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Major Health Secrets After 50, Say Experts

You can still seriously improve your health.
FACT CHECKED BY Alek Korab

We don't have access to your Amazon search history, but in the last few months, we're pretty sure you've been searching for the modern fountain of youth (or at least a minor advantage) via products, supplements, devices, or regimens. We have good news: After age 50, you can seriously improve your health (and extend your life) without spending beyond your normal health and dental insurance. Read on to find out how—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You May Have Already Had COVID.

1

Tooth Loss May Affect Your Brain

Middle age hispanic man using laptop sitting on the floor at the living room touching mouth with hand with painful expression.
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A study published in JAMDA: The Journal of Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine this summer found that the more teeth a person loses, the greater their risk of developing dementia or cognitive decline. Researchers determined that for every tooth lost, a person had a 1.1% greater risk of developing dementia and a 1.4% greater risk of experiencing cognitive decline. The scientists said they don't know what the causal relationship is between lost teeth and brain issues: It might involve nutrition, exposure to oral bacteria or socioeconomic status. In any event, it's a good reminder to keep regular dental appointments and make your oral health a priority.

RELATED: Sure Signs You May Have Dementia, Says CDC

2

Quality Sleep Is Especially Important

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The old stereotype is that people "need less sleep" as they age. Recent research says that's not true, and getting less sleep in middle age and beyond may be harmful. A study published last spring in the journal Nature Communications found that people over 50 who sleep less than six hours a night are 30% more likely to develop dementia in their later years—a risk that was independent of sociodemographic, behavioral, cardiometabolic, and mental health factors. "These findings suggest that short sleep duration in midlife is associated with an increased risk of late-onset dementia," the scientists wrote. How much sleep should you aim for? Experts, including the American Heart Association and National Sleep Foundation, advise seven to nine hours a night. 

RELATED: I'm a Doctor and Warn You Never Press This Button on Your Phone

3

Skipping These Two Checkups Can Harm Your Brain

Doctor doing an eye exam on his patient.
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A recent study found that older adults who start losing both vision and hearing are twice as likely to develop dementia as people with only one or neither impairment. Hearing loss can be an early sign of several health issues, including dementia. Getting regular vision and hearing tests—are following doctors' recommendations—are key. To prevent issues: limit or avoid noise exposure, protect your ears with earplugs when around loud noise, and protect your eyes with UV-blocking sunglasses.

RELATED: Ways to Reverse Aging Now

4

Don't Drink Alcohol to Excess

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Too many of us have turned to a nightly cocktail (or several) as a coping mechanism during the COVID-19 pandemic. Experts say excessive alcohol consumption ages you, inside and out: Alcohol dehydrates the skin and causes inflammation, which can show up on your face as flushing, swelling and broken capillaries. And chronic overuse of alcohol can lead to heart disease and more than seven types of cancer. To reduce those risks, experts recommend no more than two drinks a day for men and one for women.

RELATED: What Taking Vitamin C Every Day Does to Your Body

5

Get Regular Exercise

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Conversely, to keep yourself youthful inside and out, exercise most days of the week. "Findings from a few studies suggest that moderate exercise can improve circulation and boost the immune system," says the American Academy of Dermatology. "This, in turn, may give the skin a more youthful appearance." Additionally, experts are unanimous in saying that regular exercise reduces your risk of major disorders associated with aging, including heart disease, cancer, dementia and more. Strive for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise (such as brisk walking, dancing or gardening) each week. And to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

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