Article by Ruchi Gupta from LeadingEdgeHealth
Getting older is inevitable and we’re constantly changing from the moment we come into existence. Bodily change is not just a function of getting old; it is a natural process that takes place over the whole course of life. While you can’t control your age, you can slow the process of ageing with smart choices along the way.
Read on to discover simple ways to keep your body tuned up and your mind tuned in. And the best part is that it’s never too late to get started.
1. Eat smart.
One key to slowing down bodily change as you get older is to control what goes into your body. Obviously, if you put a lot of drugs in your body, including common stuff such as alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine, you can expect the ageing process to be accelerated. You need to put healthy nutrients into your body. Avoid toxins in your environment and food supply as much as possible.
A healthy diet that avoids processed meats, packed foods can reduce risk for women’s major health problems — heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.
Begin by making small changes. Choose leaner proteins (lean beef, chicken, and fish) and whole grains. (Unclear about whole grains? You might want to read this.) Sugary drinks are a no but definitely drink plenty of water, and pick fat-free and low-fat milk products.
Try to add fruits and vegetables into every meal. Top your morning cereal with berries, and add vegetables to pasta and casserole dishes.
Basically, any diet that is based on whole, real foods and doesn’t come in packages is the key. If you are interested, you can look into Keto diet for anti-aging or Whole 30 or Mediterranean diet.
2. Use Strength training
When Judith Salerno, the deputy director of the National Institute on Aging, ran her first half-marathon at the age of 50 after exercising with her personal trainer, 77-year old Dixon Hemphill, she showed once and for all you can stay physically fit well past 40.
She attributes her success to strength training, however for the 40 to 70 age group, strength training isn’t about lifting 30kg dumbbells. In the context of healthy aging, it is just about any challenging weight-lifting exercise – even if it involves little more than raising your legs with ankle weights attached! Also make sure you don’t hurt yourself, and getting a trainer is more often than not, a good idea.
The reason why resistance or strength training works so well for healthy aging is that it helps reduce the rate at which you lose your muscle mass, reduce the effect of creaky joints, increasing bone density and helps with some major cardiovascular benefits.
One lesser known benefit is it also helps enhance your growth hormone levels. A perpetual search for the “fountain of youth”, botox alternatives has been ongoing for years and years through a variety of cultures, Hollywood celebrities and today the search continues. But, strength training is often overlooked and is so very crucial in healthy aging.
3. Sleep well
A good night’s sleep assists in improving concentration and memory formation, enables your body to repair any cell damage that occurred during the day, and rejuvenates your immune system, which in turn helps prevent disease. Experts claim that older adults who don’t sleep well are more likely to suffer from depression, attention and memory problems, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, weight problems and even breast cancer.
All these factors make sleep even more crucial as you age. Besides, we know that a good night’s sleep is good for our brain, especially as we get older.
But how do we do this? As a recommended first step you might want to use a sleep diary to keep track of your sleep schedule for at least two weeks. This will help record patterns of your sleeping habits.
Focus on your sleep environment and judge objectively how conducive it is to healthy sleep.
If your husband’s snoring is keeping you up, it may be a good idea to try earplugs, a white-noise machine, or separate bedrooms. Taking a bath, playing music, or practicing a relaxation technique such as meditation or deep breathing can help you wind down before sleep-time.
Should you wake up at night time, don’t remain in bed having problems to fall back to sleep. Get up and do something that may escalate sleepiness (like reading) for about 20 minutes, and then come back to bed and try to trigger sleep.
Recommendations from sleep experts such as Dr. Suzanne Bertisch provide a road map for improving sleep hygiene.
4. Monitor your health.
What many women fail to do is try to get ample medical care. Schedule your well-woman visit every year. Even if you feel fine, a yearly visit helps you interact with your doctor or nurse. It’s your time to get essential screenings and to go over your health habits, family history, and future plans for your health. It furthermore provides your doctor or nurse a chance to identify problems early, when they’re easiest to treat.
At certain ages, certain exams should be done in order to catch any potential disease processes in their early stages when they are more easily treated. The older you get, the more you need to see your doctor in order to stay healthy.
5. Keep yourself fit mentally and emotionally
Regardless of how healthy your body is, if you have not retained an active mind you will not enjoy your later years. One of the most significant mistakes women make is failing to do tasks that call for problem solving and memory. Do the every-day crossword puzzle in your local newspaper, jigsaw puzzles or other strategy games.
Take up a hobby that requires you to use your brain. Sewing and crafts is a hobby that not only is relaxing to some, it also requires you to plan and assemble items. Painting or writing a book has the same benefits.
Take supplements that are designed to maintain brain health. Ginkgo, flax, linseed and a wide variety of other natural ingredients are known to support brain health.
Maintain a journal for your emotional health, write down your thoughts and let go of your emotions. Have a network of friends and/or relatives for emotional support, fun, and camaraderie.
6. Have a good sex life
Dr. Michael Roizen’s research and his clinical work have led him to believe that sex keeps us younger because it “decreases stress, relaxes us, enhances intimacy, and helps … personal relationships.”
Even though no research has yet confirmed a cause-and-effect relationship between good sex and longevity, there seems to be a beneficial structure at work here — a sort of virtuous cycle of sex and health strengthening and reinforcing one another.
For many women over the age of 50, the idea of sex might feel like doing a chore. After menopause you might encounter a growing number of barriers to sex, including dryness and constriction of the vagina or medical conditions such as diabetes and extra weight.
Using a lubricant during sexual activity may be a good idea, and if this isn’t sufficient, you can also use moisturizer. Lubricants are being used solely for the purpose of intercourse, and a moisturizer for the vagina is similar to a moisturizer for the skin on the rest of your body.
Some women might want to look into anti-ageing and Hormone replacement therapy at the first sign of hot flushes. However, any hormonal approach should be regarded as just one piece of the puzzle, because good, healthy sex is more about intimacy and healthy relationship with your partner.
In the words of Eileen Smith, 70, a nurse in Laguna Beach, California who tried HRT “In my own case, intensity of desire was not tied to menopause but rather to the quality of the relationships I was having at different times in my life.” The mother of two and grandmother of four, she said that years after her divorce, when she was “crazy in love” at age 60, she experienced sexuality “as hot as ever.”
No matter what your current state of health is, it is possible to become healthier and fit. Make one change per day towards your goal of health and longevity and you will find that within a few short weeks you are feeling younger every day.