There are ways to stay youthful longer as research suggests that your genes may only play a small part on how you age…

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There are ways to stay youthful longer as research suggests that your genes may only play a small part on how you age…

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Getting older is a given, but our diet and lifestyle play a huge role in how we look and feel along the way! Ageing doesn’t necessarily mean getting sick or feeling less than our best – if we pay attention to a few key factors and make a few important shifts, we can age healthily and feel as optimal as possible.

With our life expectancy rising to a record high of 84 for women and 80 for men, it turns out the popular motto that “you’re only as young as you feel” has some scientific merit. Here are some of the ways to slow down your body’s ageing by feeling healthy and energetic – while reducing your risk of chronic disease – at any age.

1 Keeping An Active Lifestyle

Keeping active is one of the most powerful ways to maintain your youthful vigour and slow decline, with bonus benefits for your brain, heart, lungs, body weight and blood sugar levels.

“It doesn’t have to be complicated,” says Dr Elizabeth Cyarto, Healthy Ageing Stream Leader at the National Ageing Research Institute. “It can be as simple as putting your shoes on and walking – and, on the flipside, trying to reduce the amount of time you spend in front of a screen or sitting.”

Walking is good because it combines cardiovascular and weight-bearing exercise – which is good for your heart, muscles, and bones. So how much exercise do we actually need? “Aim for 150 minutes of activity per week,” Dr Cyarto replies. “It’s not really a big task.”

2 Having A Sensible Nutrition Plan

Eating sensibly from all the food groups and keeping an eye on portion size is the best advice for long-term good health, says Dr Cyarto, who recommends avoiding fad diets. “Your metabolism is slowing down as you get older, so you don’t need as many calories,” she warns, “otherwise, you are going to have issues with body fat. You also need to have good protein intake to maintain muscle mass.”

Prof Hal Kendig, the Professor of Ageing and Public Policy at the Australian National University, says carrying a few extra kilograms as you get older is better than being underweight, which raises the risk of muscle wastage.

In terms of research, the Mediterranean diet has the strongest evidence to support healthy ageing, so think fresh fruit and vegetables, fish, olive oil, legumes, nuts, some dairy and whole grains.

Drinking should be limited, says Prof Kendig (but not necessarily banned – a bit of alcohol appears to be better than none in research on healthy ageing).

3 Maintaining Real Social Connections

“Being connected socially is very important for morale,” says Prof Kendig. “Sometimes, it’s a matter of another person or animal being dependent on you to feel valued.”

Good spousal relationships can also be a powerful contributor to healthy ageing. “Having people you can call in the middle of the night is key,” says Dr Cyarto.

While family is important, a network of peers is also invaluable. “The social benefits of connections between ageing women in particular have enormous potential,” says Prof Kendig. “It’s about having someone who understands you and has had similar life experiences.”

4 Working Your Brain

There’s been a lot of hype about brain-training computer games, not much of which is backed up by substantial research. Dr Cyarto says, “Rather than investing big money into these stuff, you might be better off going for a walk. Or learn a new language – that kind of cognitive stimulation and building new neural pathways may be protective.” Even if taking up the violin or becoming a Sudoku master doesn’t prevent dementia, says Dr Cyarto, “anything you can do to build up your cognitive resources now, may help you down the track.”

5 Have A Purpose

We all need meaning in our lives, whether it’s through work, family, religion or community. However, big life changes can throw a spanner in the works.

Dr Cyarto further suggests cultivating extra-curricular activities, such as joining a cycling team or choir. For people who don’t have regular physical contact with others, getting a pet may be beneficial. Prof Kendig says maintaining resilience and resourcefulness as we age is also important.

6 Have Regular Check-ups

Resist the temptation to procrastinate with medical check-ups. Sure, no one really enjoys a mammogram, Pap smear test, bowel screening or prostrate exam – but they are important. Likewise, you should be paying attention to your cholesterol, blood pressure, triglycerides and waist-hip ratio – all of which are strong indicators of your risk of disease. “It’s important to keep on top of everything,” says Dr Cyarto. “And start when you’re younger so, over time, you can pick any changes up early.”

7Keep Your Dental Appointments

Gum health is another key measure of health and ageing. It turns out bad oral health is strongly linked to cardiovascular disease, as well as stroke, diabetes and other illnesses. Research says this is likely to do with bacteria and inflammation in our mouths – although that doesn’t mean it’s the cause.

The best advice? Brush your teeth twice a day and have twice yearly checkups with your dentist. “And you should be flossing, too,” adds Dr Cyarto. While it’s never too late to make changes in your life and boost your chances of staying healthy and youthful for longer, the earlier you start the changes, the better. W

Taking Care Of Your Skin

Here are quick and easy ways to help you keep skin smooth and youthful…
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We usually don’t notice it but our hands do age, get dry and rough. If you want baby soft hands, moisturise them immediately after washing or showering. Glysomed hand cream helps to restore moisture leaving skin noticeably smoother and softer. A handy cream to carry around for daily use on your hands, cuticles, elbows, knees and feet. Available in 50 ml at $8.80 and 250 ml at $26.80.

Glysomed is exclusively distributed by EstheCosme (S) Pte Ltd and are available at all Robinson stores and selected Guardian stores in Singapore.

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A rich cell rejuvenating nutrition, LA BO Nutrition Le Ageless Vital Force Cell Essentials has been proven to show improvemens in energy and vigour as well as in other aspects of wellness such as better sleep pattern, improved physical and emotional well-being, as well as improved skin conditions.

Le Ageless is $92.80 (60 capsules) and is available at Unity Pharmacy and www.lifestreamgroup.com.