There’s much ado about aging these days. We worry about looking, feeling, getting, and being old. We definitely don’t feel good about getting old. Old age conjures up thoughts about osteoporosis, sexual dysfunction, and loss of sight, hair, hearing, mind…
Satchel Paige said, “How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are?”
This is an interesting question. How would you answer? The problem with the question is that in order to answer it, we have to make an assumption about age. What does it feel like to be 30, 50, 80? Is how old we feel completely related to how long we’ve been alive?
I once interviewed a gentleman who was 93 years old (chronologically). He hiked two miles in the foothills of Albuquerque twice per week, attended the gym to lift weights, and oh, by the way, had a 63 year old girl friend. When I asked him why he chose the gym for his workouts instead of the hospital sponsored fitness center, he answered, “I don’t like being around all those old people.” How would this man have answered Satchel?
It’s true that the longer we’re alive we may experience changes in how our bodies and minds function. It’s also true that we can forestall longevity-related decline with good nutrition, mental stimulation, a healthy environment, and appropriate exercise. Here are some of the basic guidelines:
Accept the fact that you really and truly are what you eat. Ignore what fast food ads or even pre-prepared healthy meals try to sell you. Your body is composed of trillions of living, breathing cells that need quality nutrition to help you live to your greatest capacity.
- Go organic with the least amount of processing.
- Eat your a rainbow. A diet with a wide variety of colorful foods will help ensure you are getting as many nutrients as possible from real food. For example: raspberries, yam, squash, broccoli, blueberries, prunes, purple onions. Now you try. (This is a great game for kids.)
- Eat more fat. That’s right. More fat. Our bodies need fat. Our brains and nervous systems are mostly fat. The key is to eat healthy fats – no trans-fat (found in margarine, processed foods, fast foods, shortening). Go for choices such as olive oil, fish oil, flaxseed oil and fats from coconuts, almonds, walnuts and avocado.
- Get enough protein. Americans have seesawed back and forth between high carbohydrate and high protein diets for decades. The fact is our bodies (especially if we are growing children, recovering from illness or injury, exercising vigorously, or aging) need protein to maintain muscle mass and body functions. Sources should be lean and preferably organic and can include: eggs, lean poultry, organic grass-feed beef, beans such as soy, navy, kidney, pinto or black.
- Limit grains and choose those that have a lower glycemic index such as barley, rice, buckwheat and amaranth.
The saying is true, “Use it or lose it”. Here are a few ways to stimulate the brain:
- Read a variety of materials that will both entertain and educate.
- Have interesting conversations on numerous topics with many different people.
- Play puzzles and games. It’s even better if you have to perform them during a specified time limit.
- Practice deep breathing or meditation.
- Practice positive thinking.
This includes everything from the choices you make in cleaning products and plant food to the products you eat, drink and breathe. Think of your environment as the blanket you wrap yourself in. You want it to be comfortable and soothing; not abrasive, smelly, and toxic!
Get appropriate exercise. I use the term “appropriate” because the same exercise is not the best for every person. However, every person should be doing some form of movement activity (a.k.a. exercise). Exercise, in my opinion, is the single most important thing you can include in your lifestyle to help you live a healthful life. The exercise that is best for you is the one that you will do. It may be anything from skiing, to walking, to folk dancing to hula-hoop. Find a movement activity you enjoy. Better yet, practice more than one. Do them often – in fact, most days of the week. And if you really want to be successful, find a friend or group to exercise with.
These are the simple truths to looking, feeling and performing your best at any age.
What keeps you feeling young? Share with us below.