What can we do to prevent a scenario that’s becoming all too common? Our growing elderly population is unable to live independently and care for themselves. One in four seniors will live in a nursing home at some point in their life.
Why is this happening?
Drugs and technology are extending our lives but we are really no healthier. We are living longer but not necessarily better.
What would healthy aging look like?
How can we get there?
Anti Aging Tips
It would look like grandparents and even great grandparents participating in a full life until they pass away from natural causes, simply meaning their body finally wore out. We can get there by taking care of ourselves and not partaking in an instant gratification society.
Taking care of oneself can be an enjoyable part of life.
Engaging in physical and mental activities and participating in good nutrition practices are all associated with aging well and living a happy existence.
Studies published in the Archives of Internal Medicine report certain kinds of exercise improve overall health, including less incidence of dementia, improved walking skills (imperative to independence), improved cognitive function, decreased risk of chronic disease and improved bone density.
Mental health comes from being involved in life: socializing with family and friends, volunteering, being an active member of community organizations or religious groups.
These kinds of activities prevent mental deterioration and depression.
Dr. John McDougall, a well-known lifestyle medicine physician, recently authored SB 380 in the California legislation. A modified version of the bill was approved by the committee. The bill requires all practicing medical physicians to take a nutrition course as one of their continuing education classes.
Why is this important?
Doctors largely help people cope with illness, especially as they age, by handing out medications and performing surgeries. What most of them need are lifestyle changes, part of which includes proper nutrition.
What constitutes proper nutrition to prevent disease and slow down aging?
- A diet rich in whole plant-based foods is a diet rich in antioxidants. Antioxidants fight off free radicals, compounds within our body that promote cancer and aging.
- Cutting back on or eliminating animal protein. Animal protein comes with insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1) a hormone naturally found in animals (as well as in isolated soy protein). This hormone causes cell replication, including the replication of cancer cells.
Tips from Dr. Ornish
Dr. Dean Ornish, a physician credited with reversing heart disease through a plant-based diet is now concentrating on reversing and slowing down aging. He looked at telomeres, which are the protective caps at the end of each of our DNA strands. The shortening of telomeres has been shown to cause accelerated aging.
What causes telomere shortening?
Without a doubt, smoking!
Was there anything else? What about the foods we eat every day?
A study was done with 120 foods to find the ones, if any, which cause telomere shortening. Two stood out substantially.
- Processed meat, e.g., bacon and surprisingly…
- Fish, which is often touted as a “health food.”
Processed meat aged DNA by 14 years and fish by six years.
Dr. Ornish found a whole foods, plant-based diet (along with exercise) boosted telomere activity (repaired and lengthened them) in as little as 3 months.
This information is yet another reason to embrace a healthy lifestyle. It’s not just about living to a ripe old age, it’s about actually being well enough to enjoy it.