40 things men over 40 need to know about their health

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As you age through your 40s, your risk of high blood pressure increases. Younger men do also get hypertension - just at lower rates. In order to prevent high blood pressure, it's important to engage in healthy lifestyle habits such as not smoking and exercising regularly. Your diet also plays a role in your blood pressure risk. It's best to limit foods rich with sodium and eat more nutrient-dense foods that are associated with a lower risk. Additionally, make sure to get regular blood pressure screenings.

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You should quit smoking

It's never too late to quit smoking. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are benefits to quitting at any age. Quitting smoking lowers your risk of heart disease, stroke, narrowing blood vessels, cancer, respiratory distress, and fatal lung diseases.

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You're at higher risk of prostate issues

In your 40s, you begin to have an increased risk of prostate issues such as an enlarged prostate gland or prostate cancer. As men get older, it's common to experience benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), or enlargement of the prostate gland. BPH is typically asymptomatic in its early states, so it's important to regularly visit your doctor to check up on the issue. If left untreated, BPH can result in painful or blocked urination, as well as a higher risk of cancer.

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You could experience erectile dysfunction

Men at any age can experience erectile dysfunction. But the risk significantly increases as you get older. According to the Urology Care Foundation, erectile dysfunction is the sex problem most commonly reported by men. Nearly 30 million men are affected, with risk factors including everything from drug use to heart trouble. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle to avoid conditions such as diabetes and heart disease could help reduce your risk.

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You can prevent infertility

It's not just women who need to keep age in mind when thinking about fertility. Men's age affects couples' ability to succeed as well. After a man turns 40, it takes longer for him and his partner to conceive. There are lifestyle and diet habits that may increase your chances of being able to have a baby in the future. Cutting back on alcohol, getting proper nutrition, and limiting your exposure to pollutants and chemicals are a few examples. Additionally, you may want to quit these habits that may actually harm your sperm count.

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Your risk of heart disease increases

According to the National Institutes of Health, aging can cause certain changes in the heart and blood vessels. Some of these changes, such as fatty deposits building up on artery walls, can contribute to a great risk of heart disease. Ensure you are living a heart-healthy lifestyle by eating foods with nutritional value for your heart health, as well as exercising regularly and taking steps to reduce stress.

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You may experience balding

Every hair follicle has a life cycle, and as you age, some of your follicles may die or fail to work as effectively. Every person's hair growth slows with age. Depending on a myriad of factors including genetics and medical conditions, some people experience a more dramatic slowing of hair growth or have hair growth that stops completely.

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Joint pain is more likely

While some people do experience arthritis in their 30s, the condition becomes much more common in your 40s and 50s. There are two types of arthritis: rheumatoid arthritis, caused by swelling and inflammation of the joints, and osteoarthritis, caused by wear and tear of cartilage.

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Exercise helps preserve brain health

You might not think of your brain first when you think about why you should exercise, but physical activity plays a huge role in preventing cognitive decline. According to neurologists, it's one of the best things you can do to prevent Alzheimer's and dementia. Here are a few exercise tips specifically for people in their 40s if you're nervous to get started!

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Your metabolism will slow down

Metabolism naturally slows down as you get older. This is part of what probably contributes to natural weight gain associated with aging. There isn't much you can do to prevent it, but you can try to limit how much you engage in these habits that slow your metabolism even further.

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You shouldn't cut dairy

Going dairy-free might seem like a healthy choice, but unless you're lactose intolerant there's really no need. And if you're in your 40s, omitting dairy products could do more harm than good. Your bone mass reaches its peak when you turn 30. If you skimp on dairy products such as cheese and yogurt, you could miss out on calcium that could benefit your bones, putting you at greater risk for osteoporosis and joint pain. Dairy also contains a good amount of vitamin D, which can keep your skin, hair, and overall mood healthy as you age. Before you quit dairy, read up on what it really does to your body to make this diet change.

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You should read more often

In addition to being an enjoyable and fulfilling leisure activity, reading is really good for your health, too. According to a study published in the journal Neurology, engaging in cognitive activities such as reading helps to slow cognitive decline. Another study showed that activities such as reading, puzzles, or chess make you 2.5 times less likely to develop Alzheimer's. So read a newspaper or pick up a book - whatever medium you like to read, consider doing so more often.

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You shouldn't cut carbs

Fiber is an absolute must for anyone over 40. Studies suggest that eating enough fiber can produce a small but important reduction in cholesterol levels, which is important because your cholesterol is already more likely to increase as you age. Soluble fibers are often consumed alongside carbs - whole grains such as bread, pasta, and oats, for example, are rich in both. In addition to digestive issues, there are other significant effects of quitting carbs that you should consider.

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Sleep is really important

Sleep is of critical importance when it comes to your health. Sleep-deprivation affects everything from your mental health to your heart health. As you get older, prioritize getting the recommended amount of sleep every night. According to the National Sleep Foundation, your sleep patterns will change naturally as you age. Older adults are more prone to sleep-related conditions such as insomnia, sleep apnea, and an inability to feel rested after sleep.

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You should spend more time with other people

Yes it's important to cook healthy meals and make time for the gym; but your social life is one of the most underrated aspects of living a healthy lifestyle. Research shows there are huge health benefits to spending time with people you care about and, conversely, there are huge health risks to being lonely as you age. According to a study from 2012, loneliness increased risk of death by 12 percent.

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You should learn about heart attack symptoms

You've probably heard of chest pain as a symptom - but what about the others? Heart attack symptoms can be subtle at first and the earlier you realize a heart attack is hitting, the better. Men and women have different symptoms. But some you may want to note are shortness of breath, nausea, heart palpitations, and sweating. If you experience all or some of these at once, especially with accompanying chest pain, there is reason to be alarmed and call a doctor.

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You should try to eat balanced meals

This is true at any age, but nutrition is of critical importance as you get older. Nutrients such as carbohydrates, proteins, and fats are essential for your body's daily functioning. Eating nutritionally balanced meals means eating meals that have all three of these nutrients. Take care to eat enough protein to support healthy cell growth and fats to help your brain. Additionally, pairing carbohydrates with these other macronutrients can help keep your blood sugar at bay.

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You shouldn't rely on supplements

Vitamins and supplements can be a good way to add a little extra to your diet, but you shouldn't rely on them entirely. Supplements are not carefully regulated by the Food and Drug Administration - and the vitamins and minerals you need can easily be added to your diet by eating nutritious foods instead.

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You shouldn't opt for egg whites

The yolk is the most nutrient-dense part of an egg. It's true that you don't want to overdo it on cholesterol or put your heart at risk by eating too much saturated fat, so if you eat more than a couple eggs each day, this could be a risk. But research shows that one or two eggs in a day won't have those negative effects. In fact, eggs are nutrient-dense and have many health benefits when eaten in moderate amounts. Some studies show that eating an egg every day may actually prevent heart disease. So bring on the yolks!

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Exercise is important for your joints and bones

Studies have shown that arthritis is directly correlated with a lack of physical exercise or activity. Making sure you engage in regular exercise can help prevent arthritis as you age, though it's not a guarantee.

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Your immune system gets weaker

As you age, your immune system goes through some changes. This may result in your immune system becoming weaker. According to a review published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, your body produces fewer B and T cells in your bone marrow. These cells are crucial for immune system functioning. The decline in immunity can make a person over 40 more susceptible to illness and increase the severity of infections.

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You need to floss

Gum disease most often occurs for people in their 30s and 40s. Though the evidence is a little shaky, some studies suggest that flossing can help lower your risk.

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You should get your skin checked

The sun can cause skin damage over time. Have a doctor check your skin for any abnormal marks. If you can, you want to catch melanoma early so that it doesn't worsen and spread.

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Small aches and pains can still be serious

Don't ignore a slight discomfort or unusual pain. It may not seem like a big deal, but some small symptoms can actually signal a serious health problem. Though you may not be well versed in every illness to be on the lookout for, your doctor can help you either interpret what's going on or reassure you that the symptom is benign.

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You will lose collagen

You probably will notice that your skin starts to wrinkle as you get older. This is in part due to a loss of collagen in your skin cells. Collagen is a protein that maintains elasticity and strength of your skin. When protected from environmental stressors such as UV light, collagen will last for longer. Take good care of your skin by using sunscreen and limiting heavy exposure to sunlight.

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Your skin becomes thinner

In addition to losing collagen, your skin will actually become thinner as you age. This is because the number of cells you produce declines. Thinning skin can result in you being cut or blistered more easily.

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Fats are an important part of your diet

Ditch the old misconception that fats make you fat. In actuality, fat is a crucial nutrient that benefits your body in a number of ways. Cutting fats from your diet can put your brain at greater risk and have other negative consequences to your health. Healthy fats are contained in many foods including fatty fish, oils, nuts, and seeds.

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Your vision might worsen

Many people do not experience any change in their vision as they age. But others might notice a decline. The most common causes of vision decline in older adults are age-related macular degeneration, cataract, diabetic retinopathy, dry eye, glaucoma, and low vision. All of these conditions can be caught early with an eye exam. As you approach 50, consider seeing an eye doctor to get them checked.

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Your hearing might worsen

Most people will experience some level of hearing loss as they get older. Though the risk in your 40s is much lower, at ages 65 to 74 the chance of hearing loss is over 30 percent. Some hearing loss may be unpreventable, but excessive exposure to loud noise can worsen the condition. Additionally, heart disease and high blood pressure are linked to worse hearing outcomes over the long term according to the National Institutes of Health.

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You have a higher risk of stroke

Your risk of stroke increases with age, doubling every decade after you turn 45 according to some studies. To cut your risk of stroke, maintain heart-healthy habits such as regular exercise and eating a nutritious diet.

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You are at risk for kidney stones

The peak age for risk of kidney stones is 30 - but if you've had a kidney stone, the risk of experiencing another within the following 5 to 7 years is much higher. Kidney stones can be painful and have no singular cause. However, you can reduce your risk by staying hydrated, limiting your sodium intake, and taking care not to eat excess sugar.

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Your hormone levels change

Starting at age 30, men start to produce less testosterone over time. This can result in a decreased interest in sex, fatigue, depression, and muscle weakness. Some people opt to treat low testosterone with hormone therapy. However, other men don't experience severe enough symptoms to desire treatment.

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Your hair could turn gray

When you start to go gray is affected by a few things, including genetics. So your gray hair may not be preventable. However, other influences such as stress, smoking, and a nutritionally-deficient diet can also increase your risk. According to a study published in the journal Clinical Interventions in Aging, by age 50, 50 percent of people have up to half a head of gray hair.

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Hangovers will feel worse

It's not your imagination - your hangovers really do get worse as you get older. Alcohol is metabolized in the liver. However, as you age your liver becomes bigger and less efficient; this can worsen the effect of a hangover, or at least make alcohol much harder to handle. But you may want to cut back on the booze in your 40s anyway. The National Institute on Aging warns that heavy drinking can lead to cancer, liver damage, immune system disorders, and brain damage. Drinking too much over time can also worsen health conditions most common in older adults including osteoporosis, diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, ulcers, memory loss, and mood disorders.

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It's important to limit stress

Consider adding some form of stress relief or stress management tactic to your routine. Stress can have debilitative effects over time, resulting in a higher risk of heart conditions and other health problems. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, long-term stress can contribute to diabetes, high blood pressure, depression, and anxiety.

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You should get testing for cholesterol

Research shows that having high cholesterol in your 30s and 40s can up your chances of heart disease, increasing by nearly 40 percent with each decade. There are diet and lifestyle changes that can help keep cholesterol down or even lower it over time. Get your cholesterol checked by your doctor. If you do need to take steps to lower your cholesterol, your doctor will be able to help.

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You're at risk of osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is often asymptomatic at first, meaning that a diagnosis may take you by surprise. The disease can occur when the body loses bone mass, produces too little bone mass, or both. As a result, fractures occur more easily. To help support your bones and prevent osteoporosis, be sure to eat foods with the nutrients your body needs to build strong bones.

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Antioxidants are important

Antioxidants are some of your greatest allies when it comes to preventing negative health effects that often come with aging. Prevention of cancer and other diseases can be bolstered by adding antioxidants to your diet. These compounds protect and support healthy cells. Foods rich with antioxidants include many fruits and vegetables, though other foods contain them, as well.

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Mental health is important

Don't underestimate the importance of mental health! Poor mental health can actually lead to many physiological effects. According to the National Institutes of Mental Health, people with depression are at higher risk of other medical conditions including, but not limited to, Alzheimer's disease, heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. Prioritize your mental health and take care to see a therapist or other mental health professional if you are struggling.

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You're at greater risk of Type 2 diabetes

Statistics from the 2017 National Diabetes Statistics Report showed that while 3 million new Type 2 diabetes diagnoses were made in 2015 for people ages 18-45, there were 10.7 million new Type 2 diabetes diagnoses in people ages 45-64. Your risk increases with age; it's never too early to start making dietary choices that could reduce your risk.

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