FullScript shared an article recently that individuals over 60 are expected to double by 2050. However the average life expectancy of women in the United States is 81 years old, so we often outlive our male counterparts.
The key question though is how we maintain our longevity and maintain a positive quality of life in these later years. Taking some time to understand the impact of nutrition, environment, and exercise will help to ensure that our quality of life is positive until the end.
Natural Impacts of Aging:
All organisms including humans go through a natural process of aging. This is the progressive and normal process of an anatomic structure changing throughout the lifespan.
There are a variety of things that impact our health as we age including:
Individual diet – processed foods impact our overall health and wellness.
Exercise levels – can impact long term bone health.
Environmental impacts – being exposed to smog and other chemicals can cause oxidative stress and cellular damage.
Genetics – some individuals may have genetic predispositions to certain diseases.
Impacts Specific to Women:
As women the shifting hormones of menopause impact our aging process, especially if our pre-menopause lifestyle was not the healthiest. Issues that lifestyle can have an impact on include:
Compromised immune system – this has led to higher incident in flu complications after 65, including pneumonia, sepsis, or worsening lung and heart disease.
Weight gain during shifting hormones – being overweight increases high blood pressure, diabetes, and the risk of stroke.
Sleep problems – especially if you are experiencing symptoms of night sweats, hot flashes or too much stress.
Nutritional deficiencies are often seen in women after menopause due to not eating a well-balanced diet.
Fragile bones and osteoporosis – natural aging can cause us to not absorb needed nutrients as easily. This along with a poor diet can lead to osteoporosis.
Nutrients to Support Aging:
No matter your gender ensuring that you eat a well-rounded whole foods diet will support overall health and lead to a long life.
Prebiotics and probiotics that are found in foods like leeks, oats, chickpeas, and asparagus will help with a healthy gastrointestinal tract. By ensuring that you have a healthy gut microbiome you can protect against inflammatory conditions.
There are several different B vitamins that are important for the body. As women B 12 is important for protecting against heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and bone issues. B vitamins can be found in foods like, eggs, legumes, brown rice, and dark leafy greens.
Vitamin D is a key nutrient for women. When we have proper absorption levels, we can prevent things such as osteoporosis and depression. Vitamin D works in tandem with the parathyroid hormone to promote calcium absorption from the gut into the blood stream. It is highly recommended to take vitamin D3 with K2 instead of just a Vitamin D supplement. K2 promotes uptake of calcium into new bone tissue (acts like a taxi driver) and produces enzymes that prevent soft tissue calcification in arteries. Postmenopausal women tend to develop atherosclerosis or arteriosclerosis making the D3/K2 combination important. Explore more about good sources of vitamin D in our article here.
Calcium is important to keep bones strong. Good sources of calcium include green leafy vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, and okra. Ensuring that you are eating a whole foods diet with a lot of variety will guarantee that you are absorbing all the necessary nutrients. Another step for safeguarding bone strength is to do weight bearing exercises that either use your own body weight or light weights to strengthen muscles.
Aging with Style:
We may not be able to control our genetics, but we can still experience a full life at any age. Engaging in an active lifestyle focusing on our diet can provide a positive life for us at any age. Ensuring that you are eating a whole foods diet and using supplements when necessary, will help you avoid some of the conditions that can be associated with aging. Make sure you are taking steps to live your ideal life for years to come.