Healthy Aging – Prevent Chronic Illness and Disease with These Tips

By Kim Banting, Tags: ,

You insure your house and your car without thinking. But, are you doing everything you can to protect your most important asset – YOU?

Cancer, heart disease and diabetes are the 3 biggest killers in North America today. Alarmingly – over 24,000 cancer deaths in Canada last year alone could have been prevented with better nutrition (Centre for Science in the Public Interest, CSPINET)

We are all getting older, but with the right choices you can prevent premature aging, many of these man-made illnesses and live a better, healthier life. Follow these 10 simple rules to nourish and heal your body. You will enjoy reduced pain, better focus and an abundance of energy.

  1. Avoid processed foods: Manufactured foods are devoid of the life giving properties our bodies need to truly flourish. Some of the preservatives used are linked to cancer. As well, artificial sweeteners, ironically, contribute to obesity. Minimize your risk by avoiding foods containing: high fructose corn syrup, aspartame, acesulfame-potassium, soy and palm kernel oils, hydrogenated or trans fats, sulphates and sulphites, nitrates and nitrites, artificial colours and flavours. If your grandmother didn’t eat it, you shouldn’t either!
  2. Eat raw plant foods rich in enzymes, phytonutrients, vitamins and minerals: These living foods provide your body with the basic building blocks needed for growth, repair and healing. Billions of chemical reactions are taking place in your body at any given time and these nutrients are the catalysts that ensure everything runs smoothly.  The best sources are sprouted grains and legumes, mushrooms and colourful fruits and vegetables.
  3. Eat antioxidant rich foods: Oxidation is a natural body process that leads to aging by creating “free radicals” which destroy life at the cellular level; similar to metal rusting. Unchecked, free radicals attack our cells leading to chronic illness and disease as well as physical signs of aging such as wrinkles and age spots. Antioxidants are “free radical scavengers” which help prevent this damage from occurring. Consuming antioxidant rich foods regularly will help your body resist disease and improve your overall appearance and health. Some of the best choices are colourful fruits and vegetables such as berries, peppers, grapes and dark green leafy vegetables.
  4. Stay hydrated: When your body is properly hydrated it flushes away toxins assisting in better organ function. It also plumps your skin minimizing fine lines and wrinkles. Hint: if you feel thirsty you are already dehydrated. Water is your best choice for getting and staying hydrated, but a diet full of raw fruits and vegetables also helps.
  5. Include essential fatty acids in your diet: Specifically, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. These fats help improve memory, brain function and cardiovascular health. Make sure you include fatty fish such as wild salmon, mackerel and tuna 2 times each week. Eggs (fortified), walnuts, flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds and chia seeds are plant sources of omega-3 fatty acids that should also be included in your diet regularly.
  6. Limit consumption of animal proteins:  Westernized societies tend to eat far more animal protein than necessary.  While quality protein is essential for growth and repair, too much is very acidic in the body and hard on the kidneys for elimination.  Try substituting high quality plant proteins for some meat. The key is to combine them properly:
    1. grains with legumes,
    2. legumes with seeds and nuts,
    3. vegetables with nuts or seeds and legumes,
    4. vegetables with grains.
  7. Improve digestion: No matter how healthy your diet – if you can’t digest and absorb food effectively you will be deficient in key nutrients. Adding probiotics and dietary fibre from fresh plant foods to help regulate your bowels and improve absorption of essential nutrients goes a long way in helping you achieve better health.
  8. Get adequate sleep: Sleep is essential for our mental health and our body’s ability to regenerate and repair itself. Over time, insufficient or poor quality sleep affects our ability to perform simple tasks, can cause personality changes, weight gain and chronic health problems. Most adults require about 8 hours sleep each night. Improve your sleep by sticking to a regular schedule and avoid exercise, caffeine and alcohol close to bedtime. It also helps to keep your room cool and dark. If all else fails try drinking relaxing herbal teas or take an aromatherapy bath before bed.
  9. Learn to relax: Studies show happy people have younger hearts, stronger immunity and longer lives. Take time to unwind with loved ones, pamper yourself and search out enjoyable activities that allow you to forget your stressors.
  10. Get moving: As we age our metabolism slows, we lose bone density, muscle mass and flexibility resulting in an increase in body fat. Fight back with regular weight-bearing exercise! Proven to be the best way to burn fat, weight bearing exercise also improves bone health, increases lean muscle mass, and can even improve cardiovascular health and boost immunity. All it takes is thirty minutes of brisk walking daily combined with 30 minutes of weight bearing activity 5 days a week. Be sure to target each muscle group and include stretching to improve flexibility.

Try making one of these changes today. We are living longer than ever, so let’s do it well!