4 tips for improving your health after 60

Ultra-Processed Foods Could Cause Cancer, Researchers Say

No matter your age, there are things you can do to improve your health. But after 60, experts say certain things should especially be avoided.

Eat This, Not That spoke to Dr. Erica Savage-Jeter of CenterWell Senior Primary Care. Inspired by her advice, here are a few things you shouldn’t skip doing after 60.

Don’t ignore your brain

As you age, certain regions of the brain that pertain to learning and memory shrink, however, aging adults can still acquire new skills, make new memories and expand vocabulary, according to the National Institute of Aging. In fact, activities such as puzzles, word games and sudoku improve executive functions in the brain and information processing.

“If you engage in these activities, you may keep yourself fresher and sharper,” Dr. Ronald Petersen, director of Mayo Clinic’s Alzheimer’s disease Research Center told Eat This, Not That. “Lifestyle modifications can affect your cognitive function going forward.”

Don’t overlook your mental health

Maintaining your mental health is just as important as your physical health.

Research has shown that poor mental health can cause increased mortality, poor quality of life and diminished functioning in older adults. This was especially true during the COVID-19 pandemic, when 20% of seniors reported worsened mental health, according to a study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

“These findings show we need to continue to look for and address the mental health effects of the pandemic and connect people to treatment resources. Poor mental health can decrease functioning, independence, and quality of life for older adults but treatment can significantly help,” said Lauren Gerlach, lead author of the paper and a geriatric psychiatrist at Michigan Medicine.

Maintaining a consistent routine, sustaining an active social life, using art as an outlet and getting mental health screenings from your doctor are a few things you could do to keep your mental health in check.

Don’t eat processed foods

Avoiding highly processed foods like microwaved meals and ready-to-eat foods is the easiest way to cut back on sugar. Highly processed foods contain a lot of trans fats that speed up the aging of your cells, according to a 2020 study.

“A regular, consistent intake of sugary foods, such as soft drinks, candy, cookies and pastry, is associated with inflammation that ages arteries and other blood vessels, as well as elevated blood glucose levels,” registered dietitian Elizabeth M. Ward told Eat This, Not That.

“When glucose levels are high in the bloodstream, the pancreas releases insulin to normalize them. A steady diet of added sugars may burn out the pancreas prematurely and result in the need for medication.”

Don’t stay sedentary

Exercise can improve your physical health and brain health as you age.

Studies have shown that maintaining an active lifestyle can reduce the risk of dementia by one-third. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends older adults exercise for at least 30 minutes every day. Exercises like yoga, aerobic exercises and strength training can boost your brain health.

“Exercise is the best defense and repair strategy that we have to counter different drivers of aging,” aging researcher Nathan LeBrasseur, professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota told Time magazine.

“There’s clear evidence that exercise can activate the machinery necessary for DNA repair.”

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