Ageing Well: Three Ways to ‘Future-Proof’ Yourself
Ageing is quickly becoming something that we are actively trying to fight back against. Some scary statistics are highlighting that by 2050 there will be 10,000 individuals turning 65 each day. That’s a lot of retirement parties all at the same time.
With all this in mind, what can we do to support 1) ourselves, as we get older and 2) our friends and family who are ageing or are already ‘aged’.
Firstly, there are two concepts worth defining very quickly:
Very quickly, ‘lifespan’ would have traditionally been the term that we focused on to judge our health as we age. In short, it’s a measure of how long we’ll likely live. Generally speaking, living longer or ‘lifespan’ gives a good indication of health (or at least it has), as nobody is really looking at dying younger and celebrating that as good health.
Times have changed a good bit and now we are looking at the quality of our lifespan – how healthy are we as we grow older. As a term still in its infancy, a defined criteria is still being established for what ‘health span’ truly means. We do know that it’s based around ‘the period of life spent in good health, free from chronic diseases and disabilities of ageing’.
So with these two concepts firmly in our sights, what can we do to combat their inevitability and build ourselves up for a few rounds of golf in the Algarve?
/Increase your protein intake now
This is a bit of a no brainer. While ‘guidelines’ will suggest that it’s only worthwhile increasing your intake when you’re already older, why wait until then when the benefits can be reaped now?
Muscle mass is now recognised a strong predictor of future health (as is muscle strength). Muscle mass diminishes with age beyond the 3rd decade. To hammer this point just a little more, sarcopenia (a disease of muscle wasting) is quickly becoming a major public health issue.
The great news is that increasing your protein intake can do wonders to offset the risk of this AND improve your outcome if your already at an age where this is a concern.
This isn’t even about adopting a ‘meat only’ diet. It’s about looking at the simplest strategies that *YOU* can implement straight away. An easy ‘win’ that crops to mind is introducing something like whey protein into your habitual diet. Pro’s of this include it’s taste, convenience and it’s likelihood of hitting the leucine threshold per serving – a necessity for maintaining muscle mass (or adding some..).
/Focus on weight management after weight loss
Weight management is not a sexy term. But it’s a term that should be focused on within the public health field.
In short, managing your weight after a period of weight loss is a good indicator for health. The last few decades have seen an explosion in increasing waistlines, with this increase persisting into older demographics. This has led to a condition known as ‘sarcopenia obesity’, an increased fat mass with diminished muscle mass.
The way to combat this is through another lifestyle modification – diet. We all know the importance of ‘eating well’ but the extent to which it can be life altering tool is still underplayed.
So what’s the strategy here?
Simply find a dietary method that’s 1) based on sound principles and, 2) slots into your daily pattern of living with relative ease. Make sure that it includes plenty of plant-based food sources, protein sources and is ultimately not excessive in its amounts.
Remember, this isn’t about signing up for a pious life of restriction. It’s about being smart with what you eat to ensure that you’ve ‘future-proofed’ yourself.
To me, that’s a no-brainer.
/Find a type of resistance training that you enjoy
This isn’t 100% my area of expertise, but what I do know is that we can no longer isolate resistance training and ‘going to the gym’ as something for younger generations.
Exercise is simply becoming the ‘silver bullet’ that we’ve all been searching for. Combine it with sound dietary principles and you are undoubtedly on to a winning formula.
Pursuing any new form of exercise can be a daunting one particularly in the social media age that we live in. One aspect that I would encourage everyone to go after is ultimately something that the enjoy doing – or at least, can see themselves making it a REGULAR part of their week.
The reasons for banging the drum for more ‘weight-based’ activities is the anti-muscle wasting effects that it has. If we want to fight back against how age robs us of our strength, then we’ve got to make sure that we are doing something to hold onto that strength.
Remember, progress shouldn’t just be about looking better. Whatever mode of activity that you undertake should leave you moving better, feeling better and at a different ‘functional capacity’ than where you were previously.
Admittedly, this is a much bigger topic than this article can do justice to. However, there’s enough in here for you to start somewhere.
And great things happen when you start somewhere and start simple.
1/ We are going to be living much longer than previous generations. How good a quality of life we have for those extra years is becoming a BIG issue
2/ A good place to start is by increasing your protein intakes wherever you are at. Don’t wait too long to do this.
3/ Find a method of exercise that you enjoy and has a ‘weight-bearing’ component to it. Then find a way to make this part of your daily and weekly routine.
Rabin Das is an MNU Certified Nutritionist and holds an MSc in nutrition and metabolism. Passionate about all things nutrition related, he hopes to bring about a culture change with the spread of honest, trustworthy and actionable information.
For the past 5 years, he has been working with individuals ranging from lecturers to semi-professional kayakers to international public speakers, carefully and successfully guiding them to their health and nutrition goals.
In his pursuit of nutrition mastery, he has interned with esteemed health care professionals such as Professors Donal O’ Shea and Seamus Sreenan. Most recently he has come to be mentored by Martin MacDonald, the UK’s top clinical performance nutritionist.
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