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 the men themselves:
- Some want to become healthier so that they have will 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, even as they age.
- Some want to look better naked – they want to be able to see washboard abdominals when they look in the mirror.
All 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
In the area of physical fitness, a common mistake men often make is training their upper body slightly more than their lower body.
Usually, this isn’t done or purpose, and many men would be surprised – if they counted the number of exercise sets they complete for chest and arms versus for legs – to discover that there is an imbalance.
Even just 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 their shoulders be strong and powerful.
This must also include the often neglected posterior deltoid (the rear shoulder muscle) to create the perfectly shaped shoulder cap.
If the lats are trained properly (the side back muscle “wings”) then these strong shoulders and back muscles will create a V-taper that narrows to a tighter-looking waist at the bottom.
Physique Proportions for Men
Genetically, men come in all shapes and sizes – and that’s a good thing. However, many men feel their best when they achieve shoulder development that is 1.618 times larger than their waist.
Theoretically, an aesthetically pleasing male physique has a waist size that is close to 46% of standing height, with arms that match the neck size, and calves that match the arms. You can arrive at this number by multiplying your height by 46%. Keep in mind that these formulas don’t account for differences in limb and torso length (just overall height) or things like the genetic width of your pelvis, etc. 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 in order to become even healthier?
- Does this even 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 that is listed on the lab results is based on the average modern citizen.
If you happen to live in America 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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Perhaps more than just any one particular lifestyle habit, healthy living is really a holistic mindset in which the overall attitude is to honor one’s body and psyche by living within a full circle of wellness.
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.
You can utilize new awareness into creating a life map – a map that will help you to navigate this next phase of your life so that your journey is joyful and rich with meaning and purpose.
2. Eat Less Acidic Foods
There are 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 either, but many today who live in first-world 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
My favorite kinds of smoothies are green smoothies because they are strengthening, restorative, and alkaline-producing.
With all the acidic foods in the standard modern diet, it’s important to counter with the alkaline-based foods found in the anti-inflammatory diet.
Try making a more alkaline smoothie to help get the balance right and to see how your own body feels after you drink it. Green smoothie ingredients that are alkaline include:
- Pumpkin seeds
Green vegetables contain complex carbohydrates that typically digest more slowly, which means they can sustain your energy levels for hours.
Simple carbohydrates are absorbed much faster and are also known as a 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. Habitual, excess blood sugar creates glycation – one of the top culprits of accelerated aging.
Not everyone needs to eat more foods that have an alkalinizing effect – but for many of us, it would be beneficial.
Too busy to read the rest of this article now? Pin it for later.
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
A cucumber in a smoothie tastes refreshing (especially during 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 the final smoothie since the freshness of the other ingredients – such as spices or fruits – will usually dominate the taste.
Fresh produce is best when possible, but the frozen organic kind will also do when fresh isn’t available or convenient.
The advantage to frozen vegetables is that you don’t have to worry about using them before they spoil. I even sometimes peel and cube zucchini and freeze the chunks in zipped baggies so I can toss them into the blender later when I’m making a smoothie.
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 every day (kale has less iron than spinach). Ask your doctor or nutritionist for their professional opinion based on your last check-up or blood work.
“Thanks, Dane, for what you are doing. Your legacy will live on after you.”–Eliyah
“Just wanted to say thanks. I’m 57 and in pretty good shape but I still need motivation from time time. You help keep me focused on staying in shape, and I appreciate it.”–Mike
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 has a positive impact on the human body for the majority of 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. This study elevates pomegranate to superfood status.
The helpful and healing parts of the pomegranate tree are the flowers and the seeds of the fruit. The seeds can be juiced. Perhaps the fastest and easiest way to get more pomegranate into your new anti-inflammatory diet is simply to buy the bottled juice at the grocery store.
You can drink a small amount of the juice on its own, or you can add the juice as a liquid base to your blender when making your morning smoothie.
If you want to eat the seeds fresh and raw – for instance, 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 on the safe side, test a little pomegranate first, just to make sure that your body actually likes it and responds well to it. 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 so 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 begin to 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 are beautiful and diversity is what makes life interesting. In fact, I think humans look attractive with excess weight. 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. Having an excess of 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 that 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.
Peculiarly, the more pressure we put on ourselves as a culture to be thin, the fatter we collectively become.
There has also been a rise of fat-shaming in our culture – a pressure that seems to have less to do with compassion and health than appearance.
Perhaps the solution is to stop trying to be thin for cosmetic reasons and start trying to get lean to avoid unnecessary aging.
The fact is that many medical disorders can be traced to surplus body fat. An excess of 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
Until recently, we’ve remained unaware of a direct solution for targeting the mechanisms responsible for these bloated and dysfunctional fat cells.
A recent survey suggests that approximately:
- 30% of overweight Americans believe they are within normal range
- 70% of obese Americans believe they are simply in the overweight range.
There are those who believe that the medical community has really dropped the ball on this issue. In fact, some go so far as to claim that doctors who do not take aggressive action to reduce overweight patients’ fat mass are committing malpractice.
However, simply telling patients to diet and exercise might not prove effective.
Fortunately, science continues to uncover natural solutions to assist us in the loss of excess body weight.
“I have been reading your articles for the last couple of years and have found them to be life-changing. They have inspired me to make my lifestyle the best it can.”– George
“The ER physician gripped my hand after I came out of being unconscious for 6 hours, and spoke these words, ‘Sir, the Universe has just given you a second chance. What are you going to do with it?’ Those words launched me into the waters of a new journey toward greater health. Thank you for the advice you give, the kindness you share, and the wisdom you offer. The waters seem immense and, at times, unnavigable, but I trust in your helmsmen skills.”– Paul
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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 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 that was picked five weeks ago in another country, when you could eat one that was 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.
Farmers Markets continue to increase in popularity (people are catching on that locally grown is better for your health). There’s a positive community vibe at your neighborhood Farmer’s Market that is unquestionably enjoyable and can motivate you to stay on track with your health goals.
Should you be fitting in a weekly visit to your local farmers market, into your already busy schedule? Is it really worth it? The only way to know is to revisit your local farmers’ market.
The first time you visit your local farmers market, you might notice:
- how reasonable many of the prices are for organic, locally grown produce
- how friendly the farmers are to the shoppers
- how relaxed the environment is – often there is live music playing in the background as you browse and shop, plus plenty of fresh air and room to stroll around in.
Here’s the deal: if you’re serious about improving your health – and really, what’s more important? – then 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. Healthy takes some work, okay? But it’s do-able, and it’s worth it.”
The better the quality of vegetables you can obtain for your kitchen, the more of a positive impact it will have on your own health.
A regular grocery store is still fine if a farmers market is not practical for you, but it might be worth it to at least research which farmers markets are now available to you and when they occur.
Preparation is a Key to Slow the Aging Process
As I often point out on this site, it has been proven relentlessly that the way 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 see how you can make it work, and in what ways you might be tempted to get in your own way! You must ask: “if I were going to screw this up, how would I do it?”
Knowing beforehand where, when, and how you’ll be tempted to drop the good habit will help you stay in the game. And so it is with your weekly farmers market: it’s a really good idea to have a plan.
For example, maybe if you set the canvas bags and ice chest in your car the night before, you’ll be more likely to get up early the next morning instead of sleeping through it.
In our home, after the farmers market, it’s time to wash, dry, and organize all of the vegetables in anticipation of all the green smoothies – and super salads – in the week ahead.
I’m not going to lie to you: fresh food takes more effort (it’s not as easy as fast food).
I have a whole system for cleaning all of the leafy green vegetables, that involves two types of bags.
I try to do it efficiently, but sometimes it’s a bit arduous. I can understand why people are just tempted to eat take-out burritos and pizzas during the week. Avoiding accelerated aging takes some work, okay? But it’s do-able, and it’s worth it.
What You Can Take Home from Your Local Farmer’s Market
The more you and your neighbors spend at your local businesses the more your local economy will thrive.
You’re going to spend the money anyway, so why not spend locally? When your community thrives, so do you.
We scored some beautifully fresh produce yesterday at our own local certified farmers’ market.
Here’s just some of what we picked up:
- 1 zucchini squash, butternut squash, and yellow star squash
- 2 pounds of free range, grass fed turkey breasts
- 4 Meyers lemons
- 2 red and 1 yellow bell pepper
- 1 bag of salad greens
- 1 head of Boston lettuce
- 1 bunch of swiss chard
- 1 bunch of baby asparagus
- 2 outdoor hydroponic tomatoes
- 1 bunch of purple radishes
- trays of fresh microgreens and sunflower sprouts
- our local chicken farmer has the best organic eggs I’ve ever tasted
- and as much spinach, kale, celery and cucumber as we can carry
If you have any questions about produce – how to cook it, or the specific ways that a particular vegetable is good for your body – you can ask the vendors and farmers themselves.
The staff at farmers’ markets are often good-natured and helpful, and many markets have a Help Booth where they will patiently answer any questions you might have.
6. Balance Your Body’s Endocrine System to Slow Aging
If you’re a man in – or approaching – middle age, you may already know how challenging it can be to stay fit.
What you may not know, is that part of your challenge could be a matter of 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, that they will know someone close to them who has.
What this ultimately means is, that if you’re reading this and you happen to be under age 45, now is the time to get a jump on your self-care and health protocols.
If you’re reading this and you happen to be over the age of 50, this is even more true for you.
Aging successfully doesn’t happen by accident. A healthy diet, regular exercise, discipline, and determination all play a part in being fit after 50. But another important part of maintaining optimal health is knowledge.
Aging For Men in Particular
The better we understand our own bodies and the human process of growing older, the more prepared we are to address issues as they arise. One common struggle for fellows after age 50 is excessive weight gain.
Some nutritionists suggest that your metabolism slows by 10% each decade. That means by age 40, you could be fatter than you were at age 20. This can open Pandora’s Box to a variety of other problems as the years pass by.
“…low testosterone can foster unhealthy weight gain which can in turn further decrease testosterone levels in our bodies”
But take heart. A human can stay lean after 50. He can even keep a tight midsection. It’s all about making periodic lifestyle improvements.
The right diet and exercise are the intuitive solution to the problems associated with aging, muscle loss and fat gain. However, diet and exercise don’t always directly address the intrinsic metabolic changes that come with growing older.
Men simply 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 which can then further decrease 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).
Maintaining healthy testosterone levels can help our bodies effectively regulate glucose levels, insulin sensitivity, and fat-to-muscle ratios. In some cases, natural bio-identical hormone therapies can help:
- please be aware that there is a difference in the synthetic testosterone manufactured by pharmaceutical companies, and the bioavailable testosterone that is compounded naturally. When you ask your doctor or naturopath 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, it might make more sense to first improve lifestyle habits around nutrition and exercise. 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).
What you might find extremely helpful, is to create an effective new life plan to help you age successfully and to live an increasingly fascinating life.
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:
Keep an eye on your hormone levels. Get your blood work done with your annual physical, and ask your doctor to talk with you about natural solutions for keeping your stress levels low and your hormone levels within optimum ranges. I encourage you, as you work toward your health and fitness goals, to not just work hard – work strategically.
Again, the best ways for men over 50 to get into shape and to stay in shape are through diet first, and then through exercise. It might be in your best interest to concentrate on those fundamentals first.
7. Train Your Mind to See Solutions to Aging
Aging – in both children and adults – can be a positive thing.
It is miraculous to see a child grow up to be big and strong.
Aging for adults has benefits, too. For example, many people in their fifties report experiencing more peace of mind than at any other time in their life previously.
Many people report being happier in their 50s than they did in their 20s and 30s. There is a calmness of mind that can develop as one approaches 50.
If you’re reading this and you happen to be under the age of 50, I want you to know that it’s never too early to get a jump on improved health. In fact, the sooner you start your lifestyle upgrades, the better.
If you are 50 or over: the time is now to begin your self-care protocols so that you increase your chances of living a robust, zestful, and fulfilling life.
You can train your mind to see solutions.
Having an increased ability to see solutions during your aging process will improve your health because creative solutions are often what is needed in order to install new lifestyle choices within our typical week.
There are two sobering statistics that I believe are important for you to know:
- there are scientists who now expect and predict cancer rates to rise 75% by the year 2030 — and other researchers are asserting 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.
As we get older especially, it’s important to keep making gradual improvements to our daily diet. Eating hacks help us accomplish this.
If an anti-inflammatory diet can help our bodies to operate more efficiently, we then also create the opportunity for higher life quality (and even an extended lifespan).
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 in order to repair damaged cells.
One aspect of the anti-inflammatory lifestyle is that what works for one person is different than what works for another, and so the bigger point is: to stay on the journey – to keep fine-tuning our self-care until consistently excellent health is achieved while aging.
Ask your medical doctor if an anti-inflammatory lifestyle might be a beneficial choice for you and your family.
My mission in life is to inspire others to discover the joys and vibrancy of optimized health just for its own sake. And what I know for sure is that focusing on the negative tends to increase the likelihood of negative outcomes.
So today, I’m extending to you this invitation:
Any time you feel tempted to worry about anything today, I would like for you to immediately believe that 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 Men’s Risk of Accelerated Aging:
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 Really 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/