Five myths about ageing

1)It’s your genes that decide the diseases you’re going to get.

The truth is that even genes that raise your risk aren’t a done deal. Some of the genes that push up you risk of various diseases can be changed. And not with high-tech wizardry. You can do genetic engineering on your kitchen table.

2) We all know what a healthy diet is – cut out the fat.

The truth is that after 30 years of these diets we are eating less fat while obesity and diabetes have soared. Instead you need to keep sugar and refined carbs to a minimum with a low GL diet. It’s the first step in cutting your risk of the big chronic killers and rolling back some of decline that comes with ageing. It also helps to ‘reprogramme’ your genes towards anti-ageing.

3) As you get older regular aerobic exercise will keep you in shape.

The truth is that muscle mass drops with age, keeping it will boost your metabolism so you burn more calories, bring down your blood sugar level and keep back problems at bay. You need to build muscle and that means resistance exercise.

4) You can get all the vitamins and minerals you need from a health balanced diet.

The truth is that that as you get older you don’t absorb minerals and vitamins from your food so well however good your diet so topping up your levels makes a lot of sense. But whatever you are eating it’s impossible to get healthy levels of Vitamin D in Britain around the year.  Too little has been linked with various chronic diseases.  And you may need very high levels of B vitamins – shown to slow or stop memory loss in older people. You will never get the levels required from food.

5) If you are healthy the best way to stay like that is to rely on drugs for prevention such as statins and blood pressure pills.

The truth is that  only a small percentage of the people who take these drugs for prevention actually benefit and the more drugs you take that greater your risk of damaging side effects.

The 10 Secrets of Healthy Ageing (£14.99, Piatkus), by Patrick Holford and Jerome Burne, is available from bookstores and online.

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