Eat plants, try Pilates and stay positive: how do you keep your body younger than your years?

ali mohamed
ali mohamed28 May 2022Last Update : 2 years ago
Eat plants, try Pilates and stay positive: how do you keep your body younger than your years?

Who don’t want a long and healthy life? Aging may not be negotiable, but how you do it allows some wiggle room. However, there is no time to lose. Ideally, you would have had your health in order before middle age. But it’s never too late to start. Each of us has a chronological age which is measured in birthday candles. Because each person ages differently, we also have a biological age that reflects how old our bodies really are. This age depends on the relationship between our genes, lifestyle and living conditions. It’s this biological age that you can change by doing what I’m about to tell you.

Be positive about it

More than 80% of people say they feel younger than their age. Largely because most societies view aging negatively, says Dr. Serena Sabatini, a postdoctoral research associate at the Università della Svizzera Italiana. Her research shows that people who have good role models for aging, such as active grandparents, also age better themselves. “They are less likely to be anxious and will be more involved in life and eat a healthier diet,” says Sabatini. “When people feel more negative about aging, they do little to stay healthy so they age in a less graceful way.” Personality traits are also discussed. “More openness means you probably feel more positive about getting older,” says Sabatini.

My mother, 98 years old, with no short-term memory, feels positive about her age when she is reminded of it. “Only two years until I’m 100. It’s better than not being there.”

Eat good

“Inflammation” is what happens to the body as our cells become damaged with age. The end result is chronic inflammation and a range of health problems. Studies show consistent results in which diets protect us, says Dr. Stacey Lockyer, senior nutrition scientist at the British Nutrition Foundation. “Healthy plant-rich diets, such as the Mediterranean diet and the DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Control Hypertension), have been linked to a reduction in the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some cancers, as well as all-cause mortality. These diets all contain a high intake of plant foods with fruits and vegetables, whole grain foods, proteins including plant proteins (legumes, nuts), as well as some fish, seafood, poultry, lean meats, and low-fat dairy (or dairy products). alternatives).” These diets avoid processed meats and foods high in saturated fat, sugar and salt (cakes and chips).

For those of us with a family history of dementia (me), there’s some evidence that these diets can also slow cognitive decline by several years.

Don’t bother with supplements

A balanced diet means you don’t need supplements. However, Lockyer points out that the lack of sun in UK winters has prompted the government to consider taking daily vitamin D supplements of 10 µg from October to March. Vitamin D is needed for bone and muscle health — essential for everything but sitting, which you shouldn’t be doing anyway.

Maybe lose some weight

Lockyer says that if you’re obese, “losing even 3% of your body weight can be beneficial in reducing your risk of developing serious diseases.” She recommends smaller portions rather than drastic diets. “Weight control is even more important for black, Asian and other ethnic minorities,” explains Lockyer. “They have a higher risk of serious health problems, such as type 2 diabetes with a lower BMI and waist circumference measurements than the white population.”

Don’t focus on ‘superfoods’

When it comes to superfoods, strawberries and blueberries are fan favorites — credited with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Ayela Spiro, nutritional science manager at the British Nutrition Foundation, warns that the evidence is inconclusive. “People who consume berries may also have many other positive health-related diet and lifestyle behaviors, which in turn are linked to healthier aging,” she explains. “The message remains to eat a varied and plant-based diet.”

My 98-year-old mother loves blueberries.

Practice like you mean it

It’s all about practice. It lowers blood pressure and reduces the risk of obesity, diabetes and heart disease. If you’ve been exercising for 150 minutes a week (4-5 days) since you were 20, congratulations. Do not stop. “People should think of exercise as part of their personal hygiene, like brushing their teeth, not something to ‘add on’ as an afterthought,” said Professor Benjamin D. Levine, who is a distinguished professor of exercise science at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. His research shows that exercise training, started in middle age, can reverse the stiffness in the heart muscle that can cause heart failure.

Out of 4-5 days of exercise, one day should be a high-intensity workout (up to 95% peak heart rate), two or three should make you sweat and one day could be less strenuous, like tennis the way I play it. Levine says that 30 minutes of brisk walking five times a week is also sufficient.

Resistance is the opposite of meaningless

“Resistance training is important to maintain strength, balance, and functional capacity as we age,” Levine says. “It doesn’t necessarily have to be pumping iron at the gym, though. Pilates, strength yoga, tai chi – there are many ways to improve strength. Flexibility is much harder to improve, although I don’t think it in itself has a major impact on mortality, cardiovascular disease or even musculoskeletal injury.”

Do not smoke

Duh! Does it even need to be said? Although you could biologically age even faster by smoking sedentary.

Manage the menopause

“Menopause is the marker of middle age — just experiencing it makes women feel older,” says Sabatini. But does the brutal loss of estrogen accelerate biological aging? Perhaps a small amount. Steve Horvath, a professor of human genetics and biostatistics at UCLA, says it’s nothing to worry about. “Consider men as a reference group. Men have a significantly higher mortality risk than women, regardless of menopausal status.”

Menopause accelerates bone loss and increases the risk of heart disease, but consuming calcium (milk, cheese) and vitamin D in the diet (two servings of fish per week, one of which is fatty) and reducing saturated fat and salt may lower the risk of reduce osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence view of using HRT to relieve menopause symptoms is that it is an individual decision to be made based on their view of the risks and how awful they feel.


Feeling lonely in middle age does not prepare you for healthy aging. Especially if you are a man. The studies are not clear why loneliness increases the risk of dementia, heart disease and depression. You can be with a group of people and still feel lonely. Mind has tips for coping with loneliness, including volunteering and joining groups based on your hobbies.

Lady painting illustration
Illustration: Steven Gregor

Starting a hobby or language

Healthy aging requires both mental and physical activity. In particular, artistic hobbies, such as painting, sculpting, or pottery, can aid memory and thinking. But anything that trains your brain, like Wordle, is helpful. There is some evidence that learning a second language can boost neuron activity in the brain and keep you mentally sharp.

Good night

It’s a myth that as you get older, you need less sleep. “But it’s a common idea that older people sleep less, so when people don’t sleep well, they feel old,” says Sabatini. “Poor sleep is linked to poor cognitive function, depression and anxiety. It affects how people think about themselves.” Don’t ignore pain or medical conditions that can affect sleep because you blame your age. “Mindfulness and bedroom routines can help improve sleep,” says Sabatini.

Take care of your skin

dr. Bav Shergill, of the British Association of Dermatologists, says facial aging follows a pattern. “The first sign is where you have movement – the lines stay there with no movement. Your face loses volume, you get a small front jaw and your cheeks shrink a bit. We lose elastin which makes us look more tired. People might not mind look older, but they don’t want to look tired.”

Prevent sun damage, which can make skin look thick, wrinkled and discolored. Smoking is even more harmful. On the plus side, Shergill says topical vitamin A products work. But for prescription treatments like retinoic acid, you’ll need to invest in a private dermatologist — not that he advises you to. He administers Botox because it is reliable and wears off. “Lines that settle on your forehead can make you angry. Botox can open your face, but you still want to be able to express happiness – move your eyebrows.”

have money

It’s the elephant in this article. dr. Darío Moreno-Agostino, population mental health researcher at King’s College London, says research shows that more money gives you a better health trajectory the older you get. dr. Gemma Spiers, senior research associate at the National Institute for Health and Care Research’s Older People and Frailty Policy Research Unit at Newcastle University, agrees: “The rich have more years of disease-free life expectancy. If you ask someone to eat a little healthier or to exercise more, it costs something.”

dr. Luisa Dillner is head of research and product development at the BMJ.


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