Positive Aging – How To Grow Old Gracefully?Potentially We All Can Slow Down Our Aging Process
It’s a universal truth that come one day, we all will have to leave our mortal souls. However, we all live as we are destined to live forever and that is one of the ironies of life. Therefore, it is important that we make the most of by learning and growing by experiencing new things in life. But often most of us run after wrong things thereby wasting a lot of precious time. Researchers view that we all can prolong the aging process and add at least 15 to 20 years if only we knew how to live peacefully and successfully.
So how can we manage aging if one day, we all will grow old? Well, there are numerous ways in which we can manage our aging. Aging is an outcome of complex changes in our normal biological functions but our lifestyle choices can make all the difference on how we age say from 7-15 years in a single decade. Obviously, some age much faster than others but many age-related physical symptoms become very prominent in some people, while in others they appear quite later.
There are many reasons why we age. However, three well-established triggers of the aging process are:
· Shortening of telomeres and one of the tips at each end of chromosomes in our cells
· Second is the deterioration of the mechanism that repairs damage to DNA
· Lastly, accumulation of free radicals in the body.
When cells divide, the chromosomes are replicated and each daughter cell inherits an identical pair. Each time a cell copies itself, the DNA stays the, same but the telomeres get shorter. A time comes when telomeres get too short to do their job, causing our cells to age and stop functioning properly. Therefore, telomeres act as the aging clock in every cell. How telomeres work and why some people age faster than others are still a mystery. Further, as we age, the environment and normal cellular processes cause damage to our genes. This damage compounds over the course of life and is known to accelerate aging.
Regarding free radical theory, many of the changes that occur as our bodies’ age are caused by free radicals. Damage to DNA, protein cross-linking, and some other changes are attributed to free radicals. Over time, this damage accumulates, resulting in aging. That’s why, anti-oxidants are becoming very popular in our diet. They neutralise free radicals in our body.
There is no doubt that we have tremendous power to slow down our aging process. Many variables that influence how long we live can be altered. Every day, new research is published on how to slow down aging. There is a 2019 study that establishes that positive thinking can result in an eleven to fifteen percent longer lifespan and can increase our likelihood of living to eighty-five or older.
The first and the foremost requirement for longevity is that we remain active throughout life. One undisputed fact about the modern lifestyle is that we humans are becoming less and less active. The majority still don’t move or walk sufficiently during the day. Insufficient physical activity is a leading risk for many lifestyle diseases, such as diabetes, heart and lung diseases, and cancer, and has a negative effect on mental health and quality of life.
Recently, the World Health Organisation (WHO) released a report ranking countries based on how physically active their citizens are. Surprisingly, India ranked 117 in the list of 168 nations, with 34% of our population being far too sedentary. Medical science agrees: there is no substitute for physical exercise for those seeking a long and healthy life. Also weighing in on longevity-friendly measures, Harvard Medical School, USA, outlines the following five mandatory actions (other than the obvious avoidance of smoking):
1. Regular physical and mental exercise/activities daily
2. Eat a healthy diet rich in whole grains, vegetables and fruits, and substitute healthier monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats for unhealthy saturated fats and trans fats. Also eat less! Studies have confirmed that eating less helps reduce signs of aging.
3. Maintain a healthy weight and body shape.
4. Challenge your mind. Keep learning and trying new activities (to limit cognitive decline).
Latest medical research has established that to live longer, we must eat less, means consume far less calories, what we at present take. The calorie restriction increases our life span. Though our tendency is to eat more. To ensure this, intermittent fasting is becoming a latest fad. It means we give a long gap during the day. There is one popular “the 16/8 method” for fasting. This method involves fasting every day for 14 to 16 hours and restricting our daily eating window to 8 to 10 hours. Within the eating window, we can fit in two, three, or may be even more meals.
To maintain a good balance of healthy bacteria in our gut, first of all, we must avoid excess alcohol and the diet high in saturated fat and animal protein should be avoided as much as possible. Then we are required to take prebiotic and probiotic supplements to help improve our gut health. To ensure a healthy population of intestinal bacteria, the following five actions are very helpful:
1. Eat a wide range of whole, plant-based foods
2. Include more fibre in your diet
3. Avoid highly processed food
4.Consume more probiotic and prebiotic foods
5. Take a daily supplement of probiotics
It’s beyond any doubt that meditation surely helps in slowing the aging process. As we have seen earlier, the shortening of telomeres is the main physical reason behind aging, and one of the main reasons behind this shortening is mental stress. Numerous studies have established that meditation practice helps reduce mental stress to a great extent. Stress is one of the greatest contributors to lifestyle diseases, the most outstanding being obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular ills.
Many feel that ‘being physically and mentally active’ is an essential ingredient of recipe required for positive and successful life. For that we need to avoid, at all cost, chronic boredom and loneliness, which are both emerging an epidemic sickness of modern society. It’s an unpleasant state of mind. We have nothing interesting to do. No excitement, no interest in surroundings during those moments. Most of us do fear to face ‘boring’ and lonely moments.
Especially for elderly, it’s extremely necessary to be constantly in touch with family members, making new friends, nurturing old ones, learning new skills, playing games, spending time for cultivating passions and so on. These activities will keep them away from destructive feelings of boredom and loneliness and directly contributing to their positive aging.