There are certainly many personal and spiritual improvements that can come with age – more confidence, wisdom, understanding and courage to name just a few. Intolerance is not often considered to be a good trait but it can be what drives you to instigate change – it certainly is a strong factor that drives me into action. I do not accept that we have to suffer as we age. We have plenty of evidence that there are nutritional remedies for ageing and that in the ‘Blue Zones’ of the world, people live to be much older without the chronic ill health that is common during the last 20 years of life in the Western World. Most of us don’t want to live longer if it means being ill, immobile, lonely or mentally impaired and we don’t have to! There are natural proven Nutritional remedies for ageing, combating loss of energy, loss muscle strength and mobility, improving sleep etc.
Our bodies slow down as we age,
they don’t function quite as well as they used to but with the right knowledge we can minimise the effects. I am not going to tell you to get gym membership or run marathons as I have never been big on exercise myself. I am a nutritionist and so this is about optimum nutrition. Many of you have probably already noticed changes that you either hate or have just tried to accept thinking that you can’t do anything about;
- extra weight
- fat tummy
- lines, wrinkles
- Bat-wing arms
- loss of energy
….but here are a few more;
- muscle loss and wasting
- joint stiffness and pain
- loss of flexibility and range of movement
- poor quality sleep
- breaking, fragile nails
- thinning hair
- poor digestion
- blood sugar problems
- loss of strength and stamina
- weakened immune system
- bladder weakness
- loss of memory and mental performance
A depressing list and even with a positive mental attitude these are things that can seriously impact our quality of life.
To illustrate the point I would like to tell you about my Mother. She was only in her 50’s when she started to suffer from the extreme pain and difficulties of Rheumatoid Arthritis and Sjögren’s syndrome (dry eyes, mouth, chronic cough, muscle pain and poor digestion). When I had my three children she was unable to hold them, play with them, bath them and even a cuddle could be painful. Now that I have grandchildren I realise the full extent of what she missed out on and it is because of her Autoimmune problems that I became interested in Nutrition and disease prevention.
I have several friends of similar age to me (65) who also struggle to cope, have less energy, cannot get down on the floor, cannot lift anything heavy due to poor backs, knees or hips. Some my age have already had hip or knee replacement surgery. Weakness of grip and inability to open jars, inability to squat and get up again and lack of balance are all early warning signs and women tend to suffer this much more than men.
Now the good news
I have suffered from ALL of the symptoms above and at age 30 I seriously imagined being just like my Mum by the time I was in my 50’s. I was convinced that diet and lifestyle played a very large part and also that multiple doses of Antibiotics definitely worsened the symptoms. Nutrition became a passion that has grown year on year and while at work as a Nurse the talk was all about ‘evidence based Medicine‘ I was always bashing on about evidence based Nutrition!
We are living through very interesting times when knowledge about nutrition, ageing and chronic disease is expanding daily and that there is plenty we can do to alleviate the symptoms of ageing with good, evidence based Nutrition.
What we have to do is not only ignore but also undo the damage that decades of poor dietary advice – low-fat, low calories, high carbs have inflicted on our bodies. If you want to know more about this I have an article ‘ Why Low-fat diets damage your Health. ‘
Weight gain, joint pain, loss of energy are not symptoms of old age anymore than a sudden penchant for pearls could be and simple changes can reverse all of these symptoms – as I have proved. I am now my ideal weight at 10st.7lbs and most of the symptoms I have suffered in the past have significantly improved or even disappeared. I do have a very poor memory for names but my ability to learn has increased, not diminished; I have more strength and energy than a few years ago and my bladder weakness has improved about 90% – no medications just good nutrition and nutritional supplements.
The Journey to a Healthier Old Age
Writing for women and men of 40+ I would like to share my knowledge and help you to prevent or reverse all these horrible symptoms that your Doctor will tell you are down to ‘getting old’ and we will start with…..
Collagen is an amazing substance made up of 3 main amino acids – Glycine, Proline and Hydroxyproline, that constitutes 30% of the total protein in our bodies. It is what strengthens tissues and holds us all together. When young the body consistently produces collagen but by age 40 collagen synthesis starts to decline, with a dramatic reduction in synthesis after the Menopause. By age 60 there is normally a considerable decline but with early or surgically induced Menopause this could be considerably younger. As it was for myself and my Mother. I had a Hysterectomy age 31 and what followed was poor digestion, multiple food intolerances, arthritis and fatigue. Collagen and especially Glycine helps to heal the gastrointestinal tract, it is needed for the production of Bile salts and digestive enzymes, strengthens the immune system and reduces chronic fatigue. This is why it is one of the best nutritional remedies for ageing.
Other lifestyle aspects that affect collagen production are high levels of stress, excessive exposure to UV light, smoking and a poor diet with high processed carbohydrates and sugar.
Autoimmune disorders can also target Collagen.
There are many ways you can increase your intake and production of Collagen and therefore increase the health of your joints, improve sleep and mood, improve skin elasticity, muscle strength and flexibility.
Collagen is made up of several amino acids that all come from animal sources.
- Organ meat:- liver, kidney, heart, tongue, sweetbreads. Some people, children included, who have not been used to eating organ meat cooked on it’s own or in a casserole might prefer pâté, Haggis or it added to burgers and sausages.
- Connective tissue:- oxtail, neck, marrow – all cheap stewing or casserole cuts with plenty of bone. I find a Slow Cooker best.
- Bone Broth:- chicken, beef, ham – organic definitely best.
- Pork skin, chicken skin, fish skin.
- Eggs:- especially the whites but the yolk helps with the production of fibrinogen which is also important.
‘Women of a certain age’ may get a lightbulb moment – did we eat far more of these foods growing up than we do now? Do we now spend a fortune on skin creams that claim to include or stimulate Collagen production and reduce wrinkles by including Retinol (Vitamin A) from animal sources?
For Collagen to be well utilised in the body some other nutrients are required so these are also nutritional remedies for ageing and foods that increase vitality and a strong immune system.
- Vitamin C – citrus fruits, strawberries, kiwis, tomatoes, leafy green vegetables, peppers and broccoli
- Anthocyanidins – blackberries, blueberries, cherries and raspberries.
- Copper – shellfish, nuts, red meat, avocados, liver, kidney.
- Vitamin D – oily fish like tuna, sardines, herring, mackerel, salmon, egg yolks, mushrooms, small amounts in milk, cheese and yogurt. Sunlight on skin.
If you are already showing signs of decreased Collagen in your body then as well as increasing all the foods listed I think you need to take a supplement for a minimum of 3-6 months. I was already eating all the right foods and taking a natural Plant Mineral daily but a supplement of powdered Collagen started to make a visible difference after just 1 month. They are not just for bodybuilders – although the adverts do supply a bit of eye candy! A useful site is here.
Do check out the best supplements because many products with low doses are sold as beauty products.
You can get Collagen as a powder that dissolves in liquid and is easily absorbed or in capsules or tablets. 3-6 grams a day is recommended. The Collagen usually comes from fish or bovine sources so check this if you have allergies. Some are made from concentrated bone broth. Some have Vitamin C added and some even have Hyaluronic Acid – which helps hydrate tissues and cushion joints.
Better to spend your money on nutritional supplements that benefit the entire body than on expensive creams just for your face – most of which don’t work. Collagen is not easily absorbed by the skin. Most other treatments rely on stimulating production by removing the surface layer of skin cells (a konjac sponge is a great natural way to exfoliate) or damaging the deeper layers with needles or laser – definitely not something I would choose.
I would love your feedback and to know how you get on.
This article was first written by me for Sally Canning’s website 2016.