Aging is a natural part of the cycle of life and accepting this inevitability gracefully is the first key to maintaining your own happiness. But that's not to say there aren't things you can do to take your health and wellness into your own hands. Here are 8 tips to help you fight the signs of aging every step of the way!
1. Avoid excessive amounts of sun exposure
Especially in sun-deficient climates, it can be tempting to want to sit out in the sun as much as possible when it makes an appearance. But overexposing your skin to the sun's harmful rays can lead to skin cancer and contribute to the appearance of age spots and wrinkles. To maintain healthier, younger looking skin, be sure to always apply sunscreen when spending time in the sun. Also, consider wearing a wide-brimmed hat to protect your face and wear sunglasses with ultraviolet protection.
2. Limit alcohol consumption
While it’s true that no matter your age, you should control the amount of liquor you consume, when you age, the impact of alcohol consumption can be greater. Two glasses of wine, for instance, may affect an older person more noticeably than a younger person. And too much alcohol is more likely to make an older person confused and forgetful. According to research from mentalhelp.net, "the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, part of the National Institutes of Health, recommends that people over age 65 who choose to drink have no more than one drink a day. Drinking at this level usually is not associated with health risks."
3. Smart diet
"A healthy diet can increase your energy level, mental acuity and resistance to infection as well as reduce the risk of health problems prevalent among older adults," says Cathy Pearson, RD and consulting dietitian.
"The risk of developing some type of health problem often rises as we age, so one good strategy for easing the process of body/brain change and lowering the risk of disease (and disabilities that are disease-related) involves using a common sense approach to eating and including a variety of nutritious low fat, high fibre foods that are rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants," she says. "But don't forget that diet is only part of the puzzle. You can't forget about avoiding or reducing stress and ensuring that you remain active and vibrant; these also contribute to keeping our brains and bodies in tip-top shape as the years pass by."
4. Drink water
"The amount of water you need depends on factors such as your age, gender and level of physical activity," says Pearson. "Canada's Food Guide recommends satisfying your thirst with water and that people drink water regularly because your body is always losing water throughout the day." As you get older, your risk for becoming dehydrated in hot weather increases, she says.
But proper hydration is essential to your overall health year-round. "According to the Recommended Dietary Reference Intakes, men and women 19 years and older should strive for approximately 15 and 11 cups of total water intake respectively every day," Pearson says. "Keep in mind that fluids found in vegetables, fruit and soups and all the beverages you drink all contribute to your daily water intake."
5. Calcium supplements
While vitamins and supplements are helpful aids in ensuring that your body gets what it needs, Pearson is quick to point out that a healthy, well-balanced diet will also provide all that you need without popping a pill. However, she says that the two exceptions to this are calcium and vitamin D.
"Research shows many of us aren't getting the required amount via diet," she says. "When you move from age 50 to 51, the recommended serving of milk and milk products increases from two to three. Many people aren't aware of this. Supplements are definitely an important source of vitamin D, (especially those that contain vitamin D-3 rather than vitamin D-2 because it’s more potent) as it's difficult to get the recommended amount from food alone. As we get older our bodies aren't as good at absorbing it from foods like fish, vitamin-enriched milk or margarine and aging skin is less able to produce it from the UVB rays of sunshine.” But, says Pearson, be sure to consult a medical professional to determine your needs for calcium and Vitamin D as supplement recommendations are individualized.
6. Don’t smoke
Smoking doesn't just impact your internal health, but it also has very visible external effects as well. While we're all aware of the diseases caused by smoking, this bad habit can also take its toll on your physical appearance, leading to wrinkles and a grey, unhealthy-looking complexion. According to the experts at simplyantiaging.com, "smoking restricts blood flow through the capillaries (tiny veins near the skin's surface) preventing oxygen and nutrients getting to the skin." If you're a smoker, quitting is the first step to preventing further skin damage and maintaining a healthful complexion as you age.
7. Laughter is the best medicine
They say that laughter is the best medicine, but does it really have an impact on our physical health? According to research from helpguide.org, laughter has many benefits to our overall sense of health and wellbeing. A good, hearty laugh, they say, relieves physical tension and stress, leaving your muscles relaxed for up to 45 minutes afterwards. Their research says that, "laughter boosts the immune system. Laughter decreases stress hormones and increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies, thus improving your resistance to disease."
8. Eat to boost memory
"Supplements like gingko and foods like ginseng claim to help [boost memory] and there's been lots of research suggesting that complex carbohydrate in barley, or the omega-3s found in fish or even increasing levels of vitamin D may be beneficial to boost memory and decrease the risk of cognitive impairment, especially in the elderly," says Pearson. But she also recommends 'feeding the brain'. "Start off the day by eating a decent breakfast that provides the first fuel for the body."
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Natalie Bahadur is the senior editor of styleathome.com and is a regular contributor to CanadianLiving.com.