If you are worried about the toll the ageing process might take on your body and general health, you are in for a treat! In this lengthy extract from Patrick Holford’s book The 10 Secrets of Healthy Ageing, the author shares the secrets of staying as fit and as mentally alert as possible, for as long as possible.
A popular wish-list for ageing well might include good general health, smooth, firm skin, strong muscles, an efficient immune system, good memory and a healthy brain. And the longer you stay healthy the longer you’ll hang on to those benefits as well as cutting your risk of developing one or more of those chronic diseases that afflict us in the West: cancer, diabetes, heart disease and arthritis.
Research shows that while genetic luck obviously plays a part in the way we are affected by the ageing process, there’s a lot you can do to reduce your chances of drawing the short straw.
The science of ageing is advancing fast…
We all know the lifestyle advice about diet and exercise for staying healthy and avoiding chronic diseases. The good news is that they work just as well to help you age well.
Whatever sign of ageing you are worried about – wrinkles, weaker muscles, less energy, poor healing and repair – you have a chance to improve them by getting the right food, sufficient nutrients and taking the best exercise.
Here’s 10 tips to help you put off ageing as far as possible and take care of your body and health in the process.
1. STAY SMART AS YOU AGE
To help keep your mind and memory as sharp as a razor:
- Eat greens and beans, lentils, nuts and seeds, which are rich in folate.
- Eat eggs and fish, which are rich in vitamin B12 and phospholipids.
- Eat oily fish, which is rich in omega-3 essential fats, three times a week.
- Eat strongly coloured fruit, vegetables and spices, which are rich in antioxidants.
- Drink (green) tea – not coffee – and red wine in moderation.
- E at a low glycemic-load diet, such as our Anti-ageing Diet
In terms of supplements:
- C heck your homocysteine level, and, if it’s high, take a homocysteine-lowering supplement containing vitamins B6, B12, folic acid, TMG, zinc and NAC
- Take a daily omega-3 fish oil supplement.
- Optional extras are a phospholipid supplement containing phosphatidylcholine, serine and DMAE; and an all-round antioxidant supplement containing vitamins A or betacarotene, lipoic acid, glutathione/NAC and resveratrol.
2. KEEP YOUR JOINTS MOBILE AND YOUR BONES STRONG
To help keep your bones and your joints young:
- Eat more nuts, seeds and beans – high in bone-friendly minerals.
- Eat oily fish (salmon, mackerel, herring, sardines) at least three times a week for extra omega-3 and vitamin D.
- Try to exercise every day, including some weight-bearing, joint-stretching, back-strengthening and muscle-building exercises
In terms of supplements:
- Check your homocysteine level. If it is high (above 9mcmol/l) supplement high-dose B6, B12 and folic acid
- Take a twice-daily multivitamin–mineral that provides at least 15mcg of vitamin D, 40mcg of vitamin K, 100–400mg of calcium, 150mg of magnesium and 1mg of boron; plus 1,000mg of vitamin C and an omega-3 supplement twice a day.
3. BEAT THE BULGE, PREVENT DIABETES AND BOOST YOUR ENERGY
To help beat the bulge:
- Follow a low-GL Anti-ageing Diet
- Eat plenty of soluble fibre, found in especially high amounts in oats and chia seeds – and you can also take a fibre supplement such as glucomannan or PGX as a powder inwater before meals, if you like.
- Exercise, including a combination of aerobic and resistancetraining, which builds muscle and prevents muscle loss.
4. SWITCH OFF THE STRESS FACTOR, AND SLEEP FOR SEVEN HOURS STRAIGHT
To release the grip of stress and benefit from a good night’s sleep:
- Practise ‘sleep hygiene’.
- Exercise regularly, but not in the evening before sleep.
- Listen to alpha-wave-inducing music while in bed and practise relaxation techniques.
- Eat more green leafy vegetables, nuts and seeds to ensure you’re getting enough magnesium, and supplement 150mg a day, and twice this if you have difficulty unwinding in the evening.
- A void sugar and caffeine, and minimise your intake of alcohol. Don’t combine alcohol with sleeping pills or antianxiety medication.
- If you do often react stressfully, discover the sources of stress in your life and do what you can to reduce them.
- Practise HeartMath or other stress-reducing techniques, including mindfulness and meditation
In terms of supplements:
- Supplement 100mg of 5-HTP and, if you live in a country where you can buy it, GABA 1,000mg an hour before bed. If you can’t get GABA, taurine and glutamine are precursors.
- Some formulas provide this in combination with calming herbs.
- Alternatively try valerian – 150–300mg about 45 minutes before bedtime. Choose a standardised extract or tincture and follow the dosage instructions.
5. KEEP YOUR SKIN YOUTHFUL
To help slow down the ageing process in the skin:
- Drink the equivalent of eight glasses of water a day.
- Eat omega-3 rich fish, seeds and nuts – best are chia seeds and walnuts and minimal fried food. Also, eat olives and use olive oil in salad dressings. Follow our Anti-ageing Diet, to eat for optimum nutrition.
- Avoid sugar and high-GL foods – eat a low-GL diet, as above.
- Apply transdermal vitamin A and C to the skin, ideally twice a day.
- Use an antioxidant-rich sunscreen when you are outside.
- Don’t overexpose yourself to direct, strong sunlight.
In terms of supplements, try vitamins A, C, zinc, essential omegas and other antioxidants.