By Val Allen, Naturopath & Nutritionist –When is the best time to start working on your longevity ‘life insurance’ and ‘quality health insurance’? Having worked with patients for forty years I feel qualified to offer some strategies to set you up for a long, healthy life and provide answers to these vital questions.
Many of my patients have initially worked with me on their health issues and once their bodies were brought back into health balance, they have steadily worked on maintaining good vitality, strength, resisting infections and diseases and keeping their body tissues energised to perform at their best. Many of these thousands of my patients are now in their sixties, seventies, eighties and four are now ninety plus.
Forty years or so ago Australians were just becoming aware that highly refined carbohydrate diets (lots of sugar and white bread), preservatives, colours, additives, pesticide sprays on crops, asbestos issues and smoking were highly detrimental to their health. We’ve come a long way since then, however today’s Australian faces the same concerns but we now can add genetically modified crops, electromagnetic smog from computers, mobile phones etc, higher levels of air pollution and more challenges to our nervous systems with anxiety and depression at an all time high. So, more than ever before, we have to be more diligent in working at becoming strong and healthy .
However old you are, your best chance of keeping your mind and body as young as possible rests on some of the following suggestions:
Body Fuel. This should be enough to provide great energy, healing and tissue strength to keep you at your ideal body weight. The latest research on those reaching a great age with quality – people in Blue Zones – has found that excess body fat reduces life expectancy.
We now know that vegetables should play the major role in our daily food consumption especially green vegetables (at least two daily) and plenty of red and orange vegetables. We need moderate amounts of quality protein, at least two tablespoons of good fats (i.e. nuts, oily fish, avacado) and small amounts of complex carbohydrates and fruits. All red, purple, green and orange vegetables and fruit contain the magic anti-ageing nutrients that we’re seeking.
Your food should be as fresh and organic as possible. If organic produce is difficult to access, soak your vegetables in two tablespoons of bicarbonate of soda in a sink filled with water for thirty minutes to remove most pesticide sprays.
Hydration. Without two litres of quality water (or herbal teas) daily, our blood oxygenation depletes and this has a dramatic effect on skin quality, energy, mental alertness, detoxification from your kidneys and bowel and ageing. Linking to hydration and oxgenation is our need to breathe deeply – diaphram or yoga breathing at least ten minutes daily is helpful.
Exercise. We now know that low- impact exercise (walking, swimming, cycling, dancing etc) for thirty minutes five times weekly will provide the same health, muscle and bone strength protection as high-impact gym training. Exercising to the point of ‘puffing’ will accelerate fat loss.
Sleep. This has been undervalued. Body repair, fat burning, cell renewal and dementia prevention all require at least seven hours of quality sleep, so focus on this area also.
Attitude and Belonging. ‘Think old, grow old’ is quite true. Societies where elderly folk are revered within their family circle and are included in community decisions survive well. We also now know that physical activity staves off dementia better than crossword puzzles, however challenging our minds with new learning is also valuable. Start your day on a positive note by thinking of five things that you are grateful for in your life. This sets up a positive stress-reducing endorphin brain response that benefits mood responses.
So if this all sounds a bit overwhelming, start with one area at a time. We all want to be the one who amazes our friends and families with our abilities in our eighties and nineties!
Click here to check out our videoclip of my 87 year old patient Marguerite for inspiration.
Here’s Marguerite about to take off in her ‘Monster’ 4WD!