Tuesday, October 22, 2013

7 Tips for Healthy Aging

There are plenty of bottles lining the shelves at your local drug store that promise to pep you up, get rid of your wrinkles, lines and spots and make you appear and possibly feel more youthful, but for true healthy aging you've got to work from the inside out. When I say the inside, I mean not only good nutrition, but also attitude, stress level and other healthy life habits.

There are basically three major causes of aging. Cell and tissue damage from free radicals, enzyme depletion and reduced immune response in the body. But remember that our body cells don't really age. They are always being replaced by new cells. As far as these causes are concerned, there is plenty you can do to combat them on your trip to healthy aging. Here are a few tips to help you battle these causes of aging and to help work on yourself from the inside out.

Healthy Aging Tip #1 – Control Stress
Chronic stress increases levels of cortisol. Cortisol can affect bone density, add fat buildup in the tummy area and lead to reduction of lean body mass. Stress can also be tied to a variety of diseases linked to aging such as osteoporosis and Alzheimer's. Stress also reduces your level of IgA, a protein that is part of the immune system and helps fight off infections by preventing invaders from getting into the body.

There are numerous ways to deal with chronic stress and you need to try a variety until you find what works for you. One of the simplest is laughing. People who have more enjoyment out of life tend to show less signs of aging. Laughter can decrease stress hormones, increase immune cells, release endorphins and increase blood flow by improving blood vessel function. Laughing, social activities, music, yoga, meditation, sports, exercise, deep breathing, and massage are a few things to try out to reduce stress. Reducing stress or learning methods of coping with stress can go a long way towards healthy aging.

Healthy Aging Tip #2 – Enzymes
The food we eat needs to be properly digested for the body to get the nutrients it needs from it. When this happens, all the body organs and cells get the nutrition they need to stay healthy. To get enzymes from our foods, we need to eat lots of raw or lightly cooked vegetables and fruits and chew them completely. Overcooking and processed foods that so many of us have in our diets do not provide the enzymes we need for proper digestion. If this is the case for you, using a high quality enzyme supplement may be in order.

Healthy Aging Tip #3 – Nutrition
Yes, this is a biggie. From the types of food you eat, to the amount and everything in between, good nutrition is a key ingredient in healthy aging. Food is where we get our energy and nutrients to keep the body working optimally, to keep skin looking youthful and elastic, to keep our brains properly nourished and sharp; all things important when it comes to healthy aging. You probably know already the types of foods to be eating, whole grains for fiber, fruits and vegetables for antioxidants, lean protein, and essential fatty acids for healthy brain function. What you may not know is that as we age it is better to eat smaller meals more often throughout the day than to have the normal breakfast, lunch and dinner. This is because of changes in hormone levels and our metabolism is slower. Eating smaller meals throughout the day helps keep the metabolism stable.

Antioxidants in the diet are especially important in healthy aging. Foods high in antioxidants include bright colorful vegetables and fruits like tomatoes, blueberries, carrots, and leafy greens. Antioxidants are the body's protection from free radical damage. Particular antioxidants do even more for us as we age. For example, the antioxidant vitamin C can help reduce the chances of macular degeneration which can lead to blindness in older adults and helps skin look more youthful. Another antioxidant, resveratrol, found in grapes and red wine, can help in reducing risk of cancer, heart disease and premature aging.

When choosing the best anti-aging antioxidants you can look at the ORAC value of each antioxidant. ORAC stands for Oxygen Radical Absorption Capacity, and measures the ability of an antioxidant to slow aging and neutralize free radicals. Blueberries, for example, have an ORAC value of about 26. Bluegreen alage has an ORAC value of 128! Blue-green algae is also effective at very low concentrations, so you don't have to add huge quantities to protect your cells. To make sure you are getting all the antioxidants you need to help with healthy aging, you should absolutely eat enough fruits and vegetables and in a perfect world that would be enough. But very few of us live in a perfect world and the truth is we don't get enough antioxidants from our foods. That is when supplementing with bluegreen algae can really help out. Our favorite bluegreen algae comes in a whole complete algae supplement for overall physical well-being and a version with the cell wall removed which is especially helpful for brain functioning.

Healthy Aging Tip #4 – Exercise
Exercise on a regular basis such as walking or aerobics can slow down muscle decline, and increase balance and coordination according to a study reported in the British Daily Mail in 2008. Other types of exercise useful for healthy aging include:
  • weight training or strength training to firm up saggy skin and work on muscle tone
  • cardio exercises for heart health
  • yoga to improve circulation, reduce inflammation and stress, and for bone health as it has been shown to increase bone density and improve balance.
  • fat burning exercises help maintain a healthy weight and prevent conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure
  • exercises such as fast walking, weight lifting, weight bearing type exercises and flexibility type exercises are all good for bone health
Ideally, we should get 30 minutes of regular exercise a day for circulation, strength and flexibility. If you can't do that, then at least do something that involves movement every day. Moving the body filters down to creating movement on the cell level. Exercises, such as particular yoga exercises, can help keep the digestive tract in good working order, tone up the arms, flatten the stomach, improve muscle tone, increase energy, and increase flexibility. Don't wait until you start to see signs of aging though. Start now before the signs of aging kick in.

Healthy Aging Tip #5 – Attitude
The internet and social media sites are full of stories of people in their 80's and 90's doing remarkable things such as complex yoga routines, bicycling long distances and dance routines requiring a lot a flexibility. I have a 93 year old friend who bustles around doing fundraising and a variety of work for area non-profits that I have a hard time keeping up with him. With age often comes a better understanding of who we are and a letting go of limitations and inhibitions that once prevented us from doing certain things. Often it brings an increased sense of confidence. It's a time when how we look and what others think of us is not as important as it used to be and we've learned to set boundaries. Having the attitude of "you're only as old as you feel" can help keep us active and youthful. Seeing aging from this perspective instead of as a downward slope to decline goes a long way toward keeping us active, alert, happy and productive.

Healthy Aging Tip #6 – Skincare
The state of our skin is a reflection of the state of our general health, so some doctors can literally tell the quality of your diet based on the condition of your skin. Plus, how our skin looks often is our first sign of aging when looking in the mirror and realizing that age is catching up with us. Dehydration is one of the major causes of aging skin. If you want healthy skin, drink plenty of water. In addition to keeping skin healthy and rejuvenated, drinking enough water also supports the body in flushing toxins, preventing water retention, and keeping our internal organs functioning at top efficiency.

Eating foods rich in essential fatty acids helps skin stay elastic rather than sagging. Omega-3 and Omega-6 are the most important essential fatty acids for our skin. To have healthy skin, you need foods that have 3 to 4 times the amount of omega-3 fatty acids to omega-6 fatty acids. Most Americans get just the opposite--eating foods that give them 10 to 20 times as much omega-6 fatty acids as omega-3 fatty acids! You can get the right balance of omega-3 and omega-6 EFAs by eating seafood (especially deep-water fish like salmon and tuna), fresh fruit, dark-green leafy greens, micro-algae, seeds and nuts, and flax and olive oil. Adding just a little of each of these foods to your diet can make a significant difference to the appearance of your skin. AFA bluegreen algae has the exact ratio of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, making it one of Earth's perfect foods for healthy skin!

Your skin cares about what you feed it, whether it's nourishment from the inside out or from the outside in. With its powerful antioxidants and immune support, this antioxidant lotion helps provide natural plant-based topical protection from the challenging elements you encounter every day.

Healthy Aging Tip #7 – Bone Support
As we age, there is a double problem that can result with bone health. First we start losing bone at a faster rate than we can regenerate and replace it. That makes our bones more fragile. Second our muscles, joints and balance can all become weaker meaning we are more likely to have falls which can lead to breakage of these more fragile bones. That is why bone health is an important area to consider in healthy aging. Keeping muscles strong increases your ability to stop yourself if you start to fall and can reduce your risk of falling in the first place. Taking the recommended amount of calcium, Vitamin D, getting flexibility and weight bearing exercise regularly, cutting down on caffeine, and getting enough omega-3 fatty acids in your diet can go a long way to giving you the bone support needed for healthy aging.

There you have it. Seven ways to help you keep feeling and looking young as you age. Healthy aging can help make your elder years an enjoyable experience instead of the dreaded decline into health problems and uselessness. If you are only as old as you feel, then it pays to feel the best you can and be your healthiest no matter what age you are.

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Image courtesy of Ambro / FreeDigitalPhotos.net


Sources:
http://www.oprah.com/food/Eating-and-Secrets-to-Healthy-Aging-Aine-McAteers-Blog/1
http://www.prevention.com/beauty/beauty/new-rules-aging
http://www.webmd.com/healthy-aging/features/anti-aging-diet


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