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Healthy Eating Habits for Ageing Bodies

Many people will say you are what you eat, and looking after your body in the best ways you can is essential to healthy ageing. This starts with what you feed and fuel your body with! Here are five tips for maintaining healthy eating habits as you age.

1. Stay hydrated

Your body will begin dehydrating faster as you age, and you may start to notice drier skin than you are used to. This is particularly prevalent during menopause. Because of this, it is extremely important to stay hydrated by drinking around two litres of water per day. If you drink (uncaffeinated) herbal tea, this will also count toward your daily water intake!

2. Eat your veggies

This might be a pretty straightforward one, but it is important to be taking in your five daily serves of vegetables each month as you age.

3. Have enough protein

Taking in substantial protein as you age will mean your body is stronger, and therefore your risk of injury is lessened. Protein is particularly important if you are undertaking any kind of exercise routine.

4. Eat ample amounts

It might be easier to skip breakfast of a morning, and just have a coffee, or have a bigger lunch and not worry about dinner, but skipping meals won’t do you any favours. Sticking to at least three main meals each day at regular times will help maintain a healthy metabolism, and will keep your energy at a consistent level.

5. Don’t be too strict

While it is important to ensure you are taking in ample nutrients each day, there is no need to be so strict that you miss out on your favourite foods. Part of a healthy lifestyle is treating yourself every now and then when you have cravings.

For more information on healthy ageing, speak to your healthcare professional.

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Staying Fit as You Age

Improving and maintaining fitness as you age can seem like a huge task, but there are small things you can implement every day to keep your body strong and healthy. Fitness is something typically associated with youth, but there are countless benefits to keeping fit as you age. A fitter body will also mean a healthier mind.

You don’t have to run kilometres and lift heavy weights to maintain fitness as you age. Simply keeping active and mobile will be plenty. Find low impact exercises that you enjoy, like yoga, walking, and swimming, and try to do at least 30 minutes of exercise every day.

You may feel that the prospect is daunting, but It is never too late to begin an exercise routine. If you have injuries, ailments, or any health conditions, speak to your health care professional before embarking on an exercise program.

Incidental exercise is the easiest way to promote movement each day. Try parking your car a bit further away from the supermarket, or taking a walk around the block a few times a day if you are able. Remember that keeping fit does not have to include gruelling workouts every day of the week.

Check out our blog on keeping a healthy mind next, for tips on how to maintain holistic fitness. It’s not all about your physical fitness!

Before starting an exercise regime, speak to a healthcare professional.

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Keeping your Mind Young

Maintaining a healthy mind as you age is just as important as maintaining a healthy body. A decline in cognitive performance is common when we age, but it can be prevented or slowed to a certain extent.

Stimulate your Brain

Keep your brain active with puzzles, reading, and course-taking. Doing arts and crafts such as knitting, painting, and drawing have been shown to improve cognitive performance as well as dexterity. Keeping your brain active as you age is key to maintaining a healthy mind.

Cut the Alcohol and Tobacco

Drinking in excess has been strongly linked to dementia later in life. If you do wish to drink, try not to exceed two drinks in any one day. Tobacco has many negative effects on the brain, and can cause accelerated decline in brain function.

Be Social

Socialising is one often under-appreciated way to stimulate your mind and keep it young. By taking the time to catch up with friends or family, even on the phone, you will improve mental clarity and even life expectancy.

Get Moving

Exercise is great for all parts of our body, including our mind! Incorporating exercise can keep the mind stimulated, as well as help release mental stress. Exercise also stimulates the connections between brain cells.

Eat Well

If you didn’t have enough reasons to eat healthily, here is another! Eating a balanced diet full of nutrients will help maintain a healthy brain. Fish, oils, nuts, fruits, and vegetables are just a handful of foods that help maintain healthy cognition.

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Maintaining Healthy Bones

Calcium, sunshine, and exercise are the holy grail trifecta when it comes to maintaining healthy bones as you age. Research shows that these three elements are most effective when used together.

Calcium

Taking in enough calcium is important for kids to help bones grow strong, however it is less often said that older adults should focus on adequate calcium intake as well. Calcium can come from dairy foods, but can also be found in leafy green vegetables, salmon, nuts and seeds, and soy products. If you find it hard to take in enough calcium, you can try  a daily supplement.

After young-adulthood, bone calcium will begin to decrease, particularly for women. A lack of calcium in a person’s diet can lead to degradation and diseases such as osteoporosis. Such diseases will cause weaker bones that will break more easily.

Sunshine (or Vitamin D)

Our bodies use Vitamin D to help absorb calcium from the foods we eat. Vitamin D is present in some food, but is predominantly taken in from the sun. Australians are usually able to get enough sun exposure to meet their Vitamin D requirements with just incidental contact, due to the very high UV. There is no need for most people living in Australia to spend purposeful time outside for Vitamin D needs.

Exercise

Exercise is key when trying to increase bone strength and density. Weight bearing exercises will help your bones grow stronger and harder. For best results, exercises should progressively get harder over time. While it is ideal to begin weight bearing exercise when you are younger, you are never too old to start. Be sure to consult a healthcare professional before embarking on an exercise regime.

Speak to your healthcare professional about more information on healthy bones.

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Six Tips for Healthy Ageing

1. Take control

There is only so much you can rely on others for. It is important to consult a professional when dealing with health issues, however, it all begins with you taking the initiative first. If you want to embark on a healthy ageing journey, make sure you are doing your own research, making appointments with necessary professionals for advice, and doing what you can at home.

2.  Reduce stress

Stress has been shown time and time again to not only affect your mental state, but also your physical health. Managing your stress effectively is one of the most important aspects of ageing healthily.

3. Sleep enough

A healthy sleep routine is essential throughout your entire life, however many people will find it harder to get enough quality sleep when they get older. It is important to establish a healthy sleep routine that suits your lifestyle, to give yourself the best chance at getting quality sleep.

4. Use your brain

Research has shown that keeping your brain active and stimulated will slow down cognitive decline in old age. With Alzheimer’s and dementia so prevalent in our ageing society, there is a push for maintained brain stimulation later in life.

5. Spend time with loved ones

Many older adults live a secluded or lonely lifestyle.This has been linked to a decline in mental health, and can even affect physical health. Keeping your relationships alive by scheduling regular catch ups either on the phone or in person can contribute to healthier ageing.

6. Stay active

Regular exercise has endless benefits for both the body and mind. While you may not be able to keep up exercise of the same intensity while ageing, it is important to prioritise movement. Even going for regular walks and doing some light stretching will vastly improve your health.

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What is Andropause?

Have you heard the term ‘andropause’ before? Have you ever wondered if there is a male version of menopause? Well, we have the answers to both of those questions for you! Andropause is a period of life where a man experiences a decrease in testosterone levels.  Andropause will be experienced by around 30% of men in their 50s. While they have some similarities, andropause is quite different to menopause, in that the testosterone levels will decrease quite slowly.

It is estimated that a male’s testosterone levels will decrease by approximately 10% per decade after the age of 30. This is a natural part of ageing, and will not necessarily mean andropause. Andropause is caused by not only a drop in testosterone, but also an increase in levels of another hormone, SHBG (sex hormone binding globulin), which extracts usable testosterone from the blood. SHBG will bind some testosterone within the blood, meaning only the testosterone left will be useable by the body. This means that men who are experiencing andropause have less available testosterone.

Andropause can cause some unpleasant symptoms, some of which are not dissimilar to those experienced through menopause. Some men may experience mental symptoms such as mental fatigue, depression, mood swings, and irritability. Physical symptoms include fatigue or a lack of energy, loss of strength and muscle mass, increased body fat, hot flushes, and a lower sex drive.

If you or someone close to you appears to experiencing andropause, contact your health care professional today.

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Staying strong as you age

As women age, they will lose a larger portion of muscle than men do. This muscle loss will typically occur around menopause, and can be detrimental not only to overall health and fitness, but also to mobility and can lead to injury. Preventing excessive muscle loss will help not only your quality of life, but has been shown to also reduce symptoms of menopause.

You can prevent excessive muscle loss by ensuring you eat a balanced diet with sufficient protein, but also by keeping up with regular exercise and mobility work. Gentle stretches, yoga, and Tai Chi are excellent ways to ensure your muscles stay strong and are in good health, without putting too much of a toll on your body. Flexibility is not only great for your muscles, but also improves the health of your heart, blood vessels, and brain neurons.

Resistance or strength training is typically marketed to younger people, but it is never too late to start on a strength-building program. If you are starting a resistance or strength-based program for the first time later in life, be sure to consult a qualified professional for expert advice. Following a strength-based program has been shown to not only build muscle and bone mass, but also improve brain function, and utilise energy more efficiently.

One of the most important aspects of increased activity is sleep. If you do choose to increase your energy output during the day, particularly if you are performing resistance or strength-based exercise, it is highly important to get enough rest and sleep. Take time out of your day to relax. You may find this time is well spent reading a book, practicing meditation, or going for a stroll. Making sure your body and mind have time to unwind and relax is highly important for staying strong both physically and mentally.

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Protein: The Elixir of Youth

Protein for the Ageing Body

Every cell in our body needs protein to grow and repair from daily wear and tear. We often think of protein as a nutrient that is important for athletes and young, growing bodies, but it is integral for the aging body as well. When we age, we are going through countless physical changes, and it is important that we are fuelling our bodies with enough protein to feed them. It is protein that makes up lots of the hormones in our bodies, including our sex hormones such as oestrogen and testosterone, but also the hormones we need to digest foods, and protect our bones, ligaments, and thyroid.  

Protein and Menopause

So now we know that protein helps our bodies manufacture hormones, we can more clearly understand how necessary it is during menopause. During menopause, the body will be making a decreased amount of hormones naturally, therefore a diet lacking in protein will cause further hormone depletion. This may result in an increase of unpleasant menopausal symptoms. If a menopausal woman is not taking in enough protein, she may find that her digestion can be negatively affected. Another adverse effect is that her cholesterol levels may spike, increasing the risk of issues in the future.

When a person is not taking in enough protein, the body will begin using what is does get for the most important things like hormone production. This will often mean that a person’s hair, skin, and nails may become affected. If you notice your skin getting worse, hair loss, or brittle nails, this could be the first signs you are not taking in enough protein. Each person’s protein requirements will differ, but as a general rule, you should be aiming for a palm-sized portion of protein (meat, fish, eggs, nuts, or protein supplements) at each meal.

If you are still suffering with adverse effects after increasing protein intake, consult your doctor of pharmacist.

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The Effects of Menopause on the Body

Hot Flushes

Hot flushes are one of the most talked about symptoms of menopause, and are the most common, affecting almost 80% of women. For most people, hot flushes will not cause too much distress, and will be over in a short time. For around 20% of women, however, hot flushes will be more severe and will interfere drastically with sleep and quality of life. If your hot flushes are causing ongoing distress, speak to your health care professional.

High Cholesterol

Some symptoms of menopause may not always be visible. During menopause, research has shown that one’s LDL, or ‘bad’, cholesterol will increase, while their HDL, or ‘good’ cholesterol may decline. By partaking in regular exercise and eating a balanced diet, women in menopause may be able to manage their own cholesterol levels and keep them healthy. It is also recommended to quit smoking, and limit sugary foods, beverages, and red meat.

Weight Gain

The hormonal changes that happen during menopause can lead to increased weight gain, particularly around the abdomen. Excessive weight gain during this time can have many negative effects, including a higher risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea, and some types of cancer. Weight gain during menopause is likely, but you can manage your weight by exercising and ensuring you have a balanced diet. You will also find that you do not need to eat as much as you did at a younger age.

Muscle Loss

Muscle loss can be one of the reasons you may gain weight during menopause. It is natural and normal for us to lose muscle mass and muscle tone as we age, and menopause is around the time when you may start to notice. Aside from ensuring your protein intake is sufficient, there is not much that can be done about the loss of muscle. Be aware that a loss of muscle will mean a slower metabolism.

If you are struggling with any of the above symptoms of menopause, speak to your health care professional about your options.

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The Effects of Menopause on the Brain

Brain Fog

Reports of women feeling as though they cannot think as quickly and clearly during menopause have been increasing in recent years. Scientists are not yet clear on why or how this happens, but anecdotal evidence suggests it does. Some research has suggested that hormone replacement therapy can reverse brain fog in women going through menopause

Mood Swings

Some women will experience mood swings throughout menopause, and some won’t. There has not been any solid evidence that explains who will and will not experience mood swings, however doctors have made some suggestions. They believe that if a woman has a history of mental illness, high levels of stress, or is in poor physical health, she may be more susceptible to mood swings.

Anxiety

The fluctuation of oestrogen and progesterone that happens during menopause can lead to increased anxiety, or even panic attacks. It is highly likely that after menopause, when hormone levels have evened out, that the anxious feelings will subside once again. Consulting a doctor or psychologist may be helpful if you suffer from symptoms of anxiety during menopause.

If you experience any of the above symptoms, consult your doctor or pharmacist today.

If you experience any of the above symptoms, consult your doctor or pharmacist today.