Aging is not an illness; however, it does make one more vulnerable to disease. Fortunately, we can alter the effects of aging by way of diet, nutritional supplements and lifestyle choices. Everybody ages, it is the act of living itself. You can’t avoid it altogether, but you can slow it down and minimize it’s effects. One might say that it really comes down to how much you value your youth, how long you wait to adopt healthy habits, and how much self-discipline you have.
By keeping a high amount of antioxidants in the body, one can fight the effects of free radicals like wrinkles and hardening of the arteries. Listed below are some key antioxidant nutrients:
– Alpha-Lipoic Acid is a powerful antixodant that supports proper blood sugar balance and liver function.
– Coenzyme Q10, or CoQ10, is a very important nutrient that aids circulation, improves cellular oxygenation and protects the heart. CoQ10 levels naturally decrease with age, making supplementation important in one’s later years.
– Glutathione helps improve mental function and elevates mood by destroying ammonia, which can interfere with brain function.
– Inositol hexaphosphate, or IP6, helps protect against cancer and has many other health benefits.
Other Anti-Aging Nutrients
– The amino acids, L-arginine, L-carnitine, L-lysine, L-methionine, L-ornithine and L-tyrosine (along with N-acetylcysteine) are important for protecting the heart and liver, decreasing blood triglycerides, improving muscle strength and brain function, removing heavy metals from the body and enhancing the effects of antioxidants. The recommended dosage is 500 milligrams of each twice daily, for two months then one month off to avoid imbalance.
– A high-potency multi-vitamin and mineral antioxidant supplement is of utmost importance for protecting the lungs, boosting immunity and supporting healthy tissue growth and repair in the body. Especially important are potassium, vitamin A, beta carotene, selenium and zinc.
– Omega-3 essential fatty acids play crucial roles in cell formation, brain function, and protecting the heart and arteries. Use fish, salmon, primrose or flaxseed oil (rather than cod liver oil).
Diet plays an important role in how a person ages. Fried and fatty foods, sweets, and fast foods speed up the aging process and increase the visible signs of aging. To combat aging, eat a balanced diet that includes raw fruits, vegetables, whole grains, seeds, nuts — especially broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and soybeans.
Reduce the amount of animal protein consumed, and acquire protein from quality sources such as fish or non-GMO soy foods. The purpose of eating food is to obtain the nutrients it contains. When one eats a diet full of processed, artificial or toxic foods, the purpose of eating is voided and instead the body ages quicker due to the harmful chemicals it must dispose of.
It is also important to get adequate intake of pure, clean water. The average person should drink 6 to 8 glasses per day.
One of the most important lifestyle habits to fight aging is regular exercise. Regular exercise promotes healthy oxygen levels in the body. Brisk walking is very beneficial for the brain and cardiovascular system. Other types of exercise are also beneficial, especially strength training, yoga, cycling, and sports activities.
Another important lifestyle factor is adequate sleep. While sleep requirements vary from one person to another, everyone does need their required amount daily. Your body uses sleep time to do it’s internal housekeeping– processing nutrients, detoxifying and just recharging in general. If your body is chronically starved for sleep, the effects will eventually become both visibly and physically noticeable. Most people do best with about 7 hours sleep. The amount you need changes throughout life. More than 7 hours of sleep makes me groggy the next day. But some people are zombies without their full 8 hours. You know how much sleep you need, so just make sure you get it!
If you have trouble falling asleep, try taking melatonin about a half hour before bedtime. Melatonin is a natural hormone that regulates sleep and also has anti-aging benefits. One to three milligrams works for most people. If you wake up groggy, reduce the amount you’re taking. Melatonin is a safe and effective sleep aid and has an array of health benefits.
Aging Effects of the Sun
Although I do love the sun, and it’s true that none of us could survive without it, it is a fact that sun worshippers are prone to skin cancers and by middle age often look years older than they actually are. It is important to get at least 20 minutes of direct sunlight everyday as a source of vitamin D; but sunbathing day after day year after year will make your skin wrinkle up and become leather-like. Wear sunscreen when you’re out in the sun for long periods, and drink plenty of fluids as well. And say no to tanning beds! I have used a tanning bed once in my life, and that was to cover tan lines the night before my wedding. You couldn’t pay me enough to get in one of those people roasters now! Like most things, the sun is good in moderation only.
Aging Effects of Smoking
Smoking has an tremendous aging effect on the body. It makes you wrinkle, damages lung and heart tissue, etc. Smoking is the number one preventable cause of death and, in my opinion, aging. Quit smoking if you still smoke–you’ll retain a youthful appearance much longer, and you will be much less likely to die of a heart attack or cancer.
Aging Effects of Stress
The final lifestyle factor I’ll talk about here is a big one: stress, which ages a person at an excessive rate. Do whatever you have to do to minimize the stress in your daily life. If you’re doing too much, drop some activities, stop being “super mom” or “volunteer of the year”, or a workaholic, or whatever the case may be. If you don’t, it will catch up with you eventually. And try to minimize worrying as well. Worrying about problems only emphasizes them! Constructive thinking is when you work for a solution and then put it to action. And if you just can’t stop being a world-class worry wart, then at least take a daily high-potency B-complex. Worry and stress burn up your body’s supply of B-vitamins. Try to work meditation into your daily life, or at least a half hour of quiet time or time doing an activity you enjoy. Reducing the stress in your life will do wonders at retaining your youthfulness.
Anti-Aging Manual: The Encyclopedia of Natural Health, 3rd ed.; Joseph B. Marion; 2005.
Prescription for Nutritional Healing; Phyllis A. Balch, CNC and James F. Balch, M.D.; 2000.