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Aging Gracefully: How to Stay Healthy As You Grow Old

Medically Approved by Dr. Edward Salko

Table of Contents

Aging like fine wine is not entirely out of reach. Contrary to popular belief, you can age gracefully even without lots of money for professional care and whatnot.

Over the years, we have come to understand more of how aging works including factors that trigger its speed, such as sun exposure and stress. 

However, while staying away from these triggers can retain your youth, more issues are still under the surface when aging is concerned.

Lifestyle and genetic factors should be considered if you want to age gracefully. Your health should always be a top priority if you wish to live long and well.

In the US, the average life expectancy of Americans is 77.8 years, as reported by the CDC. But many American adults are not as health-conscious as they should be. This is evident with the prevalence of obesity, heart disease, and other conditions related to diet and nutrition.

So, how do you stay healthy as you grow old? Check out some of the recommended lifestyle changes.

women meeting with doctor to discuss health and anti aging

1.      Go to Regular Checkups

As your age goes higher, visiting your doctor can be more frequent than before.

One reason is that, as you get older, you are more prone to infections and disorders. Some of these conditions are consequences of previous lifestyles. Others are genetically acquired, while some result from aging itself.

The increasing susceptibility for many illnesses is exactly why you should constantly undergo an annual physical examination.

If you are diagnosed with chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease, and hypertension, your checkups will have to be done more than once a year.

While young adults often perceive annual checkups as optional, it is imperative for people aged 50 and above.

Additionally, regular checkups have plenty of benefits, such as the following:

Knowing Diseases You’re at Risk of

Whether you like it or not, you will always be at risk of some illnesses, depending on your family history and lifestyle.

If you go to an annual wellness checkup, your doctor will order blood tests that determine your risk for metabolic diseases, infections, and other common disorders.

Typically, the diagnosis relies on both physical examination and lab tests results. Hence, you can be assured that it is fairly conclusive.

Uncovering Underlying Medical Conditions Early

Some conditions like diabetes gradually develop.

And sometimes, when you find out about the disorder, it has already worsened, and you’ll have to take maintenance medications. The same goes for other fatal conditions like cancer.

So, it comes as no surprise that early diagnosis increases the effectiveness of treatment. Most of the time, these underlying medical conditions are uncovered during an annual or regular checkup.

Once medical interventions are given, it prevents complications and the development of other illnesses. As a result, you’ll spend less on hospital bills and medications.

Establish a Good Relationship With Your Doctor

Your doctor is your partner in keeping your body healthy and well. And as you age, having a great relationship with your doctor holds plenty of benefits.

For example, you can communicate more freely and comfortably, especially if it concerns delicate health issues. So, when you go to annual checkups, your mutual trust is strengthened between you and your doctor.

It’s quite clear that going to regular checkups or annual physical examinations is one of the hallmarks of aging healthy. 

If you’re struggling with how to book a wellness checkup, check out Personalabs Aging Wellness Checkup for Men and Women Ages 50+.  

2.      Reduce Your Stress Levels

Chronic stress accumulated from years of continuous work contributes significantly to rapid aging. According to research, oxidative stress produces unbalanced oxygen reactive species (ROS), causing damages to the tissues.

As you age, tissue repair becomes slower and infrequent. Hence, your body becomes more susceptible to infection and other damages.

Furthermore, when you’re stressed, your body produces the hormone cortisol. 

Large amounts of cortisol in the bloodstream cause wrinkles formation, increasing inflammation and breaking down the skin’s collagen. This is why people who are constantly stressed sometimes look older than their actual age.

3.      Be Mindful Of Your Diet

You are what you eat. But in this case, your age is determined by the food you take.

Some foods speed up your body’s aging process, while some slow it down. Between these two food groups, the choice is pretty much obvious.

If you’re determined to age gracefully, you better avoid foods that accelerate aging and lean more on foods that perform the opposite.

Check out some of the foods included in these categories.

Foods That Speed Up Aging

  • Alcohol
  • Dairy
  • Fries
  • High-heat oils
  • Processed Meat
  • White Bread
  • White Sugar

Foods That Slow Down Aging

  • Avocado
  • Blueberries
  • Broccoli
  • Nuts
  • Papaya
  • Spinach
  • Sweet Potatoes

4.      Get Enough Sleep

Contrary to popular belief, sleep becomes even more necessary as you get old. But, unfortunately, people often assume that they could get less sleep once they hit adulthood compared to when they are kids.

But the truth is, sleep is essential regardless of age. During your resting hours, your cells perform all the necessary repairs and growth that keep you healthy and well.

In matters of aging, sleep becomes even more necessary. According to a study by the University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Cleveland, Ohio, sleep deprivation increases cellular aging. With poor sleep quality comes unhealthy and wrinkled skin.  

5.      Make Walking a Habit

When you’re busy at work, exercise is often the last thing on your mind.

So, how is it possible to still get active without allotting plenty of time in the gym? The simplest solution is making walking a habit.

Instead of heading to the nearby grocery in your car, take the opportunity to walk.

It may be hard not to get skeptical with this recommendation as walking sounds too simple.

Nonetheless, according to research published at Cell Metabolism, walking and other aerobic exercises don’t only slow down aging but reverse it as well.

6.      Take Supplements If Necessary

Vitamin and mineral deficiency comes with several health consequences. Aside from triggering disorders and underlying medical conditions, it can also speed up aging.

For example, vitamin d deficiency has a direct link to premature aging. Lack of vitamin D not only deteriorates your skin health but also triggers and aggravates conditions like diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Therefore, if you’re planning to slow down your aging, make sure you’re well aware if you have vitamin d deficiency.

Take the Vitamin D Blood Test for accurate results. Then, once the deficiency is confirmed, increase the vitamin level through supplements.

7.      Avoid Too Much Sun Exposure

Your skin is one of the first organs affected by aging. Unfortunately, premature skin aging is common if you are constantly exposed to sunlight.

Photoaging is the term used to describe skin aging caused by sun exposure. Aside from cellular deterioration, it can also lead to skin cancer. This is because the UV light from the sun penetrates the inner layers of the skin, which causes long-term damages.  

If it’s inevitable to go under the scorching sun, make sure you apply sunscreen and wear proper coverage to protect your skin.

8.      Don’t Stop Learning New Things

Aging gracefully does not only mean maintaining your physical wellness. It also implies consistent mental health stability.

With that, learning new skills and acquiring more knowledge keep you cognitively challenged. As a result, you have more chances to prevent depression, general anxiety, and other mental illnesses.

It is often assumed that learning becomes extra challenging as you age. 

The phrase. “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks” is sometimes taken almost literally. However, scientists would argue against this belief.

Among neurological researchers, the concept known as neural plasticity or simply known as neuroplasticity, proves that anyone can learn and be good at something new regardless of old age.

Neuroplasticity is the process wherein the brain and the nervous system as whole change patterns and activities depending on the type of stimuli therein.

So, when you learn how to play the piano, your brain adjusts to accommodate the new knowledge and skills, making learning more effortless than you think.

The Bottom Line

When people say age is just the number, it means that you can grow older without sacrificing too much of your health.

Aging gracefully is a result of many choices that favor a healthy lifestyle and wise medical decisions.

Hence, whether even if you are not yet that concerned about aging per se, consider taking the following actions seriously:

  1. Go to regular checkups
  2. Reduce your stress levels
  3. Be mindful of your diet
  4. Get enough sleep
  5. Make walking a habit
  6. Take necessary supplements
  7.  Avoid too much sun exposure
  8. Don’t stop learning new things

You may have noticed that the recommended actions to a healthy aging process are similar to what you often encounter when looking for practical tips to stay healthy in general.

That’s because protecting your body from diseases and infection always goes back to nutrition, active lifestyle, stress reduction, and regular health assessment.

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