7 Ways to Fight Aging
The passage of time has its advantages: We often become wiser and, according to
at least one study, happier. But it is hard to feel happy—or use your hard-won wisdom—
if you find yourself in poor health. Here’s seven tips for maintaining vitality
and well-being in life’s later years.
If there’s a body part that doesn’t benefit from exercise, researchers haven’t found it yet. But beware the hazards of poor form. “‘No pain, no gain’ means no brain when it comes to your joints. It means you’re misaligning something,” says Randy Raugh, MPT, a physical therapist at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Tucson and author of Prime for Life (Rodale). Raugh says people tend to “misalign their knees repeatedly throughout the day.” Correcting misaligned joints, which may require professional help, can reduce discomfort and may even fend off knee replacement surgery. Many people
turn to the supplements glucosamine and chondroitin to help build healthy cartilage, especially when combined with MSM and black cherry to reduce pain and inflammation.
Fill Your Plate With Color
From yellow squash to purple grapes, loading up on deeply hued produce is your best dietary bet for a long life. “Nutrition medicine turns on or off certain genes related to aging disorders,” says Ronald Klatz, MD, DO, president of the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine and co-author with Robert Goldman, MD, of The Official Anti-Aging Revolution (Basic Health). Produce contains
beneficial antioxidants; some available in supplemental form include NAC, SOD/gliadin and lipoic acid. A high-quality whole-food supplement can help fill dietary gaps.
Eat and Drink Clean
Your fruits and veggies can come in every color of the rainbow but evidence suggests that if they are grown using conventional methods you might be getting both more contaminants and less nutrition than you bargained for. “Going organic is very important because if you don’t take control of the food that you eat you will never be able to detoxify and modify your metabolism,” says Klatz. He is especially wary of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), in which a plant’s genes are tinkered with to increase resistance to
pesticides and herbicides. “These things are a major
science experiment,” Klatz says. “There’s a great deal of
concern about allergies and autoimmune
disorders coming from GMO foods.” Select produce bearing the USDA Organic seal and find suppliers of meat raised without antibiotics and other chemicals. In a similar manner, be careful of your family’s water supply. “It’s a good idea to drink water that has been properly filtered and distilled,” says Klatz.
Maintain a Healthy Weight
One advantage of a plant-centric diet is that it helps you avoid the excess pounds that can foster such chronic disorders as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and cancer. Calories do count, so limit your total food intake. In fact, the only life-extension method that’s been proven to work in studies is a very-low-calorie diet, although following such a diet isn’t easy if you’re not a mouse confined to a lab cage. Fortunately, researchers have found that the phytonutrient resveratrol appears to mimic the effects of extra-dainty eating, especially if paired with vitamin D to help fight inflammation and boost immunity. One problem with calorie restriction is that it can throw your brain into a panic, increasing appetite and storing fat for what it believes is starvation. One way to overcome this phenomenon is to promote the proper deployment of dopamine, a neurotransmitter, in the brain. DLPA, an amino acid needed for dopamine production, can help, especially when combined with other nutrients such as 5-HTP, L-tyrosine, L-glutamine, chromium and vitamins B1 and B6. Of course, diet is only one half of the weight-control equation; exercise is the other. Can’t drag yourself to the gym? “Get a dog. A dog won’t take no for an answer—it needs to be walked twice a day,” says Klatz.
Bolster Your Bones
Having one’s bones weakened by osteoporosis can lead to potentially fatal fractures; studies have found death rates to rise more than 20% in the year following a hip break. If you have osteoporosis of the spine, Raugh recommends avoiding exercises that force you to bend forward (including situps and yoga), which can cause brittle vetebrae to crumble. Instead, he suggests exercising for “strength, flexibility and overall level of fitness.” (A personal trainer can help you design a fitness plan appropriate to your needs.) Calcium is the best-known bone nutrient but you don’t need to drink
gallons of milk to get it. In fact, Algas calcareas, a type of algae that draws calcium from seawater, provides this mineral in an easily digestible form along with the magnesium that serves as calcium’s partner within the body. These minerals work best when combined with vitamin D, which helps the body absorb calcium, and vitamin K2, which helps incorporate calcium into bone.
Fend Off Sun Damage
Who doesn’t enjoy stretching out in the sun? But you can get too much of a good thing. Sun exposure can “set the stage for wrinkles, discolorations and, at worst, skin cancer,” says Klatz. The sun’s UV rays can also hurt your eyes by contributing to macular degeneration and cataracts, two leading causes of age-related blindness. That makes wearing a brimmed hat and shades a must when you leave the house, along with using sunscreen on a consistent basis. You can reinforce these external efforts with lutein, a nutrient that along with its partner, zeaxanthin, helps provide “internal sunglasses” by quenching UV-generated free radicals in the eyes and skin. (Lutein also helps protect arteries from plaque buildup.) Another nutrient, astaxanthin, helps ease inflammation.
Keep Your Love Light Burning
Physical intimacy boosts immunity, reduces stress, eases pain and promotes sleep. This helps explain why one study has found an association between an active sex life and successful aging in older women. Both genders may experience loss of libido due to reduced levels of testosterone and estrogen, the primary male and female sex hormones. For men, the herbs Tribulus terrestris and fenugreek can promote testosterone production, especially when combined with stress-fighters such as ginseng and rhodiola along with zinc and calcium fructate. For women, the herb maca supports sexual health and helps increase energy, particularly in combination with L-arginine, dong quai,
L-histidine, damiana and an herbal formula from India called alanzeebium.
The Advantages of Apples
Apples are among the most popular fruits; according to the US Apple Association (www.usapple.org), the country’s growers produce about 50 pounds of fresh and processed apples per person every year. A relatively few of the nearly 100 commercial apple varieties account for the vast majority of this output; they include Red Delicious, Fuji, Gala, Golden Delicious and Granny Smith.
As healthy as they are popular, apples provide benefits that include:
Conventional production often involves pesticides, so try to find organic apples whenever possible. Some growers practice integrated pest management (IPM), which tries to minimize chemical usage by relying more on biological pest controls.