YOUTH: Improve your lifestyle to slow down aging.
YOUTH: Improve your lifestyle to slow down aging.

Facing truth about aging

CROWS feet, fedoobelers and chooky necks are not confined to the script of Kath and Kim. Chances are, you too have felt a little aged at some point in your life.

Whether it was when you spotted your first grey hair, noticed a few extra lines around your eyes or felt a touch more gravity around the bust, it is not an uncommon discovery within Clarence Valley households.

And here's why.

New research by Priceline Pharmacy has revealed the average Australian's 'health age' is five years older than their actual age.

Based on blood pressure levels, cholesterol, waist circumference, behaviours, lifestyle habits and medical conditions, the study found the average woman's health age was 5.5 years older than their chronological age and men were only just trailing at 4.9 years.

Yamba nutrition student Kathryn Woods said there were many factors that influenced one's health age.

"As we age we become more unique in relation to health issues and requirements. This is because of genetic predispositions manifesting over time and the cumulative effects of individual lifestyle factors over time," Ms Woods said.

"Obviously there is nothing we can do about our genetics, which has a major impact on aging, but using things like nutrition to influence the aging process is great because it's something we can control ourselves."

Ms Woods said factors such as sleep, physical activity, smoking, diet, stress and weight were all heavily linked to the way we aged, and just how fast we did it.

"While aging is something that will happen to all of us and genetics has a big impact on longevity, there is more and more evidence around how the role nutrition and other lifestyle factors can play in the aging process, and potentially slowing it," she said.

"I think in some ways more importantly, nutrition can help improve quality of life as we age, with more research showing how some unhealthy eating habits are linked to some of the fast-growing chronic western diseases.

"Some of these diseases are considered diseases of aging, however they can be due to an accumulation of behaviours throughout life, that then become more evident as people age, like heart disease."

ACTUAL AGE vs HEALTH AGE

Factors that cause the largest difference between actual age and health age are:

  •  Waist circumference: for men with waist sizes 102cm and over, add an extra 9.4 years to their health age. For women with waist sizes 88cm or more, add an extra 9.2 years.
  •  Smoking: For current smokers, add an extra 15.1 years.


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