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Ah yes, we all dream of finding the fountain of youth. In reality, there is no such thing. We are all going to live longer than our parents did. But wouldn’t you like to reach old age without actually looking or feeling your age?
Wouldn’t it be great if you could still perform at your peak, be in shape and enjoy great health? If you want a healthy aging body there are a few areas of your life to look at.
Nutrition is really the key to longevity – we know that populations have been able to live longer because we have access to better food today than we used to. A balanced diet, with the right proportion of nutrients from a variety of foods, is only the first step.
Be sure you do not over eat foods that are high in saturated fat and sugar. The bulk of your carbohydrates should come from whole-grain sources, not simple, processed carbohydrates.
If you are not getting sufficient vitamins and minerals from your diet, you may need to take supplements to fill in the gaps. Probably most important is to drink enough water every day so that your body can flush out toxins from the system and your cells can stay healthy and nourished.
The importance of sleep in helping you to stay well into your older years cannot be over emphasised. If the body and mind do not have the opportunity to rest and restore, then your cells will be more vulnerable to damage, and this will eventually lead to a breakdown in the system.
Get at least seven hours of sleep each night. Make sure that you sleep in a comfortable environment to get a restful night’s sleep, not one that is disturbed by light and noise.
A regular exercise regime – and being physically active in other ways – from a younger age will help your body to build up reserves so that you do not succumb easily to old age problems like falls and frailty.
Make sure you incorporate three different types of exercise into your “anti-ageing” exercise regime. The first is to stretch all the big and small muscle groups in your body, so that they remain flexible and help carry your body well. When our muscles are tight, they easily become injured when we lift heavy objects or make a certain movement.
Every day do at least 30 minutes of moderately intense physical activities that get your heart pumping and your body sweating. You can take a brisk walk around the neighbourhood, go cycling, swimming or dancing, or play a sport like badminton, tennis or football.
The final approach in healthy ageing is regular health screening. These are simple tests that you should do (following a schedule) to keep tabs on various aspects of your health.
Many of these tests should already be part of your regular screening programme, such as blood chemistry, blood glucose, cancer markers, inflammatory markers (eg homocysteine) and hormone levels. You can do these tests when you go for your annual medical check-ups (which should be part of your personal healthcare routine).
The ageing process can be slowed down or tempered so that we can still enjoy our later years. It is not just about fighting wrinkles and grey hair, but also about maintaining our organ functions, staying mentally active and physically strong.
The right way to address ageing is not with piecemeal methods – an injection here, a supplement there – but to approach the entire body system, so that you can age well from the inside out.