Lets face it, everyone wants to look and feel good as they get older. Whilst genetics do play a large role in how we age, there are some definite lifestyle factors that contribute to how well or how poorly we age.
What is Ageing vs Successful Ageing?
Ageing is fundamentally a degenerative and inflammatory process. Successful ageing in cooperates not only optimisation of our increasing life expectancy rates, but also the minimisation of physical and mental deterioration and disability. I.e. how fit and mentally alert you remain (Bowling & Dieppe, 2005)
The effect of HORMONES!
As mentioned, ageing involves inflammation, but our hormones are a natural anti inflammatory mechanism. Commonly, hormones decline as we age and inflammation increases. However, this also means that things start to break down at much faster rate. During Menopause ovaries stop making hormones so adrenal glands and fat cells take over hormone production and so you get a significant drop in hormone load. Moreover, the ability to maintain a good balance of hormones is the best anti ageing tool you can have (Astrid et al., 2012).
So, how can this be done?
- Avoiding excessive stress (environmental, psychological & physical)
Eating a balanced and varied diet is the key to minimising internal inflammation in the body. Eating a diet of foods high in antioxidants will help to protect the body from oxidative stress & help to rebuild collagen. Essentially improving the quality of our skin and reducing the breakdown of our DNA. Some foods high in antioxidants that are important to include in your diet are:
- Leafy greens
One of the best things you can do for balancing hormones is to wake up in the morning and go for 25-30 minute walk. If you have been fasting overnight, then get up and go for short walk this is extremely beneficial for balancing the hormone insulin in the blood and reducing insulin resistance as we age. The process of digestion takes energy and resources by the body so giving it a break from time to time can be very beneficial.
Environmental, Psychological & Physical stress all play a role in increasing the ageing process. Plastics and pesticides have hormonal effects that accelerate the ageing process. Moreover, exposure over time comes to have a more significant impact on our physiology as we age.
Take Away Points:
- Reducing inflammation can slow the ageing process. This can be done through diet, exercise and reduced exposure to environmental toxins and excessive stress
- Hormones are anti-inflammatory so maintaining a good hormonal load is key in the ageing process
- Bowling, A., & Dieppe, P. (2005). What is successful ageing and who should define it?. BMJ (Clinical research ed.), 331(7531), 1548–1551. doi:10.1136/bmj.331.7531.1548
- Astrid M. Horstman, E. Lichar Dillon, Randall J. Urban, Melinda Sheffield-Moore, The Role of Androgens and Estrogens on Healthy Aging and Longevity, The Journals of Gerontology: Series A, Volume 67, Issue 11, November 2012, Pages 1140–1152, https://doi.org/10.1093/gerona/gls068