1. To begin with, Healthy Aging starts NOW! Everything we do, how we live our lives and the choices we make every day influence how healthy or ill we will be as we age. Of course, we have some genetic predispositions, yet our lifestyle trumps our genetics. The field of Epigenetics is one of the hottest areas of study these days wherein it has been proven that our food habits/choices and stresses influence whether certain genes are expressed or not. Check out this topic online to learn more and how it may relate to you.
2. LOVE is essential for healthy living and feeling youthful as well as sensual and sexy. It's even more important for men than women as research shows that men live longer when coupled with a life partner, whereas it's not the same for women, who seem to embrace their independence in later years, especially when they have financial comfort. Medicare and insurance companies realize that loneliness and isolation are factors that create more likelihood for medical problems as we age and so, they ask physicians to inquire about these factors during their health reviews with patients.
3. FOOD is vitally important as a building block for our body as well as nourishment for our brain and other body tissues. At the core of us, our cells need a selection of the many nutrients we need for optimal functioning?vitamins, minerals, amino acids from proteins, fatty acids from oil-containing foods, and the many bio-active phytonutrients from plants. It's also important to avoid as many toxins, primarily chemicals and metals that come into our bodies from air, food, and water, and also from what we put on our skin or how we treat our hair. Vital cell function is the basis of body/life vitality, and good, nutrient-rich foods provide the electricity for life.
Detoxification can be valuable for most men with breaks from any SNACC Habits (my acronym Sugar, Nicotine, Alcohol, Caffeine, and Chemicals) as well as occasional cleansing juice fasts (I do them yearly), which I feel and believe keep us feeling youthful with lower inflammation, and from them, help reduce degenerative disease so common in aging men.
In general, we mostly need lots of veggies and I suggest 50 percent and up, with quality proteins within your belief construct, and I like some fish, fresh local eggs, legume sprouts, tofu and tempeh, and some nuts, seeds, and avocado to add some oils and protein, along with a few fruits and some grains as you tolerate for your carb and weight levels. That's the food we need and be aware of your 'treats' such as most all the processed foods and sugar-laded items so readily available everywhere. These treats are occasional and less than 20 percent, even 10 percent, of our total diet.
4. A Place called Home forms a foundation for many good health habits and a sanctuary for relaxation and recharging. The place you sleep and dream is home, and good sleep is essential to good health, from youth and throughout life. Here's where you care for your body with love and ideally embrace the attitude that, "This is the only body I have and I am going to care for it as best I can. As I acknowledge this, I am going to eat well, lower my stress, sleep great, and keep an active fitness program." That's an "attitude" and a positive one. It helps to keep a clean body and home, well organized and that allows us to be creative and comfortable.
5. Creative Spark?be happy with who you are inside yourself, and that takes the right attitude as well. It helps to have something to do in and for the world to keep you engaged in life with some level of passion. This is important as we age unless you are someone who wishes to retire and enjoy your favorite hobbies and pastimes, travel, and embrace the world, or just relax at home and enjoy family, grandkids, and friends.
6. Fitness is fantastic! Staying fit or working hard to improve any poor fitness is a good plan for us all. I find for me that an hour a day or more helps me feel good and maintain my fitness and I encourage a regular, yet varied, program that fits in with your lifestyle and work schedule. Remember, the best exercise is the one that you will actually do. What do you like? Hikes in nature, gym workouts for aerobic activity, weight training, and always stretch and that includes yoga. We are as young as our spine is flexible. Meditation and tuning in helps us stay aligned with our true selves and helps us listen to our mission message and inner guidance and truth. This helps us stay aligned with a spiritual calling, so important for what I call our "destiny years" post age 60.
7. Supplements and Hormones are an important area to look at for healthy aging. It's wise to have an assessment and look at risk factors (see below) as well as hormone levels, and that includes testosterone values and DHEA, a hormone precursor. Many men can benefit from adding a little bio-identical testosterone to their regimen, especially if they measure low or they have some of the symptoms of low testosterone, such as fatigue, depression, low libido, or lack of enthusiasm for life.
Important supplements for aging men include vitamin D, vitamin C and other antioxidant nutrients (E, B vitamins, and selenium) along with zinc (also antioxidant) are all needed by many men, as is magnesium. Omega-3 oils are helpful to keep inflammation down and CoQ10 can be beneficial and is especially important for men who are taking statin drugs for their cholesterol levels. Protecting the heart is vitally important and that's a whole new discussion.
Prostate Health is an area to keep aware of and make sure the urine flow and sexual function is working. Checking for prostate cancer is wise to do with your physician, either the family doctor or urologist.
8. Financial health often affects physical health (and emotional and mental health as well); at least it can. While money doesn't protect us from worry or stress (it may add) it gives us the options to do what we need for ourselves and not make it seem like an expensive luxury. Hopefully the career years, mainly 30? 60, have brought in support for your later life, and yet, many men enjoy what they do and choose to keep working into their 70s and longer. This whole area is an individual journey and it helps to plan ahead and include your family in this area, especially a spouse if that's relevant.
9. Risk Factors are something to be aware of and there are many that can be assessed and reviewed. These include vitamin D, C-Reactive Protein (CRP is an inflammatory marker), Homocysteine (related to cardiovascular health), and Hemoglobin A1C (evaluating blood sugar over time). Body acid/alkaline state measured by morning urine pH (6.5?7.5 is ideal) is of value, as is bowel transit time to make sure our intestinal function is appropriate. Russ Jaffe, MD reviewed all of these areas and more at a recent talk in San Francisco.
10. Spirit Connection, Heart Affection, Stress Deflection, and Disease Protection?live each day in the moment, be present and mindful. Our loved ones, friends and co-workers often appreciate this. Learn to be a nurturer to those around you if you haven't developed that too much. Learn to listen and communicate better; it saves on the stress. A favorite part of my new and upcoming book, Staying Healthy with NEW Medicine, is in the stress section and relates to knowing how to "fair fight" or as the topic title suggests "The Art and Technique of Peacefully 'Not' Getting Along!" This is important.
It matters what you think, what you say, what you eat, and what you do. Be True to YOU!
Elson M. Haas, MD
Elson M. Haas, MD is a medical practitioner with nearly 40 years experience in patient care, always with in an interest in natural medicine. For the past 30 years, he has been instrumental in the development and practice of Integrated Medicine at the Preventive Medical Center of Marin (PMCM), which he founded in 1984 and where he is the Medical Director. Dr Haas has been perfecting a model of healthcare that integrates sophisticated Western diagnostics and Family Medicine with time-honored natural therapies from around the world.
This educating, writing doctor is also the author of many books including Staying Healthy with Nutrition: The Complete Guide to Diet and Nutritional Medicine, 21st Century Edition, The NEW Detox Diet: The Complete Guide for Lifelong Vitality with Recipes, Menus, & Detox Plans and more. Visit his website for more information on his work, books and to sign up for his newsletter.