Have you ever stopped to consider what sort of “old age” you want?
You might have plans for your retirement such as holidays and hobbies and you hopefully have a savings/superannuation plan in place to provide for those. But what about your health?
What are you doing about your health NOW to provide for good health later?
Are you taking preventative action or are you just “hoping for the best”?
As a naturopath, a big part of the way I practise is preventing illness. Once we have addressed your immediate concerns we want to ensure you have a plan for lifelong health and vitality.
Maybe you know someone who has lived to a ripe old age but their quality of life perhaps wasn’t so great (for far too long). Who wants to live the last 5 years, 10 years or even longer in a state of ill-health; struggling with everyday activities and unable to make the most of their days?
Perhaps it’s just me, but I want to be as healthy as I can be for as long as possible and then a quick decline until it’s “all over red rover”. Long, lingering declines do not look appealing. Of course, there are no guarantees and I’m not going to obsess about it to the detriment of my current enjoyment of life but I do want to consider how the actions and choices I make now may not be in my long-term best interests. And I want you to think about that too.
What interests me as your naturopath is “healthspan” not just lifespan.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, as of 2021, the current life expectancy is around 81 for men and 85 for women. For some of us, those years are not that far away (a lot of years are already under the bridge).
Theories around declining health as we age
Given our enthusiasm for remaining youthful, there is an enormous and growing body of research into what causes health to decline with age.
- accumulation of waste products/toxins
- damage to DNA resulting in loss of ability to generate new cells
- oxidative and inflammatory damage to tissue
- decline in immune function
- increasing hormone imbalance
- a genetic predisposition may also play a part
These factors may all play a part to a greater or lesser extent but at the same time, there are many things we can do to mitigate these problems.
So, the next time you put that ache or forgetfulness or fatigue down to “just a part of getting older” ask yourself
“Could there be something else underlying this and can I do something about it?”
The big diseases of aging include:
- type 2 diabetes – loss of ability to regulate glucose in the blood resulting in damage to circulation, heart, kidneys, eyesight and more
- cardiovascular disease – narrowing or blockages of blood vessels, increasing the risk of heart attack, heart failure or stroke
- cancer – dysfunction of cell replication and repair resulting in abnormal cell growth
- osteoarthritis – pain and inflammation of the joints resulting in limited movement
- osteoporosis – thinning or weakening of the bones leading to increased risk of fractures
- loss of cognitive function – ranging from mild cognitive impairment to Alzheimer’s disease and dementia
All of these illnesses may be linked back in some way to one or more of the theories on aging.
So, your potential to enjoy a long healthspan may depend on your body’s ability to defend from pathogens, the ability to detoxify and remove waste products and its ability to regulate inflammation and tissue damage.
Simple and smart things you can do to improve your capacity for healthy aging
- maintain a healthy weight
- eat a healthy diet
- keep moving and avoid being overly sedentary
- have good coping mechanisms for stress
- maintain good sleep patterns
- fuel the body’s detoxification pathways (liver, kidneys, lungs, skin)
- support your immune system
- exercise your brain (it’s like another muscle that needs to be moved regularly)
And of course, it goes without saying, that smoking is not good for you and nor is alcohol (drink in moderation…and I mean moderation).
If you want to have a healthy retirement, take stock of your health now. It’s never too late or too early to review where your health is at.
Act now for a healthy old age and the best part is, you don’t have to wait for a “payout” in your retirement. You get to feel the benefits right now!