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Ageing and being 'well-derly'
Much of what we think of as "the ageing process" is not inevitable or unavoidable, and some of it may even be reversible.
We will grow old - we can't change that - but we can make choices and decisions which will reduce the risk of many of the diseases which we think of as a normal or automatic part of ageing. These choices and decisions will determine whether as you grow older you are "well-derly" or "ill-derly". Some experts believe that only 10% of what determines how long and how well people live is dictated by their genes. The other 90% is due to the lifestyles they lead. If we look at the lifestyles of those groups who live long and fit we we gain some guidance, together with recent research, into how to maximise the length but, more important, the quality of our lives.
The right lifestyle decisions reduce the risk of cancer, Alzheimer's, cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, and so on.
What are these lifestyle adjustments? Here are 3 to think about.
1. EXERCISE - protects against heart attacks, strokes, diabetes, obesity, cancer, Alzheimer's Disease and depression and boosts memory.
Exercise has the potential to prevent more premature deaths than any other single treatment, with none of the side effects of medication. Unfortunately though so much exercise is a misguided effort through lack of the right information.
Throughout our evolution as humans we have been physically active. Our ancestors chased prey as hunter-gatherers, or fled from being hunted by predators. They did not choose to exercise; it was a necessary and continuing part of life, even into old age. We have lost that need and imperative to exercise in modern life. We believe we have a choice - that we can choose to exercise or not. Exercise is not a choice but a necessity if we are to maintain health and to keep all systems in the body working effectively.
The most common excuse people give for not exercising is that "they don't have time". This response came from a country (USA) where the citizens spend an average of 8 hours a day watching TV!
But what is enough exercise? The Exercise is Medicine study from the US prescribes 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity activity such as brisk walking, ballroom dancing or gardening, or 75 minutes of more vigorous activity such as cycling, running, swimming. That is half an hour five times a week or 15 minutes of intense exercise five times a week.
The study shows that this weekly dose;
2. FOOD CHOICES
Just as damaging for our health as lack of exercise, are the food choices we make in modern life. The same list of medical problems and diseases is associated with ill advised food choices; obesity, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, cancer, osteoporosis, Alzheimer's. These conditions have all been seen as different but modern research now suggests that there is a common underlying factor - "chronic inflammation".
Exercise stimulates the body to produce anti-inflammatory substances, but your food choices can also reduce the inflammatory load on the body. The simplest advice is to switch to a low GI diet or the Mediterranean diet.
Another interesting, and simple, approach which has also been shown to improve many different biomarkers (blood tests for disease) was presented in the BBC2 Horizon programme "Eat, fast, live longer", by Michael Mosley. Several of our patients have been following this intermittent fasting approach with considerable success. and have found it easy to stick to.
Information about Food and Exercise will follow both in our Blog over the coming weeks and months but also as part as a formal coached programme available in the Practice.
3. MANAGE STRESS
One of the best ways we know of managing stress is the Wellness Response. Regular practice of this simple breathing technique reduces the stress hormone, cortisol, and boosts levels of DHEA the so-called anti-aging hormone.
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