Are you feeling the effects of aging? Whether you are in your early 40’s or late 80’s, you may experience some of the following signs or symptoms:
- Increased skin wrinkling or sagging
- Weight gain especially around the belly/hips
- Increased body pains or inflammation
- Decrease in memory or brain function
- Low energy, fatigue, or lack of stamina
- Decrease in muscle strength or mass
- Increased heart problems (high cholesterol, blood pressure, arteriosclerosis, etc.)
- Vision problems, i.e. needing stronger glasses, ocular degeneration, or cataracts
While the degeneration process inherent in aging is inevitable, the visible and internal effects of aging can be significantly reduced with the use of natural supplements available in health food stores and from holistic practitioners. By supplementing with certain nutrients, one can experience a sense of greater well-being and youthfulness, increased quality of life, as well as extended lifespan.
The most effective utilization of supplements requires a foundation of proper diet, lifestyle, and exercise. No supplement can compensate for deficiencies in these areas. A healthy diet consisting of good quality whole foods-proteins, vegetables, grains, and fruits, excluding sugar and allergenic foods, is fundamental. (Please note that allergenic foods are individualized: some people should stay away from wheat, dairy, nuts, and soy; some can tolerate them in moderation.) Research has shown that individuals with a lean body mass (calorie restricted diet) have a significantly longer lifespan.
Supplements to Support Aging Well
Free radicals are among the top contributing factors in aging. They are known to accelerate the aging process by damaging cells through oxidation. Powerful anti-oxidants such as glutathione scavenge the free radicals and promote detoxification via the liver. Foods high in anti-oxidants include blueberries, green & yellow vegetables and green tea. Other anti-oxidant nutrients include alpha lipoic acid, grape seed extract, vitamin C, and coenzyme Q10. CoQ10 powers the cell’s vital energy, and protects and supports the heart.
Cells are the fundamental unit of every living thing. Healthy cell structure and replication are crucial for vibrant aging. Ribonucleic acid (RNA) is important for healthy aging as it supports transcription of DNA and thus proper cell replication. RNA, extracted from brewer’s yeast, has been shown to stabilize cell processes, and increase synapse function as well as short-term memory.
For increased brain function or memory, also consider acetyl-L-carnitine, vinpocetine,phosphatidylserine (PS) or gingko biloba.
Essential fatty acids (EFAs) are important because they support the integrity of the cell structure. They feed the brain, which is 60% fat. EFAs play a major role in reducing joint or other inflammation, and can prevent plaque buildup in arteries. Omega 3 fatty acids (EPA, DHA) found in fish oils and flax seed are the most deficient EFAs in the typical American diet.
EFAs also nurture and tonify the skin, the most visible organ. Another vital skin supplement ishyalauronic acid, which helps retain moisture and regenerate skin elasticity. It also lubricates arthritic joints. Hyalauronic acid can be taken internally or applied topically as a cream.
Some herbs effective for anti-aging include ginseng, maca or tribulus. These adaptagenic herbs work by supporting the immune system to reduce stress, tension and enhance endurance, stamina and vitality.
Vision health is supported by bilberry, an herb containing phytochemicals that nourish the eyes and enhance visual function.
Protein is essential to life; amino acids are the building blocks of protein and are fundamental for longevity. The amino acid L-Carnosine has been shown in clinical studies to protect against age-related degradation of protein, extending cellular lifespan. L–Carnitine can protect the heart and liver, and aid in weight loss by increasing fat metabolism. Because muscle strength and mass deteriorate as we age, L-Creatine can be helpful. L-Phenylalanine promotes vitality and alertness, and can decrease pain.
Many people lose the ability to properly assimilate nutrients as they age. Enzymes are crucial to increase absorption of vitamins, minerals, protein, fats and carbohydrates. A supplement containing pancreatin (or vegetable enzymes if vegetarian) can spark those digestive juices. Because most people have difficulty fully digesting or breaking down proteins, protease is especially important as we age.
Aging need not be a discouraging process. The wisdom we acquire as we grow older can help sustain a fulfilling life. With nutritional and supplemental support, we can reduce pain, fatigue, inflammation, while increasing mental & visual acuity, physical vitality, stamina and an overall sense of joy.
Annie Osborn has been practicing acupuncture and natural/holistic medicine in Santa Rosa for over 15 years. She can be reached at 707-494-8606, or firstname.lastname@example.org.