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Surprising Side Effects of Inflammation After 50, Say Dietitians

It's more than just discomfort that persistent inflammation could be causing.
FACT CHECKED BY Olivia Tarantino

Turning 50 may feel like a major accomplishment, but hitting the half-century mark doesn't come without its challenges. Unfortunately, not every silver hair comes with a silver lining: you may find yourself experiencing major changes in your health that affect not only your physique but also your mood. However, there's often a root cause of many of those symptoms: inflammation.

If you're concerned about how you look or feel in your sixth decade and beyond, read on to discover the surprising side effects of inflammation over 50, according to registered dietitians. And if you want to improve your wellbeing, check out The 7 Healthiest Foods to Eat Right Now.

You may develop arthritis.

An elderly man has pain in his fingers and hands

If you have persistent inflammation throughout your body, arthritis may soon follow.

"Inflammation of joints can worsen with age, causing arthritis, which can be very painful, stiffen the joints, and decrease your range of motion," says Courtney D'Angelo, MS, RD, a registered dietitian and author at Fit Healthy Momma.

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You may experience memory loss.

Moody aged man feeling unhappy.

That mental fogginess you're experiencing isn't necessarily just a side effect of the aging process—it could be the result of inflammation wreaking havoc on your body.

"Chronic inflammation can increase the risk of dementia and memory problems. This is because inflammation can put a strain on the blood vessels that supply blood to the brain," explains Melissa Mitri, MS, RD, a registered dietitian for Wellness Verge.

RELATED: 21 Tips That Improve Your Memory, According to Doctors

Your risk of heart disease may rise.

Asian Businessman standing near the window and having chest pain.

Heart disease is the number one cause of death in the U.S. and inflammation could be increasing your risk of the often-fatal condition.

"Inflammation can contribute to blocked arteries and plaque buildup over time, which increases the risk of heart attack and stroke," explains Mitri.

You may be at a higher risk for obesity.

Obese man measuring his waist.

That extra weight you're carrying could be the result of untreated inflammation in your body.

"Since inflammation can increase the risk for several chronic diseases, this also can indirectly increase the risk of obesity by influencing hormone levels such as insulin," says Mitri.

RELATED: The #1 Cause of Obesity, According to Science

You may find yourself feeling tired.

Stressed senior woman at home

That persistent fatigue you're experiencing may be more than the result of a poor night's sleep. In fact, inflammation could be at the heart of the problem.

"Many blame fatigue on aging but this is often far from the truth. As digestion is slowly impaired over time, this results in nutrient deficiencies and multiple food sensitivities. When one or either of these goes undiagnosed over time, one can wake up exhausted despite sleeping through the night," says Kylene Bogden, MS, RDN, CSSD, IFNCP, founder of FWDfuel Sports Nutrition.

You may feel bloated.

Womach clutching bloated belly

If your jeans are suddenly feeling a size too small, bloating caused by inflammation could be to blame.

"As we age, we often experience bloating as a result of digestion becoming impaired [because] of a poor balance of bacteria in the gut due stress, toxins, medications etc. in addition to a lack of stomach acid that naturally occurs as we age," explains Bogden.

If you want to reduce inflammation in your body ASAP, check out the 30 Best Anti-Inflammatory Foods.

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Sarah Crow
Sarah Crow is a senior editor at Eat This, Not That!, where she focuses on celebrity news and health coverage. Read more about Sarah