Unlocking the secrets of healthy aging: Key preventive measures you can’t ignore | Health

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As we grow older, our body composition changes; we start to lose muscle and bone mass, our metabolism slows down and our energy requirements go down. Our diet needs to be modified so that we can keep on living a healthy life.

Unlocking the secrets of healthy ageing: Key preventive measures you can't ignore (Photo by Ivan Samkov )
Unlocking the secrets of healthy ageing: Key preventive measures you can’t ignore (Photo by Ivan Samkov )

In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr Rashmi Hegde, Medical Affairs Director at GSK, shared, “India has a population of 260 million individuals aged 50 and above, a group particularly susceptible to vaccine-preventable diseases (VPDs) due to their age and underlying health conditions. Immunity developed for childhood diseases decreases with age, making adults aged 50 more vulnerable to these diseases.”

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She suggested, “Encouraging adult above the age of 50 years to get vaccinated is important to prevent infectious diseases and their complications and support healthy ageing. It is imperative to educate ageing adults about the potential complications of vaccine-preventable illnesses like pneumonia, shingles, and influenza, and how vaccination can help them maintain their health and overall well-being. This effort will motivate them to consider vaccination.”

Bringing his expertise to the same, Dr Agam Vora, General Secretary at Association of Physicians of India, revealed, “Many chronic diseases, including heart conditions, diabetes, eye issues, and kidney diseases, are prevalent amongst ageing adults. Age and chronic conditions weaken the body’s immunity and make ageing adults prone to vaccine-preventable diseases (VPDs). In India, the rate of adult vaccination is very low. Only 16% of adults aged over 50 have taken any adult vaccination, as shown by a recently conducted survey by API and Ipsos.”

He advised, “Ageing adults should talk to their healthcare providers regarding adult vaccination. I believe a greater dialogue about adult vaccination on public forums and between doctors & patients will motivate more ageing adults to consider vaccination as a preventive measure. They should also focus on inculcating healthy habits such as getting the right nutrition, exercise and sleep to maintain their overall health and well-being.”

Ritika Samaddar, Nutritionist and Regional Head – Department of Clinical Nutrition and Dietetics at Max Healthcare, highlighted, “Appetite and food intake reduces by around 25% by the age of 70 years, this is known as the ‘anorexia of ageing’, which is due to a range of physiological, psychological and social factors that influence appetite and food consumption, including loss of taste, chewing difficulties and impaired gut function; psychological problems such as depression and dementia, as well as the social effects of living and eating alone.”

Hence, she recommended, “It becomes important to include more proteins, fewer calories, and specific vitamins and minerals such as calcium, selenium, and zinc. Make sure to stay hydrated and reduce the amount of salt, processed food and refined carbs in your diet. Take a nutritionist’s guidance to understand what changes you need to make to your diet as you age to keep up your energy levels, maintain bone and muscle health, and prevent and control diseases such as diabetes, heart diseases, and dementia.”

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