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Eating Healthy Foods Reduces Impact of Aging

Telomere length is longer with a healthy diet.

A Mediterranean dietary pattern is characterized by a high intake of vegetables, fruits, nuts, legumes and unrefined grains; a high intake of olive oil and low intake of saturated fat; and a low to moderate amount of animal food. This type of dietary is now associated with longer telomere length--a biomarker for aging. The greater the adherence to this type of eating the longer the telomeres.

PositiveTip: A healthy diet may reduce the effects of aging!

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Soda and the Aging Process

Soda might age you as much as smoking.

Researchers studied white blood cell telomeres (the caps at the end of chromosomes in every cell). Shorter telomeres are associated with cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, stress and a shorter lifespan. People who drank more sugary soda tended to have shorter telomeres. One 8-oz serving daily was found to be equal to 1.9 years of additional aging; a 20-oz serving was equal to 4.6 years of aging, equivalent to the impact of smoking! Non-carbonated sodas and sweetened fruit juices did not demonstrate the impact.

PositiveTip: Sugary, soda beverages contribute no nutritional or health advantages.

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Fitness Puts a Cap on Blood Pressure

Fit men experience less progressively rising blood pressures with age.

Many people believe it is inevitable that the older they get the higher their blood pressure will be. A study which included almost 14,000 healthy men without hypertension, cardiovascular disease or cancer were followed for nearly 40 years. Highly fit men reached abnormal systolic blood pressures a decade later than men in the low fitness category. These findings may not apply to women, or nonwhite men; as these groups were not included in the study.

PositiveTip: Keep a younger blood pressure! Stay physically fit.

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Do Healthy Habits Protect Against Stress?

A good lifestyle may protect us from life stresses.

Cellular aging is thought to be accelerated by major life stressors. Researchers studied the impact of stressors in middle-aged women over a one year period. They found that a significant amount of change in telomere length could be predicted by life stressors (such as divorce, job loss, or caring for an elderly parent). However, when subjects ate, slept and exercised regularly the stress they experienced did not seem to impact telomere length.

PositiveTip: Choose to eat, sleep, and exercise regularly to counteract the impact of life stresses.

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How Old Do You Look?

Crow's feet are not a powerful indicator of perceived age.

Using a complex set of algorithms calculated by a computer, researchers found the length of the grooves that run from the side of the nose to the corners of the mouth (nasolabial grooves) best predicted a person's perceived age. Interestingly, in this study of 120 females in their 40s, the wrinkles (crow's feet) around the eyes were the least predictive!

PositiveTip: Avoid smoking and tanning beds to give yourself the greatest chances of a youthful appearance as the years pass.

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Western Diets Prevent Ideal Aging

Intake of healthy-foods help us age gracefully!

It should not be a big surprise to our readers to learn that the "Western" dietary pattern so high in fried, sweet, and processed foods is associated with aging marked by chronic disease and mental health problems. A large French cohort study has found that those consuming the typical Western-style diet had significantly lower chances of aging ideally--with good cardiometabolic, respiratory, musculoskeletal, and cognitive function.

PositiveTip: A diet consisting of "healthy foods," including fruits and vegetables and whole grains can help you age more ideally. 

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Worry May Speed Aging

Those who worry a lot may be the equivalent of 6 years older than those who worry less.

An observational study of more than 5,000 women in the Nurses Health Study strongly suggests that chronic panic, fears, and other anxiety disorders may contribute to the premature shortening of telomeres. The difference between those with higher stress scores was comparable to women 6 years older than those with lower stress scores. Controlling our stresses may extend life!

PositiveTip: "Great peace have those who love Your law, And nothing causes them to stumble." (Psalm 119.165)

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Musical Training Offsets Aging Effects

Older musicians encode sound stimuli better than younger non-musicians.

Recent research shows that lifelong musical training may have a positive effect on the aging process. Speech sounds were delivered to 87 normal-hearing, English-speaking adults while they watched a captioned video. Those who had started musical training before age 9 and continued throughout their lives had significantly better brain responses to speech sounds than those who had 3 years or less of musical training. These results suggest that age-related delays in neural timing may not be inevitable, but can be avoided or offset by lifelong musical training.

PositiveTip: It may never be too late to improve your hearing through musical training!


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Volunteering Promotes Health in Older Adults

Volunteering in schools improves seniors' health, especially those with poorer health.

Seniors who volunteered in elementary schools teaching children to read for 15 hours a week for 9 months, were found to have better physical condition than before volunteering. Those in fair health prior to volunteering improved the greatest, with improved strength and energy, walking speed and stair-climbing.

PositiveTip: Volunteering to help others improves both mental and physical vitality of seniors.

Be strong!

Man doing situps in the living room.In the United States, according to a study from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), only 21.9% of men and 17.5% of women engage in strength training.

Considering the many benefits strength training provides, these numbers are extremely low. It has been a national health objective by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and the CDC to increase the number of people who regularly participate in strength training at least two times a week or more.

Are you part of the group of people who does strength train at least twice per week, head to toe?