If You Are Midlife, It’s Not Too Late to Work Towards Happy, Healthy Longevity
By Joy Stephenson-Laws, JD, Founder
I can’t tell you how many times I have heard people say the following things after turning 40:
- I wish I had been more diligent about sunscreen in my twenties.
- I wish I exercised more and lifted weights in my twenties.
- I wish I hadn’t smoked or drank so much in my twenties.
- I wish I had a better diet and developed better eating habits in my twenties.
I think everyone in the 40 & Up Club can relate to at least one of the statements above, however, no matter what your age, it’s never too late to practice healthy habits and work towards happy and healthy longevity.What exactly is happy and healthy longevity?
We all, of course, have the freedom to define what happy and healthy longevity means to us and live our lives accordingly. But I think most people would agree that a healthy, happy and long life would be most attainable through freedom from chronic illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease. It would also be amazing to grow old with mobility, independence and as little chronic pain as possible. Many may assume that getting arthritis is something that we can all expect to get perhaps in our eighties or nineties, but this is not the case.
“Although older age is the greatest risk factor for OA, OA is not an inevitable consequence of growing old,” according to a report published by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
“Aging changes in the musculoskeletal system increase the propensity to OA but the joints affected and the severity of disease are most closely related to other OA risk factors such as joint injury, obesity, genetics, and anatomical factors that affect joint mechanics.”
(pH must-read - 6 Ways I Improved My Joint Health and Became Pain Free)
So if you are perhaps late to the proactive healthcare game plan for attaining a long and healthy life, know that it is never too late to begin. This is illustrated by a recent study which found evidence demonstrating that middle-aged women who followed a heart healthy diet were less likely to have cognitive decline later in life.
This study suggests that when it comes to health, everything is usually interconnected. If you take care of your heart, you are also making the effort to protect your brain. Dementia is not a “normal” part of aging, and it is certainly not what we want to have long, independent lives.
“Women with diets during middle age designed to lower blood pressure were about 17% less likely to report memory loss and other signs of cognitive decline decades later, a new study finds,” according to this Medical Xpress report that discusses the study discussed above (and published in the journal Alzheimer's & Dementia).
So don’t waste time lamenting your poor food choices in your twenties, thirties or even forties. Make better choices now for a much healthier future.
Researchers of the study analyzed data of more than 5,000 women enrolled in a major healthy study with an average age of 49-years-old. These women were followed for more than 30 years (with their average age then being 79-years-old). They were asked to report any cognitive complaints.
Overall, those who adhered to the DASH diet reported less cognitive issues.
“The DASH diet includes a high consumption of plant-based foods that are rich in potassium, calcium, and magnesium and limits saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium, and sugar. Longstanding research shows that high blood pressure, particularly in midlife, is a risk factor for cognitive decline and dementia,” Medical Xpress reports.
You can read more details about the DASH diet here. I also highly recommend reading A Simple Eating Guide To Preventing Heart Disease. As always, consult with a competent healthcare professional about what the best diet is for you to help prevent hypertension, heart disease and cognitive decline.
I also believe it is extremely important to be aware of certain minerals such as potassium, calcium and magnesium which are critical for maintaining healthy blood pressure and heart health and, therefore, preventing cognitive decline. It is always a good idea to make sure you have an adequate amount of these nutrients. One way to determine whether you are nutritionally balanced is to undergo routine nutrient testing. Nutritional imbalance is more common with aging, but if the test reveals an imbalance or deficiency a competent healthcare professional can work with you on making the necessary dietary changes and recommend quality supplements if necessary.
This study did only involve women (who reportedly make up more than two-thirds of those diagnosed with Alzhiemer’s disease, reports Medical Xpress), but I believe middle-aged men can reap the potential benefits of a heart healthy diet and its effect on cognitive health as well.A healthy diet gives us so much control.
Diet is so powerful as we see time and time again. I hope this inspires you no matter what your age or where you currently are in your health journey. Remember, you have a lot of control and power starting with what you put on your plate. If you are reading this and just ate a not so heart healthy meal, know that at your next meal you have an opportunity to do better.
Enjoy your healthy life!
Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice. Please consult with your doctor or another competent healthcare practitioner to get specific medical advice for your situation.
The pH professional health care team includes recognized experts from a variety of health care and related disciplines, including physicians, attorneys, nutritionists, nurses, and certified fitness instructors. This team also includes the members of the pH Medical Advisory Board, which constantly monitors all pH programs, products, and services. To learn more about the pH Medical Advisory Board, click here.