Want to Age Gracefully? Here’s How to Start.

If you want to age gracefully, the time to start thinking about that is when you are still young. Damage from smoking, drinking too much alcohol, and not eating right can accumulate over the years, and there is no quick fix once it has happened.

But just as the “sins” can accumulate over time and make you age faster, good habits can also have a cumulative effect. Eating right, exercising, trying to make sure your nutritional status is optimal, and good sleep hygiene all have cumulative benefits.

Eating right may not be enough. If you work out hard, you may need to take supplements to make sure you are getting what you need. Studies show that you not only burn more calories; you also burn more nutrients when you are hitting the gym hard.

Working out matters tremendously. Exercise is how your body efficiently “takes out the garbage.” This is done via the lymphatic system, which most people don’t really understand. 

How Your Body Takes Out The Trash

Lymphatic fluid is basically blood, minus certain blood products, like red and white blood cells. So your heart pumps the lymphatic system for part of the equation, just like it pumps the circulatory system.

But when these fluids leave your circulatory system and go out into your tissues, we call them interstitial fluids. At this stage, they are beyond the reach of the heart. It can’t touch them.

They sort of sluggishly seep out into the tissues and slowly flow back into the circulatory system. As they flow back into the circulatory system, they carry out waste products. 

But when you exercise, the pump action of your muscles provides the same kind of pump action as your heart. So when you are working out, interstitial fluid is being much more rapidly returned to your circulatory system so your body can process it through its own unique wastewater system of the liver and kidneys.

If you eat clean, great! Good for you! You still may not be clean internally because of air pollution and because of natural processes that naturally create waste products in the cells and tissues.

The way to make sure your tissues get scrubbed clean is to exercise so those waste products can be carried out at a high enough rate to get rid of all of them. Exercise is how your body scrubs things clean; it’s called interstitial flushing.

This may be why people sometimes feel bad two days after a hard workout. You can think of it as sort of being like drug withdrawal: The bad stuff comes out, and it feels bad as it goes.

How Your Brain Takes Out The Trash

Your brain has an entirely different system for doing the same thing. Your brain’s system is called the glymphatic system, and it only takes out the trash while you sleep. This is a primary purpose of sleep: To flush fluids full of wastes from the brain.

So if you want a clean and healthy body, you also need to work on your sleep hygiene. If you have any sleep difficulties, educate yourself about sleep, and sort them out. Figure out what interferes with your sleep and resolve it because your brain is not being maintained properly if you aren’t sleeping well.

Studies show that sleep deprivation causes certain wastes to accumulate in the brain, and these wastes are associated with things like Parkinson’s Disease and Dementia. So you need to make sure you are sleeping well if you want your brain properly serviced and maintained.

There Are No Quick Fixes

If you look at celebrities, they often look years younger than they really are. Yes, Hollywood is infamous for using cosmetic surgery and other tricks to fool people, but you can look up articles for “stars without makeup,” and you can read up on their habits.

The ones who age well and look okay without makeup are the ones who eat right and exercise regularly and have done so for many years. Besides, things like cosmetic surgery can leave debilitating scars.

Eating right, exercising regularly, and living right are the ways you can age gracefully and not just trick the camera. Your body will thank you when you’re old enough to qualify for Medicare.