Put simply, anti-ageing is all about good health. In some ways we are similar to a motor car or a house – with good maintenance we can look good and keep going for years and years. Anti-ageing is not about getting testosterone shots, taking human growth hormone, nips and tucks or botox. No matter how good looking a person is on the outside, without a good diet and lifestyle the body will still age on the inside.
Some research tells us that the length of life is not greatly different in those who have abused or looked after their health but what is different is the quality of life. So it is a matter of deciding if you want to be playing your favourite sport or doing your favourite leisure activity up till the day you die; or do you want to spend the last 10 years having numerous hospital visits, being immobile or perhaps suffering with a degenerative disease such as Alzheimer’s?
Other research into the life of centenarians however, shows that people that live to a great age have some common factors in their lives. Firstly most centenarians are extremely active all their lives (doing farming work daily). They tend to be very social, living with their extended families and having regular contact with friends. They eat large amounts of freshly picked vegetables and fruit and smaller quantities of meat. Stress tends to be lower with time set aside for spiritual rituals and community. I am sure some of us would like to change our genes or our family health history. Unfortunately you cannot change your genetics, but what you can change is the expression of your genes. And it is the expression of your genes that is vitally important.
A healthy diet and lifestyle positively influences gene expression and subsequently turns down disease expression (i.e. reduces your risk of disease). If there is one word that you should become aware on your path towards health and longevity, it is “inflammation”. Think of inflammation as “a fire within”. Inflammation affects your genes in a negative way and predicts the appearance and progression of disease. Inflammation is the leading cause of ill health and death. It is the trigger for heart disease, pain, skin problems, cancer and more.
There are numerous causes of inflammation including:
1. Diet – excess sugar intake;
- excess refined starches (cereals and grains)
- excess saturated fat and trans fatty acids
- poor omega 3 intake
- poor antioxidant intake
2. Excess body fat or obesity
3. Stress (physical, including injury or mental)
4. Exercise deficiency
6. Gut barrier problems i.e. dysbiosis & irritable bowel syndrome
If you are truly concerned about maintaining your health and want to look and feel young for as long as possible, there are a number of things that you must do.
1. Ensure you are getting regular exercise, enough to get your heart rate up and make you feel puffy. Despite what some of my patients try to tell me, this does not include running around after the kids or having sex!! This means 40 t0 50 minutes of aerobic exercise 5 days a week. Aerobic exercise includes fast walking, jogging, cycling, swimming, rowing or playing an active sport such as netball or football. If this is too much initially then, set yourself a goal for when you will achieve this – add a little bit more time to your exercise program every day.
2. Eat plenty of vegetables especially the green leafy ones. You should have around 4 or 5 serves of vegetables daily. Enjoy 1 to 2 pieces of fruit daily also (keep is to one if you are over the recommended body weight).
3. Increase your proteins until they make up around 30% of your diet. Decrease your carbohydrates to 40% of your diet. A good way to do this is to get rid of all breads, biscuits, cakes and cereals – you will be amazed how by doing just this, you will decrease your total carbohydrate intake and trans fatty acids. A bonus is you will probably decrease excess body fat also – another cause of inflammation. For most people breakfast is the worst meal of the day. Try replacing cereals and toast with a protein shake or an egg or two (yes eggs, they do not cause cholesterol problems and are a fantastic food).
4. Decrease sugary foods. This is easy if you are sticking to vegetables and proteins such as fish, dairy, cheese and moderate meat intake. One of the worst habits in society today is consuming soft drinks and cordials. Try cooled herb teas or watered down juice. Read the labels of all processed foo