September is Healthy Aging Month, a national observance to encourage practices for healthy aging in all aspects of life — mental, physical, social and financial — especially for individuals 45 and up. The U.S. population of individuals over the age of 45 is growing and now includes members of Gen X as well as Boomer and Mature generations. No matter your age, it’s never too late or too early to take charge of your health and lead a more vibrant life.
Aging increases the risk of chronic disease and disability. The three main factors in healthy aging are (1) genes and family history, (2) lifestyle practices and exercise and (3) diet and nutrition. You can’t control the first one, but you have great influence over the second two. Establishing healthy lifestyle practices that include regular aerobic exercise, resistance training and healthy eating habits are essential for maintaining a strong body and immune system.
According to the Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine, nutrition can play a preventive role in many important health areas that affect the aging population:
- Heart health
- Blood pressure
- Activity levels
- Weight and blood sugar management
- Cognitive health
- Joint and bone health
As important as it is to make sure you’re getting the micronutrients you need, it’s also important not to consume too many calories. Beginning in your 20s your metabolism begins to slow down and the composition of your body begins to change, meaning more fat and less muscle if you’re not active. As you age, you have to work harder to keep your muscle mass, but it’s worth it. More muscle mass means your body can burn more calories.
Still, even the most active people lose some muscle as they age, while our need for certain nutrients increases. Supplements and fortified food and beverages can help make sure you’re getting the micronutrients you need without contributing a huge amount of calories to your diet.
Healthy Aging Nutrients
Antioxidants: One theory of aging is the free radical theory, which proposes that the increased risk of disease as you age comes from a lifelong aggregation of cellular damage from free radicals. So diets that include a good amount of antioxidants, such as beta carotene, glutathione, vitamins A, C, E, polyphenols and quercetin, can help combat the damage caused by free radicals.
Plant polyphenols: Polyphenols are compounds plants make to defend against UV radiation and pathogen attacks. We consume them in fruits, vegetables, legumes, chocolate, cereals and tea. The turmeric plant contains curcuminoid polyphenols, known to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, as do polyphenols from green tea. Studies suggest that grape seed extract protects against oxidative stress, has anti-inflammatory properties and aids in circulation.
Phytosterols: Plant sterols have been shown to lower cholesterol levels by inhibiting its absorption. Phytosterols and cholesterol compete for absorption in the intestines. Phytosterols also have anti-inflammatory properties. Good sources include fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds.
B vitamins: B vitamin intake is often insufficient in older age groups. This group of vitamins is essential for the health of brain tissue and studies have shown that deficiencies in B vitamins is associated with a decrease in cognitive function.
Calcium and vitamin D: This duo plays an important role in bone metabolism and osteoporosis prevention. Deficiency can lead to bone loss, low bone density and greater risk for fractures.
Omega-3 fatty acids: Omega-3 fatty acids are found in fish oil and some plant sources such as flaxseed, chia seeds, hemp seeds and walnuts. They are known to have anti-inflammatory properties and to lower blood triglycerides.
Glucosamine and Collagen: Glucosamine and collagen are some of the building blocks of cartilage, the cushion between bones in a joint. Cartilage gets broken down during movement and needs to be repaired. Studies have found that consuming these cartilage building blocks can reduce joint pain and protect bone cartilage.
Dietary Fiber: Both soluble and insoluble fiber support proper digestion and digestive system health — essential for maximum absorption of macro and micronutrients.
A Note from Dr. Carl: Reliv offers support for a healthier lifestyle
We all have different purposes in life. Here at Reliv, we want to help people live full, healthy lives — to Nourish Our World. We formulate our nutritional products to fuel these healthy lifestyles. In fact, all of these youth-promoting nutritional compounds mentioned in this post can be found in Reliv products — and that’s just to name a few. We pursue our purpose so you can pursue yours, whatever that might be.
We all want to live healthier, more vibrant lives, no matter what our age. Staying active and getting proper nutrition can help you stay physically fit and mentally sharp whether you’re 18 or 80. The best time to start? Right now!
I encourage you to challenge yourself this month to develop positive lifestyle habits for healthy aging. Reliv nutrition, including products like ReversAge®, can help. It’s the key to staying forever young.
To your health,
Dr. Carl W. Hastings
Vice Chairman and Chief Scientific Officer
This statement has not been evaluated by the FDA. Reliv products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
Gupta C, Prakash D. Nutraceuticals for geriatrics. Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine. 2015;5(1):5-14. doi:10.1016/j.jtcme.2014.10.004.