World Health Day_ Unlock the Secrets of Healthy Ageing

Embrace longevity and superior age care this World Health Day. Discover how to feel vibrantly young with our timeless wellness secrets.

In a world that’s obsessed with the quest for eternal youth, as we celebrate World Health Day, we often find ourselves sifting through countless tips and tricks promising the secret to ageing gracefully.

But what if the true secret lies not within the latest anti-aging serum but in adopting a lifestyle that’s been time-tested across different cultures?

India is on the brink of becoming an ‘old country’ by 2050, with an estimated 350 million people expected to fall into the senior citizens category. Meanwhile, Japan is leading the charts with one of the highest longevity rates worldwide. As we recognize World Health Day, let’s unlock the secrets to healthy ageing.

But first, let’s look at some facts!

The Indian Scenario: A Contrast in Aging

India presents a fascinating paradox. On one hand, it’s grappling with the challenges of an ageing population, with the United Nations Working Group on Ageing predicting a significant shift in demographics by 2050. Currently, the proportion of older persons in India is projected to leap from 8% in 2015 to 19% by 2050. Yet, the story of ageing in India varies dramatically from urban to rural settings.

In urban areas, life is a whirlwind of stress, pollution, and sedentary lifestyles, contributing to a rise in non-communicable diseases. Cities, pulsating with economic growth, unfortunately, falter in nurturing health and well-being.

For instance, India’s urban population, set to reach 675 million by 2035, faces unprecedented levels of air and noise pollution. This urban lifestyle starkly contrasts with rural India, where the pace of life is slower, communities are tighter, and diets are more natural.

This dichotomy is not just anecdotal; it’s backed by studies suggesting that rural populations often enjoy better baseline health metrics, attributed to more physical activity and less processed diets.

And do you know how it’s impacting us?

  1. Non-communicable diseases are estimated to account for 63% of all deaths in India, making them the leading cause of mortality. Of these, cardiovascular diseases are the most prevalent, contributing to 27% of total mortality. They are followed by chronic respiratory diseases at 11%, cancers at 9%, diabetes at 3%, and other NCDs making up the remaining 13%, according to the World Health Organization.
  1. The economic repercussions of non-communicable diseases in India are significant, with these conditions being responsible for the majority of out-of-pocket expenditure on health. The estimated economic output lost to NCDs, excluding mental health conditions, is projected to be USD 3.55 trillion between 2012 and 2030.

This staggering figure highlights the extensive strain NCDs place on individuals and the nation’s economy. Of course, India isn’t alone and the world will soon experience similar issues. But how is that this one country is doing it in the way it’s supposed to be?

Japan: A Blueprint for Healthy Ageing

Japan stands as a stark contrast, not just to India but to much of the world, when it comes to ageing. It’s no secret that Japan boasts one of the highest life expectancies globally, a feat attributed to a variety of factors.

Diet plays a crucial role, with the average Japanese diet rich in fish, whole grains, vegetables, and soy products. However, it’s not just what the Japanese eat but also their approach to life.

The concept of ikigai, which translates to “a reason for being,” imbues daily life with purpose and satisfaction, contributing significantly to mental health and longevity.

Moreover, Japan’s societal structure supports ageing in place, enabling the elderly to live independently yet interconnectedly within their communities. This holistic approach to ageing—where physical health, mental well-being, and social integration are all prioritised—offers invaluable lessons for the rest of the world.

Turning the Tide: How to Embrace Ageing Gracefully

So, what can we, regardless of our geographic location, learn from India’s rural vitality and Japan’s longevity secrets to defy ageing?

Here are actionable insights and strategies:

  1. Embrace Physical Activity: The sedentary lifestyle is a modern plague. In rural India, daily routines naturally incorporate physical labour, while in Japan, practices like walking and tai chi are prevalent among the elderly. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise daily to boost heart health, manage weight, and improve mood.
  1. Prioritise a Plant-based Diet: Both traditional Indian and Japanese diets emphasise fresh, plant-based foods. Incorporating more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes into your diet can reduce the risk of chronic diseases and support a healthy weight.
  1. Find Your Purpose: Ikigai isn’t just for the Japanese. Reflecting on what brings you joy and purpose can enhance mental health and resilience. Whether it’s a hobby, volunteering, or career passion, pursue what makes you feel fulfilled.
  1. Connect with Community: Loneliness can be as harmful to health as smoking up to 15 cigarettes a day. Both in India’s rural communities and in Japan, strong social ties contribute to longer, happier lives. Invest time in building and maintaining relationships.
  1. Regular Health Screenings: Early detection of health issues can make a significant difference. Follow recommended guidelines for health screenings, including those for cholesterol, diabetes, and cancer. Regular check-ups can catch problems before they become more serious.
  1. Adapt and Adopt Mindfulness Practices: Stress management is key to healthy ageing. Practices like meditation, yoga (originating from India), and mindfulness can help reduce stress and improve overall well-being.

The journey to ageing gracefully doesn’t have a one-size-fits-all roadmap. It’s about making mindful choices every day—choices that reflect respect for our bodies and minds. By looking towards cultures that have woven the art of ageing well into the fabric of their society, we can start to redefine our relationship with ageing.

Ageing is inevitable, but how we age is something we can influence. Whether it’s adopting a more plant-based diet reminiscent of rural India, finding our ikigai like the Japanese, or simply deciding to move more and stress less, the power to age gracefully is within our reach.

Start with one small change today, and who knows? You might just find yourself feeling 30 at 40 and beyond.

Ready to embark on this age-defying adventure?

Remember, it’s the small steps that lead to big changes. Here’s to embracing each year with health, happiness, and a zest for life that knows no age limit.