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Ten secrets to a younger life

There’s no magic pill that stops the ageing clock, but there are a few ways to slow down the biological tick-tock. Nutritionist and author of The 10 Secrets of Healthy Ageing, Patrick Holford, shares his stay-young strategies and top tips for age-proofing your body

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Patrick’s top tip to smooth wrinkles? “Cut sugar,” he says. “Research shows that every one point increase in blood sugar makes you appear five months older! Drink more water and get enough oily fish and seeds.

Keeping your grey matter in shape is essential for longevity – after all, what’s the point of having a good life if you can’t remember any of it?
THE SECRET “Taking B vitamins will keep your memory sharp, so eat lots of folate-rich greens and beans and B12-packed fish and eggs. Get your levels of the amino acid homocysteine tested at your GP and if you score below 10, you may need to supplement with 500mcg of B12,” says Patrick.

Brittle bones and aching joints are just another classic symptom of ageing, right? Wrong! While there’s an inevitable level of wear and tear as you muscle mass declines, there are steps you can take to counteract creaky bones and keep fractures and osteoporosis at bay.
THE SECRET “Calcium supplements alone don’t stop bone strinkage. Vitamin D does, and the way to get that is sun, supplementing with 25mcg of D3 or eating oil fish such as salmon,” says Patrick. “You also need resistance exercise, which means exercise using light weights or resistance bands, as well as yoga and Pilates to keep joints flexible.” Get a bone density test to find out where you stand, from Dh300-950, at The City Hospital (04-4359999).

If you’ve got a little bit more padding around your waist, then you’d like, now’s the time to get your weight back on track. Stomach fat has been linked to chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease, as these fat cells are more hormonally active.
THE SECRET According to Patrick, “The trick is to keep your blood sugar levels even by eating a low glycaemic load diet. That means cutting back on refined carbs, such as sweets, cakes and potatoes, in favour of slow-releasing carbs, such as oats and brown. Eat carbs with protein, choose dark-skinned fruit and eat some protein-rich pumpkin seeds, almonds or peanuts. You could also supplement this with 200mcg of chromium to help balance your blood sugar.” Get your blood sugar tested, a crucial test for those overweight and to determine if you have diabetes, available at most clinics. Or, take a Diabetes Risk Assessment Test at XY Clinics (04-3807554).
We’re all victims of the stresses and strains of modern life, but an ability to switch off can play havoc with your hormones.
THE SECRET “Sleep is really important for lowering your stress levels and without it, levels of melatonin (the brain’s sleep chemical) and adrenaline will fall out of whack. Try cutting out caffeine after noon and munch on magnesium-rich pumpkin seeds to relax your muscles. Take 1,000mg of the amino acid GABA before bed which lowers adrenaline levels to help improve sleep quality,” says Patrick.

Cancer is one of the biggest killers of all, so a nutrient-rich diet should be high on your disease-prevention plan.
THE SECRET “Don’t smoke, and avoid eating deep-fried, burned food or sugar. Increase your antioxidant intake with brightly coloured fresh vegetables and fruit. Eat plenty of beans and greens – they help keep oestrogen levels at bay and too much oestrogen has been linked to breast cancer. Take a high-strength multivitamin plus extra C,” tips Patrick.

The ravages of time affect us all at every stage of the ageing process, but there are plenty of ways to ward off premature wrinkles and promote a youthful glow.
THE SECRET Patrick’s top tip to smooth wrinkles? “Cut sugar,” he says. “Research shows that every one point increase in blood sugar makes you appear five months older! Drink more water and get enough oily fish and seeds. The single best anti-ageing nutrient is vitamin A, which you’ll find in orange fruit and veg. Slather on a vitamin A day cream to protect against sun damage and use SPF, ideally after exposing yourself to the sun for around 15 minutes to produce vitamin D,” he adds.

Coronary heart disease is the single biggest killer of women in the UK, so keeping your ticker in top shape is an absolutely essential step in fighting bad health in old age.
THE SECRET “Eating a low-GI diet keeps both cholesterol and blood pressure low,” says Patrick. “Avoid salt and load up on omega-3 fatty acids found in fish and linseeds. The mineral magnesium lowers blood pressure, so take a multi that gives at least 150mg of magnesium – you’ll need twice as much if you have high blood pressure. Keep fit with at least 15 minutes of aerobic exercise such as brisk walking every day.” If you’re worried about your heart health, a Cardio Metabolic test can help determine your health in terms of heart disease and diabetes, available at the Eternity Medicine Institute (04-4508181).

A healthy digestive system plays a big part in the age-proofing process. The gut is responsible for absorbing and utilizing nutrients from food, regulating energy levels and plays a huge role in both physical and mental health.
THE SECRET “Instead of taking antacid drugs, get tested for specific food intolerances if you’re suffering bloating or indigestion,” says Patrick. The Dubai Herbal & Treatment Centre ( offers testing. “Too much alcohol, coffee and wheat are your gut’s worst enemies. Eating more whole foods, oats, fresh vegetables and fruit helps keep you regular, as does drinking two litres of water per day.”

Your eyes aren’t just the window to your soul, they can also provide vital clues to your health status. Poor eyesight is often linked to cardiovascular disease, hormonal imbalances or some sort of inflammation.
THE SECRET “Too much sugar and a lack of antioxidants age eyes faster, so load up on dark green leafy vegetables and orange-coloured food which are packed with free radical neutralizing antioxidants, and avoid eating sugar. Simple exercises such as ‘palming’ help. Place the palms of your hands over your eyes until you see total black. Do this for a couple of minutes to give your peepers a break – and get your eyes checked regularly, too,” says Patrick.

When you hit the menopause, a decline in hormones can result in hot flushes, a reduce libido and muscle loss.
THE SECRET “Hormones are vital for building muscle, promoting good skin and boosting your libido, so when your levels start dropping in your fifties, it’s definitely worth considering replacement. Regular HRT doesn’t have the same chemical structure as your natural hormones, so I advise bioidentical hormones, which are exactly the same. Find out more about how you can benefit from biodentical hormones at  Eternity Medicine Institute ( 04-4508181).