It's no secret that people are living longer nowadays. From 1921 to 2011, life expectancy in Canada increased from 57.1 to 81.7, a gain of 24.6 years. If you want to make the most out of those extra 25 years, follow these simple guidelines:
Take care of your heart.
Exercise has a dilating effect on our blood vessels thus lowering our blood pressure and creating a more efficient circulatory system. Sugar, salt and fat have the opposite effect. They constrict blood vessels by laying down plaque along the vessel walls. Sugar is particularly damaging as it can damage the blood vessels themselves. Hey, nobody's perfect, even the top bodybuilders and athletes have a dietary "cheat day" every week. But if you want to enjoy health for many years to come, you should make a commitment to yourself to exercise on a regular basis. Thirty minutes of moderate to vigorous activity, five days a week is the standard for all Canadians.
Take care of your gut.
Maintaining a healthy digestive system has a profound effect on your overall health and impaired digestion often results in inflammation of the gut, which causes inflammation on a systemic level. Ensure you get enough fiber (both soluble and insoluble) so that you pass digested food out of your body. Eating fermented foods such as pickles, coleslaw or sauerkraut will provide healthy bacteria to help with breaking down foods in your stomach. (If you don't enjoy these types of foods, you can purchase digestive enzymes at a health food store -- but always consult your doctor first before introducing anything new to your diet that could pose a risk to your health.)
Drink plenty of water every day.
If you're not sure how much water to drink, a good rule of thumb is eight cups a day to start. A cup is only eight ounces, and can be downed in just a few gulps. Once your regular daily water intake is eight cups, you may find that you can drink even more. Staying properly hydrated has a host of benefits, including: it ensures our brain is well fed, as brain tissue is 75 per cent water; it helps start our metabolism in the morning; it gives our skin a healthy glow; it helps to flush toxins from our bodies; and, if not too obvious, it keeps us from becoming dehydrated.
One of the best things you can do for your future self is to develop a daily stretch routine. Starting at around age 35, our bodies start to naturally lose muscle mass, through a process called sarcopenia. For many people, by their 50s, 60s and 70s, their muscles shrink, pulling on their joints, often leading to postural changes, especially in the hips and spine. This, in turn, can lead to changes in gait patterns and finally result in an increased risk of fall and injury.
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Found in cocoa beans and abundant in servings of dark chocolate, a recent study suggests they could even reverse age-related memory decline.
This illustrious nutrient is well known for the bouquet of benefits it presents and cognitive health is no exception. It's found in salmon, bluefish, anchovies, herring, mackerel, sardines, sturgeon, lake trout, tuna, flaxseed oil, canola oil, walnuts, soybean oil and chia seeds.
Two pilot studies have given these nutrients high marks for senior brain health. The first is found most abundantly in soy lecithin, and also in mackerel, herring, eel and tuna and it's available in supplement format. Popular with body builders, phosphatidic acid is available in supplement form, usually derived from soy.
Adding walnuts to your diet regularly could slow the progression of Alzheimer's, a mouse study suggests.
Foods are not a good source of citicoline, according to WebMD, but many people take a supplement of this compound --which is very similar to choline -- and well-documented for its neurological health benefits.
Good sources include meat, specifically liver, beans, cruciferous vegetables and eggs. It's essential for liver health and for women and it's close in structure to the B vitamins. It aids in the development of brain tissue, according to Ohr.
Recommended for those who suffer concussions, it's found in avocado, soybeans, bananas and dark chocolate and is available in supplemental forms.
Well known as an anti-inflammatory agent, studies have shown that even moderate consumption could increase neural signaling in the brain.
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