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Thursday, May 18, 2017

The Midlife Health Checklist: How do you fare with YOUR health?

There is no doubt that the inevitable happens. We age. Some of us may age more gracefully than others, but nonetheless, we age. So what can we do about it? Accept it, but you set the terms and conditions. Do everything in your power to 'stay young at heart'. It is possible and frankly, that's the way I plan on going down with it. How about you?

According to Dr. David Agus, turning 40 is the 'turning point' where we may see life through another set of glasses so to speak. This is the time of questioning not only our mortality, but where are we now, what we have done in the past and what we will do in the future to make positive, good things happen for others as well as ourselves. This is also the time when we may focus more on how we feel after indulging in 'bad food' or too much alcohol and how different that all was in our earlier years.

Going back to aging gracefully though, we can set the terms and conditions as much as we can by eating right, enjoying life to the fullest, exercising regularly and sleeping well. We can stave off disease much better if we lead a healthier lifestyle -- no doubt.

The following 4 categories are definitely tried and true and highly recommended for us to follow as much as possible. While all of the points in the article may not apply to everyone -- which makes sense since we all have different metabolisms -- they are a good place to start with leading a healthier lifestyle. Good idea to also check with a physician as well before starting any diet/health program. Below is your midlife health checklist.

(1) Diet: 
  • Drink full fat milk which may apply more especially after a good exercise session. It has been found that it can help with the reduction of muscle mass which occurs with age. It also contains calcium which is essential for bone health. If milk isn't 'your friend', there are other calcium-rich foods that are terrific such as kale, sardines, yogurt, broccoli, watercress and bok choy.
  • Avoid unnecessary supplements. Instead of focusing on taking a calcium supplement, the best thing to do is to simply eat real food. 
  • Eating portion-controlled foods on smaller plates as well as eating more slowly and deliberately leads to healthier habits that can make a big difference when it comes to better health.
  • Say No to shiny packets. Those shiny packets contain artificial ingredients from sweeteners to chemical preservatives contained in many processed foods speed up the aging process.
  • Take probiotics: According to Liz Earle, the author of The Good Gut Guide, states that "healthy bacteria and lactoferrin found in plain live yogurt can dramatically improve our levels of skin-friendly flora, which in turn leads to smoother, clearer skin, especially for those prone to adult-onset acne or rosacea".
  • Drinking coffee and tea in moderation can be a really good thing to do. It has been found that moderate amounts of caffeine is thought to reduce the risk of Alzheimer's and can also improve physical performance.
  • Eat Mediterranean. Some simple 'food trades' such as swapping red meat for organic white meat or butter for olive oil are good options to follow. Additionally, if we add turmeric to our diets -- which help to fight inflammation, arthritis and depression -- we can add on to our longevity.
  • Stick to healthy fats and cut down on sugar. Yes, sugar is an ingredient to avoid as much as possible as it damages our cells and promotes wrinkles. Who wants that?
  • Alcohol doesn't have to be cut out of life after 40 for gosh sakes! It is just a good idea to drink in moderation and even stick to non-alcohol days more frequently. Looking forward to a glass or two of 'vino' with a loved one is after all part of the fun part of getting older!
(2) Sleep and mental health: 
  • Having someone to share our life with not only makes life sweeter, but its good for our health too! 
  • Its good to have a 'time out' where we can take a little time for ourselves, right? How about taking a few minutes to sit quietly and simply 'be' or how about a long bath or reading a good book? All good stuff....
  • Taking a walk is great for decreasing depression and improving our wellbeing.
  • So many of us have desk jobs now-a-days, but what about investing in a desk where you can stand instead of sit? "If you stand for eight minutes of every half an hour you are at work, and move around for at least two minutes, you can experience lower levels of blood sugar and cholesterol, reduced weight and improved concentration, according to a study by Cornell University".
  • Forming good habits helps with our overall health and wellness. So, going to sleep and getting up in the morning around the same time is good!
  • Sleep in a quiet, cool and dark place. If you don't get good quality sleep, it can negatively affect not only our mood, but even our mental health, weight and heart function.
  • It's just not good to be staring at our laptops or phones before bed. Studies have shown that exposure to the blue-white light which is emitted by those technology tools prevents our brains from releasing melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone that tells our bodies its time to sleep.
  • As we age, its best not to eat too late or shortly before we go to sleep. Our digestion process will keep us up and won't allow for restful sleep!
(3) Health and Body: 
  • Take aspirin: While it has shown that taking a low dose of daily aspirin helps to lower the risk of heart attacks and even mitigate the risk of some cancers, its best to check with your doctor before doing so.
  • Don't smoke. Enough said.
  • Getting real about your skincare. This is important to be sure for reasons aside from wrinkles. There is also risk of sun damage and even potential skin cancers if not checked.
  • Exfoliation of the skin helps with removing unwanted, dead skin. Ick!
  • Wearing sun screen on a daily basis is simply a good idea. 
  • Good oral hygiene is important.
  • Unnecessary cosmetic surgery can be devastating, especially if you don't know how it will turn out in the following years -- and you don't know.
  • Looking after your feet may seem unimportant, but keeping our feet healthy allows us to be more actively mobile and that's a good thing.
  • Visiting your doctor on a yearly basis can help to avoid potential health risks.
(4) Fitness: 
  • Walk: According to the American Heart Association and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, adults should be aiming for 150 minutes of brisk walking on a weekly basis.
  • While it is true that pushing yourself to the point of pain upon exercising is not recommended, it is good to be somewhat uncomfortable if you are wanting to receive the best results. 
  • As we age and our metabolism slows, its best to exercise in the morning for the best metabolic results. 
  • Make every effort to stand up straight and keep a good posture. It helps to work on flexibility.
  • As we age, low-intensity training can be gentler on our joints as opposed to high-intensity training. There is less opportunity for injury and LISS can be great for weight loss and increasing fitness overall.
  • Accepting where we are. We can't go back in time, so its important to make the most of where we are now -- whatever the age. Having satisfaction can lead to better self-esteem and happiness.
  • With the inevitable muscle loss that occurs from the age of 30 and beyond, its good to make resistance training part of our weekly routine as it elevates our metabolism, can prevent osteoporosis and is fat burning too.
  • Tracking exercise progress can be easily done with the help of wearable technology like a Fitbit.
  • By taking up a new sport or physical hobby, it keeps things fresh and can add to our overall balance and health.
  • Lastly, a dog is usually a welcome addition to ones' life. If you are more on the sedentary side, a dog can help you become more readily available to exercise by walking more.
Yes, the inevitable will happen. We will age. But, most of the time, it is in our own power to make doable and healthy changes that -- with a little help from a professional and a supportive support system -- can lead us to having a more comfortable and welcoming life, wouldn't you agree?
How do you fare with your health?

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