Predictors of Healthy Aging – Health and Wellness for Adults

There seems to be a formula for healthy aging, suggested by the latest research on centenarians and research comparing people in their 20s to 40s with people in their 60s to 90s. Some of the predictors of healthy aging include: physical, intellectual, emotional, relational, spiritual, and sexual. Maintaining health and well-being in each of these areas may not prolong your life, but it will certainly improve the quality and enjoyment of your daily existence as you age. And, you may be surprised to discover that you are living longer than you ever imagined possible.

Physical predictors of healthy aging

A November/December 2006 Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior supplement introduced the new MyPyramid Food Guidance System, an updated replacement for the previous Food Pyramid, based on research conducted over several years.

According to the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture), a healthy diet:

o Emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat milk and dairy products

o includes lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs, and nuts

o is low in saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, sodium, and added sugars

Researchers at Tufts University have updated their Food Pyramid for Older Adults to align with MyPyramid. This modified version of MyPyramid continues to emphasize nutrient-dense food choices and the importance of fluid balance, but has added additional guidance on food forms that might best meet the unique needs of older adults. In addition, there is a greater emphasis on the importance of regular physical activity.

The Modified MyPyramid for Older Adults was published in the January 2008 issue of the Journal of Nutrition. A base has been added to the new pyramid that represents the characteristic physical activities of older adults, such as walking, gardening and swimming.

Government statistics indicate that obesity in adults 70 years and older has been increasing, physical activity is a way to avoid weight gain in later years and its adverse effects. Older adults tend to need fewer calories as they age because their metabolic rate tends to slow. Even if they continue to exercise, they are often not as physically active as when they were younger. But their bodies still require the same or higher levels of nutrients to maintain optimal health. Regular physical activity is linked to a lower risk of chronic disease, lower body weight, and better quality of life for older adults.

Tufts University recommendations for older adults include the following:

o Enriched and fortified whole grains and cereals, such as brown rice and 100% wheat bread

o Brightly colored vegetables like carrots and broccoli

o Intensely colored fruit such as berries and melon

o Low-fat and fat-free dairy products, such as yogurt and low-lactose milk

o Dried beans and nuts, fish, poultry, lean meats, and eggs

o Liquid vegetable oils and soft spreads low in saturated and trans fats

o Fluid intake

o Physical activity such as walking, housework and gardening.

Intellectual predictors of healthy aging

Healthy aging requires keeping our minds active before and especially after retirement, regularly learning something new and engaging in new activities, maintaining an interest and passion for reading and current events, and often reflecting on the good things about life.

Emotional predictors of healthy aging

Emotionally healthy people are optimistic, generally happy with life, rarely hostile, recover quickly from angry episodes, and tend to live longer. They deal well with stress, maintain a good sense of humor and a positive attitude regardless of how their life circumstances unfold, and continue to develop many outlets for recreation and relaxation.

Relational predictors of healthy aging

Those who stay healthy as they age tend to feel supported by a large social network of family and friends. They tend to help others frequently, have many younger friends, remain in successful marriages or enjoy a fulfilling single life, attending social functions and sharing happy events with others.

Spiritual predictors of healthy aging

Spiritually connected people tend to do better as they get older. Spiritual commitments and practices, such as daily prayer, meditation, or regular church attendance, help them maintain a strong sense of personal purpose and meaning in life, as well as an ongoing appreciation of the beauty and power of nature. nature and its natural rhythms and cycles.

Sexual predictors of healthy aging

Those who age successfully continue to feel joyful and passionate about life. They tend to continue to derive sensual and sexual pleasure, within their own bodies, in physical and emotional contact with others, and in connection with the natural environment.

The formula for healthy aging seems to include:

o A great social support network of family, friends and neighbors

o A daily spiritual practice and faith in a higher power

o A healthy lifestyle that includes exercise, nutrition, rest, sleep, and play

o An active imagination, intellectual stimulation and a passion for learning.

o Emotional well-being, an optimistic outlook and a good sense of humor.

o Passion for life, sensual and sexual vivacity, and appreciation of nature.

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