How to Age Well and Enjoy Your Later Years
Healthspan is just as important as lifespan. While ageing is inevitable, the onset of age-related disease is not – it can be delayed or even prevented. Learn how with simple lifestyle changes so that you can enjoy your later years as fully as possible.
An interesting phenomenon has been observed in recent years. There has been an increase in the average person’s life expectancy. And people are not only living longer – they are also living healthier for longer.
Your quality of life does not have to quickly deteriorate as you age. By taking care of your health, the best years of your life may very well be ahead of you. Here are ways to increase your healthspan with simple lifestyle changes.
What is ageing?
Ageing is a natural process that involves changes in the body’s structure and way of functioning. It is largely affected by lifestyle choices, which have the ability to change our gene expressions. DNA strands have a built-in-clock that decreases cells’ replication and replacement over time. Damage caused by high stress, lack of sleep, alcohol, smoke, dehydration and poor diet lead to further dysregulation and the decline in tissue and organ function.
Keys to ageing well
Exercise: Studies show that regular exercise prevents age-related conditions that affect our quality of life such as heart disease, reduced mobility and impaired cognition. Make exercising a habit by incorporating cardio, HIIT and resistance training into your daily routine.
Diet: A diet rich in good quality proteins, healthy fats and phytochemicals (found in vegetables) is proven to increase longevity.
- Foods high in omega-3, such as fatty fish and nuts, are recommended because of their anti-inflammatory properties. They are also helpful in their ability to nourish nerve cells in the brain.
- It is vital to keep bones strong by adding foods that are high in calcium and vitamin D, such as sardines, tofu and mushrooms.
- It becomes increasingly beneficial to eat steamed vegetables as we age – this is because less digestive enzymes are secreted over time. Steamed vegetables also have an array of nutrients that are not available in their raw state.
- Phyto-oestrogens provide support during menopausal years and have been shown to assist with hormonal fluctuations. During menopause, aim for organic sources of soy, buckwheat and seeds.
A balanced mindset: The first step to ageing well is understanding that every life stage can be enjoyable. Many people dread ageing because of the associations with age-related diseases. But many of these can be prevented or delayed – allowing people to live healthy full lives, even in old age.
Healthy priorities: What you prioritise can either enhance or diminish your life as you grow older. It can be tempting to prioritise work or temporary pleasures over your health sometimes. But remember that the value of a long healthspan can’t be compared to anything else. If you prioritise your mental and physical health, the older version of yourself will thank you.
Purpose-filled living: If you have a reason to live, you will be more invested in your health and longevity. Your reason can be anything: family, passion projects, your community or simply enjoying each day. Remember not to limit your aspirations solely because of age. And if you are uncertain about what to pour yourself into, the process of discovering can itself be quite pleasurable.
Society benefits when our elders are able to contribute the wealth of their knowledge, insight and experience. This is even more possible when they are in good health. It’s never too late to begin taking care of yourself.
Chiva-Som’s Ageing Well retreat
Chiva-Som’s Ageing Well programme combines diet, exercise and lifestyle modification to help you preserve your health in your later years. Gentle physical activity builds core stability to prevent falls, as well as muscle strength and bone density. Biofeedback enhances emotional stability and quality of sleep, while a healthy diet keeps your body and brain healthy.
Article by Patience Sangwa - Naturopath at Chiva-Som