Benjamin Franklin once said the only two things certain in life are death and taxes. Death can be instantaneously (i.e., accident) or slow and gradual due to a chronic disease. Throughout history, many theories have been discussed to determine how multiple variables can amass and affect our lifespan. Many of these theories have been categorized as accumulated damages sustained throughout our lifetime. Currently, there are several theories on aging; I will briefly mention three.
- Wear-and-Tear Theory: Speculates our longevity is determined by the wear and tear of the damages we cause to our cells, tissues, and organs.
- Free Radical Theory: Thinks our longevity is based on the accumulated, random damages caused by oxygen radicals which slowly cause cells, tissues, and organs to stop functioning.
- Crosslink Theory: Describes how with time proteins, DNA, and other structural molecules in the body will make inappropriate attachments, or cross-links, to each other, leading to decreased mobility, elasticity, and cell permeability.
If we think critically about these theories, there are a few things they have in common, one of which is our ability to mitigate the accumulated damages we cause our body by living an unhealthy and sedentary life. Currently, there are several strategies used to augment our longevity and reduce the inevitable deterioration of our body from aging. Herein, I will discuss the top five strategies used to increase your longevity, promote your well-being, and decrease the adverse effects of aging.
- Nutrition is by far the most imperative variable to address to improve your well-being and mitigate the harmful effects of aging. If you were to google the top ten causes of death nine out of the ten results are preventable with a prudent dietary regimen. Accidents are the only outlier. Therefore, if you do not have a prudent dietary regimen, your quality of life will deteriorate as your risk for hyperglycemia, hypertension, dyslipidemia, and among several others increase. In the literature, there has been one rule called the “1 Percent Rule of aging,” which means after the age of 30 an individual’s organ system is expected to lose approximately 1% of its function each year. Therefore, if you follow a poor dietary regimen, are obese, have high blood pressure, and high amounts of fat and sugar in your blood it is further likely you can lose more than 1% of your organ systems function each year.
- So, with this in mind, I will tell you what you should do to augment the value of your nutritional regimen. The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans conveyed through MyPlate is a great example. MyPlate is the image of a plate that is composed of 40% of vegetables, 30% of grains, 20% of protein, 10% of fruits and is accompanied by a smaller circle representing dairy. These guidelines are appropriate for the majority of the population. MyPlate is designed to meet the daily fiber recommendations by providing nutrient-dense foods such as fruits and vegetables and recommending people to consume half their grains from whole grains as well. Whole grains contain soluble and insoluble fibers which can help individuals reduce cholesterol levels and promote healthy bowel movements. Additionally, MyPlate also recommends lean meats and low-fat or reduced-fat dairy products, which allow people to decrease their saturated and trans-fat intake as well as reduce their risk for cardiovascular disease. Therefore, by adhering to MyPlate recommendation, you will not only reduce your caloric intake and risk for chronic diseases but also consume various nutrient-dense foods to promote your well-being.
- According to the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity (i.e., brisk walking), every week and muscle-strengthening activities on 2 or more days of the week are recommended to improve the health of an adult. Similar results can also be obtained if you complete 1 hour and 15 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity (i.e., jogging or running) every week and muscle-strengthening activities on 2 or more days a week. Therefore, if you want to increase your longevity and the quality of the years you live, abiding by these recommendations are necessary. However, if these recommendations are easily obtainable, feel free to challenge yourself by increasing both activities on a weekly basis.
- Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) is steroid prohormone produced by the adrenal glands and transformed in target tissue through intracrine mechanisms to androgens or estrogens. When compared to young adults, the elderly have 10%–20% less plasma DHEA by the age of 70. DHEA has been known to support proper intrinsic physiological functions. DHEA has a positive relationship with skeletal muscle mass and strength, mobility, and bone mineral density. However, low levels of DHEA have been associated with depression symptoms, higher risk for erectile dysfunction in men, and low sexual responsiveness in women. In the United States, DHEA is sold over the counter, and some people even regard it as the fountain of youth. As mentioned earlier DHEA, is a hormone regulator, therefore, it maintains hormone equilibrium and mitigates the risk of age-related chronic diseases. If you know you are low in DHEA, this may be another anti-aging strategy you can supplement.
- Testosterone is another fascinating hormone because it plays a prominent role in the development of male reproductive tissues, as well as promoting skeletal muscle size, bone size, and body hair growth. Unfortunately, low testosterone has been associated with low muscle mass and strength, mild cognitive impairment, and Alzheimer’s disease. To treat people with low testosterone physicians have used testosterone replacement therapy. This form of treatment has been beneficial for people with sarcopenia, low bone density, and poor cognitive function. However, although there are various benefits of testosterone replacement therapy, it can cause polycythemia. People can expect higher levels of hematocrit in their blood and should, therefore, be monitored periodically by their physician to assess hematocrit levels.
Retinol and Hyaluronic Acid
- Naturally, as we age, our skin faces multiple obstacles both intrinsically and extrinsically. The aesthetics of our skin can be influenced internally by genetics, cellular metabolism, hormones, and metabolic processes. On the other hand, it can be influenced externally by chronic light exposure, pollution, ionizing radiation, chemicals, and toxins. Both can augment the effects of aging and deteriorate our skin. Currently, the market has various skin products available; herein I will discuss the effects of retinol and hyaluronic acid on skin moisture and texture. When compared to retinoic acid, retinol has been shown to reduce erythema and skin irritation. Further, retinol has the capability to inhibit UV-induction, promote collagen synthesis, and induce epidermal thickening. As for hyaluronic acid, this compound has a unique capacity in retaining water. This characteristic is important because as we age, we naturally lose skin moisture. If you are searching for anti-aging skin products, remember to look for these two ingredients (retinol and hyaluronic acid) as they will allow you to obtain or maintain a more youthful appearance.
- What is emotional intelligence? Emotion intelligence is your ability to understand and manage your emotions and the emotions of others. If this sounds familiar, you probably heard about this in your leadership course in school or by your employer. However, how can this be used as an anti-aging strategy? Well, as you get older it is inevitable many of the people whom you love will eventually pass away. This is the unfortunate fact of life that can lead people to depression or self-harm. If you ever want to see regret in people’s eyes after they have lost a loved one or failed to connect with one, then I suggest you go to your local nursing home and talk to some of the patients about life and regrets. All too often, the failure to communicate emerges as the root of all evil. Unlike the previous strategies which focused on the longevity, this anti-aging strategy focus on the value of your life and the people you communicate. You see, emotional intelligence has five components that play an integral part in everyday life. These components include self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skills.
- Self-Awareness is your innate ability to know and understands your character, feelings, motives, and desires.
- Self-Regulation is your ability to control and manage your emotions at the opportune time.
- Motivation includes your innate desire to accomplish and excels in a particular task.
- Empathy is your genuine awareness to respond to the needs and feelings of others appropriately.
- Social Skills is your ability to communicate with others. This component can be seen as your skills to diffuse a situation or persuade and motivate others to achieve a specific goal.
- As you reflect on these terms, understand some of these will come naturally, however, others may need to be sculpted and mastered throughout your life experiences and practice. It is my opinion that people with an elevated level of emotional intelligence live a higher quality of life than those who do not. I encourage you to be cognizant of these components and convey this information to others in order to increase your emotional intelligence. Constant feedback is mandatory to understanding yourself and the feelings of others. I believe, by doing so, you will be able to communicate well with your family, friends, co-workers, and even the strangers you see in public. When you can understand your emotions and the emotions of others, you will not only increase the value of the years you live, but you will also increase the value of the years your friends and family live. Therefore, make a habit of applying the five components to master them and increase your level of emotional intelligence. If you do so, you will build better relationships that you will not regret and actually live life rather than just go through the motions and miss social opportunities.
-Robert E. Salazar, MS, RDN, LDN