It’s going to happen–you will begin to show signs of slowing down and aging at some point and while the process is inevitable, it doesn’t have to be unbearable. Making certain lifestyle choices can delay the process and help maintain good health through your golden years. «Aging is a normal and natural process for human beings. However, with aging a wide variety of physical, mental, emotional, social, and economic changes also occur in an individual’s life,» Dr. Jagdish Khubchandani, MBBS, Ph.D., a professor of public health at New Mexico State University tells us. He adds, «The most prominent changes with aging occur in physical and mental health domains. Research in the 21st century has highlighted how aging accelerates in some individuals and how this acceleration can be delayed or prevented.» Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don’t miss these Sure Signs You’ve Already Had COVID.
Dr. Khubchandani says, «Loneliness and social isolation have been linked with increased risk of premature mortality and increased risk of chronic diseases. While with age social priorities may change or work duties may increase, people who remain isolated, don’t connect with others socially, or remain pessimistic may eventually develop coronary artery disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and a variety of other physical health problems. Every day, one should ensure there is time for socializing and meeting family and friends, and exercise; this will help stop rapid aging.»
Dr. Khubchandani shares, «Long term studies following individuals with time have shown that smoking and drinking make people look older. Today, smoking remains the leading cause of preventable disease, disability, and death in the United States. Alcohol use is associated with heart disease, stroke, and accidents, just to name a few examples. Every time one uses tobacco or other drugs, there is insult to the lungs, heart, and brain. The chronic insults then culminate in heart attacks, strokes, and cancers which are due to inflammation, organ damage, and rapid aging of body systems.»
«With age, there is a natural decline in our physical strength and frailty increases,» Dr. Khubchandani reminds us. «Also, as we age, the metabolism becomes slower and our body has a tendency to accumulate a lot of fat in the belly (e.g., visceral abdominal fat) which is related to immune related, inflammatory, and biochemical changes in the body that are detrimental (especially, for heart and brain health). People who have maintained an inactive lifestyle, it’s time to make sure that you’re highly active now and you participate in enough physical activity and exercise. Family and work responsibilities may have taken away time till the age of 50 or beyond, but having a daily exercise and strength training routine will give you more energy, halt rapid aging, and reduce the risk of heart disease, cancers, and stroke (leading causes of death). Exercise is the most cost-effective medicine to increase both quantity and quality of life along with preventing accelerated aging. The National Institutes on Aging have extensively described the benefits of and rationale behind exercise as we age.»
Dr. Khubchandani emphasizes, «Food is medicine; it needs consumption in the right amount, at the right time, and of the right quality. Unfortunately, the majority of adults do not consume adequate fruits and vegetables and many do not get the required minerals, vitamins, and nutrients. With age, dietary needs and appetite change and one must be watchful about the content, frequency, and schedule of diet. While it is true for all ages, with increasing age, make a habit of consuming less sugar, salt, saturated fatty acids and add more fruits and vegetables and unsaturated fats to avoid the risk of putting on too much weight, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. Unhealthy diets cannot help with aging related decline in body functions and also, increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases (e.g., heart attacks and stroke) or increase the probability of having these diseases earlier in life. The National Institutes on Aging provides guidance on key diet elements that are needed with increasing age and these can help halt the process of rapid aging.»
According to Dr. Khubchandani, «While screening for health risk factors depends on age and probability of risk factors, many organizations and medical societies have recommendations specifically for those aged 50 years and above. These recommendations apply for both males and females. Early detection of health behavior and lifestyle problems (e.g., obesity and alcohol misuse) or diseases (e.g., high blood pressure) will ensure that one can prevent further declines in health and continue to look and feel younger as many of these problems are linked with premature and rapid aging (e.g., cognitive decline with high blood sugar).»
Dr. Khubchandani tells us, «One of the few manifestations of the aging process that are visible to the naked human eye are observed in skin. The skin is the largest organ that needs maintenance of tone, texture, hydration, and proper nourishment. The skin is also vulnerable to toxic exposures such as pollutants, ultraviolet radiation, extreme weather. Therefore, cleaning, protection of skin (e.g., avoiding air pollution, using sunscreen, keeping it covered) and nourishment (e.g., getting enough vitamins, minerals, and water) is key to look fresh and not more than your age.»
«Since the COVID-19 pandemic started, stress and sleep problems in the society have increased rapidly,» Dr. Khubchandani states. «People are feeling more stressed and sleepless today than ever and may also be experiencing physical and mental weakness. Stress and sleep deprivation promotes inflammation in the body resulting in release of toxic chemicals and a variety of neuropsychological, immunity related, and biochemical imbalances that influence the aging process. What makes it worse is poor stress management, lack of sleep hygiene, and not taking care of yourself. The combination of stress and inflammation causing biological changes related to aging are also referred to as inflammaging. The process of aging and sleep also have a bidirectional relationship (e.g., aging may be related to sleep problems and vice versa). Genetic and biochemical alteration of human body cells due to sleep deprivation may result in acceleration of aging process and also cause aging indirectly by increasing risk of many chronic diseases that cause body organ damage or degeneration. Individuals should get quality sleep for an adequate number of hours by maintaining good sleep hygiene to avoid looking or feeling older.»