What is Healthy Aging?
Getting older does not necessarily mean you will have a poor quality of life or will need to depend on others for your daily needs after a certain age. If you understand what your body requires, you can be independent physically and mentally as you grow older. Adopting healthy habits, consuming a nutrient-rich diet, taking your vitamins faithfully, and doing enough physical activity daily can positively contribute to healthy aging. Scroll down to learn more about healthy aging and what you can do to achieve it!
Healthy aging – what does it mean?
Healthy aging is about developing the habits, abilities, and environment that support your well-being as you age. Many older adults have one or more health conditions, but, if controlled, these diseases have little to no influence on their well-being.
What you think, see, hear, or remember impacts your well-being. Healthy aging is determined by your physical and mental abilities. It also focuses on the functional ability of seniors to continue-
- fulfilling their basic necessities
- learning, developing, and making choices
- to move around comfortably
- building good relationships and maintaining them
- contributing something to society
The first step towards healthy aging is knowing that some physical and mental changes take place no matter how hard you try to avoid them. While they are inevitable, you can, however, delay the process. A few common age-related issues most people experience are–
Heart health – Like any other muscle in your body, your heart will also start to underperform as you age. Most older adults resort to an inactive lifestyle, which makes their left ventricles stiff, thus reducing the amount of oxygen-rich blood pumped from the heart to other parts of the body. The aging heart also has a lower heart rate, which means it pumps fewer times in a minute than it used to. This makes the arteries thicker, thus making it harder to regulate blood pressure.
These changes associated with the heart are hard to control with age. But a healthy diet and regular physical exercise will definitely help keep the heart and arteries healthy and functioning for a long time.
Weaker bones – Your bone mass reduces with age. Bones deteriorate in structure, function, and composition. They get more brittle and fragile, increasing the risk of osteoporosis. Low bone mass can also lead to broken bones. Including bone health supplements in your daily routine can save you from a lot of bone-related issues in the future. These supplements help improve collagen production, lubricate the joints, reduce joint pain, and even promote flexibility. You can also talk to your physician about how to prevent osteoporosis before it starts to get too bad.
Cognitive functions – The brain shrinks in volume, the frontal cortex in particular. Studies also suggest that aging may lead to slower cognitive processing. Memory loss is also part of aging, however, conditions like Alzheimer's disease and dementia are not.
Skin – The aged and older skin produces less elastin and collagen which means your skin will start to sag and become loose with time. However, taking the best collagen supplements and consuming foods good for the skin can do a lot of wonders and delay skin aging.
There are a lot more common and normal changes occurring in your body, including weakened senses, be it hearing, vision, touch, taste, or smell, wearing of the enamel on your teeth, and reduced sexual function. Your body has supported you for a long time and is still doing it as much as it can. Appreciate that fact, and help your body support you better by fulfilling your daily nutrition requirements, managing stress, and staying active.
Tips For Healthy Aging
1. A well-balanced diet can go a long way
It is important to consume a healthy, well-balanced diet to ensure you age healthily. A good diet and healthy meals combined with physical activity can help improve your strength and overall well-being. Some healthy nutritional habits to adopt as you get older: -
- Drink plenty of water every day. Six to eight cups of fluid are great for health. Seniors are more prone to dehydration than the rest of us. Their appetite and thirst reduce with age. So even if their body needs fluids, they don’t feel thirsty, and hence consume less water.
- Aim for balance and variety in your diet. Try consuming a combination of a variety of vegetables, including dark leafy greens, a variety of fresh fruits, whole grains like oats, brown rice, etc., and plant oils like olive or grapeseed oil. These ensure that your body gets the right amount of vitamins, minerals, and many natural 'phytochemicals' or 'antioxidants' to neutralize the free radicals and protect body cells from damage.
- Include calcium-rich foods, for example, small fish with edible bones, green leafy vegetables, and calcium-fortified foods such as soybean milk, bread, and biscuits to support bone health.
- Avoid foods with a lot of saturated and trans fat that raise LDL cholesterol, like deep-fried foods, pastries, and cookies, as they increase the risk of developing heart disease and stroke.
- Reduce your salt intake. Salt is sodium chloride, and excessive sodium intake increases the risk of high blood pressure.
2. Stay active
Physical activity can make a significant contribution to healthy aging. Regular exercise helps improve balance, keep you strong, help with better cognitive functioning, reduce depression, and keep you mobile.
Scientific evidence suggests that keeping physically active not only allows you to live longer but also to live better without disability and pain. As people age, muscle function starts to decline. That is why older adults do not generally have enough energy to do their daily activities. However, daily physical exercise can help them maintain muscle mass as they age.
Do what you can. You don’t need to hit the gym or do complicated yoga poses to stay healthy. Start small and make sure you are guided by a professional when you take up certain exercises.
3. Get regular checkups
Regular checkups with your doctor, eye doctor, dentist, and other specialists may help reduce risk factors for various diseases, including high blood pressure and cholesterol. With regular checkups, your doctor can also catch concerns in the early stages. It gives a chance for effective treatment before the problem goes too far.
4. Limit your alcohol consumption
Excessive consumption of alcohol can speed up bone loss and cause other problems like liver damage, brain damage, and immune system disorders. That is why it is better to avoid consuming alcohol. However, if you want, try to drink it in a controlled manner. It is better to limit consumption to one drink a day.
5. Incorporate supplements into your daily routine
As you grow older, your digestion system, immunity system, and nervous system weaken, and so does your nutrient absorption capacity. Hence, having supplements along with a healthy diet is the best thing you can do for your body.
You can take natural supplements and multivitamins for healthy aging which include vitamins A, B-complex, C, D, E, and K, zinc, iron, Omega 3, and collagen. Multivitamins provide the necessary nutrients for healthy aging, however, it is always a good idea to consult a doctor before consuming supplements.
Aging gracefully and healthily is more than just keeping wrinkles away. It also includes a healthy lifestyle, a healthy diet, and being in a suitable environment that helps you grow in the right and normal way. Aging is a natural process, and with the right steps and habits, you too can experience healthy aging without serious complications.
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