Background to the series.
Sixteen years ago I had a series on radio called Turning Back the Clock, which I presented in response to listeners in their 50’s and 60’s looking for rejuvenation and tips on staying young. Like me they were exasperated by the claims of the cosmetic industry that the various ingredients in their products could knock ten years off their age. I was asked to design a diet that would help reverse the signs of aging and this developed into a weekly challenge that was undertaken by nearly 100 listeners. The series became a book in 2010.
I try to practice what I preach! And certainly so far I have managed to maintain healthy key indicators such as blood pressure, blood sugar levels and cholesterol without medication, much to the surprise of my doctor!
In my opinion the answer to turning back the clock by several years is to consider and address a number of factors which include physical, emotional and mental age markers.
I wish that I could say that my internal key indicators were reflected in a wrinkle free face and perky underarms… However, recently when I mentioned my age to a cashier in the supermarket, she uttered the wondrous words ‘I don’t believe it’. I have to say that wearing a mask does have an upside.
There are some downsides to getting older however, and this is to do with our operating systems. Much like an older model of car, things begin to seize up, the petrol does not seem to be able to ignite quite so much power under the bonnet, and parts seem to need replacing much more often.
For example: The Digestive System as we get older.
- We don’t taste foods in the same way, requiring more sugar and salt. Certainly fueling a rise in diabetes and certain other sugar related health issues.
- Our appetites change, unless we continue to be very active. We eat less, reducing the amount of nutrients we consume.
- Our systems are not as efficient, so the nutrients we do consume are not processed as effectively as they need to be.
- We begin to suffer from nutritional deficiencies which lead to more age related health issues.
That is just one area that focusing attention may increase energy and improve common age related health issues.
During this series I am going to be looking at the physical, mental and emotional elements that contribute to the aging process.
We have all met people in their 30’s who already seem staid and middle aged and it has nothing to do with the wrinkles on their faces. A positive attitude to life is key if you are to beat the clock and how you interact with the rest of the human race will determine your real age.
Certainly our diet plays a part in the health and fitness of our bodies but it is also about our emotional health and how we feel about ourselves that can make all the difference when looking in the mirror. A smile can knock years off as people are deflected from any lines you might have around your eyes.
Why do we all want to stop the aging process?
It is not just about the way we look. Most of us will develop grey hair, expanding waistlines, wrinkles and a somewhat world weary appearance. Of course this is important but at the end of the day no-one is unique and everyone will face this process one day.
I don’t believe that we can stop the aging process, and unfortunately in this modern world, that aging process is accompanied in most cases with degenerative diseases of the body and the mind. Poor quality of life and a dependence on prescription drugs to get us through the last 10, 20 or even 30 years of our lives. However, I do believe that we can slow the process down and ensure that we are as pain free and as vital as possible to the very end.
Now that I am 68, I realise even more, that our age is not just about wrinkles on our faces but the way we approach life and others mentally and emotionally. I want the next twenty to thirty years (and more if I have a good quality of life!) to be fun, and full of new experiences and great people. I have often said that if I get to 100, I will take up some of the habits I gave up to get there!!!
What is the aging process and how is it accelerated?
That is a much debated question and there are number of reasonable and not so reasonable explanations. The more scientific have a certain amount of merit. In the following chapters I will be covering some of these areas in more detail.
Free Radical Damage
As energy is generated in one cell, waste is produced. Waste products consist of unstable molecules, which are called free radicals. Some of these free radicals are quite helpful in fighting certain infections but they can also get out of control and start damaging healthy cells around them, which leads to serious disease.
In a nutshell progressive damage by free radicals leads to aging and age related diseases. Our lifespan is dependent on the damage caused throughout our lifetime and our own efforts to repair that damage by living a healthy lifestyle, reducing stress, eating healthily etc.
Anti-oxidants are the vacuum cleaners of the human body and their job is to kill these harmful free radicals. The good news is that a diet rich in anti-oxidants (brightly coloured vegetables) is part of the solution.
Toxicity damage to major organs.
Every day we are trying to cope with the toxins in our food, that we breathe in or we touch. It is very difficult to control our environment completely and to a degree our bodies are very efficient in dealing with low to moderate levels of toxicity. Organs and systems will either react very quickly as in Anaphylactic shock for example, or slower such as with a daily ingestion of a food that we react intolerantly to.
Toxicity builds up when we eat high fat, sugar and stimulants to excess and the organs are in overload and are unable to cope. They become damaged and worn out, the cells die and so do we.
Our hormones govern many of the aspects of aging. There is some genetic connection with hormone profiles within families; particularly mother to daughters but research is showing that hormone stimulation and their effect on our bodies can be managed with diet and natural supplementation. I am not an advocate of artificial hormonal replacement although for some people it alleviates very distressing symptoms. In some cases it is necessary to ensure the well-being of a woman. I am very lucky in as much as I managed my own menopause with diet and nutrient supplementation and I found that to be perfect for me. Hair loss, menopause, lack of testosterone are all age related but although levels do drop this should not mean that we become old before our time.
Alkaline and Acid imbalance
This is one of the areas that we are going to be focusing on in the first chapter as the more I have researched this particular area, and the more I have applied the principles to my own diet, the more impressed I have become.
This theory has worldwide recognition. Doctors and scientists in the US, Japan, China and Europe are beginning to appreciate the damage that acid has on our bodies. It is also one of the few theories of aging that is definitely manageable with healthy eating and some everyday normal supplementation of vitamins and minerals. One of the most caustic acids that we consume daily is sugar.
This book is not a weight loss guide although if you follow the food guidelines at the end of the series, and eat unprocessed fresh produce prepared from scratch, the reduction in refined sugars will help you regain a healthy weight. This does not mean skinny. Research is indicating that if you are carrying a few pounds more than the weight charts recommend it is no bad thing! Thank goodness for that. However, carrying two stone or more of additional weight is going to put a strain on your skeleton, muscle strength and the accumulated fat will also be surrounding your major organs.
Earlier this month I posted a two part guide to getting your body back to a healthy diet following the Christmas and New Year festivities and you will find a list of foods that give you a much needed nutritional boost.
There is a lot of research now on weight and its impact on the way we age – is that true?
This is obviously an area very close to my heart. I had so many age related illnesses at 43 when I suffered from obesity. I had Rheumatoid Arthritis rheumatoid and Osteoarthritis. High blood pressure, High Cholesterol, menopausal symptoms, thin hair, fatigue etc.
It is now 25 years later and because I made some lifestyle and diet changes in my overall health is considerably better now than it was then.
There is bound to be general wear and tear, but it will help enormously if you can get down to a reasonable weight that enables you to eat healthily, exercise comfortably, put less stress on the infrastructure and makes you feel more confident about yourself.
We do not need as many calories when we get older, but we certainly need to take in far more nutrients, which is why if you consume a diet that is high in a wide variety of vegetables, lean protein, fruits, nuts and seeds it will give you a really healthy boost of nutrients in a smaller package.
There is a great deal of information about ideal weights, but some of it is confusing.
One of the easiest ways to calculate your optimum weight I have come across is this.
- For medium framed women as a base use 100lbs up to 5 foot and then 5lbs for every inch over that height. Modify by 5% either way if you have a light frame or heavy frame.
- For medium framed men as a base use 106lbs up to 5 foot and then 6lbs for every inch over that height. Modify either way if you have a light frame or heavy frame.
- For example a woman who is a heavy frame and 5foot 6 inches would have an optimal weight of 100lbs + 30lbs = 130lbs x 5% = 6.5lbs giving an optimum weight of 136.5lbs or 60.2Kilos
- A light framed man of 5foot 10 inches would be 106lbs + 60lbs = 166lbs less 5% = 8lbs = 158lbs or 72Kilos.
- This is not exact but it gives you an approximate idea of where you should be. To be honest I have met people who are fantastically healthy, fit and full of energy who are a stone or even two stone heavier. But there is no doubt that if we are talking about anti-aging, being a healthy weight for your age and size is important.
I have written a number of series on weight loss and if you feel that you need to lose more than a stone, I am more than happy to send you a FREE copy of my original book Size Matters which charted my own weight loss of 150lbs and includes the eating programme I designed to lose the weight.. I went on to work with over several hundred clients over the next twenty years introducing them to this healthy way to lose weight.
Email me on firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know if you need a Kindle or Epub version.
Next week: Anti-Aging and a healthy body requires the correct pH balance.
©Just Food for Health 1998 – 2021
I am a qualified nutritional therapist with twenty-three years experience working with clients in Ireland and the UK as well as being a health consultant on radio in Spain. Although I write a lot of fiction, I actually wrote my first two books on health, the first one, Size Matters, a weight loss programme 20 years ago, based on my own weight loss of 154lbs. My first clinic was in Ireland, the Cronin Diet Advisory Centre and my second book, Just Food for Health was written as my client’s workbook. Since then I have written a men’s health manual, and anti-aging programme, articles for magazines, radio programmes and posts here on Smorgasbord.
If you would like to browse my health books and fiction you can find them here: My books and reviews 2021
Thanks for dropping in today and I hope you will join me again next week for part two of this series. Thanks Sally.