Getting older is a fact of life. For many of us, the prospect of aging is a fearful experience. We worry about losing our looks, our health and our power in a society that promotes and celebrates youth and ridicules wisdom and experience. Yet I would argue that growing older can be a joyous and rich experience! Good health is key to better aging, and my patients often ask me what they can do to maximize their health and resilience into their elder years. Having done extensive research into the key factors for enjoyable longevity, I came up with my Top Three Things you can do to live better longer:
Normalize Your Blood Sugar
High levels of sugar in your blood cause a host of problems, including diabetes, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, kidney failure, circulatory diseases, blindness and death. The normal range for blood sugar after fasting, is 3.90 mmol/L to 5.5 mmol/L. Research shows that even levels above 4.4 mmol/L are linked to health problems. Regulating your blood sugar is the best way to prevent disease, reduce your weight and further your healthy lifespan. We can test your fasting levels of blood sugar and related markers, and design a diet that regulates blood sugar, and works for you and your health goals.
After the age of forty, movement is the only way to prevent muscular atrophy, giving truth to the old adage, “use it or lose it”. In addition, regular movement prevents injury and improves balance, elevates mood and regulates hormones. Daily activity of at least 30 minutes in length is key to maintaining and improving your overall health. Regular activity also stop telomeres (the part of our DNA that regulates cell reproduction and death) from shrinking, effectively extending the life span of each cell in our body. Movement can and should be enjoyable and sustainable, and we can help you find a workout or activity that is right for you.
Research from all over the world, especially in the so-called “Blue Zones” (areas with a greater than average number of centenarians), shows that connection to, and involvement in, the greater community is key for longevity and happiness. Loneliness is a killer. In areas where grandparents are involved in social groups and caring for grandchildren, they live longer and have more fulfilling and enjoyable lives, as do other seniors who are active and supported by their community. What is your “sense of purpose”? Dr Handford practices brief counselling methods to help you regain your purpose and find joy in day to day living.
It is not about living longer, it is about living well longer!