Aging. We all age. If we are not aging, we are no longer living. Sure, aging has some ‘inevitables’ – wrinkles and age spots, thinner skin, greying hair, visual changes, and hearing difficulties. Aging also has some ‘most-likelies’ – decreased muscle mass (about 10% per decade in our senior years), decreased range of motion in our joints, balance challenges, slowed metabolism with subsequent weight gain and for women, some crazy hormone fluctuations.
We can and most definitely should manage the ‘most likelies’ of aging. We can strength train to counter or slow the rate of muscle loss. We can start a daily stretching or yoga practice to keep our joints nimble. We can work on our balance. (Simply stand on one foot while watching television or reading, it’s harder than you might think.) We can monitor our intake and choose a diet packed with unprocessed, nutrient dense whole foods. We can get up off the couch and walk out and about the neighborhood – no need to run a marathon. We can limit alcohol and refrain from smoking.
These things – muscle loss, weight gain, decreased mobility are mere inconveniences relative to what really terrifies us…. dementia. As we age we are turning to the marvels of medicine for therapy or cure. I think we will be sadly disappointed, though we likely won’t recall our disappointment. I guess that is a bit of a bonus.
Some holistic and naturopathic doctors are referring to dementia as type 3 diabetes, implying there is an abnormality in glucose regulation contributing to our cognitive decline. Given the rampant increase in obesity, type 2 diabetes and dementia in the past 50 years, since the low-fat, high carb indoctrination of the 70s and 80’s I would not be surprised if there is some causal relationship. Time will tell.
Medical research will figure it out over the next 5 decades – maybe. But it sure is a quagmire of conflicting evidence right now. I can attest to significantly increased mental clarity over the past year with the elimination of refined sugar and flour from my diet. And if elimination of refined sugar and flour is responsible for my increased clarity, sign me up! If it might, even remotely, delay or eliminate the possibility of developing the non-Alzheimer-dementia that prevails in my family, I am all in!
One additional protective factor for aging well is connection. The more social connection we maintain, the happier and healthier we remain, despite other detrimental health/lifestyle choices. Social isolation is toxic. Studies of citizens in the blue zones (pockets of the world with the longest longevity and the most centenarians) identified connection to family, friends, or community as a key determining factor in that longevity. Loneliness/isolation is as bad for your health.
Sitting, smoking alone drinking alcohol while snacking is on the avoid list! Instead break a sweat once a day with a friend then share a homemade meal made with unprocessed whole foods while laughing wholeheartedly!
We do not have to fear aging. Accept inevitables, but commit to minimizing the ‘most likelies’ as much as possible. Shed some excess weight, don’t smoke, move more, strengthen and stretch your muscle and joints, drink moderately or less, keep connected to friends and family, eliminate sugar/flour and eat a diet containing nutrient dense whole foods. Start today. Don’t wait until your 7th decade.
Buff it up,
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to Buff Up Your Brain? Ready to, lose weight and the brain fog? Ready to polish up your thoughts? Let’s chat.