Horseman’s Health: Healthy Aging – How Emotional Health Impacts Aging

By guest contributor Barb Swanson
(author of Beyond Foods: The Handbook of Functional Nutrition)

Madalyn on horse

There is a ton of information on the internet about healthy aging. Unfortunately, a lot of this info is either out of step with science (low fat diets? Eggs are bad for you?), and/or so focused on selling a product that the actual facts are–to put it nicely–skimpy, missing, or wrong.

Functional Health
We look at the the aging process through the lens of how our body is built to function. We believe our body is a whole, and that each part works with and is dependent on the rest. We will look at three major areas that affect healthy aging:

  • Emotional Health
  • Exercise
  • Diet

Healthy Aging & Your Brain
Your brain begins to decline physically as young as 25! But it is after 60 that true brain shrinkage accelerates. Yet you can dramatically alter how well your brain works–up into your 80s and beyond–with just a few lifestyle choices. And it isn’t just that your brain changes as you age–the rest of your body’s aging processes are affected by these brain changes, in a cycle that can move your health up–or down. While the changes in your brain are physical, your emotional well-being also affects this process In fact, your emotional health is as important to healthy aging as physical health. A positive state of mind is proven in multiple studies to have a huge impact on aging, including:

  • Better heart health
  • Less depression
  • Better cognition
  • Less illnesses
  • Better recovery

For the best brain health advice, let’s refer to a different kind of doctor–Dr. Seuss! He celebrated his 82nd birthday by publishing You’re Only Old Once, A Book for Obsolete Children. He was “fed up with a social life consisting entirely of doctors.” His prescription for healthy aging? HUMOR! And this advice is scientifically sound. Laughter lowers blood pressure, raises healthy brain chemistry and helps balance immune health.

Emotional Health Hacks
If you feel emotionally drained, a lack of joy or deal with dark thoughts:

  • Read some Dr. Seuss! (Or enjoy funny videos, books or movies).
  • Meditate. This can be as simple as taking a walk with music you love, with your focus on just being present.
  • Turn on your favorite music and dance or dream.
  • Spend time in nature. Nature is “the great healer”. Studies show time in nature lowers blood pressure and results in feeling more content with your life.
  • Add brain-health foods to your diet. There is a lot of science showing that what we eat dramatically impacts how our brain ages. Details coming!
  • Exercise. This is also proven to improve brain health–sometimes dramatically.