“Grow old with me! The best is yet to be.”
― Robert Browning
When it comes to aging well, the secret is not in the makeup or body lotion you choose. It’s not about botox or a little nip and tuck.
We’ve checked the science, and we think you might be surprised at what we’ve discovered.
Serotonin is the brain neurotransmitter that regulates mood, appetite, sleep and blood pressure. A recent Penn State University study confirmed that levels of serotonin naturally decrease with age. This often results in depression and anxiety.
The best way to counter this aging effect is to go for a brisk walk (or cycle or swim) every day. Physical exercise boosts your serotonin production, improving your mood and sense of well-being. No one’s going to call you a “grumpy old man (or woman)”.
Dementia is always one of the big worries with aging. A study from Harvard has revealed that inadequate levels of folic acid are associated with an increased risk of dementia, depression and cognitive decline, particularly in older people. So it just makes sense to load up on folate.
Great sources of folate are leafy green veggies, citrus fruit, dried peas and beans. Think of it as brain food!
You probably already know that getting enough sleep is good for your wellbeing. But did you know it could reduce the visible signs of aging as well?
A 2015 study in the journal Clinical and Experimental Dermatology compared women who got 5 hours sleep with those who clocked up 7-9 hours sleep. The skin of the women with longer hours of sleep bounced back better from UV light exposure. Bottom line, sleep helps your skin ward off the damaging effects of the sun and slow down the visible aging process.
One study has found that the simple act of thinking positively about getting older can actually extend lifespan by an amazing 7.5 years. Statistically, that’s a bigger effect than lowering your blood pressure or your cholesterol!
In another study the Mayo Clinic tested 800 people and determined if they were optimists, pessimists or in-between. They followed up 30 years later and discovered that optimists lived longer. In fact, in any given year pessimists had a 19% greater chance of dying.
Of course, a positive attitude not only helps you to live longer, it helps you to feel better about the life you live. So ditch the negative thoughts. Smile more. Surround yourself with positive people. Remind yourself of all you have to be grateful for.
Vitamin D helps maintain a healthy immune system, regulates cell growth, promotes calcium absorption and protects against certain types of cancer, diabetes and bone disease.
As well as being important for all round health, some recent studies have shown that Vitamin D deficiency is associated with muscle weakness, especially in the elderly. This leads to slower walking speed, prolonged sit-to-stand time and higher rates of fall – not exactly aging gracefully!
The best source of Vitamin D is the sun. Usually 15 minutes a day is adequate to produce the Vitamin D you need. However, as we age our body becomes less efficient at producing Vitamin D from sun exposure. In fact, a 70-year-old makes 4 times less Vitamin D from the sun than a 20-year-old.
So you should also ensure your diet includes Vitamin D, and oily fish such as salmon, sardines, mackerel and cod are the best dietary sources.
Seafood barbecue at the beach anyone?
At Willaid we are dedicated to helping you age comfortably as well as gracefully. We have a wide range of cushions, beds, chairs, mobility aids and daily living aids. So if injury, arthritis or illness start to slow you down we have the health care equipment you need.
This article was created as part of the Your Health Experts program. We are working with other local health experts to bring you the tips, advice and information you need to lead a healthy life. To make sure you get all this great information subscribe to our monthly mini-mag and follow us on Facebook.