Keys to living well
Dr Hong Shune

Most of us want to live long, but it is even more important that we live well. Successful aging means advancing in age with good health, strong muscles, lucid minds and a great quality of life.

I find it interesting that six of the 10 verified oldest people alive today are from the United States. Perhaps they are paying attention to a formula we promote to minimize the effects of aging: calorie restriction, healthy eating, exercise, maintaining a positive attitude and enjoying an occasional glass of red wine to benefit from resveratrol, which studies have shown to have antioxidant, anticancer, anti-inflammatory and cardio-protective potential.

Reducing the number of calories you consume is the only intervention consistently proved to slow the aging process, and calorie restriction has been shown to be highly effective in reducing the risk for atherosclerosis in humans.

As for good food, in addition to fruits, vegetables, nuts and fish, be sure to get your fill of olive oil, flaxseeds and flaxseed oil, dark chocolate, coffee and green tea. Try to avoid too many carbohydrates, trans fatty acid and excessive salt intake.

Exercise is vital because it increases muscle mass, improves blood circulation and sharpens memory. It has numerous other benefits as well, including helping to keep blood pressure normalized, minimizing blood sugar and improving sleep. Regular exercise also has been shown to be effective in battling depression.

Your mood, in fact, is a very important modulator for your body. Your body reads a bad mood or depression as stress, and as we all know, too much stress can have serious effects on one's health.

After age 75, many screenings for various ailments are not necessary but some are still important. Be sure to have a discussion with your doctor about which screenings make sense for you, and when. For example, screenings are recommended for diseases such as dementia if you have any concern about your memory. The early intervention and treatment of mild cognitive impairment will improve your life quality dramatically.

Thanks to advances in medicine and better information, life expectancy is on the rise. Keep yourself fit, active and enjoying every moment, and you could ensure your life is not only long but healthy and happy.

– Dr. Hong Shune is a primary care physician specializing in internal medicine and geriatric medicine at Hoag Medical Group.

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