The search for eternal youth has fascinated both men and women for centuries. Today, a rapidly expanding multi-billion (and more) dollar industry exists that focuses solely on overcoming the effects of ageing.
There are, however, also other surprisingly simple and inexpensive ways and means to retain the vim, vigour and vitality of youth for as long as possible.
Searching for the fountain of youth
The search for ways to retain youth is by no means a modern day preoccupation. It’s a quest as old as the hills. The insights and discoveries of modern-day science have, however, finally given us a chance to drink from the fabled fountain of youth.
Today, the younger generation in many parts of the world can look forward to leading an active and productive life well into their eighties and beyond, something that was hardly conceivable just a few decades ago. Add to the mix a celebrity culture that glorifies the body beautiful and we arrive at a multi-billion dollar industry focused on maintaining youthful looks and overcoming the effects of ageing.
Why we age
Time waits for no man, and gerontology, the scientific study of ageing, is largely divided into two camps:
- That ageing is totally natural and is a process that is pre-programmed into the body at a cellular level
- That the ageing process is the accumulated result of damage sustained over time.
These add up to a sometimes confusing mix of genetics, chemistry and behaviour that come together to decide our fate.
What we can do about it
The art and science of staying young have come together to reveal a number of tried and tested ways to slow down the usual effects of the march of time. Contrary to what the producers of the myriad of creams, pills and treatments that claim to be the solution would have you believe, most of the answers are actually quite simple and totally free. These include:
- Eating less and exercising more. Cutting kilojoule intake by 30 to 40% has been shown to have health benefits beyond those associated with lower weight. Exercise helps keep both body and mind young and flexible while becoming a couch potato makes our bodies and minds deteriorate − one of the first signs of ageing.
- Drinking a glass or two of red wine. Red wine and grape juice contains the antioxidant resveratrol that reduces the incidence of heart disease.
- Keeping your brain active. Challenging your brain with new activities and acquiring new skills staves off the effects of ageing.
- Eating more fruits and vegetables. A study of centenarians found that they tended to cut back on meat and ate more fruit, leafy greens, soy, nuts and beans. Other anti-aging foods that come highly recommended include omega-3 fatty acids found in salmon, walnuts and seeds as well as pomegranates and goji berries.
- Having more sex. A safe and satisfying sexual relationship can add years to life expectancy.
- Laughing and smiling more. Be happy and worry free. Laughter beats stress and a sense of humour helps keep things in perspective. Stress can be the factor that initiates a number of debilitating illnesses, so focus on having a positive outlook.
- Attitude. To stay young at heart means embracing change and learning how to let go of things. Life is constantly changing and you can’t hold onto everything forever.
Do not give undue importance to numbers of age, weight and height and concentrate on who you really are.
Fox, M. Fight ageing: six secrets to staying young. Retrieved from: http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20356118,00.html
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(Revised by M van Os)