(Reading time ca. 12 minutes)
Circles under your eyes, the pants are a bit tighter than you remember and so are your joints. Don’t believe me? Try this, stand up straight, bend forward WITHOUT bending your knees. (carefully, if you feel pain stop!)’ Can you touch your toes? “It’s normal at your age” your doctor says. Now, Is it really?
If I were to tell you that it is our lifestyles that do us in, would you believe me? There is so much information out there, who do you know to trust? Don’t like Diets? Neither do I. So what is it that you really can do to stay young and vibrant?
Today I’ll share some take-away tips on a couple of basic things we all can do to slow down the bodies aging process. You don’t have to eat a full-on raw diet but I do recommend following the principles laid out by the Hippocrates Health Institute.
Below are 12 steps, not a Hollywood insider secret, but common sense and best of all, they are free and you can implement them at any time! With my clients I usual ask them to start with one or two items at the most, and once these become habit to go ahead and add some more.
What is keeping you up late at night? Are you watching the news or a show? Is this something you could catch up on the next day? Most likely this is your way of unwinding from the day and let go of some stress. However, relaxing by watching the tele until late night, might not have the affects you would really like to achieve. You will get much more out of sleep, honestly.
It is amazing what 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep can do for your body. Your body goes into a cleaning/renewal cycle every night around 9-10 p.m. and continues to clean every organ & body system through about 10-11 a.m. the next morning. If we are up late, or eat late at night we interrupt this cycle. To get the maximum restorative effect of the body’s natural cycle, get that shut-eye! If you need some reinforcement, just listen to or read the book “Why We Sleep” by Matthew Walker. He states that anything below 7 hours a night contributes to your cognitive decline and explains why. It is fascinating.
One way you can measure the quality of your sleep is by using an app called SleepCycle. Just make sure to put your phone in airplane mode (since the phone needs to be close by when you sleep). If your mind is continuously going, try some breath work, yoga stretches or a brisk walk right before going to bed.
Challenge: For one week, skip the regular evening routine and go to bed (read a book, no TV or electronics) and turn off the lights by 9 p.m. (if you have to get up at 5 a.m.) but no later than 10 p.m. regardless. Keep a journal and note how you feel during that week.
2. AVOID ALL MEATS or EAT BEETLES
Radical idea, I know. Mankind may have been eating meat (hence the omnivore) throughout time, however, today’s meat is just not what your ancestors used to eat. With the invention of synthetic growth hormones, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, and many other chemicals that end up in our ground water, they can also end up in your beef. Never mind the fish, however, that’s another story. When was the last time you avoided all meats and meat products such as milk, yogurt, kefir, butter, ice cream, eggs etc. to give your body the best chance to flourish into old age and avoid disease? A great read that is not accusatory and will not try to turn you vegan, is “The World Peace Diet” by Will Tuttle.
Challenge: For one week, eat as vegan as possible, at least vegetarian and skip the BBQ. Worried about getting enough protein? You could either try these delicious chocolate meal worms or add tempeh, tofu or a plant-based vegan protein powder.
3. EAT ORGANIC FOODS
OMG, when is this author going to get of her soap box? (Never!) Is eating organic going to guarantee that your foods are completely clean and healthy? No, of course not, however your chances of eating a food laden with chemicals are much less likely. Did you know that red peppers are sprayed on average with over 50 different chemicals? That is incredible. Make sure you purchase organic especially all fruits and veggies that have thin skin like peppers, tomatoes, peaches, grapes, apples, etc. Bananas and avocados in comparison have thick skins and would be the better choice to buy conventional if you must chose between the two. Check out the dirty dozen/clean 15 list by the Environmental Working Group. Just think of this: the more we buy organic, the more we send a message to producers what our choices are. The market will follow. It only takes 5% of consumers to make a change for producers to pay attention. A note on the side, my husband lost 20lbs in one year only by switching to eating organic!.
Challenge: Check what organic foods you can replace current veggies with. Prices have come down, and you might find a local organic delivery service, even better! Think of it this way: How much money do you safe now by buying conventional and how much money will you spend later at the doctors office because you have some weird disease caused by chemicals in your body that nobody knows how to fix?
- EAT GREENS
Gag! Your mom was right, especially eat the dark leafy ones. My favorite A’s are: Arugula, Avocado and Asparagus. Eat them in abundance, as they are good for your body. Arugula is considered a cruciferous vegetable like broccoli and brussel sprouts containing sulforaphane which has anti-cancer properties and anti-aging properties. Avocados are full of glutathione, a very powerful antioxidant made up of three amino acids glycine, glutamine and cysteine. Asparagus, can you say superfood? Asparagus has many benefits including reducing inflammation caused by rheumatism, reducing the risk of neurodegenerative disease and helps increase cell production to name a few. I should mention that it is best to consume all of the foods raw in order to get the most benefit!
Challenge: Add more cruciferous veggies in your diet. Do you know how beneficial DIM is?
- AVOID SUGARS
I know, it is getting old. You already know that sugar is bad for you. One of the effects that is well known, especially as we age, is that high sugar consumption and resulting high blood sugar levels are contributing factor for dementia. However were you aware that it also affects your skin? Sugar will attach to proteins and affect skin repair , creating lines, dull skin and dulling skin elasticity by affecting collagen and elastin needed for pliable, young looking skin. Cutting out any form of sugar, be it fructose or glucose, will be beneficial to your looks.
Challenge: What do you know about sugar and how it suppresses your immune system function? What snack foods could you replace to lower sugar intake? What steps could you implement to help keep your blood sugar low?
- GERMINATE YOUR NUTS AND SEEDS
Are you still reading? Good job! Here is something you might not be doing yet. Most likely you already know that nuts and seeds are nutritional powerhouses for the body. However, they are protected by enzyme inhibitors which can create havoc in your digestive system. (Remember that bitter tasting almond?) Just think beans! Sprouting your nuts and seeds releases the enzyme inhibitors and will activate nutrients and make them more bio-available to your body and digestible with much less discomfort! Even if you are not experiencing discomfort when eating un-soaked nuts and seeds, if you have thyroid issues, you might want to take a closer look. This is a big subject, depending what you are soaking and if you are sprouting or dehydrating. To not make it too complicated, start with soaking only one type of nuts like almonds for instance.
Challenge: Learn to soak nuts overnight. Here is a website that shows you how and if you like to learn about those enzymes, a great book is Food Enzmes for Health and Longevity by Dr. Howell if you have further interest in the subject.
- EAT FOODS WITH MEDICINAL PROPERTIES
That is going back to #4 above, eating green foods like Avocado, Asparagus and Arugula. But also Sweet Red Peppers, Red Cabbage, Brussel Sprouts, Onions, Scallions, Garlic, Ginger, Swiss Chard and spices like Cayenne, Cinnamon, herbs like Oregano, Basil and Peppermint. The list goes on, there are many foods that have medicinal properties to support our bodies. Some foods are Adaptogens, you probably already know about Ashwagandha or Ginseng to help reduce stress or Turmeric to help reduce inflammation in the body.
Challenge: How many foods do you know the medicinal properties of? Check out Brian Clement, PhD book Food IS Medicine to learn all cool stuff, based on science.
- CHEW YOUR FOOD
Before you sit down to eat your meal, take five deep breaths to oxygenate and settle down. Chew every bite about 20 times (yes, I know, it’s a challenge!). Reason being is to break open the cell walls of the food and allowing our saliva (enzymes like lipase and amylase) to “pre-digest” food already in your mouth. The chewing sends messages to the stomach and intestines and gets the whole peristaltic movement going. The more you chew, the more you break down the food, the easier it will be for our digestive juices to break down the food into smaller particles. If you swallow a glob, your stomach acid will only be able to access the outside of the glob, it will not break it down and the food will sit like a rock in your stomach. Let’s not talk about what happens after that, you already know. Did I say constipation? Chew, chew, chew, it doesn’t matter how much you eat if you can’t absorb anything. Plus here are some additional recommendations:
- Don’t eat when you are upset
- Don’t eat in a business meeting
- Don’t eat and drive
Challenge: Chew your food 20 bites! Let’s see for how long you can do this! More nutrients, less calories. The less calories you take in and the more nutrients your body absorbs helps you keep your vitality, hence stay younger longer.
- DON’T DRINK WITH YOUR MEALS
When I grew up we never had water with our meals, drinking with meals was not introduced to me until I moved to America. When you drink with your meals you are diluting your digestive juices. Matter of fact, it is a good practice to stop drinking at least 15 minutes before a meal (ok to have sips of water if you need to take pills, supplements) and try not to drink for at least 1 hour after having a meal. Now hang on for this – avoid liquids for at least 3 hours after you have eaten protein and 2 hours if you were eating beans or seeds so your stomach can fully digest and absorb the nutrients. Now, on the other hand, it’s important to stay hydrated, see #11 below.
Challenge: Continuously sip water throughout the day but avoid drinking after having a meal. How could you implement a ‘hydration strategy?’
- WALK AT LEAST 15 MINUTES BEFORE GOING TO BED
The latest studies from Harvard and the National Sleep Foundation show that walking/exercising before going to bed will help you get a better night sleep. Walking helps reduce stress and anxiety and aids digestion by oxygenating the body. Especially if you have chronic insomnia, go for a walk before going to bed. Within a couple of weeks of this ritual you should be able to fall asleep faster, sleep longer and improve your sleep quality. Give it a try, my husband and I often go for walks at night and our dog loves it too!
Challenge: Go for a walk before turning in at night. Try it and see what happens. What is stopping you?
- HYDRATE, HYDRATE, HYDRATE
With the exception of not drinking around meals, you want to try drink at least half your body weight in ounces. Example, if you weigh 160 lbs your body needs approximately 80 ounces of water a day. We perspire two cups (16oz) just being here on a daily basis. If you exercise (and live in Florida) it is recommended to increase another 25%. Now, if you slam your water, most of it will pass right through you. It is best to sip water at a rate of 1 cup per 30 minutes in order to let the tissues absorb the water. Any excess gets ignored. As we age we have a tendency to drink less and less so it is imperative to pay attention to your water intake. Being dehydrated only 3% will already affect your body system and 5% will affect your brain function negatively. Consider mineralizing your water using liquid mineral supplements to get the most benefit. Reconstituted water does not have minerals in it as it would be occurring in nature, just some food for thought. This is where green juices made with a base of cucumber and celery help out tremendously, by adding natural sodium, vitamins and minerals. Green juices count as hydration, whereas coffee and sports drinks do not. Herbal teas are neutral, they do not devoid your body of hydration but do not add either. Best is to go with mineralized water, green juices or the occasional coconut water straight from a coconut. The above information is from the book ‘Your Body’s Many Cries for Water’ by F. Batmanghelidj – I recommend the read especially if you have health challenges, or want to avoid premature aging. 😊
Challenge: Not sure how to add more water into your life? Add a squeeze of lemon to your morning water, stevia or mint or cucumber to flavor water the rest of the day. How much water can you drink in one day?
- MAKE YOUR FOOD TASTE GOOD
That’s a no brainer but easier said than done! The best advice I can give here is that when you find a recipe you like, safe it to a file/folder where you keep all your favorites. It is hard to resist the temptation of ready-made-foods that are created by food scientists that understand how our brains work. Chain restaurants do not have cooks in the kitchen, they have chemists figuring out what makes our brains tick. Sugar, fat and salt is a lethal combination that tricks our brain into overeating because you will never find these three items all in one place in nature. So be aware and now that you know, create your own yummy & healthy versions of home-made foods that work for you. Your body will thank you by staying vibrant and slow down aging with all the support you are giving it. A great book on this is by Michael Moss, Sugar, Fat and Salt: How the Food Giants Hooked us.
Challenge: Learn to prep fast, easy & yummy meals. That might be a real challenge – so what is the first step you could take towards this goal?
12 Easy Steps you say? LOL, you read this article to the end so I know you are interested in living a long healthy life. When you take one step at time, say one step a month – within one year you will have made a giant leap towards your health and longevity.
Leave your questions or comments below, I would love to hear from you. You can always find me through my website https://www.beaphillipswellness.com