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What are some tips for healthy aging?

The key to successful aging is a healthy, common sense lifestyle. The goals are to slow or prevent the loss of brain cells, maintain the brain's capacity to make up for any loss, and let remaining brain cells function well. This requires a healthy body, mind, and spirit.
 
Here are some tips for successful aging:
  • Visit your doctor regularly.
  • Participate in activities that stimulate your brain, such as reading, crossword puzzles, playing bridge, and other mental exercises.
  • Manage stress through techniques such as relaxation, meditation, and yoga.
  • Treat depression. Depressed elders have higher rates of dementia, lower quality of life, and higher rates of death.
  • Be social. Maintaining a network of friends will lessen the likelihood of isolation and depression while increasing the overall level of brain stimulation.
  • Exercise daily, such as walking 30 minutes per day.
  • Physical activity significantly lessens the chance of cardiovascular complications that could cause dementia.
  • Control hypertension, diabetes, and heart disease -- risk factors for dementia -- through physical exercise, quitting smoking, controlling blood pressure, lowering cholesterol, and avoiding obesity.
  • Follow a healthy diet and take vitamins, including vitamins C and E, and folic acid.
  • Limit alcohol consumption. Alcohol has a direct toxic effect on the brain that adds to the loss of nerve cells and synapses.

One of the top diet strategies to age healthy and to eat to extend longevity is to eat two fish (preferably oily fish) meals (3.5 ounces each) weekly to reduce the risk of heart disease, the leading cause of death among Americans. Fish is not only low in heart-unhealthy saturated fat but also provides heart-healthy, omega 3 fatty acids.

Research shows that these fatty acids may prevent irregular heart-beats, reduce atherosclerosis, and mildly lower blood pressure. Americans are currently consuming only about 0.1 to 0.2 grams of omega 3s daily, on average, as compared to the 0.5 grams recommended a day. Two fish meals a week will not only meet this daily recommendation but also displace saturated-fat laden protein-rich food, such as hot dogs, regular ground beef, and fried chicken on the plate.

Dr. Pina LoGiudice, LAc, ND
Naturopathic Medicine
As naturopathic physicians, we always tell our patients that no one product in a bottle will, by itself, ever reverse the signs of aging. Healthy aging is a function of adequate water intake, eating healthy foods (eating “the colors of the rainbow” and limiting calories), not smoking, daily exercise, keeping positive relationships in your life, doing what you love and avoiding environmental toxins.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.