Researchers at the University of Texas found those who exercised regularly had better blood flow to the brain.So here are some decade by decade tips on how to lay the groundwork for some truly golden year
Getting your child vaccinated will protect them from dangerous diseases including measles, mumps and rubella, while a healthy diet can prevent childhood obesity and the raised risk of diabetes and other diseases when they grow up.
But some experts believe an unhappy or traumatic childhood can also hit brain and body development. Scientists at Yale School of Medicine warn this can raise our risk of heart disease, irritable bowel syndrome, migraines, asthma and chronic fatigue or pain in later life.
Vincent Felittia, who leads a preventative care initiative in San Diego, said: “Humans convert traumatic emotional experiences in childhood into organic disease.”
Nearly two-thirds of teenagers put themselves at risk of developing skin cancer when older by avoiding sunscreen to get a better tan.
Susie Rice from the Teenage Cancer Trust,said: “Skin cancer is on the rise. Young people need to take precautions and avoid getting burnt, as repeated damage to the skin can cause problems long term.”
Good-quality, close friendships during your teens can also boost chances of enjoying good health in later life, Virginia University found.
It’s tempting to fill up on fast food when juggling a career with a busy social life. But eating healthily now can prevent problems in later life.
The Minneapolis Heart Institute found those who ate seven portions of fruit and veg a day were 26% less likely to develop plaque on the inside of their arteries 20 years later than those who ate just two.
Senior cardiologist Dr Michael Miedema says: “You shouldn’t assume you can wait until you’re older to eat healthy.”
Brittle bones are often associated with old age – osteoporosis affects one in three women and one in 12 men over 50. But bone loss actually starts in your thirties and so should your preventative measures. It’s vital to get enough Vitamin D and calcium and take plenty of weight-bearing exercise such as walking or running.
TV doctor Sarah Jarvis says: “Getting enough Vitamin D, which mainly comes from sunshine, can be a challenge but eggs and oily fish are good sources. Dairy or soya and fish with bones are good sources of calcium. And exercise is key.”
Regular exercise can cut your risk of a stroke in later life, but this is also a good time to start looking at other aspects of your health, such as your cholesterol.
More than half of UK adults have high levels, raising their risk of heart disease, and anyone aged 40 to 75 should get a free cholesterol test every five years. Good ways to cut cholesterol include quitting smoking and drinking less alcohol.
Try to eat more cholesterol-busting superfoods such as soya, nuts, oats and vegetable oils.
Going grey doesn’t mean you should give up on a satisfying sex life. In fact, enjoying regular sex can help keep you healthy into old age.
For women, it boosts Vitamin D and oestrogen levels, making your hair shinier and your skin smoother.
Regular sex also protects men against prostate cancer by flushing out cancer-causing agents that the prostate secretes into semen.
Sex therapist Dr Laurie Betito added: “Men who have sex at least twice a week reduce their risk of a fatal heart attack by 50%, compared to those who have sex less than twice a month.”
Taking too many supplements is a waste of money but once you hit your sixties, popping pills can help keep you healthier and happier.
Susan Fairweather-Tait, professor of mineral metabolism at the University of East Anglia, said: “Your body’s absorptive capacity drops off with age. The result is that unless you are eating very high-quality food, you could become nutritionally deficient as you get older.”
Scientists at Oxford University found omega-3 and B12 supplements may help prevent Alzheimer’s. And a daily aspirin can help prevent cancer or heart disease.
Keeping active is even more important the older you get as spending too much time sitting shortens your life expectancy.
Experts at Sweden’s Karolinska Institute analysed the habits of 1,800 people over 75 and found those with the healthiest lifestyles lived up to six years longer.
Swimming, walking and gymnastics all added two years, while those with an active family life and a rich social circle lived 18 months longer than those without.
Alan Maryon-Davis, professor of Public Health at King’s College London, said: “Even in your seventies it’s not too late to gain an extra few years to enjoy life by keeping active, living healthily and being involved in the community.”