Are you looking to add life to your years? Do you want live a life full of verve, vigor, and vitality? There a few simple basic steps you can take in improve your chances of living a productive life in the state of optimal health. But remember – things that are simple to do are also simple not to do. Motivation is a prerequisite to healthy aging.
Establish Your Baseline to Achieve Healthy Aging
Before you can take steps to achieve healthy aging you need to determine where you are right now with your health. That means being evaluated. Keep in mind that most physicians in conventional medicine focus on getting patients out of sickness, not helping patients achieve optimal health.
So if healthy aging is your goal, you will be better off seeing a physician trained preventive medicine with training in hormone replacement therapy has hormones are an essential to healthy aging.
You should undergo a series of tests including comprehensive laboratory studies including measuring your major hormone levels. Assessments of your cardiovascular fitness, and your muscular strength and flexibility should be performed. Body composition should be measured to determine the amount of lean body mass you have as well as body fat.
Bone density testing especially in middle aged women is critical as osteoporosis is under treated and diagnosed frequently too late, and significantly impairs the quality of life.
Healthy aging also depends on a healthy mind. Cognitive testing can detect early deficits, some of which can be reversed with lifestyle changes (exercise and nutrition) and restoring of optimal sex hormone levels.
The results of these tests will direct attention to deficiencies that need to be addressed if healthy aging is ever to be possible.
Get Your Screening Tests
Be sure to have your blood sugar, HgA1C, and insulin levels checked periodically. Type 2 diabetes is largely preventable. Most doctors do not check insulin levels. A high insulin level with a normal blood sugar or HgA1C level many times is the first indication that you may be pre-diabetic or heading that way.
Also be sure to have your cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and other markers for heart disease like cardiac CRP, and homocysteine levels checked periodically.
Men and women over age 50 should have a colonoscopy done, sooner if there is a family history. Middle age men should have rectal exam to evaluate the prostate gland along with a PSA blood test, which is a screening test for prostate cancer.
Women should stay up to date with periodic Pap and pelvic examinations, and mammograms.
The frequency and the age at which these types of screening tests/examinations should be performed changes from time to time, so get your doctor’s recommendation.
The Fundamentals of Healthy Aging
1. Have a strong purpose in life
2. Do not smoke
3. Consume no alcohol, or do so in moderation.
4. Engage in moderate to strenuous exercise regularly.
5. Get plenty of restful sleep.
6. Eat breakfast (this is not an absolute – as some do well skipping breakfast)
7. Eat a low-glycemic diet with adequate high quality protein.
8. Keep hormone levels in a youthful optimal range.
Studies have shown that individuals who follow most of these habits or fundamentals live 11 years longer than those who do not. Based on telomere length smoking shortens life expectancy 7.4 years. Obesity shorten life expectancy 8.8 years, and chronic stress shortens life expectancy nearly 10 years. In the list above, numbers 3 through 8 will help you maintain a healthy body weight. Optimized hormone levels can help cope with stress better and exercise is an excellent stress dissipator.
Having a strong purpose provides satisfaction to life as well as being a motivator to develop healthier health habits putting you in a better position to better fulfill your purpose or goals.
Hormones for Health
The importance of optimizing hormones, especially the sex hormones is overlooked in the quest for achieving healthy aging.
Testosterone improves lean body mass and strength, decreases body fat, improves insulin sensitivity, improves wound and tissue healing, improves memory and cognition, improves bone density, protects against Alzheimer’s disease, protects against cardiovascular disease, prevents and treats depression, improves skin tone, improves stamina, and of course improves libido and sexual performance.
Estrogen does much the same. It maintains bone density, improves insulin sensitivity, protects against Alzheimer’s disease, protects against cardiovascular disease, improves cholesterol profile, lowers blood pressure, improves mood, memory, and concentration, maintains collagen content and improves skin quality, enhances energy, and increases sexual interest.
Progesterone is the “feel good” hormone of pregnancy. It provides a calming effect which can help with stress. It also protects against uterine and breast cancer.
Thyroid hormones regulate body metabolism and thus weight control. When thyroid is low all organ systems in the body slow down. Thyroid facilitates brain function. It also helps to minimize muscle and joint pain.
DHEA is actually the most prevalent hormone in the body. It is a precursor hormone and depending on the body’s need gets converted into testosterone, estrogen, and progesterone. It enhances immune function and has been studied as a treatment for autoimmune diseases like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. It also facilitates fat loss.
Stay young longer!
Related articles include “Stop Aging“, “Aging Myths Debunked“, and “Anti Aging Medicine“.