What can we do as individuals to improve our quality of life as we age? In order to address this question, let’s break this down into “Bio-Psycho-Social” categories: BIO: weight, diet, exercise, fitness; PSYCHO: brain stimulating activities and exercises, diet and nutritional supplementation; and SOCIAL: interaction and relationships.
BIO: This includes “biological” functions such as weight management, exercise, and fitness. Of course, this makes sense as everything in life is easier when we don’t have to carry around so much weight. If we huff and puff after walking a short distance, up or down a short staircase, or can’t get out of a chair or car without assistance, then it’s time to shed some pounds to lessen the load on our frame and heart. This starts with a healthy diet. It is time to give up the foods that are rich in saturated fat (omega 6 fatty acids) and are full of gluten and simple carbohydrates. Learn about the Mediterranean diet, the Caveman diet, and the gluten-free diet.
Also, keep in mind any or all of your specific special needs — such as blood sugar if you are diabetic — so that you can “tailor” or modify your diet accordingly. Regarding heart health, the current evidence shows inflammation is the true source of trouble for the heart and overall general health. That’s why you should consider the diets listed above that have been demonstrated to reduce inflammation in the body! Vitamin “minimums” that we ALL benefit from include:
1) A good multiple vitamin/mineral (to get a little of everything);
2) Calcium and magnesium – these are often grouped together and BOTH are important, especially if you’re over 40 years old;
3) Omega 3 fatty acids (fish oil, flaxseed oil, walnuts, butternuts, hickory nuts, pecans, pine nuts, and more);
4) Vitamin D3 (5000 IU/day);
5) Coenzyme Q10 (a strong anti-oxidant that is commonly depleted due to medication side effects and more).
Of course, there are many others, but these have been found to reduce systemic inflammation, which is a BIG problem in the world! Track your BMI and make realistic goals as stepping stones.
Along with diet, you should definitely exercise as part of your weight loss plan, but make sure your thyroid function is up to par as it is very difficult to lose weight if your metabolic rate is slow! Go for a run, walk, or bike ride – anything that increases your heart rate. When you’re at home, bounce on a gym ball while watching TV or stand and walk around instead of constantly sitting.
PSYCHO (BRAIN FUNCTION): Again, diet and exercise are important (see above information). In general, exercise stimulates the production of many helpful chemicals such as hormones, endorphins, neurotransmitters, and more! Brain stimulating exercises includes card games, crossword puzzles, reading, playing/reading music, Sudoku, and much more. Embrace what you enjoy the most and MAKE TIME FOR IT!