The Long Game
We’ve powered through 100 issues of WH to find a list of health tips that will help you make it all the way to your 100th birthday
Be like WH and reach your centennial with a healthy body, mind and spirit
Forget the walking frames and dentures. New medical innovations – and your smart choices – can get you to a superhealthy centennial, health experts say. The bottom line: whether you’re fresh out of varsity or juggling work and kids, the time to launch your longevity plan is now. Here’s exactly how.
Boost brain power
Cruising the streets in a nightie and blue rinse doesn’t have to be your endgame. “Cognitive health refers to maintaining and optimising mental functions – things like memory and concentration, as well as mood,” explains Professor Andrew Scholey, a researcher in human psychopharmacology. Professor Con Stough, a cognitive neuroscientist, adds, “The ‘use it or lose it’ rule is worth remembering here.” Read: the work you put into keeping your abs in shape also applies to your brain. Crosswords or reading are equivalents of sit-ups, but instead of a six-pack, you’re forming strong connections between cells that transmit thoughts. “No matter what your age, mental exercise has a positive effect on your brain,” says Dr Daniel Amen, author of Making a Good Brain Great. So treat your brain to a lil’ regular exercise and stimulation. There’s progress being made on the drugs front too: natural supps are being studied for their antiinflammatory effects. “Our research is suggesting that a range of nutritional supplements may improve cognition,” says Stough, who leads the study at Swinburne University of Technology in Australia. These include omega-3 and marine-based products, B vitamins (particularly B6, folate and B12) and ginkgo biloba. Before bulk ordering, get your lifestyle under control (exercise, good diet, staying social), advises Stough. Think young; live long.
Long-life eating plan
The fountain of youth has yet to be found, bottled and sold for R50 at Clicks. But that doesn’t mean you can’t buy the secret to longevity at the supermarket. By now, you know about the anti-ageing power of antioxidants (cue The Avengers soundtrack). Spotting foods high in the stuff is simple: they’re the ones bursting with colour. “Studies show that by eating right you can lower your risk of conditions like Alzheimer’s and diabetes,” says nutrition expert Kristen Beck. As well as choosing the best foods, eating less can also reduce the toll on your body. It’s not yet known exactly why eating less makes such a difference, but we do know that a low-kilojoule diet reduces your
body’s core temperature and its response to insulin, both of which may increase longevity in humans. Noticing the kilo creep? Start cutting kilojoules – while keeping nutrients, says Beck – by ditching the refined, processed foods (empty kilojoules) and being wary of massive smoothie bowls, juices, snacks and Paleo and raw bars, “They may look beautiful, but often the portions are way too big and contain large amounts of dried fruit,” she warns. Word.
Twisting the sheets comes with a slew of body-boosting side effects. “Having sex regularly can do more than make you feel closer to your partner – it can actually make you physically healthier,” says Dr Hilda Hutcherson, author of Pleasure: A Woman’s Guide To Getting The Sex You Want, Need And Deserve. First of all, the come down can lull you to sleep. Good news for the onethird of perimenopausal women who develop insomnia, according to a study presented at the 2015 North American Menopause Society. Why? The same endorphins that help you de-stress can also relax your mind and body, priming you for your slumber, says Dr Cindy Meston, co-author of Why Women Have Sex. If you want to use sex as a sleep aid, opt for subdued sessions at bedtime – getting too frisky will have the opposite effect and make you feel energised rather than sleepy.