Age is really just a number. While everyone ages differently, healthy habits, outlook on life and attitude varies from person to person which means how old someone is doesn’t always match up how someone looks and feels. Staying young at heart can be a positive way to go through life and Eat This, Not That! Health talked to experts who revealed how to stay youthful no matter your age and look young. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don’t miss these Sure Signs You’ve Already Had COVID.
Exercise Your Brain While Exercising the Body—Flex Your Biceps and Your Cerebral Cortex
Dr. Scott Kaiser, MD, a board certified geriatrician and Director of Geriatric Cognitive Health for the Pacific Neuroscience Institute at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, CA says, “To many, it may seem like commonsense at this point, but it can never be emphasized enough: Exercise is an essential component of a healthy lifestyle. The benefits of regular physical activity are so numerous—especially for our brain health—that, in a sense, exercise is the closest thing we have to a miracle drug. To achieve one’s daily recommended level of exercise you do NOT need to do it all at once. Your activity can be spread throughout the day and, in fact, there may even be unique benefits to short bursts of vigorous activity—high-intensity intervals. When it comes to brain-healthy exercise, evidence suggests that there is an added boost when you combine aerobic and cognitive challenges. Studies conducted at the Motion Picture & Television Fund (MPTF) sought ways to optimize brain function in healthy older participants. While the positive effects of both regular physical exercise and memory training activities on cognitive function and brain health are well established, the investigators explored the impact of combining exercise and memory training in novel ways. Because exercising—getting into a healthy aerobic zone— promotes healthy brain metabolism and growth, the investigators hypothesized that the effects of memory training could be potentiated if performed while participating in heart-rate monitored exercise regimens. After testing a variety of ways to combine exercise and memory training the investigators identified positive impacts of combined physical exercise and memory training on cognitive performance and developed several insights about ways we might harness these tools to enhance our brain health. For starters, if you were to learn a new dance routine you would not only reap the benefits from getting up and getting your blood pumping but also from the mental challenge involved in learning the steps and keeping yourself coordinated (especially if, like me, you have two left feet!). When you consider the opportunity for creative expression, the joy of connection, and that smile you’ve just put on your face (all brain health boosting factors) the benefits really start to add up.”
Chronic Stress – Break the Cycle
According to Dr. Kaiser, “A robust and rapidly expanding body of research captures the numerous benefits of meditation. While there are many forms of meditation and contemplative practices that one can spend a lifetime cultivating, the brain health benefits can come with simple first steps. For example, just taking some mindful breaths—simply bringing your attention to your breathing and taking a moment to notice this automatic function with some sense of curiosity—can initiate a very positive cascade of events in our mind and body. For one, this simple practice can actually help you curb ‘stress’ while initiating a physiologic ‘relaxation response’ in your body resulting in a slowing of the heart rate, change in blood vessel tone with reduced blood pressure, boosting of immune factors, lowering of blood sugar, improved mood, and on and on. As you bring your attention to your breath, you may even be filled with a sense of wonder and appreciation—marveling at the many ways our body keeps us moving through life and noticing seemingly simple things we may take for granted. With mounting evidence supporting the many benefits of ‘gratitude,’ you may have just unlocked another brain-health boosting bonus.”
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Dr. Thomas Berk, Medical Director at Neura Health and a Clinical Assistant Professor at the Department of Neurology at NYU Grossman School of Medicine, explains: “Sleep is crucial at any age, but especially as we get older. Sleep is one of the most important things that your brain does. Your brain spends a third of its life in the sleeping state, and it is the time when your brain is most coordinated. It allows not just rest, but also the ability to consolidate memories. People who have migraines are very sensitive to many different kinds of changes, some external to them, and some changes related to their own bodies. Your body thrives on predictability, and the same goes for sleep. The more predictably you sleep, the better your migraines tend to be.”
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Eat More Protein
Nutrition Expert, Author, and Celebrity Chef Mareya Ibrahim explains, “Protein, aka essential amino acids or EAAs are boldly referred to as the building blocks of life because they’re that important. Bodybuilders have known about EAAs for years and manipulated them for optimal performance. The truth is, they’re critical to your ability to thrive. As humans, nine amino acids are considered essential, but as adults, our bodies require eight of them to function properly—and I mean they’re mandatory—and our only sources of these essential eight are from food. It would make sense that if these amino acids are at the core of building life, our meals should be based around them, right? According to the UC Davis Integrative Medicine blog, amino acids account for 75 percent of dry body weight, 95 percent of muscle (including your heart), and 100 percent of hormones, neurotransmitters, and neuropeptides (the pilots and air traffic controllers of your nervous system that keep you from crashing or ending up in Cuba when you were headed for Miami). They’re also important for building muscle and stoking your metabolism so you don’t end up with that dreaded ‘menopot’ but what’s great about proteins like turkey and chicken is they’re also high in tryptophan, which helps to mellow you out and also gives you the sustained energy you need to keep your mental and physical acuity going. We need all the energy we can get! Natural collagen sources are also important for keeping connective tissue healthy to avoid injury, which becomes crucial after 40 – especially since we considerably slow down production after 35. Try to avoid meats that have nitrates or nitrates, as they can cause headaches and other side effects, and added salt, as that encourages water retention. If you don’t eat meat, other amino acid-rich, plant-based foods include quinoa, beans and rice, soy and coconut amino acids.”
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Eat Enough Healthy Fat
Ibrahim says, “After 40, our hormones begin changing and adapting to all kinds of changes. In order to help facilitate perimenopause and menopause, for example, healthy fats are required to help keep the body from going haywire – not to mention, supporting brain function and metabolic health. Nuts, avocado, olives, fatty seafood and Omega 3-rich plant-based foods like chia seeds and flaxseed can play a very important role in helping to prevent Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease while also helping to prevent diabetes and other blood sugar-related conditions. Replacing carbohydrates and saturated fats with healthy fats, such as polyunsaturated fats, lowers blood sugar levels and improves insulin control.” And to protect your life and the lives of others, don’t visit any of these 35 Places You’re Most Likely to Catch COVID.