It’s nice to enjoy every single day of our lives and not to worry too much about the future. There is also no doubt, that taking care of the present we are building the future. But let’s take a moment to envision ourselves at the age of 65 and onwards.
Are we active and healthy?
Can we cope with everyday tasks, like carry our own groceries and prepare our meals?
Most importantly, are we able to enjoy life?
“Wise food choices and physical activity throughout adulthood, can support an individual’s ability to face the challenge of aging.”
The research in aging is continuous but the diversity of the people makes things complicated. Simple questions arise:
- Is it genetics or environmental factors, or maybe both that are strongly influence longevity?
- We know that aging is an inevitable process, but to what extent?
- Are we at least able to slow down the aging process?
- Which nutritional factors contribute in slowing aging and achieving longevity?
Let’s consider what we can really fix here. We cannot change our genes. They are programmed at conception. Although, if we embrace a healthy nutrition and regular physical activity, we can slow the process of aging within genetic limits. So far, we know that 70-80% of the life expectancy may depend on our lifestyle and genetics may affect the remaining 20-30%.
What about the 20-30% of genes contribution? Can we do something about it? The truth is that we have some very interesting findings in animals. For instance, giving to mice a diet that provides all the nutrients to avoid malnutrition, and an energy intake of 70% of normal, we are able to alter the genetic activity. The genetic activity in older mice revert to those of younger mice.
“The earlier in life the adherence to a healthy diet, the more the benefits.”
Although it’s not easy to apply those findings to humans. But according to epidemiological studies, if we slightly reduce our energy intake, and follow an adequate Mediterranean diet, we can definitely slow aging and contribute to longevity. A moderate energy restriction can lead to lower blood pressure, lower blood lipid concentrations and to an improved insulin resistance – changes that can prevent chronic diseases, thus promote longevity. Try to avoid any extremes. Starvation doesn’t prolong our life expectancy. Starvation promotes hunger and deprivation.
But, we still have to be very careful. The aging process brings to the table many physiological changes. The body composition is changing. Older adults tend to lose bones and muscles. The hormonal changes that naturally occur, will affect metabolism and appetite. So, do not just implement limitation to yourselves. To do this properly you might need a dietitian’s guidance.
Whereas adequate nutrition plays a major role in a healthy lifestyle that maintains bodily and mental functioning, inadequate nutrition contributes to a loss of function and to the development and progression of disease.
In order to look younger, to live longer and to be healthier, just engage in the following:
- Follow the basic principles of the Mediterranean Diet, a diet rich in fruits & vegetables, which provides ample of antioxidants to help you preserve your healthy cells.
- Choose wholemeal products.
- Stay active, engaging in regular physical activity.
- Enjoy the sun with moderation. The sun remains the main source of vitamin D. Outdoor activities may prevent vitamin D deficiency.
- Avoid smoking.
- Use alcohol in moderation or just avoid it.
- Do not forget to drink water. Thirst is a great survival indicator, not a dehydration one. When we are thirsty, we are already dehydrated.
- If you do all the above, you will probably be able to maintain a healthy body weight.
- If you need to shed a few kilos, do it with patience without exhausting your body.
- It’s very important to be well rested. A good night’s sleep is an essential part of our effort to stay young and healthy.
“Our health status may not reflect our chronological age, quite simply we can look younger!”
You do not need to consume supplements or certain foods to stay young and healthy. Variety in food choices, is one of the basic healthy diet planning principles. Supplements are essential only when a certain deficiency has been detected.
“Improve your lifestyle now and reap the benefits in later years.”
Remember: For the majority of us, the lifestyle choices we make today, will benefit or harm our health in proportion to the wisdom of those choices.