By Ma. Rachell Ann Makayan
Taking Care of your Health at Every Stage
“Age is just a number” goes one famous adage, a border we cross year on year to mark the passage of time. And while I agree with this sentiment for the most part, our bodies, by design, change as we age. Natural wear and tear, stress, and other deteriorative processes all contribute to the aging process. Still, no matter how inevitable aging is, making small changes and smart choices can help us slow down our bodies’ decline.
Improve your diet and eating habits
Changing your diet should not be solely focused on dropping a few pounds, but instead, on improving food choices and eating habits as well. Implementing healthful changes in your diet can easily lower your risk of many diseases usually linked to aging. Eat more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fish as these foods are full of antioxidants that help our cells combat oxidative stress, a process that has been linked to Parkinson’s disease and tissue damage in diabetes mellitus. Another would be to cut your consumption of processed and packaged food and beverages. These foodstuffs contain added sugar and sodium that is more than the daily recommended allowance (2,300 mg of salt, and 24-36 grams of sugar for adults).
Keep your body moving
Numerous studies have shown that exercise lowers your risk of heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and some cancers. It has also been linked to the prevention of dementia and other cognitive changes. Starting an exercise routine, however, can feel quite intimidating and that’s understandable. The key is finding a routine that you are comfortable with, can keep you moving, and is fun and motivating for you.
Challenge your brain
Taking care of your mind is just as important as taking care of your body. Most of what we do to keep our physical health in tip-top shape also helps our brains. Nonetheless, there are additional steps we can take to keep our minds sharp as we age. Explore new hobbies, learn a new language, or try meditation – all these things can engage and challenge your brain in different ways helping us keep motivated and focused.
Nurture your network
Keeping and nurturing your existing bonds and forming new relationships can keep you healthy longer and may even add more years to your life. Your network can give you emotional support and help you cope with stress. They can also be positive influences, helping you create healthy habits. Most importantly, our family and friends can give us a sense of purpose and reason. It may not be so obvious now while you’re still in your prime, but this is something that becomes more important, if not the most important, as we age.