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Published Articles - Anti-Aging: A Holistic Approach

Anti-Aging: A Holistic Approach
Part One - A Healthy Mind

With many baby-boomers rapidly approaching retirement age, there is naturally a heightened focus on aging or, more, specifically, anti-aging. While the search for the elusive fountain of youth remains a goal that is illusory at best, there are things that can be done to retain youthfulness as long as possible. Many formulae are being touted that purportedly deliver potent anti-aging results, but the simple fact is that there are three key ingredients to anti-aging: A Healthy Mind, A Healthy Body and Healthy Skin.

With an increasingly holistic approach being taken to well-being, it has become accepted that the state of your mental and emotional health has a great bearing on your physical health. Likewise, it is becoming more and more apparent that how you feel about how you look has a bearing on your emotional, and hence, physical well-being.

As the saying goes: a "healthy mind means a healthy body." This time-worn adage has been proven to be more than just a catchphrase, as it has been shown time and time again that your emotional and mental health have a great bearing on your physical being. Therefore, it is important to maintain your mental and emotional health if you wish to remain physically healthy, which is of tantamount importance in the ability to remain young.

Keeping your mind healthy starts when you are asleep. Studies have shown that the mortality rate increases as a person deviates from the optimum amount of sleep, which has been proven to be roughly 7 hours per night. For example, people who get 8 hours of sleep a night have a 13% higher mortality rate than those who get the optimum amount and those who get less than 4 hours of sleep have a 17% higher mortality rate.

Sleep disturbance, or insomnia as it is commonly called, is a much more serious condition than many believe and can have an extremely deleterious effect on a person's wellness, both mental and over-all , and plays a dramatic role in aging. Even short-lived or temporary bouts of insomnia can have an effect on the mind, as well as the body, and can weaken the immune system.

Healthy sleep patterns play a vital role in staying young and there are a few tools that you can employ in order to optimize both the amount of sleep that you get, as well as the beneficial effects that the sleep has on you life.

  • Reduce the stress and anxiety in your life: Stress is one of the most common and easiest to identify causes of temporary or transient insomnia. Any efforts that a person makes to either alleviate or deal with the stress can have a positive effect on the sleep problems that are caused by it.
  • Create a sleep schedule: Try to go to sleep and get up at the same time every day. A relaxing bedtime ritual will assist a person in falling to sleep when they do go to bed.
  • Only use your bed for sleep: Any activity that is not normally intended to be done in bed should be done elsewhere. The bed should be a place for sleep, not one for work and other similar activities.
  • Make sure your bedroom is conducive to sleep and your bed is comfortable: While it is obvious that a comfortable bed plays an important roll in allowing a person to sleep, it is also difficult to sleep if your surroundings are not conducive to allowing you to relax and get yourself into a suitable frame of mind to sleep.
  • Don't stay in bed long after your alarm goes off: While they may seem convenient, snooze buttons are, in fact very harmful to your rhythms and can cause you to be tired and listless all day long.
  • Don't eat late at night: A full stomach can often force the body to work when it should be relaxing and therefore interfere both with your ability to fall asleep as well as with the quality of sleep you experience.
  • Try an herbal supplement: Valerian, kava kava and melatonin can all have a beneficial effect by helping induce sleep.
Maintain a healthy lifestyle: A healthy lifestyle plays a pivotal role in your ability to get the optimal amount of sleep. A good diet and regular exercise can assist your in developing regular sleeping patterns. It should, however, be noted that too much exercise before going to bed can serve to wake the body up, and cause sleeplessness.

How many times have we all been told: "You are what you eat."? The simple fact is that this statement contains a great deal of truth. While it seems obvious that what you eat has a profound effect on your physical well-being, what you eat also plays a similarly important role in your mental and emotional health.

A healthy diet should contain foods and supplements that are good "brain food". Among the important "brain food" groups are:

  • Amino Acids: Generally found in proteins, amino acids are vital to our health, and especially for brain function. Four of the most important amino acids in terms of maintaining an optimal mental and emotional state are:
    • Arginine - helps the brain process and retain memories.
    • Choline - which manufactures the memory-related neurotransmitter acetylcholine
    • Methionine - which helps the brain clear out damaging metabolic wastes as well as heavy metals, and which is also an effective anti-oxidant
    • Glutamine - which is a precursor of GABA which is a neurotransmitter that is responsible for calming the mind and improving mental alertness, and which, like methionine eliminates metabolic and other wastes from the body
  • Vitamins and Minerals: While the role that vitamins and minerals play in the body's physical health has long been universally accepted, their importance in maintaining good mental and emotional health is a much more recent discovery. Vitamins are as important for the brain as they are for the rest of the body; in fact, the brain is one of the first organisms to suffer from a lack of vitamins and minerals. There are a number of vitamins that play roles in the brain's health. Key among them are:
    • Vitamin A - which maximizes the blood flow to the brain through its powerful antioxidant properties that protect the brain from free radical damage.
    • Vitamin C - which is extremely important for proper brain function and is essential in the manufacture of a number of critical neurotransmitters. A powerful antioxidant, taking Vitamin C plays a vital role in boosting and maintaining mental acuity.
    • Vitamins B1 and B12 - these vitamins are important in insuring that there is no age-related decline in mental acuity and function, including, but not limited to a loss of memory and decreased reasoning skills, and are potent anti-oxidants.
    • Vitamin B6 - converts sugar to the glucose that fuels the brain, older people require much more B6 than young people do.
    • Folic Acid - another member of the vitamin B family, it aids cerebral circulation and has been shown to reduce the likelihood of certain age-related psychiatric problems.
    • Vitamin E - a powerful antioxidant, it both prevents and reverses age related brain deterioration and restores damaged neurotransmitter receptors.
  • Important brain foods that contain many of the nutrients, supplements and minerals mentioned above include seafood, especially cold water fish, such as salmon; sweet potatoes; dark green leafy vegetables; blueberries; yogurt; beans; whole grains and nuts.
  • Mental Exercises: A fit mind is a healthy mind. Mental exercises are vital in keeping the brain finely tuned and play a key roll in anti-aging. In order to keep the mind working at its optimum level, and thus assist in keeping both the mind and body young it is important to keep the mind stimulated. Activities such as learning new skills, reading, playing mentally challenging games and playing music help keep the mind active and provide powerful anti-aging properties.

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