Simple nutrition and lifestyle changes can dramatically improve quality of life — even in older adults.
That’s why, in this article, we’ll explain what we know about optimal lifestyle and nutrition for seniors: how these habits affect aging; and how to implement healthy changes for yourself, clients, or loved ones.
It’s not just the number of years you live; it’s how you live them.
Modern medicine can help us live longer, so what’s the point of eating the right foods and taking the right supplements?
Well, we don’t want to just live longer. We want to live longer and live well.
Lifespan: How long you live
Healthspan: How well you live
When we talk about longevity, most of us don’t dream of living for a thousand years in a cryo-chamber hooked up to a bunch of wires that artificially maintain our basic functions.
In addition to a long lifespan, we also want a long healthspan — a high quality of life for as long as possible — a state that allows us to travel and enjoy our retirement, to run around with our grandchildren without aches and pains, and to generally enjoy life feeling good in our bodies, minds, and hearts.
Good nutrition and lifestyle habits are our best tools to improve healthspan.
And while these habits can have a major effect on healthspan if you start them young, making nutrition and lifestyle changes can make a difference even afteryou’ve noticed signs of aging.
Now, these changes aren’t going to turn you into an ageless bionic superhuman, but they can certainly help you age better and become more resilient.
Which parts of aging are under our control?
From the moment we’re born, our bodies begin to change. These changes continue throughout life.
Yes, change is inevitable…
…but how and when we age is highly influenced by our lifestyle.
Most of us have great bodies at 18 — slim, pain-free, resistant to illness and injury. By 68, we might groan about our soft midsection, our bum knee, or our high blood sugar.
We might call these changes “aging”. But much of what we call “aging” is actually very much an accumulation of lifestyle habits.
The soft midsection, the bum knee, the high blood sugar are often the result of:
- a chronic sweet tooth;
- a lifetime of following the “always finish your plate” rule — no matter how big the plate; and
- lots of sitting, which allowed those knee-supporting muscles to atrophy.
Another 68-year-old who practiced habits like mindful eating, regular movement, strength training, and a nutritious diet might not see those symptoms appear until much later, or perhaps ever.