What is the most important part of your anti-aging routine? Slathering on an expensive skin cream? Camouflaging your grays with hair color? Whitening your teeth? You can spend your energies (and budget) trying to fool Mother Nature or you can follow some smart tactics that will help to protect your body from the ravages of time.
“There is a good reason why some people age better than others, and it’s not all about genetics,” explains pharmacist and author Sherry Torkos, BSc, Phm. “Sure, you know the importance of nutrition, exercise and managing your weight. But now medical science also supports some very specific strategies that will help to ensure that you live a healthier, more active life as you get older.”
You’ll need your heart for the rest of your life
Many people don’t even think about heart health until their doctor tells them they have cardiovascular disease. “Don’t assume your heart will give you a mild warning that there is a problem,” says Torkos. “Heart disease can go undetected until it’s too late to reverse. Women especially are more likely than men to die after their first heart attack.”
Studies have shown that you can reduce the risk of heart disease by following a heart-healthy lifestyle. That includes eating well, being physically active, maintaining a healthy weight, and reducing stress. One lesser known heart-healthy tactic, says Torkos, is to consider aged garlic extract. “Research indicates that aged garlic extract may help lower blood pressure and cholesterol, reduces clotting, and helps to prevent plaque formation in the arteries.”
If your joints are bothering you, daily activities are taken for granted
Mobility is key to staying active, which is why joint health and bone mass both make Torkos’ list. “Most of us think osteoporosis only affects us later in life. The truth is that we actually start losing bone mass in our 20s and 30s. Osteoporosis is called the Silent Thief because bone loss can occur slowly over many years and without symptoms until a sudden strain, bump or fall causes a bone fracture. At that point, you can only build back a marginal amount of bone.
Prevention is key. And if you already have bone loss, you can still take measures to prevent further loss and strengthen your bones.”
• The latest bone and joint health nutrients comes from hens – or rather, their eggs. “Research shows that one of the cleanest and most absorbable forms of calcium comes from eggshells. “It’s so easily absorbed by the body that you need to take less of it than other forms of calcium supplements. Inside the eggshell is the membrane which contains many joint health essential nutrients. Separated from the eggshell, the membrane is available in supplement form as well, known as NEM. We all know that if your joints are bothering you, you won’t get the exercise you need to keep healthy. So this is a great combination. Eggshell and eggshell membrane supplements are safe, natural, gentle on the stomach and do not contain contaminants. There are a variety of products with eggshell calcium and NEM eggshell membrane showing up in the marketplace. Look for them at Walgreens or your local health food store.”
Eat, play, de-stress
“Stress has far-reaching effects on our long-term health. It is linked to heart disease, cancer, diabetes, high cholesterol and blood pressure, anxiety, depression, memory loss, insomnia, muscle tension, obesity, fatigue, sexual dysfunction and many other problems.” A smart stress-busting strategy can involve yoga, meditation or even long walks on the beach. “The proper foods can also promote good energy and balance in your body,” says Torkos. “Most whole grains and vegetables are rich in B vitamins and magnesium, which are known for their anti-stress properties and to support the nervous system.” Supplements can also help take the edge off stress:
• Try L-theanine. “Research shows that the active component found in the leaves of green tea, the amino acid L-theanine, induces relaxation and improves mental focus without drowsiness. The pure form of L-theanine, called Suntheanine, is a popular addition to supplements, beverages and foods. It helps to get you in that zen state.”
Don’t be a welcome mat for germs
As you get older, your immune function declines. “This makes you more at risk for colds and flu. You will also be more susceptible to serious, life-threatening complications such as pneumonia. Torkos’ favorite immune-boosting strategies include:
• Limit your sugar. “Eating or drinking 8 tbsp. of sugar, the equivalent of about two cans of soda, can significantly reduce the ability of white blood cells to kill germs.
• Maintain a normal weight. “Obesity can affect the body’s ability of white blood cells to multiply, produce antibodies and rush to the site of an infection.”
• Choose smart supplements. Vitamins C and D support immune system health. Also consider taking a supplement that contains Wellmune, a clinically-researched brand of gluco polysaccharide that has been shown to naturally prime the body’s neutrophils, which are the soldiers of the immune system that work to identify and destroy foreign invaders. You may also find this ingredient in juice and soup.”
Torkos adds, “Your health is like a retirement fund. The sooner you begin making deposits, the quicker the benefits begin to build. And so, it also stands to reason, the more substantial the contributions, the more substantial or “healthier” the result.
Sherry Torkos, BSc, Phm
Sherry Torkos is a pharmacist, author, certified fitness instructor and health enthusiast who enjoys sharing her passion with others. Sherry graduated with honors from the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy and Science in 1992. Since that time she has been practicing holistic pharmacy in the Niagara region of Ontario. Her philosophy of practice is to integrate conventional and complementary therapies to optimize health and prevent disease. Sherry has won several national pharmacy awards for providing excellence in patient care.
As a leading health expert, she has delivered hundreds of lectures to medical professionals and the public. Sherry is frequently interviewed on radio and TV talk shows throughout North America and abroad on health matters.
Sherry has authored 17 books and booklets, including Saving Women’s Hearts, The Canadian Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine, and The Glycemic Index Made Simple.