Aging Gracefully

Written March 2018 by Phoebe Wynne-Lewis, BHSc, Dip Nat Med, Dip Herb Med – FxMed Technical Support

A dose of healthy denial can lull us into a false sense of security that we are still bouncing around in the ‘young category’. However the tell – tale signs of aging are a constant reminder that we have hit the 40 + stage of our lives

We are going about our business and suddenly there they are… old persons hands typing on the keyboard and hanging out the washing, OMG- whose grandma is wearing my jewellery?

There are signs of veins, sunspots and loose skin. Unfortunately the hands don’t lie, and they’re not the only indications of change – our brain changes as well, it has served us well for so long, but it can begin to misfire as we age and may also start to resemble the bottom of our handbag; lost pens, coins and undefined ‘stuff’. We can’t remember peoples’ names, where we put our keys, then we find ourselves looking for our glasses while they are on our head!

Our joints increasingly become a little stiff and creaky. As for photos of ourselves – we tend to start blaming the poor lighting or the bad angle and shadows. Whether we began as an apple or a pear shape our overall body shape is shifting with time. We start to notice that our slim waist has been replaced with a thicker middle and our body is no longer interested in a diet or snug jeans, but prefers yoga pants and baggy T-shirts. While our bodies and minds start to deteriorate many of us still wouldn’t return to our twenties for all the unwrinkled skin on earth. With old age brings self-confidence to laugh louder, stand taller and love more. Real life has softened our fears and insecurities, given us wisdom, taught us resilience and this is the best version of us yet!

Post 40s, it is clear some people ‘age’ and some age ‘gracefully’. There are the lucky ones who seem to be getting better and better with each passing year like a fine wine while some are just learning by trial and error. But – maybe the graceful agers aren’t aging better, they’re just aging smarter — and the secret isn’t just in what they are doing, it’s also in what they’re not doing.

As life expectancy continues to increase worldwide, there’s no time like now to accept the inevitable changes of aging and take control – look and feel better from the inside out and drum up some youth-boosting confidence no matter how many birthday candles are on that cake!

The true key to looking younger is feeling younger. There is nothing that ages us more quickly than illness, pain and stiffness, or chronic stress. Therefore, much of what we do to take care of ourselves on a daily basis will also help us grow into our later years gracefully and beautifully!

Research has found that the most serious aging occurs at the cellular level. Many of our lifestyle habits such as exercise, nutrition, stress management and sleep will enhance the body’s ability to repair the cellular damage that is inevitable as we get older.  Conventional medicine focuses on treating illness to prolong life. But Integrative or Natural Health Care Practitioners aim to shift that focus to prevent disease in the first place. Let’s not only add years to our life, but life to our years!

Age defying Tips:

Exercise regularly

Exercise increases circulation throughout the body and strengthens the heart and lungs. It aids in digestion, reduces anxiety and stress, and enhances the quality of our sleep. Strength training – has been shown to build bone mass, which helps to prevent and slow down osteoporosis. Exercise such as yoga, pilates and tai chi all combine movement, meditation and breathing, helping to maintain flexibility and build strength.

Exercise your brain

Mentally stimulating activities i.e reading, writing, crosswords, jigsaw puzzles may help reverse cognitive decline and keeping our mind engaged helps to increase the brain’s vitality building its reserves of brain cells and connections.

Eat wholesome foods

Super foods have the power to ward off illness, boost the immune system, reduce threats to brain health and enhance our complexion, especially foods containing vitamins A, C, and E, and polyphenols (antioxidants that have anti-inflammatory properties). Regularly eating fruits and vegetables, which have high levels of disease-fighting antioxidants, will help counteract disease-causing free radicals throughout the body, including the brain. Cook meals with ingredients containing mono- and polyunsaturated fats, which can improve levels of HDL cholesterol and—according to research—may help protect brain cells.

Minimize the intake of sugars and highly processed foods

A daily dose of sugar causes altered internal pH levels resulting in a more acidic body. It is believed that an acidic environment is a breeding ground for disease, whereas an alkaline body promotes good health. To correct any type of imbalance, the body draws on mineral stores, e.g to protect the blood, calcium is drawn from the bones and teeth — enough to weaken bones. This precipitates osteoarthritis.

Drink plenty of water

Water facilitates bowel movements and blood circulation, helps our bodies to eliminate heavy metals, chemicals, wastes, toxins and other factors which may contribute to disease.

Get a good nights sleep

A late night can cause bags under the eyes and pallor to our skin, which can make us look old and tired. Repeat this night after night, and the chronic sleep deprivation will age our body from the inside out. Less than 6 hours of sleep a night may increase the risk for viral infections, heart disease, obesity and stroke, with an associated decline in cognitive function.

Reduce Stress

Chronic unmanageable stress wreaks havoc on our bodies and makes us feel old before our time. It’s been linked to hypertension, heart disease, obesity, inflammation and many more conditions. Stress has also been shown to suppress our immune system, making us more prone to illness and disease. Setting aside a few minutes each day to be quiet, center ourselves, and let our worries drift away is smart medicine.

Don’t forget Oral Hygiene

The health of our mouth can also affect the health of our body. Individuals with gum disease are more prone to heart disease and lung problems. For people with diabetes, treatment of gum problems can also help control blood sugar levels.

Be Sun Smart

Protect your skin (and eyes) from the sun – nothing ages the skin faster than sun overexposure. Collagen breaks down in response to UV radiation. The sun also increases the production of free radicals, which damage cells and breaks down collagen as well. Sunglasses will protect the health of our eyes and help prevent the wrinkles that accompany squinting at the sun. Purchase sunglasses that provide 99-100% UV protection for both UVA & UVB rays.

Care for your Ears

Our ears contain tiny hairs that vibrate in response to noise. This then excites the auditory nerve, allowing us to hear and interpret sounds. However, too much vibration due to excess exposure to very loud noises frays those hairs, and could lead to hearing loss over time.

Stop Smoking

Smoking can accelerate the aging process and correlates to wrinkles around the lips, yellowing of the teeth, and aging skin. Decreased lung capacity, emphysema, and heart disease are all associated with smoking.

Limit Alcohol

Alcohol consumption can result in premature and exaggerated aging.  Over time, excessive alcohol consumption negatively impacts almost every physiological system in the human body.