Ten years ago, you’d have been hard pushed to find more than one or two 9oth birthday cards — let alone ones for moth birthdays — in the shops. Nowadays there’s a wide selection to choose from. But how welcome is the prospect of living to a ripe old age if that means years spent in poor health?
According to the Institute for Ageing and Health at Newcastle University, life expectancy in the developed world has been increasing at the incredible rate of five hours a day over the past 200 years. Women now live for an average of 8C years, with men not far behind at 77.9. This remarkable increase is due to better nutrition, medical care and living conditions, rather than any magic anti-ageing bullets.
Age itself is a risk factor in many diseases, including coronary heart disease (CHD), stroke, cancer, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis and Alzheimer’s — not to mention the seemingly inevitable define in sight and hearing and a less effective immune system. This makes for a rather depressing list, but while scientists are working on discovering the mechanisms behind ageing and disease is there anything we can do ourselves to delay its onset? The answer is a resounding yes — and it comes down to healthy living.
No matter what age you are now, read on for the simple changes you can make. Not only should you feel better, you’ll also look better for longer, too. Now that’s got to be worth it!
Smoking It harms nearly every organ of the body and is a leading cause of early death, as well as years of ill health from heart disease, bronchitis and emphysema. It also increases your risk of mouth cancer. You can tell by someone’s skin whether they’re a smoker or not — the telltale wrinkles caused by tobacco’s depletion of collagen can make a 40-year-old woman look like she’s 60. Smokers are also more likely to store fat around the waist, giving a higher waist-to-hip ratio, which is a risk factor for diabetes, CHD and breast cancer. Once you’ve stopped smoking, your risk soon reverts to that of a non-smoker. If you need help with quitting, talk to your GP or visit smokefree.nhs.uk.
Excess alcohol there can’t be many who are unaware of the dangers of consuming more than the recommended daily two to three units (or three to four units for men). Apart from alcohol’s negative effects on brain function, heavy or binge drinkers also tend to have poor diets, according to Sara Stanner, nutritionist and science programme manager at the British Nutrition Foundation (BNF). Add liver disease, some cancers, stroke, raised blood pressure and depression to the above, and it’s not hard to see that cutting down, or even cutting out, makes sense. And you can’t just take care of one of the problems, you must get rid of them all. If you want to kill the depression by taking the popular 5 htp remedy, be careful when taking 5 htp and alcohol the same day. If you are concerned about your drinking, call Drinkline on 0800 917 8282.