You don’t live to become a senior because you’ve been reckless and foolhardy with your life. When you reach maturity, it’s because you’ve done something right. You’ve made good decisions. You’ve “adulted” well. And now it’s time to enjoy the fruits of your labor, to settle into your golden years rewarded with good health, longevity, and quality of life.
The last thing you want or deserve is to throw it all away on misguided health fads. Unfortunately, such schemes aren’t just for the young and inexperienced. Even the most world-wise senior can be duped by alluring claims of age-defying looks, wellness, and performance.
We’ll show you some popular health fads to avoid and provide helpful, and much better alternatives.
A Million-Watt Smile
If you’re like many of us, one of the first and most distressing signs of aging isn’t on your face, it’s in your smile. No matter how meticulous you might be with your oral health and hygiene, the simple fact is that tooth enamel thins, and stains become more obvious as you age.
And if you’re finding that your pearly whites aren’t quite so white anymore, you might be tempted by the miraculous claims of the activated charcoal toothpaste fad. Don’t be fooled!
For all the hype lately, activated charcoal is certainly not the stuff to give you that million-watt smile you’re looking for. Instead, it can leave your teeth looking more stained. Even worse, activated charcoal can be toxic if ingested.
Your best bet, instead, is to consult with a cosmetic dentist. They can offer you a variety of options for spiffing up your smile affordably, effectively, and safely. And then combine that with a good at-home oral care regime. Brush at least twice a day, and ideally after every meal, and floss daily. A good whitening and enamel-strengthening toothpaste, especially one with fluoride, and topped off with a good antiseptic mouthwash should be all you need to keep those chompers gleaming.
Dietary health fads
The idea that food is medicine is nothing new, nor is the premise that you can optimize your health through the use of diet and supplements. This is, in general, true, but within limits.
A well-balanced diet filled with essential nutrients and low in salt, sugar, and saturated fats provides an array of well-known health benefits, including helping to prevent heart disease, diabetes, and certain types of cancer.
Unfortunately, though, diet health fads rarely embrace this moderate approach. Instead, they trade in often outlandish promises that generate a lot of publicity but very little, if any, proof. Take, for example, the recent hype about the keto diet, which, in a nutshell, is a high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet designed to promote rapid weight loss. The keto diet is supposed to work by forcing the body into a state of ketosis by reducing the number of carbohydrates available to fuel the body; in the absence of carbs, the body turns to stored fat as its energy source.
Sounds good in theory, especially if you are among the 1 in 4 Americans over the age of 65 who is considered obese. In reality, however, a quick-fix weight-loss strategy, such as keto, comes with a constellation of risks that a traditional well-balanced, evidence-based diet does not. By forcing the body into a state of ketosis, for example, the keto diet requires the organs to work much harder than they should, particularly the body’s filtration systems, such as the liver and kidneys.
The best option, by far, is to choose a diet high in essential vitamins and minerals, healthy fats, fiber, and simple carbohydrates. It’s also important to form good eating habits! Not only will your liver and kidneys thank you, so, too, will your digestive system.
Relying too much on over-the-counter (OTC) medications
There’s no doubt about it: growing older is tough. With each passing year, you might notice new pains in places you didn’t know you had before! You might be feeling less energetic, less mentally sharp, less agile.
And that can make the many pills and potions, creams and elixirs, available in every supermarket and chain store look appealing. But it’s important to talk with your doctor about any over-the-counter (OTC) medications or supplements you use, as these can come with serious side effects.
For example, medications as seemingly harmless as aspirin or ibuprofen can, over time, significantly increase your risk of gastrointestinal reflux disease (GERD). And far more than just causing GI discomfort, severe GERD can cause life-threatening internal bleeding, as well as some forms of cancer, and requires medication to treat.
So instead of trying to treat yourself with OTC medications and supplements, when you have an issue or concern, reach out to your doctor first. They can help you figure out a solution that will be the safest and most effective for your particular needs.
Distanced, not isolated
After our experience with the pandemic, we learned that social distancing saves lives, especially if you are a senior. However, keeping your physical distance and remaining at home to avoid illness doesn’t mean you have to close yourself off from the people and the things you love.
Loneliness and lack of stimulation can be nearly as dangerous as the virus itself. The wonderful news, though, is that just because you are alone doesn’t mean you have to be lonesome. So it’s more important now than ever to ensure you’re staying active and engaged with the people you love. Set up a zoom call with your friends and family and have a dance party. Arrange for a socially-distanced visit to the local animal shelter and rescue a forever friend. Get involved in learning a new language or start writing that novel you’ve always dreamt of.
The key is to stay involved with life and with loved ones.
Beware of needless health fads
No question: aging isn’t for wimps. But fighting to stay strong, well, and gorgeous shouldn’t mean succumbing to dangerous health fads. Instead, do your homework, stay informed, and remember that, in wellness as in life, if a promise sounds too good to be true, it almost certainly is.