10 Things That Influence How You Age
It’s true that growing older is a fact of life, but the way in which we age can be greatly influenced and controlled by the daily decisions we make. Small consistent adjustments can yield huge health benefits. If you are ready to embark on a total health makeover, these few simple lifestyle tweaks will get you going in the right direction!
- Water. Your body is approximately 60% water and your brain is 70% water. Dehydration causes premature aging, weight gain, high cholesterol, autoimmune disorders, urinary tract infections, constipation, heartburn and headaches. If you have only one takeaway from this list, replace sugary drinks that have empty calories with water. A good rule is to drink 1/2 your weight in ounces every day.
- Sleep. Sleep has an impact on every function of the body. Lack of sleep contributes to weight gain, hormonal imbalances, weakened immune system, brain fog, depression, and lack of energy. Your body needs sleep every night to repair, recharge and function properly. The compounding effect of sacrificing sleep over several years is detrimental to overall health and accelerates the aging process. Shoot for 7-9 hours each night and try to stick to a schedule, even on weekends. Invest in a quality bed and bedding. And try not to watch TV in bed or bring tech devices into the bedroom.
- Gratitude. An ever-growing body of research confirms that gratitude has a number of potent health benefits. Gratitude improves physical health by lowering inflammation and blood sugar, improves immune function, increase happiness and life satisfaction by lowering stress, and improves emotional resiliency and mental health by triggering the release of antidepressant and mood-regulating chemicals while inhibiting the stress hormone cortisol. Every morning when you wake up, think of three things you are thankful for.
- Move. Our bodies were built to move. Sitting is now considered the “new smoking” in the integrative medical world. Each hour of sitting reduces your lifespan by 22 minutes. Prolonged sitting increases your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. Try to stand as much as possible, even while working, and try to walk 10,000 steps a day. Also, rethink how you approach exercise, it’s NOT about weight loss. Exercise improves brain health, helps you sleep better, reduces stress, boosts confidence, and it can be fun if you make it social.
- Detox. We are bombarded with toxins through what we ingest, inhale and absorb. More than 84,000 chemicals are used in household products, cosmetics, food, and food packaging — most never tested for safety. Just like dust, pollen, dander and particulates start to build up in your air conditioning filter, these chemicals and toxins build up in your body. Easy and relaxing ways to detox include epsom salt baths, earthing, infrared sauna, dry brushing, cryotherapy, and cleanse diets. Be more discerning with what you put in and on your body, as well as the items that are in your home.
- Food. Choose real food and quality nutrients. This means organic and non-GMO fresh, whole foods. The sooner you can phase out pre-packaged, processed and fast food, the quicker you’ll feel an overall shift in your energy levels and vitality. Also, know the facts about food. For instance, eating a food like avocado that is high in healthy fat does not cause weight gain but eating low fat foods that are high in sugar, does. Eliminate sugar, caffeine, wheat and gluten, dairy and alcohol.
- Supplements. Many American diets contain too much processed foods and not enough whole foods. Autoimmune diseases are on the rise, which cause poor digestion and absorption issues. Over prescribing of antibiotics leaves many people with little to no healthy gut bacteria and many medications have side effects that hinder vitamin absorption.In general, most people can benefit from a good multivitamin. Probiotics also are good if you’ve taken antibiotics in your lifetime and do not have good quality fermented foods in your diet. Vitamin C is anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and anti-fungal, so taking it daily can be protective for cold, flu, or disease. Lastly, have your physician test you for D3 and B12. Optimal levels of these will increase energy, enhance mood, help support metabolism and boost immune function.
- Strength train. We experience a huge shift in the ratio of body fat to muscle as we age because it becomes more difficult to build and maintain muscle mass. Strength or resistance training is more effective than cardiovascular activity in preservation of precious muscle mass, which lowers body-fat percentage and keeps metabolism from slowing down. Studies show that resistance training significantly increases lean body mass, while cardiovascular exercise significantly decreases it. Keeping a couple of weights in your bedroom helps make strength training easy, convenient and affordable.
- Meditate. Exercise will strengthen your body, and meditating will work out your mind. Published research suggests that taking time to meditate daily can help reduce stress, anxiety, depression and even pain. It lowers blood pressure and improves sleep. Meditation causes the pituitary gland in our brain to secrete endorphins that help elevate mood and have a positive effect on the whole body. It also alters brain activity to enhance the area associated with positive emotional experiences. Yoga also can ease you into that type of mindfulness.
- Kindness. Being kind and volunteering one's time are selfless acts. Research has shown that acts of kindness actually increase your overall sense of well-being, including building emotional resilience and reducing stress levels.
This list is a starting point to get you making your physical, emotional, and spiritual health a priority. Ditch the excuses and try to incorporate a few of these changes into each day. Research suggests that for simple changes like these, it will take about 21 days of consistency to become habit. Once the new habits become routine, try to add in a couple more. You may begin to notice some physical and psychological changes right away. However, most of the benefits from diet changes, exercise, and mindfulness will start to appear within four weeks if you’re consistent. So keep with it and before you know it, you’ll be reaping the benefits of living a healthy lifestyle.