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You may spend half of your days at the gym, working your muscles off and trying to shrink your skin into perfect abs, but ultimately, what you eat and what you don’t is what really impacts on your health. You are what you eat – that’s as true as it gets.

While sometimes the stress of worrying about your diet does you more harm than eating the food itself, keeping track of a healthy diet with a variety of nutrients can help keep your body vigorous and in shape, especially in old age.  As a man, this means building your diet around dense nutrients to enhance your muscles, boost your libido, and keep you disease-free.

“No matter how old you get, how long you run, how much iron you pump, or how many expert tips you follow for your heart, the old ticker is always going to need a little extra TLC,” says Cara Walsh, a certified nutritionist. Knowing what foods to eat and how much of each to eat is important in elevating your nutrition. It’s not about eating healthy-ish – it’s about eating right.

“The healthy omega-3 fatty acids found in fish are a good source of vitamin D (which is especially low in Men’s diets) and should be eaten at least twice a week,” says Walsh.

For maximum fitness, increased libido, sharper brains, and proper muscle growth, every food you eat counts. Here are the top foods every man should avoid eating.

Processed and fatty meat

There’s no denying it; bacon is delicious. Sausages? Yes, please. But these are not the best sources of proteins in your breakfast. According to a study in 2014 at Harvard University, it was found that men who consumed processed meat regularly produced poor quality sperms compared to those who rarely consumed it. Natalie Rizzo, an expert dietitian, explains how processed and fatty meats can lead to high blood pressure due to their high sodium levels.

“Men usually get plenty of lean protein from chicken and fish,” she says. “I recommend only eating fatty meats sparingly and in moderation. Bacon at diners? That’s fine. But for a healthier daily diet, Canadian would be more appropriate – it has half the fat and twice the protein.

Related: 10 Deadly Foods you Probably have in your Kitchen

Alcohol

Beer and steak have been known to do some solid on the human metabolism, and while that may be a good thing, you stand to gain some weight… Scratch that – a lot of weight, belly fat and the family. This, of course, increases your body’s risk to chronic diseases such as pancreatitis, high blood pressure, and liver cirrhosis. In some extreme cases, too much alcohol has been found to cause psychological disorders.

In an article published in the Times of India, too much alcohol was also found to reduce sperm count and libido in men. If this is not enough to convince you to ditch that bottle, perhaps limiting your intake may hurt less. Rizzo recommends sticking to just a single glass of wine per day, followed by another glass of water.

Fast Food Burgers

Fast food burgers seem like the most convenient lunch option for most people. According to a lifestyle article published in the Men’s Journal, a single fast food burger adds to your calorie level by 64%. That’s dangerous. Bridget Swinney, a registered nutritionist, continues to explain how these fast food burgers contain high levels of sodium and saturated fats which may be toxic to your body.

“Sodium causes fluid retention and increases blood pressure. Even burgers at a restaurant will contain more saturated fats and sodium than home-made burgers,” she explains. If you really have to get that quick bite at your local burger joint, Swinney recommends several less-risky burger options; turkey burgers, veggie burgers, or salmon burgers. Otherwise, just grill your own burger at home using these amazing burger recipes

Soft drinks and Juice

Your body is organically supposed to process natural foods and extract the nutrients for its own growth. Juice is extracted from various fruits and some sugar and chemicals are added to improve quality and taste. According to Men’s Journal, when taken in large amounts, your body stores excess sugar in juice as fat, instead of burning it as energy. These accumulated fats are associated with chronic diseases such as heart failure and obesity.

Soft drinks and carbonated beverages, on the other hand, have been found to impact negatively on men. In a study on human reproduction, when taken in large amounts, soft drinks cause poor sperm motility in men. In rare cases, these beverages have been found to cause infertility in men

French Fries and Buttered popcorn

Popcorn, when eaten plain, is one of the best whole-grain snacks for men, especially for the low-carb movement. But drench it in butter and sugar and you have a public health hazard. According to Swinney, buttered popcorn pack a lot of cholesterol in the body and may lead to high blood pressure. Instead, eat your popcorn plain and natural.

“Plain popcorn, just like nuts, is a good source of vitamin E, which can help decrease arterial plaque by protecting LDL cholesterol from oxidation,” she explains.

Again, French fries have been found to be the new generation of cancer sticks. In fact, Men’s Journal reports that every fry you eat contains a toxic level of acrylamide, a popular cancer-causing agent… don’t even get me started on the cholesterol.

The good news is, most of these foods are toxic to the body when eaten in large amounts. Limiting them in your diet gives your immune system a chance to clear them from your metabolism. Again, most of these foods are almost always served with some form of natural seasoning. Take the fast food burger for example – that sauerkraut you spray on top is an excellent source of probiotics. That salad in your French fries – totally great in keeping your stomach and health happy.

“Too many people, especially men, forget to take their probiotics or carve out a diet that helps maintain stomach happiness,” says Rizzo. “I recommend my male clients to put Natural Kraut atop every chicken breast or turkey burger. It not only tastes good, but it’s also an organic source of probiotics.

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