SIMPLE hacks at different stages of our lives can boost our health.
Neuroscientist and wellness coach Dr Julia Jones told Sun on Sunday Health: “There are little steps you can take at different points in your life that can make a huge difference to your overall health.
“You can continue to make these changes right into your old age that make a difference to your biological age and could help stave off everything from cancer to type 2 diabetes.”
Julia’s book, F-Bomb Longevity Made Easy — the final instalment in her health trilogy — is released this month.
Here, she shares the crucial things we should focus on throughout our lives for health.
BABIES AND TODDLERS
What’s important: Gut health
Do: Allow them to play in mud
Julia says: Low gut diversity is a driver of inflammation, which is at the root of most chronic illnesses.
Maintaining a highly diverse range of gut bacteria helps boost immunity.
It’s important to expose children to bacteria, even from a very young age, so let them play with mud in the garden or with pets. These activities help them build healthy gut bacteria.
CHILDREN AGED 5-12
What’s important: Avoiding sugar. Stimulating the brain
Do: Offer healthy snacks, creative play
Julia says: Our sugar habits are causing chaos — and it starts in childhood.
Sweet foods trigger reward pathways in the brain, making you want more, and that is very dangerous for our health.
And stimulate your children as much as possible from a young age so brain connections are forged and remain.
As they get older, neural pathways that aren’t used get removed.
They need social exposure and interaction, plus encourage singing, dancing, looking at colours, playing with hands, creative play and spending time outdoors.
What’s important: Mental health
Do: Sleep, spend time with friends, learn breathing techniques
Julia says: In teenage years the limbic system involved in behavioural and emotional responses is fully developed, but the decision-making prefrontal cortex isn’t, so you get driven by emotion, which can lead to mistakes and risk taking.
They can be faced with an overwhelming study load and financial pressures, too.
Sleep is vital as the brain does a lot of restorative work at night.
Spending time with friends is advised as positive brain chemicals are released when we are social. They should learn breathing techniques to help relaxation.
What’s important: Routine
Do: Instil healthy habits
Julia says: Now we suddenly have a very hectic lifestyle with working, children, commuting and or running a home.
It’s really important to build a routine that will stay with you for life.
When you get up, get some early daylight as this helps set your body’s internal clock.
Try and build a walk into your day, use the stairs instead of the lift.
These are simple habits but start them early and you may avoid some of the issues that others run into in later life.
What’s important: Waistline
Do: Eat within an eight-hour window
Julia says: Before the cells in our body can work properly and do important housework like cleaning up and repairing things, all your food has to be digested and we need to be in a fasted state.
So it’s important to leave big gaps between meals. If these jobs are completed it will slow down your biological ageing rate and reduce your risk of everything from cancer to type 2 diabetes.
What’s important: Muscle strength
Do: Eat more protein and perform regular, slow motion strength exercises
Julia says: Muscle declines throughout life if you don’t use it. By this stage of life, many people do not have much muscle and what’s left is covered in too much fat.
To help maintain muscle, make sure you eat sufficient protein. Adults should aim to eat 0.75g of protein per kg of body weight, but at this stage aim for 1-1.2g.
Try to be on your feet as much as possible — by simply standing, your muscles have to contract to keep you upright.
Slow motion exercises are also highly effective without risking injury.
Just try very slow push-ups or squatting against a wall. You don’t need to be hurling massive weights around.
70S AND BEYOND
What’s important: Brain health
Do: Learn a language or how to play a musical instrument
Julia says: Just as muscle tissue declines with age so does brain tissue if you don’t use it.
This is because they had built up so many neural pathways that when some were destroyed by their condition they still had plenty for the brain to use.
Often people do have more time when they retire so it’s a good idea to think about learning something new and challenging like a language or instrument.