Tips for staying in good health over 50

As you age, your susceptibility to both minor ailments and more serious diseases increases. However, there's a lot you can do to reduce their impact – and perhaps even to avoid them altogether – by staying active, eating a nutritious diet and also harnessing the power of preventive medicine.

Tips for staying in good health over 50

1. Earth-wise remedies for arthritis

Arthritis generally occurs when bones and joints suffer natural deterioration with aging. Instead of depending entirely on medication to relieve the symptoms, such as pain and stiffness, try these earth-wise remedies.

  • If you take sleeping pills and pain-killers to ease the discomfort and pain of arthritis, talk to your doctor about natural alternatives. For many people, prescription drugs end up creating more problems than they solve.
  • If you're overweight, try to shed a few kg. Even a reduction of two kg (about 5 lb) can significantly diminish the impact of the stress suffered by the knees, and may also help in slowing the progress of the arthritis.
  • Choose a form of exercise that improves joint mobility and may reduce pain while being gentle on the body – check with your doctor or physiotherapist.
  • Eat more fish. Studies show that omega-3 fatty acids, the active ingredient in oily fish such as salmon and mackerel, may help to alleviate joint tenderness.
  • Take glucosamine, a cartilage-building sugar compound. While not absolutely proven as an effective treatment, it appears to slow damage over time, and has fewer serious side effects than prescription drugs. Look for a glucosamine supplement that's combined with chondroitin, also a cartilage-building compound.
  • Use a little heat. Mix together two mL (1/2 tsp.) eucalyptus oil and 50 g (2 oz.) calendula ointment or capsaicin cream over a gentle heat. Cool, then rub on the sore area. Wrap in plastic film and a warm, moist towel and leave for 10–15 minutes.

2. Natural prostate alternatives

Benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH), or prostate enlargement, is becoming increasingly prevalent in men over the age of 50. These natural remedies may help reduce the risk of BPH.

  • Nettle root: (Urticae radix) Taken over a number of weeks, this may reduce the frequency of urination that accompanies an enlarged prostate. It's often used in combination with other herbs, such as saw palmetto.
  • Saw palmetto: (Serenoa repens) Available from chemists or herbalists, it's a herb long used by Native Americans. Research suggests it may be beneficial for prostate health.
  • Tomatoes: Eat these cooked, rather than raw, to access lycopene, a flavonoid (anti-oxidant) that helps prevent prostate cancer.

3. Urinary tract infections (UTIs)

Ten times more women than men suffer from recurring UTIs. If you're one of them, consider these natural alternatives to prescription drugs.

  • Try drinking cranberry juice. Once a traditional remedy, it's now also regarded as an effective preventive by orthodox medicine. Cranberries contain chemicals that prevent E. coli bacteria (that cause urinary infections) from sticking to the wall of the urinary tract.
  • Sandalwood oil has anti-inflammatory properties, and is used as a urinary antiseptic in traditional Ayurvedic medicine. Fill the bathtub with warm water and add 500 mL (two cups) Epsom salts, 250 mL (one cup) baking soda and five drops sandalwood oil. Soak in the bath for 15 minutes.
  • For irregular bleeding stock your medicine cabinet with dong quai, chaste tree and raspberry leaf.
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