5 Bad Drinking Habits to Ditch In Your 50s and Onward

It’s no secret that our nutrition needs change over time. With age, the human body requires more nutrient-dense foods to maintain health, energy levels, and ward off diseases - a topic we cover at length in the article 8 Health-Promoting Foods to Eat After 50. A closely related topic that somehow still flies under the radar is our drinking habits (and we don’t just mean one’s alcohol intake).
Our drinking patterns ought to be reconsidered over time as well. More specifically, it’s crucial to let go of the unhealthy drinking habits we’ve developed over decades - here are 5 of the worst offenders.

1. Stay away from sugary drinks

Bad Drinking Habits For Seniors soda cans
We can afford to indulge in a can of soda or several cups of fruit juice once in a while when we’re younger, as our bodies have the compensatory mechanisms that protect them from the harmful effects of sugary drinks. This changes with age, which is why people in their 50s and older should stay away from sugary drinks altogether.
Apart from an increased risk of cardiovascular issues and certain cancers, sweetened beverages can affect our cognitive health. A 2018 study found that consuming drinks with refined sugar can contribute to the decline in cognitive function. Therefore, sodas and even fruit juices are not a good fit for older people.
This is not to say, of course, that you should stay away from all flavored drinks - mineral water, herbal teas, and water with slices of fruit and vegetables are all great alternatives to soda. Another drink to consider is milk. Dairy milk, especially reduced-fat varieties, can strengthen your bones because it’s rich in calcium - a mineral many seniors are deficient in. Just 1 glass of milk contains 300 mg of calcium (almost a quarter of your daily requirement), vitamin D, protein, and other nutrients.

2. Avoid drinking too much coffee

Bad Drinking Habits For Seniors coffee
There’s plenty of research suggesting that drinking unsweetened coffee is beneficial at any age. Studies point out that moderate intake of coffee can reduce one’s risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular issues, and dementia - a topic we discuss in detail in the article 12 Fantastic Health Benefits of Drinking Coffee.
However, the keyword here is certainly ‘moderation.’ This is because drinking caffeine in excess - or having MORE than 2-3 cups of coffee a day - can actually hike up your risk of hypertension, heart disease, and sleep problems. It takes around 6-8 hours for caffeine to leave the body, so we recommend sticking to coffee in the first half of the day and then switching to non-caffeinated beverages in the evening in order to make sure that you’ll be getting plenty of sleep.

3. Avoid drinking before bedtime

Bad Drinking Habits For Seniors drinking before bedtime
Try not to drink too much right before you hit the hay. Of course, you’re surely aware that drinking caffeinated or alcoholic beverages before sleep can disrupt your sleep, but in reality, even drinking a simple glass of water before bed may not be a great idea for older people.
The thing is, drinking too many liquids before bed increase the likelihood of you having to run to the bathroom in the middle of the night and disrupt your sleep. This risk is even higher in men, whose prostates grow bigger in size with age, which puts extra pressure on the bladder. Having a few sips of water to take your medications is fine, but try not to drink more than is necessary before bed and get the bulk of your hydration during the day.

4. Remember that you have higher hydration needs

Bad Drinking Habits For Seniors drinking bottled water
Did you know that one in three seniors is dehydrated? And that’s the most conservative estimate. We discuss why that happens and explain the risks of dehydration in seniors in this article - 5 Serious Mistakes That Can Lead to Dehydration in SeniorsBut you should know that not drinking enough can lead to brain fog, fatigue, dizziness and increases your risk of stroke.
Getting enough hydration, on the other hand, is associated with improved immune health and more energy - so it is clearly the better choice.
One of the biggest reasons why so many older adults are dehydrated is because they’re simply unaware that they should drink more. The latest guidelines suggest that women over age 50 should drink at least 8 glasses of liquids and men should get at least 10 glasses every day. Remember to drink up, even if you don’t feel thirsty. Symptoms of dehydration to look out for are dry lips and skin, dark or infrequent urination, cramps in the limbs, and fatigue.

5. Avoid drinking alcohol on the daily

Bad Drinking Habits For Seniors seniors drinking wine on the couch
The truth is, no one should drink alcohol daily, but older people are more susceptible to the harmful effects of alcohol than the rest of the population. When your metabolism slows down with age, alcohol stays in the body for a longer time - which makes you more susceptible to its harmful effects.
Note that alcoholic beverages can interfere with the effectiveness of medications, harm your liver, diabetes, and cause cancer. They also make conditions like high blood pressure and ulcers worse and can make you gain weight too because many alcoholic drinks are loaded with sugar. Therefore, drinking alcohol is one of the worst things by far you can consume, especially when you’re older and may already have underlying health issues. If You Want to Cut Back on Alcohol, This Guide is For You!
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