Grow older but don't age?

Dr. Brenda Gill
By Dr. Brenda Gill
December 19th, 2013

Aging in North America is feared and treatments that supposedly reduce aging are highly commercialized.  Many people’s lifestyles accelerate aging, but, it is surprising that on one hand there are those that accept how they are feeling as unavoidable and on the other hand those that expect a miracle in a bottle.  Unnecessary aging is certainly preventable, but, requires a person to have a healthy lifestyle and possibly consult with an expert to determine which vitamins, minerals or supplements they need specifically to compensate for their individual weaknesses.  Everyone has them and by customizing with specific food or supplement choices, maximum functioning can be achieved. 

The degenerative diseases that people often experience can be treated, but are much more easily prevented, since they are typically caused or accelerated by an unhealthy lifestyle and environment.  Poor digestion and food choices, food allergies, nutritional deficiencies, poor farming techniques, inappropriate coping skills, cigarette smoking, alcohol consumption, food additives, environmental pollutants and a sedentary lifestyle are the primary causes of virtually all disease and disability in our society.  So, let’s consider the positive changes we can make. 

One of the best things you can do is choosing locally produced, typically organic foods.  They have similar vitamin content as non-organic foods, but, are rich in minerals that non-organic foods will lack.  They are also typically non-genetically modified or irradiated.  One of the most commonly lacking minerals is zinc, and a deficiency can lead to poor thyroid and adrenal function, improper blood sugar regulation and decreased stomach acid resulting in gas, bloating and constipation.    Once a food is modified, the body has a much harder time recognizing it, and therefore not utilize it as efficiently.  So, not only will you gain more nutrients, the body will use them more readily and you will help keep the soil more productive for the future. 

Also, by eating locally as much as possible, you will tend to eat seasonally, which will increase the variety of foods.  This minimizes the likelihood of developing food allergies, because the more you eat the same food, the greater the chance your body will start rejecting it.  As an example, it is better to have a variety of grains, such as multi-grain bread, rye crackers, oatmeal and brown rice pasta rather than having all of those made with wheat.  Additionally, this emphasizes whole foods with increased fibre, rather than relying on refined, processed, packaged materials that typically have high sugar, salt and chemical content.  This eliminates food additives, preservatives and stabilizers. 

One of the leading areas of advancement in nutrition is individual profiling.  Testing for food allergies, sensitivities and irritants, substituting those foods for at least a month and re-testing will determine which foods need to be substituted most of the time, which are tolerated 2-3 times per week and which are just irritants.   As long as you build your system back up, you are usually unaffected by them.   

A  reasonable alcohol consumption is 3-4/week.  That is what the liver has the ability to detoxify along with all the other breakdown products your body produces.  To facilitate detoxification , drink ½ your weight in alkaline water per day.  For instance, if you are 150 pds, you need to drink 75 oz/day to clear your system of the metabolites it produces. 

As well, you should be active, with at least 45 minutes of cardio a day and at least 1 hour per day if you want to lose weight.  Ideally, outside exercise is best, you can absorb sunlight which increases your Vitamin D and serotonin levels and breathe fresh air which eliminates viruses and bacteria.  Exercise has also been shown to prevent cardiovascular disease, bone mineral loss, increase immune function, decrease cholesterol and triglycerides, increase cardiovascular performance AND increase lifespan!  This contributes to keeping your weight at the desired level, which in itself has been shown to increase longevity. 

Smoking, as we all know, should be eliminated.  Luckily, we have chosen to live in a low densely populated area, so, pollution is minimal, however, heavy metals are certainly present in the soil.  Gardens should be raised beds or areas that have soils that are non-contaminated.

We all have stressors in our lives.  Handling them effectively is essential to well-being and happiness.  Counselling is a wonderful tool that can help you develop the strategies to cope with all the ups and downs that are part of our lives.  This will minimize holding mental and emotional toxins in the body.  Meditation, prayer, yoga, qi gong, positive visualization and breathing are all ways to create a positive outlook.   

Part 2 of this article will discuss specific nutrients and supplements to maximize energy and minimize aging.    

Brenda Gill is a naturopath practising in Rossland, BC.

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