Here’s something I hear often from people in their 50s and beyond I get to chat with: I never thought of aging being the way it is. Meaning: our bodies change in various ways as we age.
And here’s something else: we want to either reverse aging or fight it. Spoiler alert: it’s not possible (for now anyway).
Sure, there is gene therapy that can/will eventually help lower the risk of chronic diseases associated with aging, and of course, there is cosmetic surgery to erase (temporarily) some aging signs off of someone’s face or body.
But… that’s still not what I think we should invest our energy in. Aging is a complex process, and though we have deciphered some of its intricacies, we have a long way to go to understand it fully. But I think that’s not the point for most people anyway.
Most people I know are less interested in how the aging process works, and more in how to prevent aches, pains, and of course, the dreaded chronic conditions associated with aging. But before we talk about that, let’s take a peek at the most common things most of us experinece with aging.
So, in a nutshell…
What aging is:
- Loss of muscle mass and strength (and weight gain, mostly due to gaining fat tissue)
- Changes in gut microbiota diversity (leads to digestive issues such as constipation)
- Loss of bone density
- Increased risk of high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and cancer.
- Skin and oral microbiome changes (hence increased risk of gum disease and tooth loss)
- Memory glitches and cognitive “hiccups”
- An inclination towards slowing down/being sedentary.
What healthy aging is:
- Consistency with movement (cardio and resistance training) to mitigate loss of muscle mass and strength, and bone density loss.
- Revising eating habits to optimize digestion. Adopting nutrition habits with consideration for the life stage you are in to help reduce the risk of chronic disease.
- Engaging the brain with new learning and social activities.
- Being sun-cautious and consistent with skin and oral care (and yes, wrinkles are normal!)
What healthy aging is not (no matter how sparkling the marketing on it):
- Downing expensive supplements and hoping for the best.
- Spending money on ‘miracle cures and anti-aging products.
- Doing the same things we did in our 20s, eating the same foods, and trying to squeeze into ‘then’ clothes.
Bottom line… how about if we think of aging (healthily) this way:
- Hard work (it pays off big time!)
- Choosing to love life and ourselves through healthy nutrition and wiser life habits.
- Being active, physically, and mentally.
- Laughing often.
- Being active socially, hanging out and making the most of each day (another way of looking at it: be present each day)
- Embracing the aging process but having a say in it.