Healthy ageing versus degenerative disease. Which do you choose?

With rich social networks, an active brain function, a nutritious diet packed with fresh, natural foods and adequate hydration, alongside regular spring-cleaning of the body, mind and environment, keeping a healthy body composition and addressing stress, there is no reason why wellness shouldn't prevail throughout our lives, but how many people do you know who manage all of that?

Our society seems to be set-up for illness, not wellness. Achieving and maintaining optimum health and balance is not easy in today’s world, however what we do to ourselves today, our future selves will experience tomorrow.

Premature ageing and poor health

These slowly creep up on you and there are various factors that contribute to a steady decline in health and wellbeing as the years go on. Most of our degenerative diseases are preventable with nutrition and lifestyle medicine. Some of the factors associated with premature ageing and degenerative disease are listed in the column on the right in the table below.

Many of them are common lifestyle issues that simply do not get addressed by many people and are associated with degenerative diseases. Doctors simply do not have the time to address these factors, and even if they did have time, they are not trained to use nutritional and lifestyle medicine to treat their patients. Nutritionists, naturopaths and other complementary practitioners, however, are.

Healthy ageing

Degenerative disease

  • Spiritual connection and/or having a life purpose
  • Optimism, happiness and positive outlook on life
  • Lack of spiritual beliefs - no sense of life purpose
  • Pessimistic view on life and loneliness
  • Stimulating mental activities and arts, crafts and hobbies
  • Support brain health with fat soluble nutrients
  • Lack of mental stimulation
  • Excessive time spent on passive pastimes such as watching TV
  • Meaningful conversation and creative expression
  • Regular “spring cleaning” of body, mind and environment
  • Lack of human interaction
  • Hoarding of old objects and thoughts
  • Strong social networks and deep interpersonal relationships
  • Optimise cardiovascular health through diet and lifestyle choices
  • No connection with community and/or lack of close relationships
  • Cardiovascular health concerns
  • Work/life balance
  • Healthy sun exposure
  • Overworked, excessive stress, anxiety, insomnia
  • Indoor existence
  • Adequate fibre, water and micronutrient intake
  • Phytochemical-rich diet
  • High glycemic load diet, high in processed, refined and sugary foods
  • Diets lacks variety and is low in fruit and vegetables
  • Physical activity and exercise
  • Healthy body composition
  • Unfit with a sedentary
  • Overweight with weak muscles and lack of muscle tone

Which route are you currently taking?

The column on the left lists lifestyle factors that enhance health and wellbeing, and promote healthy ageing. It’s not surprising to see that mental outlook and relationships play a crucial role in the wellness journey, alongside a nutritious diet.

Have a look through the table and let your mind ponder on it. See how you feel about it. Most importantly: what do you choose for your future self? The column on the left or the column on the right?

If your current lifestyle is already more like the one on the right, you have some important contemplating to do and may need to check-in with a health professional to help you begin making some improvements

Finding a healthier path in life:

As you go through the next few weeks, have the intention in whatever you do to look after yourself a little more.

  • A kinder thought about yourself
  • A relaxing bath
  • An earlier night
  • Some relaxation music instead of a TV program,
  • A lunchtime walk,
  • A visit to a forest, ocean or nature area,
  • A delicious, health-boosting green juice as a snack....
  • A nutrient-dense meal

Invest in your future health

There are many ways you can look after yourself better. Small steps that you enjoy, and can stick to, are better than trying to do everything at once. Pick a few of the above suggestions if they sound appealing to you, otherwise find other ways in which you enjoy looking after yourself.

Take it slowly.

Our intentions are very powerful. If we truly want to honour our health and find our balance, that intention will play itself out and manifest in our daily lives.

So, use your time wisely, honouring your health journey each and every day. Listen to your body. Some days you might need more rest, other days you might feel more energised and want to do more activities, some days you might feel really hungry, other days you'd be happy just eating light salads and vegetable juices... you change everyday, so listen to what your body needs as you move mindfully through life, walking the path of wellness onwards into old age.

Article by Jo Rowkins DipNT MBANT, Nutritional Therapist