June 21, 2024
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Staying Healthy as We Age

Dear Jenn:

We are very much enjoying your new wellness and nutrition advice column in The Jewish Link. We are a couple in our 60s who are trying to remain healthy and active. What advice can you give us with respect to exercise and nutrition so that we can continue to lead an active life as we grow older and avoid the pitfalls that often come with aging?

Sincerely,

Young at Heart in Teaneck

Dear Young at Heart in Teaneck:

In my previous article, “Nutrition and Dietary Suggestions,” I discussed eating adequate and healthy selections of carbohydrates, proteins, fats, fiber, fluids, vitamins and minerals. Also of note were “SuperFoods,” high in essential nutrients and antioxidants, which have healing qualities, boost immunity and help prevent inflammation in the body. This article will address “Other Essential Strategies For Aging.”

1. Exercise—Regular exercise significantly reduces the risk of; heart disease, cancer, hypertension, stroke, diabetes and obesity. Aerobic exercise keeps the cardio-vascular system strong, plaque-free and healthy. Anaerobic exercise builds and maintains muscles and develops definition. Stretching exercises maintain flexibility, relieve muscle tension and may reduce pain. Balance exercises maintain coordination and equilibrium, and prevent falls. Engaging in a variety of exercises keeps the body strong, fit, healthy and truly young at heart!

* Recommendation: Daily exercise. Note: “Physical conditioning” is the development of fitness through the adaptation of the body and its various systems to an exercise program. This is a biological process that takes time and consistency. If you are not used to regular exercise, start slowly—15 minutes daily, and increase gradually with time. What kind of exercise do you like?

2. Skin Care—The skin is the largest organ of the body. It protects us from the elements, regulates body temperature and provides sensation. *Recommendation: Keep skin looking healthy and functioning. Consider these suggestions:

Sun protection—Wear sunscreen and protective clothing when outside. Sunbathing may feel relaxing but can cause damage, aging and skin cancer.

Annual skin cancer screenings—Sun damage is cumulative. The risk of cancers increases with age. Keep an eye out for troubling blemishes or spots.

Be gentle with skin—Stick to gentle anti-aging skin care products and routines.

Fluid intake—Stay hydrated especially, for the positive anti-aging effects.

3. Mental Health Matters—Being happy and reducing stress goes a long way in helping you live and age well. *Recommendations:

Spend time with friends and loved ones. Meaningful relationships and a strong social network improve mental and emotional well-being as well as longevity. Use social media to your benefit: FaceTime/Skype/video-chat with friends and family members. Loved ones can include pets! Studies link pets to improved mood as well as reducing stress, blood pressure and loneliness.

Accept your age. Evidence suggests that a positive attitude about aging helps one live long and recover from disability. Aging is inevitable; embrace it.

Do things you enjoy. Engage in activities that bring you happiness. Find a hobby, spend time in nature, volunteer, or perhaps create a memory book with your grandchildren.

4. Stay Physically Active—Studies link a sedentary lifestyle to risk of chronic illness and premature death. Keep active by going on walks, hikes, volunteering, taking vacations and/or participating in enjoyable group exercise classes.

5. Cortisol and Hormonal Reactions—The adrenal glands secrete the hormones adrenaline and cortisol as a normal response to stress. This results in an increase in heart rate and feeling of energy. This is part of our normal “fight or flight response.” However, excessive release of cortisol and adrenaline caused by stress and anxiety can wreak havoc on health. *Recommendations: To keep cortisol and adrenaline in check, try these suggestions:

Use relaxation techniques such as meditation and breathing exercises.

Try yoga or tai chi.

Exercise regularly, an additional perk!

Obtain adequate sleep.

“Talk through issues” with loved ones. Don’t bottle-up emotions.

6. Quit Smoking—Smoking is proven to cause premature aging, heart disease, cancer and chronic lung disease. Smoking cessation is not easy, but there are resources available to help. *Recommendation: Speak to your doctor about the many tools that can help you quit.

7. Moderate Alcohol Intake—Excessive alcohol consumption is linked to increased aging and risk for diseases such as high blood pressure, heart disease, liver disease and digestive problems. In addition, it increases the risk for various cancers, i.e. liver, mouth, throat, colon, rectum and breast. However, studies have proven that alcohol consumed in moderate amounts can have health benefits. Some of these include: reducing heart disease, cholesterol, and ischemic strokes. Some alcoholic beverages such as dry red wines, champagnes, vodka and tequila do contain beneficial anti-oxidants such as resveratrol.

* Recommendations: According to the U.S. Dietary Guidelines for adults who drink, limit alcohol use to: One drink or less daily for women and two drinks or less daily for men.

8. Good sleeping—Sleep is necessary for physical and mental health. Adequate sleep lowers the risk of: heart attack, stroke, stress, depression, obesity and metabolic syndrome. It helps immunity and skin health. *Recommendations: Studies indicate that sleep recommendations depend on age. For adults 18 years and older, it is seven to eight hours.

9. Practice Mindfulness—Practicing mindfulness has proven health benefits that promote an enhanced aging experience. Being mindful can help to: improve focus, boost memory, lower stress, control emotional reactions and enhance relationship satisfaction. Living in the moment while calmly accepting one’s feelings, thoughts and bodily sensations takes technique, strategy and practice. *Recommendation: Mindfulness is evidence-based. Learn more about it.

10. Oral Health—Poor oral hygiene ages your smile and puts you at risk for gum disease, which has been linked to heart disease, stroke and bacterial pneumonia. Regular dental care is essential. According to the American Dental Association, a dentist can spot caries, nutritional deficiencies, infections, oral cancer, leukemia, diabetes, eating disorders and other problems. Early detection of disease has better outcomes, healthy gums and a great smile! *Recommendation: See your dentist regularly.

11. Brain Exercises—Keep the brain healthy, stimulate neurons and reinforce connections.

Try crossword or jigsaw puzzles.

Find friends to play word, math or card games.

Take a class at your local community college or on- line.

Join a book club.

12. Make a Deeper Spiritual Connection—Religion (and the community that goes with it) offers meaningful activities, keeps you socially connected, prevents loneliness, avoids depression, and gives purpose to life.

Last thoughts—Middle age is a time when many think about mortality. Aging happily and healthily with longevity requires focusing on eating healthy, exercising regularly, keeping active and being mindful. If you are concerned with your aging process and need help, Nutrition Transformations is here for you. We will teach you how to eat healthy for youthful living, exercise for life, learn to be mindful and be your personal best. Don’t hesitate; time can be on your side, call today!

Yours in good health,

Jenn

Founder of Nutrition Transformations

www.Nu-transform.com 

[email protected]

718-644-1387

*For in-person consultation, full COVID vaccination is required.

* If you have a question, please write to Jenn; see website for information.

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