The Secrets to Healthy Aging

The Secrets to Healthy Aging

Our health system is broken!

That is the opinion of noted neurosurgeon and anti-aging expert Dr. Joseph Maroon, a sports medicine expert who served as the team neurosurgeon for the National Football League’s Pittsburgh Steelers for over 20 yrs. He says that Americans spend billions on gastric bypass surgeries each year but essentially pennies on how to teach people to eat better and have a healthier relationship with food to avoid obesity.

Dr. Maroon is the senior vice president for the American Academy of Anti-Aging and says the key to living a healthier and longer life is to avoid disease before it starts.

Even my closest friends are often surprised when they ask me my age,” he says. “Despite my youthful appearance, I can tell you that the birth date posted on my driver’s license is correct. Although having a youthful appearance is not the only goal of adopting an anti-aging lifestyle, it is a great side benefit. Our skin, without makeup or other cosmetic enhances, provides a fairly accurate window into our overall health.

Dr. Maroon explains that one of the reasons the skin provides so much information is that the skin, like other organs of the body, is affected by inflammation.

Aging and inflammation go hand in hand,” he says.

Here are some ways you can reduce inflammation and promote healthy aging to remain younger on the inside and out:

  1. Diet. This is a major source of inflammation and subsequently, accelerated aging. Avoid saturated fats, which stimulate the genes in fat storage cells to make inflammatory cytokines, which have been linked to diabetes and vascular disease. Eat foods containing unsaturated fats, especially omega-3s found in fish, seafood, and vegetables to reduce inflammation.
  2. Stay in motion. “The human body is designed to be in motion,” says Dr. Maroon, an elite athlete himself. “Exercising not only burns excess calories to help control weight and improve cardiovascular health, it can also release an anti-depressant-like hormone in the brain. The hormone is called BDNF and, along with neurotransmitters, can improve mood, sleep, and encourage new cells to grow.”
  3. Avoid the traps of modern society. We live in a toxic environment that’s designed to kill us, says Dr. Maroon. “We exist in a constant state of stress, are exposed to cheap fatty, sugary fast foods, our walks consist of going to our cars from our front doors, and our environment has never been more toxic,” he says. He points to the longevity and excellent health of people who live in the Blue Zones such as Okinawa, Japan, Sardinia, Italy, and Loma Linda, California, who have strong social connections, practice religion or meditation, follow primarily a Mediterranean diet, do hard physical work, and avoid environmental toxins.
  4. Practice better brain habits. Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases both have inflammatory components. Since our brain cells contain up to 40% omega-3 fats, it makes sense to increase your intake of foods that contain this nutrient either from food or fish oil supplements. Avoid consuming simple carbohydrates such as sugar, which can lead to impaired thinking, not to mention weight gain and type 2 diabetes.
  5. Strengthen your bones. Bones not only provide the structure of your body, they are an important reserve for minerals like calcium, copper, zinc, and others. “Hormone changes in both men and women due to aging alter bone density and reduce strength,” says Dr. Maroon. “Walking, running, and resistance training can slow bone loss due to aging.” He also advises eating a diet rich in calcium.
  6. Do not lose your senses. As we age, certain aspects of our vision will deteriorate and we may also develop conditions such as glaucoma and macular degeneration. Our hearing and sense of taste will also decline. Dr. Maroon advises avoiding exposure to UV radiation from the Sun, which can cause the formation of cataracts, and avoid excessive noise to reduce hearing loss. “Prevent age-related macular degeneration with a diet or supplements rich in vitamin A, lutein, zeaxanthin and glutathione, vitamins C and E, and essential minerals such as selenium, copper, and zinc. Again, omega-3 DHA is found in the eye membranes and is an important structural component of the eye.”

Eat healthy, Be healthy, Live lively

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