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“Lordy, lordy, look who’s forty!” The big 4-0—it’s a milestone for sure, signaling a time of transition from young adulthood to middle-age.

This is an important decade for preventing health problems such as diabetes, heart disease and many types of cancer later in life. So, if you’ve been making healthy lifestyle choices, keep it up in your 40s, and if you haven’t, now’s the time to start! Healthy habits like eating right, exercising regularly, getting enough sleep, not smoking, drinking alcohol only in moderation, and wearing your seat belt can help reduce your risk for a number of chronic medical conditions.

Common Health Concerns in Your 40s

Here are some health concerns that you may find yourself faced with in your 40s:

 xtrong jointsChronic pain—the risk for arthritis, back pain and other painful conditions like tendonitis increases with age. You can take steps to reduce your risk for health problems caused by wear and tear and overuse.







strelaxStress—while there’s no escaping many of the responsibilities that come with life in your 40s—career, finances, family obligations like caring for children and aging parents—you can prevent yourself from being overwhelmed. Take care of yourself—eat right, exercise, keep in touch with people who are important to you and find time to do things you enjoy. Get at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity on most days of the week—physical activity can go a long way toward helping you manage your stress.




streside Anxiety and depression—it’s important to take care of your mental health in your 40s. Changes in mood are a normal part of life, but extreme anxiety, loss of interest and energy, an inability to experience pleasure, withdrawal from usual activities and interactions, and apathy toward important matters is not. Talk to your health care provider about mental health screening.

Blood pressure, cholesterol, triglycerides and homocysteine levels, resting heart rate—these indicators of heart health can tend to slowly creep upward as you get older, increasing your risk for several serious medical conditions, including heart attack and stroke. It’s important to follow your health care provider’s recommendations for monitoring these factors and keeping them within healthy levels through lifestyle measures and/or medication, if necessary.



Diabetes health
Diabetes health

 Blood glucose—Diabetes is a significant health problem in the United States and risk for type 2 diabetes (the most common form of the disease) increases with age. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), almost 26 million people in the U.S. have diabetes and about 14 percent of people between the ages of 45 and 64 have been diagnosed or have the disease but don’t know it.





Obesity management naturally.
Obesity management naturally.

Body mass index (BMI)—Chances are, you’ve watched the needle on the scale slowly inch up over the past several years—even if you try to eat healthy and exercise regularly. In addition to your BMI, which determines if your weight is within a healthy, overweight or obese range, your health care provider will also pay attention to your weight distribution. This measurement compares your waist size to your hip size and is used to help evaluate your risk for weight-related health problems.





artholaxOsteoporosis—Peak bone mass (maximum bone density and strength) gradually declines in your 40s and beyond, increasing your risk for osteoporosis-boneloss that can lead to

Fractures and other problems. After menopause, women are at even higher risk for this condition. A healthy diet and regular weight-bearing exercise, including strength training, can help prevent osteoporosis.







Why? The evidence How to eat


Oats contain beta-glucans, a soluble fibre that can help lower the unwanted form of cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein (LDL). Avenanthramides – antioxidants unique to oats – protect against atherosclerosis (the build-up of plaque on artery walls), so giving oats an advantage over other grains.  Researchers conclude that eating just 3g of oats daily is enough to reduce total cholesterol by five to ten per cent.

It is estimated that the risk of developing heart disease drops by two per cent for every one per cent reduction in total cholesterol.

This is a must for the 50-plus group, as it is in this decade that heart-disease risk shoots up.


Either as porridge or by adding a heaped tablespoon to plain yogurt.

Cherries are useful in combating several conditions common in middle age, including gout and arthritis. They are a rich source of the antioxidant anthocyanin.


Gout, which affects mainly men, is linked to raise levels of uric acid, forming crystals within the small joints. In a trial, researchers gave healthy participants 200g of cherries at breakfast. They noted that the rate at which uric acid was excreted increased by 60 per cent. Eat a dozen cherries or drink a glass of unsweetened juice three or four times a week. Eat fresh with yogurt or seeds to ensure absorption of the beneficial vitamins.



Benefits range from improved blood-sugar levels to reducing cholesterol.


A study revealed that 20 adults eating 60g of almonds daily for four weeks showed a nine per cent reduction in blood-sugar, suggesting almonds could offer protection against cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

Another study took 22 adults and replaced about a third of their usual sources of fat with almonds. After six weeks they noted a six per cent reduction in ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol, while their ‘good’ HDL cholesterol increased by six per cent.

Choose plain varieties as excess salt can lead to raised blood pressure.

Omega 3 fats in these fish can help lower heart rate and blood pressure, and reduce the risk of irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia). The best sources of omega 3 fats are salmon, mackerel, tuna, sardines and herring. A trial found that women who ate oily fish on a regular basis experienced the lowest incidence of strokes. Fish must be eaten at least four times a week for optimal benefits. Omega 3 fats are sensitive to high temperatures, so cook on a low heat or steam lightly. Eating raw fish such as sashimi will protect the beneficial fats.



Isoflavones in soy beans have been linked to lowering cholesterol, increasing bone density in post-menopausal women and improving male fertility. In a study, 42 post-menopausal women over the age of 50 were given three 30g servings of soy beans daily.

After 12 weeks it was noted that high-density lipoprotein (HDL), the good type of cholesterol, had increased by 3.7 per cent while total cholesterol had reduced by 5.5 per cent.

Levels of the protein osteocalcin also increased in the blood, benefiting bone density.

Consume fresh edamame beans or soy beans in cans.

They should be eaten twice or three times a week.

Soy can influence hormone levels and over-consumption is not recommended for pre-menopausal women without the advice of an endocrinologist.

In men, the isoflavones can have a mild effect on testosterone.


Tomatoes are an excellent source of the antioxidant lycopene. They offer a degree of protection against the formation and spread of cancer cells as well as protecting arteries from atherosclerosis.


Research has shown that drinking 150ml of tomato juice after 20 minutes of exercise offers protection against prostate, lung and stomach cancers and heart disease.


Lycopene is more easily absorbed by the body when the sources are cooked, so cooked tomato, in its many forms, is the most convenient way to benefit from lycopene. Look for juice, passata, puree or sauce (fresh, not sweetened).


 Full-fat milk can help combat the reduction in muscle mass associated with getting older, especially after the age of 50.


A 2006 study found that drinking full-fat milk after exercise helped ensure that muscle mass was enhanced.

Whole milk contains 118mg of calcium per 100ml, which is essential for bone health as well as assisting blood-clotting.

The daily recommended intake of calcium is about 1,000mg for men and 1,200mg for women. Eating green vegetables, nuts and seeds in addition to whole milk is an effective way to achieve this.

Whole milk can be added to porridge, cereals, tea, coffee and smoothies. Get professional advice before taking a calcium supplement – for example, taking too much can increase prostate cancer risk in men.



This is a great source of protein – one 200g skinless breast provides 60g. Helps contribute to effective weight-management and muscle-building.


A study in 2010 revealed that a ‘moderate increase in protein’ resulted in maintenance of weight loss compared with higher-carbohydrate diets.

Chicken soup might also be able to combat the common cold. As a skinless chicken breast contains only 1g of saturated fat, it is a useful alternative to red meat.


Cut the fat content by removing the skin (breast is 17 per cent fat with skin on, and about two per cent without). The leg, even with the skin off, contains six per cent fat.




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