how to look and feel YOUNGER

Think about the fight against age­ing and it’s Bo­tox that comes to mind but age­ing well, ul­ti­mately, has more to do with be­ing healthy and strong than with cos­metic in­ter­ven­tions. It’s fab­u­lous to look 40 when you are 60 – but you want to be able to move l

LOSE IT! - - Lifestyle -

we’re sure Tina Turner and Julie Christie have bril­liant genes. They must do: they look nat­u­ral and young, though they’re both 77 years old. Per­haps they get some highly skilled help but, says Dr Sara Got­tfried in her new book, Younger, what’s most likely to be the se­cret be­hind their en­vi­able looks and style is that they live well. This is be­cause up to 90% of the signs of age­ing and dis­ease are caused by life­style choices, not genes.

Dr Got­tfried is a cham­pion of ‘healthspan’ as op­posed to life­span. Healthspan is the time you are dis­ease free and healthy, able to en­joy life fully ir­re­spec­tive of your age. Ac­cord­ing to Dr Got­tfried it is fac­tors in our diet, life­style and en­vi­ron­ment that in­flu­ence how many years of good health we en­joy and the rate at which we age.

Dr Got­tfried has coined the term ‘in­flam­mag­ing’: it is in­flam­ma­tion in your body that causes ac­cel­er­ated age­ing (and dis­ease). The quick­est ways to age, there­fore, are to gain weight, lose mus­cle mass, mess up your blood sugar, fail to get enough sleep, ne­glect to ex­er­cise your brain, wreck your gut flora with an­tibi­otics and a bad diet, sit a lot, man­age stress badly and eat in­flam­ma­tory food, such as sugar, gluten and dairy. Even tak­ing med­i­ca­tions, such as anti-anx­i­ety pills, can sig­nif­i­cantly raise your risk of Alzheimer’s dis­ease.

If this sounds like you it’s never too late to prac­tise some dam­age con­trol:

1 EAT

When you eat nu­tri­ent-dense food your im­mune sys­tem is stronger, you im­prove brain func­tion, lose ex­cess weight and your en­ergy lev­els in­crease. Dr Got­tfried rec­om­mends a pre­dom­i­nantly plant-based diet with mod­er­ate amounts of an­i­mal pro­tein. She rec­om­mends we eat 450g to 900g of veg­eta­bles a day, which helps to re­duce blood sugar and in­sulin re­sis­tance. In­flam­ma­tory food such as dairy, gluten, sugar, grains, caf­feine and al­co­hol should be avoided or kept to a min­i­mum.

Healthy fats such as co­conut oil are en­cour­aged. She stresses that trans fats and seed oils must be elim­i­nated due to the dam­age they do to the hu­man body. (Learn more in ‘Good Fats Vs Bad Fats’ on page 14.)

Good oral hy­giene is also cru­cial, as bac­te­ria in your mouth causes in­flam­ma­tion (gin­givi­tis), cav­i­ties and pre­ma­ture ag­ing.

2 SLEEP

It is dur­ing sleep that hu­man growth hor­mone does its re­pair work. Qual­ity sleep can re­set hor­mones, strengthen the im­mune sys­tem, and aid weight loss. As the qual­ity of sleep im­proves you will no­tice less in­flam­ma­tion and stiff­ness.

On the flip­side, poor sleep ruins blood-sugar con­trol and raises lev­els of stress hor­mones.

Try to get to bed be­fore 10pm and aim for be­tween seven and eight-and-a-half hours of sleep every night. Keep your bed­room dark and free from elec­tron­ics. If you strug­gle to fall asleep eat healthy carbs such as sweet pota­toes at din­ner to aid the re­lease of sero­tonin and mela­tonin, which fa­cil­i­tate sleep. Test for and cor­rect any vi­ta­min D de­fi­ciency you may have.

3 MOVE

Sit­ting too much leads to weak bones, loss of mus­cle mass, poor cir­cu­la­tion and an over­all in­creased risk of di­a­betes, cancer and heart dis­ease. Ex­er­cise can mit­i­gate the dam­age as it dis­penses with ten­sion, builds mus­cle, con­di­tions the heart, im­proves lung func­tion and pro­duces the feel-good hor­mones known as en­dor­phins. Choose an ex­er­cise regime that you will stick to. Burst train­ing (HIIT) is great for im­prov­ing in­sulin sensitivity and strength train­ing builds mus­cle mass, which keeps your me­tab­o­lism op­er­at­ing ef­fi­ciently. Try to in­cor­po­rate both but sched­ule suf­fi­cient time for re­cov­ery.

4 RE­LEASE

Ten­sion in the body leads to stiff joints and mus­cles and, ul­ti­mately, re­duced mo­bil­ity. Learn some stretch­ing tech­niques that pro­vide re­lease. This im­proves in­jury-re­cov­ery time and in­creases range of mo­tion. In­cor­po­rate fre­quent stretches in your daily rou­tine, es­pe­cially if you spend a sig­nif­i­cant part of the day sit­ting in front of a com­puter. Good op­tions for re­lease are yoga, Pi­lates, foam rolling, stretch­ing and mas­sage. Try to stretch each day for at least 10 min­utes.

Mag­ne­sium can help your mus­cles to re­lax. Since most peo­ple are mag­ne­sium de­fi­cient, it is worth tak­ing a sup­ple­ment.

5 PRO­TECT

We are ex­posed to tox­ins on a daily ba­sis. Th­ese ac­cu­mu­late in our cells and age us. Syn­thetic skin­care prod­ucts, pes­ti­cides, mould and pol­lu­tion can all dam­age DNA. Mind­ful­ness about tox­ins is, there­fore, cru­cial.

Look for skin­care prod­ucts that are free from parabens and ph­tha­lates to re­duce your toxin load.

Elim­i­nate all chem­i­cal clean­ing agents from the house.

Since your liver’s job is to fil­ter and pu­rify the blood (mainly when you are sleep­ing), make sure you get enough sleep, and don’t over bur­den your liver with al­co­hol. Eat lots of cru­cif­er­ous veg­gies, such as broc­coli, which do an ex­cel­lent job of clean­ing up your gut and strength­en­ing your im­mune sys­tem.

Avoid plas­tic wa­ter bot­tles and store left­overs in glass or ce­ramic con­tain­ers.

6 SOOTHE

Poorly man­aged stress short­ens our healthspan: it drives up blood sugar and cor­ti­sol, both of which ac­cel­er­ate age­ing. Our flight-or-fight re­sponse is not de­signed to be switched on con­stantly. Sched­ule reg­u­lar down­time to re­lax and recharge: you’ll look fresher, and be health­ier. Prayer, med­i­ta­tion, yoga, mind­ful­ness and breath­ing ex­er­cises are all great modal­i­ties for deal­ing with stress.

7 THINK

Use your brain or lose it. Even ac­tiv­i­ties such as crossword puz­zles, games, bak­ing or gar­den­ing sup­port brain func­tion. Re­search has also shown that peo­ple with ties to so­cial groups, or who have an ac­tive so­cial or fam­ily life, are less likely to ex­pe­ri­ence cog­ni­tive de­cline so get on with that so­cial life!

DR SARA GOT­TFRIED

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