Research on aging has always focused on health conditions getting worse as we age. But that half glass mentality is being challenged by researchers who are exploring the secrets of those people who continue to stay healthy and alert as they age.
Studies at the Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer’s Disease Center at Northwestern’s Feinberg School of Medicine are discovering why some people stay healthy and vital even well into their 80s – and older.
Here are 5 things they learned about healthy habits of the ‘superaged.’
Stop overeating – People of Okinawa, Japan – with the greatest elderly population in the world – stop eating when they are 80% full. Research found that when people exercised more and ate less, which helped lower production of a thyroid hormone – T3 – it slowed their metabolism. The researchers believe that the lowering of T3 also slows the aging process.
Increase your brain power – Learning a new language, exploring interesting places or developing a new skill can actually help you live longer. Studies show that people in their 80’s who scored the same on performance tests as people in their 50s, were found to have less deposits of protein – often called ‘brain tangles’ – that are linked to Alzheimer’s.
Imbibe a little – According to the Mayo Clinic, studies have shown that resveratrol found in red wine can actually help you live longer and keep your mind sharp. One glass per night for women and 2 for men can help keep bones stronger and help maintain coordination. It can also help prevent heart disease, inflammation and cataracts. Before adding wine to your diet, be sure to consult your health care provider to ensure it will not counteract any treatments or medication.
Shed some pounds – In a recent study, researchers tracked nearly 7,000 people and found that those with significant belly fat in midlife had nearly triple their risk of dementia. Belly fat – which is often visceral fat attached to the internal organs – is known to be a chief cause of many major health concerns, as well.
Eat more produce – Diets rich in plant-based foods have been found to increase the chance of living to a ripe old age. By including a variety of fruits, vegetables, beans, whole grains, nuts and seeds, you’ll be taking nature’s best medicine – antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. By reducing meat and refined carbohydrates, you’ll reduce the internal oxidation process that leads to early aging.
Just by practicing a few of these suggestions, you can increase the chances of leading a long and healthy life for many years to come.