for a longer, healthier life
By Rota Krape
Thousands of studies have been done on aging and many are beginning to point to an inescapable conclusion: our lifestyle choices, what we eat, and what we don’t eat may actually affect our aging process. Yes, those wrinkles and achy joints may be more in your control than previously believed, and may explain why some people look young for their chronologic age while others do not!
Here are the steps everyone can take to slow the aging process:
- Get active. The National Institutes of Health suggests that regular exercise can help people maintain healthier hearts, brains, blood sugar control, and more! Some studies have suggested that for every minute of exercise, you prolong your life by seven minutes. Losing muscle mass is part of the aging process but you can stop that by adding strength training to your routine.
- Reduce stress. Sustained stressors such as emotional trauma, feeling threatened, or feeling insecure appear to be associated with faster aging. You can reduce the stress you may feel from such events by practicing relaxation techniques such as meditation, breathing exercises, and biofeedback.
- Maintain your ideal weight. The National Institutes of Health counts maintaining a healthy weight in their top 7 Steps to Healthy Aging, because being overweight is associated with many chronic diseases. Achieving your ideal weight can be hard, but there are many tools available that can help you lose weight healthfully without resorting to fad diets.
- More sleep. Lack of sleep can have devastating effects on our health, impacting our mood,our memories, and even our resistance to infection. To improve sleep, make an effort to maintain a consistent sleep schedule, use your bed only for sleep, try a “white noise generator” such as a fan, and avoid caffeine in the afternoon and evening.
- Stay connected. Good social relationships are important to our overall health. As we age, having close friends and a variety of social activities is linked to happiness, better cognitive skills,and even a longer life.
- Eat fruits and vegetables. Everything you eat is important. Since only nine percent of Americans eat the recommended five servings of fruits and vegetables per day, the opportunity for improving health (and longevity) by improving diet is great.
- Take a multivitamin. The National Institutes of Health suggests a multivitamin/mineral for those of us who don’t always make the best food choices. As we age, we also do not digest our foods as efficiently so that deficiencies can occur. Deficiencies of vitamins such as B6, B12, C, E, niacin, and folic acid and minerals such as iron, magnesium and zinc can lead to accelerated aging. Everyone should consider a good multivitamin to cover their basic nutritional needs. Many multivitamins found in discount and drug stores contain harmful ingredients so find a multivitamin that is proven to work, contains no artificial ingredients, and is proven to be absorbed and utilized by your body.
- Load up on polyphenols. Found in many fruits, vegetables, green and black tea, red wine, coffee, chocolate, olives, and extra virgin olive oil, polyphenols are plant-based nutrients that have antioxidant benefits and protective effects against cellular aging.
The trajectory of your aging lies, in part, in your hands. There is a lot you can do to help your body look and function better over time. While you can’t stop the clock, you can incorporate some of the above suggestions to help achieve your healthiest aging!