05 May Slow the aging process with some simple lifestyle choices
Did you know that you have at least some control over how fast and how well you are aging? We may not be able to turn back the clock, but we can slow it down. Research has shown that people of the same chronological age often have quite different biological ages. In a Duke University study, nearly 1,000 participants of three difference ages (26, 32 and 38) were examined for cognitive abilities, cardiovascular health, and other markers of fitness at three different intervals. After plotting the slope of each study participant’s biomarkers, researchers discovered they didn’t all decline at the same rate. Some had no slope, (meaning they weren’t aging) and of the 38 year-old group, study participants had biological ages that ranged from younger than 30 to nearly 60 years of age. We now know that genetics aren’t the only determinant of how fast you’ll age. Far from it.
- The best way to slow aging is to stay active and fit. Studies show that people who exercise regularly throughout their lives have the muscle mass, cholesterol levels, and immune system function of much younger people.
- Choose whole foods. Studies show eating whole foods boosts the body’s supply of nutrients to help keep cells healthy, minimize inflammation, and lower risk of chronic diseases associated with age. Eating whole foods can also health us maintain brain health.
- Eat more plants. A diet that emphasizes fruits, vegetables, and whole grains— supports healthy aging by providing important nutrients to our brains and bodies. The Mediterranean diet is a good example of a plant-based diet.
- Get enough protein. Protein is important in maintaining muscle mass as we get older. After the age of 40, we lose up to 8 percent of our muscle mass per decade, and this rate increases further still after the age of 70. Click here for Canada’s Food Guide and some protein suggestions.
- Get enough Vitamin D. Vitamin D helps keep our bones strong and may help protect against age-related conditions like cancer and heart disease. Vitamin D can be boosted through diet, supplement,s and 10-15 minutes of sunlight a day. In a recent study of over 2,000 women, those with higher vitamin D levels also had longer telomeres. What is a telomere? We explain here.
- Encourage healthy gut flora. Choose prebiotic and probiotic foods such as vegetables, fruit, kefir, yogurt, and sauerkraut. Did you know that approximately 70 percent of your immune system resides in your gut?
- Stay hydrated to help keep normal body functions in tip-top shape – functions like regulating body temperature, maintaining healthy joints, and digesting food.
- Protect your skin from the sun. Yes, we know it seems contradictory to getting some daily sunlight to boost Vitamin D levels, but while getting 10-15 minutes of sunlight a day is usually enough to maintain adequate levels of Vitamin D, too much can lead to premature aging of the skin and even skin cancer. Protect your skin in every season by covering up with clothing, staying in the shade, wearing a hat, and wearing a broad-spectrum sunscreen.
- Reduce and manage stress. In an important study, stress was shown to shorten telomeres, making study participants seem as much as a decade older than their age. Reduce stress and lengthen your telomeres.
- Sleep tight. So much repair work goes on inside our bodies when we get the recommended seven to nine hours of quality sleep a night. Click here for tips on getting a better night’s sleep.
- Make brain health a priority. For scientifically-backed tips and resources, click here.
These are just some of the many lifestyle tools we have to help slow aging. Your best bet, is to begin with our Comprehensive Health Evaluation so that we can assess your current health, identify risk factors, and determine how well you are aging.