Article by Dr Aamer Khan
#Be Age Smart with expert advice from Harley Street doctor, Dr Aamer Khan
- Look after your bones. Half of all women and one in five men aged over fifty will break a bone because of a weakened skeleton (osteoporosis). A vitamin D supplement helps promote calcium absorption and bone health. Weight-bearing exercises, such as working out with lightweights, three times a week, can also help keep bones strong.
- Deal with your stress. Stress contributes to every disease, directly or indirectly. It shrinks the brain and increases the waistline. So deal with it – somehow. Make time for mindfulness, or even better, meditation and even a few minutes of relaxed deep breathing several times a day will help. With your eyes closed, focus your mind on one object, breathe in deeply over five seconds and then blow away any stresses of the day over five seconds. Wait for a count of five and then repeat. Do this for five times minutes and then follow with a glass of water.
- Build exercise into your everyday life. Regular exercise helps prevent the arterial ageing that contributes to memory loss, improves muscle mass and makes you look and feel better. Even thirty to forty-five minutes a day of brisk walking has been shown to grow new brain cells as well as to reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes and depression.
- Be sun-wise. Forget wrinkle cream – the only skincare product that can truly slow ageing and prevent skin cancer – is sunscreen. Always use a broad spectrum cream with a minimum SPF20 and apply every day, rain or shine, and SPF 50 on holiday.
- Get more beauty sleep. Sleep deprivation can cause weight gain, weakens the immune system and may accelerate ageing. You need two and a half hours before sleep becomes restorative, which then activates the release of GH (growth hormones). Aim for seven hours every night. If you have difficulty sleeping, try eating five almonds and two dates within thirty minutes of getting up in the morning as this can improve your sleep pattern at night. Also, avoid caffeine after 5pm and moderate your alcohol consumption during week nights.
- Know your body. After the age of fifty you should know your key health statistics, including weight, blood pressure, cholesterol and hormone levels. Hormones are chemical messengers that are critical for making healthy cells. Our peak hormone levels occur during our teens and early twenties and tend to level off around the age of twenty-five to our mid-thirties when they begin to drop.
- Have regular check-ups. Visit your dentist for a check-up at least twice a year to avoid gum disease – people with gum disease are twice as likely to have heart disease. So what’s the connection? There are a few theories, including that inflammation of the gums can cause the arteries to accumulate plaque. Have regular eye checks too as these can also pick up early health warnings. Have a well person check as often as your GP will do it for you and check for your genetic risks every six to twelve months by engaging with a screening program. The NHS doesn’t offer this type of screening yet, so it would have to be on a private medical basis.
- Eat well. Diet has a profound influence on how well we age. A balanced diet with fewer refined carbohydrates (anything with sugar and/or white flour) but plenty of fruit, vegetables, nuts, white meats and fish and smaller quantities of red meat can give you a headstart in staving off weight gain and associated health problems. Smaller quantities of high-quality protein are always the best way to go. Remember that weight gain is a symptom of something going wrong, so we can screen against it and make changes early to control it. Obesity is when it has become a disease, and gone beyond prevention, and treatment may be the only option.
- Be happy. A positive attitude can boost feel-good hormones so laugh more, socialise with friends and enjoy life. Research shows that a good laugh can help manage stress and prevent the release of damaging hormones in the body.
- Stimulate your brain. The brain also needs exercising to avoid becoming sluggish so learn a new language, read and learn to play a new instrument or do a daily crossword puzzle. These last two will help slow the development of dementia and depression.
Co-founder of Harley Street Skin, Dr Khan has spent over 15 years performing cosmetic and non-surgical procedures, helping thousands of men and women to look and feel as good as they can. Having practised for many years as a GP, Dr Khan also knows the importance of staying healthy on the inside in order to see the results on the outside.
In his new book Turn Back Time: Lose weight and knock years off your age Dr Khan gives the reader everything they need to know on how to look good and feel great in older age. The book is full of practical, personal and expert advice on the right exercise and nutrition to help you find the right balance in life. While Dr Khan takes us through a step by step guide, co-author Carole Malone shows us exactly how it’s done in real time, with proven results as well as a few hurdles along the way.