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What to expect for aging in your 50's

Updated: Aug 20, 2022

Your 50th birthday is the signal that it’s time for your first colonoscopy screening. What a rude awakening to your fifth decade of life!

If you read my last blog post about what to expect in your 40's, then you know that our bodies slowly decline in more ways than one. Our 50's also have a wide array of health issues that we are at higher risk for, but once again there are plenty of ways to practice self-care and upgrade your habits to help prevent these problems from arising. Remember: Knowledge is Power!

This truly is what makes it so important to clean up your act and live a healthy lifestyle. It is not about six-pack abs and fitting into your skinny jeans. It is about staying healthy for as long as possible and not having to suffer from preventable issues.

Here are the health issues you are more prone to in your 50's and the preventative health measures or lifestyle changes you can make to keep them at bay!

Let's start with the fun one that none of us can avoid, the colonoscopy. Colon cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer and the second leading cause of cancer death in men and women in the United States. People over the age 50 have nearly 90% of new cases. According to Michael Sapienza, CEO of the Colon Cancer Alliance, “It is a disease that is 90 percent beatable if caught early.” The 5-year survival rate for stage 1 and stage II colon cancer is 90%; the 5-year survival rate for patients diagnosed at stage III is 71% and stage IV is 14%.

Do you want to age with ease? DO NOT delay or skip your colonoscopy appointment. If you are in a higher risk group then you should have already had your first one in your 40's. Do you want a 90% chance of survival or a 14% chance? Behave accordingly.

Diets that include a lot of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains have been linked with a decreased risk of colon or rectal cancer. Also, eat less red meat (beef, pork, or lamb) and processed meats (hot dogs and luncheon meats), which have been linked with an increased risk of colorectal cancer.

While we are talking about our intimate parts, men aging from the 50's onward may experience erectile dysfunction. Erectile dysfunction is a condition in which men are unable to get or keep an erection firm enough for satisfactory sexual intercourse. This can be a short-term or long-term problem. Although this is common because it affects 30 million men in the United States, erectile dysfunction is not a normal part of aging. It is important to talk to your doctor regarding this.

Various risk factors that contribute to erectile dysfunction include diabetes, heart conditions, and smoking. Tobacco use restricts the blood flow to veins and arteries which can cause chronic health conditions that lead to erectile dysfunction.

Do you want to age with ease? Stop smoking, maintain a healthy weight, get plenty of sleep and manage your stress levels. Depending on the issue, strengthening the pelvic floor muscles can be helpful. Watermelon or goji berries have a similar effect on the body as Viagra so if you are experiencing some issues, head to the grocery store, not the pharmacy!

While we are on the subject, quitting smoking also reduces the chances of impotence. At about 50 years old, if you stop smoking, you gain 6 years of life expectancy. When you give up smoking there is a decrease in the risk of a heart attack in as little as 24 hours. As for longer-term benefits, Johns Hopkins researchers, in conjunction with scientists from other centers, have found out that quitting decreased middle-aged smokers’ risk of dying early by almost half.

This next one surprised me during the research phase! Signs of HIV/AIDS can be mistaken for the aches and pains of normal aging. Nearly half of people living with HIV in the United States are age 50 and older. HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is a virus that damages and weakens the body’s immune system - the system your body uses to fight off infection and disease. Older people are less likely than younger people to get tested, so they may not know they have HIV. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2018, there were 11,425 deaths among people aged 50 and older with diagnosed HIV in the USA.

Do you want to age with ease? Practice safe sex and get tested. An issue of Marriage and Divorce Journal stated that 70% of all Americans engage in some kind of affair during their marital life. You never know!

Menopause can come in your 40's but the average age a woman’s period stops for good is 51. As your hormone levels drop, you might notice things like dry skin, hot flashes, and mood swings. Because the lining of your vagina gets thinner and drier, sex could also be painful. If so, talk to your doctor.

Do you want to age with ease? Well, we can't continue having a period forever so there aren't a lot of preventative measures but we can go through this phase with more ease. Plenty of treatments, from antidepressants to hormone therapy, can help if you want to go the medical route. Lifestyle changes like getting enough sleep and using lubricant during sex can help. There are also aromatherapy protocols and natural supplements that can help keep your hormones in better balance throughout this phase of life.

As if menopause isn't enough fun for ladies, being female and growing older are the main factors for developing breast cancer. In 2017, 23% of invasive breast cancers were diagnosed in women in their 50s.

Do you want to age with ease? Women of all ages need to pay attention to their breasts, perform self-exams, and report any unusual changes to their doctors. In men, it is rarer to have breast cancer, but it does happen. A healthy diet with no soy or dairy and supplements like turmeric, vitamin D, flaxseed, and ginger can act as preventative measures.

I don't know about you but the 50's seem kind of terrible at this point. Colonoscopies, erectile dysfunction, HIV, menopause, breast cancer - thank goodness we have the ability to prevent some of these things from happening to us!

I'm starting to begin to understand why there aren't very many resources in the world about what to expect as we age. It's rather depressing. It's not quite like reading "What to Expect When You're Expecting"! Although as someone with no desire to give birth, I feel like that would be a terrifying read too.

Let's soldier on and keep learning. I want to help prevent you from having more health issues! These issues have nothing to do with our intimate parts so somehow they don't seem as serious or daunting.

In our 50's, collagen production decreases. The skin becomes dry and is easily bruised. Collagen makes up 70% of the dry skin mass and it strengthens your skin and helps its elasticity and hydration levels. The loss of collagen leads to wrinkles and fine lines appearing, you will have already noticed this in your 40's. Your hair stops looking as healthy as it did before. Hair loss will likely happen as hair could split and break as the collagen decreases. It is important to realize collagen isn't just in our skin. It is not just aesthetics you need to worry about.

As the amount of collagen decreases, other parts of your body suffer as well. Bones become weaker and more fragile and the tissue and cartilage that cushion your joints begin to thin over time. You’ll feel the effects of this in your 50's with some minor aches and pains. Men may notice it sooner. Muscles’ function also decreases affecting mobility and balance.

We already mentioned arthritis issues can start in your 40's so there are multiple reasons you may be experiencing joint pain by the time you are in your 50's.

Do you want to age with ease? Taking collagen supplements or drinking bone broth can help increase collagen levels. This may improve the elasticity and appearance of the skin. It is also important to take good care of your skin and remove any products that contain chemicals. Our skin is our largest organ and placing chemicals on the skin isn't good for you inside or out. If you need nontoxic bath and beauty product ideas, my Amazon shop is full of them.

To stave off joint pain and arthritis, start with your posture. When you slouch, you put pressure on your joints. Keep an eye on your weight since extra pounds puts unnecessary pressure on your joints. Also, drink lots of water. When you’re thirsty, your body pulls fluid from joint tissue.

It is also important to work on strength, mobility, and balance. The way the body is breaking down means if you don't use it, you lose it. Look into getting a customized wellness routine designed just for you. That way you will be addressing the right issues and not wasting time on the wrong things.

Around your 50's Type 2 Diabetes can become more complicated. Your symptoms might change completely and age can also mask diabetes symptoms. Older adults are more prone to severe hypoglycemia. Hypoglycemia is a serious side effect of certain diabetes medications and the risk for hypoglycemia increases with age.

After age 50, it becomes more important to monitor your blood pressure and cholesterol levels and to be aware of new symptoms. You can’t turn back the clock, but when it comes to type 2 diabetes, you can have control over your condition.

Do you want to age with ease? Try making the switch over to a plant-based diet. I strongly recommend watching the documentary Simply Raw: Reversing Diabetes in 30 Days. You can reverse diabetes through diet so this is absolutely in your control if you are willing to make a lifestyle change.

Only 28% of women and 43% of men age 50-59 are getting enough physical activity based on ACSM standards according to a study by the Academy of Physical Education. Physical inactivity can severely impact your quality of life. This is one of the most important things to pay attention to as you age. The less you move, the worse off you will be on so many levels.

Strong scientific evidence shows that physical activity reduces the risk of premature death. People who are physically active for approximately 7 hours a week have a 40% lower risk of dying early than those who are active for less than 30 minutes a week.

Do you want to age with ease? All adults should avoid inactivity. Some physical activity is better than none, and adults who participate in any amount of physical activity gain some health benefits.

Find a way to move your body that feels good to you! Do you enjoy gardening or a nature walk? Maybe you don't like to exercise but will throw on a favorite song and dance around the living room! Can you make time for a 10-Minute Stretching session? Use my online wellness library to access videos for foam rolling, stretching, exercising, and more.

Whatever you do, figure out a plan to get your body moving more and stick to it. If you need help sticking to a new plan, recruit a friend or family member with common goals to move more.

Each stage of your life can create different challenges for mental health. In your early 50s, if you are a woman then you will probably experience menopause, which can affect mental health and stress levels. If you are in a romantic relationship, you may find that expectations and roles have changed over the years. You may have an empty nest and feel unsure of how to start living independently for yourself instead of your children dictating your daily routine. This is a more common decade of life for a parent to die in, a divorce to happen in, or other major life changes that could lead to you need more mental health support.

In an article by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, it is estimated that 20 percent of people age 55 years older experience some type of mental health concern. The most common conditions include anxiety, severe cognitive impairment, and mood disorders.

Do you want to age with ease? Your chances of mental health issues are higher if you sit more than 7 hours a day, don’t exercise, or if you use drugs and alcohol. Making healthy lifestyle decisions can help keep mental health issues at bay.

I think the true issue doesn't actually lie in prevention here. We all go through trying times in life and need support to help us process things rather than suppress them. Having the confidence to seek out help for your mental health is the best advice I can really give you. Help can come in many different forms so even if you have no desire to see a therapist or counselor, there are a multitude of spiritual life coaches, support groups, online support groups, and more. If you need mental health or emotional support, find a way to get it that resonates with you.

Wow, the 50's seem like a rough decade but I also feel like the 50's are an awesome phase of life for most people. Look at the photo of Anthony above, he's 53 and rocking it!

Some say it’s because, at 50, you have wisdom, as well as the time to do something with it. You’re young enough to reinvent yourself and old enough to have the confidence to make things happen. Don't let the health issues feel daunting! These are just things that could arise but now you also know how to prevent them.

The combination of four healthy lifestyle factors -- maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly, following a healthy diet, and not smoking -- seems to be associated with as much as an 80% reduction in the risk of developing the most common and deadly chronic diseases. Unfortunately, most people still don't realize the direct connection between their lifestyle and their health issues.

I hope these articles are helping YOU understand the power of preventative health and why it is important to be more mindful of your daily habits. Now that I can offer health coaching based on your DNA, we can bring preventative health to a whole new level. Having access to all of these reports that tell me what cancers and diseases you are at high risk for means we can figure out the exact supplements and nutrition changes you need to make in order to prevent them. I think this is such a game-changer for preventative health and it makes me hopeful that the future of aging is changing!

Don't forget to download my Guide to Healthy Aging which will give you simple self-care checklists to help you make sure you are caring for your body appropriately in each decade of life!

If you are ready to tweak your lifestyle and upgrade your habits to age with ease, look into getting a Custom Wellness Plan that will ensure you are doing what is best for your particular situation.



Listen to the Podcast with Major League Nutrition Part 1
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