Aging Gracefully

agingIf your aim is to be lively and robust in your 80s and 90s, you’ll need to learn some anti-aging secrets that focus on the mind, body and spirit. You are an integrated model — there are many aspects of a healthy life that rely on each other.  Anecdotal information and science have both shown this to be true [Crush the spirit and the body will follow. Stimulate the mind and your mood will lighten. Exercise the body and your mind will be sharper] In many ways, these anti-aging tips are interdependent.

It is true that one of the biggest keys to a long and healthy life is choosing your parents wisely. But that’s only a third—GENETICS plays only a third in the aging process—you still have 2/3rs that only you can control:

Most of us say we would like to age gracefully. But the concept seems pretty much out of our hands or in the hands of a plastic surgeon. We say we aren’t going to take those drastic measures, but then many of us end up doing so. Why? Because we didn’t just take the simple, natural measures we could have taken daily while we were still young. Did you know that only ONE THIRD of what controls how gracefully we will age is determined by genetics? It’s shocking, I know. Maybe your dad’s gray hairs that popped up at the age of 30 or your mom’s arthritis doesn’t have to be a major panic point for you after all. One third is genetics. That means there is an entire two thirds that are completely based on your own choices. Keep reading to find some of the healthiest ways to approach these choices and learn how to age gracefully.

5 ways to age gracefully:


1. The Pursuit of Happiness

It shouldn’t end with career, marriage and family. Because sadly, as you age, these things may become less present in your life. But happiness boosts the immune system and reduces stress. When you are stressed, your heart rate goes up, your digestion slows, and blood flow is even blocked to certain muscles. If you experience chronic stress, these conditions could lead to actual physical disorders like obesity, diabetes, ulcers and even cancer.

Keep active and involved. Happiness is easier to cultivate than you think. Believe that life still has enjoyable experiences to offer you. Even if you just don’t see how you can be happy as you age, force yourself to go to events, to gatherings, to dinner with friends. You’ll usually be pleasantly surprised with what you find and positive attitude and optimism are linked to longevity. If you’re not sure what makes you happy, learn. Take notes at times when you feel particularly uplifted, and those when you feel anxiety-ridden. Where are you? Who are you with? What are you doing? Adjust your daily activities accordingly.


2. Don’t Run From Novelty

The brain loves new experiences and sensations. Have you ever really regretted trying something new? So long as it didn’t harm you, what you probably felt most of the time was a rush. It feels good to know you have the guts to put yourself in unfamiliar environments and try things you aren’t necessarily skilled at. Sometimes you have to fumble in order to have a new, enjoyable experience. But what you remember more than getting it wrong is how exciting it was to try something new.

Contrary to what many people believe, your brain has the ability to continue building neural connections throughout life. So don’t be afraid of new phenomena that simply didn’t exist when you were younger. Jump head first into social media classes, or trying a new food trend everyone is raving about. Doing so will cultivate curiosity, creativity and an open mind, additional traits linked to longevity.


3. Be Your Own Cheerleader

We are always harder on ourselves than others. We’ll spend hours cooking a healthy meal for a friend on the weekend; meanwhile we take ourselves through fast-food drive-thru’s during the week. We tell our friends how gorgeous they are and make self-deprecating comments about ourselves.

It may be harder than ever to do so now that you’re aging, but it’s also more important than ever to love yourself. Tell yourself you are fabulous. Make yourself fabulous by dressing up, standing up straight and quitting those self-deprecating thoughts and comments. Do the things that make you happy more often, and remind yourself it’s because you deserve to. Why? Because your body becomes stressed when you have thoughts like “I’m not good enough.” And we already know stress is bad for the body


4. Become A Social Butterfly

Research shows that those who are more socially connected — that doesn’t just mean going to activities and events but actually cultivating friendships from them — live longer. This is just another way to ward off depression.

As we age and can no longer do the things we used to do, we begin to feel “useless.” But something you can always offer is a set of ears, some good advice and if anything, the ability to make someone laugh. Think about how much the friends who do that for you mean to you? You mean just as much to them. You may not be a doctor, actress, or entrepreneur anymore. But through all of those years of work, you also became the unique, entertaining and wise individual you are. That is something you will always have to offer.

5. Exercise and Nutrition

I know you’ve heard it before, but it can’t hurt to hear it again. Exercising regularly makes you less likely to develop diabetes, heart disease, dementia, osteoarthritis, depression and obesity. One study found that women who walk briskly for just 5 hours a week have a 76% higher chance of aging gracefully and healthfully, with less physical and mental impairment. Of course, if you are aging, you can’t exactly run an hour a day or rock climb like you used to (if you used to at all). Look into low impact workouts like walking, resistance training, tai chi and yoga.

You can’t control every biological process that goes on in your body as you age, but what you can always control is your outlook and the lifestyle choices you make. Turns out that’s more than half the battle. About 2/3, to be exact!


  1. Determine the nutrients you need more of. With increasing age,the body is less efficient in absorbing and using nutrients; osteoporosis and other medical conditions common among older people also change nutritional needs. Consequently,an older person is likely to need extra amounts of the following essential nutrients:
  • CALCIUM to prevent osteoporosis and maintain healthy bones.
  • VITAMIN D, which the body needs in order to absorb the calcium.
  • VITAMIN B12 to build red blood cells and maintain healthy nerves.
  • ZINC to help compensate for lowered immunity due to ageing.
  • POTASSIUM,especially in the presence of high blood pressure or use of diuretic drugs.
  • FOLIC ACID and a B VITAMIN ,which the body uses to make DNA and red blood cells ,can lower the levels of haemocysteine, a compound in the blood that has been associate with heart disease.
  • FIBER to prevent constipation.
  • OMEGA-3 FATTY ACIDS from fish oil can prevent cardiac death by blocking fatal heart rhythms. OMEGA-3 Fatty acids are credited with keeping arteries healthy and reducing the sickness of platelets in the blood.
  1. Try to eat balanced meals regularly, including meat and fish, vegetables and fruits.
  2. Drink a lot of water every day to keep your body hydrated and cleansed.
  3. The Super Foods:


Darker berries — especially ones that are black or blue in color — tend to provide the best anti-aging benefits because they have the highest concentration of antioxidants [source: Watson]. According to some studies, blueberries may even help slow or reverse neurological degeneration, improve memory, restrict the growth of cancer cells and reduce inflammation. And as an added bonus, they’re great for urinary tract health


Dark Chocolate

Some of the most visible signs of the aging process can be seen in our skin. Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation ages the skin more quickly. But did you know that eating (or drinking) dark chocolate has been shown to help protect the skin against the harmful effects of UV exposure?

Cocoa beans, from which chocolate is made, have a higher antioxidant capacity than any other food, and the high concentration of antioxidant flavanols in cocoa beans helps reduce inflammation of the skin caused by exposure to UV light. Furthermore, eating dark chocolate can increase circulation in the skin and improve its ability to retain moisture, which can reduce the appearance of wrinkles and help you look younger [source: Williams].

But not all chocolate is equal when it comes to anti-aging — it’s dark chocolate that provides the greatest benefits. That’s because the refining process involved in making other kinds of chocolate actually strips away most of the skin-benefitting antioxidant flavanols.

Certain foods can help counteract the aging process has on your body.

From time to time, most of us wish we could stop the clock on the aging process, but scientists still haven’t found the key to keeping us forever young. As we get older, the body’s machinery begins to function a little less smoothly and we become susceptible to age-related and degenerative diseases. But there are certain foods that can help counteract the negative effects aging has on the body. They won’t make you younger or stop you from getting older, but they can improve your overall health and vitality, and protect you against disease and illness, which could prolong your life and make the years you do have more healthful.

While exercise and a healthy diet can keep you fit well into old age, some foods are especially good at preventing or reducing the effects of age-related diseases and other health problems. Here we’ll look at 10 foods that pack a huge anti-aging punch.


Beans, they’re good for your heart, the more you eat the more you, well, you get the idea. Beans often get a bad reputation because they can make you gassy, but they’re truly one of the great dietary staples. They’re an excellent source of low-fat protein, especially for those who don’t eat meat. They also contain fiber (which can help lower cholesterol), are rich in antioxidants, and are chock full of all sorts of vitamins and minerals, including iron, vitamin B and potassium.

What’s more, some beans — including soy and kidney beans — contain protease inhibitors and genistein, which are thought to help protect against cancer [source: Beare]. Studies have shown, for instance, that people who had high levels of genistein had the lowest rates of breast and prostate cancers [source: Banerjee].


A popular dietary supplement in recent years has been fish oil, and there’s certainly good reason for that trend. Eating fish, or taking fish oil supplements, provides the body with omega-3 fatty acids that help protect against heart disease, reduce inflammation, decrease the risk of arrhythmia and lower blood pressure. Omega-3 fatty acids are found largely in coldwater fish, including salmon, herring, tuna and sardines.

Studies have even shown that people who eat a lot of fish live longer. One study of middle-aged American men found that those who ate fish two to three times per week had a 40 percent lower mortality rate than those who did not. In men who had previously suffered a heart attack, eating fish twice a week actually lowered their mortality rates by 29 percent [source: Walford].

Fish is also a great source of protein and, unlike other meats, is low in saturated fat. The American Heart Association recommends eating omega-3-rich fish at least two times per week

Fruits and Vegetables

Like fruits, vegetables are one of the best sources of antioxidants available and they can go a long way toward fighting free radicals and slowing the effects of aging. The best vegetables for finding antioxidants are green, leafy vegetables such as spinach and kale. Two of the antioxidants found are lutin and zeaxanthin, which have also been shown to protect against the negative effects of UV exposure [source: Mukhtar].

Vegetables are a fantastic source of vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A, C, K and E. They’re also great for the immune system, helping the body fortify itself against sickness and disease. Studies have shown that a diet full of vegetables can help prevent cardiovascular disease, lower high blood pressure and, after a heart attack or stroke, lower cholesterol and unclog arteries. Eating lots of veggies (and fruit) could even reduce the risk of cancer in the digestive tract (including the colon and stomach) by up to 25 percent [source: Klatz].


Nuts are known for the protein they provide, but that’s not all these small nutrient-rich foods can do for you. Nuts of all kinds are a good source of unsaturated fats. Like coldwater fish, nuts contain omega-3 fatty acids, which are great for heart health. They’re also a good source of vitamins and minerals, including potassium, which helps lower blood pressure; vitamin E, which helps prevent cell damage; and calcium to maintain strong bones.

Another great benefit of eating nuts is that they can fill you up without packing on the pounds. That’s because up to 20 percent of the calories in nuts doesn’t get absorbed by the body, making them a great snack between meals.

Whole Grains

It’s well known that eating whole grains is good for your digestive system — all that fiber keeps you regular and helps rid the body of unwanted substances, such as bad cholesterol and fats. Fiber also helps control your appetite and keep blood sugar low [source: Beare]. But a diet rich in whole grains, including oats, whole wheat and brown rice, has other anti-aging benefits because they’re rich in vitamins and minerals. Eating whole grains has also been linked to a lower risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes [source: Cassetty].

The key is to make sure the grains you’re eating aren’t refined, because it’s the refining process that strips away many of the essential vitamins and minerals that make the grains so good for you in the first place.

Whether you eat them in slices or mashed into guacamole, avocados are a fruit that has long been hailed for its anti-aging properties. Avocados are a great source of vitamin E and potassium, as well as monounsaturated fats and antioxidants. The vitamins and minerals in avocados have been shown to reduce cholesterol, improve skin health and lower blood pressure [source: Watson].


Avocados are also rich in folates (also called folic acid or vitamin B). Folates have been linked to heart attack prevention and reducing the risk of osteoporosis [source: Johnson]. Avocados also contain oleic acid, a monounsaturated fat that has been shown to lower bad cholesterol, increase good cholesterol and protect against blood clots.


Garlic has long been thought of as a healthful and flavorful food, eaten by itself or added into a variety of delicious dishes. Its anti-aging benefits include lowering cholesterol and blood pressure, reducing inflammation, and protecting and maintaining cell health [source: Butt].

One of the biggest benefits of eating garlic is that it’s a natural way to boost the immune system. Garlic has been used in folk medicine to help prevent and fight against infection for centuries, and scientific studies confirm its benefit as an anti-viral and anti-bacterial food [source: Martirosyan].

Additionally, garlic has been linked to helping reduce the growth and spread of cancer cells [source: Butt]. Several studies have shown that the more garlic — both cooked and uncooked — a person eats, the lower their risk of getting stomach or intestinal cancers. It’s also been linked to reduced rates of breast and pancreatic cancers.


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