How to Be a “Super-Ager”
You probably know at least a few super-agers. These are men and women in their 80s and beyond who act like they’re decades younger.
Well into old age, super-agers remain physically active and mentally alert. They’re still driving, living independently, working, volunteering, etc. And they’re not bedridden or struggling with cognitive issues.
Researchers who study aging are increasingly focused on these outliers who appear to be impervious to the ravages of time.
Why? Because people in their 80s and older are becoming a larger and larger fraction of our overall population. By 2040, experts expect the number of Americans over the age 85 will grow to 14.6 million. As a result, the mental and physical health of this segment of the population will have a huge impact on healthcare, housing, and social spending.
What’s Special About Super-agers?
While super-agers are more physically active than their contemporaries, what really stands out about them is their cognitive health. As it turns out, there’s a simple reason for the superior cognitive health of super-agers: their brains are different from their peers.
In particular, their brains lack what are called “tau tangles”. Tau tangles are abnormal accumulations of tau proteins, which are particularly common in the memory cells of people who suffer from Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.
Another thing that stands out about the brains of super-agers? The neurons in the memory-related parts of their brains are actually larger.
Researchers think tau tangles may be responsible for reduced neuron size. And it may be that super-agers are able preserve their neurons by resisting the formation of tau tangles.
More Than Just Genetics
It’s tempting to think that super-agers just hit the jackpot when it comes to genetics. But that’s only partly true.
Experts agree that only 20-30% of super-agers have a clear advantage that can be correlated with their family health history.
Which begs the question: does that mean you can be a super-ager, too…even if your parents and grandparents weren’t? A lot of data suggests this is true.
Researchers who have focused on parts of the world where there are higher proportions of older people have discovered some commonalities among the people in these populations:
- They seem to avoid age-related diseases like cancer, heart disease, and diabetes.
- They incorporate movement into their daily routine.
- They tend to eat a mostly plant-based diet.
- They don’t overeat, and they don’t eat at night.
- They have a strong sense of purpose, and they often belong to a faith-based community.
Live Like a Super-Ager to Be a Super-Ager
Here are some steps you can take to improve your chances at being a super-ager:
- Stay active on a daily basis
- Load up on antioxidants
- Stay slim (or get slim)
- Don’t smoke
- Have a reason to make each day count
You don’t have to be a workout warrior. Long daily walks and yard work can do the trick.
The antioxidants found in colorful vegetables and fruit can help to destroy free radicals. This is important because free radicals are damaging to healthy cells. Antioxidants can also be taken in supplement form.
Obesity causes age-related conditions like type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Smoking has been tied to respiratory diseases including emphysema and lung cancer. Cigarette smoke also contains environmental toxins.
What you do as you get older doesn’t have to be a faith-based, but you should try to stay active and involved in your community. Volunteer for a charity. Babysit your grandkids. Or keep working. Whatever makes you feel fulfilled and gives you purpose.
Want to start living like a super-ager? Renew Youth can provide you with guidance on hormone replacement therapy, supplements, and lifestyle choices that will help to keep you mentally and physically healthy as you age.
Call us at 800-859-7511, or use our convenient contact form to sign up for your free 30-minute consultation.