It has been said that we are a triune being with a body, soul and spirit - ageing well holistically has to cover all these three areas when we enter into our golden years with health, joy and love for the future rather than with dread of ageing
Ageing is an inevitable process of life and it is crucial that we understand the steps to ageing well. It is similar to servicing and maintaining that new car we have got -- such that it becomes a vintage in time and not just a scrap of metal. Let’s take a look at 10 different aspects which can guide us towards a holistic approach in ageing-in-place.
What you don’t use, you lose – this is especially true of both muscles and brain cells. After age, if we are physically inactive, we can lose as much as 3 percent to 5 percent of our muscle mass per decade. Even if we are active, we will still experience some muscle loss. The loss of muscle mass is not as obvious as hair loss or wrinkles showing up. However, after 50, we may lose 1"2 percent of our muscles yearly and along with it, our strength. By 60, we will be losing 3% of our muscle mass yearly. With inactivity muscle loss is even accelerated. Hence, it is vital that the type of exercises engaged in includes resistance training or strength training which is exercise that increases muscle strength and endurance with weights or resistance bands. Benefits of resistance training include positive influence on hormone concentrations, neuromuscular system and protein synthesis.
Watch what and how much you eat
As muscle loss can be accelerated with inadequate protein intake, it is important to ensure that the amount of protein consumed daily should be about 0.8 g of protein per kg of body weight. This means if you weigh 50 kg, 40 g of protein should be consumed daily. In addition, our diets should be rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, high in fibre and Omega-3 fatty acids, such as walnuts and salmon and low in glycaemic index. Choose higher nutritional quality smaller portions as our metabolic rates tend to decrease with age. Chew your food well and slowly to enjoy your food more and aid in your food digestion.
It is important to ensure that we get comprehensive optimal levels of nutrients through supplementation. It is most challenging trying to eat so well enough that we can virtually get all the forty over micronutrients from food alone. The additional basis of supplementation is that with ageing, our digestion and absorption abilities decrease, so supplementation aids in provision of that which we fail to absorb from food.
The important aspect is to choose a pharmaceutical grade, potency guaranteed multi-vitamin and a double molecular distilled fish oil supplement.
Taking care of your skin and hair
With ageing, our skin tends to become thinner and loses its elasticity and hair fallout may be greater as the years go by. If you haven’t adopted some routine of moisturising your skin all over well and washing your hair daily, this is a good time to start to slow down its decline. Due to changes in the hormonal levels in our body the skin may become drier, so this is the time to invest in products that are parabensfree and that don’t contain harmful ingredients by scrutinising product labels. If you haven’t been using sun protection whenever you go out, this is the time to start to avoid greater pigmentation of the skin. Looking good as we age gracefully is to strengthen our self-esteem as we never need to look our ages.
Get plenty of sleep
“Beauty sleep” isn’t a myth: when we sleep, our bodies release a growth hormone that helps restore collagen and elastin, the essential building blocks of healthy skin. When we don’t sleep enough, our bodies release more of the stress hormone, cortisol. In excess amounts, cortisol can break down skin collagen. More than just for beauty, sleeping enough may mean a reduction in risks of obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes. Recent research shows that sleep loss appear to stimulate appetite by the increase in ghrelin production in the body to stimulate hunger and cravings for high-fat, high-carbohydrate food and decrease in leptin production which suppresses appetite. Recent studies have shown a connection between insomnia and accelerated ageing of the brain. Over time, lack of sleep can contribute to depression as they feed on each other.
Quit smoking and limit alcohol consumption
Smoking increases the risk of cancer by up to 23 times for men and 13 times for women. Smoking makes us look older as the 4000 chemicals in tobacco smoke damage collagen and elastin of our skin leading to increased wrinkling. Limiting our alcohol consumption will enable us to age well as alcohol can worsen your memory by dissolving the essential fatty acids within brain cells. Alcohol also destroys vitamins so the more we drink, the more micronutrients we need.
Stay mentally active
Just like muscles, we need to continue to fire away our brain synapses and attempt to rewire our brain connections through learning to keep them healthy. Research has also demonstrated how learning has slowed ageing with the longer telomeres length of the DNA of those who have a higher education. It pays to feed your mind with creativity and embark on a journey of lifelong learning. The ageing process is a great time to learn a new language, to take that dance class or start that course you have always wanted to do.
Invest in relationships
According to a study published in the journal PLoS Medicine, people with strong social ties were shown to have a 50% higher chance of living longer than those with poor or insufficient relationships. Studies have confirmed the health-promoting power of social connections, be it with your spouse, offspring, siblings or friends. The studies show that those with satisfying social relationships stayed more mentally alert than those who were more isolated.
Invest in positive mindsets
Life up to this stage may not have given us what we may have hoped for but certainly by remaining positive and hopeful has much to enable us to age well. Studies have confirmed that happy people live longer and that absence of negative emotions, optimism, and positive emotions cause better health and longevity.
Invest in our spiritual well-being
Research reveals that having a high spiritual quotient or awareness appears to benefit people of all means, educational levels, and ages. Dr Harold G. Koenig said in the highly acclaimed Handbook of Religion and Health, “Elderly people with deep, personal religious faith have a stronger sense of well-being than their less religious peers.” The ever increasing medical evidence in favour of spirituality proves nothing more or less than the positive consequences of the existence of a supreme intelligence and its being a real meaningful part of life. Research shows that having hope beyond ourselves is a powerful motivator to recover and increases emotional wellbeing.
Hence, with all the research showing that our ability to age well does not depend merely on genes but is more powerfully connected to the factors above which are within our control.
Pay heed to the above factors and you will certainly age gracefully and be well adjusted as the years roll on.
Source: Prime Magazine Issue Oct-Nov 2015. Reproduced with permission.
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