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.
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.
- 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.
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.
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.
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
- 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.
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
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
- Arginine - helps the brain process and retain memories.
- Choline - which
manufactures the memory-related neurotransmitter acetylcholine
- which helps the brain clear out damaging metabolic wastes as well
as heavy metals, and which is also an effective anti-oxidant
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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.
B6 - converts sugar to the glucose that fuels the brain, older
people require much more B6 than young people do.
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
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