Published: Wednesday, Dec 5, 2012, 18:32 IST
“Research shows that every one point increase in blood sugar makes you appear five months older! Drink more water and get enough oily fish and seeds,” Fox News quoted Patrick Holford, author of The 10 Secrets of Healthy Ageing, as saying.
He starts his tips with staying smart as keeping your grey matter in shape is essential for longevity. After all, what’s the point of having a good life if you can’t remember any of it.
“Taking B vitamins will keep your memory sharp, so eat lots of folate-rich greens and beans and B12-packed fish and eggs. Get your levels of the amino acid homocysteine tested at your GP and if you score below 10, you may need to supplement with 500mcg of B12,” Patrick said.
Secondly, boost bone health - brittle bones and aching joints are just another classic symptom of ageing, right? Wrong! While there’s an inevitable level of wear and tear as your muscle mass declines, there are steps you can take to counteract creaky bones and keep fractures and osteoporosis at bay.
“Calcium supplements alone don’t stop bone strinkage. Vitamin D does, and the way to get that is sun, supplementing with 25mcg of D3 or eating oil fish such as salmon,” Patrick said.
“You also need resistance exercise, which means exercise using light weights or resistance bands, as well as yoga and Pilates to keep joints flexible,” he said.
Beat the bulge – if you’ve got a little bit more padding around your waist, now’s the time to get your weight back on track. Stomach fat has been linked to chronic diseases such as type-2 diabetes and heart disease, as these fat cells are more hormonally active.
“The trick is to keep your blood sugar levels even by eating a low glycaemic load diet. That means cutting back on refined carbs, such as sweets, cakes and potatoes, in favour of slow-releasing carbs, such as oats and brown. Eat carbs with protein, choose dark-skinned fruit and eat some protein-rich pumpkin seeds, almonds or peanuts. You could also supplement this with 200mcg of chromium to help balance your blood sugar,” he said.
Stress less – we’re all victims of the stresses and strains of modern life, but an ability to switch off can play havoc with your hormones.
“Sleep is really important for lowering your stress levels and without it, levels of melatonin (the brain’s sleep chemical) and adrenaline will fall out of whack. Try cutting out caffeine after noon and munch on magnesium-rich pumpkin seeds to relax your muscles. Take 1,000mg of the amino acid GABA before bed which lowers adrenaline levels to help improve sleep quality,” Patrick said.
Outwit cancer – cancer is one of the biggest killers of all, so a nutrient-rich diet should be high on your disease-prevention plan.
“Don’t smoke, and avoid eating deep-fried, burned food or sugar. Increase your antioxidant intake with brightly coloured fresh vegetables and fruit. Eat plenty of beans and greens – they help keep oestrogen levels at bay and too much oestrogen has been linked to breast cancer. Take a high-strength multivitamin plus extra C,” he said.
Preserve your skin – the ravages of time affect us all at every stage of the ageing process, but there are plenty of ways to ward off premature wrinkles and promote a youthful glow.
“Cut sugar. Research shows that every one point increase in blood sugar makes you appear five months older! Drink more water and get enough oily fish and seeds. The single best anti-ageing nutrient is vitamin A, which you’ll find in orange fruit and veg. Slather on a vitamin A day cream to protect against sun damage and use SPF, ideally after exposing yourself to the sun for around 15 minutes to produce vitamin D,” he said.
Keep your heart healthy – coronary heart disease is the single biggest killer of women in the UK, so keeping your ticker in top shape is an absolutely essential step in fighting bad health in old age.
“Eating a low-GI diet keeps both cholesterol and blood pressure low. Avoid salt and load up on omega-3 fatty acids found in fish and linseeds. The mineral magnesium lowers blood pressure, so take a multi that gives at least 150mg of magnesium – you’ll need twice as much if you have high blood pressure. Keep fit with at least 15 minutes of aerobic exercise such as brisk walking every day,” he said.
Improve digestion – a healthy digestive system plays a big part in the age-proofing process. The gut is responsible for absorbing and utilizing nutrients from food, regulating energy levels and plays a huge role in both physical and mental health.
“Instead of taking antacid drugs, get tested for specific food intolerances if you’re suffering bloating or indigestion,” Patrick said.
“Too much alcohol, coffee and wheat are your gut’s worst enemies. Eating more whole foods, oats, fresh vegetables and fruit helps keep you regular, as does drinking two litres of water per day,” he said.
Save your eyesight – your eyes aren’t just the window to your soul, they can also provide vital clues to your health status. Poor eyesight is often linked to cardiovascular disease, hormonal imbalances or some sort of inflammation
“Too much sugar and a lack of antioxidants age eyes faster, so load up on dark green leafy vegetables and orange-coloured food which are packed with free radical neutralizing antioxidants, and avoid eating sugar. Simple exercises such as ‘palming’ help. Place the palms of your hands over your eyes until you see total black. Do this for a couple of minutes to give your peepers a break – and get your eyes checked regularly, too,” Patrick said.
Balance hormones - when you hit the menopause, a decline in hormones can result in hot flushes, a reduce libido and muscle loss.
“Hormones are vital for building muscle, promoting good skin and boosting your libido, so when your levels start dropping in your fifties, it’s definitely worth considering replacement. Regular HRT doesn’t have the same chemical structure as your natural hormones, so I advise bioidentical hormones, which are exactly the same,” he added.