I recently did a talk on aging gracefully and have been asked by numerous people to sum it up – how do we manage to age well and remain youthful for as long as possible? Unfortunately, there are no magic pills, the “secret” is to eat a healthy diet, get plenty of exercise, breathe fresh air, sleep well, decrease stress in our lives, live a life full of joy and cherish the special moments.
Aging, on a cellular level, happens when free radicals cause accumulated damage to the structural components of our body: our cellular lipid membranes, proteins and DNA. Antioxidants, found in colourful fruits and vegetables, are valuable free radical fighters, helping to balance the oxidative stress our body endures on a daily basis.
Two diets that have been studied and shown to slow the aging process are the anti-inflammatory diet and the Mediterranean diet. They have a few things in common: both are high in fresh, raw fruits and vegetables (loaded with antioxidants!), high in vegetable protein and lower in animal protein, and contain moderate amounts of whole grains (brown rice, oats, rye, millet, etc.). Don’t forget the importance of including healthy oils like omega 3’s daily into your diet! They help to moderate inflammation in the body, which is the underlying mechanism of all chronic disease.
An often over-looked aspect of aging gracefully is spiritual: living a life with purpose, and one in which we feel fulfilled by our work plays a significant part in longevity. To add to this, they find those that live long lives have a strong social network; having someone to lean on and engage in activities with clearly improves mental and emotional wellbeing.
Lastly, with the amount of toxins we are exposed to daily, I am a huge proponent of doing cleanses at least twice a year. To alleviate the burden our detoxification organs are constantly bombarded with, we allow our body to release toxic matter stored in our adipose tissue. Spring in the perfect time for a seasonal detox! Discuss with your health care practitioner whether a cleanse is beneficial for you.