By 2020 the number of people 60 or older will outnumber children 5 and younger. As life expectancy continues to rise and the world ages it is important to define those characteristics that contribute to healthy aging. A recent study from Germany showed that centenarians had fewer health problems in the last years of their lives than those that died earlier. Though heart failure was common in the very old, they had less high blood pressure, cardiac arrhythmia, kidney failure or other chronic diseases than those who were younger. Why? A study of over 14,000 older Americans, aged 50 to 89, who followed healthy lifestyle habits added many healthy years to their life.
If you want to add years to your life follow these 5 healthy habits.
1. Do your best to maintain a healthy weight.
2. Don't smoke.
3. Drink alcohol in moderation.
These three healthy habits can add years to your life and delay the occurrence of disabilities. Being overweight results in more life-years lost than if you were a smoker. Men who were not overweight, never smoked and drank moderately lived on average 11 years longer than men who were overweight, smoked or drank excessively. Women gained even more, 12 years.
4. Move more and move often. Be active throughout the day.
Progressive loss of muscle, sarcopenia, is considered a natural part of aging. It affects how fast you can walk, if you can get up from a chair, your balance, and your risk of falling and potential fractures. Add exercise, and muscle mass, muscle strength, and physical performance all increase dramatically. Physical activity definitely improves the quality of later years.
Everyone who ages worries about mental decline and dementia. We know that exercise, especially regular walking, is good for your muscles and bones, but a recent study showed it can also help your brain. Researchers found that during walking the impact of the foot against the ground produces pressure waves in the body that significantly increases blood flow to the brain. Walking optimizes brain blood flow and brain function which increases you sense of well-being.
5. Eat well most of the time.
No one eats well at every meal, every day. Your goal, like those that live long, is to make good food choices most of the time.
· Eat less, but enjoy what you eat. Food should be a pleasurable experience, but portions are so large today that all this super-sizing may be super-sizing you.
· Eat lots of fruits and vegetables. They are nature's nutrition powerhouse -- low in calories, with little if any fat, and chock full of vitamins, minerals and disease fighting phytochemicals.
· Eat whole grains rich in vitamins, minerals and fiber.
· Eat less sugar but you don't have to give it up.
· Eat more good fats like olive oil, fish and nuts.
· Eat lean proteins -- eggs, fish, chicken, lean beef, pork or lamb.
· Drink moderately. As we get older, less is best, and many experts recommend no more than 1 drink a day for all over 65,
Bottom line: Prevention costs very little. Live well, eat well, and live long.
© NRH Nutrition Consultants, Inc.
Jo-Ann Heslin, MA, RD, CDN is a registered dietitian and the author of 30 books. Available as eBooks from iTunes and Kindle/Amazon:
Healthy Wholefoods Counter
Complete Food Counter
Fat and Cholesterol Counter
Available in print from Gallery Books:
Most Complete Food Counter, 3rd Ed.
Your Complete Food Counter App: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/your-complete-food-counter/id444558777?mt=8
For more information on Jo-Ann and her books, go to: www.TheNutritionExperts.com.