Aging is inevitable but it is also a process we can partially control. The process of aging is a complex interplay of various factors involving genetics, environment, and lifestyle. Some of these factors can be influenced by what we do or donât do with our own bodies.
Here are the six major issues behind why people age poorly and how to avoid them:
If you study different populations of people and evaluate specific variables such as mortality rates, longevity, and rates of chronic disease, a very interesting pattern arises. That population of people who are the most physically active live longer and have a lower incidence of chronic disease.
The fact remains that a sedentary lifestyle leads to the advancement of disease and hastens the aging process. If you have a sedentary job and do not engage in any form of exercise, there will be nothing to prevent your arteries from becoming stiff, thickened, and full of plaque. When this occurs, your blood pressure will rise and so will your risk of heart disease and stroke. Without continual mechanical stimulation and external loading, you will lose muscle, bone mass, and experience a net gain of body fat. The tissues in your joints will not remodel or repair themselves without continual, external stimulation from loading forces. In addition, your immune and hematological systems will weaken if not challenged by continual physical effort. Lastly, your brain will age unimpeded without the improved blood supply afforded from regular exercise. Regular exercise is vitally important, especially if you have a sedentary type of job.
I recommend 45-60 minutes of cardiovascular exercise daily (brisk walking, running, or cycling).
There is no doubt that stress can affect the aging process and cause disease. Emotional stress, especially chronic stress, causes our bodies to adapt in such a way as to place a lot more âwear and tearâ on our organs. When we are under stress, the adrenal gland secretes hormones which increase our blood pressure, influence fat oxidation, brain neurochemistry, stomach acid secretion, inflammation, and digestive function. If the stress is not managed properly or alleviated, you may develop heart problems, digestive issues, impaired memory or concentration, impaired insulin metabolism, and chronic fatigue.
This is the most preventable cause of premature aging and death but even today after how much has been learned regarding smoking, many people throughout the world are doing it. Smoking damages our arteries by increasing blood stickiness, oxidizing LDL cholesterol molecules, enhancing the inflammatory response inside the artery, and directly influencing endothelial function. Smoking also negatively influences enzymes which keep our arteries relaxed, resulting in higher blood pressure. Smoking also increases the concentration of carbon monoxide in our red blood cells which limits the oxygen carrying capacity of the circulatory system. All of these greatly increases the aging of your circulatory system leading to heart attack, stroke, and peripheral arterial disease. Smoking can also cause cancers of the lung, esophagus, mouth, tongue, stomach, and pharynx by producing abnormal pre-cancerous cellular growth. Smoking obviously can take a great toll upon the appearance of your skin. Smokers often experience more wrinkles, discoloration, and tightness of the facial skin. If you smoke the sooner you quit, the more risks can be reversed.
Excessive drinking can also be directly responsible for accelerated aging, disease, and premature death. I am not talking about alcoholism because I feel that this discussion is somewhat redundant; however, binge drinking and chronic intake of alcohol are also very damaging. Too much alcohol can damage your brain cells, liver cells, and affect nutrient absorption. It can also lead to alcoholism in susceptible people. Excessive or prolonged drinking has also been associated with higher rates of cancers of the breast, esophagus, stomach, and liver.
I recommend drinking no more than one glass of red wine per day if you are a woman and two glasses if you are a man.
Family Risk Factors
If you have an understanding of your own unique risk factors based upon your genetic heritage and family history, this will give you a very large advantage. For example, if you have first degree relatives who have (or had) heart disease, cancer, obesity, diabetes or dementia, this elevates your risk as well.
Taking the necessary steps regarding prevention at an earlier age based upon this knowledge can dramatically limit and off-set the influence of this risk. If you are a white, fair-skinned female living in the northern hemisphere and are of northern European descent, you have a greater chance of developing osteoporosis. Understanding this can allow you to take the necessary steps to control the risk through lifestyle dynamics.
Diet may be the most important modifiable contributor to the aging process. The types of foods we eat certainly can influence the manner with which we age and how we get sick. The standard North American diet is primarily composed of refined carbohydrates, sugar, trans fat, saturated fat, sodium, animal protein, and high calories. Rates of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, obesity, stroke, arthritis, and dementia are high because of what we choose to eat. When we have a diet such as this, there is a poor supply of vital nutrients to sustain, maintain, or repair our aging cells. The net result of this type of diet consumed in any population group is high rates of chronic disease, morbidity (advanced aging), and premature mortality. Replace the North American diet with whole grains, fatty fish, poultry, eggs, fruit, deep-colored vegetables, legumes, low-fat dairy products, nuts, and olive oil.
Source(s) for Todayâs Article:
Palladino-Davis, A.G., et al., âDietary habits and esophageal cancer,â Dis Esophagus. June 24, 2013.
Weaver, A.M., et al., âAlcohol intake over the life course and breast cancer survival in Western New York exposures and breast cancer (WEB) study: quantity and intensity of intake,â Breast Cancer Res Treat. May 2013; 139(1): 245-53.
Psaltopoulou, T., et al., âMediterranean diet and stroke, cognitive impairment, depression: A meta-analysis,â Ann Neurol. May 30, 2013.