Do you wonder why getting old affects each of us differently? You might know someone who is 70 and still running marathons, while someone else at that age is affected with multiple health conditions that keep them practically homebound.

The onset of old age is different for everyone. A big reason is how we calculate aging itself. While our chronological age is how old we actually are, biological age refers to how old we seem. Our biological age is a more accurate indicator of our “true” age – it’s a combination of our physiological age (how healthy we are) and our psychological age (how young we act.) So, while the calendar tells you one thing, the health of your organs and tissues, and the way you look, feel, and act can suggest a different age.

The good news? It is never too early – or too late – to begin laying the groundwork for longevity. A big part of our biological age is determined by what we do – how we eat, how much we exercise, how much sleep we get. So, while adding one more candle to the cake each year is unavoidable, there are things in our daily lifestyle that support the natural aging process and promote general health in the coming years.

Whether you are in your 20s, 30, 40s, 50s, or entering your golden years, starting healthy habits today – like a good diet and regular exercise – can optimize your biological age and help make the most of all your years.

Healthy Aging in Your 20s

Getting old is not at the top of mind in your 20s. But it is the age when one can really benefit from beginning to think about healthy aging. Think of investing in your health in your 20s as a retirement plan – you invest in it now, and you will reap the rewards later. Your 20s are the best time to lay the groundwork and develop healthy habits to improve your aging process throughout life.  

Here are some key areas you should focus on if you’re in your 20s. The first is sleep. If you are in your early 20s, then all-nighters or getting by on a few hours of sleep might be the norm. But as you know – it is definitely not healthy. Sleep is like a daily tune-up for your brain and body because sleep plays many important roles for both mental and physical health. Not getting enough sleep can lead to problems down the road – putting you at increased risk for chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and depression. Spend your 20s focusing on good sleep habits and your future self will thank you.

Another important aspect of health at this age is your diet. Like sleep, your diet is not typically something you worry about in your 20s. But that youthful metabolism won’t last forever. Besides, studies have found that the earlier in life you employ a healthy diet and eating habits, the longer these habits are likely to stick around throughout life.Even if you can’t eat healthily all the time, make sure your body gets the nutrients it needs by adding a quality multi-vitamin/mineral to address nutrient gaps in your diet.

One last tip – wear sunscreen. Protecting your skin from the sun not only helps ward off the risk of skin cancer later in life, it also helps keep you looking younger for longer as you age.  

Healthy Aging in Your 30s and 40s

During these decades, many individuals find themselves sandwiched between caring for children, as well as elderly parents. Coupled with managing a professional career, all that responsibility can quickly add up to a lot of stress.

Properly managing stress – and having self-care strategies in place to maintain your mental health – is important at any age. But in your 30s and 40s, it’s especially true. Too much stress, the type that builds up over time, is known as chronic stress, and it’s bad news for your body. Chronic stress can leave you fatigued and worn out. You might experience occasional headaches, chest pain, and disturbed sleep. Over time, these effects manifest themselves as issues with your blood vessels and heart. In addition, chronic stress puts you at increased risk for weight gain and mental health issues.

An easy way to better manage day-to-day stress is by understanding how your body reacts to stress in the first place – and develop a personal plan to circumvent it. Tests that measure stress biomarkers, like Thorne’s Stress Test, enable you to measure the hormones related to your stress response; the test builds a personal wellness plan complete with recommendations for diet, exercise, and supplements to help you better cope with life’s stress. Looking for extra inspiration? Here are some of our medical team’s best tips for managing stress and helping you find your calm.

The 30-40s age group is also where maintaining a healthy weight can suddenly become harder. Even if you had been active and exercised regularly in your 20s, you might begin to notice the pounds adding up as you get older. On average, throughout the mid-30s and above, most individuals gain one pound a year. That can add up to 10 pounds every decade.

So why is that? A lot of it can be chalked up simply to getting older. In fact, three common causes that contribute to age-related weight gain are:

  1. Changes in muscle mass: We experience a gradual decrease in skeletal muscle mass as we age. As our muscles shrink, the body’s resting metabolic rate decreases, in turn, causing us to require fewer calories. The problem here is that if a person continues to consume the same number of calories as they did in their 20s, then they begin gaining weight.
  2. Changes in our hormones: Unfortunately, the hormones that maintain our body’s metabolism and cellular energy also decline as we age, which leads to weight gain.
  3. Sticking with the same exercise and diet: Even if we follow the same exercise and dietary routines, because muscle mass and hormones are changing, we need more exercise and fewer calories to maintain the ideal weight. And on top of that, we also need more recovery time after we exercise. So, the routines you used in your 20s will not cut it in your late 30s and 40s.

Some simple starter tips for maintaining a healthy weight include:

  1. Fill up on fiber by starting each meal with fiber-filled fruits or veggies
  2. Stay hydrated – thirst is commonly mistaken for hunger
  3. Make exercising regularly a reality – check out 10 tips for starting a new exercise routine and sticking with it  
  4. Check out further tips in Thorne’s Weight Management Guide

Want to know what else could be contributing to your weight issues? Consider checking the hormone levels and other biomarkers associated with a healthy weight with Thorne’s easy, at-home dried blood spot and saliva test.

Healthy Aging in Your 50s and 60s

After you reach 50, all the above health tips still apply. You want to make sure you get enough sleep, eat a well-rounded diet, get enough exercise, and focus on your mental health. However, within those areas of wellness, there is one big area you should keep your eye on.

After age 50 – especially if your diet was less than ideal during your youth – plaques that have been building in your arteries since your teens or 20s can begin to present problems. Arterial plaque can make your heart’s job harder and can lead to cardiovascular problems. After all the years of supporting you, it’s time to show your heart some love by eating a healthy diet that includes healthy fats from fish and olive oil, lots of colorful fruits and veggies, and low sodium – like the Mediterranean Diet. Need inspiration? Check out some of these resources for foods and nutrients to help keep your heart healthy and happy:

  1. 12 Red Foods for Better Heart Health
  2. Top 5 Nutrients for Heart Health
  3. 5 Spices for a Healthy Heart – Let Food Be Your Medicine

For more Mediterranean Diet information and recipes, check out our Metabolic Syndrome Guide.

Healthy Aging 65+ – the So-called Golden Years

As mentioned above, part of the aging process is that muscle mass and bone density both decline so much that it begins to cause problems. Although bone should be banked early in life, it’s never too late to provide additional bone support. Foods or supplements that contain some basics, including calcium, vitamin D, magnesium, and vitamin K, work in concert to support healthy bones.*

In terms of maintaining muscle mass, which can go a long way in preventing falls, getting enough vitamin D and protein in your diet are essential. Unless you eat a lot of fish, like salmon, it can be difficult getting enough D without adding a supplement. Amino acids can also help maintain muscle mass.*

Joint mobility can suffer as we age. Add a curcumin supplement to your daily routine – or a comprehensive joint support supplement.*

And don’t forget regular exercise, which provides an unending number of benefits by:

  1. Building muscle mass
  2. Increasing bone density (particularly weight-bearing exercises)
  3. Maintaining joint flexibility
  4. Reducing the risk of falling and fracturing bones
  5. Helping control joint swelling and pain associated with arthritis
  6. Helping maintain the ability to live independently
  7. Supporting healthy cognitive function and mental outlook
  8. Benefitting cardiovascular health – and the list goes on

Exercising your brain helps keep your brain sharp and fog-free as you age. Mayo Clinic offers seven great tips for stimulating your brain and sharpening your memory. You can also look for ways to incorporate brain-supportive nutrients and foods in your diet to help you stay sharp.

How to Age Healthfully at Any Stage

There are many obstacles in life – whether in our 20s or our 80s – that can lead to the depletion of an important substance in the body known as NAD+. Unhealthy lifestyle habits, such as poor sleep, being stuck at a desk, too many late nights, over-exposure to the sun, and an unbalanced diet – along with the natural process of aging – all lower our body’s natural level of NAD+ (aka nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide), a coenzyme found in every single cell in the body.

This coenzyme plays a crucial role throughout the body – like supporting cellular repair, cellular energy production, metabolism, and much more. As our NAD+ level declines, however, it can lead to a slowing down of vital body functions, resulting in many of the adverse symptoms of aging and age-related conditions.

Whether you’re worried about the too many late nights in your 20s or the natural aging process through your 30s, 40s, and 50s, here are natural ways – from exercise to supplementing with NR (a direct NAD+ precursor) – to help support your NAD+ level and keep you aging your best.*


Reference

1.  Mikkilä V, Räsänen L, Raitakari O, et al. Consistent dietary patterns identified from childhood to adulthood: the Cardiovascular Risk in Young Finns Study. Br J Nutr 2005;93(6):923-931. doi:10.1079/bjn20051418