Are you missing out on ways that you can start ageing outrageously well ?

Are you missing out on ways that you can start ageing outrageously well ?

70 may be the new 50 but its possible that it won’t be that enjoyable if you haven’t looked after your physical health. Over the last decade through global challenges, like the Covid pandemic and personal challenges like three rounds of surgery I have been researching how to age well and there are some common themes.

In 2016 I was able to do the training on the Recode protocol, which was developed by Dr Dale Bredesen. The training was run in San Francisco (which was a very good reason for enrolling as well as the content) and involved looking at thirty six points of intervention based on the five major triggers for Alzheimers. Dr Bredesen has subsequently completed two case study series and more recently a clinical trials for his protocol and it is showing improvement in over 80% of cases who had been classified as having mild cognitive impairment (1). For more information on the protocol have a look at the blog on Delaying Alzheimer’s .

In Melbourne in 2018 Dr Terry Wahl’s presented her strategies for managing Multiple Sclerosis and neurodegenerative diseases and I have followed her work extensively after that symposium. Her focus in clinical practice is on using food rather than supplements primarily as well as looking at specific types of exercise that can support recovery. Dr Wahl is a neurologist who was in a tilt wheelchair with her advanced MS and is now back to riding her bike. Her programs have been implemented at the Iowa City Veteran’s Affairs Hospital and she has conducted four clinical trials on the program. To date the trials are showing significant improvements in fatigue scores and quality of life. Key features of her program involve balancing blood sugar and flooding the body with nutrients from whole foods, in particular up to 9 cups of vegetables and fruit a day plus good quality protein. Her program really encourages the use of organ meats, like liver, for good levels of key nutrients which are quite expensive as supplements. In particular CoQ10 which is essential for energy production in your cells.

There are six key areas that you need to consider in order to age outrageously well.

  1. Eat your vegetables! Flooding your body with nutrients in a form that you are best designed to absorb. Make sure you are eating the rainbow with vegetables and including at least one cup of green leafy vegetables, one cup of brassica vegetables and one cup of brightly coloured vegetables daily. If you are trying to add more vegetables to your diet it is always helpful to increase gradually and to look at adding them to snacks, soups and smoothies as well. It can also be a good idea to prepare extra vegetables with dinner and have them ready to add to lunches or soups the next day. Roast vegetables are a particularly tasty way to improve the vegetable content of your lunch and you can add them to spinach leaves in a salad or blend them with bone broth for an easy and quick soup.
  2. Balance your Blood Sugar ideally by including protein with every meal and minimising your intake of sugary foods and simple carbohydrates like bread and cereal. You do not need to be eating large quantities of protein but rather a palm size amount at each meal over the day. Adequate protein for most people would involve 2 eggs at breakfast, a small can of tuna with lunch and a chicken breast fillet at dinner. At the same time it’s important to include some carbohydrate in the diet as well but optimally it’s from whole foods and provides a slow release of glucose and a good serve of fibre as well. If you struggle to add enough protein then adding a protein shake or smoothie can be a good way to up it daily. Usually I do recommend clean brands, whey protein if you can tolerate it or plant protein for those who like variety. The plant protein options that I find useful at the moment are Nuut, Amazonia and Vital Protein. Nuut is offering sampler packs which is a good way to try a few different flavours. The other two brands are usually available in health food stores and the fermented split pea protein from Vital Protein is one of the better vegan options as its not grainy.
  3. Exercise regularly and mix it up. Ideally including both strength based training as well as cardio will really assist in maintaining good bone health as well as improving balance and energy levels. Start low and build exercise levels slowly to minimise the risk of injury and setbacks. The simplest and easiest way to start exercising is to walk regularly, starting with a five minute lap of the block and then building up over weeks by adding five minutes each week and then multiple walks per day. On e of my favourite quotes about exercise is from JIm Rohn “Take care of your body its the only place you have to live in”.
  4. Identify the sources of inflammation and manage them as well as possible. Key areas to consider are a history of infections, such as recurring sinusitis, food intolerances and allergies, heavy metal toxicity, sedentary lifestyle and chronic pain from old injuries. There are a wide number of sources of inflammation in the body and dealing with those assaults can be challenging. That’s why quite a number of “anti-ageing” programs remove common allergens like gluten and dairy as anyone with gut problems will have challenges digesting and absorbing nutrients from them. Lactose intolerance is increasingly common as we age as we were really designed to have milk in our diets only as babies and small children. Generally we should be able to absorb small amounts if our digestion is working well. Removing allergenic foods can really assist you in feeling better however test first to make sure its the right foods. For ten years I removed dairy from my diet and whilst it helped a little removing gluten was the game changer for my brain and energy levels.

5. Meditate like a Buddhist monk! Research is showing that twenty minutes of meditation can reduce levels of anxiety, depression and pain (2). Meditation is a relatively inexpensive tool with many apps which can be helpful like Gaia and Calm. Recent research undertaken at a VA hospital in the States showed that twenty minutes of meditation twice a day reduced PTSD symptoms (3). The Wellness experience provide a free thirty day meditation series in either ten minute or twenty minute increments which you can do through the website themeaningoflife.tv . One of the most essential attributes of meditation is its ability to increase grey matter in the brain and assist with clarity and focus.

6. Add appropriate supplements as needed. Look at the key symptoms and determine what is needed for you. For those who are experiencing significant inflammation for example it can be useful to look at supplementing with Tumeric and good quality essential fatty acids. If your issues are more around cramping and low energy then consider adding a magnesium supplement (preferably a powder for better absorption) and a multi vitamin. Just make sure that you do check the use of any supplements with your medications. Your pharmacist or practitioner can advise you on the right dosing and minimise the risk of any interactions.

Interested in more information on Healthy Ageing ? Click on this link Ageing Outrageously to receive regular updates.

Christine Pope is a naturopath and nutritionist based at Elemental Health at St Ives and is available for consultations online and in clinic.

1. https://content.iospress.com/articles/journal-of-alzheimers-disease/jad215707

2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7287297/

3. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29921143/

Heat and cold, stressors which boost energy and slow ageing

Looking for a way to improve your energy levels ? Turns out we can certainly benefit from some of the strategies from Nordic countries particularly in regards to saunas and cold plunging. Mild hormetic stressors such as heat and cold can be really beneficial (and enjoyable).

What is a hormetic stressor ? It’s a mild stress to the body which actually generates a low level of free radicals. In the presence of a low level of free radicals we produce more mitochondria. Mitochondria are the energy producing part of a cell and as we age we tend to start losing them. The major hormetic stressor which we are all familiar with is exercise and the reason this is beneficial is it encourages the body to make more mitochondria which in turn means we can produce more energy. Stimulating these processes gives us improvement in both our short term and long term health.

Often we talk about stress as being negative for our health however it really comes down to the type of stress and the dose. Prolonged stress of any type can have negative implications for our health in the same way that prolonged exposure to cold water can result in hypothermia. A few minutes in the cold water is beneficial, too long an exposure is a problem.

What are some other types of hormetic stress ? The top 10 include the following;

  1. Intermittent Fasting
  2. Cold
  3. Heat
  4. Hypoxia
  5. Red and near infrared light
  6. Exercise
  7. Dietary Phytochemicals
  8. UV light
  9. Xenobiotics
  10. Intermittent Nutrient Cycling

In this blog we are going to focus on the benefit of Heat and infrared light however there is more information on some of these options in my blogs such as Is Fasting for me ? and Six ways to increase your energy If you are interested in looking at cold hormetic stressors the latest blog on my clinic page is also useful Is it good to have a cold shower every day

Infra red light such at that from an infra red sauna penetrates soft tissue up to 3 centimetres warming the body and opening blood vessels in a process called “vasodilation.” The blood vessels on the surface expand and as the body heats it encourages sweating. Spending 30 minutes in a sauna is believed to increase heart rate and improve your exercise tolerance. A small study in 2005 showed that a month of sauna bathing in a group with Chronic Heart Failure saw improvements in 13 of 15 participants. In addition to a reduction in blood pressure and improved exercise tolerance they also say reduced levels of stress hormones. (1)

Recently my husband decided to see if a month of infra red sauna was beneficial and he found after a few weeks that his heat tolerance had improved, he felt his stress levels had reduced and he was noticing less muscle pain. He is a much smaller study group but still interesting to see the benefits over a short period of time. He is also quite keen to continue so expect an update on his progress in a couple of months.

A recent article in The Conversation “Can’t face running try a hot bath or sauna” looks at some of the benefits of hot bathing and also the advantages of using sauna to build up your tolerance when you are unable to exercise. In this way it could be useful for those people suffering from Chronic Fatigue for slowly improving resilience and assisting in recovery so that they can start to exercise. It is important if you suffer from Chronic Fatigue that you build up very slowly and gently with any new routine.

Need more assistance with improving your energy levels ? Book in with Christine Pope at Elemental Health at St Ives on Tuesday or Wednesdays. Bookings online at http://www.elementalhealth.net.au or by phone on (02) 8084 0081 .

(1) https://www.onlinejcf.com/article/S1071-9164(05)00108-9/fulltext