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Anxiety is practically a way of life today. But who would have imagined that people between the ages of 50 and 60 are the ones who feel the most anxiety about their health? Indeed, that was the result when AARP surveyed 900 seniors last winter. It is quite a remarkable fact: we are in the third year of the pandemic, which has been particularly brutal for those over 70; it is people between 50 and 60 who are most alarmed about their well-being.
“I would describe it as anticipatory anxiety,” says Manfred Diehl, professor of Human Evolutionary and Family Studies at Colorado State University. “This is when people become more aware that they are getting older.” There is nothing like seeing your grandfather’s face when you see yourself on a video call. But feeling anxious about your health is not suitable for your health. So we uncovered some real solutions to the concerns the survey revealed plague people after they turn 50. It’s time for answers…
Personal care, good nutrition and lifestyle
I’m already in my late 50s, but honestly, I feel like I’m still young. At what age should I seriously take care of my health?
This would be an excellent time to start. Longevity researchers learn a phenomenon known as the future time perspective. The more time we perceive that we have left, the more we can ignore that we are overweight or that our level of inflammation may be elevated and ignore our basic health numbers. Start there if you didn’t have a medical exam in the past year. Check your blood pressure, blood glucose, and cholesterol level, and make it a point to keep those values under control as a top priority.
They say doctors don’t care as much about high cholesterol anymore. Is that factual?
No. High cholesterol, particularly LDL or “bad” cholesterol, is still an indicator of elevated risk for heart disease. And preliminary results from a 2022 study of more than 750 older adults revealed a link between high cholesterol levels and an elevated risk of dementia. So don’t stop taking statins if that’s what your doctor suggests.
Will all this ‘healthy living’ really help me live longer? My uncle ate bacon every morning and lived to be 87 years old.
It’s not just about how many years you live; it’s all about how well you live them. A 2019 BMJ (British Medical Journal) study followed more than 110,000 people since the 1980s and found that those who adopted healthy lifestyle habits, such as managing their weight, exercising and not smoking, lived free of diseases much longer after age 50 (for more than 30 years) than those who did not adopt these habits (23 years). However, science still has no explanation for Keith Richards.
What is the best diet? The ketogenic (keto)? Paleolithic (Paleo)? The gluten-free diet? Do I have to eat only acai berries and butter coffee?
Rule number one for healthy eating: no fad diets or weird eating plans; use common sense. A recent analysis of 1,995 people found that those who ate higher amounts of fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, whole grains, and low-fat dairy—and fewer red and processed meats, sugary drinks, and sodium—reduced their ageing at the cellular level. “Foods like sugar and highly processed flour can cause inflammation in the body and are also often high in calories,” explains registered dietitian Maryann Walsh, certified diabetes educator and founder of Walsh Nutrition Consulting.
I have heard a link between eating a few calories and longevity. Does that mean I should fast?
Multiple studies have shown that long-term calorie restriction can reduce metabolic function and slow the process of cellular ageing…in rats! There have not been many clinical trials in humans. A 2019 study published in The Lancet found that people who reduced their caloric intake by 12% had lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, greater insulin sensitivity, and less inflammation.
The problem: The study included only 238 people over two years; the oldest were in their 50s. In addition, complete calorie restriction diets can cause muscle loss, which can cause rebound weight gain and other unhealthy results. Your best option: do not fast or follow very restrictive diets; try to eliminate the empty calories you consume and opt for healthier foods, especially fruits and vegetables. A good starting point is to reduce the snacks you eat out of boredom, anxiety, or habit. Instead of eating something, do stretching exercises or go for a walk.
Across all age groups, 70% of men rated their mental health as very good or excellent, compared to 54% of women. Women also worry more about joint pain and sleep problems.
I know what I have to eat, but how can I continue to eat what I enjoy most?
In most cases, you can eat what you want, Walsh notes. You can’t eat as much as you want. And you should include fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, whole grains, and fish in the amounts necessary to reduce inflammation and keep calories in check.
Skipping breakfast is the new trend in diets. Is it good for me?
It isn’t good for you. Breakfast is essential for several reasons, and one of the main ones is fibre intake. A study published in 2021 in the periodical of the American Board of Family Medicine revealed that those who ate more than 25 grams of fibre per day with breakfast had a 21% lower risk of all-cause mortality than those who did not eat breakfast. However, and a meta-analysis of studies showed that for every day of the week you skip breakfast, your risk of diabetes increases.
Do I need to take that many prescription drugs?
One in 5 adults over 40 takes at least five prescription drugs. The risk arises when multiple doctors prescribe medications without good communication with each other, explains Amie Taggart Blaszczyk, director of the Division of Geriatrics at the Texas Tech College Health Sciences Center College of Pharmacy. Keep a written list of all the prescription, over-the-counter, and supplements you take, as well as their frequency and dosage. Check that each of your doctors has the list.
How can I follow a healthy diet if I have a limited budget?
“Focus on the frozen section,” says Walsh. Frozen fish and vegetables are often less expensive than fresh, come in convenient portions (you won’t have to throw away half the rotten spinach), and keep well for weeks.
I consume a lot of different vitamins. That’s not enough?
No. Studies have shown time and time again that pills do not have the same effect as food. For example, A 2019 study of more than 30,000 adults found that healthy levels of vitamins A and K and the minerals magnesium and zinc may be associated with a lower risk of death, but only when they come from food, not the pills. We don’t fully understand why, but it could have to do with how food nutrients interact.
Does that mean vitamin pills don’t help?
However, for a person over 50? Therefore, there is scepticism, with one exception: vitamin D. Vitamin D deficiency in older adults has been estimated to be between 20 and 100%. Sunlight and food are not enough for many people to reach the recommended minimum of 600 IU daily, so you may want to ask your doctor if you be supposed to take vitamin D3 supplements.
And my fish oil pills? I read that they may not help prevent heart attacks. Is it true?
It is not clear. A 2020 JAMA study of more than 13,000 people at high risk of heart disease (average age: 63) compared groups taking the standard omega-3 formulation or a placebo and found no benefit with the fish oil. However, other research—including a 2019 analysis of more than 127,000 people—revealed that taking omega-3 supplements derived from fish oil lowered the risk of heart attacks and death from heart disease. However, bottom line: Eat more fish and foods rich in omega-3s, like nuts and seeds, and talk to your doctor about omega-3 supplements.
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