Jenson Mak | Vitality & Healthy Ageing Blog

Dr. Jenson Mak covers the best of living a vital and healthy life at any age.

Category: Healthy Bodies (Page 1 of 4)

Running for a Cause

 

Giving back is one of the most rewarding experiences a person can pursue. Being able to help one another while also benefiting you is an encounter very few will have in their lifetime. I was fortunate enough to partake in the Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) Half Marathon a few weeks ago. Although the training part was a major facet of the race, being able to help raise money for a charity so close to my heart was the most gratifying part.

 

Prior to starting my race training, I was barely able to run 1K without struggling to breathe. I was truly amazed at the ability the human mind has when it wants to achieve a goal. I had always believed the preconceived notions that long distance running was not healthy as it weakened joints. Now that I have completed training and participated in my first race, I have escaped from negative thoughts about running. I am finally able to appreciate the benefits of running. I hope that my discoveries help to encourage others to push themselves to their fullest potentials. Sometimes we must cross boundaries and step out of our comfort zones to fully understand our body’s abilities.

 

As I mentioned, completing this race was a challenge I had faced myself with. More importantly, this race was about raising money for some of Australia’s most important philanthropies. I was truly honored to be a part of the team that supported NeuRA. This organization works hard to complete in-depth research for neurological diseases. NeuRA is a very important organization to me, as many of you know that I specialize in healthy ageing. I also have some close relatives who have suffered from strokes, dementia, and Autism. NeuRA passionately strives to answer many of the questions that come along with these diseases. I am very proud that my team helped to raise of $14,000 for NeuRA and their continued research efforts.

 

Throughout this entire experience, I have learned a great deal about myself and the capabilities the human body possesses. The most humbling part of this venture is the fact that so many people around me were generous enough to donate to the cause. I am extremely proud to have ranked in the Top 10 Individual Fundraisers for SMH Half Marathon. Words are unable to express my gratitude towards everyone who donated and supported me in this endeavor. I am looking forward to continuing to help raise funds for NeuRA and to continue my training for future races!

 

If you are interested in learning more about the SMH Half Marathon, NeuRA, or even donating to cause, please feel free to follow this link!

 

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Best and Worst Foods for Healthy Ageing: Part 1

 
Most people are well aware of the fact that eating well benefits overall health. There are certain foods that have the ability to help us age in a better manner. But many are unaware that there are also foods that speed up the ageing process. As our bodies begin to naturally age, it is important that we remain aware of what we are consuming and what those foods are doing to our body.
 
Foods to Limit
 
Red/Processed Meat
 
Although the protein levels in many of these types of meats are high, there are other harmful aspects that do not support healthy ageing. When red meat is cooked at high temperatures, it becomes a source for advanced glycation end products (AGEs). These products are harmful molecules that the body produces. AGEs are enemies of your skin, as they break down collagen. When it comes to processed meats, (i.e. bacon, hot dogs, pepperoni) health experts raise concerns about high saturated fat levels as well as nitrates. Both of these factors can cause wrinkles as well as inflammation.
 
Potato Chips/ French Fries
 
These perfect sides to sandwiches and burgers are not likely to help the ageing process. The high levels of salt in these foods leads to water retention, which causes serious bloating. Salty treats such as these usually contain trans fat as well, which should be avoided as we age. Adults should avoid consuming more than 6 grams of salt a day. A small bag of chips can sometimes contain up to 10% of your sodium intake. Additionally, trans fat lowers the “good” kind of cholesterol and raises the levels of the “bad” type of cholesterol. If possibly avoiding these types of food is recommended in order to help the ageing process.
 
Anti-Ageing Boosters
 
Salmon
 
As mentioned in a previous blog, this fish is considered a superfood and does wonder for the body. With high levels of omega 3 fatty acids, salmon not only has the ability to help your insides, but your skin also benefits from its nutrients. One of the leading causes of premature ageing is excessive inflammation. The healthy fats in salmon help eliminate such swelling and puffiness, giving skin a smooth texture.
 
Avocados
 
Over the years, health professionals have continued discovering the endless benefits of avocados. This fruit (yes, it is a fruit), contains monounsaturated fat, one of the healthiest fats out there. This fat helps to keep the skin hydrated, less inflamed, and plumper. Due to its diversity, the avocado has the ability to take the form of many spreads and dressings. Many people find them to serve as great supplements for everyday items such as mayonnaise!
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Retiring in Central America

People work their entire lives, to eventually leave their job and find a place where they can spend the remainder of their free time doing whatever they wish. Finding the perfect location to settle in and continue living life after a career can be challenging. It is important to find a location that best suits individual needs and provides a healthy environment to enjoy everything retired life contains. These South American destinations have been recognized as some of the best places for retirees because of their ability to keep people feeling young.

 

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Costa Rica

Walk down the streets of this Central American country and surely the words “Pura Vida” will be shouted, plastered on t-shirts, and written on doorways. The term literally translating to “pure life” is how the people of Costa Rica go about their means of surviving. The air is clean, the people are friendly, and the weather is warm. What more could a retiree want? The cost of living in this beautiful country dips well below average, and healthcare costs are extremely affordable. The location of the region is ideal for quick travels to various parts of the world, making it an ideal home for those wanting to travel often upon their retirement. Staying healthy in this community is extremely attainable, as the fresh fruits and activity options are abundant.

 

 

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Mexico

The country voted “Best Place to Retire” by International Living is one of the least expected contenders on the list. Although the media heavily highlights the crime and challenges the country faces (just like every other country), this destination has become so much more to those who choose it as their retirement location. Real estate prices are great and there are plenty of environments where senior citizens can feel welcomed and at ease. Throughout the country there are various climate zones, so one can choose to live in a more mild region with slight seasonal changes, or be by the beach on any given day of the year. Retirees have plenty of options for maintaining an active lifestyle as the nature adventures are plentiful!

 

 

When it’s time to retire, people want to find somewhere away from the lives that they have led for the past 30-40 years. South America has become a home to many retirees hoping to escape the hustle and bustle they once lived through. With a wide range of temperature options, this region provides a great option for those looking to calmly enjoy their years to come. As an added bonus, no family members will ever complain when they have to come visit!

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3 Apps That Encourage Healthy Eating

Maintaining a healthy diet has become much more challenging with fast food restaurants opening on every corner and people sharing their culinary creations on social media. Though certain occasions in life call for some indulging, eating healthy as often and for as long in life as possible holds the key to aging gracefully. With the rapid advancements, technology provides in everyday life, finding the best recipes to stay in as great of shape possible is always in the palm of your hand. Here are a few great apps to help manage a balanced diet.

 

Harvest

Not sure if this is the right time of year for blueberries? This user-friendly app is great for anyone who is a fan of fresh produce. The app’s simple design shows exactly which fruits and veggies are “in-season” and which time of year consumers are likely to find the freshest produce. Not only does it give projections for the fruit’s season, but it also shows users how to determine the perfect ripeness. Fresh food lovers, rejoice as Harvest has provided the handbook in perfecting the ideal summer fruit salad.

 

Fooducate

Everyone is somewhat familiar with the meanings of nutrition labels, but truly understanding the calories is where many fall short. This clever app will share the genuine nutritional value of the foods being consumed. It even offers healthier substitutions when a user inputs a junkier food item. The Fooducate app alerts users of potentially harmful ingredients that would cause fluctuation in their attempt to eat better.

 

HelloFresh

With the hectic lifestyles led by many, finding time to make it to the grocery store in order to get ingredients for a specific meal becomes a difficult task. The people over at HelloFresh came up with the brilliant idea to deliver exact measurements of ingredients to make homemade meals feel like a breeze. Every meal comes with holistic nutritional information, easily transferable to a calorie counter. The app allows customers to see which meals they can expect to receive in each shipment along with detailed recipe instructions and additional uses for any unique ingredients included.

 

The food industry has made it very easy for individuals to lose track of the calories included in everything they consume. Luckily technology has made so many advancements and allows us to obtain nutritious options and guidelines instantaneously. When utilizing such tools, becoming healthy will become an easily achievable lifestyle transition for anyone!

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Health Benefits of Volunteering

As mentioned in an earlier blog, volunteering is a great way for senior citizens to remain involved and active in their communities upon retirement. Not only is giving back to the community a great way to remain involved but many volunteer opportunities also present many health benefits. When it comes to community service, the benefits go far beyond helping others, as it gives so much more for a volunteer to gain.

 

Mental Stability

There are endless opportunities for people to serve others on a level that requires minimal to no physical efforts. While these opportunities don’t benefit the body as a whole, it is just as important for older generations to continuously exercise their brain. Volunteering in educational based roles such as tutoring is a great way to maintain a healthy mental activity level. Even doing work for organizations that guide students through life’s challenges is a boost for the brain. Create the Good shared that studies at Johns Hopkins proved those who volunteer have greater mental capacities, and who would complain having more of that at an older age?

 

Physical Enhancers

With organizations that require volunteers to take physical action, there are surpluses of opportunities to gain while donating their time. There are specific events designated to running or walking for charity, which is a tremendous activity for seniors in and of itself. Additionally, philanthropic groups are always looking for a lending hand; whether it be helping to build a house, paint a mural, serve food, or run a clothing drive. All of these activities involve getting up and moving, giving volunteers a great way to get in their physical activity for the day. Living longer, decreased risk of heart disease and Alzheimer’s, and fat burning are all side-effects of volunteering at an elderly age. Some even believe doctors should recommend adding volunteerism when mentioning diet and exercise and healthy means of life.

 

Feel Good

As do most physical activities, volunteering has the ability to reduce levels of stress. Many people have felt the altruism effect but are unsure as to its true value. As someone uses their free time to help others, they are releasing dopamine into their bodies, giving them a feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction. Those who volunteer are often less likely to suffer from depression, as they have a more comprehensive understanding of those who truly are less fortunate than them.

From boosting brain activity to physical well-being, volunteering does a world of good for the overall health of an individual. More often than not these positive reactions to giving back are seen instantaneously. There are plenty of organizations out there looking for anyone willing to share their time, finding one that is a perfect fit should never be too far out of reach.

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Get Fit at 50 to Embrace 80

Choosing to lead a healthier lifestyle, never truly has an age limit. Many people in their 20s and 30s pick-up on the trend of health awareness and begin their journey around that time in their lives. However, studies have shown that as middle-age approaches, there is a priority shift away from personal well-being. Contrary to popular belief, a person’s 40s and 50s are some of the best years to optimize one’s health and fitness.

 

One of the most important tasks someone approaching middle-aged can do is make sure they are fully aware of their health. For example, someone who may have previously smoked for many years, but eventually quit, will likely want to withstand some tests, making sure their lungs are on the road to recovery. The only person who knows exactly what their body has endured is the individual themselves and making sure no repercussions occurred due to past experiences is vital to continue ageing in a healthy way.

 

A report in the Washington Post shared physician, Andrew Weil’s advice on health aging. Weil’s approach focuses directly on the relationships, especially creating ones that encourage achieving healthy goals. For those seeking a healthier lifestyle, it is crucial to surround themselves with like-minded individuals. Finding or even starting a group with people who have an objective to keep active is a great way to hold someone accountable for continuing a healthy mindset. By maintaining social relationships with those who are willing to support and even help someone seeking a better life for themselves is very important to the overall process.

 

Unfortunately, for too many people, deciding to focus on health and fitness comes after a life-altering event. Many people look back and wish they would have changed their lifestyle prior to the incident, however they inevitably change for the better, which is the most important part. Taking preventative measures, while still having the capabilities necessary to continue living independently likely to save not only grief and aggravation but a life. Although many people believe they are well and by their own personal standards, feel fine, doing everything possible to make sure optimal health is reachable is a great way for middle-aged adults to lead their lives.

 

For those approaching their golden years, setting up for a successful transition is as easy as being in control of your own health. Having a complete awareness for every health concern is one essential aspect to formulating healthy middle-aged years. Don’t wait until it’s too late, fit at 50 is possible!

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Superfoods and Their Super Abilities

With the ever-changing trends in foods, it is sometimes hard to keep up with the latest lingo and new products. Recently, a huge focus has shifted to the incorporation of “superfoods” into every diet, but many are confused by the term and what it takes for something to be considered part of this group. Remaining knowledgeable in regards to which foods truly provide the right nutrients for our bodies to continue on a healthy path is crucial, especially when age becomes a factor.

 

What Are They?

According to Health.com, there is no medical or legal definition for a superfood. Nutritionists consider foods of this group to be powerhouses, loaded with nutrients, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. There are countless foods out there that contain all of these elements, but health professionals are encouraging people to utilize the ones with the highest levels of each. A lotl of food items have been labeled as a “superfood” and it is important to recognize why they have earned the title. Here are a few fan-favorites from each food group and the reason they are so “super”;

 

  • Blueberries: filled with fiber, vitamin C, and cancer-fighting compounds
  • Salmon: contains omega-3 fatty acids, which the body cannot produce by itself (prevents heart disease)
  • Broccoli: high levels of vitamin C and folate (helps reduce risk of certain cancers)
  • Oats: full of fiber, magnesium, and potassium, helping to boost metabolism (and in certain forms tastes delicious!)

 

Benefits of Eating Them

Experts say that eating superfoods on a regular basis can significantly improve health in more way than one. Of course, ultimately healthier bodies are an advantage to eating superfoods, but they have also been proven to prevent chronic illnesses. By consuming these foods, people are additionally prolonging their lives and giving themselves one consisting of good health. Certain superfoods mentioned above have actually helped in lowering blood pressure and other pre-existing medical conditions. The examples above just begin to scratch the surface of the benefits that come from superfoods, and by consuming at least one superfood on a daily basis (alongside an overall healthy diet), quality of life is destined for improvement.

 

Food trends are becoming a huge part of society and people are becoming more concerned about exactly what they are putting in their mouths. Certain foods have become a part of the “superfoods” group, consisting of large amounts of key nutrients needed to help improve the overall health of our bodies. Including these foods into a diet has benefits beyond belief and should be considered of high importance to those conscious about healthy living.

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Stay Fit From Home

 

Who says you need a gym membership to stay active and in good health? Many people are making the transition to using in-home techniques for working out, especially those with limited access to a fitness center. The growing trend of working out from the comfort of your own home has become easier to accomplish every day. Through various online resources and programs which bring wellness coaches right to your home, staying fit is accessible at any age.

 

The internet has become a great resource for finding useful tips when it comes to health and wellness. As the largest source of online videos, YouTube, has also become a bank for easy to follow in-home workouts. By simply using the search bar one can effortlessly find the routine that best suits their individual goals and ability levels. For example, those just starting out with their fitness training should use key terms when searching such as “low-impact” or “beginner level”, usually followed by the style of workout desired (i.e. cardio, weight training, yoga). Those with more advanced training intentions, finding a video suited for targeted areas of improvement are just as straightforward. Here is a great example of a result when “low-impact cardio for beginners” was searched. The internet has truly done wonders for those seeking different techniques to improve their workout routines, especially when it comes to those not able to leave their homes.

 

Another great system for those hoping to avoid the chaos of a gym is the utilization of in-home trainers. This concept not only includes purchasing equipment for the home but also hiring personal trainers, who come to your location and demonstrate best exercises for your fitness desires. Most personal trainers who travel to your home provide their own equipment, but purchasing personal equipment is definitely beneficial for days off from the training sessions in order to continue improving fitness! Amazon provides some high-quality pieces for reasonable prices, which would make great additions to any home fitness plan.

 

Certain circumstances may limit people from leaving their house on a daily basis to complete their exercise routines. With today’s technology advances, it has become much easier to continue achieving fitness objectives from the comfort of your own home. There are also plenty of programs and individuals willing to provide their training services at a location best suited for the fitness seeker’s needs. Getting and remaining in shape doesn’t require a gym, but a little determination and dedication can help get the fitness goals you desire!

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Top 5 Healthy Food Substitutions

It’s never too late (or too early) to start adjusting your diet towards becoming healthier for the sake of your body. If you typically don’t spend your time experimenting with foods in the kitchen, then you won’t know about the healthy substitutes that you can use in your cooking. By substituting these simple, everyday foods, for ingredients that typically make your meals unhealthy, you can enjoy all the foods you love while contributing to the overall health of your body, and longevity of life!

 

Black Beans

When thinking about luscious cakes, brownies, and sweet treats, black beans are the last thing that would come to mind, right? However, if you’re looking to cut calories and carbs, while still enjoying your sweet desserts, black beans are the way to go. The legumes are considered one of the healthiest foods for your body, as they are packed with protein and fiber. Substituting black beans for flour in your baking dishes will allow you to maximize your nutrition without noticing a taste difference. Wherever a recipe calls for a cup of flour, use a cup of black beans, well drained and mashed.

 

Olive Oil

The ever so popular mediterranean diet has caused many to switch their diets for optimal health, and olive oil plays a key part. Olives are one of the oldest food sources known to mankind, including one of the healthiest. Olives are filled with OMega-3 fatty acids that your body needs to function properly. Instead of using the typical vegetable oil, opt it for olive oil. It is also great for making dressings or cooking dishes (although its health benefits are optimized when unheated).

 

Greek Yogurt

You’ve heard about the health craze all over. Greek yogurt is not going anywhere thanks to its high nutritional benefits. Greek yogurt is packed with high protein, and less sugar, sodium, and fat compared to regular yogurt. Greek yogurt is also great for substitutes. Instead of using mayo or sour cream in your daily cooking, plain greek yogurt will make your meals much more nutritious without a taste difference. It’s also great for making dressings, desserts, and baking because of its thick and creamy texture.

 

Wine

Wine is also considered part of the mediterranean diet. Known as the Drink of the Gods, the ancient drink comes with more health benefits than any other alcoholic drink out there. For one, many studies have shown that wine can play a role in preventing depression and anti-aging due to the high amount of antioxidants made with the drink (with moderate consumption). It’s also a great drink to sip when out at the bar with friends or relaxing at home, as wine is significantly lower in calories compared to sugary and sweet cocktails.

 

Applesauce, Dates & Cinnamon

There’s nothing evil about sugar, spice, and everything nice in those beautiful iced cupcakes and luscious chocolate cakes, right? Wrong. Many experts have found that sugar can actually become as addictive to humans as some drugs. Sugar is responsible for obesity, diabetes, and heart diseases, as it converts to fat in our bodies. The new guidelines show that men and women should not consume more than 6-9 teaspoons of sugar per day. The key is to stay away from as much added sugar as you can, however, it is still possible to enjoy sweet treats. One old fashioned trick is to substitute applesauce in recipes that call for sugar. This also allows your item to become more moist. Another trick is to add dates to recipes that call for sugar. Dates are naturally sweet, so you won’t notice the taste difference. Cinnamon is also a great spice to substitute sugar for. Recent studies have found that cinnamon has amazing health benefits that could positively impact your health. Try adding cinnamon to your coffee or oatmeal instead of sugar!

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The Best Health Apps 2017

As technology and education continues to revolutionize and empower human beings, there is no better time to focus on your personal health and fitness than now. The ease and flexibility of having a fitness app on your phone allows you more time and motivation to workout throughout the day and keep up with your health. Here are the top health apps you should have on your phone for optimal daily motivation.

 

Workout Trainer

This app is great for those looking to stay active throughout the day. If you get bored of the same, boring routine, then this app is for you. Workout trainer provides you with hundreds of workouts from strength training, to cardio, to yoga and relaxation. You get to pick what type of workout you’re feeling that day and which muscles you want to strengthen. This app will ensure that you’re staying physically active throughout the day with many different options for you to choose from. This is a great app to switch up your routine, while keeping track of your daily activity.

 

Yoga Studio

If you’re tired of driving back and forth to the yoga studio every morning, while traffic is far from allowing you to destress. Yoga Studio is the app for you. First of all, yoga should be relaxing, and there is nothing relaxing about paying a costly monthly fee for joining yoga studios each month. Yoga studio is a great app to use throughout your day. All you need is a relaxing, quiet space to turn your home into the same comfort as a yoga studio. The app offers a variety of virtual yoga classes from beginner to advanced practices. Save time and money by implementing this app into your lifestyle, and be on the road to a relaxing and stress free daily routine.

 

My Fitness Pal

Part of living a healthy lifestyle through diet and exercise is planning out and monitoring your daily activity and the foods you eat. My Fitness Pal is a great app for those on the go. The app allows you to scan or enter in details about any foods you eat throughout the day. It also allows you to enter in your daily physical activity, which can be linked to other apps in your phone. The app will keep track of the nutrition of your daily foods, such as calories, carbs, sodium, etc, while tracking your physical activity. You can also set goals such as weight loss, and the app will help you with a target of calories to intake daily, and exercises to practice throughout the day.

 

Sleep Cycle

One of the biggest aspects of living a healthy lifestyle is getting a good night’s sleep. Sleep Cycle is a great app to keep track of your sleeping. It works through a motion sensor in your phone and a microphone which is able to be heard when you move around in your sleep. It also has an alarm feature that will softly wake you up, allowing you to train your body to go to sleep and wake up at a consistent routine time. The key to your daily productivity is sleep, therefore this app will allow you to start the day right.

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