9 Tips for Healthy Aging
We are all aging but we are also living longer lives so it is important to keep our body and mind as healthy as possible. Here are a few tips to help us get the most out of those years.
1. Be Active. It doesn’t need to be a marathon. Even walking is great for physical and mental health. Keeping active will keep us fit and will allow us to be independent to do the things we want to as we grow older.
2. Get Enough Sleep. According to Chinese medicine, it is important you go to sleep before 11 pm since the liver and gallbladder do their work from 11pm-3am. It has been proven that we experience the deepest part of our sleep in the beginning of our sleep cycle. This is called Slow Wave Sleep (SWS). During this time less cortisol is produced, allowing us to fully rest and recover.
3. Eat Whole Foods. It is best to have a diet of fresh vegetables, fruit and whole grains along with some fish. These foods create an alkaline state in the body which we need to stay healthy and fight disease. Foods such as processed foods, red meat, sugar, and refined carbohydrates create an acidic environment which can cause inflammation, disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and cancer.
4. Stimulate Your Brain. Alzheimer’s disease is on the rise in the US. Using your brain to learn new things has been shown to slow cognitive decline. Start a hobby, learn a new language, play bridge or do crossword puzzles. Anything that interests you and keeps your mind active.
5. Get Involved in the Community. Whether it is volunteering or becoming part of a club or a committee, being a part of a group can create positive feelings and prevent depression and loneliness. Make friends and keep them.
6. Manage Stress. Find some tools to remove or relieve stress from your everyday life. Meditation is a very effective way to calm the mind. Tai chi and qigong are ancient techniques using slow moving exercises and breath work to slow the heart rate, become mindful of the body and get out of your head.
7. Herbal Medicine. Ashwaganda is an adaptogen which helps manage stress, boosts brain function, lowers blood sugar and cortisol levels. ECGC found in green tea fights inflammation, boosts memory, lowers cholesterol and risk of stroke, helps type 2 diabetes, and weight loss. Curcumin found in turmeric is an anti-inflammatory herb which helps with arthritis, IBS, and auto-immune responses. Gingko is known as the brain and memory herb and can help to prevent Alzheimer’s disease.
8. Vitamins. Here are a few important vitamins to keep us young and healthy.
- Calcium: in an absorbable form like calcium lactate or calcium citrate are the most absorbable. Calcium carbonate like that found in antacids is not really absorbable. Foods with calcium: hard cheese, unsweetened low fat yogurt, leafy greens such as collard greens, spinach and kale; seeds such as chia, sesame, poppy and celery; beans especially wing and white beans; lentils; sardines and canned salmon; almonds, tofu and edamame; amaranth grain
- B12: helps make blood and nerve cells. We can find this in foods such as meat, fish, eggs and dairy.
- Vitamin D: we need this to absorb calcium and can get it from the sun but we absorb less as we age so a supplement is a good idea. We can get some from salmon, sardines and mackerel.
- B6: we need this to make energy and to fight germs but we make less as we age. Chickpeas as well as fatty fish and liver are great sources of B6.
- Magnesium: helps us to stay calm, prevent muscle cramps
and constipation and helps make protein and bone.
- Probiotics: since most of our immune system is in our gut we need to keep our gut flora at optimal levels to fight infection and keep our digestive system functioning properly. Fermented foods like sauerkraut, Kombucha, and some yogurt or kefir have various levels of probiotics and supplements and are a good choice.
- Omega 3s: These essential fatty acids are important for brain, eyes, and can protect against Alzheimer’s. An important benefit from omega 3 is inihibiting or reversing inflammation such as arthritis, IBS and other autoimmune disease. We can find this in fatty fish, walnuts, and flaxseed.
- CoQ10: an antioxidant which is important for energy production and protection from cellular damage.
- Zinc: Used to fight infection
and inflammation and for eye health. The best source of zinc
is delicious oysters.
9. Stay Positive. A positive attitude changes the way we perceive the world around us. It changes our cells and our chemistry. Be grateful and write it down in a journal. Sometimes we just need to be reminded that the glass is half full. My favorite is remembering to smile because it actually creates positive hormones in your brain. Smile to others but most importantly smile to yourself every day.
Donna Bunte of Donna Bunte Whole Health is an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach and Chinese medical practitioner in Stamford CT. Since 1995 Donna has been helping busy people manage their stress, diet, and health concerns using coaching, nutrition, herbal medicine and mind body techniques in order to reach their health goals. She is available for virtual coaching sessions and is seeing patients in her office in Stamford with safety protocols in place. Donna is teaching qigong and meditation on Zoom and Facebook live regularly. Reach out to her to join one of her classes.
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