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Natural Awakenings Tucson

A Happy, Healthy Father’s Day

May 30, 2020 12:57AM ● By J Garnett
Last month, Americans celebrated Mother’s Day. This month the celebration refocuses on Father’s Day. Both holidays are a time when people can show appreciation and say thank you to the individuals who shaped lives, planted dreams and nurtured, no matter the sacrifice. There is a difference between the two holidays, however. Mother’s Day became nationally recognized on May 9, 1914 when President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed the declaration. Fifty-eight years later, in 1972, President Nixon declared the third Sunday of every June to be Father’s Day. It took more than half of a century for Father’s Day to gain the same national honor and recognition as Mother’s Day. Sociologically speaking, there are a few reasons for the time disparity.
   
Father’s Day did have its origin far earlier than 1972; it just wasn’t nationally recognized until then. The first known Father’s Day came to be because of the efforts of one woman, Sonora Smart Dodd. She and her five siblings, from Spokane, Washington, were raised by their father, a widower and a Civil War veteran. Dodd witnessed what an immense job and responsibility it was for her father. In the spring of 1910, Dodd gathered support from churches, businesses and politicians for having a day of recognition for male parents to parallel Mother’s Day, which was already being celebrated in 45 states at the time.
   
After that first day of celebration for fathers in Washington State, the holiday sprouted supporters slowly through the country, but there was continual resistance as well. Was support slow because people thought that having a Father’s Day would diminish the celebration of mothers taking place just a month prior? Another reason why there was a lag in becoming a holiday is that fathers weren’t generally seen as being sentimental enough, certainly when compared to a nurturing mother.
   
Maybe it was the male population themselves who stalled the holiday from becoming nationally recognized. Men were raised to be strong and hardened in the face of difficulty and could not afford to be sentimental. Physiologically speaking, men do tend to be bigger, stronger, more muscular and less interested in soft, cuddly sentimental activities. Whatever the reason for the delayed declaration, it’s certain that many men believed that men should be men and not be pampered and gifted with flowers. Men felt that they didn’t need to be celebrated for their masculinity.
   
The divide between gender and stereotypes doesn’t only relate to sentimentality, emotions and holidays, but it’s also present in the realm of health. As a population, women tend to be healthier than men. Women live longer than men, see physicians more regularly and take active roles in overall health. According to the Harvard Medical School publication, Harvard Health Publishing, the life expectancy for women is between 80 and 82. For men, that number drops to between 75 and 77. There are biological factors which can account for the difference in lifespan, but there are other factors at play, including behavior and actions that are deemed risky and dangerous which can cause injury and have an increased chance of disease and illness. Also, diet plays a significant role in men’s health.
   
The notion of men being stubborn and iron-willed when it comes to health can be seen in the numbers. Men don’t put their health and well-being at the top of the priority list. Women seek out medical advice and assistance 30 percent more frequently than men. This may very well be a determining factor in the difference between life expectancy. According to Harvard Health, men suffer twice as many heart attacks as women. Some of this is due to the fact that men’s bodies are shaped like an apple—storing excessive fat around the gut and vital organs which taxes the heart, whereas women store fat in the hips and thighs, areas not in the vicinity of major organs. This physiological difference cannot be helped, but diet can even out the numbers. There are certain plant medicines that can be taken to also shrink the discrepancy between men’s and women’s health.
   
Unfortunately, most men don’t act until a health scare takes place, whether it be a heart attack, stroke or the diagnosis of diabetes. This Father’s Day, express the idea that health doesn’t have to be put on hold until a major tragedy strikes. Obviously, a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains can help keep the heart healthy, but identifying stress factors and knowing how to combat them naturally can be a power-push toward better health. Stress taxes the muscles of the heart and can cause heart attacks.
   
The Ayurvedic herb ashwagandha has been shown to lower stress levels in the body, balance mood and help clear the mind. Taken as a supplement, or drinking a brewed tea of ashwagandha, not only helps with heart health, but it also increases energy levels, stabilizes hormones and augments the body’s natural immune system.
   
The hawthorn tree is sometimes used to symbolize love because of its powerful benefits to the heart and cardiovascular system. Hawthorn used for heart health dates back to first century Rome. Extracts from the tree have been studied for millennia and have been proven to support healthy heart function. The flowers, leaves and berries from the hawthorn tree are all used in making teas and tinctures.
   
Many other berries have been shown to promote a healthy cardiovascular system, as well. Cranberries, strawberries, blueberries and chokeberries are all rich in the antioxidant polyphenols. These berries are also full of micronutrients, fiber and essential vitamins, all of which promote a healthy heart.
   
There will always be striking differences between the sexes, however they needn’t be when it comes to health. Men will always be men and will sometimes need a gentle nudge in the right direction when it comes to health and diet. There are some differences between men and women that will never change, but with plant medicine becoming more widely accepted, there’s no reason for health differences when it comes to quality and length of life. Tell a father this month that he is loved. Hand him a cup of herbal tea and drink to his health; he may even like it!

J. Garnet, M.Ed. is a writer, teacher, speaker and healer. Garnet’s passion is helping the public see that nature is medicine. Connect at 520-437-8855 or [email protected].
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