Burjeel Hospital’s Dr Jitendra Motavar offers advice on how to remain younger-looking even when you age.
Throughout the ages, people have been searching for the elusive “Fountain of Youth”. And this desire for a magical place, pill or tonic that can prevent or reverse the effects of ageing has generated a new, and growing, field of “anti-ageing medicines”.
These days, there’s an array of alternative treatments touted as anti-ageing remedies, from “magical” fruits, wrinkle-erasers, memory enhancers, transcendental meditations, special diets, and physiologic purification to remove toxins from the body.
But can we really turn back time? Let us see what the experts have to say about it:
- Rejuvenating blueberries
By temporarily paralysing the muscles that cause wrinkles, Botox has been shown to dramatically reduce the appearance of moderate-to-severe frown lines, or furrows, between the eyebrows. However, some research suggests that people who eat blueberries regularly as part of their diet can reap the benefits of fewer frown lines without recourse to treatment. Blueberries, strawberries, cranberries, and raspberries are all packed with antioxidants, which save cells from premature ageing. Antioxidants contain vitamin C or vitamin E, which can prevent or minimise damage to your cells, and thus delay the ageing process.
- Miracle of magnesium
This mineral is vitally important for our energy system, nervous system, heart, and blood-sugar control. The recommended daily allowance is about 300mg to 400mg for men and women but absorption also tends to decrease with age. Take steps to boost your magnesium and within a couple of days, your energy will pick up, your bowel movements will be more regular, and your skin and libido will improve. Like any other vitamins, these minerals (magnesium, Zinc) are required to run the body. Magnesium-rich foods include brown rice, wheat bran, wheat germ, almonds, and peanuts. If you choose supplements, follow the dosing instructions on the label.
- Gone fishing
Certain ways of eating cause an inflammation that leads to all types of problems, from accelerated wrinkling and heart disease to Alzheimer’s disease and certain cancers. But fruit, vegetables and lots of freshwater fish like salmon can reduce inflammation on a cellular level, and thus, either prevent, revert or decrease the occurrence of these disorders.
- Chill without a pill
Transcendental meditation involves sitting with eyes closed and thinking of “a meaningless sound” (mantra) for 20 minutes a day.
It is becoming more popular in GCC countries these days. And a growing body of evidence suggests that transcendental meditation also helps lower blood pressure and reduces the risk of heart attacks and strokes.
- Spring cleansing
Body-cleansing systems are touted everywhere as a way to detoxify the body. It is a step-by-step process that focuses on each organ being involved in ridding the body of toxins. The programme should focus on removing harmful organisms, chemicals, and toxic metals while cleansing your colon, liver, and kidneys.
Coming back to the miraculous “anti-ageing drug”, so far, there is none.
Therefore, the best thing you can do to delay ageing is to eat healthy food, adopt a low-stress lifestyle and try to keep your body weight at a normal level.
Dr Jitendra Motavar, of the Specialist Internal Medicine department at Burjeel Medical Center, shares some basic and practical ways to live a healthier, happier and longer life:
- Protect Your DNA
As you age, the ends of your chromosomes become shorter. This makes you more likely to become ill. However, lifestyle changes can boost an enzyme that makes them longer. Plus, studies show diet and exercise can protect them. The bottom line: healthy habits may slow ageing at the cellular level.
- Be sociable
Although this seems common-sense advice, making good friends might help you live longer. Dozens of studies show a clear link between strong social ties and a longer life.
- Don’t smoke
We know giving up tobacco can lengthen your life but by how much may surprise you. A 50-year British study shows that quitting at age 30 could give you an entire decade. Kicking the habit at age 40, 50, or 60 can add 9, 6, or 3 years to your life, respectively.
- Sleep well
Getting enough quality sleep can lower your risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and mood disorders. It will also help you recover from illness faster. Sleep for fewer than five hours a night and you might boost your chances of dying early.
- Try a Mediterranean diet
It’s rich in fruit, vegetables, wholegrains, olive oil, and fish. The plan can also puts a serious dent in your chances of developing a metabolic syndrome – a mix of obesity, high blood-sugar, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and other things that make you more likely to develop heart disease and diabetes.
- Shed some kilos
If you’re overweight, slimming down can protect against diabetes, heart disease, and other conditions that take years off your life. Belly fat is bad for you so focus on deflating that spare tyre. Eat more fibre and exercise regularly to whittle your middle.
- Let’s walk
The evidence is clear. People who exercise live longer on average than those who don’t. Regular physical activity lowers your chances of getting heart disease, stroke, diabetes, some forms of cancer, and depression. It may even help you stay mentally sharp into old age. Ten-minute spurts are fine, as long as they add up to about 2.5 hours of moderate exercise per week.
- Limit stress
You’ll never completely avoid stress but you can learn how to control it. Try yoga, meditation or deep breathing. Even a few minutes a day can make a difference.
- Keep a sense of purpose
Hobbies and activities that have meaning for you may lengthen your life. Japanese researchers found men with a strong sense of purpose were less likely to die from stroke, heart disease, or other causes over a 13-year period than those who were less sure of themselves.
- Last but not least: water
Not a food, you say? Think of it as one. Many older people simply don’t drink enough water because they don’t feel as thirsty as they used to, and because they want to limit frequent urination.
Water is so underappreciated. Our bodies are mostly water. If you’re chronically dehydrated, just think of what your cells look like. People who complain of things like fatigue and mild headaches and constipation are most often just dehydrated. Aim to drink a minimum of eight to 10 glasses of water per day especially after getting up in the morning. This will clearly improve your vital organ functions, digestion and energy levels.