Many people dread getting older and not being able to make their bodies do all the things it could when it was younger, but there are ways of aging gracefully that can help us enjoy life on into our senior years. Being able to stay active and get out to experience the world is something just about all of us would like to still be able to do and can be a reality by starting on a program of healthy aging now no matter what age you are.
Benefits of Staying Flexible
One of the ways to accomplish this state of aging gracefully is to keep joints, tendons, and muscles flexible. In Ayurvedic practice, keeping the body flexible allows our prana or vital force to have good circulation. A flexible body with healthy joints means an increased range of motion and the freedom movement offers as well as having a positive impact on blood circulation, absorbing nutrients, excreting waste, and lymphatic flow. Stretching exercises, which could also include doing yoga, are a great way to naturally keep the body flexible and limber. The American College of Sports Medicine advises doing stretching exercises a minimum of twice a week on each major muscle group and doing each exercise around a minute. According to Lynn Millar, PhD, physical therapist and professor at Winston-Salem State University, your hips and hamstrings will benefit from stretching which will really pay off in flexibility and movement when you are older. She adds that doing stretching after exercise is a good time since you are the most flexible then. Getting into a regular yoga practice is also a good way to be sure you are getting your stretching time in and to increase your body’s flexibility towards aging gracefully.
Foods for Flexibility
There are also certain foods that can help you be more flexible. Ripe, raw, in season fruit for example is one food that is considered valuable in a spiritual yoga practice. It is thought to increase ojas which support immunity, happiness and vitality. Fruits are also high in water content and since muscles are 76% water, they help keep muscles hydrated and working properly. Drinking enough water throughout the day is also important for this reason and to avoid muscle cramping, fatigue and injury. What you don’t want though is to be eating foods that cause you to retain fluid which can lead to inflammation in muscles that you feel as soreness and stiffness. Eating more alkaline foods like most fruits and vegetables or spices like turmeric and ginger can help cut down on this type of inflammation. You can also add wholefood supplements to your diet that will help you with inflammation. This joint support algae supplement combines vegetable-based glucosamine, chondroitin, UC-II® undenatured collagen and wild AFA bluegreen algae and this enzyme algae supplement combines plant-based proteolytic enzymes–bromelain, papain, protease, lipase, and serratiopeptidase, with wild AFA bluegreen algae, to support your body’s inflammatory response to physical exercise. Both these are Gluten Free, Dairy Free, and GMO Free and have ingredients that have been shown to decrease inflammation, increase recovery time and flexibility, and reduce post-workout stress. Getting this nutrition from supplements and whole foods makes sense since the body has more difficulty producing these ingredients as we age.
Other foods that are said to promote flexibility include:
Sulfur-rich foods – Garlic, cabbage, kale, onions, leeks, broccoli, cauliflower, and turnips are examples of foods that have sulfur that can help keep joints flexible. Many of the amino acids that make up tendons and ligaments have sulfur in them so adding these type foods can help beef them up.
Sea Vegetables – Seaweeds such as dulse, kelp, and nori are all good for connective tissues since they are rich sources of protein, chlorophyll, iodine, potassium, calcium and sodium which are all supportive nutrients for them.
Ghee – a type of clarified butter believed to be good for anti-aging, body flexibility and lubrication of tendons and ligaments.
Silicon – This is another important mineral to keep connective tissue healthy and can be found in vegetables such as cucumber, cabbage, spinach, lettuce, green beans, asparagus, and mustard greens.
Don’t let old age keep you from keeping on. You can still get out, stay active and enjoy life. Just get started on a healthy aging plan that will help you keep your mobility and avoid the pain of inflammation and you’ll find maybe aging doesn’t have to be a dreaded condition.