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Men’s health at 50: Planning for the next half century

The boomer generation is hitting the big 5-0 and facing lots of issues — from psychological to medical. Best Life magazine contributing editor Dr. Steven Lamm, author of "The Hardness Factor," examines various obstacles men face at this milestone and lists what they can do to protect their health:

Turning 50 is a milestone. We can choose to think of it as the loss of youth and the beginning of the inevitable decline into old age. On the other hand, we can use this half-century marker as a wonderful way to assess where we are in terms of overall wellness and optimal health.

Granted, there are changes as the body ages. Memory, muscle function, cardiac output, skin elasticity, and sexual performance are all affected by the passage of time. Even so, the ability to live well into one’s 90s can get jumpstarted at midlife.

With the elucidation of the Human Genome Project, we are now in a time of rapidly expanding knowledge of human genetics, which is allowing an unprecedented understanding of the relationship between gene expression and our level of wellness.

Nutrigenomics is revolutionizing medical practice because we now know that our genes do not, in and of themselves, give rise to disease. Heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes, and dementia are diseases that result from poor nutrition and lifestyle that lead to sub-optimal gene expression and premature “disease.”

At this point, it is critical that you have a medical checkup. Cardiovascular status, including cholesterol levels, blood pressure, blood sugar, and inflammatory markers (C-reactive protein) should be assessed. Men should get a PSA test and a colonoscopy. I strongly urge you to have a wellness evaluation that will also include a body fat level and a test for metabolism.

You can also get your stress levels tested by measuring heart rate variability. Forward-thinking doctors now offer genomic testing, a simple blood test that helps predict what the future may hold in terms of the lifestyle choices you are making today.

At age 50, think prevention and above all be proactive.

  • Take steps to protect the major body systems that regulate your well-being.
  • Strive to be stronger.
  • Build muscle, memory, heart rate, and breath.
  • Be physically active, mentally stimulated, and sexually vital.
  • Stay engaged with friends and family.
  • Most importantly, laugh a lot every day. This is your part of the wellness equation.

Do the best you can and with a bit of luck, you will be blowing out the candles on your birthday cake 50 years from now.

Dr. Steven Lamm has practiced internal medicine for more than 20 years. You will find many answers to your questions about male sexual health in his latest book, “The Hardness Factor,” published by HarperCollins . Visit The Hardness Factor for more information.