10 things you didn’t know could slow down ageing



You may not be able to turn back time, but you can alter the effects of time on your body.

It really is possible to slow physical and mental aging. Research has shown that people of the same chronological age may have a different “biological age.”

Many of these are within your control, so read on to find out how to slow your pace of aging.

1. Whole foods

Experts agree the best diet for preventing age-related damage and disease starts with whole, natural foods. A healthy diet includes fewer processed foods without added sugars, fats, and salt. Avoiding unhealthy sugar and fats can help prevent inflammation, diabetes, and heart disease.

2. Getting enough protein

Eating healthily shouldn’t mean missing out on protein. Studies show protein is especially important in maintaining muscle mass as we age. People over the age of 40 may lose up to eight per cent of their muscle mass per decade, and the rate of decline may double after the age of 70. Yet a recently published study from researchers at Abbott and The Ohio State University found that more than one in three Americans over 50 aren’t getting the recommended amount of protein.

3. Staying hydrated

As you get older, your kidneys work less efficiently, you may not be as sensitive to thirst signals, and you may take medications that lower your body’s fluids. Altogether, this helps explain why the elderly are more prone to dehydration. In a vicious cycle, dehydration derails the normal function of vital systems in your body and even cause dementia-like confusion.

4. Being outdoors

Vitamin D, the “sunshine vitamin,” helps keep your bones strong, and it may also help protect against age-related conditions like heart disease and cancer. According to a study of more than 2,000 women, those with higher vitamin D levels also had longer telomeres, the caps on the ends of DNA cells that determine a cell’s lifespan. Another study found that older adults with low vitamin D levels had a harder time with everyday tasks like walking up stairs, dressing, and even cutting their toenails.

5. Keeping your gut healthy

Research has found the collection of “good” bacteria in your intestines, called the gut microbiome, may have implications for how your body ages. It may even protect you from some age-related diseases such as dementia. In one study published in the journal Cell, the presence of certain gut bacteria actually slowed the rate of aging in worms, which may lead to anti-aging bacterial treatments for humans in the future.

6. Healthy digestion

Because older people, especially those who are overweight, are prone to acid reflux, you may think of your stomach acid as the enemy. But you need a healthy supply of digestive acids to absorb vital vitamin B12—it helps keep your brain sharp. Atrophic gastritis, which affects 10 to 30 per cent of older adults, reduces stomach acid, and therefore absorption of B12. Deficiency in vitamin B12 can contribute to decreased cognitive function. In addition, “acid-reducing medicines, and medicines like Metformin for diabetes, can decrease the absorption of nutrients such as vitamin B12.

7. Reducing stress

Chronic stress causes a lot of problems, from wrecking your sleep to increasing your risk of heart disease. In a landmark study published in PNAS, stress was shown to shorten telomeres, the DNA protective caps that help keep cells thriving. People with the highest stress levels had shorter telomeres. It was as if these people were a decade older than people in the lowest stress category, say the study authors.

8. Sleep

It’s called beauty sleep for a reason. When you’re snoozing, your body gets busy repairing cell damage. If you cut your sleep short, you can accelerate the visible and internal signs of aging. As if bags and wrinkles under the eyes weren’t enough evidence of this, studies have confirmed that poor sleep ages skin faster. In addition, poor or inadequate sleep is linked to age-related diseases like heart problems, high blood pressure, and diabetes.

9. An active brain

Numerous studies indicate that you may be able to lower the risk—or delay the onset—of age-related mental conditions like dementia and Alzheimer’s if you have “cognitive reserve“—resilient brain networks that keep working even if other parts of the brain suffer damage. You can build up this reserve by staying actively engaged in learning new skills and continuing to socialize throughout your life.

10. Having a positive attitude

The old saying is true: You’re only as old as you feel. Research backs up the benefits of staying young at heart. Having a positive attitude about aging, maintaining a purpose, and staying socially engaged may help slow the physical and mental aging process. One study revealed that people with a positive attitude lived 7.5 years longer than pessimists, regardless of health. Another found that negative thinking led to steeper physical and cognitive declines.

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