12 ways to Delay Ageing !

By Dr.Panchajanya Paul, MD

Youth is celebrated everywhere from music, movies, poetry and arts. There is a reason for it. Age is the most significant risk factor for all kinds of illness. Youth is protective against many diseases. Many of us had noticed that, when they were in their teens, they could do anything, not sleep for nights, drink, eat unhealthily, yet somehow miraculously, their body recovered, and they were ready next day. But as we grow old, the body's mechanism to heal itself and recover becomes slow. Philosophers and theologians have been arguing for the meaning and purpose of human life for the last four thousand years. But from the scientific point of view, the biological purpose of life is clear. It is the propagation of genes through survival and reproduction. When we are young, survival is more crucial. In adult age, the reproductive drive becomes the strongest motivator. But as we get old, and pass our genes to our children, the genes become complacent and becomes inefficient in the repair mechanism.

But the good news is we can take steps to slow the aging process and delay the age-related illness associated. Here are the top ten anti-aging lifestyle changes that one can incorporate for youthful health and vigour-

1. Exercise: Human body is designed for physical activity. As we get old, we lose mitochondria which is one of the main age-related changes. During intense physical exercise the body regenerates new mitochondria. But al exercises are not created equal. We are meant to walk, jog, run, climb, jump, swim, sprint, and carry weights. These are fundamental movement patterns of the body. We see babies and children left on their own in a park will execute these movements. Practicing these movements on a regular basis will keep one fit, healthy, and young.

2. Sleep: The body repairs and heals itself during sleep. As we get old, the repair and healing mechanism of the body becomes weak which results in wrinkles, loss of strength, stamina, and weakening of other bodily functions. Staying late up at night and sleeping less than 8 hours will accelerate the aging process. During sleep, the body releases a powerful antioxidant hormone called melatonin which counters many of the free radical damages associated with the aging process. Maximum healing occurs during the 12 midnight to 4 AM period of sleep which is also the time for secretion of the growth hormone, and testosterone.

3. Stress: We often encounter young people full of wrinkles on their forehead, and even when they smile they face looks stressed. Thus, we get the adage that face and eyes are the windows to the soul. Poor people are stressed about food, house, job, and struggle for survival. Rich people get stressed as they compare and compete with other rich people for power, prestige, and money. All the stress releases cortisol hormone in our body which accelerates the aging process. Everyone has different ways to reduce stress and make it a priority to take time out for activities that are fun and relaxing.

4. Diet: Raw fruits, vegetables, sprouts and full of live enzymes and antioxidants. Cooking kills many of these nutrients, and cooked food is also inflammatory to the body. Try to have one-third of our meal through raw sources. Good choices are yogurt, fruit shakes, sprouts, seasonal fruits, salad s, and fermented vegetables like pickles, sauerkraut, kimchi, and salad. Minimize deep frying as it increases the risk of stomach problems and cancer. Other healthy options are soups, stews, broths, and steamed vegetables.

5. Calorie Restriction: Excess calories that we consume makes us obese, and leads to high -blood sugar, blood cholesterol, and blood pressure. In the past, when food supply was uncertain, consuming excess calories to beef up had a survival advantage. During the times of famines, those overweight and obese survived by burning their stored fat for heat and calories. But in our present times, these excess calories, and excess body fat has become a significant health liability. Research has shown that calorie restriction and keeping a low body weight increases lifespan. But be careful, do not overdo it. Studies have also shown that excessive thin, and excessive overweight- both groups survive less than those who stay in the middle.

6. Fasting: During fasting, the body does not have to work to digest and absorb the food. Free from the work of digestion, the body's resources become more readily available for repair, healing, and previously undigested food. All ancient religions and traditions incorporate some form of fasting to facilitate the spiritual process. Fasting helps metabolic abnormalities like that of excess sugar and fat. It detoxifies the body and reduces weight. But fasting for days can be difficult in our busy modern schedule when we have to do mental work daily. One way to reap the full benefit of fasting yet having food- is to do intermittent fasting. In this, you have only one meal a day. A common form of intermittent fasting is to eat all your food from 4 pm to 6 pm daily. Fasting has shown to normalize metabolic problems like abnormal sugar, cholesterol, and helps in weight reduction.

7. Avoid Sugar: Everyone is fond of sugar as sweets mark all happy occasions. The consumption of sugar worldwide is increasing and all governments subsidies sugar production which keeps the price of sugar artificially low. Sugar is a toxin and anti-nutrient to the body. It leeches other essential mineral and vitamins out of the body. Sugar combines with proteins in the body and makes them abnormal. For example, sugar will attach with the elastin and collagen protein in our skin and lead to wrinkles. Avoid all forms of artificial sugars and corn syrup. If you have sugar cravings, then eat sweet tropical fruits like banana, mangoes, pineapple, melons in moderation.

8. Avoid Alcohol, Smoking, and Drugs: Many people experiment with recreational drugs. The drugs like cocaine, heroin, LSD, Ecstasy, Mushrooms are highly addictive and causes multiple health problems like stroke, heart attacks., and mental illness. Tobacco smoking increases the risk of cancer and accelerates the aging of all organs in the body. Alcohol consumption increases the risk of heart diseases, obesity, and memory loss. The drug problem has now become an epidemic in America, and it's imperative that the young generation is educated about the dangers of drug abuse.

9. Outdoor activity: Time spend in outdoors is relaxing. The sounds of birds chirping, running waterfall, wind gushing through the trees are relaxing. Similarly, the smell of the flower, earth, and nature is tranquil. When outdoors we inhale healthy bacteria, which boosts our immunity. The eyes find the natural views of trees, mountains, rivers, and oceans peaceful. It is no surprise that natural spots are the most popular vacation spots. In earlier times before the advent of modern medicine, sick people used to go to the mountains or beaches to restore their health. Fresh air high in pure oxygen has healing property.

10. Socialization & Marriage: Married people live longer and have fewer health problems. Singlehood is OK when one is young and explorative. But the isolation in middle and old ages are stressful for the body. One of the regrets of dying people, as recorded by Bronnie Ware, was that they lost touch with their friends. When we are around people who are positive and loving, something magical happens. We tolerate pain better, we fight against diseases efficiently and live longer.

11. Mindfulness: Like our body, our brain also ages. As we get old, it becomes difficult to learn, retain and recall new information. In recent times there has been some exciting research on mindfulness. Monks and yogis who meditate regularly have a younger brain than those who do not. Mindfulness is easy to learn and practice even 10 minutes a day has shown to improve wellbeing.

12. Purpose: Victor Frankl in his book 'Man's Search for meaning' said people would endure any trauma and hardship as long as they can find value in the suffering. Human needs to work on something that will live on after their death. Most people find purpose in raising their children, grandchildren, and taking care of the family. Others find inspiration in arts, science, literature. A lot of creative people commit suicide after they lose their inspiration or the creative spark. Many spouses taking care of each other die soon after one another's death. It is important to find a purpose either through family, religion, work- something that will endure after we are gone.

In summary, everyone who is born has to die, and the process of aging is an irreversible phenomenon. The goal is to stay healthy as long as we are alive so that our loved ones and we do not have to suffer. Follow a healthy lifestyle, and live longer, healthier and happier.

Dr. Panchajanya 'Panch' Paul, MD, ABIHM, ABPN, FAPA - is an American Board certified - Child, Adolescent, and Adult Psychiatrist. He is a diplomat of the American Board of Integrative and Holistic Medicine, and a Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association. He holds an adjunct faculty position at Emory University School of Medicine; University of Georgia, and University of Central Florida School of Medicine. Call 7704541252 or email georgiapsychiatry@gmail.com to schedule an appointment with Dr.Paul at Georgia Behavioral Health Professionals. He is also the author of 2 books- Stress Rescue and Sleep Coaching available at Amazon.