As we age, we lose muscle mass, gain more fat, digestion slows down, cardio vascular fitness and nervous system function declines. But it’s possible to slow down the ageing process with right approach.
1) Exercise regularly
Make sure you exercise to stay healthy and not get injured. Please check with your health care provider if you have any health issues for right kind of exercise.
• Endurance exercise: Running, cycling, swimming or simply walking improves cardiovascular function and prevent metabolism from slowing down.
• Weight training maintains muscle mass and helps both men and women. Skeletal muscle protects joints and can help maintaining bone density, which can prevent fractures. Good muscle mass can also help improve balance and agility, which is crucial as we get older. • If your doctor’s permits include high-intensity interval exercise as it makes you breathe heavily.
2) Reduce stress
Stress has very bad impact on body at any point of life but with increasing age it is more important to learn handling it well.
• Yoga and meditation decrease stress hormones and strengthen immune system.
• Dancing, gardening, singing or laughing increases endorphins, it can increase life expectancy.
• Stay socially active and participate in group activities. Doing activities that stimulate the mind makes intellectual abilities better.
3) Eat what suits your need
• Omega-3 fatty acids prevent inflammation which can cause cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, and heart diseases. It has also been found to slow down the progression of macular degeneration and keeps vision good. It can reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and keep the brain alert. Fish especially sardines, tuna, mackerel, and salmon, flaxseed and walnuts are rich sources. Supplements can be considered.
• Protein- Ageing bodies process protein less efficiently and need more of it to maintain muscle mass and strength, bone health, and other essential physiological functions. Research says that more than 70% Indian population are protein deficient and have poor muscle health.
• Calcium- maintain healthy bones and lower blood pressure. If your calcium intake is not sufficient body begins to take it from the bones. This makes your bones fragile and brittle. Dairy products are the best sources. Discuss with dietitian/doctor if you cannot consume sufficient dairy products.
• Fiber - promotes proper digestion and relieves from constipation, a very common health issue of old age. It also helps in managing weight, blood sugar and cholesterol profile. Try to have 5-6 servings of fruits and vegetables daily.
• Vitamin B12 and D - Vitamin B12 keeps nerves and blood cells healthy. Milk and milk products, eggs, poultry and fish are rich sources of Vitamin B12. Not only children, seniors are also at high risk for Vitamin D deficiency and may contribute to osteoporosis, muscle weakness, hip fractures, diabetes, cancer, heart disease, arthritis and poor general health. We have very few dietary sources of vitamin D, and not everyone can consume these foods. It is still hard to find enough food items fortified with vitamin D in grocery store. Deficiency of both the nutrients are very common in our country. Get it checked annually, you may need a supplement if you cannot have food sources.
• Magnesium - keeps heart healthy, strengthens immune system and bones. Ageing and some medication can have impact on absorption. Whole grains, nuts, fresh fruit, and vegetables and rich in magnesium.
• Potassium reduces blood pressure and lowers your chances of kidney stones. Variety of fruits and vegetables are rich in potassium and supplements are mostly not needed.
• Water- As we age, our body’s ability to conserve water decreases, and also we don’t feel thirsty as often. However, your body still needs water.
• Try to eat fresh whole foods and stay away from processed products.
• Always read labels. Avoid food rich with high sodium, saturated and trans-fat, and artificial ingredients.
• Reduce refined grains and refined sugars in your diet.
• Try to eat more of home cooked meals.
4) Ditch cigarettes and limit alcohol
• Smoking makes you age fastest. Quitting smoking will have the most beneficial effect on your body.
• Follow alcohol limits no more than 14 units per week to keep your energy levels raised, your body fit and your brain sharp.
5) Sleep Well
• When we sleep a lot of recovery and repair happens.
• Lack of sleep can trigger a number of hormones that cause craving for unhealthy food and will leave us tired and unfocused.
It is very important to follow a doctor’s recommendation and be mindful about your health issues.