fact that scientists got it to work in mice is a
huge step in the right direction.

Eat Less

A caloric restriction could add years to your life. A 2003 study by Dr.
Eric Ravussin et al., at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in
Louisiana found that a calorie restriction extends lifespan and retards
age-related chronic diseases.

While scientists are still unclear on the exact mechanisms at play here, it
is thought that a calorie restriction lowers metabolic rate, which causes
the body to generate fewer damaging free radicals, which reduces
oxidative stress, one of the principal causes of cellular wear in tear.

In a nutshell, your body is built to metabolize food into energy; doing it
more often causes more wear and tear, while doing it less keeps the
body in more pristine shape and helps it to last longer.

Cellular Cleaning

A 2011 study led by Dr. D.J. Baker at the Mayo Clinic College of
Medicine found that the body’s worn out cells, called senescent cells,
send out chemical signals that have a profound impact on the cells
around them, and that these chemicals can lead to age-related diseases.

They found that by removing these senile cells in mice, sort of like a
spring-cleaning, the mice had stronger muscles, fewer cataracts, and
less wrinkled skin. This approach might be used to help develop a
vaccine to prime the immune system to prune the body of its senescent

The Straight and Narrow

We’ve already seen how drinking, smoking, and aggressive, volatile,
and stressful lifestyles can shorten your life.

A new study takes this idea of the straight and narrow even further, in
finding that hard-working, prudent types live the longest.

Dr. Howard S. Friedman a psychologist at the University of California,
Riverside, published these findings in his book, The Longevity Project in
2011. Dr. Friedman found that dependable, hard-working, and prudent
people on average avoided risks and eventually entered into stable
relationships, a major boost for health, happiness, and longevity.  “If
you want to improve your health, you shouldn’t just go on a joyride,
but get involved in meaningful, productive kinds of things.”

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Reducing your body weight by
restricting calories or exercising
can help extend your lifespan.