Im currently in the unenviable position of watching aging family members struggle with poor health. I mean really, really poor. Hello. Wake-up call
Common diseases of aging dont just develop over the course of a few short months or even a few years. Its cumulative. It takes thirty to forty years of an unhealthy lifestyle to bring about the metabolic abnormalities that cause disease. Theres a reason why people in the Blue Zones have much lower rates of age-related disorders. Their lifetimes have been spent getting ample exercise on a daily basis and not eating sugar or processed food. Studies suggest that eating well and exercising may even slow the metabolic and molecular causes of aging. What we put into our bodies will eventually be the building blocks for vitality and good health, or the destruction thereof. In simpler terms, the bad food choices you make throughout your life have very real, undesirable consequences down the road.
The current health care approach in this country is not doing anyone any favors. While targeting disease has helped people live longer, I dont believe that spending more years being sick with multiple disorders related to aging is really what people are going for. More focus needs to be placed on preventing chronic diseases from developing in the first place. And that education needs to start at a young age, and place the focus on healthy eating, and a healthy, active lifestyle.
If, like me, you didnt have privy to this enlightening information at a young age, its not too late to make changes to get off the sinking ship:
1. Give up sugar and foods that contain sugar. The blood sugar spikes that ingesting sugar creates cause insulin to be released into the blood stream. Insulin, the hormone that tells cells to take in glucose, spikes as well. Increased insulin levels tell the body to form fat and release more cortisol, a stress hormone that damages immunity and increases inflammation. These increases can lead to insulin resistance in cells, causing excess circulating glucose. This triggers a multitude of harmful effects, including chronic inflammation. Left unchecked, this process can directly lead to metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is a name for a group of risk factors that occur together and increase the risk for coronary artery disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes.
2. Eat a mostly plant-based diet. You cant go wrong eating fresh food that the earth provides for you. (unless of course its GMO, but thats another story) No matter how you cut it, no matter which diet expert insists that grass-fed meat is good for you, keep it to a minimum. Without exception, all Blue Zone centenarians limit meat intake to once a week or less.
3. Take up a lifestyle where movement makes up the bulk of your day. Blue Zones centenarians get plenty of daily activity, whether gardening, taking walks or cleaning. As you may know, the stand-up desk craze is in full swing, and for good reason. Its just plain unhealthy to sit all day. Movement throughout each and everyday helps support long-term health.
Heres the bad news; by age 65, more than 70% of people will have acquired at least two age-related disorders. That could mean arthritis, diabetes, heart disease or even cancer. The good news; my resolve has strengthened even more to do whatever is in my power to not end up in that boat. And while I know there are no guarantees in life, I also know that much of my future health lies in my own hands today. Step away from the cake.