Parentgiving.com contributor Dr. Chris Iliades reports that some researchers believe human genes can be altered in such a way that we can overcome programmed cell death. Another way to extend human life may be through calorie restriction: Research suggests that a diet with fewer calories that still delivers enough nutrition increases the lifespan of some mammals by 50 percent. Prolonging life through genetic engineering or calorie restriction is still controversial and theoretical. What is not in doubt, says Dr. Iliades, is that we are living longer and better. Part of how long and well you live is in your genes, but a lot of it is in your own control. If you want to experience healthy aging, start living a healthy lifestyle now:
Disease prevention. Start by not smoking and drinking only in moderation. Take advantage of routine preventive healthcare services including screening for diseases like depression, alcoholism, high blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar, breast cancer and colon cancer. Get vaccinated for the flu and pneumonia, and get a tetanus booster every 10 years.
Exercise. Regular physical activity helps prevent heart disease, accidents and depression. Find physical activities you enjoy and stick to them. If you can walk, try to walk at least 30 minutes every day.
Diet. Maintain a healthy weight through a balanced diet. Keep saturated fats to fewer than 10 percent of your daily calories and include coldwater fish that are high in omega-3 fatty acids. Reduce your salt intake. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables and whole grains for fiber. If you struggle with your diet seek help from a dietician or nutritionist.
Avoid injuries. Car accidents are still the leading cause of injury related death up to age 75. Wear your seat belt. Don't drink and drive. Keep your diving skills up to date and stop driving when you become a danger to yourself and others. If you have trouble with your balance, see your healthcare provider. Many falls can be prevented with proper medical care and sensible precautions.
Find ways to cope with stress and depression. Get enough sleep and keep a positive attitude. Stress is inherent in everyone's life, but you can choose how to deal with it. About one in three people over age 65 will suffer from depression, and untreated depression is the most common cause of suicide. If you are struggling with stress, anxiety or depression, ask for help.