Secret to Staying Young and Healthy

Published in Hilal English

Written By: Dr. Anum Hussain

How do you define beauty? If you ask this simple question from different age groups you may get a diverse response. For example, a teen’s reply would be different from a 25-years-old adult. Their answers will be based on a certain defined criteria set in their minds, for instance; skin tone, height, and hair, whilst others would decide based on different factors of persona like self-belief, speaking style, dressing sense, etc. but this isn't the end; additionally you may receive responses like beauty is directly proportional to age. According to them, if he/she crosses certain line of age then they aren't eligible to be called beautiful and sadly majority of the crowd would assume this false belief as a universal criteria. Now you must be thinking a doctor would provide you a catalogue of anti-aging treatments like botox, rehydrating fillers, meso-therapy, photo-facials, non-surgical facelifts and a never ending list of treatments. Being a doctor I clearly admire the outstanding progress in medical and health science. Allow me discuss some vital facets that are normally neglected in the process of achieving beauty targets or simply looking young.


Take a deep breath and accept the fact that aging is a natural process and there's no direct or inverse relation between age and beauty, Why? Because the former is simply a number and latter is a mixture of mind and personality. This growing old process affects every single cell of your body including all your internal and external organs. In general skin is the largest external organ of human body and usually this organ is our main concern. With advancing age skin becomes fragile, bruised, tough, and slack due to thinning of dermis and loss of support around the blood vessels. So in case you are thinking about the usage of anti-aging creams or are in search of anti-aging treatments and you think it is going to make you younger then please take a moment here and think about those billions or trillions body cells that make your other vital organs like heart, kidneys, liver, muscular tissues, and bones, etc. They are also growing old. Don’t they need anti-aging treatment too? Now you need to understand this phenomenon just like you are worrying about your nasolabial fold lines, crow feet, sagging cheeks or wrinkles etc., you should pay equal attention to your whole body because this aging process is targeting it all.


It is very crucial to maintain weight according to BMI because a lot of health conditions are directly associated with weight gain and it can be a major cause of the underlying conditions. In the process of growing old, it becomes difficult to get rid of excess weight as your muscle tissues certainly shrink and lose mass. Your ligaments and tendons might also end up inflexible with age and may lose tone, even with everyday exercise. You could have constrained strength and endurance required for exercise. Hormonal changes in older women and men may contribute to muscle loss. This gradual decline in musculoskeletal system directly affects your activities of daily living (ADLs) and limit your physical activities, which in turn causes slowdown of your metabolism and ultimately leads to unburned calories that are likely to become fat deposits. The fat deposits further deteriorate your another major body system i.e., cardiovascular system. With advancing age, blood vessels also undergo aging process including arterial stiffening and thickening. These structural changes play important part in developing hypertension (high blood pressure). The fats already stored in the body due to limited physical activity build up inside the arteries. This accumulation of fat is known as atherosclerosis. It speeds up the process of aging in arteries leading to further fatty buildup and narrowing which may result in blocking major arteries that supply blood to heart and brain and the results could be devastating i.e., heart attack or stroke. Now you can clearly see all body systems are interconnected and problem in one directly affects another. But it is not very difficult to overcome these age related issues – all you need is a little attention and time for your body.

 

Growing older is no regret but dying before one’s actual death is. There is no rewind button in life, so value the time you have and value the gift of life. Avoid negativity and add positivity. Don’t limit yourself under the label of age to live a purposeful and healthy life.

First of all, it is important to monitor your weight on regular basis. If you notice any fluctuation you can take measures. I mentioned earlier that as you are growing old you lose muscle mass so add proper amount of protein in your diet plan e.g., meat, poultry, fish, salmon, trout (contains heart healthy omega 3 fats), eggs, beans and nuts etc. Also your bone health is important for maintaining your overall musculoskeletal system so dairy food with calcium and vitamin D must be a portion of your diet plan.


It is important to maintain recommended cholesterol levels to avoid fatty buildup in blood vessels. Total cholesterol level (lower than 200mg/dl) LDL i.e., low density lipoprotein or bad cholesterol (100mg/dl or low) HDL i.e., high density lipoprotein or good cholesterol (40mg/dl or high) and triglycerides (149mg/dl or low). Like protein we also need fats for our body but this is mandatory to choose right fat or heart healthy fat. Saturated fat or animal fat raises cholesterol level so strictly avoid butter, cream or cream based sauces, hard margarine fats on meat, processed meat like sausages, burgers, cake, chocolates, heavy cream, milk etc. Monounsaturated fats found in olive oil, peanut oil, unsalted peanuts, cashew nuts and almond help replace saturated fats with monounsaturated fats and protect your heart as it lowers cholesterol. Polyunsaturated fat also reduces cholesterol level and is found in oily fish (omega 3 fat), sunflower oil (omega 6 fat), sesame oil, walnuts and hazelnut. But you must always keep in mind that all these types of fats, either saturated or unsaturated, contain equal amount of fat and calories so it is essential to avoid their excessive use. It is better to go for small meals rather than heavy meals because your metabolism slows down as you age but never go much longer than 3 hours without eating.


Hydration is important as nearly all of your systems in body depend on water. Moreover, this is a tip for anyone who wants to lose weight. With advancing age, the hypothalamus (which controls our hunger and thirst) becomes desensitized and our body can easily mistake thirst for hunger, which causes us to eat more than we actually need. Dehydration leads to high cholesterol, (produces more cholesterol to prevent water loss from cell), high blood pressure (because blood becomes thicker causing resistance to blood flow in arteries), constipation, tiredness, fatigue and weight gain. So, drink plenty of water (best is about 8 glass/day). You can also compensate by eating hydrating food i.e., cucumber, watermelon, bell pepper, pineapple, carrots, apple, grapefruit etc.


Balance food intake with proper physical activity. If you think skipping above mentioned dietary ingredients or in other words “starvation” will prevent the side effect of accumulation in the body, you are totally wrong because on one side your body needs all the above nutrients to keep your body systems young and healthy and on the other side your body also needs to utilize these calories in the form of physical activity. Make your schedule and assign one hour of the day for physical activity. It can include mild fitness programs like walking at medium pace, or swimming to strength training programs. My recommendation is to choose the activity according to your body needs e.g., if your task is weight loss at 35 or 45 you can freely engage in heavy exercises but if you are above 60 you must keep in mind that now your bones have lost much calcium and muscle mass. Moreover, if you are having any comorbid condition (hypertension, coronary artery disease etc.), you should prefer modified plan according to your body demand; better if it is under the supervision of a trainer. Don’t skip this portion because physical activity has direct effect on all of your body systems, so picking the best one according to your body demand will be beneficial. Set some goals and tasks before starting any fitness program.


Alcohol and smoking are the root cause of many medical conditions ranging from mild to life threatening conditions. They not only cause serious damage to respiratory system but also adversely affect our other body systems including circulatory, immune and reproductive systems. If you are a smoker or alcoholic, you have two choices: either arrange your bills for a long stay in hospital or simply quit this habit.


Just like your physical health is important, your mental wellbeing should also be part of your goals. Whatever your age is, value yourself and avoid self-criticism. Make time for your hobbies even if you find time once in a week. Communicate with good and ambitious people because your company has an effect on your lifestyle and your goals. Meeting with positive people will have a positive effect. Good company will not only motivate you but also boost your energy for your tasks. Break monotony and try new things or modify your existing activities like change your walking track, meet new people or add some recreational trips even if it is only once in a month. Stress is a part of life, whatever the age is, it can strike you anywhere, anytime, the important thing is to know how to cope with it. Check out triggers for your stress and how you react. It can help you to avoid triggers and learn how to manage them. Avoid overthinking because nothing is permanent, whatever the reason of your stress. Always keep in mind that everything will get better although it can take some time. The best approach in adverse situations is to avoid taking stress that will ultimately lead to anxiety and depression, further deteriorating your physical health. Try to think positive because “problem isn’t a problem until the mind says it’s a problem”


Growing older is no regret but dying before one’s actual death is. There is no rewind button in life, so value the time you have and value the gift of life. Avoid negativity and add positivity. Don’t limit yourself under the label of age to live a purposeful and healthy life.

 

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2 comments

  • Comment Link Sara Sara 10 November 2017

    Very well written; comprehensive, yet crisp and to the point.. :)

  • Comment Link Muhammad Hussain Chaudhry Muhammad Hussain Chaudhry 09 November 2017

    Well done my daughter... I am so proud of you

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