Stay healthy at 50

Friday, June 20th 2008, 8:07 pm
By: News 9

By Melissa Maynarich, NEWS 9

There may be a reason they say "you're over the hill", once you hit 50-years-old, and it has to do with the way your body handles nutrients and metabolizes food.

There's a drastic change that comes with the milestone, but you can do something about it.

Exercising in the second century of your life may be even more important than it was when you were younger.

"It's harder to stay active, and you have to make it more of a priority in your life," Gary Gorbsky, 53, said.

At around 50 years, the metabolism drastically slows down, and the body is not able to absorb nutrients as easily.

"For example, vitamin D is the sunshine vitamin, so as our skin ages, we don't metabolize the sunshine," OU Health Sciences Center Dietician Karen Funderburg said. "As the sunshine hits our skin, we just don't have as good of ability as we used to."

You may have to be especially cognizant these days, because those that are older are feeling much younger.

"People that are in their early 50s are definitely still working, and 50 is the new, what, 30? Maybe, but, nonetheless, even as a nation, we're not doing a good job," Funderburg said.

Eating the recommended five cups of fruits and vegetables daily may be the first thing you need to do, to compensate.

"If you're only eating a couple of cups of fruits and vegetables right now, just go to three; you don't have to go from zero to 100," Funderburg said.

Make sure you're getting enough fiber. Fortified foods help. Also, try spicing up your diet. When you get older, the number of taste buds decreases. So, enhance the taste with herbs.

Supplements are necessary if you're not getting enough nutrients in your food, and of course, exercise.

"One advantage of being fit, or trying to be fit, is that, I think, you feel younger than you actually are," Gorbsky said. "That's one of my goals, is trying to stave off the old age part."

Good food choices and exercise can significantly raise your quality of life in your 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s even if you haven't eaten well before.

INTEGRIS Men's Health University is offering free blood pressure, glucose and cholesterol screenings this Saturday from 9 a.m. until noon at INTEGRIS Southwest Medical Center. Men of all ages are welcome.