Top 8 Practices To Implement To Reach 80
The Aging Population
With advanced medical care at this day and age, looking at the statistics on Asian’s average lifespan, reaching 80 seems achievable, don’t you agree?(1) Many countries, developed or developing, are facing the so called “Aging Tsunami”. While there’s a negativity associated with the metaphor, it is true that the aging population is at a rise, and the numbers may even soon exceed the younger population.
What does Healthy Aging Mean To You?
1) A Healthy Diet
Unsurprisingly, with an average life expectancy at 85.03, Japan is one of the world’s longest living population.(1) The country is also highly ranked in “healthy life expectancy”, which is the number of years an individual can expect to be in good health.
The traditional Japanese diet - also called the 1975 Diet, is found to be one of the reasons.(2) (3) The elderly people of Japan do not dine primarily on the popular sushi and tempura. Their diet consists of soy products, fruits, vegetables, seaweed, seafood, root vegetables and green tea. They prefer variety in their daily menu, featuring at least 3 small dishes, in addition to soup and rice. The dishes are also predominantly cooked in healthier ways - simmering, steaming, boiling and grilling.
The Ohsaki Cohort 2006 Study, interested in contributing factors of healthy aging; analyzed the dietary pattern of 9,456 elderly Japanese – aged 65 years or more. This is what they have concluded:(4)
- Take fish at least 3 times weekly
- Take fruits and vegetables daily
- Take soy products combined with physical exercise for stronger bones
- Maintain moderate intake of salt (less than 2 teaspoon daily)
- Include plenty of dairy products
- Maintain low intake of red meat and coffee
2) Regularly Exercise
At a younger age, muscle loss and production are in balance. In other words, new muscles will replace the muscles lost. However, as we age, muscle loss happens at a higher rate. This condition is termed sarcopenia. Elderly with sarcopenia is more likely to have incorrect postures and suffer falls, hence affecting their movement and daily activities. The muscles lining the respiratory system are more likely to deteriorate as well, causing breathing difficulties.
This is why maintaining a regular exercise regime - including aerobic, resistance and flexibility exercises is important, from a young age. Resistance exercises help build more strong muscles, while aerobic exercises work to increase endurance and train the heart to work efficiently. Gaining flexibility from stretching movements and yoga are also great for your body balance, muscles and joints. Taking the exercise time outdoors with a group of friends, taking in immune and bone-strengthening Vitamin D from the sunlight, and building relationships seems fun, don’t you think?
3) Maintain Close Contact with Loved Ones
Hong Kong surprised lots when it topped the charts for “life expectancy”. The urban region of the country is very densely populated, and can be quite fast paced. But the densely populated neighbourhood most elderly stays in explain why. Although small, these neighbourhoods often share public spaces - which may house a wet market, little shops, a clinic - places that serve as socializing venues. At daytime, the elderly prefers to go downstairs to mingle with their friends, instead of staying at home.
Being at close proximity to these places helps create social connections that are beneficial. A good relationship not only gives us pleasure, they also influence our long-term health in many ways. On the flip side, without establishing strong social ties, you may be exposing yourself to depression and later-life cognitive decline, as well as an increase in mortality. A study with 309,000 subjects, discovered that lack of strong relationships increased the risk of premature death from all causes by 50% - the effect is even greater than the impact from physical traits such as obesity and physical inactivity.
Scientists suggested that having meaningful connections with others helps to relieve harmful stress levels, consequently positively affecting immunity; gut and blood vessel health.(5)
4) Keep Your Health In-check
No matter your age, it’s integral to do your health check-up at least once annually. It is more effective to prevent than to cure; and it’s easier to tackle a health issue if it is found earlier. There are tools to help you do so too - from your unique set of DNA. Studies show that DNA testing is able to identify gene variants that indicate whether you have a higher risk for certain diseases, like heart disease. Making preventive steps on your high-risk diseases not only lowers the risk of developing these diseases, you are also saving on hefty medical costs along the way.
Explore our Luxxo DNA Test Kit here
Minor ailments can snowball into something bigger if you don’t pay attention. Seek the attention of medical professionals - your doctor, dentist, and optometrist etc., even if you think it’s just a little headache, blurred eyesight, the usual joint pain or a minor tooth ache. Don’t neglect yourself.
5) Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle
Your body has the ability of self-healing, if you help it do so. Early or accelerated aging can be due to the stress you put your body through every day. Unhealthy lifestyle pattern - including excessive alcohol consumption, tobacco smoking and often sleeping late, creates harmful free radicals and reactive oxygen species known to damage healthy cells, which ultimately affects bodily functions and immunity. That’s why it pays to maintain a good lifestyle. The healthier your cells, the younger you will feel and look.
6) Keep Tabs on your Inner Well-being
At your alone time, how are you feeling? Being connected to your thoughts, feelings and emotions, whether it’s good or bad, goes a long way in taking care of your inner well-being. Meditation, journaling, talking to someone you trust - are all ways to positively improve your mental health and well-being.
7) Live with A Sense of Purpose
Transitioning to older years isn’t about sitting in a rocking chair and letting the days slip by. Whether it’s a gardening hobby, an adorable pet puppy, the mahjong match every evening, or volunteering work- having a sense of purpose and direction in life creates momentum. A study shows subjects older than 75 years of age engaging in leisure activities are found to have a declined risk of dementia.(6) Another study discovered older adults who participated in what they perceive as meaningful activities, reported feeling healthier and more fulfilled.(7)
You can even set goals or challenges that you would like to achieve and overcome within a set period of time. It motivates and boosts your mood. Achieving what you’ve set up for can help raise your self-esteem and confidence levels.
8) New Advanced Therapies
It was last thought that we are not able to slow the aging process. But new advanced therapies - the result of several decades of breakthrough research suggests otherwise. While they won’t let us live forever, they could help us stay healthier longer as we reach 80. These therapies work at a cellular level, targeting specialized cells for its unique functionality. Immune Enhancement Therapy, for instance, recognizes that the frontline immune cells - the Natural Killer (NK) cells reduce in quantity and quality as we age. By extracting NK cells from an individual’s blood, scientists cultivate these extracted cells into large numbers with superior activity levels. After infusing these cells back into the individual’s body, these NK cells act as an additional shield against harmful pathogens and infections.
Explore more about Immune Enhancement Therapy here
With age, not only our immune cells get less active and effective, all our body cells suffer too. Old and diseased body cells are replaced at a slower rate, our body systems run less efficiently, which is when we feel we are “rusting”. By infusing Precursor Cells into the body, we are able to feel their strong regenerative ability and regain optimal bodily functions.
Learn more about Cell Therapy here
Growing older does not need to be overwhelming. You can still own enriching life experiences as you grow old. As stated by the World Health Organization (WHO), healthy aging is about creating the environments and opportunities that enable people to be and do what they value throughout their lives. That’s what matters.
- Yamamoto et al., The Japanese diet from 1975 delays senescence and prolongs life span in SAMP8 mice. 2016. Journal of Nutrition. 32 (1): 122-8
- Zhang et al., The Japanese Dietary Pattern Is Associated with Longer Disability-Free Survival Time in the General Elderly Population in the Ohsaki Cohort 2006 Study. 2019. The Journal of Nutrition. 149 (7): 1245-51.
- Verghese J et al., Leisure activities and the risk of dementia in the elderly. N Engl J Med. 2003. 19; 348 (25): 2508-16.
- Fried LP et al., A social model for health promotion for an aging population: initial evidence on the Experience Corps model. 2004. J Urban Health. 81 (1): 64-78