Although aging is an inevitable part of life, it does not mean that we should not aim to maintain the best health possible. As we age, we become more susceptible to certain conditions like cardiovascular disease, cancer, and type 2 diabetes. This is because sedentary lifestyles and less healthy diets are more common in older individuals. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the most common cause of death in adults aged 65 years and older is cardiovascular disease.
Even though our health slowly declines as we age, there are certain actions that we can take in order to slow down and even prevent certain age-related conditions. Below are four ways you can work towards protecting your health as you age.
Consider Potential New Therapies
A novel therapy that is currently being studied by numerous scientists called klotho therapy might have the ability to treat age-related conditions including kidney disease, type 2 diabetes1, and cancer2. Klotho protein is a naturally occurring protein in the body that is essential for many processes related to age-related health. For this reason, scientists are working on developing a therapy using klotho protein for human treatment.
As we age, changes in habits (like starting a new medication) and life changes (such as the diagnosis of an illness) can have a big impact on our eating habits. If you are overweight, studies have shown that you can lower your risk of developing the cardiovascular disease by losing five percent of your body weight3. Alternatively, losing too much weight due to lack of appetite can have an equally negative impact on one’s health. Here are some key nutrition tips for graceful aging:
- Eat regularly scheduled meals and be careful not to skip meals
- Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated
- Choose high fiber foods, such as whole grains, to avoid constipation
- Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables
- Include protein on your plate to maintain muscle health
- Get plenty of vitamin D to keep your bones strong
- Decrease salt consumption to manage blood pressure and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease
- Eat foods with omega-3 fatty acids, like salmon or flaxseeds, to keep joints lubricated
- If you notice abnormal changes in your appetite or if you are losing or gaining weight unexpectedly, consult your primary care physician.
Exercise is an important habit for strong bones and muscles as we age. When you place light or moderate stress on the bones, they are triggered to build new tissue, keeping them strong and dense while strengthening the muscles surrounding them. Weight-bearing exercises that you can do include:
- Walking or jogging
- Climbing stairs
- Jumping rope
- Mind-body exercises like yoga and tai chi
Exercise Your Mind
While the mental decline is a common symptom of aging, it is not inevitable. You can reduce the risk of developing the neurodegenerative disease and other age-related conditions that affect the mind by making an effort to stimulate the part of the brain associated with memory and processing. Some activities you can do to maintain mental health include:
- Doing puzzles
- Playing an instrument
- Crafting activities like quilting and pottery
Want to Learn More Ways to Protect Your Health?
If you are wondering what else you can do to maintain your health as you age, schedule an appointment with your primary care physician. Your doctor can make specific recommendations based on your unique medical history and current health.
1. Lin Y, Sun Z. In Vivo Pancreatic β-Cell-Specific Expression of Antiaging Gene Klotho: A Novel Approach for Preserving β-Cells in Type 2 Diabetes. Diabetes. 2015 Apr;64(4):1444–1458. Published online 2014 Nov 5. https://doi.org/10.2337/db14-0632.
2. Mencke R, Olauson H, Hillebrands JL. Effects of Klotho on fibrosis and cancer: A renal focus on mechanisms and therapeutic strategies. Advanced Drug Delivery Reviews. 2017 Nov;121:85-100. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.addr.2017.07.009.
3. Magkos F, Fraterrigo G, Yoshino J, Luecking C, Kirbach K, Kelly SC, de las Fuentes L, He S, Okunade A, Patterson B, Klein S. Effects of Moderate and Subsequent Progressive Weight Loss on Metabolic Function and Adipose Tissue Biology in Humans with Obesity. Clinical and Translational Report. 2016 Apr;23(4):591-601.https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cmet.2016.02.005.