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Two common health problems in the over 50’s and how to avoid them

Old age eventually comes to us all, and as we are all living longer it seem that we only have a myriad of health issues to look forward to. When we’re younger we don’t necessarily think about the challenges of aging, but in some cases it is possible to prevent or minimize some problems just by adopting some healthy habits when we’re younger – even if we only started them later on in life.

Knee problems and degenerating eyesight are two common issues once we hit our fifties, and while surgery like knee replacement and laser eye surgery are always options here’s some simple tips on lifestyle changes that could help.

Knee Joint Problems

You may begin to start noticing joint problems once you are in your fifties, particularly in the knee joints. Hereditary factors may come into play but after the age of 35 the replacement of bone minerals, which are lost throughout life, slows down, and we eventually lose more than our body replaces. This affects:

·         the ability of cartilage to heal. Cartilage is the natural cushioning between joints and in conditions such as osteoarthritis it wears away. This causes the bones to rub together resulting in stiffness, pain, swelling and decreased movement.

·         everyday activities that cause stress to the joints, including bending, lifting and kneeling. If you are involved in sporting activities, including running, football and tennis then this may increase your likelihood of developing knee problems such as osteoarthritis because of the pressure the joints have to bear.

Age-related Eye Problems

In common with the rest of our body, our eyes are also affected by the aging process, with problems such as long-sightedness (presbyopia) being a noticeable occurrence that begins in our 40s. Other problems include cataracts, issues with night vision and age-related macular degeneration – a disease in which the light-sensitive cells in the eye fail.

How to help your joints and eye health

Interestingly enough, you can kill two birds with one stone by adopting some healthy habits which help both joint and eye health.

Increase your intake of leafy, green vegetables

Leafy, green vegetables such as kale and spinach are high in nutrients, such as lutein and zeaxanthin. Both are found in the back of the eye and are important in maintaining normal eye function as well as preventing diseases such as macular degeneration.

These foods are also high in calcium – essential for healthy, strong bones and for keeping diseases like osteoporosis at bay.

Eat more fish

Fish oils have proven benefits for both joint and eye health especially oily fish that contain the omega-3 fatty acids. These include salmon, mackerel, tuna, sardines and anchovies.

Exercise Regularly

Although rigorous exercise can exacerbate joint problems, keeping the joints moving is also a way of preventing problems. Gentle, less jarring exercise, such as bike riding or swimming has been found to be beneficial in relieving the pain and discomfort of osteoarthritis, as well as keeping the knee joints mobile and less stiff. Pilates classes may be useful to strengthen muscles and aid balance.

Exercise is also good for eye health, with research finding that older adults who exercised at least three times a week reduced their risk of age-related macular degeneration by up to 70%.

Drink more water

When you get into your late 50’s your body loses water. You tend to sweat less and do not feel as thirsty and so tend to drink less. It’s important to keep your fluid levels up as water keeps cartilage hydrated, soft and flexible thereby reducing stiffness and pain.

Our eyes are immersed in fluid which help to protect them by washing away debris when we blink. Staying well hydrated maintains a healthy balance of fluid.

These simple steps will benefit your eye and joint health, but also the rest of your body. So make some changes today and give your body the nutrients and support it needs in combatting age-related health problems.

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