With life expectancy increasing, healthy aging has become of great interest – and, it’s easier to achieve than you may think! Scientists know that aspects of a holistic lifestyle support healthy aging and which habits in our Western way of living are making us age faster. You already know certain populations age well – but, what aspects of their lifestyle are beneficial? Why do some holistic lifestyle practices make healthy aging possible? Research shows it is possible to enjoy health as you age. Here are more details on how you can love how you age, from the author of Aging Bites.
Aging is the greatest risk factor for most diseases, including cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and neurodegeneration. Is your lifestyle one that promotes healthy aging? Healthy aging involves an interaction between your lifestyle, genes, and your environment. You can choose to practice a holistic lifestyle and eat foods that stimulate your genes to promote healthy aging. As for your environment, fill it with friends if you want to enjoy healthy aging. A study looking at over 300,000 participants across all ages found adults with strong social networks have a 50 percent boost in their longevity. (Maybe you should share this article with a friend, and tell them poor aging is optional?).
Healthy aging is more than doing a puzzle or crossword to keep your brain stimulated. A holistic approach to healthy aging has been shown to promote longevity amongst many populations around the world. From strong social relationships to eating nutritious food, exercising outdoors, and practicing mindfulness, there are many ways a holistic lifestyle promotes healthy aging.
Move from aging to successful longevity by adopting many healthy habits to create a holistic lifestyle. You could start your journey to healthy aging today!
Let’s move a bit more. When researchers looked at data from 8 cohorts (Australia, United States, Mexico, Japan, South Korea, and Europe), comprising information from over 130,000 older adults, it was clear that physical activity beneficially impacted healthy aging. (Of note, the scientists adjusted for other lifestyle behaviours and sociodemographic characteristics.) Those people who moved every day aged well! Avoiding a sedentary lifestyle as you age is a key factor in healthy aging, particularly as aging puts you at greater risk of frailty and disability. Scientists want you to know moving your body is key to healthy aging. You got this! Keep moving and grooving.
Breathing is well-known to help lower stress, but scientists know it may also promote healthy aging. Yoga might be a 5000-year-old practice that includes movement, mindfulness, and breathing, but the popularity of this practice in the fast-paced, trend-loving Western society is actually backed by science. Yogic postures and breathing techniques have been shown in research studies to be correlated with a downregulation (slowing down) of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis and the systemic nervous system, which are both overactivated by a western lifestyle. Scientists found higher levels of beneficial components in the blood of yoga practitioners (glutathione peroxidase, and superoxide dismutase activity) than people who didn’t practice yoga. Scientists think aspects of yoga encourage the body’s cells to express genes that help to increase blood levels of these anti-aging components.
Standing amongst trees and being in green spaces is more than just a place big enough for you to move in – exposure to nature has been linked in studies to promoting healthy aging. You could start with a simple addition of a houseplant to your office. Step out your door into nature, plant a garden in your yard, or add flower pots to your balcony. Plan your walks to include parks and green spaces. Meet a friend for a weekend outing in a local forest.
Certain populations are known for impressively healthy lifestyles that lead to healthy aging, such as those in the Mediterranean and Okinawa, Japan. Scientists understand that the Mediterranean diet’s consumption of virgin olive oil prevents the expression of genes that turn on inflammation. Inflammation is known to speed up aging, a process scientists call inflammaging. Sugary foods or fried and processed foods are known triggers of inflammation. Anti-inflammatory foods include antioxidant-rich plants, olive oil, and omega-3 fatty acids. Advancements in the understanding of the role the gut microbiota plays make probiotics a potentially important factor in healthy aging.
Calorie restriction has received a lot of attention amongst those seeking ways to achieve longevity, as not eating too much has been linked with healthy aging. It is important to clarify what exactly scientists mean by a calorie restriction associated with healthy aging. It is not a deprived diet, but a well-nourished calorie restriction that maintains healthy body weight, but avoids accumulation of abdominal fat. Excessive abdominal fat is associated with a higher risk of development of chronic diseases (e.g. heart disease, diabetes, metabolic syndrome). Intermittent fasting in rat studies has also promoted healthy aging; however, more research is occurring to discover a non-fasting dietary pattern that would be more ideal for promoting healthy aging.
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Contributed by Allison Tannis
Known for her deliciously geeky words, Allison’s articles and books are read around the world by those curious about where to find the most delicious (and nutritious) places to stick their forks. More at allisontannis.com. Follow @deliciouslygeeky.