September is Healthy Aging Month and the truth is, healthy aging doesn’t have to become a priority late in life. No matter how old you are, one of the best ways to stay healthy as you age is to prioritize preventive health. Here are 10 things you can start doing today to stay healthy, even as you age.
- Focus on whole foods, and limit processed foods. In particular, a daily intake of omega-3 essential fatty acids is a good way to ensure not only heart health but also general physical and mental health. Vitamin D and calcium are also important for building healthy bones. Antioxidants can also prevent or reverse age-related changes by protecting against oxidative stress.
- Limit your alcohol intake. While a glass of wine here and there is good for you, recent research suggests that alcohol causes inflammation in the intestines and impairs the body's ability to regulate that inflammation.
- Keep your brain sharp. The best way to prevent cognitive decline and memory problems is by exercising your brain. Do a puzzle, play a board game, read, travel, write!
- De-stress. Chronic stress ages us, our cells, our organs, our systems, our function. It's important to relax and restore on a regular basis. Things like meditation, breathe work, prayer, acupuncture, and Qigong and Tai Chi are great ways to destress.
- Incorporate strength training into your workout. As you age, you lose muscle mass, which contributes to frailty and increases your risk of falls and fractures. Exercising can reverse the age-related decline by restoring a brain chemical (brain-derived neurotrophic growth factor) that promotes the production and maturation of new stem cells.
- Focus on your feet. As people age, foot complaints - ranging from bunnies to hammertoes - become more and more common. Stretching your feet every day, wearing supportive shoes, and elevating your feet are helpful ways of treating your feet right.
- SPF is a must! As we covered in our August newsletter, SPF is a non-negotiable part of your skin routine, with 90% of aging due to sun exposure.
- Get 7-8 hours of sleep. Sleeping is when our body reenergizes its cells, clears waste from the brain, and supports learning and memory. Poor sleeping habits are linked to obesity, cardiovascular disease, and depression.
- Stay connected - preferably in person. Researchers found that lonely people have higher levels of stress hormones that cause inflammation, or swelling, linked to arthritis and diabetes. Do volunteer work, go out with friends, take an exercise class, attend conferences, or join a book club.
- Get screened. The goal of screening is early detection and lifestyle changes or surveillance, to reduce the risk of disease, or to detect it early enough to treat it most effectively. At our practice, we offer a Carotid Intima-Media Thickness Test (CIMT) to assess risk factors of developing atherosclerosis.
Dr. Vinny is hosting a Healthy Aging Health Series this month to dive deeper into how to age well, so check out our Facebook events page and don't miss out on these enlightening and informative discussions!