It is important to safeguard one’s health at every age however at age 40 and above you have lived on planet earth long enough for your body to have a right to demand some special attention for a durable service to you. It therefore becomes more important to be aware of health risks that comes along with this maturity and to have plans in place to either prevent, mitigate or treat these health concerns.
It is time to start paying attention to the idea of good sleep, healthy diet (some will consider multivitamins and other health supplement as adjuncts), rest and regular exercise. Reduction of Caffeine and Alcohol intake as well as cutting down or better still quitting smoking altogether is essential going forwards.
Also time to check in with your Health Care Practitioner for a health check, the interval dependent on your health status.
What then should we be doing ?
Healthy eating tips : Try to eat:
- Plenty of fruit and vegetables
- For starchy foods such as bread rice pasta etc choose wholegrain varieties wherever possible
- Some milk and dairy products
- Some meat, fish, eggs, beans and other non-dairy sources of protein
- Only a small amount of foods and drinks high in fats and/or sugar.
The idea is that whatever your ethnicity you can have your traditional foods in the right proportion within these global and nutritionally recognised food groups to maintain a healthy balance.
The key to healthy diet is to eat the right amount of calories for how active you are so you balance the energy you consume with the energy you use. If you eat or drink more than your body needs, you will put on weight because the energy you do not use is stored as fat. If you eat and drink little you will lose weight. The recommended calories requirement for men is 2500 calories and for women 2000 calories.
Credit : Public Health Nigeria sample of healthy food home time table.
Some people choose to have Multivitamins and mineral supplements as adjuncts to achieve a balanced nutrition. Most normal healthy adults do not need to take supplements if they are having a healthy balanced diet but if you choose to or feel the need to as you can’t be confident to have enough from your regular meals then it is a good idea as it could help fortify health as one grows older. Vitamins such as Iron, Calcium and Vitamin C are essential nutrients that your body needs in small amounts to work properly. In cold climes where sunshine is a luxury Vitamin D supplements becomes essential outside the summer months. Calcium and Vitamin D combination helps strengthen bones particularly around the menopause and beyond. Folic acid supplement is essential if you are pregnant .All these supplements are available over the chemist counter and the pharmacists can give advice on which is suitable if in doubt.
Credit: credit: Healthy Food Naija
Rest, Leisure and Sleep:
The body rejuvenates during rest and sleep, our metabolic hormones are activated and the brain reinvigorates for good memory, attention and productivity during these periods. We are less agitated, are able to focus and function better after a good sleep. Prolonged sleep deprivation could lead to fatigue and predisposes to severe mental health problems.
6-8 hours of sleep is regarded as adequate for most adults, some might require more to be optimal but persistently sleeping less than 6 hours a day for a long time is thought to predispose to ill health.
Credit: Progressive Psychological Healthcare
Exercise improves your physical and mental wellbeing and reduces the risk of heart disease and stroke. Do at least 150 minutes ( 30 minutes a day )of moderate intensity activity ( brisk walking, dancing, riding a bike, pushing a lawn mower, water aerobics) each week or 75 minutes (15 minutes a day ) of vigorous intensity activity (running, swimming, walking up the stairs, skipping, gymnastics, aerobics, sports) . If unble to do any of the above then simply moving around the home when you can or even slow walking outdoors in the garden is better than nothing at all. Spread exercise evenly over 4 to 5 days a week or every day .
If you drink alcohol it is important to keep within the guidelines:
- Men and women should not drink more than 21 units and 14 units respectively of alcohol each week.
- You should have several alcohol-free days each week.
- Some medications or health conditions require total abstinence from alcohol.
How much is one unit of alcohol?
A unit is a measure of alcohol. The number of units is based on the size of the drink and its alcohol strength (ABV). The ABV (alcohol by volume) figure is the percentage of alcohol in the drink.
- A single pub measure (25mls) of spirits (40% ABV) contains one unit of alcohol.
- A glass (50 ml) of liqueur, sherry or other fortified wine (20% ABV) contains one unit of alcohol.
- Half a pint (about 300mls) of normal strength (4% ABV) lager, cider or beer contains 1.1 unit of alcohol – be aware that many beers and ciders are stronger and have a higher volume than this.
- A standard 175ml glass of wine (13% ABV) would be 2.3 units – be aware that many wines have a higher alcohol content and the size of glasses may be bigger.
Checking in with your Doctor- Your Health Check.
People aged 40 and above should have a regular health check with their health professional. This check is designed to spot risks and /or early signs of stroke, kidney disease, heart disease, type 2 diabetes or dementia. As we get older, we have a higher risk of developing one of these conditions. Regular health checks can help us find ways to lower this risk.
Some of the warning signs of cardiovascular diseases such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol are silent which means they have no symptoms. So, you can feel well even though your risk is raised. By attending your health check such silent problems can be uncovered and treated.
During your health check the healthcare professional will ask you some questions about your lifestyle and family history, measure your height and weight, take your
The youtube video below shows what happens during a health check:
blood pressure and do a blood test. Your blood test results can show your chances of getting heart disease, stroke, kidney disease and diabetes. If you’re over 65, you will also be told the signs and symptoms of dementia to look out for. You will then receive personalised advice to improve your risk. This could include talking about:
- How to improve your diet and the amount of physical activity you do which can help reduce the risk of developing long term health problems.
- How to lose weight or stop smoking. Obesity and Smoking are well implicated in cardiovascular diseases and cancers.
- Taking medicines to lower your blood pressure and cholesterol which are risk factors for cardiovascular diseases.
If you are 18 and above can get a free personalise health score by clicking on the link below, it doesn’t replace health advice by a professional but it will point you in the right direction.
Remember! Prevention is better than Cure, keep healthy.
Public Health Nigeria
Public Health England
British heart Foundation