Proven Strategies for Prevention of Age-Associated Chronic Illnesses

By Hui Xie-Zukauskas

Aging_4C91926C-FDEB-4B37-903B0611D64C202DDo you know that 2 billion people will be (aged) 60 and older by 2050? According to statistics, between 2000 and 2050, the world’s population of 60+ years old will double from about 11% to 22%.

Aging is inevitable. Aging is a complex process too, which has a negative impact on various body systems and their functions. As you age, accumulated damage to the cells, increased burden of the immune response, and chronically stimulated inflammation, along with genetic and environmental risk factors, all intensify in your body.

Aging is the major risk factor for the predominant killer diseases such as cardiovascular disease and cancer, especially in developed countries or in the population living a sedentary lifestyle and eating a Western diet.

The good news: Age-associated chronic diseases, such as cancer, heart disease, stroke and diabetes are largely preventable! The prevention can be achieved mostly by lifestyle modification. How well we age depends on many factors, including what we eat, how physically active we are, and how much, how long we are exposed to health risks such as smoking, over-consumption of alcohol, or harmful, toxic chemicals/substances.

Taking care of yourself should be a top priority and it’s never too late to do so. Here are some key strategies:

1.      Maintain a healthy weight and avoid abdominal obesity. Excessive calorie intake and a sedentary lifestyle cause abdominal obesity, as we discussed previously.
2.      Have a diet rich in nutrients and antioxidants, such as fruits, vegetables, fish, beans, whole grains, nuts and seeds.
3.      Avoid or limit high-fat, high-sugar foodstuff and excessive salt intake from packaged or processed foods.
4.      Participate in physical activities regularly.
5.      Watch your numbers (cholesterol, blood sugar, etc), keep your blood pressure normal, and schedule routine cancer screening.
6.      Remember a good night’s sleep.

Let’s face it. You cannot help getting old, but you don’t have to get old. Fortunately, new technologies can make you look and feel young. However, if you want to age gracefully and brilliantly, place a strong focus on the following areas:

  • Practice gratitude. Gratitude is the key to happiness, so keep counting your blessings. “There’s always a lot to be thankful for if you take time to look for it. For example, I am sitting here thinking how nice it is that wrinkles don’t hurt.” I like this quote from the Unknown. Studies show that people who are always grateful and practice gratitude in their lives tend to have more peaceful and harmonious existences than those who do not.
  • Learn, learn and learn. It’s never too old to learn. Learning keeps you mentally sharp and spiritually young. Try to learn something every day and every year, whether it is from reading or from doing, whether it is a skill or a sport. Purposefully challenge your mental ability in fun ways (e.g. puzzles and games).
  • Maintain friendship. It helps your mental and emotional well-being. Keep a circle of people who are positive, uplifting and wise. Also, a connection with your friend(s) from high school or college can kindle a younger spirit.
  • Love, love and love. Love your age. In addition to your love to your family and relationship, there are many ways to show your love, such as pursuing your passion, giving to your community, caring and helping others, etc.

Exercising the physical, mental and spiritual areas outlined above can have additional health benefits in the prevention of a variety of age-associated chronic diseases. At the end, one of humanity’s greatest dreams is to have a long, productive life in a healthy, youthful body.

Image credit: By mealsonwheelspeople