Have you noticed that as you age the years seem to fly by faster than they did when you were younger? You may become increasingly aware of how your lifestyle positively or negatively impacts your health and you may take steps, or at least think about taking steps, to slow the natural aging process. The truth is, we are all aging every day and the time to think about maintaining your health is actually while you still have it. Some may think that disease or disability are inevitable once they reach their senior years, but anyone, at any age, can actively make changes to modify and improve their lifestyle choices that affect their long term health.
Getting older does not automatically portend poor health. Many older adults enjoy vigorous, energetic lifestyles. Taking preventative measures now can lead to an active, injury and disease free lifespan and help you to remain youthful, vital and strong. Along with not smoking, limiting alcoholic consumption and maintaining a healthy weight, being smart about your choices today puts you far ahead of the curve and can significantly impact your physical and cognitive health in later years.
- To maintain your quality of life, tame stress by adopting stress management techniques. No matter how busy you are, finding time in your day, or several times each day, to relax for a few minutes and concentrate on your breathing can help keep stress under control. Adopt stress relieving habits now that you can continue throughout your lifetime.
- Keep inflammation at bay with regular exercise and a nutritious diet. Considered the root cause of many chronic illnesses, slow simmering, energy stealing inflammation can wreak havoc on your long term health and wellness. Exercise supports a healthy weight and a healthy immune response, reduces inflammation and releases toxins through perspiration. Avoid processed foods and oils that promote inflammation and eat lots of inflammation reducing fresh produce for optimal function.
- Chronic sleep deprivation negatively affects hormone balance, insulin sensitivity and blood pressure, increasing your risks of heart problems, stroke and diabetes. Make adequate sleep a priority. Get a healthy amount of sleep by establishing a sleep/wake routine and sticking to it as many nights a week as possible.
- To help maintain youthful looking skin and aid optimal function of all bodily systems and organs, stay well hydrated. If your body is dry and dehydrated, your skin may appear dull, dry and older than your actual age. You don’t need to drink copious amounts of water, but do be sure to satisfy your thirst by regularly sipping water throughout the day.
- Cut way, way back on sugar in all forms. Sugar is now seen as the biggest culprit, negatively affecting both cognitive and overall health. Recent research shows that a high sugar diet negatively impacts memory and that high blood sugar may be a cause of plaque accumulation in the brain, which has harmful effects on cognitive function.
If you’ve read this far, then you already know what might happen if you don’t maintain your health. Here is a reminder:
Osteoporosis – This medical disorder, in which bones become increasingly porous, weakened and brittle, results in an increased risk of fractures and decreased bone mass and should not be considered a part of normal aging. Ideally, osteoporosis prevention should begin in childhood and continue throughout your lifespan. Childhood and young adulthood are our peak bone building years. By our early 30’s, we’ve reached our peak bone mass, after which bone resorption begins to exceed new bone formation, a process known as bone remodeling. Those who build the highest amount of bone mass during their youth greatly reduce their risk of osteoporosis in later life. To build and maintain bone mass, eat a well balanced diet including calcium-rich fruits and vegetables, be sure to get adequate amounts of vitamin D and engage in weight bearing and muscle strengthening exercises regularly.
Type 2 Diabetes – When the body doesn’t make sufficient amounts of insulin or can’t properly use the insulin it makes, a condition known as diabetes results. Although genetics is a factor, type 2 diabetes is largely preventable and can be a result of unhealthy behavioral and lifestyle factors. Keep your risk of developing diabetes low by attaining and maintaining a healthy weight, exercising to improve the body’s ability to use insulin and glucose, and eating a low sugar, high fiber, low glycemic index nutritious diet. Staying lean and active from childhood to your senior years is the best advice for diabetes prevention.
Cardiovascular disease – We hear a lot about the negative influence of chronic stress on your health and wellness, but do you know why it is deleterious? Your body is designed to handle temporary periods of physical or emotional stress. Chronic stress, however, can dramatically increase your risk of heart disease, damage your cardiac muscle and a create a very unhealthy buildup of plaque in the coronary arteries, even when the diet is relatively healthy. While genes are a determinant of cardiovascular health, what we know as genetic expression can be positively influenced by diet and lifestyle choices.
Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) – Today’s typical diet is extremely high in sugar and refined carbs, which can lead to obesity, diabetes, metabolic syndrome and a dangerous build up of extra fat in liver cells. NAFLD can cause the liver to swell and can lead to cirrhosis, liver cancer or liver failure. There’s no medical treatment, but eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly and, most importantly, maintaining a healthy weight can help to prevent the disease.
Cognitive impairment – Most young people don’t worry about Alzheimer’s or dementia, but people in their 40s and 50s are being diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s. While there is no cure, Alzheimer’s may be preventable. Scientists have discovered there are many similarities between type 2 diabetes and Alzheimer’s. So much so that Alzheimer’s prevention may parallel diabetes prevention. Modifiable lifestyle changes, such as a low sugar, high fiber, Mediterranean style diet, can help to avoid impaired glucose metabolism and insulin resistance. If you have a choice, make it at the supermarket checkout. Both physical activity and cognitive exercises are also believed to delay or possibly prevent the onset of dementia and Alzheimer’s.
Always remember to supplement to help to slow the aging process and maintain a feeling of youthfulness and vitality.
- Omega-3 essential fatty acids support immune, joint, vision and cardiovascular health, enhance cognitive functions, and aid nutrient absorption and metabolic function. According to a study by Jan Kiecolt-Glaser, professor of psychiatry and psychology at Ohio State University, because of its anti-inflammatory properties and its ability to reduce oxidative stress, omega-3 supplementation may represent a “rare single nutritional intervention that has the potential to lower the risk for a host of diseases associated with aging, including coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes, arthritis and Alzheimer’s disease.”
- Oxidative damage may be the most widely accepted biochemical mechanism involved in aging and the deterioration of physiological functions. Glutathione, alpha lipoic acid (ALA) and CoQ10 are powerful antioxidants that provide not only free radical damage protection, but also help support immune function, energy production and detoxification, all of which minimize the risks of chronic illness and aid in combating cellular aging.
Products that support healthy aging include:
ProDHA™ 1000mg Strawberry by Nordic Naturals – This high potency formula provides omega-3 DHA, an essential nutrient for brain health. Research has shown that ProDHA™ supports healthy mood, cognitive function and the structural integrity of the central nervous system. Third party tested for guaranteed purity and freshness. Natural strawberry flavor. Gluten free.
Alpha Lipoic Acid 400 mg by Pure Encapsulations – As a multifunctional and versatile nutrient, Alpha Lipoic Acid’s potent antioxidant activity provides free radical protection and support for nerve health, cardiovascular function and glucose metabolism. Gluten and soy free, Non-GMO vegetarian formula.
NAC 600 mg by Integrative Therapeutics – NAC aids in the prevention and elimination of free radicals and inhibits the production of reactive oxygen species, a source of cell damaging oxidative stress. NAC aids in the production of glutathione, a vital cellular antioxidant produced by the body. Gluten, soy and diary free.
Q-Evail™ 200 by Designs for Health – This product offers highly bioavailable ubiquinone CoQ10 in easy to swallow soft gel form. CoQ10 provides anti-aging and free radical protection and supports cellular energy production and immune, cardiovascular and nervous system health.
Age More Slowly – All Over. Secrets of Living Longer: Time Inc. Books 2015.
Facts about Bone Health in Children and Adolescents. http://nof.org/articles/bone-health-children-adolescents
Prevention and Healthy Living. http://nof.org/learn/prevention
Simple Steps to Preventing Diabetes. http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/preventing-diabetes-full-story/
Preventing Heart Disease – At Any Age. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/Preventing-Heart-Disease—At-Any-Age_UCM_442925_Article.jsp
Perricone, Nicholas V., M.D. The Miracle of Cellular Rejuvenation. Ballentine Books, New York, 2006.
Omega-3 Supplements May Slow A Biological Effect of Aging. http://researchnews.osu.edu/archive/omega3aging.htm