As a child, my elders would always let me eat as much candy as I wanted while they’d tell me that “... you’re still young. But we can’t because we’re old and have [a litany of their issues].” I carried this way of thinking into my early twenties. That invincible feeling you have from college and that spritely young vigor of a young professional with dreams of making it big tend to reinforce that. For some, even the thought of getting some health insurance never comes into the corners of your mind. But the hard truth of it is that your immune system doesn’t stay in tip top shape on its own, joints eventually wear out their cartilage, and some things aren’t exclusive to “old people”.
In my case, the shattering glass rained the shards of my illusion when I found out the guy sitting next to me in my office had hypertension as I was unwittingly offering him chicharon. And he’s only three years older than I am. From then on, I became more aware of my own situation. I can’t eat a reese’s bar without getting tonsillitis the next day if I don’t follow through with a jug of water, and I caught myself supporting my lower back with my arms the same way my dad used to after watching a movie.
So what isn’t off the table when it come to youthful vigor vs. a doctor’s reality check? Here are five health problems we aren’t too young for:
Alzheimer’s Disease - modern research suggests this disease can start to develop in you 20 to 30 years before you start showing the symptoms. Since it’s usually prevalent in people in their 60’s, this means that you’re at risk as early as your 30’s. The best way to avoid this is by exercising to make oxygen-rich blood flow to your brain and prevent the development of the disease.
Hypertension (A.K.A. High blood pressure) - this is when your blood flows too hard in your body causing damage to your organs like the heart and kidneys. However, as it doesn’t have any symptoms that are easy to spot, you should make a conscious effort to have it checked when you go see your doctor.
Type 2 Diabetes - it’s the type of Diabetes where your body can’t produce enough insulin (as opposed to none at all with Type 1 Diabetes). It’s usually associated with obesity and older people, however this condition has been diagnosed in younger people as well these days. Watch what and how much you eat!
Arthritis - specifically rheumatoid arthritis, is an autoimmune disease that affects the joints in your wrists and fingers. That said, any persistent aches you feel shouldn’t be dismissed as this has been found in people in their mid twenties. The earlier you can diagnose this in a checkup, the less of a chance you’ll have for more permanent damage.
Cerebral Atrophy (A.K.A. Brain Shrinkage) - it’s something that’s expected to happen as you get older, and it’s literally what it sounds like: your brain gets smaller in volume and you lose brain cells. However, an unhealthy lifestyle can cause your brain to shrink at a faster rate with activities that can damage the brain. Based on research, doing activities that make the heart more resilient can also help slow this down.
Our bodies are what keep us tethered to the world we live in. Taking care of our bodies with exercise, a healthy diet and conscious efforts to get checked are great ways to ensure we get to enjoy what the world has to offer.