Slowing the aging process is not just about maintaining an esthetically youthful appearance, it’s about keeping an active, able, pain-free body with vibrant energy, a keen mind, and zest for life. As our life expectancy continues to increase, Americans want to continue to be actively participating in their lives for as many years as possible.

The tremendous amount of information available on slowing the aging process can be overwhelming. However, there are a few simple ways to approach aging naturally that have enormous benefits for total health and wellness.

Diet and Nutrition. There are really only two ways to eat, one that supports health and one that strains the body. A diet rich in organically-grown plant-based foods such as fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins (fish, organic free-range meats), provides the body with vital nutrients and antioxidants that can prevent and help reverse disease and aging. These nutrients are the exact entities needed to rebuild collagen in the skin, limit inflammation in the joints, support a healthy cardiovascular system, and feed the brain. A diet consisting of processed food stripped of nutrients puts a strain on the total body system creating inflammation and accelerating aging.

Exercise. Exercise provides more than just the appearance of an ageless figure. It increases blood flow in the body which enhances a more youthful glow to the skin; produces sweat which helps detoxify impurities; increases energy, and when done appropriately, prevents stiff, painful joints. It is also associated with warding off dementia and heavily correlated with retention of cognitive function. Exercise is key for those wanting to defy their age and remain sharp and energetic.

Antioxidants. Antioxidants prevent damage from free radicals and are by definition, anti-aging compounds. Free radicals are tissue damaging particles which increase inflammation and come from air pollution, chemicals, pesticides, and stress. Antioxidants are found naturally in plant-based foods such as blueberries, broccoli, kale, spinach, and carrots. Supplement forms include resveratrol, n-acetyl-cysteine, and vitamins a, c and e.

Bio-Identical Hormones. Replacing hormones that have naturally declined with aging can revive vitality and virility, improve skin composition, decrease joint pain, improve sleep, and help individuals  feel younger. There are side effects and certain contraindications to taking bio-identical hormone pills and creams, but with the right hormone testing and regular monitoring, many individuals benefit significantly.

Telomeres. Telomeres are essentially markers for how fast the body is aging and are part of our DNA. They decrease in length throughout our life and the speed of this decline implicates the rate at which the body is aging. There are many new products available aimed at lengthening or creating healthier telomeres. Most are combinations of high dose antioxidants to prevent free radicals from damaging the telomere strands. Telomere length is also affected by stress, diet, exercise, and sleep habits. Keep an eye out for new research on telomere therapies which hold the true key to our anti-aging potential.

Nourishing the body with a healthy diet and exercise, adding age specific nutritional supplements, and seeking medical advice for additional hormonal therapies when necessary are the simple keys to a long, healthy life.

Dr. Shannon Sinsheimer is a licensed naturopathic doctor at Optimal Health Center in Palm Desert and can be reached at (760) 568-2598.

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