You eat healthily and get in some daily exercise — and yet, you notice your body continues to change as you age despite your best efforts. It’s not all bad, though. Many claim all their years after 50 are their happiest yet, even with a few extra pains or pounds accumulating around their midsection. And though you know your body will alter year after year, you probably aren’t aware of all the different changes you should be anticipating.
From how your food tastes to how well your eyes and ears are working, here are the surprising ways you can expect your body to change after 50 (including No. 9, the most bizarre change of all.)
1. You’ll crave foods you’ve never craved before
If you’ve always craved chocolate but suddenly you’re craving pickles post-50, it’s actually not that strange. Purple Clover reports changing hormones can change your taste preferences as you age. And many cravings can actually be explained, too. If you’re craving sugary foods, it could have to do with a drop in the brain chemical serotonin, for example.
If you’re suddenly reaching for more junk food than usual, make sure to monitor your calorie intake here. Otherwise, you could gain a few pounds thanks to your hormonal shifts.
Next: You might want to get your height rechecked.
2. Yes, you really will shrink
If you thought shrinking only happens once you hit your 70s or 80s, we have bad news. The Huffington Post reports Harvard research says you’ll start losing about half an inch of height each decade after 40. And you can thank your spine for that.
Essentially, the disks that separate each vertebra get thinner as you age, resulting in a shorter spinal column. And if you’re experiencing this spinal degeneration as well as muscle loss, you may end up with a hunched-over look.
Next: You may notice your nails looking more brittle than usual.
3. The texture of your skin and nails will completely change
You may have hated your oily skin in your younger years, but you’ll be missing that natural skin lubricant as you get older. Health24 notes you’ll probably notice your skin is drier than usual, and that’s because your body is producing less oil.
On the same note, you’ll also notice changes in your nails. They’re likely to break easier due to hormonal changes, Verywell reports. And if you anemia or arteries that are hardening, you’re likely to notice a significant difference here.
Next: Your glasses might not cut it anymore.
4. Your night vision will worsen
You’ve probably noticed your glasses prescription changing as you age — but that’s not the only aspect of your vision you should consider. Macular degeneration is quite common for those over the age of 55, Harvard Health Publishing reports. And another issue for those with aging eyes is diminished night vision.
Around age 40, you may notice you dread driving at night — and unfortunately, that’s totally normal. The combination of the outside darkness and the oncoming headlights are making it difficult for your eyes to adjust.
Next: This is one of the more unfortunate realities of getting older.
5. Your bladder may become overactive
Feeling like you have to hit the bathroom more often? Unfortunately, that’s pretty normal as you age. And it’s even more normal to have to get up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom, too.
AARP notes 15-20% of those over 50 wakes up at least twice in the middle of the night to urinate, according to Dr. Ryan P. Terlecki. And incontinence is also quite common, especially in men with an enlarged prostate or a decline in estrogen levels in women.
Next: You may smell different than you remember.
6. Your sweat will change in scent
No matter how much perfume or cologne you wear, you still have a scent that’s distinctly your own. And Purple Clover notes that as you age, your changing hormones can cause a serious shift in how you smell, too. Any medications you’re taking can also impact your scent, so keep this in mind as well.
There’s also some good news for you — there’s no signature “old people smell”that younger folk complain about. And one study determined women between the ages of 45 and 55 had the most pleasant smell out of anyone. If you’re in this range, consider yourself lucky.
Next: Your heart changes in ways you didn’t expect.
7. Your heart may literally grow in size
You probably know heart disease is the No. 1 killer in the U.S., so it’s important to keep a healthy, active lifestyle as you age. With that said, like the rest of your body and organs, your heart will also experience natural wear and tear no matter how healthful you are. And Health24 notes your heart rate slows post-50, and your arteries may also become stiffer.
This combination of a slower rate and stiffening arteries can lead to an enlarged heart, too, which is often the start of heart disease.
Next: Your memory might not be what it once was.
8. Accessing memories may start to slow
While you may think brain function will come to a screeching halt at some point in your later years, this isn’t the case. AARP notes new brain cells grow well into your 50s and 60s. And if you want to learn a new skill, there’s no better time than later in life.
Here’s what does change for the worse: your ability to access memories. You may find it’s harder to recall information than it was once. Keep in mind this isn’t the same as memory loss, however, which can be prevented with regular exercise and a thriving social life.
Next: Your favorite candy bar might not taste the same as you remember.
9. Salty and sweet tastes will slowly fade
Having trouble tasting your dinner? You can blame your aging nose on that. Purple Clover explains the cells in your nose that pick up aromas decrease at a faster rate than they’re regenerating when you’re over 50. And this is making all of your food taste just a little blander than usual.
Not only that, but signals from your nose to your brain will also start to diminish. This makes it more difficult for your brain to distinguish what it is you’re eating. You’ll notice salty and sweet foods are first to go, and then bitter and sour.
Next: You might want to start switching to almond milk.
10. Dairy is likely to bother you
We know cheese and ice cream are a few of life’s simple pleasures, but you may find yourself moving to dairy-free options post-50. AARP notes many middle-aged and older folks produce less lactase, which is the enzyme that helps you properly digest dairy. This can lead to stomach bloat and discomfort.
There’s good news if you like yogurt, though. The active bacterial cultures found in yogurt can help you digest lactose.
Next: Bruises might take much longer to disappear.
11. Your body takes longer to heal
There’s a reason you’re waking up with more aches and pains as you age. And unfortunately, if you injure yourself, it’ll probably take a lot longer for it to heal, too. Purple Clover notes around age 50, your bone density has dropped by about 10%. Not only does this mean you’ll experience a decrease in strength — but it also means an injury can set you back for far longer than it would have if you were 20.
Make sure you’re doing resistance training at the gym a few times a week to combat this. Adding weights into your workout regimen can greatly help.
Next: Do you hear a popping noise every time you stand up?
12. Your joints will likely make a lot of noise
Since a lot of changes are going on with your bones as you age, you may notice they’ve become quite noisy. AARP says it’s actually normal to hear your bones creak, pop, and sound like they’re being snapped — as long as there’s no pain, that is.
The noises are typically ligaments tightening around the joint that’s moving, or they could be from tendons over the joint snapping. Either way, if there’s no noticeable swelling or numbness with the sounds, then it’s just another natural part of aging.
Next: Here’s another bathroom issue.
13. Constipation may plague you
While some people over 50 go to the bathroom more often than they ever did before, you may also be in the crowd with the opposite issue. Purple Clover notes the muscle movements in your colon start to slow once you reach 50. This makes constipation a real issue for some.
Also, keep in mind that the medications you’re taking can also impact your bathroom habits. Many meds prescribed to the over-50 crowd are known to cause constipation.
Next: Life in the bedroom will also change.
14. Your body during sex isn’t what it used to be
Yes, unfortunately, everything about sex will change once you hit 50, too. Prevention explains for women, lowered estrogen levels can cause vaginal dryness and a lack of desire for your partner. There is one plus to waning estrogen, however — and that’s that higher-than-normal testosterone levels may make your partner even more desirable to you than they were before.
And of course, when you’re older, you’re less likely to care about every bodily imperfection you may have cared about 30 years prior. That can make sex more enjoyable, too.
Next: Have you checked your teeth lately?
15. You’ll need more frequent visits to the dentist
Hate the dentist? Unfortunately, you may be paying more visits than you’d like. Purple Clover explains your tooth enamel starts to wear down once you hit 50, making you more susceptible to decay and cavities.
Make sure you’re visiting the dentist at least twice a year for cleanings. You can also ask about dental sealants to help protect your teeth against decay, too.
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