Although diet and exercise are two of the major components in leading a healthy lifestyle and helping you age gracefully, there are other factors that influence your well being that should be taken into consideration. Searching for the fountain of youth and holding on to it, can be reinforced by incorporating the following five easy pointers into your life:
There are many diets on the market, most of which are developed with a specific goal in mind. However, it has been scientifically proven that the Mediterranean diet improves cardiovascular, neurological and bone health, and adds to longevity. This diet is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and olive oil. Protein is derived mainly from fish and poultry versus red meat. In a study involving 1,300 participants across five European countries who adhered to the Mediterranean diet for one year, it was found that these individuals had reduced levels of C reactive protein (CRP), which is an inflammatory marker linked to aging. These participants also showed lower levels of osteoporosis and bone loss. In another study of 562 participants, the individuals in their 70’s who followed this diet had half the brain atrophy or shrinkage typical for people of similar ages. This relates to less dementia, improved memory and a greater ability to think clearly and effectively.
You are never too old to begin an exercise routine. However, the type of exercise that you undertake will not only impact your fitness level, but impact your cellular level as well. Interval training, which consists of moderate exercise interspersed with intervals of rigorous physical activity, seems to reverse the aging process. A study was conducted of 72 healthy, sedentary men and women from two groups aged under 30 and over 72, who were divided into three exercise groups: rigorous weight training, brief interval biking and moderate bike riding alternating with weight training. All three groups improved in their fitness levels, but the older group who performed interval training demonstrated improved muscular health and cell life.
A growing body of research suggests that meditation can enhance various cognitive functions, including attention, memory, and executive function, and that it positively affects brain function and structure relevant to cognition. Studies undertaken on the effects of meditation on aging are demonstrating that meditation can have a positive impact on the length of the telomeres, which are the protective caps on either ends of our chromosomes that hold the genetic information of our cells, or DNA. Our cells are constantly dividing and as they do so, the telomeres becomes shorter, making our cells more susceptible to disease. Individuals who practice meditation appear to have longer telomeres, and in turn have cells that live longer and appear to be healthier.
Social integration plays a vital role in our well being. Individuals who are socially active and have strong, happy personal relationships, appear to enjoy longer, more fulfilled lives than those who are lonely and socially inept. It has been shown to delay mental and physical decline in elderly patients. On the other hand, poor relationships can bring on chronic health conditions including cardiovascular disease, diminished immune response, depression, sleep problems and dementia.
The saying goes: “You are as young as you feel!” Feeling optimistic and positive about aging can have an affect on how well you age. For those individuals who view growing older as “no big deal”, they will find it easier to function independently, maintain physical fitness, work full time, and enjoy themselves socially as old age creeps up on them. If hard times come upon you, an effective means of self defense is to maintain a positive attitude and view your situation as an opportunity to overcome and grow from it.