Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Secret Formula to Slow Down Aging

Keith Richards
Feel young ... Keith Richards has allowed ageing to cramp his style. Source: The Sunday Telegraph
IN this extract from their book, Kate Marie and Christopher Thomas tell us how to feel younger for longer.
Some things should be taken slowly and ageing is one of them. Ageing involves gains and losses and complex physiological processes that can and should be managed so we age in optimal health.

To age well, with quality, connection and awareness, we need to deliberately engage with the process.
Healthy and fulfilling lives as we age come from maintaining wellness, slowing the breakdown of the processes that have maintained our health to date, as well as preventing diseases associated with age (such as cancer).
By having optimal wellness as we age (“slow ageing” is an optimal wellness state), we seek to re-frame ageing as a positive state - one of growth and possibility, where we enter our later years as connected, vibrant beings.
We use the word “slow” rather than “anti” (ageing) as “slow” is achievable and “anti” is not! Being able to turn back the clock is a myth.
There are other slow movements - Slow Foods, Slow Cities, Slow Design.
The slow movements focus on ways to foster connections with ourselves and our environments, with the desired outcome of a richer and happier experience of life.
Other slow movements have used the SLOW acronym to define their particular cause and we have used it to help frame a way to navigate the ageing process:
• S = Strategic Becoming aware, investing time in planning and making the critical decisions required for you as an individual to slow the ageing process.
• L = Long-term To persist for a lifetime.
• O = Organised Implementing your plan against measurable objectives. Investing effort into interventions that work for you.
• W= Wilful Where unhurried actions are undertaken and choices are made with full consciousness of the nature and effects and arising from careful consideration.

How does ageing occur?
If you leave things unprotected to the elements they will ultimately age and perish. Colours will fade, parts will become more brittle and stiff and a little rust may even set in. This is not too far off what happens in the human body.
Inside the human body, there are damaging elements that contribute to the decline in structure and function associated with ageing. The most important of these we have called the four elements of ageing:

• Kilojoules.
• Free radicals, or reactive oxygen species (ROS).
• Advanced glycation end products (AGEs).
• Inflammation or “inflamm-ageing”
When we intervene to reduce our exposure to these elements or protect ourselves from their consequences, we can help improve our health and prolong our lives.
What can you do to slow ageing?
Disease and ageing is often a result of the choices we make, or fail to make, with respect to our diet, physical activity, environment and lifestyle.

Assessment of health
Modern technology allows for the early detection of health risks while they are still treatable. Depending on your age, testing to identify early stages of disease, such as cardiovascular disease or cancer, is imperative. Early warnings on significant health issues can come from simple tests such as measuring your hip-to-waist ratio.
On quality of life, tests such as hearing tests are relatively simple and by being diligent you’ll ensure you age well. Get your hearing checked at least every two years if you are over 65 or have an increased risk of hearing loss.
You can get a preliminary hearing check over the phone in about five minutes, by using Telscreen, a toll-free hearing service provided by the government agency Australian Hearing on 1800 826 500.

Manage your environment
Environment has a significant impact on how we age; whether that is our emotional or physical environment. Actively ensure you eliminate environmental factors that cause stress on your body.
Each of us has a different threshold for stress – for some, peak-hour traffic is a time to relax in the car and for others it is torture! Find a job you like and do the things that make you happy and this will contribute to your chances of ageing optimally. In terms of physical environment, keep away from toxins, use safe plastics and eat organic food to avoid pesticides.

Make exercise a priority
Exercise can slow down, halt and possibly even reverse many of the trends associated with ageing.
It can help fight weight gain, increase strength and stress resilience, prevent the diseases of ageing such as cardiovascular disease, and of course help
you look and feel fantastic.
• Your exercise prescription includes the following:
• Moderate-intensity aerobic activity.
• Resistance or strength training of moderate to vigorous intensity.
• Flexibility exercises.

Look after your mind
All of us will experience some decline in our cognitive skills as we age. Exercise both your body and mind, eat a slow-ageing diet (omega-3s, B vitamins and antioxidants are key brain nutrients) and manage your stress to look after your mind. Working memory training and other “neurobic” exercises are also important to keep your neural networks growing as you age. Take time to relax and deal with sources of stress.

Look after quality
To ensure we have quality of life as we age, some of the more mundane things we need to care for include our skin (through skincare that actually works), bone and muscle integrity (through exercise and diet), continence (do your pelvic floor exercises!) and our senses of hearing and vision. Retaining each is an important part of optimising quality of life.
The SLOW principles Rather than simply being a passenger in your body, take your time. Engage in your life and your environment, and start to make positive and informed choices about things you can do today with tomorrow in mind.
The means to SLOW our lives can be summarised in seven simple principles. These same principles – the AGELESS principles - work whether applied to changing your diet, putting a mind-body program together or improving your relationships as you age.

Adopt a slow ageing diet
All of the changes of ageing are influenced by what we do and don’t eat. Here are some general strategies:
1 Fresh is best (unprocessed is better)
A diet high in fresh produce is associated with a healthier and longer life.
2 Reduce energy-dense foods
Exchange foods that are concentrated kilojoules (so-called “energy-dense” foods) for foods that have fewer kilojoules.
3 (S)low and steady wins the race
Eat foods that deliver nutrients at a slow pace, are less processed, low GI, and high in fibre.
4 Make the most of every mouthful
Substitute empty-kilojoule foods with nutrient-dense foods.
5 Phytochemicals follow the rainbow
Fill your diet with every bright colour of the rainbow to maximise phytochemical consumption.
6 Choose the right stuff
Eat the “good” fats, proteins and carbohydrates and the most bio-available. Reduce foods containing simple sugars and replace refined products with wholegrain equivalents.
7 Be prepared
Cooking less and eating more raw food helps food retain nutrients.
8 Harness the superfood
Eating berries, cruciferous vegetables, legumes, whole nuts and seeds, probiotic yoghurt, all fruits, dark chocolate and green tea can have a positive effect on health and ageing.