In the US alone, over 108.7 million people are 50 plus, inclusive of 76.4 million baby boomers, according to AARP. This figure is likely to add another 19 million over the course of the next decade.
AARP, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization empowering people to select how they live as they get older, also reported that 51 percent of Americans think they actually look younger than their age.
As you draw nearer to the fifth floor, staying physically and mentally active can help keep you healthier, fit, and well, younger.
However, the aging process is different from individuals, as lifestyle plays a huge role. This doesn’t mean that you won’t experience some obvious changes in your mental and physical health.
However, you can take some early measures to ensure your aging body is going strong well into your later years in life.
Here are some things about your health that you need to be wary of as you near 50.
1. Respiratory problems
This is a common problem as you age, especially if the body suffers a disorder or infection.
When this happens, phlegm accumulates in the throat, irritates the air passages creating discomfort, and triggers coughing to expel the mucus.
Phlegm is usually white in color, but there are different other occurrences that present in different colors such as green, yellow, or mixed with blood.
If you’re coughing up green mucus chunks, it may be that there’s a bacterial infections in your lungs or bronchi, or a post nasal drip from a sinus infection.
This can be cured by avoiding foods like dairy, starchy food, and excess meat. Be sure to drink plenty of water, herbal teas, eat spicy foods, and take hot baths as home remedies.
2. Kidney problems
Once you hit your 50s, you have to come to terms with the fact that you can’t eat in the same way you did when you were younger.
Your activity levels decline with age, so there are things you did before that you may not be able to do with ease owing to bodily changes and aging.
Among the problems that may come include kidney disease, owing to a diet that contains uric acid foods.
Foods high in uric acid like red meat, seafood like fatty fish such as herring, tuna, lobsters, alcoholic drinks, and certain vegetables like lentils, mushrooms and more are to be avoided.
Some kidney problems like kidney stones form due to excess uric acid crystals that form stones and deposit them in the kidney. This causes extreme pain when one attempts to pass urine as the stones are trapped in the uterus.
Get serious about your diet, and make sure you get foods rich in fiber, protein, vitamin D, calcium, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamin B-12.
Stay hydrated. Eliminate junk food from your diet, and trade chips, cookies, and cake for nuts, veggies and fruit. Also be cautious about what you eat when dining out.
Ruth D. Williams, Clinical spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology says that when you need reading glasses, it’s one of the most annoying signs that signal ‘you really are aging’.
Williams adds that this is the first irreversible sign of aging, unlike others that can be managed like weight gain.
Look out for diseases like glaucoma, which can develop before you realize it. Others include early cataracts, trouble seeing while driving at night, decreased vision, flashes and floaters in the eye, pain, and redness.
A baseline eye exam usually done at age 40 is the best place to start with age-related eye care. Most signs of eye disease are subtle, which is why this exam serves as an important first step.
All the above signs should prompt a visit to your eye doctor, as they may indicate underlying problems like retinal detachment, or early indications of cataracts.
Other precautionary measures you can take is wearing sunglasses that offer 100 percent UV-rays protection, quitting smoking and avoiding second-hand smoke.
Protecting your eyes from the sun’s rays helps prevent cataracts and macular degeneration while protecting the fine skin around your eyes to reduce chances of getting wrinkles.
Eating vegetables like leafy greens, and fruits is also good for better eye health.
4. Heart problems
Aging also has an impact on your heart, but it isn’t as obvious as gray hair or wrinkles.
However, you need as much maintenance to take care of your heart, as you do for other aspects of your health. This is because the risk of heart disease and other related issues increases with age, especially for women.
Nieca Goldberg, MD, a cardiologist at NYU Langone Medical Center and National Volunteer Spokesperson for the American Heart Association, says women “become more insulin resistant” after menopause.
For this reason, they need to stay away from sugar and carbs. If they can’t avoid it completely, natural substitutes and a rainbow diet is recommended.
Goldberg suggests that women follow the Mediterranean diet that emphasizes veggies, fruits, oily fish, legumes, nuts, fiber-rich whole grains, and healthy oils like olive oil.
Read more: Click here for a free 7 day Mediterranean Meal Plan e-book.
As you draw closer to your 50s, be aware of heart attack and stroke symptoms to save your life. Not everyone experiences sudden numbness or severe chest pain during stroke or heart attacks respectively.
Goldberg says that for women, the tightness that comes with a heart attack can happen anywhere like left, right, or lower down. This can easily be dismissed as a stomachache.
5. Colon issues
It is important to know the best time to schedule a colonoscopy, unlike most people who think about it when they hit 50.
A colonoscopy is a procedure in which doctors examine the colon for polyps which could signal early signs of cancer of the colon.
In this procedure, the doctor sedates the patient for a painless process and then inserts a long, lighted tube – colonoscopy – to examine the colon.
If discovered early enough, colon cancer is preventable and treatable, but the symptoms are rare until the later and deadlier stages of the disease.
Colon cancer, according to the Colon Cancer Alliance, is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer, and the second leading cause of cancer death in people living in the US.
Almost 90 percent of new cases occur in people aged above 50 years, and starts small, with a slow-growing growth in the colon that could progress into cancer if unchecked.
Did you know that over 40% of American adult population between 40 to 59 is suffering from obesity today? This is alarming, to say the least.
Each passing decade ushers you into a new stage of life complete with its own priorities and unique challenges.
Checking on your health as you inch closer to a new decade is extremely vital. If you were taking it easy all this while, 50th birthday is the time to make some quick resolutions.
About the author
Jenny Travens is a creative writer who has many passions and interests. Health and wellness is one area where she likes to contribute as much as she can. She has long been associated with Superfoodsliving.
Twitter – @jennytravens