Strengthening the Body
Pilates is the first thing I recommend to people. It helps you develop a strong core, strong muscles, tendons and a leaner body. If you attend mat classes you can learn the routines over time and then practise at home at your leisure. Even half an hour three to four times a week at home will maintain core strength and help re-shape your body.
Yoga is another excellent body strengthener. Do take care with the type of yoga you learn and make sure to discuss with your teacher any injuries or weaknesses you may have. I have treated some people over time with injuries from attending large yoga classes where the instructor has less time to observe how you conduct the poses, contrary to Pilates. Some yoga poses are not suitable for anyone with, for example, a sway back or bad knees.
Some older people or those recovering from injuries may wish to practise Tai Chi which is gentle and flowing and helps with mental clarity and balance in the same way as Pilates and yoga.
Learn meditation, a very important skill for everyone in today's stressed world. Technology can be very useful but I am seeing many people experience excess mental stimulation from using their computer all day, along with mobile phones.
We are bombarded with technology and this has an impact on our central nervous system (CNS), affecting the brain and gut function. They may appear totally unrelated, but whatever affects the mind/brain will impact on gut function and interfere with absorption and assimilation of nutrients from food or remedies and also bowel function. Many IBS cases now result from too much mental stress contributing to anxiety and extreme tension.
Meditation is one great healing tool that you can incorporate into your daily life. Yes daily! You need to find at least 15-20 minutes a day where you can switch off and chill out. Just sit or lie down and allow the silence to take over. Focus on your breath and allow yourself to breathe with ease yet more deeply in a relaxed way. Basically, we do not breathe properly and, worse still, when we are stressed, we simply pant! Shallow breathing can exacerbate any stress or anxiety you are experiencing.
I often incorporate meditation when consulting with someone who is highly stressed, working with specific types of exercises relevant to that person. You need to find what type of meditation suits you best. Such highly stressed cases require homoeopathic and herbal remedies to support their CNS and adrenal cortex since the endocrine (hormonal) system is equally involved.
As we age, we have less tolerance of stress and the body struggles to deal with stressful situations we may have coped with easily 20 or 30 years ago. Cortisol levels increase as we age and this can be counterproductive to managing stress since even more is produced during times of stress and trauma. In older people it takes much longer for the levels to reach a balanced state again. This contributes to the extra weight around the girth - very hard to shift, but not impossible!
Sleep is extremely important. Some statistics claim that as we age we need less sleep, I'm not so sure if we all fit into that category - I seem to need more! We are all unique with differing needs and I suggest you obtain a minimum of seven to eight hours sleep a night, allowing your body to (ideally) wake when you are ready to face the day. Obviously, if you have structured work hours, you may have set an alarm but in this case make sure you retire early the night before.
Sleep is a great healer, keeps you looking younger and allows all the body's systems and organs to regenerate and rejuvenate. Sleep deprivation can play enormous havoc on your entire physiology and mental wellbeing. You can actually speed up weight loss when you have more sleep. Being deprived of sleep can make you hungry, affect blood sugar levels, and create adrenal fatigue, all leading to weight increase.
If you suffer from insomnia or other sleep problems, it's helpful to know that many natural remedies, such as herbal and homoeopathic remedies and specific supplements can help you overcome this difficulty. Your body may have been over-stimulated for too long and not able to wind down, remaining in a state of hyperactivity. It's advisable to see a qualified natural medicine practitioner, naturopath or acupuncturist to achieve the results you seek.
Supporting your Endocrine System
This is very important as we age. Adrenals can become depleted quite easily. We have more responsibilities in life as we get older - family, career, finances, relationships - and our physiology naturally begins to change.You must continually support the hormonal system. The adrenals love Vitamins C and B complex, especially B5 (known as pantothenic acid) and, in highly stressed cases, specific homoeopathics that help nourish and support the hypothalamus/pituitary/adrenal axis (known as the HPA axis), along with other organs such as the liver, kidney and para thyroids. This is because all the glands and organs involved in the endocrine system work as a team. It's a bit like a project team in a company - if one slacks off then another has to pick up the pace. Natural remedies work more efficiently in restoring balance since the focus is on the entire system, a holistic approach,not just on one or two glands that appear out of balance. If the para thyroids become under or over active, this can affect your mineral levels, particularly calcium. Even if you're taking a supplement, the calcium might not be assimilated properly, often going into tissues, organs and muscles, not the bones.
Skin needs nourishment. I recommend jojoba oil to many people. I've used it myself for over 35 years and I can say it is wrinkle proof! A light layer applied morning and night helps balance your natural sebum and protect your skin especially if you use makeup with 30+ UV protection.
And it's great for men after shaving. Antioxidant oil or argon oil are nourishing for the rest of the body. Always use 30+ block out while in the sun and wear a hat. Natural blockouts are free from chemical activities and also nourish the skin.
Staying youthful is not just about what you put on the skin - more importantly, it is what you ingest. If you are taking pharmaceutical medications over a lengthy period be assured they all have side effects to varying degrees and most meds will affect the gastrointestinal tract and liver function. You may need professional advice on how to counteract some of the side effects if you are on long term drug therapy.
Smoking and heavy alcohol consumption ages you, dries your skin contributing to wrinkles via dehydration and is more obvious in women than men. Quit smoking now - natural therapies can help. Cut down on alcohol - you don't need to get drunk every time you socialise and party. Think of the money you can save! Recreational drugs and caffeine drinks that pump up your energy are dreadful for your CNS and entire metabolism. Enjoy life without them.
The tests I recommend aside from general blood tests are live blood analysis, stool, hair mineral analysis, hormonal blood or saliva and possibly food or chemical allergy testing, whatever is applicable to the person and arranged by the practitioner.
To wrap up
You need a healthy diet, the correct natural remedies for YOU, a balanced endocrine system, daily exercise, plenty relaxation each day and 7-8 hours sleep. Eliminate unnecessary stresses in your life (delegate tasks if you have to), seek professional help for emotional worries and talk to someone you trust or your practitioner. Prevention is better than cure. Deal with any injuries including RSI, back pain and postural problems. Don't wait till you are really overweight, acquire serious health disorders, become chronically fatigued, or have ageing dry wrinkled skin. Take responsibility for your long term health and you will look younger than your biological years for a long time to come! Anti ageing nutrition is not just about your food assimilation and digestion; it includes the correct remedies outlined above to slow down the natural ageing process. We can't stop it, but we can help the body maintain optimum health and youthful appearance with vital energy. Genetic disposition to health disorders can be reduced and perhaps even prevented.
Those who have experienced certain viruses in the past may have experienced problems later with organ or system function since a virus can weaken us at the cellular level. Anti ageing programs can help greatly here.
Most of all patience and consistency are the key factors. Follow through and you will be rewarded.
Sydney-based Lyn Craven is a practitioner of naturopathy, nutrition, medical herbalism, Bowen therapy, Reiki energy healing and meditation, and is a corporate health presenter/consultant with 19 years' experience in natural therapies. Lyn has recently created a Meditation CD for anxiety, stress and self healing.
Lyn Craven is a practitioner of Naturopathy, Bowen Therapy, Energy/Reiki therapist, meditation teacher and Corporate Health Consultant. She is also a health researcher/writer and has produced a meditation CD assisting people to manage anxiety and stress. She runs a private practice in Sydney and can be contacted on +61403 231 804