Taking Charge of Our Life As We Age
According to the most recent data, people are living longer. In 1950, there were 14.5 million people in the world who were age 80 and older. In 2009, that number climbed from 14.5 million to nearly 102 million.
Experts project that by 2050, there will be 395 million people who are 80 or older. Many could be engaged, alert, active members of society with relatively few disabilities.
Lifestyle choices definitely affect longevity. It’s also true that genes play a role. Most experts believe that only about 30% of how long we live is determined by our genetic makeup and up to 70% of lifespan differences may be explained by lifestyle choices that include our activity level, whether or not we smoke, alcohol consumption and if we are a healthy weight.
Cancer, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, arthritis, kidney problems and dementia are considered to be diseases of aging. However, most experts believe that these diseases are largely preventable if people can make the diet and lifestyle changes necessary.
Recently, there has been a lot research on aging. In the past, experts have looked for a single, all encompassing theory, but most scientists now believe that there are multiple processes interacting at many levels which occur within our cells that affect how our tissues and organ systems age.
Up to one million DNA damaging assaults occur daily within our cells such as environmental factors (UV radiation, exposure to toxins and chemicals) as well as oxidative stress and inflammation from a diet high in saturated fat, cholesterol , trans fats and refined and processed foods.
There are preventative measures that we can take right now to slow down the aging process. Eating a healthy diet is a first step; one that is low in saturated fat and trans fats, but also high in fiber, full of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean meats and low fat dairy.
Eating antioxidant-rich foods is very important since free radical damage appears to be a contributing factor to many degenerative diseases of aging. Therefore, we need plenty of vitamin C, vitamin E and phytonutrients, other plant compounds like flavonoids and carotenoids, which are found in fruits and vegetables.
And if we are not in the habit of eating 5 to 9 fruits and vegetables every day, then we must make sure that we are supplementing with bioavailable nutrients that will fill in where our diet falls short.
There is some recent exciting news about polyphenols, such as the powerful antioxidant, resveratrol. The best resveratrol product to use is a liquid resveratrol tonic that is 10 times stronger than resveratrol alone due to its patented formulation of polyphenols. There is new research from the Linus Pauling Institute which shows resveratrol ‘s ability to protect DNA as well as to induce DNA repair. It also appears to impact other mechanisms of aging such as age protein formation. Examples of age proteins include cataracts, the amyloid plaque found in the brains of those with Alzheimer’s disease, and in damaged joint s of certain kinds of arthritis.
Vitamin D and calcium together fit into the anti-aging category and go well beyond bone health. Research presented at last year’s American Heart Association scientific conference showed that study participants with very low levels of vitamin D were 45% more likely to develop coronary artery disease and 78% more likely to have a stroke than patients with normal Vitamin D levels.
The importance of B vitamins as we age cannot be emphasized enough. Even if we eat plenty of lean beef, chicken and fish, which are all good sources of vitamin B-12, many older adults may not produce enough stomach acid to release B-12 from the protein that binds it in foods so it isn’t absorbed as efficiently.
This can lead to a B-12 deficiency, which is related to anemia, cognitive decline, joint pain, fatigue, and even tingling hands and feet.
As we age, it is especially important to maintain a healthy balance of intestinal microflora. The correct balance of bacteria in our intestines can boost the body’s natural immune function.
Pure omega 3 fatty acids help with inflammatory joint conditions, which are associated with aging.
Staying active is another important component of healthy aging. Exercise not only helps with weight loss, but helps to build muscle, maintain strong bones, reduce high blood pressure and lower the risk of heart disease, diabetes and colon cancer. Exercise improves the quality of sleep, lifts our overall sense of wellbeing and contributes to a healthy, positive attitude, which is absolutely the key to a happy life at any age.