To Your Health: Conquering Aging

Dr. Alan Safdi, a world-renowned internist and gastroenterologist with encyclopedic knowledge of mind-body wellness and preventative medicine, posts on Telluride Inside… and Out under the banner of “To Your Health.” His blogs feature the most current information in his field: health, wellness, and longevity.

This fall, Dr. Alan returns with his popular Live Longer Retreat wellness intensives. For further information, email or go to Safdi’s Telluride Longevity Institute website.

This week, Dr. Alan talks about how to conquer aging – offering tips about how to age gracefully (since we can’t really conquer aging.)

Debilitating illness due to hereditary factors, combined with environmental contributions and other unknown factors, can negatively impact aging. But look around and you will notice that some people age more gracefully than other, that is, 65 years old (etc.) looks different on different people.t is not fully clear why certain people age more gracefully than other, but healthy living seems to play an important role.

In reality, the major causes of chronic diseases are known, and if those risk factors are eliminated, at least 80% of all heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes could be prevented; over 40% of cancer could be prevented. too.

And we do have substantial evidence that those who engage in physical activity tend to undertake the aging process with more “grace”: they remain functionally independent longer; have greater quality of life; decreased physiologic changes associated with aging; and lower risk of chronic illness as compared with older individuals who lead sedentary lifestyles. In fact, people of advanced age who exercise regularly are around 10 years younger in terms of motor skills than those who lead a sedentary lifestyle. A 50-year-old who exercises regularly is as fit as an inactive 40-year-old. On the other hand, those do less than 2.5 hours of moderate physical activity per week, as recommended by the World Health Organization are four times more likely to suffer from Type 2 diabetes.

Aging is natural, but there are some lifestyle and dietary changes one can make to their daily routine that may aid in graceful aging. These include the following:

Engage in regular exercise, for example, walking 30 minutes a day.

Eat more vegetables, fruits, low-fat dairy, nuts, and whole grains. Eat less salt, fatty meats, sugar, butter, and packaged foods. Also, eat plenty of fiber.

Stay connected to friends and family.

Consider taking any supplements under physician guidance, including vitamin D

Maintain a regular sleep schedule that includes good bed hygiene, such as avoidance of alcohol or caffeine in the evening, as well as keeping the bedroom dark.

Use sunscreen regularly to protect against photo-aging. A fascinating recent study showed the following: The daily sunscreen group showed no detectable increase in skin aging after 4.5 years. Skin aging from baseline to the end of the trial was 24% less in the daily sunscreen group than in the discretionary sunscreen group and supplements studied were of no benefit.

Keep your gums in good shape to avoid peritoneal disease since that is associated with heart disease and dementia.

Here we elaborate on those tips about how to look and feel younger.

Put on a happy face: Heard the phrase “Fake it ‘til you make it”? It applies to smiling, too. Believe it or not, the more you smile, the happier you’ll feel (not just the other way around). Smiling reduces stress and makes you feel more positive. More to the point, researchers found that people who smile are often perceived as being younger than their actual age, while people who frown appear to be older than they really are. So, turn that frown upside down and put on a happy face.

Get together with friends: They keep you young and healthy. According to one study, having strong friendships can actually help you live longer, be healthier, and feel more youthful. In an important study, researchers found that people who had strong social connections had lower measures of obesity, inflammation, and high blood pressure. So, call up your old pals, see a movie, try hiking, walking or biking with a group, go bowling, or just meet for coffee. That is one simple, fun way to feel young and stay healthy.

Wear sunscreen: Nothing says old age like leathery skin, sunspots, and wrinkles. So, slather on the sunscreen to keep your skin from looking old. But here’s the trick: Sunscreen isn’t just for the beach. Wear it regularly, no matter the weather, experts advise. In a randomized trial in sunny Australia, researchers showed that middle-aged adults who applied a broad-spectrum sunscreen daily had skin that was 24% younger compared with those who wore it only when they thought they needed it. Another thing to consider: A broad-spectrum SPF 30 sunscreen from the drug store is far less expensive than anti-aging and anti-wrinkle creams from the department store.

Have sex: Do I have your attention now? According to an expert on aging, having sex regularly can make you look and feel up to 7 years younger. For middle-aged adults, that means getting busy about 3 times per week. This amorous activity provides a Fountain-of-Youth effect by producing endorphins, boosting circulation, and releasing human growth hormone, which makes the skin look more elastic. Try that argument on your partner or spouse.

Get a dog: Old age is for the dogs? Yes, it certainly is. Dog owners are likely to live longer than their pet-free peers, according to the authors of a large, 12-year follow-up study. Owning a dog is even better for you if you’re single, with a 33% reduced risk of mortality and 11% lower risk of heart attack compared with dog-less single people. The reasons for such reductions? Having a dog tends to increase a person’s activity level, but also increases well-being and social interaction. The dog may even have a positive influence on the owner’s bacterial microbiome, the researchers suggested. (However, the researchers couldn’t rule out that people who choose to have a dog may already be more active and in better health.)

Have a purpose in life: Having a purpose in life may help you live longer. In a study that included nearly 7,000 middle-aged and older adults, those with the strongest sense of purpose in life had a significantly lower risk of all-cause mortality compared with those who had the least sense of purpose, researchers recently reported in JAMA Network Open. People with a stronger purpose in life also had lower mortality related to heart, circulatory, and blood conditions. The researchers defined purpose in life as “a self-organizing life aim that stimulates goals, promotes healthy behaviors, and gives meaning to life.”

Psychosocial and genetic factors contribute to successful aging, as well as longevity, although the contribution of heredity to longevity may be as high as 25%. Thus, as previously discussed, there are steps that all should consider to help us age gracefully.

Dr. Alan, more:

Dr. Alan Safdi is board-certified in Internal Medicine and in Gastroenterology and is a Fellow of the American College of Gastroenterology. A proven leader in the healthcare arena, he has been featured on the national program, “Medical Crossfire” and authored or co-authored numerous medical articles and abstracts. Safdi has been involved in grant-based and clinical research for 30+ years and is passionate about disease prevention and wellness, not just fixing what has gone wrong. He is an international lecturer on the subjects of wellness, nutrition and gastroenterology.

And back by popular demand, this summer, in partnership with the Peaks’ Spa, Dr. Safdi returns with his three, week-long wellness intensives titled Live Longer Retreat.

Again, using an evidence-based, scientific approach to health and longevity and featuring an experienced staff of medical professionals, personal trainers, Pilates and yoga instructors, dietitians, and chefs, the focus is on your unique wellness profile. Each Live Longer Retreat is one-of-kind in the U.S. Those intensives, limited to only 10 – 15 participants, will include personal consultations, hiking, spinning, yoga, Pilates, talks and demonstrations related to nutrition, cooking classes, and more.

Go here to read a review of the experience by one very satisfied participant.

Feel free to sign up now to participate in a Live Longer Retreat – or call 1-877-448-5416 for further information.

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