Growing older is not an illness, but the passing years do make the body more vulnerable to disease. Why? A significant number of problems faced by people over the age of sixty may also be attributable to nutritional deficiencies that accumulate as the years pass.
Aging is defined as the sum total of life’s negative events.
Often age is accompanied by many, many years of eating the wrong foods and exposure to toxins. From this as a person’s body ages, its systems slow down and become less efficient, so the correct nutrients are more important than ever for the support, repair, and regeneration of the cells. You must remember though that it took years for problems to develop, so it usually takes some time to resolve them as well.
Read: Is it Because We Now Live Longer?
Have you ever known an older person who was not old? A person who look like they’re forty at the age of sixty. What you would find in that person’s cells is something called antioxidants sitting in the fatty layer of the cellular membrane doing its job as protector against the consequences of so-called aging.
How do they slow down the process? They protect your cell membranes from invasion by the “health vandals”. These health vandals are called “free radicals”. They have a nasty habit of stealing electrons from your body’s healthy molecules to balance themselves, in practice damaging cells and their DNA, the genetic blueprint that tells a cell how to do its job. And without a perfect copy of that DNA blueprint, a cell doesn’t know what it is supposed to do. The body is hit 10s of thousands of times a day, and whether they stay damaged depends on the “cellular repair squads”, or the antioxidants.
The idea is that there may be an accumulation of damage from the constant cellular bombardment. A cell gets hit once, the cellular repair squad comes to the rescue and cut out the damage to the cell’s DNA blueprint, and the cell bounces back into action. But when the cell gets hit over and over again, there may come a point at which things can’t be patched back together the way it was. So the cell continues to do its job, but not as well as it had been.
The body produces natural antioxidants to handle the “free radical damage”, but doesn’t produce enough to handle the bombardment generated by the modern world. Your body’s natural systems was not designed to handle rooms full of cigarette smoke, a diet loaded with processed foods and constant exposure to pollution.
So the solution is to supplement your body’s natural antioxidants. If you want to know more see article Free Radicals and Antioxidants.
What to eat:
As you grow older, your body may not use the protein you eat, as efficiently, so you may need to eat more from different sources.
Fruits and vegetables are good for improving the body’s immune system. The immune system helps prevent and fight colds and other viruses, infections and even diseases such as cancer. Waiting to give antibiotics for pneumonia? Better to improve the body’s immune system. By your fifties or sixties the infection-fighting cells don’t function as well. Remember you are probably not as active as you used to be. Moderate exercise enhances immunity.
You need a diet rich in antioxidant nutrients, vitamins and minerals that help prevent the damage caused by oxidation. Green salads, brazil nuts, sunflower seeds and other nuts, broccoli, carrot or celery
Celery is high in apigenin, a chemical that expands (dilates) the blood vessels and may help prevent high blood pressure. Use olive oil, it’s great for getting the essential fatty acids.
Read this book: Whole Foods For Seniors by Kathleen O’Bannon, CNC
As Kathleen O’Bannon, a senior herself, explains, it’s never too late to adopt a whole foods way of eating. Eating whole foods can help relieve heartburn and acid reflux, high blood pressure and diabetes, constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, prostate problems, menopause symptoms, and low blood sugar. Included are tips on how to adopt a whole-foods diet and a detailed description of just what whole foods are, includes recipes. See more at Whole Foods For Seniors
In addition, there is anti-aging nutrition. This type of nutrition is good at any age and can grow biologically younger. More on this below in the recommended section.
Health Tips for growing older:
1) These 3 Lifestyle Changes Can Make You Healthier Now
2) 5 Tips in Dealing with Old Injuries as Your are Aging
3) Go for a walk every day.
4) Don’t smoke – or at least take the recommended supplements to counteract the harmful effects of smoking.
5) Don’t drink alcohol: Or at least never drink more than two drinks and don’t drink every day. Give your liver a rest. Your liver has to work hard to clear alcohol, medications and environmental pollutants from the body. See Alcohol
6) Don’t sunbathe – ever: You probably get enough sun to produce a healthy amount of vitamin D with moderate outdoor activities that don’t involve actively seeking sun.
7) Drink two antioxidant herb teas a day. If you’re a heavy coffee drinker, consider replacing two cups with an herb tea. Oregano, Rosemary, bee balm, lemon balm (also known as melissa), peppermint, sage, spearmint, savory and thyme have significant levels of antioxidants.
8) Yoga – here is an article for Caretakers, but it makes sense why you would want to follow it.
9) How to Decide If Independent Living Fits Into Your Future
For Aging Brains -What Are Some of the Best Brain-Boosting Foods? (with thanks to Dr. Mercola)
Analysis by Dr. Joseph Mercola ? Fact Checked September 12, 2023
Your brain is like a sponge, soaking up not only the information around you on a daily basis but also the vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other phytochemicals in the food you eat.
The more you eat a diet based on whole, healthy foods, the more your brainpower will soar, even to the point of staving off age-related cognitive decline and other brain disorders.
While eating real foods is key, there are some superstars that stand above the rest. By planning your meals to include the brain-boosting foods that follow, you’ll be providing the fuel your brain needs to stay healthy in the future but function optimally today, bringing with it increased productivity, focus and a creative edge.
The more you eat a diet based on whole, healthy foods, the more your brainpower will soar, even to the point of staving off age-related cognitive decline and other brain disorders
Six Top Brain-Boosting Foods to Include in Your Diet
Healthy fish — Small cold-water fish that are rich in animal-based omega-3 fats but have a low risk of contamination are among your best choices for healthy fish. This includes anchovies, sardines, mackerel, herring and wild-caught Alaskan salmon. The omega-3 they contain is vital to your brain, helping to fight inflammation and offer numerous protections to your brain cells.
For instance, a study in the journal Neurology found “older women with the highest levels of omega-3 fats … had better preservation of their brain as they aged than those with the lowest levels, which might mean they would maintain better brain function for an extra year or two.” I
n separate research, when boys were given an omega-3 supplement, there were significant increases in the activation of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex part of the brain.
This is an area of your brain associated with working memory. They also noticed changes in other parts of the brain, including the occipital cortex (the visual processing center) and the cerebellar cortex (which plays a role in motor control).
In addition, older adults with memory complaints who consumed the omega-3 fat docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), alone or in combination with another omega-3 fat eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), had improved memory.
Consuming healthy fish once a week or more is even linked to a 60% lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease compared with rarely or never consuming it. If you don’t like fish, you can also get animal-based omega-3 fats in therapeutic doses by taking a supplement like krill oil. But if you’re looking for a dietary source, the healthy fish named above are among the best sources.
Cruciferous veggies and leafy greens — Eating just one serving of green leafy vegetables a day may help to slow cognitive decline associated with aging, helping you to be 11 years younger, cognitively speaking, than your non-leafy green-eating peers. They’re a rich source of brain-protective nutrients like folate, vitamins E and K, lutein and beta-carotene.
Cruciferous vegetables, like broccoli and cauliflower, are equally impressive, in part because they’re good sources of choline, a B vitamin known for its role in brain development.
Choline intake during pregnancy “super-charged” the brain activity of animals in utero, indicating that it may boost cognitive function, improve learning and memory and even diminish age-related memory decline and the brain’s vulnerability to toxins during childhood, as well as confer protection later in life. Pastured organic eggs and grass fed meat are other good food sources of choline.
Broccoli offers additional benefits as well, including the anti-inflammatory flavonoid kaempferol and three glucosinolate phytonutrients that work together to support your body’s detoxification processes.
In another study, women who ate the most cruciferous vegetables or leafy greens had slower cognitive decline than those eating the least, to the point that their brain function equaled that of someone one to two years younger.
Eggs — Pastured, organic eggs, particularly the yolks, provide valuable vitamins (A, D, E and K), omega-3 fats and antioxidants. They’re also one of the best sources of choline available. Choline helps keep your cell membranes functioning properly, plays a role in nerve communications and reduces chronic inflammation. Choline is also needed for your body to make the brain chemical acetylcholine, which is involved in storing memories.
In pregnant women, choline plays an equally, if not more, important role, helping to prevent certain birth defects, such as spina bifida, and playing a role in brain development. In addition, people with higher choline intakes were shown to have better cognitive performance, doing better on tests of verbal and visual memory, than those with low intake.
According to a study published in the journal Nutrients, only 8% of U.S. adults are getting enough choline (including only 8.5% of pregnant women).
Among egg consumers, however, more than 57% met the adequate intake (AI) levels for choline, compared to just 2.4% of people who consumed no eggs. In fact, the researchers concluded that it’s “extremely difficult” to get enough choline unless you eat eggs or take a dietary supplement.
Some of the symptoms associated with low choline levels include memory problems and persistent brain fog. Your body can only synthesize small amounts of this nutrient, so you need to get it from your diet regularly. One egg yolk contains nearly 215 mg of choline.
Coffee — Increased coffee (and tea) consumption was linked to a lower risk of glioma brain tumor, such that people in the top category of coffee consumption were 91% less likely to have glioma compared with those in the bottom category.
It may help your brain function as well, with research showing that drinking one to two cups of coffee daily may lower your risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, cognitive decline and cognitive impairment compared to drinking less than one cup.
Drinking coffee may even enhance long-term memory consolidation and, if you drink the caffeinated variety, improve attention and alertness while decreasing your risk of depression.
Caffeine can be a double-edged sword, with excess consumption causing adverse effects, and everyone’s tolerance to caffeine is unique. However, most people naturally adjust their coffee consumption to avoid the jittery feeling that comes from too much caffeine. Ideally, coffee should be organic and shade-grown; drink it black or with added coconut oil or medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oil.
Wine (one glass) — Limited wine intake — one glass a day or no more than seven drinks a week — has been found to protective against dementia in later life. Part of the benefit likely comes from the catechin epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), found in red wine and tea, which has been found to stop beta-amyloid proteins associated with Alzheimer’s disease from killing brain cells.
Resveratrol is another compound in red wine linked to brain benefits, including protecting the neuromuscular junctions (NMJs) between neurons. Resveratrol may also help to restore the blood-brain barrier in patients with Alzheimer’s disease, which could help keep out unwanted immune molecules that can worsen brain inflammation and kill neurons.
Even Champagne contains beneficial compounds, including relatively high amounts of phenolic acids, that appear to have a neuroprotective effect against oxidative neuronal injury. It’s important to note that only a small amount of alcohol may be beneficial, and excess amounts are toxic to your brain.
Blueberries — Blueberries are rich in phytochemicals linked to improvements in learning, thinking and memory, along with reductions neurodegenerative oxidative stress.
They’re also relatively low in fructose compared to other fruits, making them one of the healthier fruits available.
Wild blueberries, which have high anthocyanin and antioxidant content, are known to guard against Alzheimer’s and other neurological diseases.
Wild blueberries have even been shown to reduce some of the effects of a poor diet (such as high blood pressure systemic inflammation). In an animal study, wild blueberries reduced the proinflammatory effects of a poor diet as well as prevented high blood pressure, which would be beneficial for your brain health.
Further, women who consumed at least a half-cup of blueberries a week for 15 years had slower cognitive decline than women who did not, with researchers noting, “berry intake appears to delay cognitive aging by up to 2.5 years.”
The Beach Is Good for Your Brain Health Too
It’s not only what you eat that matters to your brain — your environment matters, too Interestingly, one of the most restorative environments for your brain, according to research is the beach.
The best atmosphere for restoration when visiting the beach or, as the study called them, “coastal parks,” is a combination of mild temperatures and low tides.
There are a number of factors that make the beach an ideal locale for your brain, including:
• Sun exposure — This is important for optimizing vitamin D, as low vitamin D levels
are linked to a risk of cognitive decline in the elderly. Beyond this, sunlight affects
your mood through a number of mechanisms, including affecting your vitamin D, serotonin, endorphins, nitric oxide levels and mitochondrial energy.
• Walking barefoot on the sand — When you put your bare feet on the ground, a process known as earthing or grounding, you absorb large amounts of negative electrons through the soles of your feet. These free electrons act as antioxidants in your body and help to reduce chronic inflammation, the root of many chronic diseases.
Further, grounding thins your blood, making it less viscous, and your zeta potential quickly rises, which means your red blood cells have more charge on their surface, forcing them apart from each other. This action causes your blood to thin and flow easier.
If your zeta potential is high, which grounding can facilitate, you not only decrease your heart disease risk, but also your risk of multi-infarct dementias, where you start losing brain tissue due to microclotting in your brain.
• Swimming in the ocean — Ocean water is a unique source of important minerals
like magnesium, potassium and iodine, whereas swimming provides physical activity. Physical exercise, in turn, decreases risk of age-related brain shrinkage, and increases cognitive abilities by promoting neurogenesis — your brain’s ability to adapt and grow new brain cells.
Exercise — Physical activity produces biochemical changes that strengthen and renew not only your body but also your brain — particularly areas associated with memory and learning.
Reducing overall calorie consumption, including intermittent fasting. Reducing net carbohydrate consumption, including sugars and grains.
Increasing healthy fat consumption — Beneficial health-promoting fats that your body — and your brain in particular — needs for optimal function include clarified butter called ghee, organic grass-fed raw butter, olives, organic virgin olive oil and coconut oil, nuts like pecans and macadamia, free-range eggs, wild Alaskan salmon and avocado, for example.
Increasing your omega-3 fat intake and reducing consumption of damaged omega-6 fats (think processed vegetable oils) in order to balance your omega-3 to omega-6 ratio. Krill oil works well for this because (like wild Alaskan salmon) it also contains astaxanthin, which appears to be particularly beneficial for brain health.
Sources and References
Neurology, doi: 10.1212/WNL.0b013e3182a9584c
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition April 2010;91(4):1060-7
PLoS One. 2015; 10(3): e0120391
Arch Neurol. 2003;60(7):940-946
Neurology January 16, 2018; 90 (3)
CNN March 7, 2018
J Neurophysiol. 2004 Apr;91(4):1545-55
NIH. Antibiotics (Basel). 2023 Jul; 12(7): 1157
Annals of Neurology April 25, 2005
The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 94, Issue 6, 1 December 2011, Pages 1584–1591
Nutrients August 5, 2017
Eur J Nutr. 2017 Nov 9
Clin Nutr. 2017 Jun;36(3):730-736
Nature Neuroscience 17, 201–203 (2014)
Arch Intern Med. 2011 Sep 26; 171(17): 1571–1578
Age Ageing. 2008 Sep;37(5):505-12
Journal of Biological Chemistry February 5, 2013
J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci March 7, 2017
Georgetown University Medical Center July 27, 2016
J. Agric. Food Chem., 2007, 55 (8), pp 2854–2860
PLOS One December 12, 2014
Ann Neurol. 2012 Jul;72(1):135-43
Journal of Environmental Psychology December 2011, Volume 31, Issue 4, Pages 421-429
The Gerontological Society of America June 19, 2016
Ocean Sciences. Properties of Fresh Water and Seawater
RECOMMENDED FOR BUILDING SENIOR HEALTH
Alpha Lipoic Acid & Acetyl l-Carnitine
Your Immune System – A strong immune system means fighting off viruses, bacteria, and fungus. What can be done? Read about Beta Glucans
Your Digestion – If you have a weakened digestion system, you can’t get the nutrients you need to build health – Improving Digestion
STILL HAVE QUESTIONS? EMAIL AND GET YOUR QUESTIONS ANSWERED.