The subject of aging is currently a hot topic in medicine.
In our culture, where youthfulness is so highly prized and elderliness is seen as a liability, no one wants to be old before his or her time. My medical philosophy is that aging is a natural process, and the real question is: How can we age well to preserve our quality of life for as long as possible?
Can we minimize the negative effects of aging and protect ourselves from age-related diseases such as high-blood pressure, osteoarthritis, dementia and incontinence? As a naturopathic doctor, my answer to this question is: absolutely.
So what is aging? The definition I like best is aging is the accumulation of damage in the body. Much of this damage comes from free-radical activity caused by external toxins and internal metabolic processes. Our bodies are beautifully designed to repair damage; but when the amount of damage overwhelms our ability to repair it, we begin to experience degeneration of our cells and organs. This is when the aging process accelerates. Genetics account for about 30 percent of the aging equation, which leaves a lot of room for improvement through our actions.
So what can you do to improve your quality of life as you grow older? How can you keep your brain, eyes, heart, skin and bladder healthy as you age? A good goal to aim for is to protect yourself from excessive damage and to keep your repair systems working at their highest capacity.
Some of the most important building blocks of healthy aging are good lifestyle habits. Eating whole foods, drinking lots of water, getting plenty of good sleep and not smoking are all foundational elements of a graceful aging plan.
Daily exercise may be one of the best investments you can make to keep your cells young.
Antioxidants are very important to support your body in preventing damage and repairing that which already has occurred. Foods are your best first choice. Eat lots of colorful fruits and vegetables for their natural antioxidant protection and cleansing fiber.
Antioxidant supplements can be helpful for targeting your organ systems that are genetically vulnerable or are already showing signs of damage. CoQ10 is crucial for a healthy heart; acetyl L-carnitine may prevent Alzheimer’s disease and protect your memory. Resveratrol, a natural substance found in grapes and cocoa, has been shown in many studies to be protective against premature aging by increasing energy production in the mitochondria. Bilberry protects the eyes and improves vision. Vitamins C and D also are anti-aging superstars. This is just a short list of the natural substances that can help us age well.
Remember, you can work toward protecting your quality of life in the future by working toward a healthier lifestyle and by using natural medicines to support a graceful aging process. As with most diseases, prevention is much easier than repairing the damage once it has happened.
It is never too late to start working on your health, happiness and well-being.
firstname.lastname@example.org. Nancy Utter, owner of Durango Natural Medicine, is a naturopathic doctor who works in Durango with people of all ages and varying illnesses.