ANTI-AGING Fact or Fiction
by Colleen Salsman
Anti-aging products are ubiquitous. New and exciting creams and pills are introduced weekly promising eternal youth. Who wouldn’t be enticed by this promise! The sad truth is anti-aging is currently impossible. We each age at different rates depending on genetics and constitutional factors that may predispose us to certain health problems. Even if we can look younger externally, through cosmetic surgery, we still age internally. There are many theories of aging. The theory most widely accepted by health professionals is the “Free Radical” theory. Factors that contribute to increased production of free radicals are: trans fats, pesticides, UVrays, long-term illness, prescription and recreational drugs. Antioxidants are nutrients that aid in counter-acting the damaging effects of free radicals. A holistic approach to reducing damage focuses on four very basic areas: a diet high in antioxidant foods, antioxidant supplementation, lifestyle modifications and a natural botanical based skin care regime.
- Increase your fiber consumption to maintain health digestion and elimination. Focus on naturally sourced complex carbohydrates: Starchy vegetables (squash, sweet potato, parsnips)/Whole grains (oats, barley, buckwheat, quinoa, whole wheat)/Legumes and lentils (black beans, red kidney beans, pinto beans, red and green lentils)/Fruit specifically the whole fruit is most beneficial due to the high fiber content. Berries are another great choice they are brimming with antioxidant nutrients.
- Maintain a moderate intake of protein (approx. 50-70 grams per day). Protein sources may be derived from plants or animals. Plant based protein may include: soy products (use sparingly), combining grains and legumes adding nuts and seeds to meals. The South American grain “Quinoa” is a complete protein containing the correct complement of amino acids. The best sources of animal protein are hormone free chicken, fish and eggs.
- Eat chemical free foods as often as possible to reduce free radical production. Cured meats contain nitrates that combine with amino acids during digestion and create “Nitrosamines” which can be carcinogenic. Remember, “Organic” is always the best choice!
- Minimize the use of salt, sugar and caffeine. Choose Celtic Sea salt and natural forms of sugar including organic honey, organic maple syrup and the herbal sweetener “Stevia”. Caffeine has many negative effects on our metabolism, specifically our adrenals and blood sugar. Green tea is acceptable in moderation most studies reveal many antioxidant benefits however Rooibos and Yerba Mate are better choices they energize and are caffeine free.
- Drink lots of pure water. Water maintains proper hydration of the skin, supports the digestive process, aids in elimination of toxins and enables nutrients to be transported throughout the body. I usually encourage clients to drink at least 2 liters of water per day, however this can be adjusted according to level of activity and time of the year.
- Detoxification can be useful in clearing the body of toxins. I generally recommend twice per year typically autumn and late spring. It is important to have a detoxification program designed to meet your needs and ensure optimal health benefits. Most pre-packaged detox or cleanses are extremely stressful to the body especially if you are new the detoxification. A better option is to cleanse or detox via foods and the appropriate nutritional supplements recommended by a qualified practitioner.
Nutritional supplements are an important component of an Anti-aging program, however they are not a replacement for a healthy diet. The traditional antioxidant is made up of vitamins: beta-carotene (A), E, C and minerals zinc and selenium. This combination has been shown to work synergistically to scavenge free radicals. Some other beneficial antioxidant nutrients are: Calcium, Magnesium, Superoxide Dismutase (SOD), Omega 3’s, L-Cystiene, Hydrochloric Acid, Acidophilus, Chromium and some B vitamins.
Stress, specifically long-term, contributes to increased free radical production and increased cellular damage. Managing stress through daily exercise has many benefits including maintaining a health weight, increasing “feel good” hormones and preventing excessive bone loss to name a few. It is important to find an activity that meets your interests and physical ability. Walking is beneficial for all ages. Strengthening activities like Yoga, Pilate’s, weight training and interval training help reduce the potential for injury. An exercise program requires consistency and dedication. Over training can actually increase free radical production this can be seen in professional and Olympic athletes.
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