Live your best life now, no matter what your age. Here, looking and feeling your best, from A to Z!
A | Aspirin
Aspirin, or acetylsalicylic acid (ASA), inhibits blood-platelet clumping, a major factor in both clotting and inflammation. “People who have had heart attacks or are at risk for them are advised to take a small dose of Aspirin every day — 81 milligrams — to prevent heart attacks and strokes,” says Dr. Akbar Panju, professor of medicine at McMaster University in Hamilton. Because there is a risk of a gastric bleed or bleeding in the brain, the Canadian Medical Association advises consulting a physician before starting Aspirin therapy for the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease. This is particularly important if you are allergic to Aspirin, or have bleeding disorders or suffer from ulcers.
B | Berries & other antioxidants
Berries — especially blueberries — are loaded with powerful disease-fighting antioxidants. “Many believe free radicals and oxidative damage (what happens to our cells when free radicals attack) are responsible for aging,” says John Berardi, author of the cookbook Gourmet Nutrition (www.gourmetnutrition.com). “This means a high intake of antioxidants from foods like rich-coloured fruits and veggies, green tea, high-percentage cocoa chocolate and others can be critical to our anti-aging efforts.” You should eat five servings of antioxidant-rich foods every day.
C | Connecting
“Connecting with old friends and close family members, enjoying the benefits of shared memories and common experiences can make you feel more grounded in your history,” says Lindsay Sukornyk, executive leadership coach and founder of North Star Coaches in Toronto. “Developing new friendships is a great way to stretch yourself in new directions. You will benefit by surrounding yourself with people who love and care about you.”
F | Fibre
Fibre is important for keeping cholesterol levels in check and keeping you regular. Aim for up to 40 to 50 grams of mixed fibre per day. In order of importance, “your main fibre sources should be vegetables, beans, nuts, fruit and grains, like oatmeal,” Berardi suggests. “If you eat one ounce of mixed nuts, one apple, two cups of kidney beans and two cups of mixed vegetables each day, you’ll be getting about 40 grams of fibre.”
G | Green living
Adopting a green lifestyle does wonders. Eat green vegetables rich in antioxidants, enzymes and phytonutrients for good health. At home, replace cleansers containing harmful chemicals with non-toxic green alternatives. Decorate with plants like spider plants, peace lilies and philodendrons that clean the air by converting carbon dioxide to oxygen.
H | Hearing
The Canadian Hearing Society notes 46 per cent of people aged 45 to 87 have hearing loss. John McIntyre, an audiologist at West Hill Hearing Centre in Toronto, suggests having a hearing test around age 55, or if you or family members notice you’re missing conversation. These days, there are elegant solutions for mild to moderate hearing loss — digital hearing devices that slip behind the ear without plugging the ear canal with a piece of plastic. Some come in colours like high-tech silver or racing green. And people are feeling more comfortable about hearing aids, McIntyre says. “I’m definitely seeing more people at a younger age.”
K | Kick it up a notch
“Walking and jogging, while good for your heart, do next to nothing when it comes to keeping body fat down and preserving muscle as we age,” Berardi says. “The best workout plan includes a mixture of resistance exercise like weight training and conditioning routines.” In a study at McMaster University, resistance training reversed the effects of aging in muscles of older adults — even bringing their genetic “fingerprints” dramatically closer to those of younger study participants.
L | Laughter
Laughter has been shown to reduce depression, stress and pain, while boosting vitality, creativity and a sense of well-being. Make it your new project to get out there and “find the funny.” According to the Canadian Laughter Yoga website, laughteryoga.ca, “the average child laughs between 300 and 400 times per day, [but] by the time we reach adulthood, we are reduced to laughing, on average, only 12 times a day!” And that’s just sad.
M | Metabolism
After the age of 40, your metabolism slows down, causing the body to lose muscle mass and gain fat. To boost your metabolism, you’ll need to exercise almost every day (some days with high intensity and others with low intensity), increase your protein intake and supplement your diet with healthy omega-3 fats. Berardi says, “If you’re willing to change a few habits, you can even turn back the clock by building a leaner, healthier body.”
P | Passion
Oscar Wilde, no stranger to passion, had great insight when he said, “An inordinate passion for pleasure is the secret of remaining young.” Sukornyk says that as we get older, “it is easy to forget about our passions as we focus on building a career, raising children and saving for retirement. All of these things can be done much more effectively if we also tap into the limitless source of energy found in cultivating our interests. Whether you are passionate about reading, cooking, music, gardening or chocolate, be sure to put the pursuit of passion right up there on your to-do list.”
Q | Quit smoking
Smoking is a major risk factor for such diseases as stroke, heart attack, lung cancer, bronchitis and chronic lung disease, Panju says. But research shows the risk of heart disease and stroke drops within a few years of quitting. At any age, butting out cuts the chance of dying from cancer related to smoking. Declare your car and home
S | Sleep
Without adequate sleep, we begin to dramatically age faster. It is during sleep that growth hormones, which are important for maintaining vitality and youthful vigour, are produced. Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends, and establish a soothing bedtime ritual that helps you fall asleep fast. The good news is that recent research in Britain indicates that older people may actually need less sleep than younger people — an average of only 7.5 hours versus nine hours a night.
T | Tests and checkups
U | UVA-UVB
“UVA and UVB rays penetrate the skin, producing effects ranging from wrinkles and skin burns to skin cancer melanoma,” says dermatologist Dr. Paul Cohen. “Year-round protection through the use a of a broad spectrum SPF 15 moisturizer is important to maintain healthy skin. You can obtain all the vitamin D you need while wearing sun protection, as it takes minimal sun exposure of five minutes at midday to synthesize enough vitamin D. You can also get it from dietary sources or supplements. Indoor lighting causes minimal UV damage,” Cohen says. “It’s the
UVA exposure through glass windows, like those in your car, that sneaks up on you.”
V | Vitamins
With the abundance of processed food in the North American diet, many of us have become deficient in key vitamins and minerals. It’s for this reason that several Canadian and U.S. medical organizations have recommended a daily multivitamin, multimineral supplement. “You can think of this as an insurance policy against vitamin and mineral deficiencies,” Berardi says. If your diet is already excellent, you might not need the supplement. If it’s suspect, add a good vitamin to your plan.
W | Water
“By drinking enough water, you can prevent dehydration, which is actually more common than most people think,” Berardi says. It can cause headaches, fatigue, brain fog and an inability to clear toxins from your body. “I suggest drinking at least two litres of water daily — more if you’re active or it’s hot weather.”
X | X Factor