Ageing and getting older is a fact of life that we all must accept. However, the way in which we age and how healthy we stay can be manipulated. As science advances, we are learning more about the process of ageing and in doing so developing insights into how to stave off decline and stay youthful.
We should all strive for longevity and growing old in the right way with optimal energy levels, mobility, strength and cognitive function.
The process of ageing refers to the accumulation of cellular damage due to many factors over a lifetime. This cellular damage is accelerated by the following lifestyle factors:
- Lack of Exercise
- Poor Diet and Nutrient deficiency
- Poor Sleep and high Stress
If these factors are not managed correctly then they will lead to chronic inflammation which in turn accelerates the progression of all diseases leading to unhealthy ageing and premature death.
On the up side, we all can take responsibility over these factors through good lifestyle choices. The following article will help explain how:
By taking responsibility for your physical fitness today your making huge strides towards ageing healthily. The reported drop in metabolism that comes with growing older is almost entirely preventable (3-7% per decade after 30). The slowing of metabolism is directly correlated with the atrophy of lean muscle tissue. Therefore, if we continue to train intelligently to maintain our muscle mass then metabolism can be sustained.
This is another reason why we are such big proponents of strength training here at CoActive Health. No other form of exercise does more in terms of keeping you strong, lean and healthy.
A huge benefit in training for strength is that we all have so much genetic potential to keep striving towards. If you train aerobically you can max out your potential Vo2max within 6-10 weeks of quality training, however with strength training it is possible to continue to make gains for 20 + years.
On a personal note, I’ve been training on average 3-5 x a week for the last 20 years yet I’m currently the strongest I have ever been, achieving personal best lifts last month in the front squat, deficit deadlift, chin up and bench press. As I edge nearer to 40 I’ve got no intention of slowing down!
To maintain steady progress in the gym as we get older it is important we adhere to the following:
A concept popularised by strength coach Charles Poliquin, it is vital that as we get older we train intelligently to keep the body in balance. This means bringing up weakness to ensure you move in a functional manner and stay injury free. For example, many clients that are new to strength training have poorly developed knee flexor strength and so need to do several phases of hamstring curls to maintain good knee mechanics and stability.
Full Range of Movement
As the saying goes “if you don’t use it you lose it”, well this is very much the case when it comes to moving our bodies through its natural full range of motion. It is vital that exercises are performed in the correct manner from the off, this way we maintain joint integrity as well as maintain great mobility and flexibility.
Seek out quality health professionals
If you continue to train hard then even with the best programs and coaching, over time the body will get beaten up. By being proactive with your body you can stop imbalances or tightness manifesting into injuries or illness. We recommend the following:
- Get a regular sports massage to maintain tissue health. Even with all the mobility and foam rolling in the world you can’t beat hands on therapy. Depending on how active / tight you are we recommend anything from once a week to once every few months.
- See a quality osteopath before you get injured! We recommend that you get someone with a trained eye to monitor your structural integrity every 3-6 months to ensure everything is as it should be. If it’s not get them to fix it!
- See a functional medicine practitioner before your ill! A functional medicine practitioner can run customised blood chemistry tests to spot early signs of dysfunction. All modern diseases don’t just instantly occur, they are usually months if not years in the making. A functional medicine practitioner can spot early signs of inflammation and dysfunction so you can then make the necessary lifestyle modifications to keep you healthy.
We are very fortunate to have a fantastic team here at CoActive Health who can help with all the above.
Diet and nutrition
Blood sugar management
Diet and nutrition play a vital role in how well we age. Perhaps the biggest area to be aware of is insulin sensitivity. Within functional medicine there is the phrase ‘you are only as old as your arteries’. It implies that the health of our vascular system plays a huge role in how healthy we are, with heart disease and stroke being such prolific killers in the western world.
Insulin resistance is the progressive resistance of your cells to the signalling of insulin. The more resistant you are the closer you are to type 2 diabetes. It is important we take the necessary steps to avoid this. Eat a balanced diet with the right amount of sugars in relation to your lean mass, body fat percentage and goals. Learn more in this article on controlling insulin.
Eat an antioxidant rich diet
Eat foods that are high in antioxidants to delay ageing. Some of the most flavourful, delectable foods are actually very high in antioxidants and should be a major focus of your diet if you want to live a long, healthy, and tasty life.
Antioxidants neutralise free radicals that damage tissues and cause inflammation. The best way to get a lot of antioxidants is to start by getting them through high-quality food. If you want to expand your antioxidant intake we recommend you top up with an organic greens drink.
Five of the best antioxidant-rich foods you should include in your diet are blueberries, green tea, olive oil, pecans and dark chocolate ( organic 70% + ).
Nutrition and cognitive health
You can Protect your brain by boosting antioxidant levels that support brain health and cognitive function.
For a myriad of reasons diseases such as alzheimers and dementia are on the increase in the western world. Many believe this is due to inflammation of the brain. One strategy to protect brain health and prevent inflammation is to ensure you are not deficient in key nutrients and to protect yourself with added antioxidants that fight free radicals in the brain.
The most important nutrients for the brain that people are commonly deficient in are zinc, magnesium, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamin D.
- Zinc is a powerful antioxidant that detoxifies heavy metals so they don’t build up in the brain.
- Magnesium supports memory and brain plasticity—two key elements in the prevention of dementia.
- Omega 3 fatty acids – For optimal health and longevity, take an omega-3 fish oil supplement and try to rebalance your fat intake so that your ratio of omega-3 to -6 fats is near equal.
- Vitamin D may be the most important single nutrient for longevity, deficiency is linked to the development of numerous diseases including diabetes, cancer, and osteoporosis. Get your vitamin D level tested and supplement to ensure you have optimal levels. Learn more in our article about vitamin D.
Stress and sleep
Excessive unmanaged stress is one of the biggest factors in dictating how well we age. You only need to look at pictures of past presidents to see the physical toll that heavy stress places upon the body.
The best way to manage stress is to ensure that you get quality sleep. Whenever the word health is mentioned now days it seems that sleep isn’t too far away. From an ageing perspective quality sleep is paramount. It is during sleep that our body carries out necessary repairs and produces healthy anabolic hormones such as IGF1 and testosterone, both of which help keep us feeling young.
You can read about our recommendations on how to optimise your sleep in this article.
If you already do the basics but are still struggling then the right supplementation can be of help.
A new favourite here at CoActive is Yin Reserve. Formulated and produced by Charles Poliquin the strength Sensie, it contains inositol, L theanine and magnesium. Take 1-2 scoops pre bed.
To give yourself the best chance of ageing healthily then you need to do the basics well:
- Train intelligently and be proactive with your physical health
- Eat a balanced diet full of antioxidants boosted by quality supplementation
- Manage your stress and prioritise your sleep
In doing these things consistently over time there’s no limits on what you can achieve.
To find out more information on any of the topics mentioned in this article please contact a member of the CoActive Health team.