Smorgasbord Health Column – Turning Back the Clock 2021 – Part Ten – Anti-Aging- Keeping the Brain Young by Sally Cronin


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.

Link to part to Part Nine – anti-aging the face we present to the worldHere

Many people’s greatest fear is not that they will get arthritis or wrinkles or put weight on. Dementia or Alzheimer’s disease is a terrifying prospect for many of us who feel that being powerless mentally is far worse than any physical disability. This is probably the hardest aspect to aging that we might have to face but despite that, the emphasis is usually on the more obvious physical effects such as heart disease and conditions such as arthritis.

There are a great many theories about the causes of degenerative brain disease but certainly your lifestyle does have a direct impact on your risk factors.

In this post I am going to look at pathways into and inside the brain as they play a key part in our brain health and therefore our aging process.

Holding onto your Marbles

What are the pathways into the Brain?

Vitally important to our brain health are the pathways that take oxygen and nutrient rich blood to this crucial organ. In this case the arteries that are vital to our brain health are the Carotid arteries, which are on either side of the neck.

These arteries supply the large, front part of the brain, which is responsible for our personality and our ability to think, speak and move. The back part of the brain is supplied by the vertebral arteries that run through the spine. I am going to concentrate on the Carotid as this is the one that, if diseased, can lead to degenerative problems.

The damaged carotid is on the left.. and as it should be on the right

What sort of problems can the Carotid Arteries develop?

Like all arteries that supply blood to the various parts of the body such as the heart and brain, the carotid arteries can also develop a build-up of fat and cholesterol deposits, called plaque, on the inside. Over time this layer of plaque increases, hardening and blocking the arteries. This means that the oxygen and nutrients that your brain needs to function are very restricted.

Unfortunately the knock-on effect of a narrowed artery is that plaque can break off and travel to the smaller arteries in the brain, blocking those pathways. Additionally, a blood clot can form and because the arteries have become so narrow it cannot pass and causes a blockage. This is what leads to a stroke.

What are the risk factors for Carotid Artery disease?

People who are at a higher risk of arterial disease are heavy smokers, men and women over 75 years old, High Blood pressure sufferers, Diabetics and if you have higher than normal levels of oxidised LDL cholesterol in your blood.

The good news is that the healthy eating programme that is in the final part of the book is designed to reduce all these risk factors.

How can you tell if your Carotid Artery is blocked?

There may not be symptoms of the disease and it is usually picked up by a doctor who will listen to your carotid with a stethoscope. If there is a problem the doctor will detect an abnormal rushing sound called a bruit which may indicate that your arteries are narrowing and have plaque floating in the blood.

There are diagnostic tests available such as a Carotid ultrasound or Angiogram. However, there are some symptoms that might occur, and if you experience any of these then go to your doctor immediately.

They are usually an indication of a mini-stroke, which is called a TIA (transient ischemic attack)

  • Blurred vision in one or both eyes.
  • Weakness or numbness in your arm, leg or face on one side of your body.
  • Slurring of speech or difficulty in understanding what people are saying
  • Loss of co-ordination, dizziness or confusion.
  • Trouble swallowing.

This may last a few minutes or hours but it is a medical emergency and you should treat it as such. With medical help you increase your chances of a complete recovery.

Is it too late to make changes to your lifestyle and reverse the problem?

Depending on how severe the problem is you may need medication as well as a change of lifestyle to reverse the damage. In some cases as operation may be necessary to clear the arteries but the earlier you make changes the better.

  • Give up smoking immediately.
  • Incorporate a natural, primarily unprocessed eating programme. But be careful not to demonize cholesterol as it is a very important component of many healthy and necessary interactions within the body including the production of hormones.
  • Have regular check-ups with your doctor – I recommend a full medical once a year.
  • You can get most of the indicators checked in your local pharmacy – cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar levels. If you are concerned then go to your doctor.
  • Try and stay at a reasonable weight and take exercise regularly.
  • Limit your drinking to within acceptable ranges. One to two glasses per day depending on you as a male or female and your health. Do not binge on a bottle one night a week your liver cannot cope with that.

What about the pathways within the brain?

Firstly, many eminent scientists for thousands of years have been trying to unravel the mysteries of the brain. I am not about to attempt it in one post. However, there are some basics that we can cover and also some ideas for you to develop on your own which in itself will be a way to put this programme into practice.

There are many pathways in the brain that we use on a regular basis to function.

  • To see,
  • to speak,
  • to hear,
  • to feel emotion,
  • to learn something like language.

They are like a giant road network linking all parts of the brain with individual functions and activities. Like any road network blockages can occur from time to time or we find ourselves using the same roads over and over again and the other parts of the network get overgrown with disuse. There are a number of individual pathways that we use every day that usually stay active through our lives such as sight, language and other senses we use constantly to survive.

For example, in a very basic sense – in order for us to see, a physiological signal starts in the retina and travels to the visual cortex in the brain. The optic nerve, which is really more like brain tissue than nerve tissue, carries the signals to the visual cortex at the back of the brain. The visual cortex then interprets the electrical signals from the optic nerves as visual images and we see what is in front of our eyes.

Development of the pathways.

When we are babies and very young children our brain is developing at an incredible rate. Pathways are formed rapidly as the immature brain takes in everything that comes its way. This process slows down in adolescence but we never lose this capability.

Unfortunately, what does happen is that we sometimes prevent ourselves from learning and developing our brain. How many times have you heard someone say that they are too old to learn a language, play a musical instrument, and learn to drive? In fact we are never too old to do any of those things. How we learn is very interesting and again we can limit our knowledge intake by the method we choose to absorb it.

I read a very interesting and appropriate analogy of how we learn by Dr. William Glasser.

He stated that we learn from:

  • 10% of what we read
  • 20% of what we hear
  • 30% of what we see
  • 50% of what we see and hear
  • 70% of what we discuss with others
  • 80% of what we experience personally
  • 95% of what we teach other people to do.

This means of course that you should be going out and discussing this series with others to ensure that you are getting at least some of what we have covered. Perhaps reading aloud might get you a higher percentage. It does make sense to make this an audio book which would also improve the odds of absorbing the information!

Don’t our brain cells die as we get older?

As in every part of our body, cells have a natural lifetime and it is generally believed that brain cells are not replaced when they die off. However, that still leaves billions behind who are more than capable of learning and processing physical and mental information.

Some interesting research has shown that although many parts of the brain have just one set of neurons to last a lifetime, the hippocampus, which controls learning and the processing of new memories DOES make new neurons at a steady, vigorous pace!

If you have led a life of substance abuse such as excessive alcohol intake, smoking or drugs then yes you may have lost more brain cells than someone who has not. But if you change your lifestyle you will find that other pathways will open up and you can still learn new skills and abilities.

Also by following a healthy and nutritious diet you will be improving the hydration of your brain and the amount of nutrients that are able to get through. Don’t forget the power behind the throne, the Hypothalamus and how it is important for our senses, our mobility, mental health and everyday functioning to keep that flow of nutrients getting through.

How do we get back into the learning processes again?

Your brain, like the rest of our body needs exercise to stay trim and stimulated. Here are some of my tips for getting the brain as fit as the rest of you.

  • Do a crossword every morning a cryptic one will really get your brain working – I have a dictionary and a crossword dictionary and I also look things up on the Internet. This is not cheating, it is learning.
  • Play computer solitaire and try and beat your score each time (my personal favourite and I have a score of 18,167 in 40 seconds but it took me 18 years to reach that) great for hand/eye co-ordination but watch out for repetitive strain injury! I play every day first thing in the morning for 30 minutes and I am set up for the day..
  • Learn to dance – the activities involved will stimulate your brain and your body. You have to listen to music, remember the steps and co-ordinate them. This gets more than one part of your brain working in partnership. Because you need to practice you will retain at least 80% of the information and if you then teach someone else you will retain 95% of it. It is also great exercise which helps maintain a healthy weight and it will get the oxygenated blood flowing to your brain.
  • Learn any activity that requires you to move and learn, as this will exercise body and brain – yoga is an excellent example.
  • Read newspapers, watch TV. Especially the Geography, Discovery channels etc. Go to movies, download when available or rent DVD’s and then find someone to watch and discuss them with.
  • Write down your story from as early as you can remember. Talk about your experiences with others as you remember them and when you have written them down, read them through and correct spelling and grammar. You may have just written a bestseller and left a legacy for your family.
  • Stop using a calculator and go back to mental arithmetic. For example always check your supermarket receipts, they can often be wrong!
  • Make lists of things that you need to do or want to do. It is not a sign of a declining mind if you forget things it is more that you are trying to do too many things at once.
  • Learn to relax and do not obsess about individual issues. It is very easy to be so involved with a worry that you then find that you become forgetful and confused.
  • Start a study group of like-minded people who either want to learn a language or painting etc. If you have a book and a cassette in Spanish or French you will learn approximately 30% with ease. If you are in a study group or a class and discuss the subject you will retain a lot more. Even with today’s restrictions, many people are getting together on Zoom to share crafts, DIY, language, writing groups and book clubs.
  • Learn to play chess or bridge. Both require agility of mind.

The brain is as an organ needs to be exercised to be effective and remain healthy.

Like the body, the expression ‘Use it or lose it’ applies to the brain as well. You need to start using the side roads as well as the main roads. Get off the beaten track from time to time and explore areas that you have not been for a while. You can teach an old dog new tricks; the incentives however need to be a little more exciting that when he was a puppy.

Alzheimer’s and true dementia are actually rarer than you think. A poor diet, boredom and a lack of stimulation is actually the main cause of an aging brain.

It is never too late to learn. As most of you will discover your bodies will undergo some major and beneficial changes in the next few weeks if you follow a healthy eating programme and begin to incorporate regular exercise. Your brain can regain its youth to a surprising degree, with the proper nourishment and exercise.

©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

Next week in the last post in this series I will be giving you a shopping list that contains the nutrients that the body and the brain need to be healthy and for your body to remain more youthful than your actual years.

Thanks for dropping in today and always delighted to receive your feedback.. thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Health Column – Turning Back the Clock 2021 – Part Nine – Anti-Aging and how we face the world by Sally Cronin


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.

Link to part to Part Eight and how flexibility and exercise can stave off old ageHere

Taking care of the way we present ourselves to the world

We have concentrated, up to now, on the internal aspects of aging. But we also need to take a look at our external presentation. Not just healthy eating for skin, hair and nails but also the way that we show them off. At the moment I am sporting a lockdown haircut which is a collaboration between my husband who tidies the back, and me with my scissors to the front and sides.  I also cut his hair every few weeks too, and we are getting quite good at it!!

We would all love to possess radiant and glowing skin, thick and stunningly coloured hair, beautifully manicured nails and eyes with a twinkle in them.

There is no doubt that eating plenty of fresh vegetables and lean protein, combined with drinking sufficient fluids will assist your body to make positive changes in all those areas.

Lack of fluids causes blotchy and dull skin and spots so drinking the 2 litres of fluid a day will give your skin improved tone and texture. Dehydrated skin is very flaccid and flat and a simple test to determine how hydrated you are, is to pinch some skin on the back of your hand and let it go. The longer it takes to return to its former shape, the more dehydrated you are. It should spring back immediately.

Apart from fluids, what else do we need to ensure this glowing skin and shiny hair?

We need a balanced diet of proteins, carbohydrates and fats, with the right amount of the essential nutrients to ensure that all the body systems, such as waste management, are working efficiently. If you are not eliminating waste then it will accumulate and cause tissues such as skin and even the hair to become lifeless and dull.

I have covered the importance of proteins earlier and how we are essentially made up of water and protein. Both the skin and hair need sufficient protein in the diet and this does not mean eating 5lbs of prime-rib every day.

Protein is present in lots of plant foods as well and these would include all types of beans, sprouting seeds and beans, cheese, milk, whole grains. Live yoghurt is great as it also contains the friendly bacteria to keep your intestines healthy. If they are working efficiently then of course you will be eliminating toxins efficiently.

Some of the foods that you should remove or reduce in your diet can cause acne such as too much sugar. Alcohol in particular can cause bloating and refined, white carbohydrates get stored as fat and increase the lumpy and uneven texture to our skin.

We need a certain amount of healthy fat, not only for the B vitamins that it supplies but also because it assists in circulation and improves the suppleness and softness of skin. Extra virgin olive oil, grass fed butter, coconut oil are good options.

Vitamin B – complex is very important for skin tone and the B vitamins are also great for the immune system – keeping us clear of infections.

  • Vitamin B1 – Pineapple, watermelon, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, oats, brown rice, lentils, beans, eggs, lean ham and pork.
  • B2 – All green leafy vegetables, fish, milk, wheat germ, liver and kidney
  • B3 Asparagus, mushrooms, potatoes, tomatoes, sunflower seeds, wholegrain bread and cereals. Turkey, Salmon, tuna, and cheese.
  • B5 Corn, Cauliflower, Brewer’s yeast, avocado, duck, soybeans, lobster and strawberries.
  • B6 – Walnuts, bananas, lamb
  • B9 (folate) – nuts, beans and dark green vegetables.
  • B12 offal, dairy, marmite,

Other vitamins that we should be including in our diet for our skin health are Vitamin A, which strengthens and repairs the tissues and prevents spots. It is a powerful anti-oxidant, which keeps your skin clear of toxins.

  • Vitamin A – carrots, red peppers, apricots, broccoli, cantaloupe melon, nectarines, peaches and spinach. Cashew nuts.

Vitamin C is vital for wound healing and repair and maintenance of the blood vessels close to the surface of the skin and can be used in creams on the surface to help stabilise the collagen and help prevent fine lines appearing.

  • Vitamin C – virtually all fruit and vegetables already mentioned but also blackcurrants, blueberries, kiwi, cherries, grapefruits, oranges and watercress.

Vitamin E is definitely a great anti-oxidant and has an anti-inflammatory effect when applied directly to the skin. It helps keep the skin soft and smooth and has a mild sunscreen effect.

  • Vitamin E almonds, eggs, maize, apples, onions, shell fish, sunflower oil.

Zinc works like the vitamin C and E and is great for wound healing and in a cream is great for mild rashes etc.

  • Zinc– seafood, pumpkin seeds, wheat germ, egg yolks and tofu

So, if you include foods providing these in your healthy eating programme, you should be getting all of the nutrients necessary to keep your skin youthful.

What about expensive skin creams?

Like most women on the fast track to wrinkles, I have tried most of the face creams that are advertised. I know deep down that I pursuing a photo-shopped pipe dream but you never know!!! However, in my explorations, I have found that there are some great products in the lower end of the price scale. I now use a combination of creams including Nivea soft cream, E45 as a body lotion and Aloe Vera cream after being in the sun. I rarely spend more than £5 a large pot that lasts at least a couple of months.

My mother washed her face at night with soap and water, with a cold water rinse followed by some Ponds Cold cream cleanser and moisturiser from the age of 15 until she died and had great skin at 95. In fact I wrote to Ponds just before her 90th birthday and they sent her six jars free which she thought was a little optimistic.

Men as well as women need to moisturise and care for their skin from the inside and the outside. There is nothing effeminate about a man putting cream on his face, neck and hands. Men need to glow as well as women and there is nothing more attractive than a clean-shaven, slightly bronzed older man with radiant skin. Fragrance free ranges are available and very inexpensive.

Is smoking a leading cause of skin aging?

When you smoke cigarettes, you inhale hundreds of dangerous chemicals into your body, which have a harmful effect every organ including the skin. These toxins help to breakdown the structure of the skin, destroying the collagen fibres, which keep the skin taut and smooth.

The result is premature aging of the skin, with thinning and the early development of lines and wrinkles. Women also seem more prone to wrinkles developing around the mouth as fine lines radiating outwards. There is also a genetic reason that smoking and obesity can cause premature aging and a Professor Spector printed some recent research in the Lancet.

Every time a cell divides, and as people age, their telomeres get shorter. The loss is associated with aging which is why telomeres are thought to hold the secrets of youth and the aging process.

The investigators measured concentrations of a body fat regulator, leptin, and telomere length in blood samples from 1,122 women between 18 and 76. Telomere length decreased steadily with age, and telomeres of obese women and smokers were much shorter than those of lean women and those who had never smoked.

There was a difference between being obese and lean, which corresponded to 8.8 years of aging. Being a current or ex-smoker equated to about 4.6 years and smoking a pack a day for 40 years corresponded to 7.4 years of aging.

Apparently if you stop smoking before 40 this process can be stopped and the effects minimised.

What are the areas of our skin that give away our age most of all?

Most of us as we get older tend to cover up certain bits of our body unless we are very brave and don’t give a fig leaf. If you take care of your face you must make sure that you also moisturise and take care of your neck and your hands. Both these areas are forgotten very often and the face will look great but the crinkly neck and dry and chapped hands will give you real age away.

What about hair and the effects of aging?

We need a nutrient rich diet and plenty of fluids for a healthy head of hair. My favourite foods, salmon and walnuts with their Omega fatty acids are perfect in the diet to prevent the hair looking dry and lifeless.

  • Omega 3– flaxseed, walnuts, pumpkinseeds, avocados, dark green vegetables, poultry and salmon.
  • Omega 6 olive oil and some of the above.
  • Omega 9– avocado, olives, almonds.

Some of the other nutrients are also necessary

  • Copper (mushrooms, sunflower seeds, crab, lobster and oysters).
  • Zinc (barley, oysters, crab, chicken, whole wheat, lamb, beef and turkey).
  • Selenium (brown rice, chicken, shrimp, sunflower seeds, tuna, Brazil nuts, walnuts and eggs) can help promote hair growth and slow down the loss of hair over time.
  • There is another substance found in food called PABA (Para aminobenzoic acid) which may protect the hair follicles and prevent hair loss in men and women. The best food sources for this are barley, oysters (the real reason men eat them) crab, chicken, whole wheat, lamb, beef, turkey, brown rice, mushrooms, eggs and milk.

How about the way that we present our hair and the age it reflects?

This is purely a personal opinion but I find that older men with balding, grey hair look fantastic with a neat haircut and a shiny, slightly tanned, bald head. Long grey hair with baldness or combing long strands of hair over a bald spot are not really sexy. I have seen years taken off men who have gone to the groomed look.

For women it is easy to stick with a style that you have worn for years. You certainly do not need to dye your hair. In fact if not done properly it can look aging. Go and get some advice about your style. A stunning cut can frame your face in the right way and knock years off you. Also, if you are a mottled grey then think about going the whole way and have a silver rinse or go completely white – with the right cut this can look stunning. I am sorry to say that most perms and stiff hairdos can be aging and today it is about light, soft and flattering hairstyles.

Word of warning – look at your hairdressers cut and colour – if it is bright green and looks like a poodle cut – go somewhere else.

Do be careful about what you put on your hair. It is a billion pound business and not all products are produced to the same height standard. Choose the simplest shampoo and conditioner possible. Do a final rinse with cold water and that will bring a shine to any colour hair.

NB. One of the most used words on a label for hair products is ‘Repeat’ do remember the label is written by the marketing department!

How about our nail health and how should we present them?

This is not just for the girls as we all need to make sure that our nails are healthy as they can reflect our inner state of wellbeing too. Healthy nails should be strong, smooth and translucent in colour. Nail health can be compromised not only by poor diet but also exposure to toxins, too many prescription drugs, or by fungal infections. A trained practitioner can tell if a person has health problems such as heart disease or lung problems from the state of the nails.

Taking in the right nutrients for your nails will also benefit your hair. Calcium is important but do remember that if you are taking any supplements of calcium that they should be accompanied by Vitamin D or Magnesium so that it is absorbed. To get the right balance through diet include foods that provide adequate amounts of these nutrients.

  • Calcium – dairy, sardines, canned salmon, green leafy vegetables.
  • Vitamin D – Eggs, tinned salmon – fresh and tinned herrings.
  • Magnesiumdairy, seafood, apples, apricots, avocado, brown rice, spinach

If you are deficient in iron this can cause brittle nails, as can a lack of zinc.

  • Iron– shellfish, prunes, spinach, meats, cocoa.
  • Zinc– seafood, pumpkin seeds, wheat germ, egg yolks and tofu.

The essential fatty acids that I included above are also necessary. I will include all the foods again in the Anti-Aging Eating programme in the last post.

So as long as you are eating lots of fresh vegetables and fruit, moderate intake of dairy foods, sardines, canned salmon (with the bones) spinach and soy products

What about how our hands – does this affect the age we look?

Again this is only a personal preference. Men can often neglect their hands and they need to be moisturised and also have neatly trimmed and rounded nails. I am sorry but men with long nails turn me right off. Also fellows, do remember that you may be touching parts of our bodies that Heineken never reaches so having soft and manicured hands is much more sensual.

A tip for men – women look at a man’s eyes and his hands when they first meet them – short of shoving them in your trouser pockets – get the moisturiser out and the nail file.

For women – long curly nails are a turn off. The fashion for very long false nails may be fine for party night but if you have ever stood in a queue at a check out whilst the cashier pecks at the buttons on her machine you understand that they are not very practical.

I think that smooth soft hands with neat rounded and moderately long nails are lovely on a woman. I like nail varnish and it should always match fingers and toes. (That goes for men too).

Healthy feet are also very important and as much care should be taken with them as with your hands. Unfortunately as we get older our feet can begin to look a little gnarled and ragged around the edges and with all the walking that everyone is now doing, taking that bit of extra care is essential. Treat yourself to a pedicure every few weeks and it will be wonderful.

Make sure that shoes fit correctly and a good soak in some hot salty water with a dash of fairy liquid works wonders for relaxing the whole body.

©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

 

Thank you for dropping by and I would love to read your comments…please join me next week for a post on how taking care of our brain as early as possible may prevent some of the dementia related issues later in life.

 

 

Smorgasbord Health Column – Turning Back the Clock 2021 – Part Eight – Anti-Aging and Flexibility by Sally Cronin


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.

Link to part to Part Seven and how attitude of mind goes a long way to making you feel younger: Here

In this post I am going to be looking at exercise in general as an anti-aging tool and then exercises to increase flexibility. I think that it is important to review exactly why it is so important for the body to move and exercise regularly.

A great start to becoming fitter is to learn how to breathe correctly and I covered that in Part Six

Our bodies were never designed to be static and the saying “Use it or Lose It” is very appropriate. If you were to leave your car parked up without moving it for months on end you would expect that certain parts would certainly rust and parts like the tyres would probably perish and be unusable. If you left your battery connected it is likely to be flat as a pancake. In short, the car would be kaput.

The same thing applies to us. Muscles wither and shrink – we accumulate fat – bones become soft and brittle and our internal systems are sluggish and unresponsive. We can suffer from depression and we certainly slide further and further down the slippery slope of ill health the longer it goes on.

Is it ever too late to take up exercise?

No, it certainly is not. Although I would recommend that if you have been sedentary for a long time that you talk to your doctor before embarking on a marathon training course, if you start out slowly and carefully, within weeks you will be feeling and looking a great deal better.

What sort of health benefits can someone expect from doing simple exercises such as walking?

As I mentioned in the post on breathing, you do not have to race around doing aerobics and playing squash to obtain the aerobic (oxygen) benefits you need.

If you are doing the breathing exercises and combine these with a walking programme that increases in intensity over a period of weeks you will be getting all the benefits you need. In fact recent research is showing that if you are not fit, it can be dangerous for some people to contemplate marathon running if their heart muscle is not as healthy as it needs to be for that sort of sustained activity.

Even moderate exercise, for example, can reduce the risk of:

  • Coronary Heart Disease,
  • Strokes,
  • Diabetes,
  • High Blood Pressure,
  • Bowel Cancer,
  • Alzheimer’s disease,
  • Osteoporosis,
  • Arthritis
  • Stress.

All these conditions are ones that head the list of the leading causes of aging, so walking is definitely up there as an exercise of choice. If you are trying to lose weight and especially if you are very overweight, walking is the safest and most sensible way to exercise to begin with.

One of the most interesting studies that I read showed a very clear connection between exercise and recovery rates from breast cancer. Results showed that women who exercised between three and five hours a week doubled their chances of a full recovery and survival. Women who were sedentary were twice as likely to die from the disease. I find that very compelling and more than enough reason to exercise daily – this must also apply to recovery rates from other cancers too, logically.

Apart from increasing bone and muscular strength it will also increase your joints range and flexibility. Perversely, doing more exercise can ease the pain of rheumatic joints and if you know elderly. regular walkers you will see what a great posture they have.

What sort of exercise programme should we be following?

Despite the restrictions imposed on us on leaving our homes, in most places exercise is permitted within an designated area in our neighbourhood.

  • Everyone should be out there every day in the fresh air for at least 20 minutes.
  • Brisk walking is the best and being slightly breathless is the point at which you will be fat burning and helping your body to lose fat and form muscle.
  • If you are currently walking for 20 minutes per day then you need to measure the distance you are walking.
  • Over the next 6 weeks raise the time you walk to 40 minutes per day and you can split that if you like.
  • Walking uphill during part of your walk will increase the intensity but the right walking speed for you depends on your age and sex.
  • Over a period of time, aim to walk at an average speed of 3 to 4 miles per hour.
  • Do not overdo it – this is not a challenge but a gradual way to increase your level of fitness, health and youthfulness over a period of weeks and not days.

How important is our flexibility as we get older?

 

Flexibility

We can maintain our flexibility and actually improve it as we get older. The main reason we get stiff as we age is because we stop moving our bodies into different positions. The body is designed to move, not stay sitting, or slouching, the majority of the time! The more flexibility and space we have in our bodies, the deeper the breaths can be which as you read in the previous chapter has so many vital health benefits.

3 simple exercises to increase flexibility

No1.

Stand with hands by your side and as you inhale your breath, raise your arms slowly until they are above your head in a straight line with the rest of your body. At the same time as you raise your arms, also lift your heels to stretch the whole body upwards, whilst on tip toe. When you exhale lower the arms slowly and the heels back to the floor it is also a balance exercise so it helps develops concentration and focus. Keep your eyes fixed on a point during the exercise. Repeat 7/8 times.

No 2.

It is important not to do this exercise if you have a chronic back problem. Also only do a gentle arch to start with and increase the height over a period of weeks.

Go onto all fours. Hands placed on the floor under the shoulders and your knees under the hips. Imagine what a cat looks like when it gets up to stretch after napping. It arches its back up into the air.

Now with the back flat, exhale and arch the spine up, dropping your head into a relaxed position. Your abdomen is drawn up to support the spine in the arched position. Pause to feel the stretch. Inhale slowly flattening the back again. Pause. Exhale; slowly arch the spine up again etc. Always work slowly. Repeat at least 8 times.

No 3.

This posture is universally recognised as one of the best to help lower back pain but again make sure that you do not attempt if you are very sore. Take it gently over a period of time.

Lie down on your back. Inhale taking your arms back above your head, exhale bringing the right knee to your chest with your hands around it, to draw it in closer. Inhale as you lower your arms back down to your side and your leg back on the ground. Exhale bringing the left knee up with hands on it…and continue 8 times to each knee. Then 8 more times with both knees coming to chest together.

Then relax and lie flat for several minutes to appreciate what you have done and enjoy the benefits of the movements and deep breathing.

Some of you may already be enjoying the benefits of yoga and already perform these breathing exercises…if not then perhaps these two charmers might persuade you…

Other forms of exercise. When you reach a level of fitness that you are comfortable with then take to another level. For some people Yoga, Tai chi are wonderful for keeping the body supple and for others tennis, squash, jogging or pehaps one of the self-defence options!

For me swimming is top of the list and it does not take long for me to get fit if I swim for 45 minutes three times a week. It is exercises virtually every muscle in the body including the facial muscles when you jump in and find the water is only 15 degrees! In the absence of that currently, I can be found with headphones attached prancing around the kitchen as I bulk prepare vegetables three times a week… rock ‘n’ roll definitely never gets old…

Dancing is also fantastic exercise provided you do not have knee problems but after several weeks of walking or swimming you may find that has improved enough to take to the floor.

To encourage you one of my favourite dance videos of a couple who are fabulous and boy does he have some moves!!

©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

 

Thank you for dropping by and I would love to read your comments…please join me next week for a post on the youth enhancing benefits of taking care of the face and body we present to the world..thanks Sally.

 

Smorgasbord Health Column – Turning Back the Clock 2021 – Part Seven – Anti-Aging and Attitude of Mind by Sally Cronin


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.

Link to part to Part Six and how correct breathing can bring multi-benefits to the body as we age: Here

Are you in danger of becoming an old fogey!!

What do emotional factors have to do with anti-aging?

It is sometimes difficult to see the changing image of ourselves in the mirror as we grow older. This applies not just to women but to men as well.

There are physical signs that our bodies are getting more mature; thickening waistlines, sagging skin, cellulite wrinkles and of course grey hair. If you have always taken pride in your appearance and looked after yourself, these visible signs of the passing years can be difficult to deal with.

This is why plastic surgery, cosmetics companies, hair salons and anti-aging clinics do such great business. Billions and billions a year are now being spent on recapturing our youth and as we have seen in photographs in the press, the results are not always successful.

Of course there are people who are quite happy with their changing image and that is fantastic. Accepting the stage that you are physically in your life is very liberating. Letting your hair grow grey, flaunting the lines and creases in your face and baring your body to the world in all its glory is to be admired.

However, if you are like me, you find that quite hard to do. It is not that I resent the fact that I am getting older. I love that I have more knowledge, experience, patience and respect for life than I did in my twenties and thirties but the trouble is that my head and heart still think that they are about half the actual age that I am.

There is a theory that we all have an age that we reach and then internally set as our perfect age. For example when I have worked with women clients in their seventies and eighties and asked them what age they actually feel inside they have all said that they still feel the same as they did at an age between twenty-five and thirty-five. Most men clients usually settle on an age between late teens and late twenties.

This is quite interesting when you look at the biological primes of men and women. These ages seem to correspond to female and male most fertile and stimulating years.

This can make it very hard to look in the mirror and see a sixty, seventy or eighty year old face and body when you actually only feel twenty-five inside.

There is some research to suggest that both men and women suffering from dementia may in fact look in the mirror and see a younger version of themselves which of course only leads to the confusion they are feeling.

So how can we use this internal feeling of youth to help us knock some years off our biological age?

We CAN recapture some of the elements of those earlier years. There are certain human factors that do not age in the same way as our bodies do. Our emotions may change intensity, as does passion, but the actual mechanism for those feelings is exactly the same at eighty as it was at twenty.

What we have to do is find a way to harness that internal age that we feel so in tune with and combine it with all the incredible experiences that we have learnt about life since that age.

The last time I actually felt at my best physically, I was about twenty-eight years old and my best emotional and mental ages were about thirty-five. Being realistic, unless I underwent radical plastic surgery, looking twenty-eight again is not on the cards. Much as I would love to, turning back the clock forty years is pushing it!

Generally, we have a great many more skills now than we did at twenty-eight and thirty-five and what WE CAN do is apply that knowledge to at least a ten year reversal in our biological age. This applies primarily to the internal health of our bodies but some of the external signs of aging will also be improved because of the revitalised functions of our body.

However, to be successful, it is also important to change some ingrained attitudes attached to our current age to enable us to take those steps backward.

So how do we go about changing those attitudes?

First I think it would be a good idea for everyone listening to complete the OFQ. We are all accustomed to the expression FAQ which means ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ but OFQ means ‘OLD FOGIE’S QUESTIONS’

These questions will determine if you have indeed become an ’Old Fogey’ and need to adjust your attitude by a few years. It is a little bit of fun but it is amazing how closely I can identify with some of these statements for myself and friends and relatives who are over a certain age. But, if I am completely honest, I have also met thirty year olds that fall into this category!

  • Do you have conversations with friends your own age turn into ‘duelling ailments’?
  • Is your idea of a night out is sitting on your patio?
  • Do you find yourself saying ‘I don’t believe it’ several times a day?
  • Is your idea of a party a hot chocolate and a couple of digestives in front of the television?
  • Do you give up all your bad habits and you still don’t feel good?
  • Do you feel that no one respects your opinions anymore?
  • Do you keep repeating yourself?
  • You tell the same story from your past over and over again.
  • Do you resist going to places where you will meet new people, preferring the comfort of your known friends and acquaintances?
  • Do you begin every sentence with ‘Nowadays or In My Day or When I was your age’?
  • Do you frequently tell people what a loaf of bread or a gallon of petrol used to cost?
  • Do you constantly criticise the younger generation?
  • Do you feel that it is not worth changing at your age as it will not make a difference?
  • Do you eat your meals at the same time every day and get upset when you are asked to change?
  • Do you order the same meal every time you go to a restaurant?
  • Do you find that you cannot sit still without falling asleep?
  • Do you find that you don’t care where your husband or wife goes as long as they don’t drag you along with them?
  • Do you find that ‘Happy Hour’ is a nap?
  • Have you stopped celebrating birthdays as it reminds you of how old you are?
  • You shout at the television screen all the time?

How can we avoid falling into this trap of being old?

First and foremost, next time you find yourself about to say any of the above, bite your tongue.

You actually have to make some decisions about your life. We are living longer today and thankfully most of us do not know how long we actually have left. You have a choice; you can live every day as if it is your last or you can sit patiently for the next 10, 20 or 30 years until it happens.

We all get complacent as we get older and we need to work harder to find stimulation physically and mentally. It is a bit like that saying ‘Been there, done that and got the T-shirt’. Well, unless you have been an intrepid explorer or a serious academic from childhood, you have not been everywhere and you have not done or know everything.

Strategy One Make A Wish List

It is very useful to create a wish list of the things that you would love to do. This may be a trip that you have always wanted to take – don’t worry at this stage how impractical or expensive this wish list is. These are wishes after all and we know that some of them don’t come true.

Write absolutely everything down. For example – learning languages, climbing Everest, sailing in the Greek Islands, singing Karaoke, meeting Marilyn Monroe, walking on the Moon, re-uniting with your best friend from school, learning to play a musical instrument, and being a grandparent.

It is quite clear that some of these wishes are not possible. Marilyn Monroe has been dead since August 1962 so you cannot meet her in person. However, there is so much information out there that you could certainly get to know her very well indeed.

The same with walking on the moon. There is no way that you are going to be able to do that realistically but there are videos and DVD’s on the subject, thousands of books and an amazing amount of material on the Internet. I did the next best thing however; I interviewed two astronauts for 30 minutes on television about their adventures!

You could still however, learn a language, to play a musical instrument and trace your best friend from school. You might want to complete a physical challenge such as run a marathon, or jump from a plane (see above).

It may not be physically possible for you to be an actual grandparent but there are some wonderful schemes running at the moment where you can be an adopted grandparent for children who do not have any of their own. Your experience of life and your love would be wonderfully received.

For every impossible dream or wish there is usually a work-around. Sometimes it is as simple as saying to yourself ‘I am going to do that’. In other cases you may have to live the wish vicariously through the eyes and the actions of someone else who has managed to live that dream.

The list could be one page or ten. It does not matter, the more wishes you have the more you may be able to make come true. Start working your way through them – for those that seemed impossible, find a solution. Tick them off as you go and feel that sense of achievement and satisfaction and that life still holds so many more opportunities in the years ahead. You may be a little slower but you are not dead yet. Set yourself goals on achieving those wishes. A year to learn Spanish, two years to save for a trip to Australia, 6 months to write that book that is in you.

Strategy Two – Build some unpredictability into your life.

  • Don’t eat at the same time every day
  • Visit the same restaurants every week
  • Use the same supermarket
  • Buy the same newspaper,
  • Watch the same television news
  • Talk to your family on the same day every week.

Stress is caused by not meeting your daily expectations.

My father had lunch on the table at 12.45 every single day, including Sundays. He used to get furious with us if we were 5 minutes late back from the pub and we used to get stressed out from the moment we arrived in the pub and then ran home to be on time. We would rather have had a sandwich at lunchtime and dinner in the evening but that was not the rule.

Strategy Three – Make a decision to learn something new every day.

It might be a new foreign language word, which means that at the end of the year you will have a vocabulary of 366 new words at your disposal. Learn two new words and you will be on your way to speaking the language very well. You only need 1500 to be fluent in Spanish!

Take a subject that you have always been interested in and take a formal course in it so that you can speak not only with authority but also as a qualified person.

Learn about your body and what it needs to be healthy: Then, instead of constantly talking about your ailments when you get together with your friends you can come up with some strategies for preventing or improving the condition. Much more positive than commiserating with each other about the symptoms.

Go out and meet new people even if today under our current restrictions it is people online. It might be a blogger, someone on Facebook you have seen in a group etc. Every one of us has had a lifetime of different experiences of the same event. Marriage, education, children, living in a foreign country, driving and dealing with life will have been perceived differently by individuals and sharing our own lives broadens our perspective.

Strategy Four

One of the hardest things as we get older is feeling that we no longer have anything to offer and that we are no longer respected for what we are or what we know.

Respect at any age is not a right, it has to be earned. People respect courage, humour, commitment, loyalty, enthusiasm, knowledge and a person who shares themselves by giving time and part of themselves to a relationship or group activity off and online.

Once you start giving you will be amazed at how much comes back to you. It is a waste of a lifetime’s experience, and the maturity you have gained, to sit at home and keep it to yourself.

I am not suggesting that you run out and start volunteering for every needy cause going but look within your own family and social group first and think carefully about where your participation in someone else’s life would benefit them and ultimately you. At this time there are many people living alone and there are a number of phone call schemes where you are matched up with someone living on their own and you chat to them once or twice a week.

What about love and romance?

This is one of the most wonderful ways to keep young. Just because we are older it does not mean that we cannot feel the passionate intensity of new found love or cannot nurture a relationship that we already have. It is too easy to become complacent and let small things fall by the wayside. Love and sharing is one of the most powerful anti-aging treatments around – and it costs nothing.

Love is not just restricted to a human relationship. Owning a pet and forming a bond with them is extremely beneficial to your health and definitely lowers blood pressure and stress.

Part of our reticence as we get older is that we feel it is unseemly for us to be looking for romance, which is rubbish. Also, we feel that physically we are going to be found lacking which is also rubbish. Unless you are an 80-year-old chasing a 20-year-old, we all have the same age related body changes and inside you still have the same passions and feelings.

If you are alone and would like to meet someone else then get out there and find a group of like-minded people. They will not come to you and you will have to make an effort. I appreciate that it is harder for a woman on her own to meet new partners but go out with a number of friends or join a drama or writing group. Play tennis and golf whatever it takes to make sure that you are part of the life that is going on around you. Life is full of surprises.

Internet dating for all age groups has become increasingly popular and provided you follow some basic safety rules, there is no reason why you should not find your ideal partner online. Let’s face it for our generation; we had to kiss a lot of frogs to find Mr. or Mrs Right, now you get to know all about them before you even get to that stage.

If you never fall in love again that is fine too, as long as you are surrounding yourself with family and friends that you find stimulating and fun and who get as much out of life as you do yourself. Many activities do not cost a fortune. A walk with a friend along the seashore – sharing a bottle of wine with your neighbour, helping out at the local animal sanctuary – all are inexpensive ways to share your life.

Start a dinner party club with a number of your friends and all do a course, or the wine. Limit the amount you can all spend to £10. You might have to do this by zoom at the moment but you will still be able to enjoy the banter around the table and compare notes on the food you have cooked. This means that you can have wonderful get-togethers each month without any single person having to spend a fortune. Also, when we get back to being able to see friends face to face, if your home is not suitable or out of the way you can use each other’s homes without anyone feeling that it is always their turn.

Finally – Life is not a rehearsal, this is it. To keep youthful and dynamic it is not just enough to eat a healthy diet. You need to keep the essence that is you nurtured and healthy and ready to live the next chapter in your life.

©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

 

Thank you for dropping by and I would love to read your comments…please join me next week for some easy flexibility exercises and options for more intensive training..thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Health Column – Turning Back the Clock 2021 – Part Five – Anti-Aging and The Immune System by Sally Cronin


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.

Link to part to Part Four and the influence of hormones on the aging process: Here

The Key to Health and Anti-Aging is a powerful Immune System.

Over the last three chapters I have looked at the main contributory factors associated with aging. In this chapter I am going to explore the necessity of having a functioning and thriving Immune System and how we can eat food to achieve that.

Why is the Immune System so important in preventing premature aging?

In a nutshell, if your immune system is not functioning well your entire body, including the tissues, organs and systems suffer damage and cannot repair themselves. Additionally, you are wide open to bacterial, viral and toxic invaders who are looking for a nesting site.

You have what they need to reproduce and thrive, but they need to make some adjustments when they arrive. They like a lovely acidic, toxic, waste filled environment without too much oxygen. They are particularly fond of a new home that does not have troublesome neighbours such as anti-oxidants and they prefer a quiet life without too much exercise so that they get on and breed. They are a “class act” and make sure that they give you something back in the form of rent. Frequent Colds and Flu, Thrush, skin complaints, fatigue and stomach problems. If you are a really up-market landlord and are offering premium accommodation they will pay you back with Arthritis, Rheumatism, Osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s and Cancer.

Not the sort of tenants one is looking for then?

No they definitely are not. The trouble is, of course, that most of them are squatters and should not be there in the first place. Most of us are very careless about our property and leave the back door and sometimes the front door wide open.

So how does a properly functioning Immune System protect us?

The immune system is not just about our internal defences. It actually has a pretty formidable array of physical barriers that are designed to keep pathogens, which are all harmful substances out of our bodies.

The skin is our main external protector. If it is not damaged it will not allow harmful toxins to enter the bloodstream. The problem is that of course it is porous and is designed to allow fluids in and out through the pores. So, any substance that touches your skin, such as chemical preparations can pass right through. For example; if you use strong household cleaners these contain highly toxic substances that will pass through the dermal layer and store in the tissues causing anything from a mild rash to a violent allergic reaction. This is why you must wear gloves when using them. Many of us react to perfume, cosmetics or even simple hand-creams that our body obviously thinks of as toxic.

If you cut yourself-then germs can pass through directly to the bloodstream and from there they have complete access to the rest of your body.

We have special hairs and mucus tissues in our nose, mouth and throat that are designed to catch anything harmful.

If toxins get as far as our stomachs, then acid and enzymes will react and cause you to get rid of the problem. Our lungs too have a very sophisticated defence system that will make you cough it up.

Should any harmful bacteria, virus or toxin get past these barriers then we have a very complex system of cells and antibodies that will rush to our defence.

The liver is of course the place where most of these toxins are going to pass through, and it has specific enzymes designed to destroy them so that they can then be evicted from the body.

What are the effects of Free-Radicals on how quickly we age?

If you cut an apple and effectively damage it, within a few minutes it will begin to turn brown. If you leave it long enough the tissue of the apple will begin to break down and you will end up with a liquid, bacteria covered, and unidentifiable lump on your cutting board.

That just about sums up what free-radical damage does to your body. Just to get a little more technical for a few seconds. We bandy about the phrase “Free-Radicals” as if they are some dissident political group or schoolyard bullies. Like most bullies they are missing something and want yours.

In this case a free-radical is a molecule. A normal molecule has an even number of electrons and is considered stable. Free-radicals on the other hand have an uneven number of electrons and are unstable. They are desperate to be like the normal molecules so they have to steal from them to get another electron. This of course means that they have created another free-radical. More and more cells become damaged and leave the body open to most diseases from cardiovascular to cancer.

Like the apple, the damage is a kind of oxidation, which is the action of adding oxygen to a substance (essentially the same as rusting!)

Aren’t some free-radicals important for the body?

Ironically, yes. The immune system uses some free-radicals to go and steal an electron from harmful molecules that have entered the system illegally. Problem is, like everything else in the body, we need balances and checks. The Free-Radical police are anti-oxidants and if you have not got enough of them then the free-radicals become vigilantes and go after everything that moves.

Also, we create free-radicals when we exercise energetically and take in additional oxygen. These then assist with the metabolism of foods that enter the body. Again if the balance between these and anti-oxidants is not correct more free-radicals are created than are needed.

What particular part do free-radicals play in aging?

The free-radicals cause cells to oxidise and die. The major damage is done to our DNA, which results in mutations and death of the cells. Our body does produce anti-oxidants and enzymes that can repair this damage if we eat healthily. However, as we get older so do our cells and it becomes harder to repair them and they die. This is aging! These cells that are dying are in our skin, tissues and organs such as the heart, brain and liver and every system that keeps us alive.

What other area of the Immune System is important to help with anti-aging?

We have a number of safety regulators in the body that are designed to deal with intruders, and if their health is not maintained we become very much more susceptible to disease.

Apart from our bloodstream we have another network throughout our bodies, which is called the Lymphatic system. This system runs throughout the body, and is a little like a railway network with stations along the route, which are called glands. You will often hear people say that their glands are swollen which is an indication of infection

The main ones are the Lymph Nodes in your neck, under your armpits and in your groin. The lymph fluid, which is called plasma, travels along the network, reaches one of the stations and drops off any harmful bacteria in the node. The lymph system contains a number of cells that sound like something out of James Bond movies: B-cells, Killer T-cells, Helper T–Cells, Macrophages and Lymphocytes and these and all other blood cells are produced in our bone marrow; which we hear a great deal about in relation to transplants.

All these cells have specific roles to play but for example the lovely macrophages swallow bacteria and kill them.

When it comes to aging, I think we all know how it feels to be drained of energy, getting continual infections, suffering the pain of degenerative diseases like arthritis. These in themselves make us feel old. But of course all these infections are adding enormous stress and strain to the body and are damaging the tissues in our body at the same time.

Although our body is programmed to regenerate over our lifetime, each cell only has a number of times that it can regenerate. If you wear out that system of regeneration when you are too young you are going to age.

In addition, when our body is stressed on a continuous basis, our glands will secrete hormones to counteract the inflammation and adrenaline to enable us to cope. This wears out the organs and they suffer damage and disease.

Where do we start when building up our Immune System?

The first place that we need to start is by gently detoxing our bodies of the accumulated waste. Earlier in January I shared an easy programme to get the body back to normal after the Christmas excesses and it is a good place to start when boosting the immune system.

Get your year off to a healthy startPart One – AndPart Two

For anyone that has been eating more fruit and vegetables, cutting down on the processed sugary and high fat foods and drinking more natural fluids such as water, that process has already begun. Hopefully problem foods like stimulants and alcohol have been reduced so there are fewer toxins entering the body. The anti-oxidants in the diet are boosting the immune system and you should be achieving a much healthier balance.

In addition to a daily diet of fresh unprocessed foods, particularly vegetables you need to take in foods that will absorb toxins and move them through the body efficiently.

For example I recommend that all my clients start the day by having some fresh lemon juice in hot water – this is excellent for your liver to help it detox. If you add a teaspoon of honey that will help your intestines too. Have a glass of carrot juice mixed with unsweetened apple juice a day will support the detox function of your liver and bile ducts. Also a medium glass of cranberry juice can help keep your urinary tract and therefore your kidneys free of infection.

You should be eating brown rice regularly and certainly a large tablespoon every day is excellent for keeping waste moving through your system as it should. There is a plan for a gentle detox at the end of the book which is easy on the body but effective in getting rid of unwanted visitors.

Is it ever too late to start this?

The really good news is that if you are not already dead you can do something about it. Sounds awful, but even if you are already in your 70’s and 80’s you still have trillions of cells left that can be nourished and repaired and still have reproductive life in them. The real key for managing the aging process is to stop the damage right now.

You can start by embracing the healthy eating plan you will find later on in the series which is packed full of wonderful ant-ioxidants. The main anti-oxidants are vitamins A, C, E and Beta-carotene, which is the precursor of Vitamin A. There is also Selenium, Zinc and Bioflavonoids. The more brightly coloured fruits and vegetables you consume the more anti-oxidants will be available to your immune system to fight the damage caused by free-radicals.

You should also drink plenty of fluids including water to flush any toxins out of your system and other fluids such as green tea, which are full of anti-oxidants.

You will also be eating a high percentage of your foods unprocessed and from plant sources, which is creating an alkaline environment that germs cannot survive in.

Vitamin D and the immune system.

There have been an increasing number of studies in relation to vitamin D levels its role in COVID-19 mortality rates: Patients with severe deficiency are twice as likely to experience major complications : Science Daily May 7th 2020

Researchers analyzed patient data from 10 countries. The team found a correlation between low vitamin D levels and hyperactive immune systems. Vitamin D strengthens innate immunity and prevents overactive immune responses. The finding could explain several mysteries, including why children are unlikely to die from COVID-19.

How Vitamin D works with our immune system.

Vitamin D is a bit like a health and safety consultant, constantly on the look out for areas that are unbalanced in the structure of our body and operating systems. I will look at the structure and bone density later in the post, but first a look at why the vitamin is being identified as playing a vital role in the strength of our immune system and in particular respiratory infections and auto-immune diseases such as arthritis.

Our white blood cells have receptors and activating enzymes for Vitamin D on their surface. It is a difficult role managing all the complexities involved in maintaining an efficient immune system without upsetting the balance… too much interference results in the immune system becoming overactive and attacking the cells of the body resulting in autoimmune diseases such as arthritis.. Too little interference is as bad, because dampening the immune system’s responses, leads to frequent infections.

Both these scenarios can occur if there is insufficient Vitamin D absorbed or ingested by the body, and whilst reduced levels of the vitamin do not cause an autoimmune disease, it can make matters worse.

Low levels of Vitamin D were identified in resulting in frequent colds and flu ten years ago, and with the pandemic, this line of research is going to be more closely monitored.

SupplementationPharmacy News

In 2017, a large analyses of prospective clinical trials showed that taking vitamin D reduces the odds of developing a respiratory infection by approximately 42% in people with low baseline levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D; below 25 ng/mL.3

The analysis suggests that taking vitamin D daily or weekly was more effective than larger doses taken in single or monthly boluses. The most common daily dose used was vitamin D3 300-4,000 IU.

You can find out more about Vitamin D in these two posts from Project 101 – ResilienceVitamin D Part one –  AndPart Two

Apart from food is there anything else we can do to protect our Immune System?

Exercise will move toxins out of your body provided you are drinking sufficient fluids. If not, you will know about in the form of lactic acid and muscle cramps. Exercise also pumps oxygen into the body and although this creates free-radical activity, other harmful bacteria and viruses do not like an oxygen rich environment and die. So provided you are taking in sufficient anti-oxidants taking exercise is fantastic.

We have to learn how to relax so that our bodies can rest. Being young at heart and full of vibrant energy is exactly what we are aiming to achieve. But at the same time we have to allow time for our bodies to recover from activity and rebuild its defences. You cannot run any living system without down-time otherwise you will damage all the components.

Take a nap. Make sure you get the right amount of sleep. Take a day off and do something completely different and go out and enjoy a quiet dinner for two etc.

Avoid toxins and germs. Do not put yourself in harm’s way. Use gloves when you are cleaning, wash your hands before preparing food. Wash food if you are not going to peel it.

Do not store household chemicals under your sink in the kitchen, try and put them into an outside storage area.

This year last year as Covid took up residence in our communities ‘wash your hands’ became a mantra…Although it is wonderful to kiss our friends and shake hands, that is how germs are spread by touch more so than inhaling.

So keep wearing your mask and wash your hands several times a day especially if you have been in an environment that has been infiltrated by many people, such as supermarkets.

If it is possible to get outside to exercise, fresh air at least once a day for 45 minutes does wonders as far as clearing your system and boosting your oxygen levels and with exposure to sunlight a boost to vitamin D levels.

In the next post I am going to show you how breathing and doing some very simple exercises each day can help boost your immune system and mimimise damage to cells and organs.

©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 six of this series and the impact of simple breathing exercises on our aging process.

Smorgasbord Health Column – Turning Back the Clock 2021 -Anti-Aging and pH balance Eating Plan by Sally Cronin


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.

Part Two of the series explaining pH balance and symptoms of too much acid can be found: Here

Eating plan for acidity/alkaline balance if you are already experiencing high acidity related health problems that are making you feel older than you are!

It is important that you eat regularly and moderately to provide you with the nutrients that you require, and to allow your body to process those nutrients to make them as accessible as possible for your body.

Your main meals are breakfast, lunch and dinner with three snacks in between depending on your energy requirements.

The older we get the less we need to snack between meals especially if they are sugary in nature.

  • Main meals should consist of some wholegrain or vegetable carbohydrate, animal or plant protein and a small amount of healthy fats.
  • Always chew food slowly and if you put your knife and fork down between each mouthful you should be eating at the correct pace. If there is someone in your family who always finishes their meal after you then make it a point to slow down so that they finish first.
  • After a heavier than normal meal always try and relax for at least half an hour before moving around and certainly leave at least two hours before rigorous exercise.
  • Drinking a small cup of peppermint tea after a meal will aid digestion
  • It is better to eat fruit as a starter rather than a dessert as it digests much quicker than any other food. If you eat fruit within half an hour of a heavy meal it can cause a disruption to the digestive process.

Intermittent Fasting is also a way to allow your digestive system to process foods thoroughly over sixteen hours whilst you eat within the other 8 hours. If you are not hugely active then eating two main meals with a small amount of fruit as a snack is quite easy to get used to and has been shown to reduce the risk for diseases such as diabetes.

Most people who follow this diet will fast on two days a week with meals adding up to 500 to 600 calories of high density nutritional foods. However, it is tempting then on the other five days to roll the boat out. I find eating two meals a day with a piece of fruit in between, within an 8 hour window every day to be easier to stick to.

Eating to achieve a healthy Acid/Alkalinity Balance

Foods that should be avoided.

Foods have different acid and alkaline properties. Some are acidic in the mouth but form alkaline ash; others are so heavily processed that they will turn to acidic ash in the stomach. If you suffer already from acid reflux or peptic ulcers you should follow the following recommendations as strictly as possible. This also applies if you have some of the more common degenerative diseases such as arthritis as an acid environment is perfect.

If you would simply like to ensure the correct pH balance in your body then you can adopt a 60/40 approach and ensure that acid forming foods are only included in your diet once a day.

If you suffer from any chronic diseases then for the next six weeks I suggest you follow these guidelines. Make a note in any change in symptoms and if you find that they have improved then this ratio is something you might like to stay with longer term.

Very, very acidic ash forming foods that should be avoided are:

  • All soft drinks,
  • More than a cup of coffee per day especially with cream and sugar combined,
  • Alcohol in general but particularly cheap wine and beer,
  • Refined sugars in commercially produced white flour bread, cakes, sweets and biscuits and artificial sweeteners.
  • Refined sugars in hot drinks
  • Salt should be used sparingly, as it is acid forming. Although not as bad for you as advertised Smorgasbord Health – The Salt Debate

Very acidic forming foods that can be included 20% of your daily diet are:

  • chicken,
  • turkey,
  • fish,
  • shellfish,
  • lamb,
  • beef,
  • pork
  • other lean proteins.
  • Oranges (nectarines are okay)

Moderately acidic forming foods that can be included up to 30% of your daily diet.

  • Wholegrains,
  • brown rice,
  • oats,
  • lentils,
  • walnuts,
  • rye,
  • wholegrain pastas,
  • sunflower seeds,
  • Pumpkin seeds,
  • good quality wines,
  • organic fresh coffee,
  • yoghurt,
  • milk and cheese.
  • cranberries
  • all the beans.

Alkaline foods that can be included freely every day. (Plenty of great foods and this list is just representative of the variety and vegetables in general are alkaline.)

N.B that although some of these fruits contain natural fruit sugar they are alkaline. If however you are pre-diabetic or diabetic then you sould limit your fruit intake to one piece per day. Also avoid high sugar juices and instead substitute with vegetable juices.) You are pretty safe with all vegetables.

  • Figs,
  • Olives,
  • Apricots (dried as snack three),
  • Avocados,
  • Carrots,
  • Broccoli
  • Spinach,
  • Cabbage,
  • Dates (three on salads),
  • Kiwis,
  • Limes,
  • Raspberries,
  • Strawberries,
  • Asparagus,
  • Bananas,
  • Celery,
  • Beetroot
  • Coconut water (in moderation if on Blood Pressure medication)
  • Melon,
  • Lettuce,
  • Parsley,
  • Pineapple,
  • Nectarines,
  • Cherries,
  • Grapefruit,
  • Tomatoes,
  • Cucumber,
  • Cauliflower,
  • Lemons,
  • String beans,
  • Peaches,
  • Mushrooms (Shitake if not too expensive),
  • Watermelon,
  • Courgettes,
  • Apples
  • Pears.

Are most fruit and vegetables alkaline forming?

Yes they are which is why I so often encourage people to move to a much higher level of vegetables and moderate fruit content in their diet. Ideally 80% of your diet should be unprocessed, fresh and preferably raw foods.

However we are not going to go that far to begin with so I have set a 20% guideline for animal proteins, 30% for grains etc. and 50% for fruit and vegetables.

Some other neutral foods that you can use in moderation in the 20% field are the oils and butter and milk. These are classified, as neutral but should be used carefully if you are hoping to lose some weight.

What about sauces for foods?

It is much better to make your own sauces from natural ingredients. It is the sugars in processed sauces that cause much of the acid effect. You can use olive oil or a little butter on vegetables and make salad dressings with olive oil and herbs. I find now that sauces, unless they are very light have become very cloying and take away the natural taste of the food.

Putting the Plan into practice

A really good alkaline start to the day is the juice of half a lemon in hot water. Despite being an acid fruit, lemons are alkaline forming and also get your intestines moving. It also gives you a jolt of vitamin C.. I use an enamel protecting toothpaste and that is one thing to consider when having lemon juice every day.

Rotating your foods is always a good idea as most of us can build up an intolerance to foods that we eat every day and this can have an acidic effect on the body. I have given you some guidelines for rotating certain foods such as carbohydrates to not only get the maximum benefit from them but to also minimise any intolerances you might have.

Carbohydrates should be 30% of your daily intake.

wholegrainsThe latest word from some of the experts in the field of nutrition is that you should drastically limit your grains in your diet. There is certainly evidence to suggest that a high intake of refined grains are not beneficial and might lead to health problems.

However, there is one very good reason for that. They are industrially produced and contain little nutrition, too many additives and usually a lot of added sugar. If you eat a great deal of cookies, processed white bread, certain breakfast cereals and cakes you will be ingesting sugars which are highly acidic.

A proportion of your diet should include wholegrains that have been minimally processed so that you obtain all the nutrition including B-vitamins that are stripped when refined. You also need the fibre they contain and by eating wholegrains you can reduce your protein levels and help reduce their acid content.

Suggested Carbohydrates

  • Whole-wheat or wholegrain bread, (home made without preservatives and minimum sugar is best – here is a recipe for my own which I eat – Yeast free Irish Soda Bread
  • whole-wheat Pitta breads,
  • shredded wheat,
  • whole-wheat pasta,
  • Rye Crisp breads,
  • Pumpernickel,
  • Porridge oats,
  • Sugar free muesli,
  • Brown Basmati Rice,
  • Oatcakes
  • Potatoes with skins boiled, mashed or baked

As you will see I have grouped these together in approximate wheat, corn, rice and oat days with the occasional potato thrown in.

If you have a wheat intolerance only eating it every 4 to 5 days may well help you with any related allergy symptoms.   Your body is designed to remove toxins from the body efficiently provided you are only eating them every four or five days.

Proteins and Fats – 20% of your daily intake.

Variety is important and whilst there is a generally a warning about eating too much red meat, if you rotate your proteins you will get the benefit from the the individual nutritional benefits.. For example B vitamins in the red meat and Omega Fatty Acids in fish..

We need protein and also some acid forming foods in our diet otherwise the balance goes too far the other way. We also need healthy fat and apart from extra virgin olive oil, lean protein with a little fat is not harmful. If you do not suffer from arthritis or acid digestive problems, eating a little more lean protein should not be a problem.

  • Lean meat beef, lamb, fish both healthy fat varieties such as salmon and white fish, chicken, turkey, Feta cheese, eggs etc.
  • Try to get organic if you can but good quality anyway.
  • Use olive oil for cooking and on bread wherever possible.
  • Use grass fed butter as a spread rather than hydrogenated margarine.
  • For snacking eat walnuts (14 per day), almonds, Seeds such as pumpkin (all unsalted).
  • Use avocado a couple of times a week as a vegetarian alternative. You can also use tofu but watch any fat it is mixed with.
  • Avoid salted processed meats such as bacon and ham except for once a week as this is acid forming.

Fruit and Vegetables – Minimum 50% of your diet.

  • Eat what you like from the list of alkaline forming foods above.
  • If you like to drink fresh fruit juice, unsweetened are best – they are available freshly squeezed in the supermarket or make at home, but need to be drunk on the day. I do suggest especially if you are trying to lose weight that you dilute with some sparkling mineral water, halving the sugar content.
  • Most fruit juices are made with the higher sugar variety including oranges which burns to an acid ash. I suggest going with vegetable juices such as carrot.
  • Drink plenty of water, herbal teas etc. and what you like from the list of alkaline forming foods above.

N.B The above guidelines are suggested to reduce your acidity especially if you are already experiencing related chronic diseases such as arthritis. After six weeks you should experience more energy, better skin tone and less of the aches and pains we associate with getting older.

Make a note of your symptoms such as joint pain, headaches, lack of energy at this point and then make a note of how you are feeling each week. I would be interested to get your feedback at the end of the six weeks.

©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 four of this series and the impact of declining hormones on our body. Thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Health Column – Turning Back the Clock 2021 -Anti-Aging and the correct pH balance by Sally Cronin


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.

Part one of the series can be found: Here

Anti-Aging and a healthy body requires the correct pH balance.

Health and energy and long life all begin with a correct pH balance. The pH balance refers to the acidity or alkalinity of every living organism. The scale for measuring this balance is called Potential for Hydrogen or pH balance and each system or organ has its optimum balance for health.

The scale goes from 0 to 14 with 7.0 being neutral with anything above 7 as alkaline and anything below 7 being acidic. Each step up or down is ten times the previous which means that even a change of .1 will have an effect on your body.

For example human blood stays in a very narrow pH range between 7.35 and 7.45. If the balance goes either side of this there will be varying symptoms of disease. In fact if the pH level drops too much below 6.8 or above 7.8 the heart can stop.

This illustrates how critical this level of acidity and alkalinity is for our health.

If you already have a health problem you are very likely to be acidic. Some of the early symptoms are:

  • acid after eating
  • acne
  • panic attacks
  • cold hands and feet
  • food allergies
  • bloating
  • mild headaches and fatigue.

Sound familiar?

More acute symptoms are

  • cold sores,
  • depression,
  • migraines,
  • asthma,
  • hives,
  • and urinary infections

N.B – Urine pH should be between 7.0 and 7.2. Under 5.3 you cannot absorb vitamins and minerals) which results in

  • hair loss
  • fungal infections,
  • numbness and tingling.

Advanced symptoms are the diseases such as:

  • Crohn’s disease,
  • MS,
  • Leukaemia,
  • Peptic ulcers,
  • Cancer (thrives in a balance of 4.5 to 5.0),
  • Hodgkin’s Disease,
  • Tuberculosis,
  • Lupus
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Osteoporosis.

For example, an aging problem that both men and women are likely to experience is osteoporosis. One of the primary causes of osteoporosis is a lifetime of eating too much daily protein and refined sugars.

This is very acid forming and necessitates the body continually pulling calcium from the bones to buffer this acidity. Animal protein is somewhat worse than vegetarian protein foods, but all exert an acidic effect. Eating a diet high in processed foods that contain a high sugar content also results in an increase in high acidity.

Too much acid will decrease the energy production in the cells and the ability to repair damaged cells. The body is unable to detox heavy metals and allows tumour cells to thrive. It will also cause a depressed immune system leaving the body wide open to infections.

As we age, we gradually dry up at the cellular level. As we get older cells get thicker. As a result the amounts of vital nutrients and oxygen brought into them declines while the amount of toxins and metabolic waste products increases. The end result is loss of youthful cell function and the start of degenerative diseases and a steady aging process.

What causes too much acid in the body?

An acidic balance occurs from eating an acid forming diet, stress, toxicity in our environment and lack of absorption of alkaline forming minerals. If the body cannot get enough alkaline forming minerals such as calcium from the diet it will borrow from our reserves, namely the calcium stored in the bones which leads to osteoporosis.

All food is burned to an ash in the body. Food ash is neutral, acid or alkaline depending on the mineral content of the food. To be considered alkaline forming the minerals sodium, potassium, calcium and magnesium are predominant. If it is acidic forming the ash will contain sulphur, phosphorus and chlorine.

To be healthy the body needs to be in the ratio of 4 – 1. Four parts alkaline and one part acid.

Just because a food is acid to begin with does not mean that it is acidic forming once it has gone through the digestive process. For example, a lemon is citrus and acidic but the ash it produces is alkaline.

There are some physical causes for an acid build up in the stomach that can then lead to a disruption in the acid balances in other systems of the body. Eating too much at one time can result in inadequate processing in the stomach. We are all familiar with that overstuffed feeling that we get when we have eaten too much. If you eat too fast you can compound this problem and the stomach is simply not large enough nor can it produce sufficient processing power to deal with the amount of food in a short space of time.

We have also lost the art of relaxing after a meal, rushing around trying to cope with modern life does zero for the digestive process. I am sure that we can all remember when we were children that we were never allowed to swim or run around for at least two hours after a main meal. Digestion takes a great deal of energy and if you divert that energy towards vigorous exercise, food is not processed properly leading to stomach cramps and increased acidity.

Medications.

Ironically, antacids that you take to reduce acidity in the stomach result in less stomach acid, which means food is not processed efficiently, particularly proteins and creating an acid imbalance. Other medications such as aspirin and other over the counter NSAIDS such as Advil or Ibuprofen. Most medications have an effect on the body and major organs and this includes the liver which has a vital role in the processing of acid based foods we consume. If it is compromised by the medication passing through our system it will result in an imbalance in our pH levels.

N.B. Please do not stop taking prescribed medication without consulting your doctor.

In next week’s post I will be sharing an eating plan which may help to restore an acidity/alkalinity balance if you are already experiencing some of the symptoms I have mentioned.

©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 three of this series and the eating plan to restore a healthy pH balance. Thanks Sally.

 

 

Smorgasbord Health Column – Turning Back the Clock – Chapter Ten – Maintaining your Health Advantage by Sally Cronin


This week I am looking at how we can hang onto any gains that we make in our middle years into our 70s and 80s. Our bodies with change but there is a formula that seems to be the driving force behind the 90 year old men and women that I have met and worked with.

Good Fresh Food + Moderate Exercise + Engagement with Others = Healthier Old Age..

Chapter Ten – Maintaining your Health Advantage by Sally Cronin

Just to recap and to remind ourselves what we have covered in the last nine chapters of this programme and to maintain the age advantage you have gained.

We looked at the various physical reasons why we age prematurely.

Free-radical damage that causes accumulative cell degeneration, leading to disease and premature aging. We covered how to introduce anti-oxidants to limit this damage and how by reducing stress and eating healthily we can in some cases rejuvenate and improve the effects of some of the degenerative diseases.

Toxicity damage to organs caused by the environmental pollution around us, and the toxins in the healthy food we think that we are eating. Allergies and intolerances that we may suffer from all our lives that leads to a build-up of toxins in the tissues causing pain and inflammation like in Asthma or arthritis. Toxins build up if we eat too much high fat, sugary diets high in stimulants. Our bodies are unable to cope and eliminate them fast enough.

Hormone imbalances, not only our sexual hormones, but also all the others within our bodies that contribute to a healthy and efficient system. From the Hypothalamus in the brain to the pancreas, eating healthily will keep these organs and glands youthful for longer.

We covered how important our Immune System was to anti-aging by protecting us against harmful viruses and bacteria that want to squat in our bodies and take our health from us.

Finally the Acid and Alkalinity balance, which can be a leading cause of degenerative disease and do easy to remedy with the right diet.

We also discovered there are other reasons behind premature aging that have nothing to do with food.

Our emotional and mental attitude to aging is just as vital as following a healthy eating programme and also the way that we present ourselves to others.

How can you keep the age advantage you have gained?

Who in their right mind would want to go back to feeling lousy if they now feel younger, fitter, slimmer and more energetic? It is tempting sometimes to slip backwards. You go on holiday, the family is over for a meal, you are eating out more and the wine is flowing a little more often. That is fine in the short term but within a few days you will notice that you are not feeling quite so well and you need to make a decision at that point. Are you willing to compromise your health and your vitality that you are now taking for granted by not resuming the programme as quickly as possible after a break for a holiday or family celebration?

One of the things I hope you will come to understand once you have been on the suggested eating plan for five or six weeks is that eating healthily is not boring.

Apart from keeping a healthy eating programme going, are there any other strategies for maintaining our health?

It is important that you measure where you are on a regular basis. Your health is like your house, contents and car insurance. You may not need it year-in-year-out but you buy it just in case and you adjust it according to your changing circumstances. The same applies to your body, health and lifestyle.

You cannot escape the aging process completely; although you can make it a great deal easier on yourself. Early detection of problems can prevent some very serious diseases taking hold of you later in life. For example blood sugar levels, higher than normal oxidised LDL cholesterol and blood pressure levels if identified early on can be reversed by making some simple lifestyle changes.

I have a list of key indicators that need to be measured on a regular basis so that you are as informed as possible about your own health and are in control of dealing with anything that may cause you harm at a later date.

Blood pressure cuffs are available and you can measure that yourself at regular intervals once a week, first thing in the morning before you get out of bed and perhaps again after one of your exercise sessions.

Other tests are a good idea to carry out every three to six months depending on your age. Blood sugar levels and Cholesterol for example and can be done in your local pharmacy.

Annually it is a good idea to have a thorough medical examination because even if nothing is found you will come out feeling a million dollars.

Weigh yourself once a week and review your eating plan from time to time depending on changes in the level of your exercise or if you feel that you might be lacking certain nutrients. A therapist will always help you with that if you need it.

Make a list of all the indicators in a diary at the beginning of the year – measure them and then make a list every month, three months or six months of those you are going to recheck then. This time spent having these key indicators checked might save your life and at the very least keep you on your healthy eating plan.

Is there an area that is not health related that contributes to maintaining a young outlook on life?

It is my belief that there are in fact several factors that contribute to being young at heart. Some of my favourites are remembering how unique you are, making a difference, always challenging yourself and a sense of humour.

Sometimes we forget that we are totally and utterly unique from the hair on our heads to the tips of our toes. Unless we have an identical twin there is no one in the entire world like us.

From the moment that we are born we are encouraged to conform, to follow the norm and not to stand out in the crowd. If you did you were regarded as the black sheep of the family and sent to the colonies or ostracised and labelled eccentric. In fact one of my clients commented that her daughter and son in law told her that she was eccentric and she felt flattered and so she should. As long as being different does not harm you or those around you, being unique is something to be proud of.

As an aside, when I first got married I worked on a sheep farm in the mountains in Wales. It was winter and every day the farmer and I would climb up to feed the sheep and eventually when the snow came down we had to find the whole flock and bring them down to the flat ground. There were 400 sheep on a whole mountain. With the snow down, how do you suppose we found white sheep? Because of the old, black ewe that was the matriarch of the flock and essential to their survival. They stayed with her and if we found her against the snow we found all the others. So never be bothered about being a black sheep, others will flock to follow you and will stay close.

What about contribution?

The other amazingly youth-giving quality is the ability to contribute to those around you. However, sometimes you look around you and you think that it would be impossible to make a difference. It is overwhelming when 24/7 you look at the poverty in Africa or India, the cruelty to children and animals and the mindless violence in most parts of the world and it is hard to think how you as an individual can make a difference.

I have a story, that has a number of versions, that I have told when I have given talks, which puts this into perspective.

One day a man is walking along a beach the morning after a terrific storm. The sand is littered for miles with thousands upon thousands of starfish who have been thrown up high on the beach overnight. It was devastating and he looked on in horror.

He noticed a little girl walking along the shore towards him and every so often he saw her pick up a starfish, carry it carefully to the sea and throw it as far as she could out into the water.

The man went up to her and shook his head and said,

‘Little girl, there are hundreds of thousands of starfish that are dying, you cannot make a difference’.

She looked at him with a starfish in her hand and said
But it will make a difference to this one.’

For me this illustrates the enormity of helping just one person. It can have a ripple effect that will make a difference to many others and it will certainly make a difference to you. You don’t have to take on the world. Start by being good to yourself and work outwards from there.

Once you have that in hand you might think about giving some of your time to a local voluntary organisation – perhaps a day a week – where you can start to make a difference. Many of these organisations have far reaching effects working to eradicate poverty or cruelty to children and animals around the World. What you perceive as a small and insignificant contribution without global impact is in fact a crucial part of a unified effort to make the change happen.

Why are challenges good for us?

Stress is not always bad for us. There is an element of anticipation and excitement that is connected to pushing the envelope of our existence, either mentally or physically. Setting goals for progress puts us under pressure but managed properly that pressure can improve our health, our stamina and our ability to cope with everyday life in a more efficient way.

By achieving a challenging task we can put many less stressful events into perspective. You will often hear people say, ‘If I can do that I can do anything.’

One of the weekend seminars, The Firewalk Weekend with Tony Robbins, that my husband and I went on in 1996 when I embarked on my weight loss, was about just that principle. At the end of the evening all the participants were put into a state enabling them to walk across a bed of burning coals 25 feet long. At the time, I weighed over 24 stone (330 lbs) and felt totally unprepared to do this challenge. My husband did walk over the burning coals without any damage to his feet and felt incredible afterwards.

We went on over the next two years to complete a the other courses as part of the Tony Robbins Life Mastery. One of my biggest challenges was losing my first 80lbs out of 150lbs, so that I was cleared to climb a 60-foot telegraph pole and jump off, relying only on a safety harness and a faith in the guy on the end of a thin rope. (Actually I insisted on two!) That motivated me to lose the rest of my weight.

I am not suggesting the everyone rush out and run over burning coals or climb a telegraph pole but you can undertake a challenge which means something to you and perhaps benefits someone else as well. A sponsored walk or run perhaps or competing in a competition like mastermind or even signing up for an open university course.

Challenging ourselves is a way to stimulate our bodies and our minds into remembering the function that they have and the skills that they can still learn.

Getting older is just another phase in our life and it is not up to others to make us happy nor should we expect to have unhealthy lifestyles and not pay the price.

Taking responsibility for our diet and to a larger extent our health is a major step towards having a fantastic 10, 20 or even 30 years to enjoy life to the full.

Next time a condensed nutritional guide and a suggested shopping list to give you the nutrients required to keep you looking young and fit for life.

©SallyCronin Just Food for Health 1999 – 2018

A little bit about me nutritionally.

A little about me from a nutritional perspective. 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. I qualified as a nutritional therapist and practiced in Ireland and the UK as well as being a consultant for radio. My first centre was in Ireland, the Cronin Diet Advisory Centre and my second book, Just Food for Health was written as my client’s workbook. Here are my health books including a men’s health manual and my anti-aging book.

All available in Ebook from:  http://www.amazon.com/Sally-Cronin/e/B0096REZM2

And Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sally-Georgina-Cronin/e/B003B7O0T6

Comprehensive guide to the body, and the major organs and the nutrients needed to be healthy 360 pages, A4: http://www.moyhill.com/html/just_food_for_health.html

Thank you for dropping in and if you have any questions fire away.. If you would like to as a private question then my email is sally.cronin@moyhill.com. I am no longer in practice and only too pleased to help in any way I can. thanks Sally

 

Smorgasbord Health Column – Turning Back the Clock – Taking Care of the Externals by Sally Cronin


This week a look at the person that we present to the world. I don’t think I would ever consider plastic surgery, but I have certainly invested time and money in creams that promise the earth!  However, apart from our attitude to life that I talked about a couple of weeks ago…our appearance does influence how others see us in age terms. This does not mean getting out there an buying a mini-skirt (unless you have the legs for it of course) but making the most of what you have got…. and this includes eating the right foods to nourish our skin and bones.

Turning Back the ClockTurning Back the Clock – Taking Care of the Externals by Sally Cronin

We have concentrated, up to now, on the internal aspects of aging. But we also need to take a look at our external presentation. Not just healthy eating for skin, hair and nails but also the way that we show them off.

We would all love to possess radiant and glowing skin, thick and stunningly coloured hair, beautifully manicured nails and eyes with a twinkle in them.

There is no doubt that eating plenty of fresh vegetables and lean protein, combined with drinking sufficient fluids will assist your body to make positive changes in all those areas. Lack of fluids causes blotchy and dull skin and spots so drinking the 2 litres of fluid a day will give your skin improved tone and texture. Dehydrated skin is very flaccid and flat and a simple test to determine how hydrated you are, is to pinch some skin on the back of your hand and let it go. The longer it takes to return to its former shape, the more dehydrated you are. It should spring back immediately.

Apart from fluids, what else do we need to ensure this glowing skin and shiny hair?

We need a balanced diet of proteins, carbohydrates and fats, with the right amount of the essential nutrients to ensure that all the body systems, such as waste management, are working efficiently. If you are not eliminating waste then it will accumulate and cause tissues such as skin and even the hair to become lifeless and dull.

I have covered the importance of proteins earlier and how we are essentially made up of water and protein. Both the skin and hair need sufficient protein in the diet and this does not mean eating 5lbs of prime-rib every day. Protein is present in lots of plant foods as well and these would include all types of beans, sprouting seeds and beans, cheese, milk, whole grains. Live yoghurt is great as it also contains the friendly bacteria to keep your intestines healthy. If they are working efficiently then of course you will be eliminating toxins efficiently.

Some of the foods that you should remove or reduce in your diet can cause acne such as too much sugar. Alcohol in particular can cause bloating and refined, white carbohydrates get stored as fat and increase the lumpy and uneven texture to our skin.

We need a certain amount of fat, not only for the B vitamins that it supplies but also because it assists in circulation and improves the suppleness and softness of skin. Vitamin B – complex is very important for skin tone and the B vitamins are also great for the immune system – keeping us clear of infections.

Other vitamins that we should be taking in for our skin health are Vitamin A, which strengthens and repairs the tissues and prevents spots. It is a powerful anti-oxidant, which keeps your skin clear of toxins.

Vitamin C is vital for wound healing and repair and maintenance of the blood vessels close to the surface of the skin and can be used in creams on the surface to help stabilise the collagen and help prevent fine lines appearing.

Vitamin E is definitely a great anti-oxidant and has an anti-inflammatory effect when applied directly to the skin. It helps keep the skin soft and smooth and has a mild sunscreen effect.

Zinc works like the vitamin C and E and is great for wound healing and in a cream is great for mild rashes etc.

So, if you include foods providing these in your healthy eating programme, you should be getting all of the nutrients necessary to keep your skin youthful.

What about expensive skin creams?

Like most women on the fast track to wrinkles, I have tried most of the face creams that are advertised. I know deep down that I pursuing a photo-shopped pipe dream but you never know!!! However, in my explorations, I have found that there are some great products in the lower end of the price scale. I now use a combination of creams including Nivea soft cream, E45 as a body lotion and Aloe Vera cream after being in the sun. I rarely spend more than £5 a large pot that lasts at least a couple of months.

My mother washed her face at night with soap and water, with a cold water rinse followed by some Ponds Cold cream cleanser and moisturiser from the age of 15 until she died and had great skin at 95. In fact I wrote to Ponds just before her 90th birthday and they sent her six jars free which she thought was a little optomistic.

Men as well as women need to moisturise and care for their skin from the inside and the outside. There is nothing effeminate about a man putting cream on his face, neck and hands. Men need to glow as well as women and there is nothing more attractive than a clean-shaven, slightly bronzed older man with radiant skin. Fragrance free ranges are available and very inexpensive.

Is smoking a leading cause of skin aging?

When you smoke cigarettes, you inhale hundreds of dangerous chemicals into your body, which have a harmful effect every organ including the skin. These toxins help to breakdown the structure of the skin, destroying the collagen fibres, which keep the skin taut and smooth. The result is premature aging of the skin, with thinning and the early development of lines and wrinkles. Women also seem more prone to wrinkles developing around the mouth as fine lines radiating outwards. There is also a genetic reason that smoking and obesity can cause premature aging and a Professor Spector printed some recent research in the Lancet

Every time a cell divides, and as people age, their telomeres get shorter. The loss is associated with aging which is why telomeres are thought to hold the secrets of youth and the aging process.

The investigators measured concentrations of a body fat regulator, leptin, and telomere length in blood samples from 1,122 women between 18 and 76. Telomere length decreased steadily with age, and telomeres of obese women and smokers were much shorter than those of lean women and those who had never smoked.

There was a difference between being obese and lean, which corresponded to 8.8 years of aging. Being a current or ex-smoker equated to about 4.6 years and smoking a pack a day for 40 years corresponded to 7.4 years of aging.

Apparently if you stop smoking before 40 this process can be stopped and the effects minimised.

What are the areas of our skin that give away our age most of all?

Most of us as we get older tend to cover up certain bits of our body unless we are very brave and don’t give a fig leaf. If you take care of your face you must make sure that you also moisturise and take care of your neck and your hands. Both these areas are forgotten very often and the face will look great but the crinkly neck and dry and chapped hands will give you real age away.

What about hair and the effects of aging?

We need a nutrient rich diet and plenty of fluids for a healthy head of hair. My favourite foods, salmon and walnuts with their Omega fatty acids are perfect in the diet to prevent the hair looking dry and lifeless.

Some of the other nutrients are also necessary

Such as:

  • Copper (mushrooms, sunflower seeds, crab, lobster and oysters).
  • Zinc (barley, oysters, crab, chicken, whole wheat, lamb, beef and turkey).
  • Selenium (brown rice, chicken, shrimp, sunflower seeds, tuna, Brazil nuts, walnuts and eggs) can help promote hair growth and slow down the loss of hair over time.
  • There is another substance found in food called PABA (Para aminobenzoic acid) which may protect the hair follicles and prevent hair loss in men and women. The best food sources for this are barley, oysters (the real reason men eat them) crab, chicken, whole wheat, lamb, beef, turkey, brown rice, mushrooms, eggs and milk.

How about the way that we present our hair and the age it reflects?

This is purely a personal opinion but I find that older men with balding, grey hair look fantastic with a neat haircut and a shiny, slightly tanned, bald head. Long grey hair with baldness or combing long strands of hair over a bald spot are not really sexy. I have seen years taken off men who have gone to the groomed look.

For women it is easy to stick with a style that you have worn for years. You certainly do not need to dye your hair. In fact if not done properly it can look aging. Go and get some advice about your style. A stunning cut can frame your face in the right way and knock years off you. Also, if you are a mottled grey then think about going the whole way and have a silver rinse or go completely white – with the right cut this can look stunning. I am sorry to say that most perms and stiff hairdos can be aging and today it is about light, soft and flattering hairstyles. Word of warning – look at your hairdressers cut and colour – if it is bright green and looks like a poodle cut – go somewhere else.

Do be careful about what you put on your hair. It is a billion pound business and not all products are produced to the same height standard. Choose the simplest shampoo and conditioner possible. Do a final rinse with cold water and that will bring a shine to any colour hair. NB. One of the most used words on a label for hair products is ‘Repeat’ do remember the label is written by the marketing department!

How about our nail health and how should we present them?

This is not just for the girls as we all need to make sure that our nails are healthy as they can reflect our inner state of wellbeing too. Healthy nails should be strong, smooth and translucent in colour. Nail health can be compromised not only by poor diet but also exposure to toxins, too many prescription drugs, or by fungal infections. A trained practitioner can tell if a person has health problems such as heart disease or lung problems from the state of the nails.

Taking in the right nutrients for your nails will also benefit your hair. Calcium is important but do remember that if you are taking any supplements of calcium that they should be accompanied by Vitamin D or Magnesium so that it is absorbed.

If you are deficient in iron this can cause brittle nails, as can a lack of zinc. The essential fatty acids that I have covered in previous chapters are also necessary. Foods that can help give you healthy and strong nails are in the healthy eating programme in the last chapters of the book.

So as long as you are eating lots of fresh vegetables and fruit, moderate intake of dairy foods, sardines, canned salmon (with the bones) spinach and soy products you will be getting calcium.

  • Magnesium is in whole grains, beans, dried apricots, spinach and fish.
  • Iron is in shellfish, liver, salmon and turkey.

What about how our hands – does this affect the age we look?

Again this is only a personal preference. Men can often neglect their hands and they need to be moisturised and also have neatly trimmed and rounded nails. I am sorry but men with long nails turn me right off. Also fellows, do remember that you may be touching parts of our bodies that Heineken never reaches so having soft and manicured hands is much more sensual.

A tip for men – women look at a man’s eyes and his hands when they first meet them – short of shoving them in your trouser pockets – get the moisturiser out and the nail file.

For women – long curly nails are a turn off. The fashion for very long false nails may be fine for party night but if you have ever stood in a queue at a check out whilst the cashier pecks at the buttons on her machine you understand that they are not very practical.

I think that smooth soft hands with neat rounded and moderately long nails are lovely on a woman. I like nail varnish and it should always match fingers and toes. (That goes for men too).

Healthy feet are also very important and as much care should be taken with them as with your hands. Unfortunately as we get older our feet can begin to look a little gnarled and ragged around the edges and with all the walking that everyone is now doing, taking that bit of extra care is essential. Treat yourself to a pedicure every few weeks and it will be wonderful.

Make sure that shoes fit correctly and a good soak in some hot salty water with a dash of fairy liquid works wonders for relaxing the whole body.

©sallycronin Turning Back the Clock 2013

The previous chapters are in the directory: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/turning-back-the-clock-anti-aging-programme/

©sallycronin- Turning Back the Clock 2013

A little bit about me nutritionally.

A little about me from a nutritional perspective. 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. I qualified as a nutritional therapist and practiced in Ireland and the UK as well as being a consultant for radio. My first centre was in Ireland, the Cronin Diet Advisory Centre and my second book, Just Food for Health was written as my client’s workbook. Here are my health books including a men’s health manual and my anti-aging book.

All available in Ebook from:  http://www.amazon.com/Sally-Cronin/e/B0096REZM2

And Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sally-Georgina-Cronin/e/B003B7O0T6

Comprehensive guide to the body, and the major organs and the nutrients needed to be healthy 360 pages, A4: http://www.moyhill.com/html/just_food_for_health.html

Thank you for dropping in and if you have any questions fire away.. If you would like to as a private question then my email is sally.cronin@moyhill.com. I am no longer in practice and only too pleased to help in any way I can. thanks Sally

 

Smorgasbord Health Column – Turning Back the Clock – Chapter Seven – Flexibility and Exercise are the key to a youthful body


Over the next few weeks I am going to be sharing my book on anti-aging.. Turning Back the Clock. Some of the strategies have been included in other posts on the various areas of health that can accelerate the natural aging process, but in this book I bring them all together. Some of you may have already followed the series that I posts in February 2016, but I hope enough time has passed for you to find it worth another look.

This is a natural anti-aging programme. We all age but many of us are assisting the process with diet and lifestyle choices. This book takes a look at the physical, mental and emotional aspects of aging and how a little attitude adjustment goes a long way!

Chapter Seven – Flexibility and Exercise are the key to a youthful body

In this chapter I am going to be looking at exercise in general as an anti-aging tool and then exercises to increase flexibility. I think that it is important to review exactly why it is so important for the body to move and exercise regularly. A great start to becoming fitter is to learn how to breathe correctly and I covered that in

Our bodies were never designed to be static and the saying “Use it or Lose It” is very appropriate. If you were to leave your car parked up without moving it for months on end you would expect that certain parts would certainly rust and parts like the tyres would probably perish and be unusable. If you left your battery connected it is likely to be flat as a pancake. In short, the car would be kaput.

The same thing applies to us. Muscles wither and shrink – we accumulate fat – bones become soft and brittle and our internal systems are sluggish and unresponsive. We can suffer from depression and we certainly slide further and further down the slippery slope of ill health the longer it goes on.

Is it ever too late to take up exercise?

No, it certainly is not. Although I would recommend that if you have been sedentary for a long time that you talk to your doctor before embarking on a marathon training course, if you start out slowly and carefully, within weeks you will be feeling and looking a great deal better.

What sort of health benefits can someone expect from doing simple exercises such as walking?

As I mentioned in the previous chapter on breathing, you do not have to race around doing aerobics and playing squash to obtain the aerobic (oxygen) benefits you need.

If you are doing the breathing exercises and combine these with a walking programme that increases in intensity over a period of weeks you will be getting all the benefits you need. In fact recent research is showing that if you are not fit, it can be dangerous for some people to contemplate marathon running if their heart muscle is not as healthy as it needs to be for that sort of sustained activity.

Even moderate exercise, for example, can reduce the risk of Coronary Heart Disease, Strokes, Diabetes, High Blood Pressure, Bowel Cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, Osteoporosis, Arthritis and Stress. All these conditions are ones that head the list of the leading causes of aging, so walking is definitely up there as an exercise of choice. If you are trying to lose weight and especially if you are very overweight, walking is the safest and most sensible way to exercise to begin with.

One of the most interesting studies that I read showed a very clear connection between exercise and recovery rates from breast cancer. Results showed that women who exercised between three and five hours a week doubled their chances of a full recovery and survival. Women who were sedentary were twice as likely to die from the disease. I find that very compelling and more than enough reason to exercise daily – this must also apply to recovery rates from other cancers too, logically.

Apart from increasing bone and muscular strength it will also increase your joints range and flexibility. Perversely, doing more exercise can ease the pain of rheumatic joints and if you know elderly. regular walkers you will see what a great posture they have.

What sort of exercise programme should we be following?

Everyone should be out there every day in the fresh air for at least 20 minutes. Brisk walking is the best and being slightly breathless is the point at which you will be fat burning and helping your body to lose fat and form muscle.

If you are currently walking for 20 minutes per day then you need to measure the distance you are walking. Over the next 6 weeks raise the time you walk to 40 minutes per day and you can split that if you like. Walking uphill during part of your walk will increase the intensity but the right walking speed for you depends on your age and sex. Over a period of time, aim to walk at an average speed of 3 to 4 miles per hour.

Do not overdo it – this is not a challenge but a gradual way to increase your level of fitness, health and youthfulness over a period of weeks and not days.

How important is our flexibility as we get older?

Flexibility

We can maintain our flexibility and actually improve it as we get older. The main reason we get stiff as we age is because we stop moving our bodies into different positions. The body is designed to move, not stay sitting, or slouching, the majority of the time! The more flexibility and space we have in our bodies, the deeper the breaths can be which as you read in the previous chapter has so many vital health benefits.

3 simple exercises to increase flexibility

No1.

Stand with hands by your side and as you inhale your breath, raise your arms slowly until they are above your head in a straight line with the rest of your body. At the same time as you raise your arms, also lift your heels to stretch the whole body upwards, whilst on tip toe. When you exhale lower the arms slowly and the heels back to the floor it is also a balance exercise so it helps develops concentration and focus. Keep your eyes fixed on a point during the exercise. Repeat 7/8 times.

No 2.

It is important not to do this exercise if you have a chronic back problem. Also only do a gentle arch to start with and increase the height over a period of weeks.

Go onto all fours. Hands placed on the floor under the shoulders and your knees under the hips. Imagine what a cat looks like when it gets up to stretch after napping. It arches its back up into the air.

Now with the back flat, exhale and arch the spine up, dropping your head into a relaxed position. Your abdomen is drawn up to support the spine in the arched position. Pause to feel the stretch. Inhale slowly flattening the back again. Pause. Exhale; slowly arch the spine up again etc. Always work slowly. Repeat at least 8 times.

No 3.

This posture is universally recognised as one of the best to help lower back pain but again make sure that you do not attempt if you are very sore. Take it gently over a period of time.

Lie down on your back. Inhale taking your arms back above your head, exhale bringing the right knee to your chest with your hands around it, to draw it in closer. Inhale as you lower your arms back down to your side and your leg back on the ground. Exhale bringing the left knee up with hands on it…and continue 8 times to each knee. Then 8 more times with both knees coming to chest together.

Then relax and lie flat for several minutes to appreciate what you have done and enjoy the benefits of the movements and deep breathing.

 

Other forms of exercise. When you reach a level of fitness that you are comfortable with then take to another level. For some people Yoga, Tai chi are wonderful for keeping the body supple and for others tennis, squash, jogging. For me swimming is top of the list and it does not take long for me to get fit if I swim for 45 minutes three times a week. It is exercises virtually every muscle in the body including the facial muscles when you jump in and find the water is only 15 degrees! Dancing is also fantastic exercise provided you do not have knee problems but after several weeks of walking or swimming you may find that has improved enough to take to the floor.

To encourage you one of my favourite dance videos of a couple who are fabulous and boy does he have some moves!!

The previous chapters are in the directory: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/turning-back-the-clock-anti-aging-programme/

©sallycronin- Turning Back the Clock 2013

A little bit about me nutritionally.

A little about me from a nutritional perspective. 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. I qualified as a nutritional therapist and practiced in Ireland and the UK as well as being a consultant for radio. My first centre was in Ireland, the Cronin Diet Advisory Centre and my second book, Just Food for Health was written as my client’s workbook. Here are my health books including a men’s health manual and my anti-aging book.

All available in Ebook fromhttp://www.amazon.com/Sally-Cronin/e/B0096REZM2

And Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sally-Georgina-Cronin/e/B003B7O0T6

Comprehensive guide to the body, and the major organs and the nutrients needed to be healthy 360 pages, A4: http://www.moyhill.com/html/just_food_for_health.html

Thank you for dropping in and if you have any questions fire away.. If you would like to as a private question then my email is sally.cronin@moyhill.com. I am no longer in practice and only too pleased to help in any way I can. thanks Sally