The lifestyle you lead, particularly in your 30s and 40s, has a huge impact on the way you will age and the diseases you may develop, says geriatrician.
Geriatricians have highlighted important steps that can be taken to prevent early ageing and geriatric problems such as osteoporosis later on in life.
Dr Soha Abdelaziz, geriatrician at the Dubai Health Authority (DHA) primary care sector, said during its weekly Twitter clinic: "People need to understand the concept of active ageing. The lifestyle you lead, particularly in your 30s and 40s, has a huge impact on the way you will age and the diseases you may develop. Chronological age is the number of years a person has lived, while biological age refers to how old a person (looks).
"Often we see patients in their 40s, but their biological age is 60. This is due to poor lifestyle habits. Therefore, our aim as geriatricians is to educate people about the steps they need to take, the regular screenings they need to do and, most importantly, the lifestyles they need to live to ensure they age as slowly as possible."
Dr Abdelaziz said people must opt for yearly screenings when they turn 30, and much earlier if they have family history of certain diseases such as cancer.
"The importance of regular comprehensive screening is that it highlights the red flags early so that people can take steps to prevent the onset of disease, or if a disease is detected, they can begin treatment early on, rather than after complications have set in.
"In addition to regular screenings, people must ensure they take the vaccinations that are recommended by their doctors. For example, women need to take the HPV vaccine to protect against cervical cancer, and despite taking this vaccine they must opt for regular cervical cancer screenings."
She said regular screenings will present an overall health report and help people take the necessary steps. Following a healthy lifestyle, however, remains key.
"Exercise is the number one anti-aging medicine. I always tell my patients, there are no short cuts; they have to make time to exercise. Exercise is a great anti-stressor; it improves circulation, which in turn improves skin complexion. It helps maintain healthy body weight, increases bone density and helps build muscle. It also strengthens the heart and can reduce the risk of certain cancers.
"We lose four per cent of muscle mass every 10 years after the age of 20; therefore weight training in addition to other forms of exercise is important to build bone density, which helps prevent diseases such as osteoporosis later on in life."
Rest, sleep and food
Dr Mona Sobhy, geriatrician at DHA primary healthcare sector, said: "In addition to exercise, how much we rest, how well we sleep and what we eat are all factors that will decide the future of our health and how we age. Food is just not a function of taste - it has a deep impact on our health. Therefore, if people want to age well and prevent the effects of early ageing, they need to fill their grocery carts with healthy, nutritious foods rather than processed foods. Some foods to pay particular emphasis to include green leafy vegetables, fatty fish, nuts - the unsalted variety - all berries and avocado.
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