Can You Slow Your Aging Process? Yes!

Stephen is a guest blogger for Paula’s Healthy Living:

Stephen C Schimpff, MD is a quasi-retired internist, professor of medicine and public policy, former CEO of the University of Maryland Medical Center, scientific advisor to Sanovas, senior advisor to Sage Growth Partners and is the author of Fixing the Primary Care Crisis: Reclaiming Relationship Medicine and Returning Healthcare Decisions To You And Your Doctor | www.medicalmegatrends.com | http://medicalmegatrends.blogspot.com

Let’s start with the bad news. If you are in your 20s or 30s you’re not thinking about aging. But the process will start in your 40’s nevertheless. Every organ and function begins a slow but steady 1% decline each year. You will not notice it, probably, until you are in your 60’s or 70’s. Besides the facial wrinkles, you will notice less muscle strength, some memory lapses, balance issues, hearing loss and your doctor will tell you that your bones are getting thinner. Just like a car, “old parts wear out.” Welcome to the “golden years.” Older age is also the time when various chronic illnesses occur, like heart disease, cancer or chronic lung disease. Aging is universal, it affects everyone, and there’s no “fountain of youth”. Some think it would be great if there was a pill to slow the process but there is not – at least not yet.

Now let’s move on to the good news. There is a way that you can slow the aging process and it’s quite effective. It all has to do with your lifestyles and behaviors.

There are four critical lifestyle changes most need to make.

  • The first is sound nutrition;
  • the second is regular exercise;
  • the third is to reduce chronic stress;
  • and the fourth is to totally avoid tobacco.

Good sleep patterns are an added value. For this post, I will address only nutrition and exercise.

David Katz, MD, director of the Yale Prevention Research Center said recently, “A Very Short List Of Lifestyle Practices Has A More Massive Influence On Our Medical Destinies Than Anything Else In All Of Medicine.”

By attending to these lifestyle practices, it’s possible to slow that 1% aging process to perhaps 0.75%. This may not seem like so much but it is really a 25% reduction and it adds up over time. If you start when you are a young adult, it will compound like a retirement investment. It makes a huge difference many years down the road to older age with slower aging and fewer age prevalent chronic illnesses. It can mean the difference from the later years being beset with illnesses or having a healthy life right up to the end – an end that comes later.

Paulas Healthy Living

The Figure shows a 1% decline (middle line, blue) beginning at age forty and continuing out to age 100.  The top line (red) shows the impact of slowing the decline to 0.75%. The bottom line (green) demonstrates how being a “couch potato” will speed up the aging process. The cumulative changes are substantial as the years progress.

The exact biological mechanisms that lead to aging or not well understood but as the biology of aging is better understood, it may be possible to take some other approaches to slow the aging process. For now it’s lifestyles, lifestyles, lifestyles. If you would like to learn more about the aging process, take a look at my new series of short videos.

So what exactly should you do?

The first step is to eat a highly nutritious diet. The details of that you can find here on Paula’s blog. But in essence think about eating real food, mostly plant-based, mostly from fresh ingredients, made from scratch at home. The Mediterranean diet is a good reference. Go heavy on vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds. Moderate amounts of fish and limit meats. Use olive oil and have some dark chocolate; alcohol in moderation. Avoid processed foods, avoid heavily prepared foods and avoid fast food. All of these have substantial amounts of added sugar, fat and salt. Read labels very carefully. If there are items on the label that you don’t understand, skip it. If there are more than about five ingredients, skip it. But actually the best thing to do is avoid processed foods altogether. They are “nutrient light” whereas fresh foods like spinach, kale, sweet potato, berries, beans and lentils are “nutrient dense.” It’s good to remember that nutrient dense foods are generally lower in calories whereas nutrient light are high in calories. Cooking from scratch isn’t difficult; it really doesn’t take much time. Unfortunately we Americans have gotten away from doing this but it makes a big difference. It is also a good idea to eat together and make meals an event.

You need about 30 minutes of aerobic exercise at least five days a week. This can be as simple as walking or perhaps bicycling or swimming; it need not be really aggressive like jogging. It just needs to be regular. Add in weight-bearing exercises at least three days a week. Some of these you can do at home with push-ups, sit ups, deep knee bends, the plank, etc.  You might want to consider going to a fitness center where there are specific machines and some instruction in good form. Read Paula’s post on functional fitness. As you get older it’s also important to do balance exercises. It is also very important that you have a physician that offers you truly comprehensive primary care. A recent editorial in the Baltimore Sun explains the importance of primary care.

Here is 2400 year old advice from Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine. “If We Could Give Every Individual The Right Amount Of Nourishment And Exercise – Not Too Much And Not Too Little – We Would Have Found The Safest Way To Health.”

Adjusting lifestyles can be difficult, no question about it. But the long-term impact can be extremely beneficial as can the short-term impact. It requires attention, perseverance and frankly downright doggedness. But you can do it and you will be proud of yourself while feeling a lot better. And you will thank yourself many years from now when you are enjoying a healthy, productive, enjoyable long life.

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Turmeric Can Be A Powerful Natural Medicine

Depending on the types of foods you choose such as processed vs. whole, fried vs. baked and sugar and salt laden vs. naturally spiced; food can be the best medicine, like turmeric, or a health hazard.

Turmeric A Potent Anti-Inflammatory

Turmeric is a spice that falls into the ‘healthy-for-you’ category.  Well known for delivering a distinctive flavor to Indian foods, it is believed that Turmeric is a potent anti-inflammatory and has traditionally been included for arthritis holistic therapies. Although acute (short-term) inflammation is beneficial to your bodies systems, it can become a major problem when it is chronic (long-term). At that point it actually turns against the body’s own tissues?  

It is now believed that chronic, low-level inflammation plays a major role in many diseases.  This includes

  • heart disease
  • cancer
  • metabolic syndrome
  • Alzheimer’s
  • and various degenerative conditions.  

Reduce Inflammation

If adding spices and foods that are known to reduce inflammation helps in addition to a medical regime, why wouldn’t you?

The medicinal compounds in Turmeric are called curcuminoids. The most important of compounds is curcumin.

Curcumin is the main active ingredient in turmeric. It has powerful anti-inflammatory effects and is a very strong antioxidant.  Unfortunately, it is difficult for the body to absorb.  

It helps to consume black pepper with it, which contains piperin, a natural substance that increases the absorption of curcumin.

Uses

According to WebMD, “Turmeric is used for arthritis, heartburn, stomach pain,diarrhea, intestinal gas, stomach bloating, loss of appetite, liver problems and gallbladder disorder.”

It is also used for

  • head aches
  • bronchitis
  • colds
  • lung infections
  • fibromyalgia
  • fever
  • menstrual problems
  • cancer

Other uses include

  • depression
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • water retention
  • worms
  • kidney problems

Basil Might Help Lower Your Blood Pressure

Healthline suggests basil is a delicious herb that might help lower your blood pressure. Extract of basil has been shown to reduce blood pressure, although only briefly.

Adding fresh basil to your diet is easy and certainly can’t hurt. Keep a small pot of the herb in your kitchen garden and add the fresh leaves to pastas, soups, salads, and casseroles.

If you are thinking of trying herbs for medical reasons, whether that means using the whole herb or a supplements, speak to your doctor first. Some herbs, especially in large quantities, it may produce undesirable side effects or interfere with other medications.

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Self Reflection Exercise That Will Change Your Life

Self reflection is a powerful tool to creating a healthy, happy life.  Some personalities find this exercise easier than others, but all will get something from it.

Steve Gutzler, a leadership and performance coach that I met on Twitter, encouraged me to take a self-inventory while I was on vacation and had some time to reflect.  He called it a Code of Honor. It should be 10-12 promises you make and keep for yourself.  Ones that describe personal promises, values or important feelings on family, and health. Here is my list.

Paula’s Code of Honor:

  1. Respect yourself and others
  2. Treat your body like an expensive car; give consistent maintenance and use quality ingredients and products
  3. Maintain a zeal for learning
  4. Have laughter in your life
  5. Find, cultivate and empower your passions in life
  6. Maintain relationships that raise your spirits
  7. Learn from past mistakes.  Forgive, but never forget
  8. Help others when you are able either through donations or your time
  9. Parenting is a gift
  10. Give back to your community
  11. Cultivate your creativity
  12. Cooking & eating should be an ‘experience’ worthy of a feeling of being special
  13. Exercise and stay active for all of your life

The key to the success of this inventory is the time spent,  your belief in your answers as to their honest reflection of who you are, and whether you can keep them in your mind, heart and soul.  I highly recommend this exercise as a reflection but it also energizes your direction and path taken. 

What are the 10-12 you can make and keep for yourself that can create more meaning and purpose in your life?

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The Food Group That Help You Lose Weight Are…Pulses?!

Not exactly a food group you hear dripping off people’s tongues when sharing weight-loss tips, but pulses get the job done!

What are Pulses?

Pulses are a sub-set within the legume family.

They include:

  • dry peas
  • beans
  • lentils
  • chickpeas

Why does it help?  

Protein leaves you feeling full and pulses boast a healthy amount!  Most have 6-9 grams of protein per serving for a 1/2 cup.  In addition they have fiber and vitamin B12.  They don’t require a lot of chemical fertilizer to grow strong so they can be grown more naturally.

Studies have shown adding more pulses to your diet also helps to reduce cholesterol and stabilizes blood sugar (which is why you don’t experience the energy crash after eating like you do from sugar).

Fat Burners

These belly fat burners include:

  • split peas
  • beans such as black & red beans
  • cannellini which are high in iron, while being low on the glycemic index

The list also includes:

  • chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
  • lentils

If I open a can of organic beans and don’t intend to use it all, I’ll freeze the unused portion in a well marked container for future meals.  

How to Cook

I cook split peas and lentils in low-salt chicken broth with fresh herbs on the al-denté side. I prefer a bit of bite to them when adding them to salads or with sautéed spinach or kale.  Sometimes I’ll cook the raw pulses after washing and draining in the pot with a teaspoon of coconut oil and fresh garlic at medium to high heat for fruit & smokey added flavor before I add the cooking liquid.

For a quick sauce for pasta or to make brown rice more creamy, you can cook lentils as packages direct and add to a blender with 2 tablespoons olive oil (even also add 1/2 of an avocado).  Blend well and add salt and pepper to taste. Then fold into your complex carbs.

Finding opportunities to add more fiber and protein to your food choices will always leave you feeling more full, which allows you to manage your portions while adding health benefits. Explore, and enjoy!

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Are Calories Themselves The Only Issue That’s Important?

We’ve all heard that weight-loss mantra ‘Calories In, Calories out.’ It certainly makes sense if weight loss is your primary goal, rather then counting the calorie values for every morsel you eat or drink that enters your lips.  Calories out includes every mile you run, or weight you lift. Is that the way it has to be? 

When is a calorie not just a calorie?  

“Calories are just a measure of energy in food”, informs Carolyn Williams, PhD, RD.  The ‘less is more’; ‘calories in, calories out’; ‘all calories are equal’ myths just don’t hold water.  The metabolism-burning ability of calories from protein such as nuts that are loaded with minerals and vitamins and a low fat processed snack just can’t be considered equal.  

Vegetables are lower in calories but they also provide nutrients and they can lower the overall calorie-density totals for an entree by allowing you to modify how much protein or complex carbs, such as whole wheat pasta or brown rice,  that is included, while still feeling satiated in the end.

Eating seasonal fruits and vegetables will always be a healthier choice versus processed foods whether they are labeled ‘low-calorie’, ‘heart healthy’ or ‘low-fat’.  Those are often just marketing catch phrases, and the ingredients list shows the real nutrition truth.

Eating regular meals plus a snack, portion control, choosing high energy-burning foods and drinking plenty of water, as well as exercising regularly is the best plan for long-term weight loss.

Many people find using food tracking apps or diaries helpful in understanding food-triggers, and places where positive food changes can be made,  but don’t let them rule your life. It’s a tool, as well as many other options such as being mindful as you eat by not eating meals in front of a TV or computer screen,  group meetings such as Weight Watchers, utilizing workout trainers or different types of fitness classes, or contacting a nutritionist to look at the bigger picture of your age, family history, eating habits, and nutritional needs all benefits your goals.

I hope that you enjoy your food and know that it fuels your body, mind and spirit!

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Food Can Be A Powerful Medicine

Depending on the types of foods you choose such as processed vs. whole, fried vs. baked and sugar and salt laden vs. naturally spiced; food can be the best medicine or a health hazard.
Turmeric is a spice that falls into the ‘healthy-for-you’ category.  Well known for delivering a distinctive flavor to Indian foods, it is believed that Turmeric is a potent anti-inflammatory and has traditionally been included for arthritis holistic therapies. Although acute (short-term) inflammation is beneficial to your bodies systems, it can become a major problem when it is chronic (long-term). At that point it actually turns against the body’s own tissues?  It is now believed that chronic, low-level inflammation plays a major role in many diseases.  This includes heart disease, cancer, metabolic syndrome, Alzheimer’s and various degenerative conditions.  If adding spices and foods that are known to reduce inflammation helps in addition to a medical regime, why wouldn’t you?
 The medicinal compounds in Turmeric are called curcuminoids, the most important of which is curcumin.

Curcumin is the main active ingredient in turmeric. It has powerful anti-inflammatory effects and is a very strong antioxidant.  Unfortunately, it is difficult for the body to absorb.  It helps to consume black pepper with it, which contains piperin, a natural substance that increases the absorption of curcumin.

According to WebMD, “Turmeric is used for arthritis, heartburn, stomach pain,diarrhea, intestinal gas, stomach bloating, loss of appetite, liver problems and gallbladder disorder.

It is also used for head aches, bronchitis, colds, lung infections, fibromyalgia, fever, menstrual problems, and cancer. Other uses include depression, Alzheimer’s disease, water retention, worms, and kidney problems.”

Healthline suggests basil is a delicious herb that might help lower your blood pressure. Extract of basil has been shown to reduce blood pressure, although only briefly. Adding fresh basil to your diet is easy and certainly can’t hurt. Keep a small pot of the herb in your kitchen garden and add the fresh leaves to pastas, soups, salads, and casseroles.
If you are thinking of trying herbs for medical reasons, whether that means using the whole herb or a supplements, speak to your doctor first. Some herbs, especially in large quantities, it may produce undesirable side effects or interfere with other medications.

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Gazpacho- Our Family Recipe

  • 3 cups tomato juice
  • 2 tablespoons Olive oil or vegetable oil
  • 3 large tomatoes, peeled and seeded
  • 1 cucumber, peeled and seeded
  • 1 small onion (Vidalia or sweet onion preferred)- cut up
  • 1 small green pepper, cut up
  • 1 ear fresh corn- cut off the stalk, strings removed
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 3/4 natural sea or kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
  • 1/3 cup ground whole wheat bread crumbs
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

In a covered blender at high speed, blend all the ingredients (minus the bread crumbs) in batches, so not to overfill your blender vessel (I personally like a bit of chunk in my gazpacho so I pull out 1/2 cup medium chunked cucumber, green pepper, corn and add after it has been blended. If you like your soup smooth, skip this step) until blended. Put into a large bowl. Fold bread crumbs into the soup, cover and chill.

Because this is a homemade recipe I don’t have a calorie breakdown, but I think a 1 cup serving is probably around 140 calories, its mostly vegetables and is a seasonal part of healthy eating!

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Stevia, Monk Fruit Extract, or Aspartame- Are There Any Healthy Sweeteners?

We are all becoming more educated about reducing the total quantity of sugar in our diet for our better health, but are the sweetener -alternatives any better?  According to EatingWell.com, the artificial and sugar substitute industry is growing, topping $18 billion in 2019!  But do the artificial alternatives to sugar cause more sugar addiction and health problems?

You will find artificial sweeteners in the most inconspicuous packages products.  You expect them added to diet sodas, flavored yogurts, low calorie ice cream, and diet candies but would you expect them in fat free salad dressings, high fiber cereals, ketchup or breads? When you add it up in this product, that lunch, this snack; it turns out to accumulate.

It’s important to know the names that artificial sweeteners go by: aspartame, acesulfame potassium, saccharin, supra lose, neotame. The names of ‘natural’ sweeteners such as Stevia leaf extract, monk fruit extract and sugar alcohols such as erythritol and xylitol.  When looking at the ingredient listing of a product, look for these ingredients.  All of these sweeteners have been FDA-approved, but there is some controversy from organizations such as the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI)which question the impact all these additives on a bodies’ long term health.

Do they help you lose weight or crave sugar more?  One study will prove that in conjunction with a healthy lifestyle they do help you reduce your overall sugar intake.  Then there are opposing studies that say that those who consume sugar substitutes aren’t leaner, and are sometimes heavier!  What’s the solution?  Many nutritionist recommend utilizing sugar for sweeter swaps moderately and include more whole, unprocessed foods to your diet.  Many people with gut sensitivity may increase their health symptoms if they consume aspartame, Sucralose or saccharin. I personally had an doctor recommend this to me to improve my chronic digestive symptoms.

According to Joyce Hendley, states that American ingest a staggering 140 pounds of sugar substitutes annually. Any effort to improve reducing that number is health-beneficial.

Paula Maier
www.paulashealthyliving.com

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Boxing?! At MY Age?

 

IMG_2062
I like to mix up my cardio and muscle strengthening practices to keep my muscles guessing and my metabolism burning (and confused).  “Incorporating muscle-strengthening exercises two to three times per week and some extra intensity cardio and strength a day or two a week will stimulate strength gains, fitness, and calorie burn,” says Jennifer Sacheck, PhD, associate professor at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University.  She explains how strength-based exercises slow the effects of aging by defying the 3-5% loss of muscle that happens every year after age 30 if no strength-based fitness is practiced. Muscle building also promotes bone density, which can be an issue as you age.
So what new workout class did I choose? Boxing, of course!  Well, kind of boxing.  It’s a circuit workout called 9Round 30 min Kickboxing Fitness.  You can go whenever it works for your schedule, versus most classes which happen at pre-determined times.  The workouts start every 3 minutes.  After starting you switch stations every 3 minutes, and the trainer explains that days exercise. It differs every day.
I burn between 200-300 calories most times during the 30 minute rotation.  I get to punch heavy weight bags with my hands that are wrapped and protected by boxing gloves. I kick the bag with my feet, working all zones including arms, shoulders, abs, core, gluten, legs and calves.  It’s a huge stress reliever and also comes with access to the Internet 9Round community and dieting tips.
I also love that you may see men or women from age 16 to 80.  Every one is working hard and leave sweating and feeling powerful!  There is no boxing contact with your face, just good old hard work.  See if it’s in your community.  Your first workout is free.  9round.com

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Food Related Ideas to Help You Meet Your Goals

Making healthy changes to achieve weight or fitness goals or due to health concerns can be paralyzing for many people. I encourage the people that I consult with in one-on-one counseling to look for small changes that you can make on a weekly basis. Most people do not succeed with their New Year’s resolutions, because they create unattainable goals.

Let’s come up with food-related ideas that are reachable and doable for the typical person:

Continue reading

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