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by Suzanne Wilson, Naturopath.
In the year of 2000, 10% of the global population was aged 60 years or older and this percentage is projected to reach 21% by 2050 and according to Discover Magazine (2008 pp67-68) the average human life expectancy is likely to reach 100 by 2060. Humans are living longer and getting older can be a natural process but can present challenges. How can we age gracefully? One way is by knowing how to prevent common problems associated with aging such as diabetes, high blood pressure and dementia. The holistic and preventive approach naturopathic practices promote healthy ageing, and assist in meeting the population and individual health challenges of the future.
There is no magic bullet to halt the aging process. There are several preventative steps we can take to delay disease onset and promote youth as follows:
- Get regular exercise. Exercise is most important in slowing the aging process because it increases the amount of oxygen available to body tissues, a key determinant of energy and stamina. Choose exercise that is a pleasure for you such as walking with a friend between 10am-3pm will ensure vitamin D exposure or Tai Chi can help maintain balance, flexibility and strength.
- Healthy eating habits: Fruits and vegetables are packed with antioxidants that combat free radicals responsible for cell damage and aging. Fiber keeps you regular, normalizes blood sugar, cholesterol levels and aids in detoxification. Examples of powerful antioxidants are blueberries, beans, artichokes, garlic, onions, tumeric and red peppers. Getting adequate protein and essential fatty acids by consuming deep sea fish can help prevent cardiovascular disease and dementia.
- Stop eating processed foods, and get half of your diet from fruits and vegetables of multiple colours.
- Proper rest is important. Sleep deprivation is hard on the brain and will make you feel old, depressed and low in energy.
- Positive mental attitude: we all have our share of challenges, many of them feel unfair and undeserved; bad things do happen to good people. But it is not what happens in our lives that determines our direction; it is our response to the challenges that shapes the quality of our life. A positive mental attitude is absolutely essential if we want to live life to the fullest (Murray M & Pizzorno J 1998).
- Supplement measures: Nutritional deficiencies are common as we age since our bodies do not assimilate nutrients as well as it once did. The most common known nutritional deficiency in the elderly is vitamin B12. Older people become deficient in vitamin B12 because they do not produce adequate amounts of stomach acid for proper digestion. Pharmaceutical drugs also have the potential to inhibit the absorption of vitamin B12 and other nutrients. Consult with your Naturopath to discuss potential pharmaceutical drug nutrient depletions.
The six steps for preventing age related disease is nothing new and not difficult to maintain. What it comes down to is lifestyle changes related to nutrition, exercise, sleep, stress management and general happiness. Hippocrates father of all medicine states “a wise man should consider that health is the greatest of human blessings”. Clearly, knowing how to maintain your health and prevent disease is the key to aging gracefully. If you are finding it challenging to maintain your health or want to know more about how to prevent age related diseases consult with one of Paddington Clinic Naturopaths who are ready to help you discover a healthier path and can use a machine called “Vitality, Longevity & Aging (VLA)”. The VLA can provide the practitioner insight into your health.
Whilst writing this article I stumbled across a quote from French women Jeanne Louise Calment who lived for 122 years: “I took pleasure when I could I acted clearly and morally and without regret. I’m very lucky”.
Make the changes today towards aging gracefully before you may regret it.