In 2017, 1 in 7 people in Australia were over the age of 65, equating to 3.8 million people. This is projected to rise to over 8 million by 2057.
The World Health Organisation reports that healthy ageing is about creating the environment and the opportunities that enable people to be and do what they value throughout their lives. It describes the need for ‘healthy functional ability’ in order to meet basic needs, to be able to learn, grown and make decisions, be mobile, build and maintain relationships and contribute to society.
So what defines our age?
There are 3 things:
1. Chronological age – This represents the years that we have been alive. It’s obviously a factor that we have no control over.
2. Biological age – refers to the way that we age. This is our physiological age and it is influenced by our diet and lifestyle including our exposure to environmental toxins as well as genetic factors which influence our body’s capacity to detoxify and regenerate. These genetic factors can be altered depending on factors such as viral infections, exposure to radiation as well as some chemicals.
3. The other factor which defines our age is our social and emotional mindset. Our experiences and the way that we process our emotions effects this, and so does our diet and lifestyle. These factors have an effect on our neurotransmitter and hormone production. Neurotransmitters are the chemicals that talk to our nervous system and these are made up of amino acids (building blocks of protein) and micronutrients such as B vitamins and magnesium. Emotional and mental wellbeing is vital if we are to experience a good quality of life as we get age, with conditions such as anxiety and depression leading to poorer health outcomes.
What can we do to support healthy ageing?
Here’s 4 simple things you can do:
*Eat a whole food diet. The Mediterranean style diet has been studied for its positive effects on longevity with populations who consume this diet experiencing lower incidences of cardiovascular disease and metabolic conditions such as obesity and type 2 diabetes. The diet focuses on including brightly coloured, fresh fruit and vegetables in all meals with smaller amounts of whole grains and protein such as fish and poultry. It also includes good sources of fats like olive oil and avocado.
*Keep moving. Regular, moderate exercise improves cardiovascular function and weight control, with walking, swimming and cycling being good choices. Aim for 30-40 minutes of moderate exercise on most days but at least 5 days per week. Exercise is also associated with an increased feeling of well-being and lower rates of depression.
*Stay social. Interacting with other people is associated with increased wellbeing. Part of the success of the Mediterannean style diet is thought to be because the social aspect of food is as important as the food itself. Spending time with friends and family is good for our mental and emotional health and can help to reduce cortisol production.
*Get a good night’s sleep. Regular, good quality sleep is vital for wellbeing. Setting a regular bed time and ensuring that your bedroom is dark, quiet and comfortable can help you to go to sleep. Limiting your exposure to electronic devices at least 2 hours before you go to bed will help also as they can interfere with your melatonin production that is needed for sleep onset. Poor sleep is associated with increased cortisol as well as symptoms such as anxiety, depression and weight gain.
If you would like to optimise your wellbeing as you age, now might be a good time to assess your current diet and lifestyle. Make an appointment to discuss your individual health needs with Larissa Jane Naturopathy today on 0407 489 363