Try These 3 Tasty Recipes for Hypertension

Looking for great recipe ideas for hypertension? Here are three mouth-watering favorites. They’re easy to make and even easier to fall in love with:

1. Spinach and Shrimp Pasta

If you love Italian food, you’ll be happy to know this tangy spaghetti dish is low in salt but amazingly flavorful. The secret is to use fresh herbs, garlic and olive oil.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound uncooked frozen shrimp (peeled and deveined)
  • 3 cups fresh baby spinach
  • 1 can no-salt-added crushed tomatoes (28 ounces)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 8 ounces whole-wheat spaghetti, uncooked
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 3/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper

Instructions:

Cook the spaghetti and toss with a drizzle of olive oil. Next, sauté onions, garlic and oregano. Add tomatoes and simmer for about 10 minutes. Then add balsamic vinegar and shrimp, cooking about 4 minutes. Finally, stir in fresh basil and spinach and cook 1–2 minutes.

Shrimp is a great low-calorie, high protein alternative to the beef in traditional spaghetti. This homemade sauce has much less salt and it’s rich in antioxidant superstars such as lycopene and carotenoids.

2. Tropical Jerk Chicken and Pineapple Slaw

Give your day some tropical flair with this spicy-sweet chicken and refreshing summertime slaw. You can adjust the heat by adding more or less jerk seasoning.

Ingredients:

  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
  • 2 cups red cabbage, shredded
  • 1/2 fresh pineapple, peeled and cored
  • 3 heads baby bok choy, sliced thinly
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 4 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons jerk seasoning
  • 2 teaspoons flour

Instructions:

Combine cabbage, pineapple and bok choy in large bowl. Combine 2 teaspoons brown sugar and the cider vinegar. Drizzle over cabbage mixture and toss. Next, combine jerk seasoning, flour and 2 teaspoons brown sugar in a resealable plastic bag. Add chicken to coat.

Finally, cook chicken over medium heat for 8–12 minutes. Slice chicken breasts and serve next to pineapple slaw.

This recipe highlights how to cook without salt. The jerk seasoning takes its zing from cinnamon, garlic, nutmeg, thyme and chilies. With so much aromatic goodness, you don’t need salt to maximize flavor.

3. Chili-Lime Salmon With Roast Sweet Potatoes and Red Peppers

Hypertension-fighting cooking doesn’t have to be complicated. This irresistible salmon is a breeze. Even better, it can wow company any night of the week.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound sweet potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
  • 2 medium red, yellow or green peppers, sliced
  • 1 1/4 pounds salmon fillets
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder or minced garlic
  • 1 lime, zested

Instructions:

Place sweet potatoes on baking sheet and sprinkle with olive oil, salt and pepper. Let roast for 15 minutes. Combine cumin, chili powder, garlic, lime zest and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Add half of spice mixture to peppers and half as salmon rub. Remove pan from oven and add peppers. Roast another 5 minutes. Finally, add salmon to the pan, roasting for approximately 6 to 8 minutes, or until just cooked through.

Salmon and other fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids are among the best foods for hypertension. They can lower your blood pressure and triglycerides while providing plenty of vitamin D.

Check back soon for other tasty meal ideas! I’m going to put together my favorite heart-healthy breakfasts for you.

How To Increase Skin’s Collagen Production

Collagen is your body’s secret weapon. It not only makes your skin appear more youthful but also strengthens your body as a whole. It’s the most abundant protein in your body, and when you have a healthy level of it inside, you look and feel healthy on the outside. Here are six simple, non-invasive ways to kick-start your body’s production of collagen.

Vitamin C

Is there anything vitamin C can’t do? It’s great for your bones and a healthy immune system. Adding citrus to your diet can increase iron absorption and decrease the time it takes wounds to heal. And it helps your body create collagen by synthesizing hyaluronic acid, which decreases naturally as we grow older.

To give your skin a more robust glow, pick up a hyaluronic acid concentrate at the pharmacy or load up on colorful, vitamin C-filled foods such as the following:

  • Oranges and grapefruit

  • Strawberries, blueberries and raspberries

  • Mango, papaya and kiwi

  • Watermelon and cantaloupe

  • Brussel sprouts, cauliflower and broccoli

  • Kale, spinach and cabbage

  • Red and green bell peppers

  • Tomatoes

  • Sweet potatoes

Ginseng

Sometimes helping your skin is as simple as brewing a soothing cup of tea. Ginseng, which has been used in medicine for hundreds of years, provides a handful of health benefits for your skin. It can increase collagen growth, reduce inflammation and fend off UVB rays. It’s also packed with the antioxidants you need to fend off free radicals for radiant skin. If ginseng tea turns you off, no problem. Try a ginseng supplement or tincture.

Antioxidants

Ginseng isn’t the only way to aid the antioxidants in your blood stream. Several foods, beverages and spices contain antioxidants:

  • Green tea

  • Yerba mate

  • Thyme, oregano and basil essential oils

  • Blueberries

  • Various extracts including coffee, licorice, mulberry and pomegranate

Some of these delicious flavors increase collagen production, while others simply aid your body’s existing antioxidants. Either way, you have no shortage of reasons to snack on a second bowl of fresh blueberries.

Aloe Vera

You’re probably well aware that aloe vera is great for sunburns, but did you know that it’s all because of its collagen-boosting properties? You can apply it directly to your skin or ingest it via supplement. Either way, studies show that its knack for stimulating cell growth can enhance your skin’s appearance. In fact, one study found that taking aloe vera orally caused the participants’ production of both collagen and hyaluronic acid to double.

Cilantro

I know, I know. You either love it or you hate it. I happen to love it, and not just because it’s full of vitamin C and linolenic acid, both of which have anti-aging potential. You already know that vitamin C has been found to elevate collagen levels. Linolenic acid, meanwhile, contains those helpful antioxidants your skin craves, giving you all the more reason to add an extra handful of cilantro to your salsa or pick up some cilantro extract online.

Algae

For the more adventurous of us, algae is quickly gaining steam as a popular treatment for supple skin. Here’s why: It stops oxidation, which is what happens when your skin comes into contact with environmental factors, thereby preventing pollution and its undesirable pals from stripping your skin of collagen. Odds are, you won’t be able to pick up algae on your next trip to the grocery store, but it’s a health food store staple.

Fine lines and wrinkles are inevitable as we age, but that doesn’t mean we have to welcome them! Partner any of these collagen-intensifying tips with a healthy skincare routine that’s low on UV rays to help your skin look and feel fantastic, no matter how old you are.

Can Losing Weight Help With Joint Pain?

Now you have yet another reason to stay active and eat a delicious, healthy diet. According to research from the renowned National Institute of Health, Arthritis Foundation and Cleveland Clinic, losing weight has a major effect on reducing joint pain and improving mobility. Here are 5 reasons why burning those calories should be a priority.

1. Osteoarthritis Relief

Losing weight can alleviate pain significantly in people who have OA. This is because every pound of weight is equal to four pounds of pressure on joints. If you drop just 10 pounds, it’s like you lost 40 pounds when it comes to your joints. Lose 20 pounds and your body feels 80 pounds lighter!

2. Less Cartilage Loss

Weight loss can make life much easier for people who have OA. Losing weight reduces the wear and tear your joints have to deal with. This can slow the damage to your cartilage, especially in knees and hips. Healthy cartilage cushions your joints, so you want to protect it as long as possible.

According to one 2017 study of knee OA patients, people who continually lost weight experienced much lower cartilage damage. What’s especially interesting is that weight loss was directly related to the speed of cartilage loss. The more weight patients lost, the slower OA advanced.

3. Reduced Inflammation

Did you know that fatty tissues send signals to your body that trigger inflammation? Too much fat can cause sore muscles and joints throughout the body, making the pain of arthritis much worse. Stop this inflammation cascade by keeping your weight in a healthy range. A diet rich in inflammation fighting foods can also provide significant relief.

4. Positive Effects on Rheumatoid Arthritis and Psoriatic Arthritis

Hitting your ideal weight helps your body deal with autoimmune disorders such as RA and PsA better. One recent study found that weight loss produced significant positive effects on people who have PsA. This can mean fewer days where you wake up with pain and stiffness. Losing weight also increases your odds of RA remission.

5. Lower Uric Acid Levels

Burning calories can reduce overall levels of uric acid in your blood. If you have a tendency to get gout attacks, losing weight should be top on your list of natural remedies. Want to take gout pain relief to the next level? Here’s what to eat:

  • Grapefruit and oranges

  • Pineapple

  • Cherries

  • Leafy green veggies and broccoli

  • Beans

  • Nuts and peanut butter

  • Lentils

  • Whole grains

Don’t forget to drink plenty of water every day. Yogurt, low-fat milk and coffee are great for reducing uric acid levels. Yes, several cups of coffee a day can actually help with gout prevention.

The Best Exercises for Joint Pain

If you’re experiencing a lot of joint pain, the thought of exercise probably doesn't seem appealing. However, your joints need workouts to stay flexible and healthy. The good news is there are gentle exercises you can do that really work. Even better, they help your body release endorphins, natural pain relievers and mood boosters.

Try low-impact, moderately intense aerobics activities three or four days a week. Swimming, walking, biking or using an elliptical trainer all help you stay active while reducing joint stress. As you shed pounds and eat great, you can look forward to less pain each and every day.

Does CBD Really Work?

I’ve never believed in a miracle drug, which is why I shook my head when everybody started talking about CBD. People were claiming it could cure everything from anxiety to excess gas and I thought it was all ridiculous. But then, I realized something strange. Unlike most fads that fade into the background within a few weeks, CBD wasn’t going away. That piqued my curiosity, because if it was a scam, surely it wouldn’t stick around so long.

I started to get curious about what everyone was saying, so I did the unthinkable … I tried the product. Now, before you go making fun of me, you should see what happened when I actually gave CBD a try. Maybe my experience will help you answer your own questions about whether or not CBD really works.

What Is CBD?

Before I tell you my story, I want to make sure you know what CBD is, and what it isn’t. CBD stands for cannabidiol, which is an active ingredient found in cannabis (otherwise known as marijuana). However, the CBD found in products today is derived from the hemp plant, which is a close cousin of marijuana.

Contrary to popular belief, CBD does not cause the “high” for which marijuana is known. In fact, according to the World Health Organization, CBD doesn’t exhibit any effects indicative of substance dependence or abuse. That was good news to me, since I didn’t want to get high as a kite after taking the product to calm my nerves.

Is CBD Legal?  

Just to clear things up, if CBD wasn’t legal, I wouldn’t have taken it. But my state allows me to use it. In fact, all 50 states have legalized CBD to some degree. Different states have different levels of restriction against the product, though. That’s why you need to understand the laws in your state before you buy.

Does CBD Work?

Now, I need to throw this out there right now: There is no evidence that CBD can cure cancer. So make sure you follow the advice of your doctor when dealing with a cancer diagnosis. I would never recommend treating cancer with CBD alone, though it could certainly be used to help minimize pain associated with cancer. As with any drug, it’s really important to talk to your doctor about using CBD to manage pain from cancer or any other health condition.

Though it probably can’t cure cancer, there is evidence that CBD can help with many other conditions, including fibromyalgia pain, anxiety, muscle spasticity and sleep disorders. In my case, it helps calm my anxiety and improves my everyday mood. You’d think that at my age, I’d have very little to worry about. But anxiety can sneak up on you whether you’re 15 or 95. When I start to feel anxious, I take CBD and start to calm down within a few minutes.

Multiple studies reveal that CBD can be used to treat multiple anxiety disorders, including social anxiety disorder, panic disorder and generalized anxiety disorder. I’ve learned that it’s best to take CBD before a known stressful event, such as speaking in front of people or even having the grandkids over for the afternoon.

Is CBD Safe?

Like all pharmaceutical products, CBD is associated with some minor side effects. The good news is that these side effects are typically minor compared to the side effects associated with many common medications. Here are some of the unpleasantries you might experience when you start using CBD:

  • Increased irritability

  • Nausea

  • Fatigue

  • Reduced appetite (although I’m not so sure this one is a negative side effect, to be honest!)

  • Dry mouth

  • Drowsiness

  • Diarrhea

If you experience any of these symptoms, you may want to reduce the amount of CBD you use, or discontinue using it altogether. It’s also important to talk to your doctor about the appropriate dosage for your age and health needs.

Is Buying CBD Oil Legal?

If you’re wondering whether it’s OK to buy cannabidiol oil, you’re not alone. Many older adults are investigating this question because of what they’ve heard about the ability of CBD oil to reduce pain, inflammation and nausea. Will you get in trouble if you buy CBD?

Why CBD Is Sometimes Legal but Sometimes Not

CBD is often legal to buy, but you have to check your state’s laws first. According to federal guidelines, CBD oil is legal as long as it comes from a hemp plant with less than 0.3% tetrahydrocannabinol. THC is the substance that produce’s marijuana’s “high.” However, the FDA prohibits companies from making any health claims about CBD products, so any supplement that violates this rule is technically illegal.

In addition, some states specifically prohibit CBD. Why the fuss over THC content?

What CBD Oil Is and What It Isn’t

Many people think that pure CBD oil is the same thing as medical marijuana, but it’s not. Cannabis plants have countless varieties. Hemp is a different variety of cannabis than marijuana. This is an important difference because hemp contains almost no THC (under 0.3%) while many marijuana plants contain around 12% THC.

CBD oil doesn’t produce the “high” or feeling of euphoria that THC creates. Instead, CBD benefits focus on overall well-being for the body. This can include relief for a number of general conditions:

  • Pain
  • Migraine
  • Anxiety
  • Inflammation
  • Depression
  • Nausea
  • Inflammatory bowel disorders

Hemp plants produce an abundance of CBD. Each plant contains about 12–18% CBD plus hundreds of other chemical compounds and antioxidants.

What State CBD Laws Say

Even though CBD oil made from hemp is legal under federal regulations, individual states may have their own laws. Laws can change constantly, so it’s always important to check into your state’s latest guidelines about CBD oil.

As of 2020, Idaho and Nebraska consider CBD oil (and hemp plants) illegal, regardless of the use. South Dakota currently allows CBD oil that comes from hemp but has strict penalties for possession of other types of cannabis.

Why It’s Important To Find a Company You Trust

One major factor in the question of whether CBD oil is legal comes down to how much you trust the product’s manufacturer. This is because the FDA doesn’t actively investigate CBD oil products, similar to its treatment of most supplements. The description you see on the bottle may not be what’s actually inside.

To ensure that CBD comes from hemp instead of other varieties of cannabis, trustworthy companies grow the plants in a carefully monitored environment. These companies also use special chemicals to extract pure CBD oil.

On the other hand, dubious companies may try to save money by getting CBD from marijuana plants. This type of CBD is illegal in most states. Disreputable suppliers sometimes use cheaper extraction methods that don’t remove THC correctly.

How To Make the Final Call

Before buying any CBD products, make sure your state allows them. Look for third-party testing for CBD purity and only buy from well-known companies you trust. As long as it’s legal where you live, high-quality CBD oil from hemp may help you find relief from pain and anxiety symptoms. It’s worth looking into.

Can CBD Oil Get You High?

Products containing cannabidiol, which is more commonly known as “CBD,” are everywhere these days. It’s hard to go anywhere these days without seeing lotions, oils, sprays, tinctures, capsules, vapes and concentrates that claim to contain some level of the stuff. The prevalence of CBD products may have piqued your interest, but before you give any of them a try, you may wonder, can CBD oil get you high?

In a nutshell, the answer is no, CBD oil cannot get you high. However, to understand why that is — and to have peace of mind that we’re telling you the truth — you need to understand what CBD is and how it differs from THC.

The Basics of Cannabidiol

CBD is just one of the hundreds of compounds found in the cannabis and hemp plants. It is extracted from the plant and separated from other compounds, such as the other popular compound, tetrahydrocannabinol (which we will explain more below). CBD comes mainly from the stalks, stems and leaves of cannabis plants, and from the flowers of hemp plants. Manufacturers of CBD products do their best to ensure the compound is as pure as possible before infusing it into edibles, topicals, sprays, oils and other products.

Differences Between CBD and THC

Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, does produce the psychoactive effects most people associate with marijuana. Common effects include pleasure, euphoria and forgetfulness, though in some people, the compound can cause increased anxiety and paranoia. If you’re one of the latter types of people, or if you’ve simply never had the desire to try marijuana, it may reassure you to know that CBD does not produce any of the effects of THC.

Unlike CBD, which derives mostly from the stems, leaves and stalks of a plant, THC comes mostly from the flowering portions. This is why many marijuana breeders seek out plants with lush, flower-heavy stalks.

The Effects of CBD 

So, we’ve determined that CBD cannot get you high, but that does not necessarily mean it doesn’t produce some kind of mood-altering effect. If it didn’t, it wouldn’t be so popular.

Both THC and CBD are mood-altering compounds that produce several therapeutic benefits. Those include nausea and pain relief, inflammation reduction and management of seizure disorders. However, whereas THC is intoxicating and can alter users’ perceptions of time and space, CBD merely promotes feelings of relaxation and well-being.

Of course, there are exceptions to this. For instance, some people just react differently to different drugs. Just how some people experience euphoria when using THC and others experience paranoia, some people may find that CBD has negative effects on their state of mind. Then there’s the issue of purity. Though uncommon, some users may experience intoxicating effects if a CBD product contains even trace amounts of THC. For this reason, it’s important that individuals interested in CBD products test various ones to see which are right for them.

CBD Oil

CBD oil is one of the most popular of all CBD products, and one of the most versatile. It produces all of the beneficial effects of cannabidiol, such as relaxation, reduced anxiety, pain relief and reduced stress, but you can use it in one of three ways: Add it to food, drinks or vape, take it sublingually (beneath the tongue) or apply it topically by infusing a lotion or cream with it. Like other CBD products, CBD oil should not produce any psychoactive effects.

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10 Tips for Safe Summer Exercise

When the mercury rises, so does the risk for heat exhaustion and other heat-related illnesses. These risks increase for older adults, who may have difficulty adjusting to extreme temperatures. Seniors are also more likely to have chronic conditions or take prescription medications that make them more sensitive to heat. If you want to stay active when the summer sun takes over, try these smart tips for safer summer exercise.

Stay Indoors

Adjust your normal routine to move your workout inside. If your home doesn't have air conditioning, schedule your exercise sessions around the forecast, or head to a cool setting like a gym, senior center or community center. If you live in an area with a large shopping center, try walking the mall for a change of pace.

Dial It Down

If your typical exercise is fairly strenuous, take it down a notch on the hottest days. For example, if you usually jog or bike, go for a walk instead. Choose a path in your neighborhood with plenty of trees to stay shielded from the sun. As your body acclimates to the increasing temperatures this type of year, you can slowly increase the intensity and frequency of your workouts as long as your doctor says it's safe for you to do so.

Check the Clock

The sun tends to be strongest from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., so schedule your workouts early in the day or toward dusk. If you like to exercise after dark or before the sun rises, make sure to wear lights or reflectors so you remain visible to cars.

Get Wet

Water aerobics is an incredible source of low-impact cardio and strength training, so it's often recommended for adults who struggle with joint pain. As an added bonus, you can keep cool on 90-degree days by taking a dip. If you aren't uncomfortable with an aerobics routine, simply swimming a few laps provides a healthy workout.

Remain Hydrated

Drink at least eight 8-oz glasses of water each day, or more if recommended by your doctor. Don't wait until you feel thirsty to drink; according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, by the time you notice the symptoms, you may already be dehydrated.

Dress for Success

When you venture outside to exercise in the summer, protect your skin with loose-fitting, light-colored clothing. Look for fabrics with UPF protection, since these garments actually block out the sun's rays. Wear a wide-brimmed hat to shield your face, along with sunglasses that have UV protection.

Go Golfing

Even if you're new to the sport, golfing provides a low-impact workout. Because you can ride the golf cart from hole to hole, you have the option of taking a break if you begin to feel tired. In between rides, swinging the club and seeking the ball get you moving. Golfing also provides a great opportunity to connect with others.

Work Out With a Buddy

Speaking of connection, a friend is the perfect complement to your exercise regimen. Using the buddy system is especially important during the summer, so one of you can get help if the other succumbs to the heat.

Practice Self-Care

After a workout, lower your body temperature with a comfortably cool bath or shower. You should also get plenty of sleep on the night after a workout and take it easy so your body has time to rest.

Know When To End

Familiarize yourself with the symptoms of hyperthermia and stop exercising right away if you don't feel well. Danger signs include confusion, dizziness, headache, weakness, nausea or muscle cramps. When these symptoms occur, go inside, drink water and call your doctor right away.

Staying active keeps you healthy throughout life, but too much exercise can cause issues when it's hot outside. With these strategies, maintain your fitness routine no matter what the sun has in store.

What’s the Best Way To Lose Weight: Dieting or Lifestyle Changes?

For many, the battle of the bulge seems never-ending. We lose weight. We gain it back. We lose more weight. We gain even more weight back. To see real, permanent change on the scale, what’s the best way to ditch those unwanted pounds?

Dieting

From Atkins to The Zone, there are more diets than there are seats in Madison Square Garden. Some diets, like the Mediterranean diet, ask you to fill your plate full of healthy fats. Others, such as the Paleo diet, challenge you to go full “cavewoman” and only eat the foods that our earliest ancestors ate: nuts, lean meats, berries.

No matter what’s on the menu, virtually all diets have two things in common. First, most diets are designed to offer big results in a short period of time. They tend to do this by similar means, too:

  • Calorie restrictions

  • “Eat and “Do Not Eat” lists

  • Calorie counting

  • Prewritten weekly meal plans

  • Eliminating certain foods or food groups from your diet

  • Frequent weigh-ins

The other thing that most diets have in common is that they’re ineffective. In the simplest terms, following a regimented eating plan that’s full of rules and restrictions is a hassle. For starters, it eliminates the possibility to eat, drink and be merry. A slice of birthday cake or that second glass of wine are strictly off limits, which can make socializing a self-conscious slog.

It can also result in a frustrating cycle of eating very little for several days and then eating everything in sight. In fact, the overwhelming majority of people who lose weight using a diet gain all of that weight back within five years, and many of those folks pack on additional pounds in the process.

Dieting can also be bad for your health. Extreme diets can be a gateway to eating disorders, particularly in younger women and men. They can also leave you nutrient-deprived. Remember the Grapefruit Diet that was all the rage in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s? It turns out that woman cannot live on citrus fruit (and some strategically placed salads and skim milk) alone. Many diets lack balance. This can have adverse effects on your health, such as iron-deficiency, for example.

Some diets also impart unhealthy, if not downright bizarre, eating tips. Contrary to what you may have believed in the era of Pac-Man and shoulder pads, grapefruits do not burn fat.

Lifestyle Changes

While diets typically provide a temporary fix, healthy lifestyle changes create the potential for lasting weight loss. Slow and steady wins the race, right? Instead of forsaking all carbs, for example, make a switch to healthy whole grains, and incorporate them mindfully. This behavior is far easier to maintain than trying to swear off all bread baskets until the end of time.

Here are several examples of other lifestyle changes that can lead to permanent weight loss:

  • Eating and drinking in moderation

  • Taking the stairs

  • Avoiding processed and prepackaged “convenience” foods

  • Going for a walk everyday

  • Using a fitness tracker or pedometer

  • Drinking more water

  • Treating yourself from time to time

The key to implementing lifestyle changes is starting small. If you want to start walking two miles every day, but you haven’t dusted off your sneakers in years, start by just walking to the mailbox every day — or even just putting on some sneakers. Once you master that walk to the mailbox, start walking to the end of your block and back. You’ll likely find yourself getting to the end of your block and deciding to go even farther — just because you can.

The Verdict

If you want to lose 10 pounds for your niece’s wedding next month, a crash diet might do the trick. If, however, you want to lose weight and make it stay gone, most health and nutrition experts agree that lifestyle changes are far superior to dieting.

5 Tips for Self-Care After 50

self-care

The faster the world gets, the more we need to slow down. Making time to take care of yourself is vital, especially as you grow older. Here are five self-care tips you can use to increase your overall health.

1. Get Enough Sleep

There’s more to sleep than sweet dreams. Sleep is when your body rests and resets. Without it, you can see negative effects from your head to your toes, including increased anxiety and higher blood pressure.

To avoid a restless night — and get at least seven hours of quality sleep — create a comfortable bedtime routine. Hit the sack at the same time every night, and banish screens from your bedroom. If falling asleep is a constant challenge, consider a sound machine, meditation or talking to your physician.

2. Eat Well

This is a crucial slice of self-care no matter how old you are, but its importance only expands as you grow older. Nourish your body with healthy, whole foods that lift your energy level and support your body’s systems. Avoid processed and packaged foods that are full of salt and preservatives. They may be convenient, but at best, they’ll make you sluggish; at worst, they’ll cause weight gain.

3. Keep Your Stress in Check

Stress may decrease with age, as your children start their own families and your work-related obligations grow tamer (or disappear entirely!), but it certainly doesn’t go away. In fact, between decreasing mobility and the high cost of health care, simply growing older can be a huge source of stress.

If you don’t manage those stressors, they can cause or exacerbate a host of health problems:

  • Digestive trouble

  • A compromised immune system

  • Vision loss

  • Hearing loss

  • Heart attack and other cardiac issues

To keep your stress level low, keep moving. Even something as simple as a nightly walk after dinner can do wonders for your stress. Learning relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing and meditation, is another way to decrease day-to-day pressure. For me, yoga, combines the best of both worlds when it comes to movement and mindfulness. Plus, I’m more flexible than ever!

4. Make Time for Friends

Loneliness inspired dozens of memorable pop songs, but it has no place in your life if you want to optimize your health and wellness. Persistent loneliness can cause anxiety and stress to spike.

Feeling isolated isn’t just bad for your mental health, either. In addition to nudging your stress and anxiety levels off the charts, it can also affect your body in negative ways, such as:

  • Increased risk of heart disease

  • Obesity

  • Organ damage

Spending time with your friends and family is imperative to wellness. Getting together for coffee, shopping or a quick stroll around the park can provide a huge boost to your mental health.

If your loved ones are spread out across the map, get involved in your community. Volunteering for organizations and causes that hold meaning for you is just one way to start expanding your social circle. Don’t know where to begin? Your local library likely plays host to a variety of groups and guest speakers.

5. Kick Old Habits

Old habits may die hard, but once you hit 50, the jig is up. If you’re still smoking, drinking heavily, or regularly indulging in junk food, it’s time to make a concerted effort to stop.

The benefits will kick in almost immediately. Bid farewell to your daily cookie binge, for example, and you’ll feel less lethargic. Stop smoking and you’ll literally be breathing easier in as little as 48 hours. You’ll also stop accelerating the aging process and start decreasing your odds of a variety of health problems that are fed by cigarettes, such as heart disease.

With age comes wisdom. Know when it’s time to take a break from business as usual and indulge in some self-care. Better still, incorporate these tips into your daily routine. Your mind and body will thank you for it.

6 Reasons Why I Love Yoga

My days as an athlete are behind me — for the most part, at least. I can still swing a mean whiffle ball bat in the backyard, but overall, I look for kinder, gentler ways to exercise these days. When I discovered yoga, it was a game-changer. There are countless reasons why I love my yoga practice (for starters, I can do it in my living room!), but these are six of the most important that I want to share:

1. I’m less stressed.

Striking a yoga pose reduces my anxiety almost instantly. That’s just the tip of the iceberg, though. A yoga session can also:

  • Decrease tension (especially in your back and neck)

  • Lower your blood pressure

  • Lower your heart rate

  • Ease a variety of respiratory issues

That’s right: Yoga can literally help you breathe easy! These powerful benefits, such as more manageable blood pressure, can also combat hypertension. Since I’ve started my practice, my upper back feels relaxed for the first time in a decade, and I’m taking fewer pills every day, too.

2. I sleep better.

The older I get, the less sleep I seem to get — no matter how late I go to bed. Once I started doing yoga on a regular basis, however, I started snoozing like one of my grandkids. I’m not only sleeping for more hours most nights, but I’m getting higher quality sleep, too.

3. I’m in a better mood.

Maybe it’s the extra rest I’m getting; maybe it’s the potent combo of movement and mindfulness. No matter what the cause, since beginning yoga, my mental health has improved. I still feel blue from time to time, of course, but those times are fewer and farther in between.

4. My bones are stronger.

Decreased bone density and mass are just two of the many “perks” of growing older. Brittle bones and osteoporosis have always been concerns for me, so when I learned that yoga can help stave off their onset, I couldn’t buy a cute yoga mat fast enough.

5. I move faster and easier.

Before I started yoga, getting down on the floor to play with my grandkids felt like moving a mountain — a loudly groaning mountain that couldn’t remember when she suddenly got so inflexible and achy. After just a couple of weeks of regular yoga sessions, I started feeling more limber.

It makes sense. Yoga poses focus on precise, mindful movements and involve a whole lot of stretching. The more often I break out my mat, the easier moving gets. The easier moving gets, the more flexible I become. The more flexible I become, the better my balance gets. All of which leads to perhaps the biggest yoga benefit of them all…

6. I’m in less pain.

As we age, a sedentary lifestyle is a one-way ticket to Aches and Painsville. I recognized that if I wanted to feel as young and vital in my body as I do in my mind (most of the time, at least!), I need to get moving. Since I’ve started incorporating beginners yoga into my weekly routine, I’ve experienced a very noticeable decrease in those creaky joints and achy muscles that I thought I was just supposed to deal with as I get older.

As it turns out, I absolutely did not have to put up with any of those pesky pains! Regular yoga practice means I’m moving more, I’m moving more easily, and I’m worrying less about staying independent as I get older. You know what they say: Move it or lose it.

If you think you’re too old, inflexible or conservative for yoga, think again. Whether you take a beginners class at your local gym or ease into a video series from the comfort of your home, starting a yoga practice can lead to a host of health benefits for your body, mind and soul.