Most people seem to believe health diminishes with age. But does is it really?
Should we actually expect that after each birthday past a certain age to feel less energetic, less vibrant than the year before?
I'll bet most of us grew up thinking that having more birthdays was simply tantamount to looking and feeling older. Truth bomb here—if you subscribe to the belief that, with concerted effort in the right areas, you can slow down and perhaps even reverse signs of aging, and take steps in the right direction, it can happen.
From a scientific stand point there are several areas of “loss” that can happen in the body as we age. The good, or even better, news is despite what might be going on in your body, your DNA—those genes that are passed down in the family good and bad—control only 20 to 30 percent of the outcome of our health. Which means if you do the math, we actually control 70 to 80 percent.
Think about that for a minute. What you eat, the thoughts you let in your brain, the environment around you, how much water you drink, how many hours, and the quality, of sleep you get each night, how you handle stress, the supplements you take or don't take, all play a role in what that 70 to 80 percent looks like.
Let's take a look at some of the nutrients many people are deficient in and what we can do to slow down and replenish these losses.
Collagen is the most abundant protein in your body. It's found not only in your hair, skin and nails, but also in your bones, teeth, tendons, ligaments, muscle, cornea, vascular system, fascia and connective tissue. Around age 35 however, collagen production slows and levels can be down by about 30 percent. Although you may begin to notice fine lines and wrinkles starting, the internal effects are much more important. Connective tissue and artery walls can become weaker and less supportive, resulting in joint stiffness, arthritis, limited mobility, and bone density may be affected, as well as seeing skin sag and bruise more easily. There may be the appearance of cellulite, and hair loss, and nails become brittle with growth is slowed for both.
Because an additional 30 percent can be lost every decade past 40, taking a collagen supplement is definitely something to consider.
Like collagen, nitric oxide is something our bodies produce less of as we age but is essential. In fact, it was given the Nobel Prize in 1998 and dubbed the “Molecule of Life” because we can't live past five seconds without it. Nitric oxide keeps blood flowing and blood flow is life.
Better blood flow means more oxygen is delivered to the body and brain, nutrients are better absorbed, inflammation is reduced and immune function is improved. Increasing those leafy greens, broccoli, garlic, citrus fruits and certain food-based supplements can help support the body in nitric oxide production.
Increased fat around the middle, low muscle tone and a decrease in strength is indicative of muscle loss, known as sarcopenia. More commonly seen in seniors, muscle loss can however, occur at any age.
Any one, or a combination of, a sedentary lifestyle, extended hospital stay, low physical activity, inflammation, stress, poor diet and low protein intake can all contribute to lost muscle. And a lower percentage of muscle mass, naturally means a higher percentage of body fat.
Body composition changes, depending on what you're doing, is either protecting muscle or storing fat. Daily exercise that incorporates weight-bearing activities, managing stress, eating a clean, balanced diet including a protein at each meal or supplementing with a quality protein shake (please, no Boost, Ensure or Glucerna) helps protect and build muscle mass.
Once affecting only the eldest of our seniors, people in their early 40s are now suffering with memory loss and conditions such as Alzheimers, dementia, and Parkinson's.
Over the last decade or so, doctors and scientists have labelled these as “lifestyle” diseases “Type-3 diabetes.”
Knowing that, along with the fact you have 70 to 80 percent control over the outcome of our health, it is prudent and necessary to do what you can on a daily basis to change your lifestyle in a way that will balance blood sugar and support/restore health to your body.
Eliminating packaged, processed and refined foods, especially sugar and artificial sweeteners, is a fabulous place to start. Replacing sodas, energy drinks, clarified juices, fancy coffee drinks etc., with lots of water, along with eating small balanced meals that include a protein, healthy fat and unprocessed carbohydrate (fruits and veggies are best) stabilizes blood sugar, creates hormonal balance, supports a healthy inflammatory response and will have you seeing noticeable improvements in short order.
Although we'd like to think we can flip a switch and change our habits overnight, it's best to choose one thing and start there. Commit to doing one percent better for your health everyday. Think of where you'll be in a year.
If you are experiencing any or all of these, please remember your current situation is likely less about the number of birthdays you've celebrated and more about the things you do, or don't do, consistently over time. And that’s great news because that means the odds are in your favour when it comes to starting to reverse those negative effects and start taking back control of your health.
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This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.