Sep 9, 2022 12:00:00 PM
DaVinci Healthcare Expert
Aging with grace and health is a top priority for most people. Maybe you want to address the seemingly unavoidable aches and pains that come with age or other health problems. Either way, you want to feel empowered to make the process as seamless as possible.
Genetics play a role in how we age, but they don’t seal your fate. In this article, you’ll learn about five strategies for maintaining a long and healthy life:
A clean diet rich in whole foods and a variety of plants, adequate protein, and healthy fats is critical for supporting healthy aging. Omitting or limiting processed and packaged foods, seed oils (like canola), refined sugar, and excess alcohol is also an important part of the process.
When you eat also matters. Research shows that emphasizing protein and healthy fats in the morning-–instead of carbohydrates—leads to improved metabolic profiles, like regulated blood sugar, lower body fat, and improved heart health, as well as increased energy, sleep, and appetite control throughout the day.
Fasting is another method proven to positively impact aging, especially intermittent fasting (IF). IF is the practice of shifting between periods of unrestricted eating and restricted eating, meaning that you go short intervals of time without food. Studies link these fasting windows to increased autophagy, a hallmark of healthy aging. Autophagy literally means “self-eating” and can be considered your body’s innate clean-up crew. The cells clean up their own toxic build-up, and a fasted state enhances their ability to repair.
It’s best to discuss any fasting protocol with your integrative doctor, as it can be contraindicated for people with certain health issues or those dealing with high stress.
Lack of movement in older populations is linked to cognitive decline, mood imbalances, and decreased metabolic health. The CDC recommends moderate exercise at least 150 minutes per week, and experts agree that physical activity is a primary ally in preventing age-related health discomforts. Exercise promotes neuroprotection, neurogenesis, increased antioxidant capacity, and improved autophagy. One of the reasons for this is that exercise inhibits the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines, which interfere with autophagy.
Evidence also suggests that high-intensity interval training (HIIT) benefits older adults and supports the aging process, especially cardiorespiratory fitness. Interval training can be tailored to each individual regardless of their fitness level.
Brain-stimulating activities offer lasting benefits for cognitive health with age, such as memory, focus, mental speed, and problem-solving. Brain games include crossword puzzles, jigsaw puzzles, card games, word games, or creative hobbies like knitting or sewing.
Many older adults find that they don’t require as much sleep as they used to or that sleep becomes more restless. Ongoing sleeplessness with age is linked to various neurological problems and reduced glymphatic function (the process of waste removal and clearance in the nervous system), and poorer immune function. Autophagy is also largely regulated by a healthy circadian rhythm (the body’s sleep-wake cycle) and can decrease with disrupted sleep patterns.
While there are genetic variations in the amount of sleep each individual requires, most do best with 7-9 hours. Working on sleep hygiene techniques and seeking a professional to address ongoing sleep problems can also be beneficial.
With age, cellular senescence is thought to play a significant role in certain bodily discomforts and more serious health problems. Cellular senescence is when cells age permanently, stop dividing, and are destroyed via autophagy. If autophagy isn’t working as it should, large amounts of senescent cells can build up in tissues and release harmful substances that damage healthy cells.
Senolytic supplements have gained ground in recent years to support healthy aging and a younger biological age by helping clear senescent cells and extending healthspan. Senolytics are small molecules that selectively kill senescent cells, and certain natural compounds have been found effective. These include:
Each of these compounds are found in foods. Foods rich with the flavonoid quercetin include dark berries, onions, parsley, apples, and citrus fruits. Fisetin, another plant flavonoid, is found in strawberries, persimmons, apples, onions, grapes, and cucumbers. Piperlongumine is found specifically in long peppers, and curcumin is the active ingredient in the spice turmeric.
Your integrative practitioner might recommend supplementing with these compounds or other senolytic supplements for higher dosing.
Understanding your power to influence how you age can decrease fear around this natural process. Diet, fasting, exercise, brain games, sleep, and senolytic agents can all significantly increase your likelihood of healthy aging, along with a positive mindset.
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 Joseph L Bedont Hirofumi Toda Mi Shi Christine H Park Christine Quake Carly Stein Anna Kolesnik Amita Sehgal (2021) Short and long sleeping mutants reveal links between sleep and macroautophagy eLife 10:e64140.
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*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
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