How Can You Grow Old Better?

Healthy aging isn’t only about living longer—it’s also about living better. We want you to enjoy doing the things you love decade after decade, not be dragged down by chronic illness. Unfortunately, these days most Americans over age sixty-five endure the opposite.

The National Council on Aging recently outlined the top 10 most common chronic diseases. How common? The council reported that 80 percent of adults aged sixty-five and older have at least one of these conditions, while 68 percent have two or more from the list.

If you are fortunate enough to be living outside of the typical pattern here, you very likely have a friend or family member dealing with at least one of these. The list, along with some commonly known risk factors for each, is as follows:

  • Hypertension:

high blood pressure, is currently defined as a blood pressure reading of greater than 130/80, and can be diagnosed after three consecutive high readings. These readings can fluctuate throughout the day, and high blood pressure that continues over time can put great stress on the heart’s ability to function.

Risk factors: lack of exercise, low nutrient/inflammatory diet, poor sleep quality, excess weight, chronic unmanaged emotional/mental stress, anxiety

  • High cholesterol:

High levels of cholesterol circulating in your blood, as revealed by a blood test. Total cholesterol levels above 240 mg/dL are considered high, with an ideal number being below 200 mg/dL. LDL should be less than 100, while HDL should ideally be above 60 mg/dL. You may have high cholesterol or an unhealthy balance of LDL to HDL and not have any noticeable symptoms.

Risk factors: lack of exercise, highly processed diet, animal fats, low fiber intake, alcohol intake, smoking, inflammation, chronic emotional/mental stress.

  • Arthritis:

Inflammation of the joints between small and large bones can be caused by wear and tear over time, or an overall inflammatory process in the body. Joint swelling, redness, stiffness, creaking, and warmth can be signs before notable pain occurs.

Risk factors: sedentary lifestyle, excess weight, joint strain, chronic inflammation, smoking, highly processed foods, food additives, environmental toxin exposure, microbial infection.

  • Coronary heart disease:

A buildup of inflammatory plaque that narrows the arteries leading to the heart, decreasing the amount of oxygen-rich blood delivered to the heart. This can cause other complications, such as blood clots, angina, or a heart attack.

Risk factors: high-salt diet, saturated and trans fat consumption, sugar in diet, alcohol use, smoking, lack of exercise, poor sleep quality, high emotional/mental stress

  • Diabetes:

An impairment of the body’s ability to produce adequate insulin in response to a meal, or an impaired ability for the body to respond adequately to insulin signaling, resulting in high amounts of glucose remaining in the blood rather than being used by the tissues. This can eventually lead to serious consequences of loss of circulation to eyes, limbs, and major organs.

Risk factors: lack of exercise, excess weight, high alcohol intake, low nutrient and highly processed food diet, chronic excess saturated fats, low fiber, environmental toxin exposure

  • Chronic kidney disease:

A gradual loss of kidney function over months or years, leading to serious problems with fluid retention and, eventually, heart disease.

Risk factors: diabetes, high blood pressure, smoking, excess weight, chronic dehydration, a low-fiber and high-sodium diet