By Ma. Teresa Montemayor  April 14, 2019, 5:38 pm

MANILA — Most people dislike growing old because of the many physical changes that happen to the body brought about by ageing. But did you know that there is an increasing number of individuals who look forward to old age, particularly getting old in a healthy way?

According to a 2018 Philippine nutrition survey conducted by Herbalife Nutrition, 97 percent of Filipinos agree that everyone can age healthily and that they can take positive steps towards healthy ageing.

The survey also showed that 89 percent of those who agreed have already started with their personalized plans on living healthy at their current ages.

Dr. Jamid Jan bin Jan Mohamed, chairman of the Nutrition & Diabetics Program at University Sains Malaysia, says ageing is an inevitable process but everyone can take action to age healthily, during the Herbalife Nutrition Forum on April 12, 2019 at the Makati Shangrila Hotel. (Photo by Ma. Teresa Montemayor)

“The keyword in healthy ageing is obviously ‘health’, and the World Health Organization (WHO) says it has three aspect and they are the physical, mental and social health. Physical meaning you have no disability and no disease while mental means you’re free from depression, suicidal attempt, stress that damages your physical health and, finally, social, when you are having good social life with your family members, neighborhood and in the community, and you’re not alone and lonely,” said Dr. Jamid Jan bin Jan Mohamed, chairman of the Nutrition & Diabetics Program at University Sains Malaysia, Friday in a forum in Makati City.

Mohammed explained that having a good health as you get older is beneficial to you and the people around you.

“Healthy ageing will allow you to enjoy long and quality life with your family and friends, meaning they can enjoy your company longer. You can work more because you’re disease-free and you will not spend money to buy medicines,” he said, adding that nutrition and wellness are the keys to achieving such state.

In connection to this, Mohammed stressed that weight management is the first thing individuals must focus on.

“Obesity is the mother of all diseases and when you’re obese you’re susceptible to diseases like diabetes, hypertension and cardiac arrest. Once you have ideal weight, you will need to pay attention to your digestive health, heart health and bone health,” he said.

Healthy food choices, exercise

In an earlier interview with the Philippine News Agency, 108-year-old Juanita Cariaga shared that the secret to her long and healthy life is her fondness for malunggay (moringa), camote tops and other backyard-raised vegetables in her village in Echague, Isabela.

In 2018, 108-year-old Juanita Cariaga received PHP100,000 from the social welfare department and PHP20,000 from the local government, aside from a plaque of recognition, felicitation letter from President Rodrigo R. Duterte and other benefits. (PNA Photo by Villamor Visaya, Jr.)

“I eat vegetables that are pesticide and preservatives free, and I enjoy their delicious taste,” she said.

She added that she is used to long walks as they don’t ride much during the early years.

Mohammed said the problem of obesity in the Philippines and other Asian countries root from eating rice and bread which are very high in calories.

“Eating a lot of rice, calories are suitable before because people need the energy to work on the farms. But now, there are work and lifestyle changes, you just work at the desk, the amount of calories you burn are less, and this is the mismatch between the energy we take and the energy we use, the excess energy will be stock in the body and it will make you fat slowly,” he said, adding that eating fruits, vegetables and white meat is important in becoming healthy inside and out.

Mohammed explained that good digestion can be achieved through sufficient consumption of fiber-rich food like fruits, grains, oats and vegetables for bowel movement which helps in the removal of bodily toxins.

“Fiber lubricates your gut, so the stool can pass and go out of your body easily. Unfortunately, not all people eat the five servings of vegetables and fruits a day recommendation of WHO,” he said.

He said researches show that three portions of vegetables and two portions of fruits a day decrease the possibility of heart diseases and colon cancer.

“But many people make excuses about eating vegetables and fruits, that they’re expensive and difficult to eat because you need to cut them open,” he said.

Apart from eating healthy, Mohammed underscored the importance of physical activity in having a long life.

“Living a sedentary lifestyle is one of the main factors for heart attack. We don’t walk a lot now, we don’t run, we don’t work in the farm, we just ride the car and spend most of our time in front of the screen like television and computers,” he said.

Mohammed explained that exercising makes your heart beat and pump blood.

“As it does so, your arteries are being cleared. When we were born our arteries are clean but they become narrower as we grow older and one day there will be a blood clot and lead to heart attack and stroke,” he said.

Cariaga, for her part, said she doesn’t regret any part of her life even though she had a hard time raising her children when her husband died early.

“I would choose the way of living before than now. My family and I were forced to take refuge in a cave in the forests when the Japanese soldiers had occupied the country,” she said.

She said she worked singlehandedly at the rice farm — plowing and tilling the land — to feed their eight children.

She thought that her lifestyle explains why she never suffered severe illnesses except for minor headaches, stomach and body pains, arthritis, flu and fever. (PNA)