The world’s oldest living person is 117 year old Kane Tanaka from Japan. She’s still a few years off the record for the world’s oldest person though, which is held by French woman Jeanne Calment who died in 1997 at the age of 122! However, these people are definitely the exception with average life expectancy in the UK currently 80.96 years old. But is there anything we can do to live longer? Is it possible to beat the ageing process?
What can we do to beat the ageing process?
From 3D printing new organs, to altering the DNA of bacteria in our microbiome, scientists and doctors are working hard to find ways to slow down ageing so we can all live longer. But while these developments are a few years off yet there are some things we can do now to help beat the ageing process.
Get outside (and get your Vitamin D!)
Stress is a major contributor to ageing – it leads to increased heart rate and blood pressure, which can then contribute to other illnesses. Getting outside in the fresh air can do wonders to relieve stress, and as an added bonus being outdoors will also make sure you get your daily dose of vitamin D.
Studies have shown that having higher levels of vitamin D age more slowly than those with lower levels. From March to September in the UK we can get most of the vitamin D we need by getting out in the sunshine for just short periods each day. Of course you must also be careful not to get sunburned and should use sunscreen for any prolonged periods outside.
If you find it difficult to get out and about on your own then there are plenty of things out there that could help. My mother-in-law uses an electric tricycle to get around on days out, or you could try one of the Fenetic Wellbeing Mobility Scooters.
You don’t have to be running marathons to feel the benefits of staying active. However, regular cardio exercise (the kind that gets your heart rate up) strengthens the heart and lungs, and may even slow down the cognitive decline that usually accompanies ageing.
Yoga is also an excellent way to build strength and flexibility as well as helping to calm the mind. I go to yoga classes at least twice a week and some of the people in my classes are 30 years older than me and still practising with the ease of someone in their 20s!
Change when you eat
I’ve written about Intermittent Fasting a few times before. There are so many health benefits to limiting when you eat each day. Following a 16:8 protocol is a great place to start – fasting for 16 hours and eating during an 8 hour window.
Fasting also ramps up a process called autophagy. During autophagy cells in the body recycle and renew their content which can in turn slow down the ageing process. There’s still a lot of research that needs to be done to discover exactly how autophagy works and how fasting can increase the rate at which it happens. But, from what we know so far it is definitely a tool to consider in your anti-ageing toolbox.
Look after your teeth
It seems that there may be a link between poor dental health and age-related problems such as cardiovascular disease, stroke, and diabetes. This is possibly because bacteria from oral infections may get into the blood and increase inflammation in other parts of the body. In addition, recent studies indicate that gum disease may be linked to a higher risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s.
So make sure you brush your teeth twice a day and have regular check ups with your dentist.
Look after your gut health
Bacteria in our gut make up what is called the gut microbiome. There are over 100 billion bacteria in every gram of intestinal content, with the bacteria in the human gut weighing as much as 4lb!
Studies have associated microbes with a lower incidence of cancer, heart disease, liver disease, diabetes, asthma, depression, autism, irritable bowel syndrome, colic, Parkinson’s and many allergies. However, much more research is required to be certain of their role in keeping us healthy and slowing down ageing.
You can look after your microbiome by eating a wide variety of plant based foods. Prebiotic and probiotic foods may also be helpful. The Clever Guts Diet by Dr Michael Mosely is a fascinating read if you want to know more about how to get a healthy gut. There is also lots of information on his website here.
Although ageing is inevitable for all of us there are lots of things we can do to slow the process down. These are just a few of them – do you do any other these? Or is there something else you do to beat ageing?