बढ़ती उम्र में खुशहाल कैसे रहें... How to Fight with Aging

Author : Dr. P. D.GUPTA

Former Director Grade Scientist, Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Hyderabad, India


In the research article “Born to die but why do we age?” sometimes back I wrote causes of aging. Now if we are serious about premature aging we may have to modify our lifestyle.

Aging: What to expect?

Our organs age differently. That means in 80 years old body the brain may be only 50 years old. You can't stop the aging process, but you can make choices that improve your ability to maintain an active life, to do the things you enjoy, and to spend time with loved ones.

We know that aging will likely cause wrinkles and gray hair, but in addition to aging will affect teeth, heart, brain, sexuality and what not? 

The skin

What's happening

The skin is the outermost covering of the body it is the largest organ. With age, the skin decreases. You might notice that you bruise more easily. Decreased production of natural oils might make our skin drier. Wrinkles, age spots and small growths called skin tags are more common with age.

To promote healthy skin: What you can do

·         Be gentle to the skin. Bathe or shower in warm — not hot — water. Use quality soap twice a week only and not very frequently.  

·         No cosmetics

·         Protect from expose to the Sun. When you're outdoors, use sunscreen and wear protective clothing.  

·         Don't smoke. If you smoke or use other tobacco products. Smoking contributes to skin damage, such as wrinkling.

·         Stay hydrated

Cardiovascular system

This system supplies nutrients and take away toxins from all other organs including itself. The most common change in the cardiovascular system is stiffening of the blood vessels and arteries, causing our heart to work harder to pump blood through them. The heart muscles change to adjust to the increased workload. Our heart rate at rest will stay about the same, but it won't increase during activities as much as it used to. These changes increase the risk of high blood pressure (hypertension) and other cardiovascular problems.

To promote heart health: What you can do

Include physical activity in your daily routine. Try walking, swimming or other activities you enjoy. Regular moderate physical activity can help you maintain a healthy weight and lower your heart disease risk.

Eat a healthy diet. Choose vegetables, fruits, whole grains, high-fibre foods and lean sources of protein, such as fish. Limit foods high in saturated fat and salt.

Don't smoke. Smoking contributes to the hardening of your arteries and increases your blood pressure and heart rate. If you smoke or use other tobacco products,  

Manage stress. Stress can take a toll on your heart. Take steps to reduce stress, such as meditation, exercise or talk therapy.

Get enough sleep. Quality sleep plays an important role in the healing and repair of your heart and blood vessels. Aim for seven to nine hours a night.

Bones, joints and muscles

With age, bones tend to shrink in size and density, weakening them and making them more susceptible to fracture. You might even become a bit shorter. Muscles generally lose strength, endurance and flexibility — factors that can affect your coordination, stability and balance.

What you can do to promote bone, joint and muscle health:

Get adequate amounts of calcium from fruits and vegetables at least 1,000 milligrams (mg) of calcium daily for adults. The recommendation increases to 1,200 mg daily for women age 51 and older and men age 71 and older. Dietary sources of calcium include dairy products, broccoli, kale, salmon and tofu. If you find it difficult to get enough calcium from your diet, ask your doctor about calcium supplements.

Get adequate amounts of vitamin D. The recommended daily intake of vitamin D is 600 international units for adults up to age 70 and 800 IU for adults over 70. Many people get adequate amounts of vitamin D from sunlight. Other sources include fish, eggs, milk and vitamin D supplements.

Include physical activity in your daily routine. Weight-bearing exercises, such as walking, jogging, tennis, climbing stairs and weight training can help you build strong bones and slow bone loss.

Digestive system

Age-related structural changes in the large intestine can result in more constipation in older adults. Other contributing factors include a lack of exercise, not drinking enough water and a low-fibre diet. Medications, such as diuretics and iron supplements, and certain medical conditions, such as diabetes, also might contribute to constipation.

To prevent constipation: What you can do?

Eat a healthy diet. Make sure your diet includes high-fibre foods, such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Limit high-fat meats, dairy products and sweets, which might cause constipation. Drink plenty of water and other fluids.

Include physical activity in your daily routine. Regular physical activity can help prevent constipation.

Don't ignore the urge to have a bowel movement. Holding in a bowel movement for too long can cause constipation.

Urinary bladder  

What's happening with age?

The bladder may become less elastic as we age, resulting in the need to urinate more often. Weakening of bladder muscles and pelvic floor muscles may make it difficult for you to empty the bladder completely or cause  to lose control (urinary incontinence). In men, an enlarged or inflamed prostate also can cause difficult emptying the bladder and incontinence.

Other factors that contribute to incontinence include being overweight, nerve damage from diabetes, certain medications, and caffeine or alcohol consumption.

What you can do to promote bladder and urinary tract health:

·         Go to the toilet regularly. Consider urinating on a regular schedule, such as every hour. Slowly, extend the amount of time between your toilet trips.

·         Maintain a healthy weight. If you're overweight, lose excess pounds.

·         Don't smoke. 

Do Kegel exercises. To exercise your pelvic floor muscles (Kegel exercises), squeeze the muscles you would you use to stop passing gas. Try it for three seconds at a time, and then relax for a count of three. Work up to doing the exercise 10 to 15 times in a row, at least three times a day.

Avoid bladder irritants. Caffeine, acidic foods, alcohol and carbonated beverages can make incontinence worse.

Avoid constipation. Eat more fibre and take other steps to avoid constipation, which can worsen incontinence.

Memory and thinking

What's happening?

The brain undergoes changes as we age that may have minor effects on  our memory or thinking skills. For example, healthy older adults might forget familiar names or words, or they may find it more difficult to multitask.

What you can do?

You can promote cognitive health by taking the following steps:

·         Include physical activity in your daily routine. Physical activity increases blood flow to your whole body, including your brain. Studies suggest regular exercise is associated with better brain function and reduces stress and depression — factors that affect memory. Exercise such as walking, swimming, dancing, cycling, and balancing  and muscle strengthening activities of moderate intensity or greater, that involve all major muscle groups, two or more days per week

·         Eat a healthy diet. A heart-healthy diet may benefit your brain. Focus on fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Choose low-fat protein sources, such as fish, lean meat and skinless poultry. Too much alcohol can lead to confusion and memory loss.

·         Stay mentally active. Staying mentally active may help sustain your memory and thinking skills. You can read, play word games, take up a new hobby, take classes, or learn to play an instrument.

·         Be social. Social interaction helps ward off depression and stress, which can contribute to memory loss. You might volunteer at a local school or non profit, spend time with family and friends, or attend social events.

·         Treat cardiovascular disease. Follow your doctor's recommendations to manage cardiovascular risk factors — high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes — that may increase the risk of cognitive decline.

·         Quit smoking. If you smoke, quitting smoking may help your cognitive health.

The eyes and ears

What's happening

With age, you might have difficulty focusing on objects that are close up. You might become more sensitive to glare and have trouble adapting to different levels of light. Aging also can affect your eye's lens, causing clouded vision (cataracts).

Your hearing also might diminish. You might have difficulty hearing high frequencies or following a conversation in a crowded room.

What you can do to promote eye and ear health:

·         Schedule regular checkups. Follow your doctor's advice about glasses, contact lenses, hearing aids and other corrective devices.

·         Take precautions. Wear sunglasses or a wide-brimmed hat when you're outdoors, and use earplugs when you're around loud machinery or other loud noises.

The teeth

What's happening

Your gums might pull back from your teeth. Certain medications, such as those that treat allergies, asthma, high blood pressure and high cholesterol, also can cause dry mouth. As a result, your teeth and gums might become slightly more vulnerable to decay and infection.

What you can do to promote oral health:

·          Clean   your mouth and teeth after every meals nicely, and clean between your teeth — using regular dental floss or an interdental cleaner — once a day.

Maintain body weight

What's happening

How the body burns calories (metabolism) slows down as you age. If you decrease activities as you age, but continue to eat the same as usual, you'll gain weight. To maintain a healthy weight, stay active and eat healthy.

What you can do to maintain a healthy weight:

·         Include physical activity in your daily routine. Regular moderate physical activity can help you maintain a healthy weight.

·         Eat a healthy diet. Choose vegetables, fruits, whole grains, high-fibre foods and lean sources of protein, such as fish. Limit sugar and foods high in saturated fat.

·         Eat only 80% of your appetite. To cut calories, eat less but balanced.


What's happening

With age, sexual needs and performance might change. Illness or medication might affect your ability to enjoy sex. For women, vaginal dryness can make sex uncomfortable. For men, impotence might become a concern. It might take longer to get an erection, and erections might not be as firm as they used to be.

What you can do to promote your sexual health:

·         Share your needs and concerns with the partner. You might find the physical intimacy without intercourse is right for you, or you may experiment with different sexual activities.

·         Get regular exercise. Exercise improves the release of sexual hormones, cardiovascular health, flexibility, mood and self-image — all factors that contribute to good sexual health.

So in General we should observe the following for healthy aging:

·         Mind your diet, Eat foods loaded with antioxidants to minimize damage caused by free radicals. Stay away from processed foods, refined sugars, and unhealthy fats. Eat fruits and vegetables, lean protein (fish and beans), whole-grain cereals, breads, rice, or pasta. Low-fat milk, yogurt or cheese, vitamin D, Avoid using solid fats for cooking and use oils instead. Keep salt intake to a minimum to keep blood pressure down.

·         Drink plenty of water

·         Stay physically active exercise regularly to limit bone and muscle loss. 

·         Keep your cholesterol low so you can slow the hardening of your arteries and protect the heart.

·          Practice mental fitness to keep your brain sharp. Mindfulness is about acceptance and living in the moment by focusing on the present. Practicing mindfulness has many proven health benefits that can help you age better,

·          Mouth hygiene is important. Quit smoking and decrease alcohol consumption and get enough sleep because it is important for physical and mental health. It also plays a role in the skin’s health.

·         Spend time with friends and loved ones. Meaningful relationships and a strong social network improve mental and physical well-being and longevity. Don’t forget your furry loved ones as having a pet has been linked to lower stress and blood pressure, reduced loneliness, and better moods.

·         Accept your age. There is evidence that people who maintain a positive attitude about aging live longer and may recover better from a disability. Aging is inevitable and learning to embrace it can make all the difference.

·         Do things you enjoy. Taking the time to engage in activities you enjoy will bring joy.

·         Spend time in nature, pursue a new hobby, volunteer, do whatever brings you joy.

·         Remain observant about health regularly. Ask your doctor how often you should go in for checkups and screening tests as you age. Also, see a doctor anytime you experience concerning symptoms. (The author has his own study and views)