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Planning Retirement Online

Staying healthy in later life


Simple tips to improve your wellbeing

Last month we introduced you to Jelf’s healthcare specialists, who can help put appropriate insurances in place to protect your health and wellbeing in later life. Here we give some tips, developed by AXA PPP Healthcare*, which can help you maintain a healthy lifestyle and even add years to your life.

Go Mediterranean

The Mediterranean diet is based on plenty of vegetables and fruit, oily fish, a limited amount of meat and dairy products and lots of low fat cereal products, such as whole grains. According to Professor John Mathers, director of the Human Nutrition Research Centre at Newcastle University’s Institute for Ageing and Health, it can reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, some cancers and even Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D helps protect you from osteoporosis and is essential for muscle health. It helps to prevent some cancers and supports a healthy immune system. ‘The best source of vitamin D is summer sunlight, though it’s found in egg yolks, oily fish, fortified yogurt and some spreads,’ according to Helena Gibson-Moore of the British Nutrition Foundation (BNF).


Calcium provides vital protection against osteoporosis in later life. According to Helena; ‘good sources include low-fat dairy products, calcium-fortified soya, almond and rice milks and tofu, and fish with edible bones.’

B vitamins (B6, B12 and folate)

These are linked with a lower risk of heart disease, depression and dementia. According to Helena: ‘good sources of B6 are fortified breakfast cereals, beans, poultry and fish. B12 is found in red meat, eggs, dairy and some soya products. And folate is found in leafy green veg and whole grains.’

Omega-3 fatty acids

Important for the heart, brain and the joints, the best source is oily fish, such as fresh tuna, trout, or canned sardines. ‘If you don’t like fish, consider taking a supplement,’ suggests Helena.


Physical activity works hand in hand with a healthy diet in the anti-ageing stakes. Regular daily activities are shown to prevent many age-related conditions, including diabetes and high blood pressure, as well as keeping your brain active and preventing depression.

Current guidelines are 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week, which works out at 30 minutes five days a week. These are minimum guidelines and ideally you should do some form of activity every day. To gain the maximum benefit, you could try mixing the following into your week:

  • For aerobic fitness
    Walking, cycling, swimming, dancing, housework, badminton; anything that gets you slightly breathless.

  • For strength
    Try uphill walking, stair climbing, gardening or gentle jogging. This also helps reduce insulin resistance.

  • For flexibility and balance
    Try pilates, yoga, tai chi, ballroom dancing or zumba.

  • If you want one exercise that ticks all three boxes, gardening is a great option according to Professor Clyde Williams, Emeritus Professor of Sports Science at Loughborough School of Sport, Exercise and Health Science.

Brain power

The use it or lose it mantra applied to exercise applies equally to the brain to keep it active into later years. Neuroscientists know that the key to healthy ageing is to keep developing new connections between the brain cells by stimulating the brain and having new experiences. Scientists call this ‘brain plasticity’, which enables us to hang on to better brain function and helps to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s. Mental aerobics, such as doing crosswords or Sudoku, or even learning a new language help keep your brain in shape.

Want to find out more?

If you’d like to discuss any specific healthcare insurance requirements with one of Jelf’s healthcare advisers, simply:

Call 0333 220 4164

*This information is taken from the following AXA PPP Healthcare article


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