Turning back the clock…or at least slowing it down as much as possible!
We’ve heard it before, “age is just a number”. I have patients in my practice who, by their mid-fifties are decidedly OLD relative to other patients who are sprightly and vibrant while well into their 70s or 80s. Why is that? How can that be? The ones who were born first should look and feel older right? Shouldn’t they have more health issues and bits going wrong?
There are whole conferences dedicated now to “anti-aging” as we seek to find the fountain of youth in our society and apply it to ourselves. We know some key elements to what ages our cells so if we start early to support the healthy function and reproduction of our cells then we should be able to exert some control on our rate of aging. We focus on cells primarily because cells make up tissues, tissues create organs, organs work together in organ systems, and that whole conglomeration of parts with specific roles and purposes are what comprise our body. Care for the cell and you care for the entire macrocosm that is you.
Cells are single units of life. Their innards, cytoplasm, is predominantly water, and they live mostly in watery environments that contain the nutrients that they need to live well and replicate. The membrane of every cell is made of fat with icebergs of protein floating through the lipid to help with the transport of nutrients and goodness into the cell, and the removal of waste products that could be harmful out of the cell. See? They are simple microcosms of us – water-based life forms that bring nutrients in, and release waste products on a regular basis.
So for happy, healthy cells that live long and prosper there are a few simple elements to keep in mind for your self of cells.
This is brand new information, right? ;-)Would you sit in a bathtub full of dirty water and expect to come out nice and clean? Do you save the grey contents of your mop bucket for the next time you want to wash your floors? Fresh, clean water is fundamental to good health! Without soap or shampoo you still come out of the shower (or river or lake if you want to think anthropologically) feeling cleaner than when you went it because the simple act of rinsing is often enough. Rinse all of your cells internally by consuming enough clear water each day to result in pale, yellow urine. The water can be heated and added to herbs to make tea, or to vegetables to make soup, but hydration is paramount. What looks younger – an apple fresh from the tree or one that’s withering weeks after being picked?
The “fountain of youth” is good metaphor – you need a fountain of fluids for your cells to hold on to their youth
One missing or deficient nutrient can be enough to wreak havoc on the health and function of any cell. Keeping the water in which each cell bathes replete with essential nutrients allows the cell to be at its best. The water surrounding your cells is called extra-cellular fluid and is regulated by blood and lymph.Nutrient dense food is essentially whole food that is grown in nutrient-restored soil, and fresh enough to still retain those nutrients. In short, locally grown organic produce that you grow yourself or buy from a farmer’s market or supermarket that supports local farmers is a good start. Produce from distant areas is usually picked before it has ripened so that it doesn’t spoil in transit, and then ripened once closer to the consumer by means of ethylene gas.Organic foods are not just lower in herbicides, pesticides, and other agricultural chemicals, but generally have the added edge of increased nutrient levels too (1). Most soil is only replenished with potassium, nitrogen, and phosphate, while organic soil is richer by means of composted materials and manure.Aim for at least the 7-10 servings of fruit and vegetables recommended to Canadians by Health Canada. On average less than 50% of Canadians meet this requirement on a regular basis (2) so, on average, we all have room for improvement in getting our nutrient levels up!To conveniently up your veggies in our busy, modern world, consider a greens powder to add to a smoothie or even just water. It’s an easy way to boost veggie intake while providing a range of nutrients to the body and those trillions of cells. I prefer a greens powder that doesn’t use soy lecithin as a) I have many patients with a sensitivity or allergy to soy, and b) it’s a relatively inexpensive ingredient that dilutes the potency of the greens formula while c) bringing a gritty quality to the product. Straight up greens mix easily with water, creating good nutrition that requires less culinary or digestive effort than a salad (but eat your salad too!).Also exceptional valuable for a rainbow spectrum of nutrients are the red/purple/blue pigments that are commonly found in the skins of berries. Berries have excellent nutrient density while being low in sugar and naturally delicious! Fresh berries are obviously a winner on their own in the summer months, and they freeze well for enjoyment throughout the winter as well. Add a variety of fresh/frozen berries to smoothies, smoothie puddings, chia pudding, yogurt, and salads, to keep your cells swimming in nutrient-replete water. Dried berries such as blueberries and cranberries are unfortunately often sweetened, but goji berries – little red jewels packed with nutrition are easy to carry around with a few raw nuts for a snack or guilt-free dessert.
Nutrients are more rapidly depleted in states of stress, from lack of sleep, excessive exposure to environmental toxins or any other element that can damage cells such as prolonged sun exposure. Added nutrients can help to offset some of the damage from a stressful life but the more work you can do to regulate stress response, detoxify, and allow yourself sufficient sleep the more your good nutrition can be proactive in supporting your health rather than reactive in preventing disease.
Support Waste Removal!
Nutrients in and waste out is the most basic equation for good cellular health, so focusing on sufficient water intake is the first element in good waste removal. In another post, we have gone over essential elimination support if you know you needed extra help in this area.
The goal of anti-aging is not to stay locked in one decade of life or another but to appear “ageless” to others. Regardless of the date on your birth certificate, the goal of healthy, mindful living is to retain vibrancy and vitality as the years pass so that you can make the most of life while life is available to you. Looking good while you do it is definitely a bonus and one that is supported through the basic requirements of life of good hydration and nutritional status.