In today’s society, many people are living longer, but chronic health disorders and unhealthy lifestyles are contributing to a significant number of individuals that are not aging well. We spoke to Dr. Manuel Garcia, a Family Medicine Specialist with Millennium Physician Group. Dr. Garcia has decades of experience helping his patients increase longevity and wellness. His advice and tips on healthy aging are based on research and well-known studies.
DR. MANUEL GARCIA’S HEALTHY AGING TIPS
Healthy aging is a concept we hear more and more about, as there is an increased interest in aging well. Our population aged 60 and older is expected to double by the year 2050. Approximately one out of five people will be 60 plus by then, and there are many things we can do to better assess and increase our health for as long as possible.
Elements that affect health are behavioral, genetic, underlying chronic illness, and environmental issues, such as toxins or chemical exposures. These can also include housing, family, culture, transportation and the like that directly influence how we age.
Primarily, diet and exercise are vital issues to address. It can’t be stressed enough to eat well and to keep moving. In people that are otherwise healthy, we suggest they eat plenty of vegetables, limit red meat, limit sugar, and processed foods, or things considered “fake food.” Eating whole foods, which you get from the periphery of the grocery store like produce, and high-quality eggs, fish, seafood, and meat, are the best choices to maintain and increase health. Every culture and background have foods that they love or used to eating, but we know from research that eating a diet high in vegetables, berries, and animal products without chemicals, hormones, or antibiotics are the most desirable choices. If a person is vegan, we discuss healthy plant-based proteins as viable options such as nuts, seeds, and legumes.
We are all very aware that smoking is not a healthy habit; however, many people still smoke. It’s important to have an overall healthy lifestyle, so finding help such as a smoking cessation program or speaking to your physician about ways to quit smoking is critical.
It doesn’t just affect the lungs; smoking also affects the lining of the arterial walls and accelerates atherosclerosis, which leads to vascular disorders, stroke, heart disease, and other issues.
Alcohol is a neurotoxin at high levels. If you can drink moderately, that’s fine, but if your drinking is more than the recommended amount (two drinks for men and one for women daily or less), then you should highly consider a way to cut back or to stop drinking. Too much alcohol is associated with cancers, cognitive issues, hypertension, and other systemic health issues. If you drink, it’s best to drink socially, in moderation, or not at all if that becomes problematic.
Some retirees with family up north might become lonely and begin drinking more. Also, here locally, we have a significant social community, and in some cases, drinking can become excessive in those situations.
MENTAL AND EMOTIONAL HEALTH
Regarding being lonely or feeling isolated, mental health is also a significant proponent of aging well. We want to encourage individuals to find ways to relieve stress and stay social. A lot of the older population are video chatting and streaming with friends and family, which is excellent for mental health. It gives them a way to connect.
Exercise has many benefits such as lowering hypertension and helping individuals lose weight, to name a few. Finding time to exercise is also extremely important. I encourage patients to take a few minutes to spend outside in the sunshine, whether that be taking a walk, gardening, riding a bike, golfing or swimming, these are great ways to enjoy exercise and get some sunlight. It’s known that sunshine increased the hormone D3 to help boost immunity, and it also reduces depression.
We are unfortunately seeing an increase in neurological conditions as people age, so increasing brain health is also essential. Underlying conditions like diabetes and metabolic syndrome increase the incidence of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. With high blood sugar, insulin damages the vessel walls and the communication and signaling within the brain. Some researchers are now calling dementia and other cognitive issues, type III diabetes, because of the high percentage of prediabetics and diabetics that develop these disorders.
My advice for healthy brain aging is a comprehensive healthy lifestyle. We should maintain healthy body weight, exercise regularly to increase oxygen uptake, and cardiovascular health. Any exercise that strengthens muscles and increases oxygen-rich blood is neurotropic. It doesn’t have to be very strenuous; we just want you to keep moving. It’s helpful to find hobbies as well that will keep the mind occupied.
DR. MANUEL GARCIA, M.D.
Dr. Garcia joins Millennium physicians Group with over 27 years of experience as a board-certified family practice physician. He has been practicing family medicine as the medical director at Clínica de las Américas, as an associate staff member with Cleveland Clinic Florida and with Lee Physician Group.
Dr. Garcia was born in Cuba and raised locally here in Florida. He received his undergraduate degrees in Chemistry and Biology from the University of Miami, and he received his medical degree from the Universidad de Oviedo School of Medicine in Spain.
Along with helping patients reach optimal health, he models those behaviors in his personal life and enjoys exercise, outdoors, traveling, and photography, and he is also an accomplished musician.
Dr. Garcia is fluent in English and Spanish.
MILLENNIUM PHYSICIAN GROUP is one of the largest comprehensive independent physician groups with more than 500 healthcare providers located throughout Florida. Learn more about us today and how joining Millennium as a patient, a provider, or a team member can benefit you.
We are here to connect you to a healthier life. Please contact us today at (239) 215-4064.
Millennium Physician Grup
Manuel Garcia, M.D. – Family Practice
13691 Metro Parkway, Suite 420
Fort Myers, FL 33912