These are easy things you can do to have a much better, stronger, fitter, and probably happier new year.
LISTEN TO ‘3 WAYS TO AGE BETTER IN 2024’ HERE
As I step into a new year, it’s a time for reflection, setting goals, and recommitting to my health and well-being. In this episode of GRUFFtalk: How to Age Better, I want to share my personal journey of overcoming health challenges in 2023 and introduce you to three groundbreaking pieces of research that can help us all age better and embrace a healthier lifestyle in 2024.
#1 Cool Beans: Eat More Beans for Better Gut Health
My journey towards better health begins with a focus on gut health. I recently came across an astonishing piece of research conducted by The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, published in late 2023, which discusses the incredible benefits of incorporating Navy beans into our daily diets.
The findings from the BE GONE trial are truly remarkable. Participants who added a cup of Navy beans daily to their regular meals experienced significant improvements in their gut microbiome. Beneficial bacteria flourished, while harmful bacteria decreased. This shift in microbiome diversity is rare, and it underscores the power of readily available prebiotic foods like Navy beans to bring about positive changes.
Navy beans are packed with gut-supporting fibers, amino acids, and other essential nutrients. These ingredients can help beneficial bacteria in the colon to thrive, thus supporting immune health and regulating inflammation. However, it’s essential to consult with a physician before making dietary changes, especially if you have underlying health conditions. I had a terrific discussion about gut health and the microbiome with a leading expert in late 2022, which you can listen to by clicking here.
#2 Exercise Snacks: A Few of These Every Day Leads to a Healthy Exercise Meal
Next, I’d like to introduce you to the concept of “exercise snacks.” In a world where sedentary lifestyles have become the norm, exercise snacks offer an innovative solution to integrate movement into our daily lives. I draw inspiration from Blue Zone populations who naturally incorporate physical activity into their routines by moving every 20 minutes or so.
Exercise snacks can provide similar benefits to longer, sustained workouts. Whether it’s climbing stairs, gardening, or simply incorporating more movement into daily tasks, these short bursts of activity can benefit cardiovascular health, core strength, and balance.
Research supports the efficacy of exercise snacks. Even just 11 minutes of activity can make a positive impact, particularly for those who are otherwise sedentary. I encourage you to find ways to make these activities vigorous and tailored to your fitness levels. Exercise snacks can be performed at home and require no special equipment, making them accessible to all. Listen to the conversation I had with award-winning health journalist Gretchen Reynolds about exercise snacks by clicking here.
#3 Resistance Training: Get Strong to Age Better
Now, let’s delve into the importance of strength training, especially as we age. Physical function tends to deteriorate with age, but exercise can be a powerful tool for maintaining independence. I want to highlight the “oldest old” age group, individuals over 80, who are rapidly growing in numbers worldwide.
Strength training is the key to preserving muscle mass, strength, and power. It also enhances flexibility and dynamic balance, essential for everyday activities such as dressing, getting out of bed, and walking. Cardiovascular fitness, muscle strength, and balance are vital for independent living, but they decline with age.
Research indicates that resistance training can prevent and even reverse muscle loss associated with aging. Regular strength training sessions with appropriate intensity can help maintain muscle mass and strength. My message is clear: strength training is crucial for maintaining a high quality of life as we age.
Putting it All together
My journey through health challenges in 2023 has led me to uncover three valuable pieces of research that can help us all age better in the new year. Whether it’s incorporating Navy beans for gut health, embracing exercise snacks to stay active throughout the day, or prioritizing strength training for independence, these findings offer practical ways to prioritize our health and well-being.
As we venture into 2024, let’s remember that positive changes in diet and exercise routines can contribute to aging better and improving overall health. My story serves as a reminder that it’s never too late to invest in our well-being, and with these research-backed insights, we can all strive to age a heck of a lot better.