Secrets to Healthy Aging Made Simple

Posted by Kaerrie Hall and Katie Gleason

Sep 2, 2016 8:30:00 AM

In honor of September being Healthy Aging Month, it's time to start only being as old as you feel.

You know that saying, you’re only as old as you feel? In honor of September being Healthy Aging® Month, let’s commit to taking that to heart by implementing a few secret and not-so-secret tips for feeling and staying healthy, vibrant, and “young” as we age.

1. Watch What You Eat

The most basic way to age healthily is to eat right. Yet, many of us seem to ignore this basic principle.

Eat More Fruits and Vegetables

A 2015 study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that only 1 in 10 Americans eats enough fruits and vegetables. Getting your recommended daily dose of these healthy options is important, so here are some tips for adding more to your diet:

  • Top a bowl of whole grain cereal with sliced fruit

  • Saute some spinach and sprinkle it into your scrambled eggs or omelet

  • Keep a bowl of fresh fruit within reach or a fruit salad in the refrigerator

  • Purchase bags of ready-to-eat cut vegetables or fruit

  • Blend fresh or frozen fruit with fruit juice and yogurt for a tasty smoothie

  • Add sliced red grapes or mandarin oranges to chicken salad

  • Load your sandwiches with veggies - lettuce, tomato, cucumber, avocado, onion, etc. - better yet, put your sandwich fillings inside a lettuce wrap instead of bread

  • Try thisBanana, Wheat Germ, and Oats recipe from Cooking Light magazine for breakfast

  • Don’t wait for a party - enjoy a fresh fruit tray or vegetable tray as a light family meal

  • Choose microwave-steam bags of vegetables for a healthy, easy-to-prepare side dish

  • Make a lunch out of sugar snap peas, sliced carrots, and celery dipped in hummus

  • Stir fresh, sauteed, or roasted vegetables into your pasta dish

  • Make one dinner per week a vegetarian meal

  • Add sliced apples or bananas to your peanut butter sandwich

  • Try juicing as a flavorful, convenient way to get your fruits and vegetables

  • Have a large salad for a healthy dinner (squeeze lemon on the salad to cut down on the amount of dressing you use)

Tip: Create and share healthy recipes with friends and family. Or pick a night to cook something new together. This way you get the benefit of company and good healthy eating. Just make sure no one brings dessert!

Too much sodium can lead to hypertension.

Cut Down On Salt

While most of us don’t consume enough fruits and vegetables, we tend to have no trouble taking in more than double the recommended daily amount of sodium. Too much sodium can lead to hypertension and cardiovascular disease.

If you have trouble with salt, don’t just cut back at home. Restaurants and pre-packaged foods contain a high amount of sodium. Check packages to find the lowest sodium options.

Choose Food Your Body Can Handle

As we get older, many people experience a decreased metabolism, changes in taste and smell, and slower digestion. Sometimes the foods we’re so used to eating suddenly become enemies of our stomachs or digestive tracts. If you can’t handle certain foods anymore, listen to your body and find alternatives you like.

It may take time to figure out what foods your body reacts to positively or negatively, but it’s important for your daily comfort and health to make adjustments to your diet when necessary. If you notice that you keep getting stomach aches and that it’s been awhile since your last bowel movement, maybe something as simple as eating more fiber will get you back on track. But if problems continue or you can’t get a handle on what’s causing discomfort, talk to your doctor.

2. Drink Plenty of Water

Make hydration a top priority. Even if you don’t feel thirsty, you need to ensure you are drinking plenty of water throughout the day. As we age, physical changes in our bodies can make us more prone to dehydration. Symptoms of dehydration can be hard to spot at first, but can have damaging effects on the body. Getting enough water helps you:

  • Keep your intestinal tract lubricated, which helps you process fiber correctly, pass waste comfortably, and maintain regular bowel movements

  • Regulate your body temperature properly

  • Maintain a healthy blood pressure

  • Stay sharp and full of energy

  • Keep your skin hydrated and looking fresh

How much water do you need? You can ask your doctor for a specific recommendation, but according to the Institute of Medicine, men should drink 3 liters (about 13 cups) each day and women should drink 2.2 liters (about 9 cups) each day.

3. Maintain Your Brain

When you challenge yourself every day, you’re challenging your brain. By keeping your brain active and learning, you can help preserve memory and reasoning. Here are some options to get you started:

  • Try learning something new, like a foreign language, dancing, or painting.

  • Check out local schools or community centers to see if they offer any classes on subjects that interest you.

  • Find a new hobby or pick up one you’ve neglected for a while.

  • If you have activities you already enjoy, see if you can expand on those. For example, if you like to do crosswords, move to more challenging ones. If you like to cook, cook with new foods and recipes you haven’t tried before.

  • Write about your day before bed. Not only will this serve as a reminder of everything you did, but it may also encourage you to do more with your day tomorrow.

Try to work in something new each day, even if it’s something simple. Take a different route to work or the grocery store, walk the grocery aisles the opposite direction you usually do, or brush your teeth with your less dominant hand. Activities like these will cause your brain to have to actively think outside of your normal day-to-day routines.

4. Get Enough Sleep

No matter what your age, you still need to get enough sleep. For most people, this is between 7 to 9 hours per night. Lack of sleep can cause problems with memory, lead to feelings of depression, make you moody and irritable, and increase your risk of falls or injury.

To help you get a better night’s sleep, stick to a regular sleep schedule and establish a bedtime routine that triggers your body to recognize it’s time to go to bed. Keep your room dark, cool, and quiet. If your room gets too much light, consider using an eye mask or getting room darkening shades to block out the light. And try to avoid watching television or getting on the Internet just before bed. Give your body and mind a winding down time so you can relax and fall asleep easily.

The best secret to healthy aging is getting regular exercise.

5. Live an Active Lifestyle

Finally, the best secret to healthy aging is getting regular exercise. You’ve probably heard it said: “A body in motion tends to stay in motion.” Living an active lifestyle helps you stay fit longer, allowing you to go where you want to go and do what you want to do for years to come.

In addition, regular exercise can help prevent certain chronic conditions such as diabetes or heart disease, or keep symptoms at bay, such as the aches and pains of arthritis. Consult with your doctor before starting any exercise and to ask for recommendations on physical activities or exercises that make sense for your health and age.

Get Started

Making smart, healthy choices is essential to healthy aging and living a more active, fulfilling life. Now that you know these “secrets,” start building them into your daily routine. The sooner you do, the sooner you can start enjoying the benefits!

Let CareSync™ build an easy-to-follow Care Plan around your healthcare needs.Click here to learn more about CareSync’s services. Or, if you’re a Medicare patient with two or more chronic conditions, ask your doctor to prescribe CareSync for chronic care management, a healthcare benefit Medicare wants you to have.

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