5 Tips to Ensure Healthy, Vital Aging

Mindy with her parents

Aging gracefully is a family affair. Mindy with her parents,  Natalie and Burton Schulman.

By Mindy Gorman-Plutzer

Does anti-aging mean we should resist aging? Wouldn’t it be better to embrace it?

Anti-aging has become a phenomenon: anti-aging skin care, anti-aging medicine, anti-aging diet and supplement plans. Are we to assume aging is a bad thing? What does it mean to be part of an “aging population?” Some conclude this means we are on a slow physical and mental decline. I say, “No way.”

As Gandhi said, “Man often becomes what he believes himself to be,” so believe in the best you.

I, like most of you, qualify for residency in a 55+ community.  While this old gray mare ain’t what she used to be, I am so much better in more ways than I can count. The wisdom, resiliency and confidence I have now are a direct result of the life experiences I’ve had. I am willing to bet that you, like me, credit that life experience as we make the uplifting choices that make us valuable and valued members of our families and communities.

While there will be situations related to health that we can’t control, let’s agree to control what we can and think about adding life to our years. Here are five tips to help do just that.

1) Look for personalized diagnostics. Seek out a functional medicine practitioner. The concept is becoming more mainstream thanks to Dr. Mehmet Oz and Dr. Mark Hyman. Functional medicine looks at the root cause of what’s challenging your health. So much of medical practice today follows a one-size-fits-all approach to symptom management. When we’re treated as the unique individuals we are, the healing mechanisms of our bodies are engaged and we thrive.

2) Support your gut and your brain. Are you challenged with digestive issues? Do you assume that your GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) is something you need to live with? It’s possible that the acid blocker you’re taking may be contributing to the issue.

Often the reflux we experience is a result of too little stomach acid so that food is not efficiently digested and repeats on us. Our levels of stomach acid are already naturally declining with age. Instead of antacids, you may be able to heal your digestive issues with good quality probiotics, supplementation designed for your specific need and goals and, of course, a whole foods diet.

The same guidelines apply for maintaining brain health. Avoid foods that deplete your energy reserves such as refined sugar and processed products and enjoy foods rich in healthy fats. This brings me to my next tip.

3) Eat healthy fats. Our brains are 60 percent fat, over 25 percent of which is cholesterol. I understand that you may be confused when I suggest eating eggs (organic and pastured), butter and full-fat dairy (from grass-fed stock) and even grass-fed beef. For years we’ve been told to avoid cholesterol and saturated fat, but new research is telling us this may be misguided advice. The low-fat diet approach to health may be making us sicker than ever before. Healthy fat consumption could maintain and possibly extend the length of your telomeres, which are the ends of the chromosomes. Telomeres are responsible for healthy cell function, but as we get older, they become shorter, which can lead to chronic disease and signs of aging.

Recent Harvard University studies showed that in addition to maintaining brain health, eating healthy fats prevented the progression of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

So what kind of fat should we be eating and cooking with? Be aware that certain good quality oils, such as olive oil and nut oils, can become damaged and oxidized when heat is applied to them. These oils should be for cold use only. Oils such as coconut oil, butter and ghee can tolerate higher heat. I highly recommend buying organic, unrefined forms and from grass-fed sources if animal based.

4) Eat a variety of plant-based foods. Our bodies function thanks to nutrients and the biochemistry that takes place at the cellular level. Vegetables are nature’s medicine with each color variety providing the nutrients we crave and even preserving those telomeres I introduced you to before.

5) Get quality sleep. This is essential for vitality and cellular repair. Inadequate sleeping habits have been linked to poor health and cognitive function. There are many reasons we suffer from poor sleep patterns, including sleep apnea, insomnia and erratic schedule, so seek solutions to what’s interfering with your healthy sleep pattern.

I close reminding you that your body has the ability to heal and prevent nearly all of the dis-ease of aging. Health is not just the absence of disease, but a state of vitality.

In addition to being a board-certified health coach and nutritional consultant, Mindy Gorman-Plutzer is a Certified Eating Psychology Coach in Manhattan. She is the author of The Freedom Promise: 7 Steps To Stop Fearing What Food Will Do TO You and Start Embracing What It Can Do FOR You (Balboa Press). For more information, go to www.thefreedompromise.com. Follow her on twitter at @FreedomPromise.

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