6 Things that can Help Keep Seniors Young.
According to a recent study by researchers in China and Canada healthy elderly people may have the good gut bacteria of a much younger person. The recommendation from the study is that “maintaining diversity of your gut as you age is a bio-marker of healthy aging, almost like low-cholesterol is a marker of circulatory health,” says Greg Cloor, Principal Investigator of the study.
Of course there is still a lot more to discover about the bacteria that lives in our gut but the researchers believe that it is possible to use “microbiome diagnostic systems” to identify the problem and then to use food and probiotics to try and improve these biomarkers of health.
Science will eventually uncover gut bacteria’s more specific role in anti-aging. But in the meantime, there are still things experts say you can and should do to stay healthy, both physically and mentally, as you age.
According to Ken Yeager, PhD, director of the Stress, Trauma and Resilience (STAR) Program at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, every little bit of movement counts when it comes to staying healthy and agile. “The more you move, the more you ensure that your body is able to continue moving,” he explains.
CONNECT WITH FRIENDS
Believe it or not, friends can actually improve your health, says Yeager. “Staying in contact with friends will help with both areas of well-being, both physical and mental,” he explains. “You will likely keep moving as you connect with your friends, and by having consistent interaction with friends you will stay social; social connectedness goes a long way in helping you feel vital, needed, and young.”
REVISIT OLD FAVORITES
As you get older, it’s common to abandon some of the activities you enjoyed as a kid—like riding a bike, or listening to music. “If you can reconnect with the things you enjoyed as a teen, you will reconnect with youthful vitality that you might have thought was gone,” says Yeager.
EAT LIKE A MEDITERRANEAN
Of all the decisions you could possibly make for health and longevity, following the Mediterranean diet is one of the best—it can help to reduce your risk for a number of chronic diseases and other conditions. “Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, olive oil and mixed nuts are the foundation of the Mediterranean diet,” says neurologist Douglas Scharre, MD, director in the Division of Cognitive Neurology at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.
PLAY GAMES AND PUZZLES
There’s a reason word puzzles and games help young children grow their minds; they help the young-at-heart remain cognitively healthy, as well. “In addition to the daily crossword puzzle, take the challenge to play new problem-solving exercises,” says Scharre. “Puzzles and games, especially those involving novelty, can stimulate and challenge key parts of the brain, including reasoning, language, logic, visual perception, attention, and flexibility.” This is healthy aging at work.
KICK THAT BAD HABIT
Most of our bad habits are caused by two things, stress and boredom. If you have a bad habit that affects your health (e.g. smoking or over eating) you can teach yourself new and healthy ways to deal with stress and boredom, and then replace the bad habit with a new, good habit. The New Year is an excellent time to set a new goal to replace a bad habit with things that will add to your health and well-being. More exercise, connecting with friends, having a healthier diet, revisiting an old favorite, and stimulating our brains, are all great suggestions for making a lifestyle change.