Why 2 doctors are driving cross-country to tackle male health and body image

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Florida physicians Drs. Jamin Brahmbhatt and Sijo Parekattil will be in Chicago on Thursday as part of their annual road trip across the country to raise awareness for men’s health.

This year, the focus of their Drive for Men’s Health is nutrition. But as in years before, the two co-directors of the Personalized Urology & Robotics Clinic in Clermont, Fla., just want to talk to men about well-being.

It’s a conversation that doesn’t happen enough, both say. Women see physicians on a more regular basis, they said, for example for an annual gynecological visit. But men might not see a doctor until something is wrong.

“Men generally don’t start going until they have erectile dysfunction or trouble peeing or someone drags them in there,” Brahmbhatt said, speaking before their Philadelphia event, where casual conversations included a man talking about his father’s heart attack and another who said he was inspired to jog back to his hotel.

The pair will be at the Chicago French Market 10 a.m. to noon Thursday, offering a free cooking demonstration and nutrition tips. From the moment they arrive, they’ll be asking Chicago guys about their last doctor’s appointment or meal, they said.

Brahmbhatt and Parekattil’s 3,000 miles of driving will include stops in New York, Philadelphia and Columbus, Ohio.

Health is about more than doctor’s appointments — they also want to discuss male body image. Many men, especially millennials in the selfie era, are likely to use supplements to try to improve their appearance.

A March survey of a thousand men found that half of millennials said they used supplements to try to reach fitness goals.

“We try to caution patients to really do their research and look at things,” Parekattil said. “If something sounds too good to be true, usually it’s too good to be true. We’re not very supportive of very extreme diets.”

Even as young men use supplements toward attaining a beach bod, they might not be matching that with a healthy lifestyle. After all, if you’re using multiple supplements but eating pizza every night, “Then what’s the point?” Parekattil said.

Both say they are regular guys. They don’t boast six-packs. But they have lost 80 pounds between them, so they know what it’s like to change habits.

“You should treat your body like you treat your car,” Brahmbhatt said. “If you have a red light go off or your tire pressure goes down, you go get that stuff checked because you need your car to get yourself from point A to point B. Your body’s the exact same way. … When the red lights go off, like a headache that won’t go away, blood in the urine, you’ve got to get yourself checked.”

abowen@chicagotribune.com

Twitter @byalisonbowen

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