Researchers say people in their late 40s increasingly have to deal with chronic health issues such as type two diabetes and high blood pressure.
Experts say inflammation and insulin resistance brought on by aging, stress, and diet are two main factors.
They recommend people eat a well-balanced diet, exercise regularly, and reduce stress.
“By way of perspective, until a few hundred years ago, most people died by the time they were 45 years old,” said Dr. Jacob Teitelbaum, an author and internal medicine specialist in Maryland who specializes in chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia.
“Now we’re looking at it being normal to live into one’s 80s. But this does us little good if we’re in horrible health,” he told Healthline.
Teitelbaum said humans are designed for “planned obsolescence” with ovaries and testes beginning to shut down in our late 40s. Women go through menopause, and men go through “manopause.”
Dr. Betsy Greenleaf, a board certified, New Jersey-based urogynecologist, told Healthline she’s seeing more cases of high cholesterol, high blood pressure, arthritis, and type 2 diabetes in younger people.
“I attribute the cause to two main factors: stress and diet,” Greenleaf said.
She added that stress reactions were good for humans when we were running away from predators.
“In modern times, our brains don’t know the difference between running away from a saber-tooth tiger versus work, family, and economic stressors,” said Greenleaf. “Being under chronic stress affects our digestion and our reproductive hormones that help with well-being.
“This, in turn, can lead to gut inflammation and, therefore, body inflammation. Individuals process this inflammation differently. Some may develop arthritis, while others develop heart disease. Then you add a poor diet,” she said.
Mindy Pelz is a San Jose-based author, chiropractor, and functional medicine expert specializing in anti-aging and hormone management.
She told Healthline that humans fight two disease processes as they age: inflammation and insulin resistance.
“The more bad oils, toxic foods, and high sugar ingredients we get exposed to, the less adaptable our cells become and, ultimately, we will discover that our cells are inflamed and resistant to hormones,” Pelz said.
Not smoking, lowering alcohol intake, and increasing exercise are ways for people to maintain good health at any age.
Greenleaf recommends eating whole foods such as vegetables, fruits, fish, and eggs, as well as consuming organic products whenever possible. That’s because pesticides and other unnatural ingredients affect hormonal balance and lead to inflammation.
Staying hydrated is also important, as is getting 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night and decreasing stress by meditating, walking, and hanging out with friends.