Jenson Mak | Vitality & Healthy Ageing Blog

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

Category: Vitality (Page 1 of 3)

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Best and Worst Food For Ageing: Part 2

Food is one of the most important aspects of our lives. Without it, we don’t survive. If you’ve already ready the first installment of this blog, great, you are already on track to keeping yourself youthful. For those new to the blog, welcome! In hopes of shedding light onto the importance of healthy ageing, this blog gives insight into the best and worst foods in support of the ageing process. This blog will focus on some of the liquids and drinks that most affect the aging process. Take a look at a few of the best and worst contenders.

 

Drink Sparingly

 

Alcohol

While drinking red wine in moderation may prove to be heart healthy, overconsumption of alcohol can hinder a graceful ageing process. Consuming more than one “standard” drink a day, can leave lasting effects on your skin and the rest of your body. Alcohol is an inducer of rosacea, which eventually vanishes. However, over time, multiple rosacea episodes can lead to permanent enlargement of the blood vessels allowing thread veins to show up on the skin. Those who frequently consume alcohol are likely to notice their skin drying and dehydrating more frequently. Many of these beverages contain high levels of sugar which damage the collagen in the skin, causing rapid ageing for many.

 

Soda

It is common knowledge that soda is not the best choice when it comes to a healthy drink. The artificial sweeteners and sugar levels are damaging to the inside and outside of the human body. A study conducted at UCSF showed that daily soda intake can age your cells up to two years at a time. This statistic shows that soda consumption almost as damaging to ageing as smoking does. Not only do the harmful chemicals in soda break down collagen, it also causes damage internally, leading to higher risks of heart attacks and diabetes. A great way to still get the soda bubbly effect is to mix sparkling water with a pure juice!

 

Drink Up!

 

Green Tea

One of nature’s greatest gifts is the benefits that many of the plants provide. Tea, is one of the healthiest drinks out there. There are many reasons people should switch from coffee to tea, one of the being its ability to help the ageing process. Green tea, in particular, is an excellent, natural anti-inflammatory. The polyphenols in green tea, help to fight off any cell damage the body is entailing. Other teas, such a white tea, have proven their anti-ageing abilities by slowing down the breakdown of collagen and elastin. This gives the skin a better chance at remaining wrinkle-free and not swollen.

 

Soymilk

While normal milk definitely has its anti-ageing qualities, soy milk flourishes when it comes to keeping you youthful looking. Soy milk contains isoflavones, which contains skin-firming collagen. Researchers believe that the isoflavones also prevent wrinkles. A study showed that subjects exposed to UV lighting after consuming isoflavones possessed smoother skin than those without consumption. Soy milk becomes yet another great resource to prevent that inevitable breakdown of collagen!

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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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How Nutrition Impacts Age

A new study – Nutritional Considerations for Health Aging and Reduction in Age-Related Chronic Diseases – featured in Advances in Nutrition found that improving nutritional education within the healthcare system may promote healthier aging and reduce the financial burden of the aging population.

 

It is estimated that by the year 2050, almost 400 million people will be 80 years or older. This estimate is almost three times higher than in 2013. According to the published report, a growing number of this population will be susceptible to a concept known as nutritional frailty – a condition in older adults involving the sudden loss of weight and strength that increases the chance of experiencing disability. The growing number of obese older adults is also vulnerable to nutritional frailty and its associated diseases such as sarcopenia, mental decline, and infectious diseases.

 

The study determined that a specific model describing the various factors that influence food choices needs to be established to increase the understanding behind older adults and their food intake and meal quality. Recently, a new model was designed to monitor food intake in older adults in addition to the inclusion of randomised clinical studies. This model will help determine the specific nutritional requirements and biomarkers needed to further understand the impact of increasing age on areas such as necessary protein intake and muscle turnover. The study’s finding will also help establish new BMI guidelines tailored to the aging population.

 

According to Gilles Bergeron, the executive director at The Sackler Institute for Nutrition Science at the New York Academy of Sciences, “A nutritional assessment model that takes into consideration the effect of aging on muscle mass, weight loss and nutrient absorption is crucial to overall wellness in our elderly population,”. He continues, “However, nutrition recommendations are usually based on that of a typical healthy adult, and fail to consider the effect of aging on muscle mass, weight loss, and nutrient absorption and utilisation..”
Simin Nikbin Meydani, director of the Nutritional Immunology Laboratory at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University, agrees with Bergeron’s views on the need for personalised nutrition recommendations stating, “much greater emphasis needs to be placed on prioritising research that will fill the knowledge gaps and provide the kind of data needed by health and nutrition experts if we’re going to address this problem,”. She adds, “There also needs to be more education about on-going nutritional needs for those involved with elder-care — not only in a clinical setting, but also for family members who are responsible for aging adults.”

 

Simin Nikbin Meydani, director of the Nutritional Immunology Laboratory at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University, agrees with Bergeron’s views on the need for personalized nutrition recommendations stating, “much greater emphasis needs to be placed on prioritizing research that will fill the knowledge gaps and provide the kind of data needed by health and nutrition experts if we’re going to address this problem,”. She adds, “There also needs to be more education about on-going nutritional needs for those involved with elder-care — not only in a clinical setting, but also for family members who are responsible for aging adults.”

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Age in Your Own Home

As our aging population continues to increase, many people prefer to live out their retired years in their own homes. There is a lot to be said for the comforts of home. This may not be practical for some. For those who are independent and capable, aging at home might be a good option with a few modifications for better safety.

 

Johns Hopkins University conducted a study of the risks and possibilities for aging in place. The study assessed the capabilities of older adults as related to daily activities, such as bathing, dressing, and meeting nutritional needs. An evaluation of problem areas in homes was done, and the services of a handyman were used to make the suggested improvements needed. It was determined that a few affordable modifications could make a big difference.

 

Minimising falls was one of the most important measures taken. This can be accomplished by adding grab bars at showers, tubs, and toilets. Installing handrails inside and outside the home also helps. Adding night lighting or dimmable lights is another simple modification.

 

Other areas of improvement might include changing batteries in smoke and CO detectors, putting in a taller toilet, adding non-slip mats to bathrooms and other wet areas, and adjusting water heater temperatures to prevent scalding. Getting rid of throw rugs is one of the safest things that can be done that doesn’t cost anything. Most of these simple modifications can be accomplished for less than $500.

 

If aging in place is something you or your loved one prefers, it makes very good sense to have an in-home assessment of your capabilities. There are trained professional who specialise in senior and special needs living. Many of these are Occupational Therapists. Once an assessment is completed, you should consult with a licensed contractor or handyman to give you advice and a cost estimate for making upgrades.

 

It is a good idea to get to know a reliable handyman who can keep up with the minor maintenance needs of your or your loved one’s home. Even if you just need light bulbs changed, having a good relationship with someone you trust will make things so much easier.

 

You can ask for information on in-home safety assessments from your healthcare provider, your local senior centre, or from AARP and its affiliates. Here is a home safety checklist to help you get started with the process. It is best to do this before a fall happens.

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How Long Should Seniors Work?

Retirement is a major change of lifestyle for everyone, and it’s not easy for anyone to adjust to full retirement after a lifetime of doing useful work. While some look forward to time to pursue hobbies with no need to work every day, others are left mystified, unable to fill their days with anything but boredom after a lifetime of making worthwhile, valued contributions to their communities. And the fact of the matter is that western culture has tended to treat people as old because of their age, not because of their health or vitality. However, we are seeing that trend start to shift, thanks to an ageing global population, healthcare leading to improved health into much later in life, and the growing understanding that staying active and staying connected with others, socially, lead to longevity, vitality, and a sense of well-being.

 

USA Today says of American seniors: “the percentage of people who work and people who want to work has increased markedly in both the 65-and-older and 75-and-older groups, says Sara Rix, senior adviser for the AARP Public Policy Institute. For 2011, the participation rate for 65 and older was 17.9% compared with 10.8% in 1985. For 75 and older, the rate jumped from 4.3% in 1990 to 7.5% in 2011.”

 

Certainly, there are plenty of seniors with extensive plans for their retirement, wishing nothing more than to pursue their hobbies free from workaday demands on their time. Quite a few intend to travel extensively, particularly those with grandchildren and relatives scattered far from their home base. They should feel absolutely no shame in not working if they don’t feel the urge to, they have made their contribution and should enjoy their retirement years as they wish to.

 

The benefits of working later into life are numerous. In addition to the mental and physical health benefits that come with staying productive, an uncertainty with the global economy is almost certainly a driving factor, as the income and benefits ensure a sense of security.

 

The USNews reported on a study, the researchers asked people age 50 and older the reasons for continuing to work in their retirement years. Here are the top 10 reasons they gave:

 

  • I want to keep earning money to retire more comfortably (53 per cent).
  • I would be bored not working (31 per cent).
  • I keep working because income from other sources is not enough (18 per cent).
  • I want to feel productive, useful, helpful (18 per cent) 5. I have a job that is fun, enjoyable (15 per cent)
  • I want to interact with people (13 per cent)
  • I want to stay physically/mentally active (12 per cent)
  • I need health insurance (6 per cent)
  • I am pursuing my dream: I have a job doing what I want to (6 per cent)
  • I want to learn new things (2 per cent)

 

Those who still prefer a life of being appreciated by employers who value their many years of experience should have that option for as long as they wish. A sense of purpose is an important ingredient in a satisfying life, and there is no rule saying that this purpose can only be fulfilled by hobbies or travel. There is no specific age that should slow you down, as long as you speak with your doctor about your health regularly as you age. Seniors should work for as long as they wish to and are capable of.

 

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Weight and Dementia

When it comes to weight, we all know that a physical injury, emotional turmoil, a change in metabolism with age, or a sedentary lifestyle are just some of the ways that a person can go from having a BMI (Body Mass Index) in the normal range to having one in the overweight range before we even realise it. It’s not just those who make poor choices, have issues with impulse control, or are ill-educated about nutrition that can end up packing on the pounds, it can happen to any of us.

But if we stop paying attention -or never paid attention to begin with- once you have gained the weight there are serious consequences to keeping that weight on over time. Obviously there are common side-effects like diabetes and heart disease, but now there has been a study published in the journal Neurology by the American Academy of Neurology that shows gaining and keeping the weight on may actually speed up dementia or other forms of cognitive decline.

Conducted by Dr Maxime Cournot of Toulouse University Hospital in France, more than 2,000 people between the ages of 32 and 62 sat for four different cognitive tests in 1996 and then took the tests again in 2001.

Those with a BMI of 20 (which is considered to be in the healthy range) remembered an average of 9 out of 16 words in a language test, or an average of 56% of the vocabulary. Results from participants with a BMI of 30 (in the range of obese) remembered 7 out of 16 words on average, or only 44% of the vocabulary. The majority of the participants who gained weight between the first and second rounds of tests did not show much change in cognitive function, but those who had a high BMI before the first test and kept the weight on in the years between the first and second test showed higher levels of what Dr Cournot described as “cognitive decline”.

According to the World Health Organisation, BMI is calculated by multiplying your height in meters by itself, and then dividing your weight in kilogrammes by the value calculated by doubling your height. A BMI of 18.5 or less is considered underweight. Normal ranges from 18.5 to 24.9, overweight from 25 to 29.9, and obese is BMI 30.0 and above. While there are some limitations to body mass index calculations, and the method has received some criticism, it is the still the only accessible and consistent tool in use for physicians.
While this research is new and shows correlation rather than causation, and more research needs to be conducted, there are several hypotheses put forward by Dr. Cournot as to the potential cause of these findings. One being that the hormones secreted from fats could have a damaging effect on cerebral cells, resulting in decreased brain function. She also mentioned that insulin resistance could have some connection to lessened cognitive activity. “Another explanation could be that since obesity is a widely known cardiovascular risk factor, due to the thickening and hardening of the blood vessels, that the same happens with the arteries in the brain,” she said.

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The Global Problem of Health Epidemics

The Global Problem of Health Epidemics

Rapid identification and control of emerging infectious diseases helps promote health around the world, as well as contain and prevent the international spread of disease, while minimizing interruption of world travel and trade.

The fact is that the frequency of health problems and epidemics all over the world are becoming alarming. With the resurgence of Ebola, Tuberculosis in India and now the threat of outbreak of Zika virus in the Philippines, it seems like when one problem is resolved, there comes another one that threatens not only health but other sectors of the country. The only way to resolve this is with global governance, because without governments and organizations like the WHO (World Health Organization) and the CDC (Center for Disease Control) working in conjunction with scientists worldwide, the spread of epidemics often happens too quickly for one country alone to contain and treat. Outside of the current global health crises, we have seen the rapid spread of the 2003 SARS epidemic, and the 2009 spread of novel H1N1 influenza in recent history.

On that note, the countries and agencies all over the world including WHO and United Nations (UN) developed a way to help each other by establishing the Sustainable Development Goals to frame what actions and policies will be implemented to achieve each of the goals. It was September 25th, 2015 when countries around the world set the new Sustainable Development Agenda, also known as the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, aimed to end poverty, to protect the Earth and to ensure the prosperity for everyone in this planet.

For these goals to be achieved, it is imperative that everyone involved including the governments, civil society, private sector and ordinary people to do their part. You probably think that there is nothing you can help to help achieve these goals, but that is not true. You can have as much contribution as the other sectors on realizing these sustainable development goals.

How You Can Help in Achieving the Global Goals

No matter where you are or what you do, there are simple things that you can to help achieve these goals. In your simple effort, you can free your country and this world from poverty, inequalities and injustices slowly but surely. How so? First, you need to get informed about the Sustainable Development Goals.

Get as much information you can from the website that explains all the simple details of the Global Goals to get a clear context of the goals. When you learn of the details, then you can begin to educate your families, friends and colleagues about the goals. Additionally, you need to explore the realities of achieving the goals as even though it all seems so simple, it is not.

One of the most effective ways you can help in achieving the goals is by lending your skills and time. This is because most agencies that can help lack the right skills and that’s where you come in. If you can lend a bit of your time and skills to help them, it will help them improve and speed up their work and produce a significant impact in building a truly better world.

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