Only about 25% of ageing is dictated by your genes, while the rest is dependent on the diet and lifestyle choices you make. So take control of how you age with these age-defying interventions and add years to your life, and life to your years.
1. Eat more good fat
Say yes to Omega-3 fatty acids (olive oil, canola oil, salmon, walnuts, flax seeds and wheat germ) and cut down on Omega-6 oils (margarines, mayonnaise, salad dressings, processed foods) and saturated fats (red meat, full-fat dairy products).
2. Up your antioxidant intake
Eat lots of brightly coloured fruits and vegetables, including tomatoes, broccoli, red bell peppers, dark leafy greens, red grapes, berries, pomegranates, cherries, oranges and plums, as well as green and black tea, dark chocolate and red wine.
3. Go for complex carbohydrates
Choose good carbs such as whole grain products, which include brown rice, wholegrain pasta, beans, legumes and buckwheat, while minimising your consumption of simple carbohydrates like white flour, white rice, potatoes and white sugar.
4. Maintain an optimal weight
Excess body fat promotes inflammation that can lead to disease and insulin resistance and is bad for arterial health. Stop eating when you are 80 per cent full to help control consuming excessive calories.
5. Get enough sleep
Getting five to six hours of shuteye a night is hardly enough. According to Dr Chong Yaw Khian, who runs the Snoring and Sleep Apnoea Clinic at Tan Tock Seng Hospital, sustained sleep deprivation is associated with diabetes, heart disease, obesity, stroke and high blood pressure. On the other hand, adequate sleep activates your immune system and restores the body’s hormonal balance. Most people require seven to eight hours of sleep per night to feel well rested, according to the National Institutes of Health.
Juggling work and family demands, financial issues and even traffic jams all cause stress, which leads to a raised blood pressure and faster heartbeat. Meditation – or deep relaxation – helps counteract this; our breathing, pulse rate and blood pressure are decreased, leading to less stress. Meditation can also slow down age-related changes in the brain. A study led by the University of California at Los Angeles suggests that meditation can preserve gray matter – the substance rich in neurons that we begin to lose between 25 and 30 years old. The results showed that people who meditate tend to lose less gray matter than those who don’t.
7. Exercise regularly
This reduces the risks of high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease; being active also promotes good mental health, while weight-bearing exercise protects again osteoporosis.
8. Find your passion
Having a hobby and being excited about something can help you stay healthy and youthful by providing eustress – the good kind of stress that helps break monotony and makes you look forward to another day. A study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences showed that people with intellectually challenging hobbies were 2.5 times less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease.
9. Nourish your friendships
In a study carried out by Centre For Aging at Flinders University in Adelaide, researchers concluded that a network of good friends can enhance happiness, overall well-being as well as improved physical health. The support of good friends boosts self-esteem and reduces stress, which raises the risk of health conditions such as high blood pressure.
10. Make Love
According to Dr Mehmet Oz MD, professor and vice chairman of surgery at New York Presbyterian–Columbia University and co-author of the book You: Being Beautiful, women who enjoy sex live longer, and doubling your amount of satisfying sex can add up to three years to your life.