By: Dr. Cassandra Connolly, ND
People are living longer; the face of aging in Canada is changing significantly with the current increase in life expectancy. With the on going research to slow down our biological clocks there has been new insights discovered that have helped scientists uncover some of the science behind aging.
The true secret of healthy aging lies in the over all health of our cells. Various theories have been made as to why we age and what exactly is happening physiologically when we age. The theory that has received the most acceptances is the “free radical theory”.
What are free radicals?
Free radicals are molecules that damage cellular components and DNA and as a result compromise cellular function. This process occurs in our bodies continuously and more frequently as we age. This compromise in cellular function causes an overall increase of inflammation levels in the body and in turn open the door to where disease then has the ability to “attack” the body.
What are antioxidants?
Antioxidants are substances that inhibit oxidation, a chemical reaction that further produces free radicals and causes subsequent cellular damage. Antioxidants work by quenching free radicals in order to neutralize them before they attack the cells in our body.
Oxidative stress can also cause mutations in DNA, which is where aging comes into play. Natural antioxidants are proving to be powerful agents in the ongoing battle against cellular aging.
Nutrients and Aging
Certain nutrients have the capacity to slow down biological aging, quench free radicals and restore optimal cellular health.
1. Omega 3 Fatty Acids
- We can find this mighty guy in fish oil. Known for its heart healthy benefits, this nutrient has been shown to increase antioxidant capacity which in turn helps decrease inflammation levels in the body.
- Who loves red wine? This nutrient is considered one of the kings of antioxidant activity. Not only does it scavenge free radicals in the body but it also enhances the production of glutathione (a very strong antioxidant in the body that facilitates detoxification)
- Love curry? Curcumin is the most active constituent found in turmeric that lends a hand to why turmeric is such a powerful herb. Curcumin has been extensively studied for the role it plays in decreasing inflammation and thus enhancing the immune system.
4. Coenzyme Q10
- A vital antioxidant for the body. CoQ10 is involved in a lot of processes in the body, specifically cellular energy and mitochondria (cell power houses) support.
5. Alpha Lipoic Acid
- A strong antioxidant for the cardiovascular system, another great supplement to aid in healthy aging!
- One of my favourite Chinese herbs. Works great for healthy aging by restoring healthy cell division in cells that are sluggish or damaged.
7. Vitamin D
- Otherwise known as the sunshine vitamin! Low vitamin D levels are associated with higher inflammatory markers, which in turn put us at risk for developing more diseases. The good news is that adequate levels of this vitamin offer our body protection from various diseases.
Exercise and Aging
Once we reach a certain age aren’t we suppose to stop exercising? Nope, not necessarily. studies show that maintaining an active lifestyle is essential to help keep us strong and prevent falls into our older years.
Exercise increases healthy muscle mass and strength. Increased muscle mass can help improve quality of life and extend independent living. A recent study done on exercise and aging showed that adults who regularly exercised with resistance training were not only slowing down their aging process but also reversing it at a genetic level!
Every person’s health situation is different and each person should check with his or her health practitioners before embarking on something new. Not sure where to start? Follow the simple steps below to start making exercise a priority to assist with healthy aging.
1. Get clearance from your health care practitioners
2. Start slowly
3. Make sure the exercise is tailored to your specific health care concerns
4. Set an exercise schedule in order to track progress and stay on track.
Wondering how you can stay “forever young”? Book in for a free 15-minute meet and greet with Dr. Cass to discover how Naturopathic Medicine can work for optimizing your health!
Already a patient of Dr. Cass’s? Book in for a 30 minute consult to discuss a healthy aging plan that works for you!
Dr. Cassandra Connolly,