There is a time in our lives when we start paying attention to our bodies, especially the health of our bodies. For some, it is when we reach 40 years of age. For others, health consciousness occurs when their kids are on their own and they are beginning to see declining health in their parents.
We ignore many healthy things we can do and expect to make changes later when we have more time, more money, more whatever. However, most of us do not make those changes for a myriad of reasons.
https://www.healthline.com/health/aging-gracefully#tips How can we be fully functional and enjoy life after we have passed the big 50? I specifically chose the age of 50 because there appears to be a natural decline in athletic performance after passing the age of 50. Is this decline a function of natural aging? I am not sure.
However, as we Monday-morning quarterback our lives, we can see a time when we became less active physically and mentally. Maybe it is the stress of a pending retirement or a decline in health. Things change in our lives after five decades. What if we could hold on to that last good time in our lives? I realize that there are some super-healthy people living well past 50, but they are the exception.
Healthy Activities – Diet
https://www.helpguide.org/articles/alzheimers-dementia-aging/staying-healthy-as-you-age.htm When we want to achieve and maintain the body of a healthy 50-year-old, we must seriously consider eating balanced nutrition from quality foods daily. Nutrient deficiency opens the door to digestive problems, skin disorders, and possibly dementia. Osteoporosis and cardiovascular problems are not that far away.
Healthy Activities – Immune System
https://www.webmd.com/healthy-aging/features/promote-the-aging-process#1 Maintaining a highly charged immune system is mandatory for those occasional health problems that creep throughout the world, like the current COVID-10 pandemic. Season influenza and other infectious diseases abound in our society.
A healthy immune system easily recognizes foreign invaders and dispatches them quickly and efficiently. A weakened or challenged immune system allows the disease to get a foothold in our bodies. I have seen in many elderlies the gradual decline in health. They have a health issue and can never return to the same level they were before another malady hits them. Over years, their health gradually wanes. Our immune systems provide that layer of defense to stop the steady deterioration of our health.
Healthy Activities – Quality Sleep
https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/10-reasons-why-good-sleep-is-important Sleep is that time when our bodies make repairs. The overhaul of our body’s systems and organs take longer each year after 50. Most of us tend to gain weight. It might only be a pound or two a year, but the scales do not lie.
Quality sleep keeps us attentive and productive during the day. Immune function is improved with sleep. The risk of depression and other mental issues is reduced with quality sleep. Sleep is a pillar of health and must not be ignored.
Healthy Activities – Toxin Removal
https://www.ucsf.edu/news/2017/06/407416/toxic-exposure-chemicals-are-our-water-food-air-and-furniture Toxins are almost impossible to avoid. They surround everything we touch in eat daily. Skincare and personal care products are some of the worst offenders. Europe has banned over 1300 toxic chemicals in the cosmetic industry while the United States has banned eleven of them.
Toxins can damage your DNA, modify gene expression, and accelerate aging and organ function degeneration. The first step is to read labels and become aware of what you are eating and putting on your body. Nanotechnology allows toxins to freely enter your body. We choose our shampoos, underarm deodorants, fragrances, meats, dairy, and more. It is difficult to find products that are not rich in toxins.
Healthy Activities – Exercise
https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/the-secret-to-better-health-exercise Many of us hear about the benefits of exercise and can never seem to get started or stay with an exercise program. Scientists have many studies showing that exercise improves health and extends your lifespan. A half-hour daily is the minimum requirement.
Health issues related to exercise deficiency are heart disease, diabetes, depression, cancer, and more. Exercise improves sleep, mood, and mental function. Aerobic, strength training, flexibility, balance, and endurance must be included in an effective exercise program.
Healthy Activities – Stress Management
https://www.webmd.com/balance/stress-management/stress-management#1 Exercise is a great way to manage stress. Stress management should be done several times a day. It might be a quiet moment, smiling more, reading a few pages in a book, or a couple of deep-breaths. When you have trouble falling asleep and continually think about something upsetting, it is probably residual stress causing it.
Stress makes some people eat, drink alcohol, or smoke more. Heart disease, diabetes, ulcers, impotence, and more are often the result of not managing stress. Smiling is the easiest method for instantaneous stress relief. Laughter is even better, even when it is forced. Take five deep breaths every hour as a start.
Healthy Activities – Food Allergies
https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/food-allergy/expert-answers/food-allergy/faq-20058538 and https://www.healthline.com/health/allergies/food-allergy-sensitivity-difference
Food allergies, sensitivities, and intolerance are real problems. A food allergy causes the immune system to react. Food sensitivity or intolerance is triggered by the digestive system. Two different, but similar, problems.
Allergies symptoms to foods are tingling or itching in the mouth, skin rashes, swelling, difficulty swallowing, and possibly dizziness. Side effects or symptoms of food sensitivities or intolerance can be gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, cramping, and nausea.
I had a temporary food allergy to beer and tomatoes back in the ‘80s. I used to drink free beer after running road races in New Orleans. For several months, I could drink one cup and have no problems. A second cup would bring on immediate headaches. Tomatoes caused a tingling on my lips for several months. It took me a long time to figure out what was causing it. Abstaining from both beer (that specific brand) and tomatoes solved my temporary food allergies.
Healthy Activities – Hydration
https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/hsph-in-the-news/the-importance-of-hydration/ The hungry feeling most people have upon awakening is the result of dehydration. Half the fluid I lose every night sleeping is lost through respiration and the other half through elimination. I never realized how much ‘water weight’ fluctuated daily.
Water regulates body temperature, thwarts infections, supplies nutrients to cells, and maintains organ function. Additionally, sleep, awareness, and attitude are improved with proper hydration. Dehydration is not a common problem, but electrolyte imbalance, heat exhaustion, and kidney failure could become issues.
Healthy Activities – Healthy Weight
https://www.emp180weightloss.com/10-reasons-beyond-appearance-to-maintain-a-healthy-weight/ I am not an advocate for the body mass index (BMI). The original usage applied to populations rather than individuals. However, it is universally used to categorize normal, overweight, obese, and severely obese.
Yes, it is possible to be overweight and be metabolically healthy. It is not the extra five or ten pounds, but the extra forty or sixty pounds that create health risks. There seems to be a magic threshold that once crossed makes it difficult to lose weight and increases a variety of health concerns regarding fertility, cardiovascular, diabetes, sleep apnea, libido, depression, and more.
There are lots of ways to measure weight. Appearance is the easiest. When you must measure something, a waist of less than 40 inches for men and 35 inches for women is considered healthy.
Healthy Activities – Caloric Restriction
https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-hunger-gains-extreme-calorie-restriction-diet-shows-anti-aging-results/ A calorie-restricted lifestyle provides many advantages when comparing results in the animal kingdom. Many groups of animals were fed 25-50% fewer calories than their peers and observed over their lifetimes. In all cases, the animals fed fewer calories lived longer, looked younger, and had fewer age-related health issues.
Long-term health benefits for humans present a different series of problems. Diet selection is one. The diet must be nutritionally balanced or there will be health gains canceled out by nutrient deficiency risks. When you want to test drive this type of lifestyle (not a diet), talk to your physician first and plan on 10 calories per desired body weight. Fasting mimicking diets (FMDs) are available that allow more calories to be eaten but the body thinks it is nearly starving.
Healthy Activities – Fasting Intermittently
https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/10-health-benefits-of-intermittent-fasting I fast 18 hours daily and 72 hours monthly. It is the fasting regimen that I prefer. Insulin levels drop significantly. Human growth hormones increase. The body’s cellular repair processes work efficiently. And gene expression protects cells against disease.
An obvious advantage is losing weight and reducing the risk of diabetes and obesity. Whole-body inflammation decreases during a fast. Removing sugars from the body improves brain health. An entire article can be devoted to this topic alone.
Healthy Activities – Reducing/Avoiding Gluten and Dairy
https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/ditch-the-gluten-improve-your-health This is another topic for many thousands of words. Many people are gluten-intolerant and have severe reactions to gluten (wheat). Some have minor physical discomfort and are gluten-sensitive and do not know it. Gluten is present in many foods and is hidden by alternate names on the labels.
Depression, brain fog, and mood have been associated with gluten and dairy. The gluten molecule almost resembles the casein molecule in dairy. Gluten-intolerant people are generally dairy-intolerant or lactose-intolerant. When modifying your dietary choices to reduce or eliminate gluten, consider also reducing or eliminating dairy. This is a good question to chat with your doctor about before beginning.
People can do many things to become healthier. Do not start all of them at one time. Incrementally start! Do one thing for at least 30 days before making another change. Failure is easy to achieve when too many things are tried at once.
There may be something easy for you to eliminate or change in your lifestyle and other things that seem impossible. Chew a little bit off each time.
Live Longer & Enjoy Life! – Red O’Laughlin – RedOLaughlin.com
Lots of sensible thoughts in here. Amazing that more people don’t just do it!
Another excellent question. Most of us inherently know what to do, even if we were never taught. I used to have a mentor who told us we must hear things seven times minimum before we fully understood what we heard. I had a few epiphanies over time that seven times was not enough to fully grasp the meaning. We hear eat right and exercise. Yet, we hear it and do not do it. Why? Hearing it and incorporating it into our psyche is not the same thing. When we want to do it rather than having to do it, we make the changes we knew about all along. It is transitioning from awareness to education to incorporation (action) to wisdom. Some of us are better at some things than others. Amateurs practice until they get it right while professionals practice until they cannot get it wrong.
Absolutely. And we’re subject to a lot of powerful social and political constructs that creep into our subconscious thoughts and take us in the other direction!