Michelle Matthews (Naturopath, BNat.)
We are all ageing from the time we are born. It is the process of life. We are also living longer than ever before. The total world population of centenarians is estimated to reach 3.2 million by 2050 (*American society of ageing) with Japan and Monaco in the lead with the highest volume of citizens over the age of 65 years.
We cannot stop the ageing process but we can do things to help promote a healthy, longer, meaningful and fulfilling life.
So, what are the best secrets to ageing well?
1. Be social – This is not spending hours on social media! But, rather having engaging conversations and interactions with friends and families. Involve yourself in your favourite social activity, local community or volunteer program. The interaction with people is vital to your social and mental wellbeing and your connection to the community.
2. Sleep – Your quality of sleep and sleeping habits may be predisposing you to more rapid ageing. How does this work? Your body is required to have a good amount of rest to allow recovery and repair to occur within the body. If you have restlessness and waking, less than 6 hours of sleep a night, or you are working in shift patterns, your quality of sleep may be compromised. You may experience fatigue, tiredness, clouded judgment and emotional upset.
3. Exercise & be active – Keep moving whatever your age. We know that when you become sedentary for prolonged and extended periods of time your body will start to lose its muscle mass and strength. The elderly are more prone to falls, trips and restricted mobility when muscles start to decline and strength is lost. Resistant exercise such as walking, light weights, tennis or dancing may help to keep your muscles healthy and your joints mobile.
4. Good diet – There is so much talk around what is the ideal diet for healthy ageing. Mediterranean, Japanese or anti-inflammatory diet, which to choose? In fact, all of these diets may help to reduce ageing. The best advice is to eat what is best for you, but avoid foods such as processed meat, sugar, refined carbohydrates, take away foods, fast foods, and sugary and stimulant drinks. Some good suggestions may be to buy fresh fruits and vegetables, clean and ethically sourced meat and fish, good fats and oils and complex carbohydrates. Try to always cook from fresh, and enjoy your food.
5. Stress – This is often underrated when talking about ageing. Our stress does not stop at the age of 65 years, or even when we retire from work! Stress can come in many forms and affect us all differently. However, there is no greater sign that you are under stress than when it affects you mentally, physically or both. Often the effects of stress can also be seen on our faces. These signs may bags under the eyes, more lines and furrows and a downturned mouth. Although stress is unavoidable in today’s society, it is the way that we deal with stress which needs to be addressed. Talk about your stress with family, friends or a professional. Learn techniques such as writing it down, tai chi or deep diaphragmatic breathing which all may help.
6. Hydration – Our body is made of 60% water and is required by many functions of the body daily to stay healthy. It is important to keep your body hydrated. As we age we can feel less inclined to drink as our thirst and appetite can decline. Water keeps our skin, ligaments and joints fluid and supple. Remember to keep a bottle of water in your bag or near you as a reminder to drink more.
7. Use it or Lose it – Did you know that our mind and brain are not fixed. But in fact, our brain and mind is adaptable and can grow and learn whatever your age. We may often perceive that when we get old our mind and brain will deteriorate, but new research has revealed this is not the case. To keep your mind active, alert and prevent cognition loss try mind games or activities such as Sudoku, board games, playing cards, knitting, crosswords, learning a new language, learning a new skill or helping the grandkids with their homework. These activities can help keep your mind and brain active.
8. Get a pet – The unconditional love from an animal is priceless. Having a pet may help with healthy ageing, as animals have the ability to calm the nerves, provide companionship and may sense when things are not right. Research has shown that when we are in the presence of an animal, it can reduce stress (lowering cortisol) and lower blood pressure. Many nursing homes acknowledge the benefits of the animal-human connection and often have animal visits help reduce, feelings of loneliness, relieve stress and reduce mild anxiety.
There are many ways in which you can look after yourself as you age. Taking the time to truly care for “you” through a healthy diet, sleep, social interaction, and body and mind activity can enable you to enjoy your later years, and get the most out of fulfilling and abundant life!
Ref: Natural Healthy Ageing Secrets