Friday Pearl

Slowing the Aging Process

Friday, July 28, 2017


We cannot change chronology, but we can change biology! Many of us accept the pronouncements of the pundits who pontificate about slowing the aging process, but few give specific directions to achieving this goal. I’d like to give a few.

To most Americans, the signs of old age are gray hair, wrinkled skin, loss of vitality, easy fatigue, reduced resistance to injury, and degenerative conditions like high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol levels, and signs of aging like cataracts and macular degeneration.

Here are a few suggestions that really could help slow the aging process:

Get out and walk: Swimming may sound good as an exercise, but aerobic exercise doesn't produce enough resistance to stretch the muscles. Walking in the woods over irregular terrain (also known as “Forest bathing”) does give the muscles (and the mind) the stretching it needs to gain strength.

Stop worrying about your weight: Eat when you are hungry, not on a schedule, and stop eating when you are satisfied, not when you’ve cleaned your plate. And don't snack. Between meals, it’s better to drink water or tea or grape juice.

Drink more water: The advice to drink eight glasses of water daily is OK as far as it goes, but a glass of water before meals helps satisfy hunger and a glass of water before meals helps prevent overeating.

Drinking extra water during the day actually gives more stamina – especially on hot days.

Stay active: Research suggests that the body’s gradual loss of stamina is not from the passing of years but from the combined effects of inactivity and poor nutrition. So no matter your present health status, or your chronological age, regular exercise, proper diet (see Ellen Troyer’s Tasty Tuesday articles), and nutritional supplements will help lower your biological age.

Be engaged in community: There’s a sense of connection, solidarity, and strength that comes from participating in events in your community.

Consume fats in moderation: Combining a lower-fat diet with regular exercise is a proven way of slowing your biological aging.  We cannot change chronology, but we can change our response to environmental challenges and slow the aging process.

Remember, you can’t change your past, but you can change your now (and your tomorrow).

Spencer Thornton, MD