How to turn the dial back 20 years

By September 25, 2016Ageing

DO touch that dial! A few simple lifestyle changes to stay younger, for longer.

It tends to creep up on us: For some, it happens during a jog, when a knee suddenly gives in. Others run into a vaguely familiar face from high school: wow, how did she age so fast? Still others get a good old fright when a net of new wrinkles or grey hairs greet them in the mirror.

The dreaded realisation: “I am getting so old!”

So what exactly determines how you age? Two words: genetics and lifestyle. The good news? Genetics only contributes to 20-30% of your lifespan, which means 80% is in your control! And that 80% doesn’t involve a host of strange, herbal concoctions, hormone sprays or mystery supplements. It simply means taking small, daily steps to work with your body’s natural ageing process.

Ageing happens from the inside out. Once you hit the “other” side of 60, all of us are faced with a number of key health challenges. Fortunately, good lifestyle habits can nip many of these in the bud (and it’s never too late to start). Here’s what to look out for:

Weight gain

As you get older your metabolism slows and muscle mass dwindles. Obesity is linked to almost every major cause of early death so this is one that you need to actively (excuse the pun) avoid.

What to do::

  • Avoid all processed foods, sugars and refined carbohydrates and stick to real, whole foods. Top tip: go for colour. The more colourful your food, the more nutrients it has.
  • Move more. Your first marathon might be out of the question these days, but simply moving more during the day will do wonders for your metabolism. Walking is always a possibility, but shopping and even gardening are also healthy alternatives.

Arthritis, aches and pains

Not everyone will suffer from arthritis, but aches and pains are a natural part of ageing. Weight gain is a major culprit in joint pain, so managing your weight is important.

 What to do:

Stay active! It keeps blood circulating, which can keep your joints healthy and reduce pain. Plus, it strengthens the muscles around the joint, taking pressure off both joints and bone.

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Cancer and heart disease

You risk for chronic diseases like cancer and heart disease simply increases as you age. That’s thanks to hormonal changes as well as your exposure to damaging stressors, like smoking.

What to do:

Aside from the obvious lifestyle changes you can make (eating well, exercising and stopping smoking), you should also become proactive about medical screening. Cancer and heart disease are not the death sentences that they used to be. The earlier a problem can be found, the earlier it can be treated (and the longer you will live!)

The do’s and don’ts of anti-ageing products

There is no product that stops or reverses aging. And the remedies that make those promises aren’t even tested that well, and can be dangerous. Here is what to look out for:

  • Words like “secret formula” or “breakthrough” should set off alarm bells
  • Steer clear of products that claim to cure many ailments, especially serious ones
  • Be careful of products that claim to have no side effects, and don’t fall for testimonials or celebrity endorsements; they are often misleading.
  • Question products that claim to reduce the need for doctor visits. Instead, consult your doctor before taking anything.
  • Be sceptical of products that offer a no-risk, money-back guarantee, a free trial, or a larger amount of the product as a special promotion. In these cases, more really isn’t better.

Instead, stick to lifestyle medicine and the natural approach to anti-ageing:

  1. Always wear sunscreen. UV rays damage all the delicate proteins in your skin resulting in dark spots, wrinkles and fine lines
  2. Moisturise, inside and out. Make water your only drink of choice and ensure you stay hydrated throughout the day
  3. Aim for 7-9 hours each night. Sleep is when your body is able to recharge and recover from the day’s stressors
  4. Slow your mind at the end of every day to ensure you stay calm and centred.
  5. LOL’ing not only feels good, it boosts your memory (fewer senior moments) and lowers levels of the age-accelerating stress hormone, cortisol.

Your lifestyle choices today, will make the difference between hobbling through your “golden years” and dancing through them!