Dr. Willie Ong (Internist-Cardiologist)
In the previous article, we listed ten strategies to become younger than your actual age. These tips include (1) Eat breakfast daily; (2) Take tomato sauce and green tea; (3) Eat more vegetables and fruits; (4) Avoid excessive fat and alcohol intake; (5) Be in love; (6) Laugh a lot; (7) Nurture a group of supportive friends; (8) Have safe sex more often; (9) Limit your risks and take safety precautions; and (10) Sleep 7 to 8 hours a day.
Here are more ways to slow down the ageing process.
Exercise has been proven to prevent diabetes, maintain body weight and lessen the pain of arthritis. Exercising a minimum of three times a week helps maintain muscle tone. If you plan to enroll in a gym, get a doctor’s clearance first. Try to avoid high impact exercises like basketball and badminton as you get older. Swimming, walking and taichi are excellent exercises.
Get a pet dog.
According to Dr. David Demko, having a pet dog can add two years to your life. First, dogs can help owners exercise and lose weight. A study finds that people who own dogs increased their amount of physical activity by walking or playing with the dog.
Second, pets may help their owners survive a heart attack. A study shows that pet owners who suffered a heart attack are four times more likely to be alive after one year, compared to non-pet owners. In another research published at The American Journal of Cardiology in 2003, Dr. Erika Friedmann reports that pet owners have healthier hearts. Friedmann notes that pet owners have better heart rate variability findings (a measure of heart attack risk). This could be because of the love and companionship given by the dog to its owner. Other studies show similar health benefits with pet owners having fewer doctor visits, less hospitalizations, and fewer heart medications.
Brush your teeth and floss daily.
Recent studies show that gum disease is associated with heart disease. Thus, having poor oral hygiene may reduce your lifespan by around three years. Some experts believe that inflammation of the gums somehow leads to inflammation of the heart arteries, too. Moreover, mouth wounds and infection can lead to a dangerous infection of the heart valves (medically called infective endocarditis). Hence, brush your teeth three times a day, and use a tongue cleaner to scrape bacteria off the tongue. And remember to floss at least once a day.
Do you need a flu, pneumonia or hepatitis shot? Ask your doctor to find out. You see, vaccines are the thinking man’s strategy to stay healthy. Consider serious diseases like hepatitis B, polio, rabies, tetanus and pneumonia. All these illnesses are preventable by a simple vaccination. It’s easy to say that vaccines are costly and doesn’t make you feel any better. But once you get hit by these illnesses, then it could dramatically shorten your life. Don’t risk it.
Be aware of your inherited risks.
Do you have a history of diabetes, heart disease or cancer in the family? If so, get a check up early and focus on these conditions. Afterwards, take the necessary steps to prevent it. A first-degree relative who had a stroke or heart attack at a young age, puts you at a higher risk for these diseases. Therefore, your doctor can be more aggressive in checking you and giving you the necessary medicines.
Drink 8 to 12 glasses of water.
Did you know that water can help prevent wrinkles and premature ageing? Yes it can. Water helps keep your skin hydrated, soft and radiant. Just as a dehydrated person will have deep-set eyes and wrinkled skin, so will a fully hydrated person exhibit a normal and beautiful skin tone. Drinking water can also prevent kidney infections, kidney stones, migraine headache and constipation.
One healthy habit is to drink a glass of water when you wake up. This is because you are naturally thirsty and dehydrated in the morning. Thus, drinking water in the morning helps flush out the toxins that have accumulated at night. So remember to drink up for beauty, health and long life.
Our skin can be damaged by very hot or very cold weather. Strong wind, dust and pollution cause wrinkles to form on your face. If you’re using public transportation, go for those air-conditioned buses. By all means, avoid riding a motorcycle because the wind, heat and dust will damage your skin. Thus, we should avoid the sun’s rays from 10 AM to 4 PM. If you’re outdoors, use a sunscreen daily that has at least an SPF (sun protection factor) of 30. If you’re riding a car, have the windows tinted or place see-through window shades to minimize the sun’s rays. It may seem that young people are immune to the deadly rays of the sun. However, be aware that the wrinkles and age spots will only come out 15 to 20 years after sun exposure. Wear a hat, bring an umbrella, and just do anything to avoid the sun.
Avoid Cigarette Smoke
Doctors estimate that smoking reduces one’s lifespan by approximately six years, while passive smoking (inhaling other people’s cigarette smoke) still leads to a one to two-year reduction in lifespan. This is because smokers actually hurt the non-smokers around them by letting them inhale its toxic fumes. A study by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute shows that 47% of Filipino males, and 16% of females are smokers, one of the highest worldwide. Both active and passive smoking puts you at higher risk for lung problems, heart disease, stroke and even wrinkles. The lesson is: If you want to stay young and healthy, keep away from other people’s smoke.
Live within your means. Avoid debt.
Financial stress can make one age quickly by 2 to 20 years. Keep your finances in order and save some money for emergency needs. Studies show that rich people usually (but not always) live longer, while people with lower incomes have more diseases like tuberculosis, malnutrition and heart disease. Therefore, make a concrete plan for your future health needs and worry less today. Getting a health card or enrolling in health insurance is an excellent move.
Medical wisdom says to “use it or lose it.” Thus, it pays to keep on studying, reading and interacting with other people. Doctors found out that intelligent people have more interconnections between the nerve cells of their brain. To stimulate the growth of these nerve cells, we should continually expose our minds to new inputs, new challenges, and new projects. Enroll in an adult-learning class. Solve crossword puzzles and play chess. Continue being busy doing what you love to do.
Aside from these 21 tips, there are other more challenging ways to stay younger. These strategies include (1) keeping your blood pressure low at BP 120 over 80; (2) maintaining your ideal body weight; (3) reducing stress; (4) keeping your cholesterol level and blood sugar level within normal range; (5) avoiding air pollution and environmental toxins, and (6) treating chronic diseases with your doctor’s supervision. Follow these tips and stay young longer. Good luck!