Most people’s dream of aging is to lead a purposeful, active life well into old age with full independence.
Although how long you live is never guaranteed, following a healthy lifestyle greatly improves your chances of aging well.
What encompasses a “healthy lifestyle”?
1. Eating well: emphasising whole, plant-based foods.
There is over whelming scientific research that a whole food, plant based (WFPB) pattern of eating is ideal for human health, at any age.
Such a diet is based on vegetables, fruit, whole grains, beans & legumes, nuts &seeds and herbs & spices and avoids meat, dairy products, eggs and processed foods of either plant or animal origin.
An example of a whole, plant-based meal is the “Power Plate” shown below.
This represents the ideal, healthy plate as designed by the https://www.pcrm.org/
As people age, there are many physiological changes that take place such as a slower metabolism, reduced appetite, muscle loss and greater micronutrient needs.
Hence, it’s even more important to focus on nutrient dense, whole plant-based foods.
Eating a plant-rich diet can help prevent and even reverse some of the most common chronic diseases that start to set in at middle age such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancer.
2. Exercising consistently.
Exercise is vital for every single system in the body, especially the brain.
Many studies have shown that although people who have done exercise their whole lives are healthier, there are still immense benefits to starting exercise later in life.
That is, it is never too late to start exercising!
It doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive–a daily brisk walk is all it takes! (ideally 90 min per day).
Exercise represents the “E” is the acronym “NEURO” coined by world-renown neurologists Drs. Sherzai.
Their research demonstrates how a healthy lifestyle can prevent and reverse cognitive decline at any age, reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s disease by 90%. (The full acronym stands for: Nutrition, Exercise, Unwind, Restore and Optimize.) İleri Yaş ve Yaşlanmak.
3. Other factors: sleep, stress, and social ties.
There is no doubt that the food we eat is the most important factor determining our health.
However, there are other factors that play a role in longevity such as good sleep, the ability to manage the stresses of daily life, and strong social ties.
The majority of people generally need 7-8hrs of quality sleep per night, a crucial time for the body and brain to refresh for the next day.
Stress is not to be avoided at all costs.
We actually want some “good” stress in our lives that motivates us to achieve our long-term goals, but we want to avoid uncontrolled stress that can overwhelm us.
The importance of family and social connections arises from our primordial beginnings as social creatures.
One of the lessons we can glean from the longest lived people in the world, known as the Blue Zones,are to maintain tight social connection swith family and friends.
The general goal in life is to improve not just our “lifespan” but also our “healthspan”:
- Lifespan: length of time you’re likely to live
- Healthspan: length of time that you are healthy, not just alive
The only way to achieve this is through healthy lifestyle habits which will “add years to life and life to years”! (Dr. David Katz.)