It seems like every new decade comes with its own set of health issues.
When I turned 30, I got out of bed and my ankles cracked. When I turned 40, my knees cracked. And when I turned 50, my back cracked…
By the time I turned 60, I just hid under my covers and didn’t get up. (Just kidding!)
In all honesty, heading into your 60’s and 70’s can be intimidating. These ages come with a stigma attached to them that you’re past your prime.
You feel sort of like an old piece of food that came from the grocery store – one with a “use by” date that is fast approaching.
Okay. Sure. Your body changes as you age…
But by no stretch of the imagination does this mean you’re at the end of your prime. In fact, you can live well into old age looking and feeling healthy while staying just as active as you want.
I see people all the time down here in South Florida who are in their 70s and still playing wall ball and tennis. They’re jogging and biking. They look and feel fantastic.
Still, these types of activity levels only happen when you take good care of yourself. Otherwise you could develop health issues that can threaten your mobility and a healthy lifespan.
Today, I’d like to help you understand how to avoid and possibly even reverse some of these issues.
Protect Your Cardiovascular Health
Cardiovascular disease is generally a top concern among aging adults. But sadly, I find that many of my new patients are under the mistaken belief that cholesterol is the top cause of cardiovascular problems. It’s not.
The truth is – as you age, your blood vessels become less flexible. In particular, it’s very common to experience increased stiffness in the large arteries. This means your heart has to pump harder, and also contributes to high blood pressure.
The combination of stiffer blood vessels and a harder working heart can result in tears and damage in the walls of your arteries. This allows plaque to accumulate and form blockages.
These problems aren’t only due to aging. They also occur because of things you are doing as you age. For instance, making poor food choices, not getting enough physical activity, sleeping poorly and failing to address your stress all contribute to the problem.
So, to combat this problem, look to go with a healthy Mediterranean style diet. Get regular exercise, practice sleep habits and take time to de-stress. These practices can all go a long way in protecting your heart, arteries and entire cardiovascular system.
(Tip: You can also improve arterial elasticity and blood pressure by drinking nitric oxide rich beetroot juice or taking a beetroot juice supplement.)
Maintain Balance and Stability
You might not realize this, but you start losing muscle when you’re in your 30s. Serious physical decline starts in middle age, and accelerates as we grow older.
This is partly because of your body’s lowered ability to build new muscle proteins. Then, as your muscles weaken, you become less likely to stay physically active and muscle mass declines even further.
So there are two parts to maintaining muscle mass during the aging process…
First, make sure you maintain a healthy protein intake throughout the day. (People who evenly distribute protein intake across their daily meals have greater muscle strength and physical performance.)
Some foods that are high in protein include wild-caught fish, pastured eggs, organic pasture-raised poultry and plain organic Greek yogurt.
(Tip: If you can’t get enough protein intake with food alone, try a plant-based protein powder and mix it into a shake.)
Second, keep moving! There is no better anecdote for muscle weakness and low muscle mass than good old-fashioned exercise.
Chair squats, wall push-ups, and supported lunge exercises are some of my favorites for rebuilding strong muscle. Or, you can just go outside, pick a direction, and start walking!
(Tip: If balance is an issue during exercise, I recommend starting off with supervised yoga or tai chi sessions to improve balance before starting more vigorous activities.)
And don’t forget about bone loss. You probably think bone loss is reserved for the elderly. It’s not. Your bones reach maximum strength and density around age 30. After that, bone mass gradually starts to break down.
By the time people hit their 50s and 60s, about 40% of them already have low bone mass in their hips or spine. (And if you assume you’re excluded because you’re male… you’re wrong. At last count, about 18 million men in the U.S. have low bone mass or osteoporosis.)
You won’t notice the loss at first. You’ll still feel strong and be able to do the same things you’ve always done… right up until the minute you experience a break or fracture!
Your body needs appropriate levels of at least four nutrients to keep your bones strong: calcium, vitamin D3, magnesium and vitamin K2.
- If your calcium levels are low take 1,000 mg of calcium citrate daily in divided doses.
- If you are vitamin D3 deficient (get your levels tested first), take 5,000 IU of D3 in the cholecalciferol form each day. This will cut your risk of a first-time fracture. Otherwise, take 1,000 to 2,000 IU to maintain healthy levels.
- If you have low magnesium levels, supplement with 5 mg of magnesium per pound of body weight in two divided doses each day. This will boost bone mineralization and support cells involved in bone formation and resorption.
- If aren’t getting enough K2, supplement with 45 to 100 mcg of K2 (menaquinone) each day. It will help cut down on bone loss and improve mineral density. The best Vitamin D3 supplements already have vitamin K2 in them.
(Tip: Many of the same exercises that improve muscle strength and mass also work to increase bone density.)
When you take good care of your body, your body will take good care of you.
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