As we get older, we generally feel tired and less agile than we once did. We’re all searching fora magic cure to turn back time and restore good health, energy and that feeling of joie de vivre. Nutritionist Sarah Flower looks at simple and natural ways we can flip our age and feel younger and healthier than ever.
Sleep yourself younger – Sleep is a time for the body to repair, restore and reset. A good night’s sleep is also vital for brain health as long-term sleep deprivation can cause irreparable damage to brain cells, not to mention low mood, so it is important to ensure you get at least eight hours of sleep so that you experience a full sleep cycle. Try to avoid using electronic devices at bedtime, as the hormone melatonin, which facilitates sleepiness, can be halted by natural or artificial light source from a smartphone or tablet keeping you awake.
Meditation – Finding time to meditate may seem impossible but you only need 15-20 minutes per day to help reduce stress and aid relaxation. Meditation not only helps calm and reduce anxiety, it can also help improve cardiovascular health, including lowering pulse, blood pressure and even enhancing our mood. Research shows that those who meditate have longer telomeres than those who don’t (short telomeres are believed to be an indication of accelerated ageing).
Get Fishy – Fish oils play a key role in overall health and wellbeing, as well as impacting on behaviour, joints and cognitive function. Also regarded as a powerful anti-inflammatory, fish oils can also calm the activation of adrenal hormones such as cortisol when under mental stress. Studies have also shown that those with a higher blood level of omega 3 are a third less likely to die of heart disease. Fish oils have also been shown to improve memory, cognitive function and reduce brain atrophy. Fish oils and Krill oils are both excellent sources of the omega-3 fats DHA and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) whilst flaxseed is the oil of choice for vegetarian and vegan omega-3 supplementation.
Mineral Support – It may shock you to hear that approximately 80% of the population are deficient in magnesium. Magnesium is required for the production and stability of the ATP molecule, which provides energy for basic bodily processes. Additionally, women can suffer a range of hormonal problems from PMT symptoms right through to menopause due to low magnesium. Magnesium is also known as an anti-stress mineral as it helps relax muscles, has a nourishing effect on the nervous system and helps improve flexibility and tone of blood vessels. Those who suffer from anxiety, depression and migraines are usually shown to be deficient in magnesium. Magnesium rich foods include kelp, wheat bran and almonds, if you don’t like these, opt for a magnesium supplement, such as New Era 8 (available to buy at www.powerhealth.co.uk), a melt in the mouth tissue salt made from magnesium phosphate, helping to keep you calm during times of anxiety and stress.
Top up your Vitamin D – Whether it’s going for a short walk on your lunch break or a run at your local park before or after work, getting outside and moving can help to boost mood, lower blood pressure and reduce stress. Getting outside will also help to top up Vitamin D levels from the sunlight exposure. Known as the sunshine vitamin, Vitamin D can also help with mental health problems, heart health, bone and joint health, multiple sclerosis and even cancer. Although you can get some levels of Vitamin D from food, it is not to be relied upon. I recommend taking a vitamin D supplement at least in the autumn and winter months. The best form is Vitamin D3 and is a simple one a day capsule.
Grab a cuppa – Green tea is well known for its antioxidant affects, which help repair and restore as well as fighting free radical damage. It has also been shown to help promote weight loss, but did you also know it helps improve the health of our heart, especially the endothelial cells. It also helps reduce cholesterol, lowers blood pressure, reduces inflammation and can even improve memory.
Look after your bowel – We are really only as healthy as our gut; poor gut health impacts how well we absorb and utilise our nutrients. A healthy bowel can also help balance blood sugars, absorb and utilise antioxidants, improve skin health, control IBS and prevent candida due to its immune boosting role. New research is also demonstrating how a healthy gut can even help with mood, depression, and anxiety. Many people believe they can get adequate probiotics from yoghurts or yoghurt drinks, but sadly these do not reach the lower intestine. Instead, opt for a probiotic supplement to ensure good bowel health.
Author, Nutritionist & Freelance Journalist