The life expectancy of men and women in Singapore is about 80 and 84 years old respectively, yet our bodies are still programmed to shut up shop early – we start to lose strength as early as our twenties! However, as delighted as many of us would be to slow down this ageing process, many of the “anti-ageing” tips that circulate are not all they seem. Fact or fiction? Read on to find out more...
You heard: playing Sudoku improves your memory
The truth: If you are an expert Sudoku player aiming to improve your cognitive functions through the regular practice of brain games, you might be a little disappointed. As the neuroscientist Adrian Owen concluded, memory doesn’t improve thanks to brain games, players only get better thanks to familiarity with the game itself.
However, no need to throw away the crossword puzzles just yet: research still shows that keeping the mind active (through work, reading, socialising or computer use) helps to lessen age-related memory problems.
You heard: ‘super foods’ will work wonders
Indeed, the food industry would have us believe that certain foods can slow down the ageing process, lift depression, boost our physical ability and even combat cancer. ‘Super foods’ such as coconut water, blueberries and pomegranates have generally been labelled as such because they’re rich in antioxidants or omega-3 fatty acids. Antioxidants are indeed chemicals thought to protect against the harmful effects of free radicals – known to cause cell damage. Yet, evidence that eating blueberries will help prevent cancer is inconclusive.
The truth: while miracle foods remain a fantasy, a balanced diet, rich in fruit, vegetables and wholegrain foods, is the real key. Research shows the Mediterranean diet for example, can reduce the risk of some chronic diseases and increase life expectancy. This diet includes plenty of fresh fruit, olive oil and vegetables, and less meat and dairy foods than the typical Western diet. Indeed, new research shows that a typical Western diet can actually decrease length of life.
While there’s no miracle elixir of youth, by making these few changes to your routine you can help protect your body (notably your posture), and keep your mind nimble. If you do have particular questions or continuing aches and pains, remember to contact your GP.