Traditional Chinese Medicine has a long history of healing and rejuvenation that teaches us a great deal about aging well. Two thousand years ago, ancient Chinese scholars described the stages of aging in the Huang Di Neijing (The Yellow Emperor’s Internal Classic), which is the bible of Traditional Chinese Medicine. They remind us that we cannot change our genetics but we can make some changes to the ways that we live that extends and improves the quality of our lives. Traditional Chinese Medicine emphasizes prevention rather than treatment. This makes a great deal of sense because treating an illness that has already damaged the body is much more difficult then preventing the illness from occurring in the first place. It is never too late. You can begin today. Whatever your starting point, you can make positive changes to enhance the quality of your life. Underlying the different ways of improving your health and preventing illness, Chinese Medicine believes in a balanced life. Therefore, a healthy diet, a active lifestyle and emotional well being are huge contributions toward a long and quality life. Here are some tips that address emotional well being, diet and lifestyle.
10 Easy Tips to Live a Healthier, Longer Life
1. Cultivate a Good Attitude
Be grateful. “Grateful people report higher levels of positive emotions, life satisfaction, vitality, optimism and lower levels of depression and stress. The disposition toward gratitude appears to enhance pleasant feeling states more than it diminishes unpleasant emotions. Grateful people do not deny or ignore the negative aspects of life.” – Robert A. Emmons – Researcher, professor at UC-Davis, and author of four books on the subject of the psychology of gratitude.
Choose friends who are joyous people. See these people frequently and you will find your spirits rise. The older I get, the more I make it a priority to spend my time with people who give me joy. Also, if you have people in your life who are constantly unhappy, limit the amount of time you spend with them. Try it; you’ll perk up!
“A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out.” Walter Winchell
2. Make Exercise a Priority
We hear it all the time and it’s true, if you don’t use it you will lose it! Exercise keeps our bodies and minds in good shape.
“People who exercise more are less likely to be stressed and more likely to be satisfied with life,” according to Danish researchers. “Compared with sedentary people, joggers are 70% less likely to have high stress levels and life dissatisfaction. Couch potatoes who start moderate exercise—the equivalent of 17 to 34 minutes a day—experience the greatest happiness lift.”
If jogging is not the best exercise for you, go for a long walk or take a page from TCM and try a traditional exercise like Tai Chi or Qi Gong. Qi Gong and Tai Chi are non impact exercises that focus on repetitive movements and attention to breathing. Tai Chi and Qi Gong use gentle movements and low physical impact which is ideal for aging bodies. The benefits of these exercises include a slower heart rate, lowered blood pressure, and drops in adrenaline and cortisol levels. This practice can lead to better health and vitality. The Mayo clinic reported results from two studies that concluded that these ancient practices can also alleviate chronic pain.
3. Sweeten Up – add a little honey
Honey has many health benefits, especially if it is used raw. Honey is sweet and moderate in nature. In addition to eating honey, it can also be applied topically and is anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal. Honey contains anti-oxidants (the darker the honey, the higher anti-oxidant content). As far back as Cleopatra, honey was used directly on skin to help sooth skin, clear skin disorders and encourage the growth of healthy tissue. You might enjoy trying raw honey as a facial mask.
In Chinese Medicine, honey is known as Feng Mi and is often used in combination with other herbs. Honey is beneficial to ease a sore throat, cough or bronchitis.
When choosing honey, organic raw honey that has not been pasteurized, clarified or filtered is your best choice. Remember that darker colored honey has a deeper the flavor and in TCM, the darker honey is also better for nourishing blood because it has a warming action.
4. Drink Ginger Tea
Ginger has been taken as a medicinal by numerous cultures for thousands of years. This amazing spice is anti-inflammatory (and therefore helps reduce pain), excellent for many types of digestive distress (especially nausea) and more than one study has found that ginger may be a potent cancer fighter.
5. Drink Green Tea
There has been much research on the anti-carcinogenic qualities of green tea. Studies of people in Asia who drink copious amounts of green tea daily show a correlation between green tea consumption and lower rates of a variety of cancers. Green tea is easy to find and can be purchased in most grocery stores and health food stores. It is refreshing and can be prepared iced or hot.
6. Get Good Sleep Regularly.
Your body repairs best at night so allow plenty of time for it to do so. Good sleep patterns follow nature. Morning is bright and the most Yang time of day, indicating activity. Night is the dark period, a time to slow down and enter the Yin phase of the day.
7. Eat Foods and/or Take Supplements That Are Rich in Essential Fatty Acids.
These are considered anti-inflammatory. EFAs (essential fatty acids) help keep joints healthy as well as reduce pain and swelling. EFAs can also help with depression, stress, arthritis and menopause. Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids include: salmon, sardines, tuna and other cold water fish; nuts and seeds, notably flaxseeds, hemp seeds and walnuts; and soybeans and winter squash.
8. Have Some Goji Berries
Known as Gou Qi Zi in Chinese Herbal Medicine, they are small fruits that grow on evergreen shrubs in the Himalayas. They are slightly chewy and have a mild flavor. In this country, the goji berry (or wolfberry) is widely available dried and easily found as berries or juice in natural-food stores. The berries are even available covered in dark chocolate.
Gojis have high fiber, the highest antioxidant powers of any berry or fruit, and are used in Chinese medicine to increase longevity, strengthen the immune system, improve vision, protect the liver, boost sperm production and improve circulation.
9. Maintain a Healthy Sex Life
Many seniors have less frequent sexual activity as they age and are missing out on one of nature’s youthful secrets. A healthy sex life can raise the levels of endorphins and DHEA. DHEA is a hormone produced by the body’s adrenal glands, a lot is still unknown about this hormone but what is known is is that it functions as a precursor to testosterone, and estrogen. It peaks in our 20‘s and starts to decline in our 30‘s. Sex can also decrease stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline, thereby increasing longevity and quality of life.
10. Address Health Concerns Quickly: Don’t Wait!
Many diseases can be cured easily if they are caught early but people put off seeking treatment. They ignore important signals that something is wrong with their body. We all get warnings about our health and well being but these warnings are like traffic lights they tell us what we ought to do but they cannot make us do it.
The ten tips I’ve proposed are easy. You don’t need to do everything. Try one or two of them. Aging is inevitable so let’s do it with grace and with attention to remaining vibrant and healthy for as long as possible.