If you are like most men, young and aging alike, you probably abhor going to see your Doctor, and medical tests tend to fall very low on your “to-do” list. There are many reasons and excuses to avoid the Doctor’s office; however once you reach the age of 50 it becomes more pertinent than ever that you make it a priority. Below is a list of medical tests and tune-ups that all aging men, 50 years and older should undergo.
Tune Up #1: Blood Pressure
High blood pressure can strike at any time in life; however aging puts you at an increased risk for developing it. In fact, according to the National Institute of Aging, over half of all Americans over the age of 60 have high blood pressure. High blood pressure can cause severe damage to your organs and even death and screening for it is both easy and reliable, so there really is no excuse for forgoing this test. The American Institute for Preventative Medicine (AIPM) recommends getting your blood pressure checked every 1 to 3 years.
If the test confirms that you do in fact have high blood pressure, a tune-up may be as simple as modifying your diet and lifestyle. Phyllis Balch recommends in her book “Prescription for Nutritional Healing,” eliminating sugar, caffeine, alcohol, pickled foods and animal fats. In addition, you should consume a high fiber diet, with plenty of fruits and vegetables and whole grains. Also be sure to perform light to moderate exercise, regularly
Tune Up #2 Cholesterol Levels
Similar to high blood pressure, high cholesterol effects people of all ages, but aging increases your chances for developing it. High cholesterol increases your risk for stroke, heart disease, dementia and several other diseases. Checking your cholesterol is simple, involving a quick blood test and the AIPM recommends having your cholesterol checked every 3 to 5 years.
To tune-up your cholesterol levels follow the same suggestions given for lowering blood pressure, and consider adding cayenne pepper into your daily diet, because it has been thought to lower cholesterol. In addition, Balch recommends eliminating all dairy and processed foods and consuming olive oil, cold-water fish, grapefruit and garlic liberally.
Tune Up # 3: Immunizations
Immunity fades over time and vaccines change over the years. Men over 50 are advised to have a tetanus booster. Aging men should also consider getting a yearly flu shot and men over 65 are advised to have a pneumococcal vaccine as well.
Tune Up # 4: The Dreaded Colonoscopy
Colon cancer kills 56,000 Americans every year. Aging greatly increases your risk for developing colorectal cancer, likely because your hormones decrease as you age and researchers suspect that colon cancer may actually be a “disease of missing hormones.” The colonoscopy is probably the most dreaded of all tests amongst men; however it is also one of the most important. According to the Center for Disease Control, 60% of all colon cancer related deaths could be prevented if people were properly screened for it and treated appropriately.
If you are over 50 it is recommended that you get screened right away (if you haven’t already) and then again every 10 years. In the meantime, you can help support the health of your aging colon by reducing your intake of saturated fats, alcohol, and fried foods, and increasing your intake of water and fiber, states Balch.
Tune Up #5: Address Joint Pain and Stiffness
Pain and stiffness in your bones and joints are not a natural part of aging; they are often indicative of something more serious such as arthritis or osteoporosis. Although men are less likely to develop these conditions due to hormones and physical biology factors, they are not immune. In fact 23% of all men will develop some form of arthritis in their lifetime. Bottom line is, if you are experiencing pain and stiffness in any of your joints, and/or a reduced range of motion, you should speak to your doctor about having your blood tested for markers of arthritis.
The following dietary recommendations are considered helpful to the health of your bones, regardless of whether or not you are currently suffering with joint pain and stiffness. Firstly, you should increase your intake of sulfur-containing foods such as onions, garlic, eggs and asparagus, because sulfur helps to repair and rebuild bones, states Balch. In addition, you should consume leafy greens, whole grains, fish, soybeans and avocados, regularly.