I don't know about you, but I just turned 46 years old, and for some reason slowing the aging process has become more of a "concern" for me than it used to be. For one thing, I have a crown of wisdom (grey hair in biblical terms) and am on the edge of needing reading glasses (I am in denial-I need them now). Otherwise, I am in great shape physically and mentally for a 46 year old male.
Many of my friends and colleagues that are close to my age have huge bellies, take medication and are barely active. In most cases they look older than their age. Sound familiar? Since many of us probably have a goal of aging healthfully, the articles in this newsletter will revolve around the majority of the concerns that most of us have about aging.
The "Rusting" Process
The body's aging process can be compared to rusting. In this case, we rust from the inside out and the outside in. Rusting in this case is caused by free radical damage. Free radicals are highly offensive compounds that are introduced to the body primarily through normal metabolic activity, and exposure to the environment.
Our normal metabolism is one of the key ways in which these harmful compounds come to exist in the body. Our bodies function just like a car. We take in fuel, burn it and get energy and exhaust, and the faster we go, the more exhaust we produce. If the "exhaust" is not neutralized or vented from our "car," it will eventually make the car (our body) stop running properly, or even worse, stop working altogether. In other words, free radicals can cause damage to your cells and trigger a cascade of events leading to poor health.
Another way in which we are exposed to free radicals is through our environment. Environmental sources of free radicals include exposure to radiation (x-rays, sun exposure, etc.) cigarette smoke, unsaturated fats, alcohol, ozone, automobile exhaust, heavy metals and many other sources found in our air, water and foods.
You can't hide from them and if you do not take a proactive approach, you will most likely end up with one or more of the health conditions now linked to free radicals. Conditions such as cancer, heart disease and many of the health issues related to aging are all linked back to free radical damage.
Slow the Aging Process with Antioxidants
The longer we are on this planet, the more potential "rusting" we can experience from these free radicals. In order to help neutralize the damaging effects of free radicals we need to take antioxidants. Here are some of the more popular antioxidants to look for to help slow down the "rusting" of your body:
- Ubiquinol or CoQ10 (ubiquinol for those over 35 and CoQ10 for those under 35)
- Alpha Lipoic Acid
- Grape Seed Extract
- Green Tea
- Turmeric (aka Curcumin)
- Vitamins C & E
- Ginkgo Biloba
- NAC (N-Acetyl-L-Cysteine)
- Super Juices like: Acai, Macqui, Mangosteen, Noni, Goji, Pomegranate, Blueberry, etc.
By utilizing some, if not all of these antioxidants, you can help make it easier for your body to combat serious health conditions such as heart disease and cancer as well as conditions such as brown spots, crow's feet and macular degeneration.
Many people think there are enough antioxidants in their multivitamin to help fend off free radical damage, but they're wrong. Also, don't try to use just one antioxidant. Synergy is a powerful thing. There is no synergy when you use only one ingredient.
Don't Forget Your EFAs
Being in my mid-forties now, I have become more aware of the need to take enough Omega-3s. Many who meet me say I look younger than my age. I attribute my youthful appearance to my daily use of Omega3s. I take Coromega (Fish Oil) daily and add Chia Seeds (high in Omega-3) to my salads each night. One serving of the chia product I use gives me over 3000mg of Omega-3s.
The more I educate myself on natural medicine, the more I realize the significance of taking Omega-3s on a daily basis. EFAs are essential for health (that's why they call them essential fatty acids) and can only be obtained from a supplement, or from one's diet. The benefits of EFAs are enormous, and for those concerned with healthy aging, EFAs can directly impact the majority of our concerns. Here are the big ones:
- Heart Health
- Blood Pressure
- Nervous System Support
- Skin Health
- Smooth, supple skin
- Eye Health
- Macular Degeneration
- Hormonal Support
- Digestive Support
- Joint Health
- Immune Health
- Blood Sugar
- Bone Health
My recommended dose of EFAs begins at 2 grams of Omega-3s per day. For people with more pressing needs, 5-10 grams per day may be necessary.
Joint Health Concerns
Popping, cracking, aching joints are another big concern as we age. Too often, people wait until they have so much discomfort there is little that can be done to help. Let's keep our focus on prevention here! Keeping pain-free, mobile joints is not a difficult thing to achieve. Here are a few quick tips to decreasing the chances of developing joint problems as we age:
- Lose weight (if you are overweight). Just carrying around an extra 20 pounds can be a significant burden on your lower joints. Don't believe me? Carry around two 10-pound bags of sugar this weekend. That's what your body is doing when you are "just" 20 pounds overweight.
- Eat more greens or buy a greens supplement (this will help prevent osteoarthritis). Helps your body maintain a balanced systemic pH too.
- Keep animal protein consumption to small portions. Consuming too much animal protein will negatively affect your bones and will increase mineral deposits in your joints.
- Consume more Omega-3s. Flax seeds, flax seed oil, chia seeds, chia oil or fish oil will help with joint lubrication, and support your body's fight against inflammation.
- Celadrin®: Helps lubricate the joints and reduce stiffness, thus allowing for healing and regeneration. Protecting your cells is critical in slowing the aging process of your joints. If joint mobility were a concern for me, Celadrin® would be part of my everyday supplement regimen.
- Ginger: Has great antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects in the body.
- Turmeric: Also a potent antioxidant/anti-inflammatory.
- Boswellia: Used for centuries in Ayurvedic medicine for pain and inflammation.
- Glucosamine Sulfate: A key nutrient in building and maintaining healthy connective tissue (the padding between the joints).
- Systemic Enzymes: These help to fight inflammation.
I have covered age-related cognitive decline in a past newsletter. You can check out the full content on vitaminshoppe.com. Here are the key supplements to look for:
- Ginkgo Biloba
- Bacopa (an Ayurvedic herb that shows some promise for memory problems)
- Lions Mane: same as above
- Alpha GPC (in the same family as Phosphatidylcholine-research suggests that it is more bioavailable than other forms of GPC)
- Vitamin B12 and B-complex
- Fish Oil
- Huperzine A
Again, I could fill this whole newsletter with articles on heart health, but for now, I am only including supplements that would make an effective "prevention" program for slowing the aging process. If you are concerned with cardiovascular disease as you age, consider using some of the following supplements. This list could possibly be endless. For our purposes, these are my favorites:
- Sytrinol®: One-stop shopping. A heart-healthy antioxidant that helps to raise HDL and lower LDL, triglycerides and cholesterol. What else could you want?
- CoQ10 or Ubiquinol: (35 and over should consider using Ubiquinol. I do).
- Fish Oil: I use two to four grams of Omega-3s from fish per day. Read your labels to make sure you are adding up the amount of Omega-3s per day and not focusing on the amount of fish oil per capsule.
- Nattokinase: Helps with prevention of blood clots.
- Green Tea: Perhaps one of the best all-round supplements for overall health. Consider using it as a beverage throughout the day as opposed to a capsule or tablet. You have to drink something, so you may as well make it a healthy beverage.
- Garlic: Considered one of the best heart-health foods and supplements available. It is also a great antioxidant.
- L-Carnitine: Try Carnipure®.
The two biggest concerns when it comes to vision and aging are cataracts and macular degeneration. Luckily for us, there are several things we can do to decrease our chances of developing these dreadful conditions. Let's focus (yes-pun intended) on antioxidants. These two conditions have a major connection back to free radical damage. Look for supplements that are high in pigmented antioxidants or fruits like lutein, astaxanthin, bilberry, blueberry and cherry. These possess the most potent effect on visual support. Also, don't forget that wearing a good pair of sunglasses is critical. Protecting the eyes from UVA/UVB rays is one of the simplest things we can do to help slow down visual damage. Regretfully, many of the stylish sunglasses do little to protect your eyes-they just make you look good.
Besides cardiovascular health, immune health could possibly be the most important area we should focus on as we deal with aging gracefully. Many of the death-causing diseases and debilitating conditions we face have a direct connection to how well our immune system is functioning. Poor lifestyle choices such as diet (too many processed foods, sugar, starches and artificial ingredients), exercise (being sedentary leads to a weakened immune system) and other bad habits like alcohol consumption and tobacco use (not just smoking) all contribute to lower immune function. You may not be aware, but the incidence of diseases like cancer and auto-immune issues increases with age. Why? Poor lifestyle choices, and not using the right supplements. Here are some of my top supplements to look for to support a healthy immune system:
- AHCC: Medicinal mushrooms are great for supporting a healthy immune system.
- Maitake: Same as above.
- Probiotics: Also support immune function.
- Green Tea: Where do I begin? Drink several cups per day, or use the supplement form.
- IP-6 with Inositol: A great antioxidant that also promotes the production of Natural Killer (NK) cells. An awesome ingredient to help protect your cells from damage and mutation.
- Greens: A powerful addition to your everyday diet in the support of your whole body, especially your immune system.
- Antioxidants: This list is endless. Read above for some of my favorites.
Even though part of this topic was covered in the EFAs and antioxidant information above, there are a few other things to consider when looking at your skin. To slow how age impacts your appearance, follow these guidelines:
- Drink plenty of water. Drink at least half your body weight in ounces per day, and make sure it is purified or distilled. You will have fewer wrinkles. Don't believe me? Place a prune or raisin in a warm glass of water overnight, and see how it plumps right back up.
- Use a shower filter. This may sound crazy, but your skin is a sponge and will soak up all of the toxins in your water. The Vitamin Shoppe has a great selection to choose from (plus, ladies-your hair will be smoother, shinier and easier to brush/comb/style).
- Use a skin-friendly sunscreen. Apply it on your face, ears and neck at least. Check out the natural bath and beauty section in your local Vitamin Shoppe for more information and specific products.
- Eat organic foods. Focus in on multicolored fruits and veggies (eat a rainbow each day).
- Use Omega-3s (See page 2).
- Use antioxidants internally (See page 1).
- Apply antioxidants topically. Many of the same antioxidants that you put in your body can also be applied topically for protection and repair of your skin cells. There are many face and body care products that can be used.
- SMILE! I would much rather have smile wrinkles than a pucker-puss.
Where do I begin here? Being overweight will increase your risk of early death. How is that for an eye-opener? Why bother with aging gracefully and my other suggestions above if you are overweight or get that way over time? So I'll mention the obvious lifestyle change for the umpteenth time: eat fewer calories than you burn. In other words, you need to get up, get active and eat fewer calories. Vitaminshoppe.com can help you figure out your daily calorie expenditure, ideal weight and even provide you with some food suggestions.
Supplements help! In some cases, you may need help getting or staying at your ideal weight (I can guarantee you it is lower than you think). Here are some of my favorite weight management supplements:
- Phase 2®, also known as a non-stimulant "carb-controller." When used just prior to a starchy meal, Phase 2® can delay the digestion and absorption of starch calories in your diet. Even though most of you know that I preach to avoid starchy foods, many of you still make starches a regular part of your diet. You may as well get some added support.
- Green Tea. Either as the tea, or in supplement form, green tea will help boost your metabolism and have an impact on fat metabolism and curbing your appetite.
- Tonalin CLA®. Another great, non-stimulant weight loss supplement that can be combined with the above.
- Fucoxanthin. A powerful non-stimulant antioxidant and weight loss supplement.
- L-carnitine. Helps convert food to energy, and may support the fat-burning efforts of exercise.
Digestion is often overlooked when it comes to slowing the aging process, but I think it is critical. If you have poor digestion, the foods and supplements you consume will be rendered less effective than they should be. To assure yourself of healthy digestion:
- Drink plenty of purified water.
- Use a good broad-spectrum digestive enzyme with all meals and snacks.
- Consume enough fiber (35 grams per day or more) in your diet or with a supplement. I like ground flax seeds, chia seeds or Vitamin Shoppe brand Miracle Fiber.
- Take a broad-spectrum probiotic daily.
All of these are important and should not be overlooked. This system of supplements will not only prevent issues from happening in your digestive system, but will also address many of the concerns you may already have.
Men's and Women's Specifics
These will be short and sweet:
- Prostate Health: Saw palmetto, flower pollen extract, green tea, pygeum, stinging nettle, zinc, pumpkin seed, lycopene, vitamin D, beta sitosterol, pomegranate.
- Libido: Maca, horny goat weed, arginine, yohimbe, catuaba, longjax.
- Hair Loss: same supplements as prostate health
- Breast Health: Calcium D-glucarate, DIM, Indole-3 carbinol, lignans, GLA, green tea, IP-6 with inositol.
- Intimacy: Maca, damiana.
- Bone Health: Either the Grow Bone System or Bone Strength Take Care formulas. Who wants to shrink, or worse yet, have brittle bones. This is for both men and women.
Lastly, make sure you follow my 4 Pillars of Great Health which includes the rest of the dietary supplement pyramid. Taking supplements will be just a part of ensuring that you age healthfully. Getting enough activity, eating right and being spiritually/mentally connected will take care of the rest. If you understand how your body works (physiologically and biochemically) and incorporate my suggestions you should age "gracefully" and healthfully. Too many times people wait until it is too late to begin making the changes. You can either pay now or pay later, but sooner or later you will have to pay! I chose to pay now and live a happier and healthier life as I age.