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Published Articles - Anti-Aging: A Holistic Approach

Anti-Aging: A Holistic Approach
Part Two – A Healthy Body

In the previous article we outlined the importance of a healthy mind in a holistic approach to anti-aging, and touched on a number of things that you can do to insure that your mind is functioning at an optimal level. Now it is time to look in more detail at the second piece of the puzzle: a healthy body.

Once again, we must put everything in context and endeavor to separate fact from fiction. You cannot pick up a magazine or turn on the television without seeing some huckster promising you an amazing lean, sculptured body if you follow their regimen or buy their products. The reality, however, is that the issue is both simpler and more complicated than these evangelists of healthy profits would have you believe. A healthy body, like a healthy mind, is the result of a combination of both defensive and offensive actions that you should take in your day-to-day life. Just as all of the physical activity in the world will not benefit you optimally if you live or work in an environment that is so smoky that you cannot see beyond the end of your arm, neither will living in a healthy environment help you if your intake of saturated fats is ten times the recommended daily level. In this article we will look at some basic issues that affect our bodies and examine things that we can do to optimize our basic physical health.

Even with all of the bad publicity that smoking has received over the past few years, the vast majority of the population does not know the full extent to which it is damaging to our bodies. While the effects of smoking on our lungs and hearts is common knowledge, few people realize that smoking actually causes permanent vascular damage and that its negative effects can have a domino effect throughout the body; triggering many problems that we may not traditionally associate with either smoking or second hand smoke.

For example, few people are aware of the detrimental effects that smoking has on the musculoskeletal system (the bones, joints and muscles). Studies have shown that even a mild degree of exposure to tobacco smoke can cause:

  • Decreased bone density
  • Lumbar disk problems
  • Higher risk of sustaining hip and wrist fractures
  • A high risk of failure of bone fusion in fractures and grafts
  • Lower back pain
  • Decreased wound healing ability
  • Increased risk of postoperative infection

The detrimental effects of smoking do not end there. Smoking has also been connected to such gastrointestinal conditions as diverticulitis, inflammatory bowel disease and peptic ulcers. Furthermore, cyanidem, which is found in tobacco smoke, interferes with thyroid hormone production, and has been shown to play a role in both autoimmune thyroid diseases such as graves disease, as well as hypothyroidism.

In addition, smoking plays a roll in cataracts, macular degeneration and other eye disorders, and appears to be a contributory factor in baldness, premature graying, hearing loss and gum disease.

It is impossible to put enough emphasis on the importance of a smoke-free lifestyle to maintaining a healthy body, and we should all take whatever steps are necessary to minimize, if not eliminate completely, the amount of smoke that we are exposed to in our day-to-day lives. Luckily, we are living in a society where it is becoming increasingly less acceptable to smoke in public, and where, therefore, people are being exposed to second-hand-smoke less and less all the time. Remember, clinical studies have shown that, unless you already have cancer or emphysema, our bodies begin repairing the damage to the respiratory system within days of quitting smoking and much of the damage done is, in fact, reversible.

How many times have we all heard the time-worn adage: "you are what you eat"? As children our mothers did their best to steer us away from such oh-so-seductive delicacies such as Twinkies and potato chips and tried to force us to eat our veggies; and with good reason. It seems that every time you turn around there is a new diet being touted, and diets seem to go in and out of favor more often than hairstyles. Whether it is the Atkins diet or Richard Simmons' Deal-a-Meal, it is extremely difficult to separate fact from fiction and know what is the best thing to do. With so much information out there about a healthy diet, much of it contradictory in nature, we have decided that instead of going into great detail, we will simply touch on a few basic principles that you should follow as part of any long-term healthy diet.

  • Ensure that your basic vitamin and mineral requirements are met
  • Eat a balanced diet with emphasis on vegetables and fruits
  • Eat enough to sustain your body, but not to excess
  • Avoid fatty and sugary foods as much as possible
  • Do not eat before you go to bed

There are a myriad of sources from which you can learn about the principles of a healthy, age-smart diet but, no matter what you do, you must keep in mind the principle that the fuel that you put into your body will be reflected in both the way you look and the way you feel.

It almost seems too obvious that, in order to keep a body healthy, you have to exercise regularly to keep physically fit. Again, like nutrition, you cannot turn on the television without being bombarded by a litany of advertisements for products and programs that promise you the body of a supermodel with only 5 easy payments and 15 minutes a day. Alas, anything that seems too good to be true probably is, and, to the best of my knowledge, there are no supermodels out there who got their physiques by using equipment such as the abflex. Where physical fitness is concerned there are no shortcuts – The first, last, and only way to keep fit is through exercise.

As with a healthy diet, with so many sources available to teach us about beneficial exercise routines, for this article we will only discuss a few basic principles that everyone should know about keeping physically fit.

  • Regular exercise need not be strenuous: even a walk will have beneficial effects on both the cardio-pulmonary system and the musculoskeletal system.
  • The body continues to burn calories for up to 30 minutes after a workout, so many shorter workouts a week are more beneficial than one or two longer ones
  • Any fitness routine should include a balance of both resistance and cardio exercises
  • Weight training is the single most important form of exercise a mid-life women can do to maintain bone density, muscle mass and good body image

A healthy diet and regular exercise routine form the basis of a healthy physical lifestyle, which, ultimately, is what we want to achieve in order to stay young as long as possible. While it may seem obvious, simply taking care of our bodies is the vital first step along the road that leads to a healthy, long life; and is a critical piece of the anti-aging puzzle. Combined with a healthy mind, a healthy body completes the foundation of the anti-aging edifice and prepares the body for the final step: healthy skin.


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