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The Secret Art of Ageing and the four goals you must take up for yourself.

Here are the four essential systems and goals that you need to focus on in your life, so that you can feel fabulous after 40 , for a lifetime.

Goal No 1-Stimulate your brain with one thing it craves !

Nuerons start diminishing in number and size, slightly reducing brain volume and your ability to recall details and facts with the quickness and the abilities of your youth.

Inside brain cells, free radicals can damage DNA and interfere with energy producing mitochondria , causing premature cell death. Long periods of anxiety and worry may harm your brain, especially the hippocampus, a part responsible for memory. LDL cholesterol can block tiny capillaries in the brain cutting of the blood that supplies oxygen, nutrients and energizing glucose and increasing the risk of stroke. High blood pressure also doubles your risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

What you need to do ?

Get Some sleep and use quiet time : Adequate sleep makes you smarter. Recent study at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, shows that sleep helps the brain bring together the disparate pieces of Information and interpret them correctly . Conversely, too little sleep leads to bad performance and mood disorders.

Meditate :Regular meditator’s brain exhibits high level of Gamma waves, associated with attention, working memory and learning. When people begin to meditate in middle-age , they experience less loss of Gray matter and attention levels, when compared with those who do not meditate.

Embrace fitness : Exercise produces large quantities of brain-derived neurotrophic factor(BDNF), a protein that helps neurons survive and encourages the growth of new ones. Brains with more BDNF have a greater capacity for knowledge. To boost BDNF levels, stay active as you age. You need to be busy in something productive to keep you mentally and physically fit and also feel a sense of self-worth and achievement , as these emotions are important , as you age.

Add strength training: The latest research shows that muscle building activities such as yoga and light weight workouts increase the growth of neurons.

Stay Connected : The brain grows-even in old age- in response to pats, hugs and other physical affection. Regular socializing also keeps your brain sharp by reducing cortisol, the destructive stress hormone. It is only recently that psychologists have begin looking at the effects of social interaction and how it might affect human health, in particular ,the risk of developing dementia. Studies show , that, people having a poor or limited social network increase the risk of dementia by up to 60%.

Dance the night away : Dance is a cardiovascular activity ,it is particularly good for those who feel bored with other forms of exercise. Dance not only improves health but also helps in gaining stamina, agility ,balance, toning and confidence, while having fun . If you don’t like dancing, go shopping at a mall with a friend. When you are shopping, you are socializing, figuring out the best Bargains and walking without even realizing that you are getting a workout.

Goal No 2. Keep your heart strong

 HDL cholesterol sweeps up LDL cholesterol and charges it to the liver for removal. Without enough HDL, the bad stuff builds up, causing plaque. Plaque is a mix of fatty substances, including LDL cholesterol which grows and inflames the artery walls.  When a plaque deposit bursts, the body healing mechanism produces a clot ,which can obstruct the artery and cause a heart attack. 

 High blood pressure hardens the flexible arteries, which strains the heart , rips open plaque deposit and promotes blood vessel leaks that can cause a stroke. The rates of CVD have decreased by 60% in the US over the last three decades. Preventive measures have to start at a very early age, if they are to have any effect.

Cause and Symptoms

Blood becomes sticky :  High blood sugar is like a soda spill on a countertop . It permits plaque-forming material to fasten more easily to artery walls. It is also a symptom of diabetes, which doubles your risk of heart disease or stroke.

Waist size expands. Slowing metabolism also leads to weight gain which contributes to diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Large waist size is an important risk factor , compounding all others.

 Keep moving:  It is a proven fact that physical activity reduces every controllable risk factor. Just 10 minutes of cardiovascular exercise on most days can cut a sedentary person’s Heart attack risk in half.

 Do Intervals :By boosting aerobic fitness and metabolism, with at least twice a week interval training for just two weeks, you can reduce the heart risk by 20%.

Once you cross 30, put yourself through annual tests to measure blood pressure, blood sugar ,cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Those with a family history of heart diseases, need a more thorough check. Make sure your numbers are within the following ranges:

Cholesterol: LDL under 100 mg/DL,HDL above 50 mg/DL

 Blood pressure :Below 120/80 mm HG

 Fasting blood sugar :Less than 100 mg /DL

 Tricglycerides: Less than 150 mg/DL

What to do for fighting heart Diseases?

Eat more Omega -3 fatty acids: They curb inflammation, lower blood pressure and slow plaque growth. Most oily fish such as Mackerel , Sardines, are normally rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids or Omega-3 fatty acids. If you are a vegetarian,  you can opt for flaxseed, rapeseed and soybean oil, walnuts, leafy vegetables ,like spinach, Cauliflower and Cabbage.

The three Heart friendly Diets, you should know about.

Take Aspirin with the doctor’s permission: Low doses  of it prevents the heart attacks but regular use can cause stomach  bleeding and increased stroke risk. 

Avoid antioxidant supplements in high doses: Recent research indicates that high doses of Beta carotene , Vitamin A and Vitamin E increases risk of premature death, and too much Vitamin C may boost the risk of dying for 50 + diabetic women.

Cut saturated fat even further : Artery damaging fat should account for < 10% of daily calories.  Saturated fats should be minimized for heart prone conditions.

Trim 200 calories a day after Menopause : After 50, your metabolism slows about 5% a decade , so you burn less calories. Hence , you should look at cutting calories post menopause.

Protect your heart like the Mediterraneans ….

Olive oil, leafy greens, whole grains, nuts, fruits, red wine, fresh tomatoes- their rich blend of antioxidants, phytochemicals ,vitamins, and healthy fats cuts cardio vascular risks. Just 3 months of mediterranean style eating in one recent study improved blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol in people at high risk of disease.

Olive oil is a rich source of monounsaturated fatty acids, a heart friendly oil .Other oils frequently used , that are rich in MUFA are mustard oil , and canola oil.

Goal No 3. -Fortify your skin

Through the natural exfoliation process, your skin sheds dead cells as younger ones ,generated deep in the epidermis ,migrate upward to replace them. In young, healthy skin, cells take about 28 days to reach the surface and flake off 12 days later. As you age, the renewal slows: new cells aren’t produced as quickly ,and old ones hang on longer.

The body is assaulted by unstable oxygen molecules called free radicals- from pollution, stress, cigarettes ,smoke, and the skins top enemy- the sun .Over many years, this causes cell irregularities ,including discoloration and cancer.

After the age of 40, the body typically slows down the rate at which it produces collagen, a mesh of protein, that together with elastin, helps keep your skin plump and elastic. When collagen degrades and is not replaced at the same rate, the outer skin loses volume and settles into creases and wrinkles. Your cells lose moisture, faster over 40, as estrogen production and thyroid function- both of which affect sweat glands- slows down.

What to do for a young looking skin ?

Your stay young plan : Cover up and avoid the sun as much as possible . Physical protection from the sun’s ultraviolet radiation is only answer to this. Apply the sunscreen every morning at least 20 minutes before you step out. it is important that sunscreen also contains moisturiser. Stay In The Shade between 10 AM and 3 PM, when the sun is the strongest. if you must go out, wear UV protective glasses and shield your face and body within umbrella. Go for a good SPF ranging between SPF 15 and 30.

Get adequate sleep: We don’t call it a beauty sleep for nothing . Skin cells regenerate more quickly when you snooze. Ddark circles under the eyes are the immediate consequence of losing just few hours of restorative sleep. And long sleep deprivation can lead to dry and dull skin. It is very important to get 6 to 8 hours of sleep in a well-ventilated room as it renews your cells. 

Moisturize at night : It is often the repair and restore mode at night. This is the best time to moisturize using oil free moisturizer if you have an oily skin type. After your 30, you can start using a night cream, that has a restorative action or try almond oil or olive oil and leave it on while you sleep.

Drink more water: Drowning 6 to 8 glasses of water each day helps the skin stay elastic and supple . We might need more in summer when we tend to lose more water . Hydrated skin always looks more healthy .

Destress- Stress ,both internal and external -makes the body’s defence mechanism work overtime and deprives the skin of moisture, leaving it drier and more vulnerable to irritants and allergen. Unwind during the day , with quick periods of meditation or focused breathing -and go for a quick 15 minute walk after work or do any other physical activity of your choice.

Do cardio :Think of the flush that you get after a good workout -that’s a sign that your skin is getting the oxygen and nutrients it needs. A good sweat flushes impurities and toxins from pores, while you are burning calories and keeping off extra kilos that could put unnecessary strain on the skin. 30 minutes of any cardio activity, 5 times a week will keep your skin glowing . Before you workout ,make sure you are well hydrated and dab some moisturizer, particularly in the winter months.

Try yoga :Deep breathing exercises reduce stress and improve blood circulation, that brings more oxygen to the skin surface and makes it glow. Backward bending postures such as the fish, camel and cobra can counter gravity’s pull when done regularly. In addition, forward bending poses , such as the child, Sun salutation and headstand facilitate a rich supply of blood to the face. The more you relax your facial muscles , the less your chances of getting wrinkles, crows feet and fine lines.

Eat antioxidants: If the Skin’s biggest enemies are free radicals, its best friends are the vitamins and minerals that neutralise these volatile and destructive molecules that result in age spots, fine lines and pigmentation. Eating lot of antioxidants -5-8 servings of coloured fruits and vegetables a day -can combat cellular damage caused by free radicals . Consuming nuts rich in Omega-3 fatty acids such as walnuts and almonds, also build the body’s antioxidant reserve .

Sip Green Tea: People who do so regularly have less sun related skin damage than those who don’t. This tonic contains the powerful antioxidant EGCG, which can be used in topical anti ageing formulations as well.

Three essential wrinkle fighters

1.Retinols: A derivative of Vitamin A, retinol helps unglue dead skin cells, accelerating the removal and stimulating new growth. Its ability to improve the mottled pigmentation, fine lines and wrinkles, skin texture, has been well documented. Start with over the counter retinol, using a small amount . If you experience good results, consider moving up to the prescription based strength . Retinols tend to dry out the skin, so you should not use for the long term.

2.AHAs: Alternating a retinol cream with Alpha hydroxy acid -another exfoliant that attracts moisture. -can renew the skin with fewer side effects such as peeling and redness. AHA consists of these 5 types of acids:

  • Glycolic acid from sugarcane
  • Lactic acid from milk
  • Malic acid from apples and pears
  • Citric acid from lemons and oranges
  • Tartaric acid from grapes

3. Peptides: Peptides contain high content of hydroxyproline, the building block of collagen . Researchers believe they function as messengers in the skin , repairing broken collagen and elastin connections within the skin. Look for algae and copper peptides, both have been well established.

Goal No 4: Feed your bones and joints to stays limber and mobile

After bone mass peaks around age 30 ,you start to lose 1 to 2% of bone year , the pace accelerates to three or four percent annually in the first five to seven years after Menopause when declining estrogen offers less protection against cells called osteoclasts that break down the bone. This puts you at higher risk of both osteoporosis and fractures.

Around the age of 40, muscles start shrinking and losing energy producing mitochondria in their cells. Weakened, poorly nourished muscles have lower aerobic capacity and absorb sugar from the bloodstream less efficiently, making bone building very difficult. The fluid which lubricates the protective cartilage in knee ,hip and other joints begins to dry. Cartilage then erodes and frays, a precursor to arthritis .

About 26% of women get Arthritis ,compared with only 17% of men. The reason is that the muscles attached to wider pelvises exert additional stress on the knees that , overtime ,exacerbates cartilage damage.

Do weight bearing exercises: The best way to to prevent it is, that you should do weight bearing exercises such as walking, stair climbing or any activity that forces the Skeleton to support your weight speeds the work of bone building osteoblast cells. Just half an hour of brisk walking boosted two measures of bone growth in a recent study. But avoid high impact moves such as running or jumping, if you already have osteoporosis or you risk fractures. 

Tai Chi : Post-menopausal women, who have practiced the slow graceful movements of this exercise for years have denser bones-and even beginners, slow bone loss as soon as they start. Lifting weights ,even as little as twice a week ,reverses loss of Mitochondria , giving you and your muscle extra energy . People with strong thighs have less cartilage damage and pain in their knees from osteoarthritis. Make sure you strengthen your hamstrings at the back of thighs do you don’t create muscle imbalance.

Get Enough calcium : This Mineral is the main component of bone. Till you are 50, the recommended daily dose is 1000 mg per day and after 50 it is increased to 1500 mg per day. .In reality very little of the calcium in normal vegetarian food is actually absorbed. Those who exercise aggressively and do not eat much, need high dose of calcium and proteins, to offset their loss . A young woman exercising more than two hours a day and dieting or binging on unhealthy food is losing essential calcium both ways ,which is leading into a loss in her eventual peak bone mass.

So it is important to eat calcium rich food and consider taking upto 500mg supplement for breakfast and dinner everyday. Also you must include include fat free milk ,which provides a third of the daily value for calcium and ,spinach which delivers 12% of the daily value for calcium and also contains contains vitamin C, a collagen builder that improves calcium absorption.

Supplementing with Vitamin D :It helps absorb calcium into the bloodstream and fuse to the bone , and half of the women aren’t getting the 200IU recommended before menopause- much less the 400IU you should get after age 50 . One quick food fix :100gm of Salmon provides 90% of the daily value of Vitamin D, contains calcium and is rich in Omega-3 fatty acids which reduces inflammation linked to arthritis. 

Stay ahead of Arthritis pain with massage and acupuncture :It has been shown ,that stimulation of pressure points either manually or with acupuncture needles from the nervous system, helps to release Chemicals that mask pain.

Flat belly is good for your bones: Your body’s main source of strength and stability is your core -also referred to as torso, trunk or midsection -which includes all the muscles of abdomen, lower back and hips. Any bone and muscle building routine you follow should include core exercises. A strong midsection will keep you moving, prevent back problems, and improve balance and posture.

Hope you find tis article useful and leave a comment if you like.

Stay Fit and stay healthy !