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

Women's Health (South Africa) - - DECEMBER 2018 - By Marissa Gains­burg

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.

Sex­ual heal­ing

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.

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