Tips for slowing ageing
It’s impossible to not age. Well, that may or may not actually be true. There are plenty of organisms that apparently never age. Many, admittedly, are slow, slimy creatures at the bottom of the cold, dark sea, or hibernating in the tundra of the North Pole. Moreover, technically speaking, one could say that children are not really ageing in as much as they are developing.
Indeed, ageing only becomes evident much later. When, our hair starts to go grey, we get more aches and pains, and don’t feel quite as sprightly as before. Nonetheless, the effects of ageing, on a cellular level, are not immediately perceptible or visible, even though they are taking place.
Let us say that cellular ageing is a continuous graph curve that starts just after puberty, when it is pretty much totally flat and horizontal. At this point, a twenty or so year old isn’t ageing at all, as far as science or society can tell.However, shortly afterwards, the curve starts to bend ever so slightly upwards, meaning that the pace of ageing is gathering gradually. As early as the middle to late twenties, it’s clearly scientifically measurable. Past forty, fifty, sixty, the acceleration begins to become oh so keenly perceptible in our everyday lives. And by seventy and eighty, the speed is ever greater, the curve becoming almost vertical, inevitably so.
That said, not everyone’s curve is the same. Some have much flatter curves than others, more gentle slopes into old age. And we can affect the slope of that curve through our lifestyle, and throughout our lifetime. Note here that the goal of slowing ageing is not to live longer, but rather to live better for longer. This is the real meaning of flattening the curve.
Flattening your curve
You should start at the earliest age possible, just as you mean to go on. And all the old adages apply. A good diet, regular exercise, and adequate sleep. These are indispensable.
Food, glorious whole foods
The first is the trickiest to improve on. Though the quality of the food we eat has undoubtedly improved since the industrial revolution, above all in terms of variety, much of what is available in our supermarkets is highly processed. The more industrially processed food is, the unhealthier it has been shown to be. This is due to four main factors:
- The nutrient quality in industrial food is degraded the more it is processed and stored.
- Industrial production and processing may introduce man-made toxins into the food.
- Processed food tends to have more of the things that taste good, but are not actually good for us, such as sugar, unhealthy fats, and salt.
- The processing of food tends to remove all bacteria from it, both good and bad. In fact, our guts need plenty of good bacteria, to keep the bad bacteria in check.
Thus, making a pizza from brown whole wheat flour and fresh tomatoes, and topping it with greens, dug preferably from your own garden, or organically produced, is certainly healthier than grabbing a packaged pizza and chucking it in the oven.
Where and how to exercise
Talking of good and bad bacteria, and going outdoors to the garden, studies show that spending more time in nature correlates with better health and longevity. This is not only because being out in the open gets us to breathe more deeply and exercise more, but also because we are exposed to those good bacteria we mentioned above. In addition to a little more natural sunlight, essential for the body to produce its own vitamin D.
As for exercising itself, for long time, it was thought that gentle, aerobic activity was the best sort for keeping you in shape. However, opinion has changed. We need lots of gentle exercise, for sure. But we also need vigorous exercise and short bursts at high intensity, with scientists underlining that having more muscle mass improves metabolic function at the cellular level. This is especially important since, as you age, you lose as much as 5% of your muscle mass every ten years, even if you exercise your heart out. That means as much as 30% over your lifetime.
Sleep is key
As for sleep, let’s face it, if you eat well, exercise regularly, and spend more time outdoors, you naturally sleep better. However, it’s not always about sleeping more.
Both under-sleeping and, yes, over-sleeping have been shown to cause imbalances at the cellular health that can push your body towards a pre-diabetic state, putting you at higher risk of eventually developing full-on diabetes. Other dire consequences that you are more likely to develop are chronic inflammation, obesity, infertility, heart disease, and mental decline. So, just don’t oversleep and neither forget to sleep, because as for everything balance is always key.