Do you remember how you felt in your late 20s? This is the time in which you started forgetting things and had to make a point to write them down. When you progressed into your 30s, aging really starts catching up with you. Basically, your brainpower starts to weaken (Managan, 2015). You’re simply not as fast as you used to be – mentally and physically.
Aching muscles, sore back, cracking joints, weight gain – Sound familiar? Humans have been trying to prevent or slow down aging for centuries now. Attempts to prevent the appearance of aging with new skincare products is a billion-dollar industry. As individuals start to approach their 40s, these symptoms of pain become more noticeable, and if nothing is done to remedy these issues, the symptoms will become more pronounced as time goes on.
On a personal note, I can relate to these aforementioned ailments. It seems as though age 40 was the magic number in which my metabolism decided to take a vacation – a permanent one. I gained 10 lbs. that year, and by the time I reached age 45, I was at my heaviest weight ever. In 2016, I was diagnosed with a herniated disc in my neck. In 2018, I was diagnosed with a bulging disc in my lower back. Now, looking back, could all these issues have been prevented? Absolutely! I knew I had to make a huge change in order to live a longer, more fulfilling life. In the summer of 2018, I decided to start a new journey with the hopes of slowing down the pains that come along with the aging process.
5 ways to fix health-related issues
Think about it: how many times have you made excuse after excuse for not exercising? I know I’m guilty of it from time to time. Did you know that people who sit a lot every day have an increased risk of diabetes, heart disease, and an untimely death (Biswas et al., 2015)? Even if you don’t have time for 30 straight minutes of cardio, you can still increase activity:
- Try to get up from your desk at work once every hour and move around for 5 minutes.
- Do some stretches while you’re at it.
- Consider low impact activities such as swimming, rowing, or simple step-ups in which you just step up and down off stairs (Brakeville, 2018) if you already have lower back issues or other medical complications that prevent you from being more active.
Look for activities that you can incorporate regularly from work and home. The goal is to increase your heart rate which increases your energy level. An added benefit – losing some excess weight allows for more mobility, therefore, more enjoyment in life.
Yes, I know that drinking water can be very boring. I mean it has no flavor, right? If this is an issue for you, just add some lemon or cucumber and think about all the benefits you will receive from drinking more water:
- It can give you energy. Who couldn’t use more of that?
- Since dehydration can lead to fatigue, it can also indirectly affect your mood; therefore, drinking more water could bring your spirits up (Mcintosh, 2018).
- If you’ve experienced dehydration, then you know that nasty headaches come along with it, thus another reason to stay hydrated.
- If you have issues with constipation as most aging folks do, then water is a good remedy (2018).
- Water helps increase your metabolism, thereby, supporting weight loss.
- It also helps with easing sore joints by providing some lubrication to those areas (2018).
I could go on and on about the benefits of drinking water. It really is a necessary survival tool if you want to feel more energetic, lose weight, and feel less pain.
Eat more protein and say NO to sugar
Obesity is at the heart of most medical issues (e.g. high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, mobility issues, etc.). Everyone knows that metabolism slows down as we get older, but if we don’t regularly exercise or eat healthy, we will be in for a rude awakening. It will become a huge struggle to make an immediate lifestyle change if positive changes aren’t already being implemented. Metabolism is like our avenue to feeling more energetic. According to Dr. Ananya Mandal (2019), metabolism can be broken down into two different categories: catabolism and anabolism. Catabolism is the process of breaking down molecules to gain more energy and, as we age, this process slows down.
To increase your metabolism and start seeing the benefits of losing weight, it’s a good idea to begin a high protein diet and cut out sugar. Sugar is one of the major culprits in the increase of weight gain. The body burns carbs and sugars before it starts burning fat. When a person eats meals that contain carbs (e.g. pasta, rice, bread), the body converts the carbs to glucose which becomes the body’s main source of energy (Gustin, 2018). But when the carb intake is significantly reduced, then the body start burning off fat for energy. You see how this works? If the body is burning off fat rather than glucose, then you start losing weight.
According to Pesta and Samuel (2014), satiety or feeling full after eating was greater for those who ate 60% protein compared to 19% protein during their meal. Feeling full after a meal prevents a person from consuming unhealthy foods in between meals. A high-protein diet doesn’t just include meats; it also includes vegetables that are high in protein, such as broccoli, peas, edamame, brussel sprouts, avocado, and asparagus (Chertoff, 2016). Also, according to Dr. Mandal (2019), “proteins are the main tissue builders in the body”, therefore, proteins are necessary for proper nutritional effects (para. 10).
Take care of your skin
If you are middle-aged like myself, then you’ve probably noticed a few wrinkles appearing on your forehead and around your eyes (i.e. crow’s feet). Yes, this is one of the first signs of aging besides the nice little gray hairs that have come in over the years. The signs of aging become even more prominent if you’ve spent a substantial amount of time in the sun when you were younger. I was one of those people that didn’t listen to my mother about lathering myself up with sunscreen; now, I’m seeing the damage. Enough sun damage can destroy skin pigmentation and cause brown spots. It’s also important to be aware of signs related to skin cancer. If caught soon enough, there is a good prognosis. Be sure to see your doctor anytime you see an unfamiliar brown or red spot that appears on your body. Also, when you go in for your annual physical, ask them to do a skin check over your entire body.
If you want to take care of your skin and slow down the appearance of aging from this point further, then you might want to try the new anti-aging formulas on the market. Retinol and Hyaluronic Acid are known to tighten wrinkles and lighten dark circles. Also, a consistent skincare regimen is beneficial to improving your skin’s long-term appearance.
Relieve stress in your life
I could write an entire book on ways to effectively relieve stress. In fact, there are several books written about this exact topic. But what works for one person may not work for another. The fact of the matter is that stress increases the aging process. Stress can impact one’s health in many ways. It can cause gastrointestinal issues, heart problems, high blood pressure, and even cause weight gain due to an increase in cortisol levels. Besides the medical issues, stress can cause serious mental health issues, such as anxiety and depression.
Take a look at your life right now and think about the area that is causing you to lose sleep at night. What is causing you to feel a knot in the pit of your stomach on a daily basis? Is it your job, your children, financial issues? Now, try to brainstorm about ways you can omit that stress from your life. If it’s something beyond your control, then determine effective ways to release pent-up stress. I’ve already discussed the benefits of exercising, but if that is not an option, then consider these stress reducers:
- Take supplements (e.g., lemon balm, Omega-3 fatty acids, Valerian root) (Jennings, 2018).
- Use essential oils that are meant to improve sleep and decrease anxiety (e.g., lavender, rose, orange blossom, peppermint). These can be used by placing a drop on your wrist and inhaling the scent or by using an aroma diffuser.
- Reduce stimulant intake, such as caffeinated beverages.
- Spend time with positive people in your life.
- Find a Yoga class.
- Make a to-do list to stay organized and less distracted.
- Practice deep breathing.
- Listen to calming music.
- Find something to laugh about. Laughter is a good way to relieve tension (Jennings, 2018).
The aging process is inevitable. The goal here is to begin tackling the pieces we have control over early, and to build a lifestyle that will support ongoing health so you can live your best life.
By Sonja Bethune, Psy.D.
Biswas, A., Oh, P., Faulkner, G. E., Bajaj, R. R., Silver, M.A., Mitchelle, M.S., & Alter, D.A. (2015). Sedentary time and its association with risk for disease incidence, mortality, and hospitalization in adults: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Annals of Internal Medicine, 162(2), 123-132. doi: 10.7326/M14-1651.
Brakeville, R. (2018, March 8). Does your workout really work? Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/ss/slideshow-7-most-effective-exercises
Chertoff, J. (2016, March 11). 19 high-protein vegetables and how to eat more of them. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/health/food-nutrition/19-high-protein-vegetables#1
Gustin, A. (2018, August 3). How does the ketogenic diet work? Retrieved from https://perfectketo.com/how-does-the-ketogenic-diet-work/
Jennings, K. (2018). 16 simple ways to relieve stress and anxiety. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/16-ways-relieve-stress-anxiety
Mandal, A. (2019, February 26). What is metabolism? Retrieved from https://www.news-medical.net/life-sciences/What-is-Metabolism.aspx
Mangan, P. D. (2015). Stop the clock: The optimal anti-aging strategy. Los Angeles, CA: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.
Mcintosh, J. (2018, July 16). Fifteen benefits of drinking water. Medical News Today. Retrieved from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/290814.php
Pesta, D. H., & Samuel, V. T. (2014). A high-protein diet for reducing body fat: Mechanisms and possible caveats. Nutrition & Metabolism, 11, 53. doi: 10.1186/1743-7075-11-53