Tips for maintaining a healthy lifestyle

Senior couple aging and life plannig financesAs the natural process of aging takes effect, there are many simple ways to keep you looking youthful and feeling strong.  There are three main culprits for aging: heart disease, cancer, and chronic stress.  Understanding these three factors and how you can look out for them can lead you to a healthier lifestyle.  Heart disease is the number one killer of men in the U.S., largely due to unhealthy habits such as smoking or eating a high sodium diet.  Cancer is the second-leading cause of death, and, believe it or not, your diet plays a role in preventing cancer just as avoiding carcinogens does.  Finally, chronic stress hinders your immune system response, making you more susceptible to infection and disease.  Here are a few simple ways to strengthen your body to prevent these three issues.

First and foremost, there are two easy ways to prevent heart disease, eating healthy and exercising.  It’s a no brainer: Include fish in your meals each week.  In fact, cold-water fish like salmon or tuna are high in heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.  Studies suggest that eating fish two or three times a week may reduce heart disease.  Furthermore, eating fish even just once a week can make your RealAge up to 1.8 years younger.  However, if you don’t like seafood, there are other ways to reduce your risk of heart disease, such as meeting your daily requirement of magnesium intake.  By consuming at least 400 mg of magnesium a day, research shows that you will have a lower risk of heart disease compared to those who consume less than that amount.  Good sources of magnesium include spinach and almonds.  Another way to avoid heart disease is exercise.  A constant physical activity program that builds stamina, strength, and flexibility will keep your body in good shape, feeling young, and lowering the risk of heart disease.  While this may seem like a lot of work, it does not mean you have to spend hours in the gym.  Rather than lifting weights in the gym, you can lower the risk of heart disease by engaging in leisure-time physical activities such as taking a bike ride or going on a brisk walk.  Just two hours a week of leisure physical activity can reduce your risk of heart disease by up to 61 percent.

While heart disease is your main concern as you get older, you also have a higher risk of cancer.  While cancer comes in many forms, there are also a few simple ways in which you can reduce your risk.  For starters, it is important to get enough Vitamin D.  In fact, lack of vitamin D, the sunshine vitamin, has been linked to colon cancer, and may contribute to other cancers as well.  While your body produces a majority of its own vitamin D from the sun’s UVB rays, consuming too much of the sun’s rays can be dangerous.  However, you can take a daily vitamin D supplement to counteract a potential lack of natural sun intake.  If you are younger than 60, take 1,000 international units (IU) of supplemental vitamin D3.  If you are older than 60, take 1,200 IU.  Another means to reducing your risk of cancer is by eating more antioxidants.  This means filling your plate with colorful fruits and veggies.  Think of antioxidants as cancer-fighting nutrients.  Thus, by eating fruits and vegetables, you will be consuming fewer calories, which will keep your weight in check, as well as stocking up on said cancer-fighting nutrients.  A good rule of thumb to follow is the brighter the color of vegetables and fruits, the more antioxidants are packed inside.  This does not mean antioxidants prevent cancer entirely, but the combinations found in whole foods can be extremely beneficial.  Most studies show a link between eating a diet with more fruit and vegetables and a lower risk of lung, oral, esophageal, stomach, and colon cancers.

As I have talked about in previous blogs, sun screen is very important when it comes to your health.  As a rule of thumb, you should apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen (SPF 30 or higher) to your face and exposed body areas 30 minutes before you go outside.  Additionally, you should cover up with a hat, long sleeves, or sunglasses if you intend on spending hours upon hours outside in the summer.  By minimizing your sun exposure, your skin will be healthier while you age, promoting a younger looking body.  Finally, it is vital that you reduce stress for a healthy work-life balance.  In order to do this, I recommend leaving your job stress at the office.  A study shows that stress at work may be even more detrimental to your personal relationships than work exhaustion, and chronic stress may increase your risk of heart disease.  Furthermore, fostering supportive, close personal relationships can help reduce stress and slow aging.  An easy way to bridge the gap between work stress and home life is by practicing stress management techniques such as meditation and deep breathing, which you can do at the end of your work day.

Aging is unavoidable.  However, you can decide your own fate when it comes to the health of your body.  By following simple suggestions such as limiting your exposure to the sun, consuming antioxidants, and eating healthy, cold-water fish, you can ensure a reduced risk of heart disease, cancer, and stress related illnesses.  In doing so, you set a good example for your friends and family, as well as enjoying a long, youthful life.

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