There are emotional and spiritual benefits of aging for men.
If a man possesses an inner commitment to personal growth, then growing older will often increase his happiness and sense of purpose.
Accelerated aging, however, is when inefficiency of the body’s processes occurs at an unnecessarily high speed.
How Men Fight Aging Successfully
Men face slightly different challenges when undergoing a new health regimen.
The motivations for what motivates men to change habits are as varied as men themselves:
- Some want to become healthier to have more time and energy with their future grandchildren.
- Some want to perform better – to become stronger and faster.
- Some are inspired by prevention – they want their joints to remain supple, their spine limber, and their posture tall.
- Some want to look better naked – they want to be able to see abdominal definition when they look in the mirror.
Any of these are good reasons to pursue improved health.
It can be difficult for some men to change habits that have been established after years of repetition.
“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” seems to be the unconscious position of the male psyche.
The question becomes, how do you define “broke” when it comes to self-improvement?
- Does “broke” mean “my doctor just told me I might die soon if I don’t change?”
- Or does “broke” mean, “I seek to improve myself for the sake of becoming even better than I am now?”
Mistakes Men Make
Even training the upper body 10% more than the lower will produce compounded results as the years pass and leave a man with an asymmetrical body and weak-looking legs.
Unlike women (who sometimes value the look of soft shoulders), men generally prefer to have powerful shoulders.
This must include the often neglected posterior deltoid (the rear shoulder muscle) to create the perfectly shaped shoulder cap and avoid the dowager’s neck hump.
Physique Proportions for Men
However, many men feel their best when they achieve shoulder development at least 1.6 times larger than their waist.
You can arrive at this number by multiplying your height by 46%.
Remember that these formulas don’t account for genetic differences in limb length, torso length, the width of your pelvis, or how far above your joints the insertion points of your muscles begin.
It’s an approximation only.
Here are seven smart strategies that can help a man to lengthen his healthspan and lifespan – and reduce the risk of growing older faster than he needs to.
1. Find a Doctor that Has a Preventative Mindset
A medical office today will draw blood – for the standard panel tests during a patient’s yearly physical – and the doctor will then say, “When the labs come back, I’ll call you if there’s a problem; otherwise, just assume that everything’s okay.”
It’s as if they’re saying, “Unless you have a disease or abnormal lab results, we don’t need to spend any more time together.”
Medical doctors are often doing the best they can in a system that has become bureaucratic and challenging.
- But what if a patient sees the doctor to become even healthier?
- Does this fit into the “I’ll call you if there’s a problem” paradigm?
What adds to the peculiarity of this dynamic is that “abnormal” is open to interpretation.
Often the normal range listed on the lab results is based on the average modern citizen.
For example, if you happen to live in the US or UK right now, what is considered normal health – and I don’t enjoy saying this – is pretty bleak.
In that context, to be within “normal” ranges is not necessarily so great.
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The underlying assumption is that there is always more to learn and that the mind needs to be open to new solutions.
Though many people don’t like to visualize themselves aging, those over the age of 50 who are brave enough to consciously imagine their lives decades into the future – and adopt new habits now – are often the ones who end up living the most passionate, fulfilling lives as they get older.
2. Eat Less Acidic Foods
There are probably way too many acidic foods in the standard modern diet.
According to Dr. Ben Kim, your blood must maintain a pH of 7.35 to 7.45 for your cells to function properly.
Being overly alkaline for long periods is not good for humans, but many today living in developed countries are overly acidic.
“When people encourage you to alkalize your blood, most of them mean that you should eat plenty of foods that have an alkaline-forming effect on your system. The reason for making this suggestion is that the vast majority of highly processed foods – like white flour products and white sugar – have an acid-forming effect on your system, and if you spend years eating a poor diet that is mainly acid-forming, you will overwork some of the buffering systems [in your body] to a point where you could create undesirable changes in your health.” – Dr. Ben Kim
Not everyone needs to eat less acidic foods, but for many of us, it would be beneficial. Popular foods that are acidic include:
- Wheat Flour products
- Peanuts and Peanut Butter
- Canned Fruits
3. Eat More Alkaline Foods
Green smoothie ingredients that are alkaline include:
- Italian Parsley
- Simple carbohydrates are absorbed much faster and are also known as simple sugar. These are things like bread, pasta, candy, or sodas – plus the naturally occurring simple sugars in fruit.
- Simple carbohydrates often give you a rush of energy followed by an energy crash. Excess blood sugar creates glycation – one of the top culprits of accelerated aging.
During the first couple of weeks, as you seek to introduce more complex carbohydrates into your smoothie recipe, I recommend two vegetables in particular – they’re good “entry” vegetables for beginners:
Add Cucumbers to Your Smoothies
Cucumber in a smoothie tastes refreshing (especially during the hot summer months).
Add Spinach or Kale to Your Smoothies
You can drop spinach or kale right into your blender, and you won’t even taste it in a smoothie since the freshness of the other ingredients – such as spices or fruits – will usually dominate the taste.
Excess iron in the blood is not uncommon for men over 50, so – if that’s you – consider trying a bit of kale instead of spinach daily (kale has less iron than spinach).
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Add Pomegranate Juice to Your Smoothies
Science is proving the valuable benefits of superfoods – including ingesting the ruby-colored fruit of the pomegranate tree.
A superfood is generally considered to be any food that is unusually dense in nutrients relative to other foods and positively impacts the human body for most people who ingest it.
Researchers at the Life Extension Foundation report that “an abundance of data supports the power of pomegranate extract as a broad-spectrum, multi-modal defense against multiple diseases of aging.”
In a study group of humans who took pomegranate daily, after 12 months, blood flow through the carotid arteries improved 44%, yet worsened by 9% in the placebo group.
Perhaps the fastest and easiest way to get more pomegranate into your new anti-inflammatory diet is to buy bottled juice at the grocery store.
You can drink a small amount of the juice on its own or add it as a liquid base to your blender when making your morning smoothie.
If you want to eat fresh and raw seeds, such as a topping over a salad, open up a fresh pomegranate in a big bowl of water. The seeds will float to the top (and not go flying all over the place, staining your counters and floors).
To be safe, test a little pomegranate first to ensure that your body likes and responds well. A very small number of people are hypersensitive or mildly allergic – it is a potent food.
Over time as you learn to love smoothies and your taste buds begin to appreciate vegetables, you can gradually transition into recipes that have more dark leafy green vegetables and less fruit:
- Generally, when someone is new to smoothies and the blender lifestyle, they enjoy the sweet taste of fruits and create all sorts of smoothie concoctions in a rainbow of colors. All are very tasty, but eventually, beginners find that they’re ready to take it one step further and gradually add raw vegetables – small amounts at first, then gradually, with time, more and more.
- The more vegetables in your blender (especially the dark, leafy greens that are so terrifically healthy for you), the greener the smoothie. Generally, the greener the smoothie, the better it is for you.
Some experts believe that nutritional upgrades are even more important than exercise, stress reduction, and sleep quality (because when nutrition improves, it seems – somehow – to make it much easier to solve the other three).
4. Be Brutally Honest with Yourself about Excess Body Fat
I’m not a fan of fat-shaming.
All types of bodies can be beautiful, and diversity makes life interesting.
However, if we are having an honest conversation about what is optimally healthy, excess fat is not.
Fat cells are connective tissue within the human body designated specifically to store energy:
- Having a certain percentage of the human body comprised of fat can be helpful.
- Excess body fat can be detrimental to one’s overall well-being.
There is a denial in our society about body fat.
Our current cultural denial about body fat can be traced to a shift in norms.
What we, as a society, begin to see as normal still does not shift the negative impact surplus fat cells have on our bodies.
In other words, if a person is 15 pounds into the overweight zone, they may look perfectly acceptable from a cosmetic standpoint. However, overweight is a medical term, not simply a cosmetic one.
Many medical disorders can be traced to surplus body fat.
Too much body fat increases the risk of cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. Simply put: overweight people do not live as long.
We accumulate excess body fat for two reasons:
- fat cells become bloated from excess calories
- fat cells become dysfunctional, impairing the burning of fatty acids for energy
A recent survey suggests that approximately:
- 30% of overweight Americans believe they are within the normal range
- 70% of obese Americans believe they are simply in the overweight range.
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The Life Extension Foundation reports that of the more than 1,000 plants that scientists evaluated (to see which effectively inhibit fat accumulation and enhance fat-burning), there were two that demonstrated significant biological anti-adipocyte effects:
- sphaeranthus indicus flower
- and mangosteen fruit.
As always, the easiest way to keep bad things from happening to your body is to keep bad things from entering your body in the first place.
Consume only the calories you burn, yes, but also make certain those calories are nutrient-dense and anti-inflammatory.
Aging expert Dr. Terry Wahls explains, “correcting your lifestyle now can do more than just arrest disease progression, it may even reverse it.”
5. Venture Out Again to Your Local Farmers Market
Why would you want to eat a cucumber picked five weeks ago in another country when you could eat one picked yesterday afternoon a few miles away?
To help you in your new goal of trying to eat more real food and less processed foods, you will likely find it helpful to rediscover your local farmers’ market.
A visit to your local farmers’ market can be an important part of your new, healthier lifestyle as it’s an efficient way to stock up on fresh, raw, high-quality produce for the entire week.
You need to find solutions for getting more fresh vegetables into your daily diet. Period. End of story.
“I can understand why people are just tempted to eat take-out burritos and pizzas during the week. Getting healthier requires increased effort. But it’s do-able, and it’s worth it.”
Preparation is Key to Slowing the Aging Process
To make new habits “permanently stick” is to prepare internally first.
Before you can pick up a new healthier habit, you might need to create a time budget to determine how you might be tempted to get in your way.
Ask yourself: “if I were going to screw this up, how would I do it?”
Knowing where, when, and how you’ll be tempted to drop the good habit will help you stay in the game.
6. Balance Body’s Endocrine System to Slow Aging in Men
You may not know that part of your challenge might be tied to your testosterone levels.
Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control reveal clearly that after age 45, there is a dramatic increase in disease outcomes.
This means that between the ages of 45 and 50, many people will either have encountered an unexpected and significant health challenge themselves or will know someone close to them who has.
Aging For Men in Particular
A common struggle for men after age 50 is excessive weight gain.
Some nutritionists assert that metabolism slows by 10% each decade.
That means by age 40, you could be fatter than you were at age 20 – which can open Pandora’s Box to various other problems as the years pass.
Strategic dieting and exercise interventions are the intuitive solutions to muscle loss and fat gain. However, diet and exercise don’t always directly address the intrinsic metabolic changes that come with growing older.
Men produce less testosterone as they age.
Many experts believe that the higher the testosterone levels in a body, the more muscle mass that body will have while also having less fat.
Though low testosterone and obesity do not have a simple cause-and-effect relationship, low testosterone can foster unhealthy weight gain, further decreasing testosterone levels in our bodies.
This cycle can lead to some serious health problems like metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer:
- Recently, over a thousand men were studied, and it was discovered that prediabetic men had lower testosterone levels.
- In another study, six months of testosterone therapy significantly reduced glucose levels in men with type-2 diabetes who were also testosterone deficient (see sources below this article).
In some cases, natural bio-identical hormone therapies can help:
- Be aware that there is a difference between synthetic testosterone manufactured by pharmaceutical companies and the bioavailable testosterone that is compounded more naturally. When you ask your doctor about the statistics and research for testosterone, be certain you know which type of product is being discussed (misunderstandings are common).
- While hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is appropriate in some cases, improving lifestyle habits around nutrition and working out might make sense.
- After exercising daily and eating consistently healthy for several months, one can more easily determine if those self-care protocols were all that was needed to improve health and vitality (before considering HRT).
Our responsibilities for self-care increase as we get older. There’s just more to do! More grooming, more check-ups, more details to attend to… this is just the way it is with aging:
7. Train Your Mind to See Solutions to Aging
Aging for adults has benefits, too. For example, many people in their fifties report experiencing more calmness of mind than at any other time in their life previously.
If you’re reading this and you are under 50, it’s never too early to get a jump on improved health.
The sooner you start your lifestyle upgrades, the better.
If you are 50 or over, begin your self-care protocols to increase your chances of living a robust, zestful, and fulfilling life.
There are two sobering statistics that I believe are important for you to know:
- some scientists now expect and predict cancer rates to rise 75% by the year 2030 — and other researchers assert that 1-in-every-3 people will, at some point in their lives, have cancer.
- according to the Centers for Disease Control, the leading causes of death starting at age 45 are malignant tumors and heart disease.
So, how can we avoid becoming one of those statistics?
Particular lifestyle habits have been proven to offset these disease outcomes.
You might be able to get away with consuming energy drinks and corn chips when you’re 23, but as the years pass, it’s best to give your body the nutritious foods it requires to repair damaged cells.
One aspect of the anti-inflammatory lifestyle is that what works for one person differs from what works for another. So the bigger point is: to stay on the journey – to keep fine-tuning your self-care until consistently excellent health is achieved while aging.
My mission in life is to inspire others to discover the joys and vibrancy of optimized health just for its own sake. And I know that focusing on the negative tends to increase the likelihood of negative outcomes.
So today, I’m extending to you this invitation:
Whenever you feel tempted to worry about anything today, I would like you to immediately believe there is a solution to that challenge.
The way out of a negative feeling is a positive thought followed by action.
No matter what concerns you have about aging, your body, your health, or your life, I’d like for you to imagine that there is a solution.
See how that feels, in your body, to put the bulk of your energy and awareness toward a positive solution.
When we hold space for the possibility of an aging solution, and when we seek out positive actions to achieve a particular goal, we are exponentially more likely to realize that solution.
By making small, gradual, and consistent improvements in our nutrition, fitness, and lifestyle techniques, we can – unquestionably and dramatically – improve our vitality and reduce the risk of accelerated aging.
Additional Sources for Reducing Risk of Accelerated Aging in Men:
Aging Terms: Definition of “Overweight” – http://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/overweight
Accelerated Aging: Overweight People Don’t Live as Long – http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1555137
What is Adipocyte? – http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=15506
On Cellular Fat Storage and Aging – http://www.lef.org/magazine/2011/7/Shed-Pounds-by-Inhibiting-Cellular-Fat-Storage/Page-01
Fat Cell Myths around Aging – http://preventcancer.aicr.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=21631
What Aging Is – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3400891/
Reasons to Eat Local Foods As Part of a Smart Aging Plan – https://www.thespruce.com/reasons-to-eat-local-foods-4015507
Testosterone and Blood Glucose Levels – http://pcmedicalminute.com/correlation-between-prediabetes-and-testosterone-levels-in-men/