September is Healthy Aging Month in the US.  America has a large population of Boomers who are aging, so the idea of aging gracefully with all your physical attributes intact definitely has appeal.

The World Health Organization defines Healthy Aging as “the process of developing and maintaining the functional ability that enables wellbeing in older age.” Functional ability is about having the capabilities that enable all people to be and do what they have reason to value.

“Far too many of our seniors are suffering from “unhealthy aging”, living longer but depending on the crutches of pharmaceutical drugs to control out-of-control blood sugar, cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, and far too many are overweight,” said Dr. Freddie Ulan D.C. CCN. “Put these together and you have a disaster in the making – cardio-vascular incidents and immune suppression making one easy prey for disease-causing microbes that can only survive in a weakened body. But unhealthy aging is not inevitable. And it is reversible.”

Wellbeing implies more than just physical health, it’s mental and spiritual too.  If you’d like to embrace healthy aging, these tips will get you on the right path:

  1. Good nutrition. This is a given. Your body needs nutrients to replace cells as it grows older. You are not going to age well if you are not eating well. That means whole, fresh foods. Avoid sugars and refined carbohydrates. Fast food and comfort food are your enemy in the quest for healthy aging.
  2. Find the right nutrients your body needs. There is no one-size-fits-all diet. Each body is individual and has its own nutrition needs. The best way to discover what your body needs is with Nutrition Response Testing®. This is a system developed by Dr. Freddie Ulan, D.C. CCN. It tests your body’s autonomic nervous system and organs to find the root cause of a condition, so you can get the exact nutrients your body needs to correct and repair that imbalance. Find a practitioner near you. 

       “The secret to healthy aging, even in your 60’s or older, is simply this:  eliminate highly processed foods, especially the grains and sugars, and change to a diet of fresh, whole foods, grown without pesticides,” says Dr. Ulan. Try this type of diet for three to six weeks:  Eliminate the bread and the sugary desserts, candies, cakes, and cookies. Include good fats and proteins as the major part of your dietary intake.  For a simple way to approach this type of eating, that will leave you fully satisfied and eliminate cravings, check out the Westin Price Foundation’s free guidelines for healthier eating.

3. Get up off the couch. Your body needs exercise to stay healthy and functional. No matter what condition your body is in now, there is an exercise program you can do to improve your fitness level. There are programs for seniors that can be done seated in a chair. For less than $25 you can buy an upper and lower body cycle that you can use at home while sitting in your chair. It increases muscle strength, improves cardiovascular health, and increases brain activity.

Tai Chi is a slow, gentle exercise routine that most people can manage. If you have access to a pool, water exercises are great for those who struggle with exercise. Go for a walk each day if you’re able. Not only will it increase your strength, it will also burn calories and get you out into the fresh air. One of the easiest, most enjoyable, and most effective exercise routines is dancing.  Put your favorite music on and dance away.

4. Expand your mind. There are endless choices of good material to listen to while exercising. Or set aside an hour a day for your mental gymnastics. Find a podcast about your favorite topic. Watch interesting documentaries online. Learn a new language. Listen to TED Talks on subjects that interest you. Read a book on philosophy or self-help. Do some brain-training every day. Learn a new skill.

5. Reach Out to Others. Stay active and connected. Volunteer at a hospital, a non-profit with a mission you support, your church, or your local community center. Volunteering has been linked to improved quality of life, stronger social networks, increased levels of physical activity, and lower mortality rates.

“Volunteering is good for the soul,” says Healthy Aging Magazine. “Giving to others can have a positive impact on your own well-being from relieving stress, depression, and loneliness. No matter what age you are now, you can start a healthy aging plan.  The rewards are less pain and more pleasure; less disease and greater health, and the ability to really enjoy your senior years.