Tips for Staying Young

older woman staying young after 50

Staying Young: Healthy Aging Over 50

By Dr. Pamela Frank, BSc(Hons), ND

One of the common myths about aging is that you just have to accept the symptoms of ageing: weight gain, poor sleep, cognitive decline, hot flashes, wrinkles and thinning hair.  Here are my best tips for healthy aging, slowing or reversing these symptoms and staying young at any age:

Weight Gain

What you could eat and get away with before you hit 50 and what you can eat and get away with after 50 is going to be different. Why? Your body’s ability to tolerate foods that increase blood sugar and require insulin decreases when estrogen goes down at menopause. What does that mean? You need to decrease your intake of carbs and sugar after 50 to prevent or stop weight gain. I recommend no more than 60-80 grams of carbs per day, preferably from fruit and vegetables and low glycemic index whole grains. Stay active. Your metabolism slows down as you get older, making it that much more important to stay physically active and keep burning those extra calories. If you find that aching joints are slowing you down, seeing a chiropractor, naturopathic doctor or osteopath may help.

Bone Density

Maintaining regular exercise after 50 is important for maintaining bone density. The single best way to get all the nutrients you need to maintain healthy bones and teeth is to consume bone broth with a handful of spinach every day. Bone broth is literally bones of any type that are cooked for 6-8 hours with a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar. The liquid is full of all of the minerals for healthy bones as well as the necessary ingredients to make collagen, another major constituent of bones. Our registered dietitian can help you create a meal plan to optimize bone health.

Hot Flashes/Night Sweats

Hot flashes are a signal of inflammation from your body. The best way to reduce those signals is to identify your triggers and make an effort to limit or avoid them. For many women sugar, stress, caffeine, lack of sleep and dairy products are hot flash triggers. Start by avoiding these and see if it helps and try journaling the frequency of hot flashes, time of day, feelings at the time and foods that are associated with your hot flashes to see what your specific triggers are. If stress is a trigger, seeing a psychotherapist to brainstorm stress-busting strategies may help. Acupuncture has been shown in research to help reduce the frequency and severity of hot flashes in menopausal women.

Cognitive Decline

Staying young by maintaining your brain health is as important if not more important than maintaining physical health. Hormone balance and low levels of inflammation are important to maintaining cognitive function. Your adrenal glands become increasingly important as you age. They help you maintain a certain level of hormonal health by producing hormones like cortisol, DHEAs and testosterone. The latter two are building blocks to build estrogen so that even post-menopause you can still maintain a healthy post-menopause estrogen level. Reducing intake of inflammatory foods like sugar, dairy and gluten can also help keep your brain healthy as well as your gut.  Increasing your Omega 3 fatty acids, B vitamins and magnesium can keep your brain running smoothly too.

Thinning Hair or Hair Loss

Adrenal gland health helps to maintain a healthy, full head of hair. If you see more hair falling when you are under stress, that may be a sign that your adrenal glands need supporting. These vital organs sit on top of your kidneys and help you deal with stress, help manage your blood sugar and blood pressure, help to balance hormones and reduce inflammation. They need substantial amounts of vitamin C, B5, B6, Magnesium and Zinc to function at their best. Targeting these specific vitamins and minerals often help with hair, but also stress, energy, and hormone balance. Extensive blood work can help identify the specific cause of your hair loss. Our ND’s can assist you with getting the right blood work done and ensuring that your levels are optimal for hair growth.

Skin Health

My two best “staying young” tips for your skin are: avoid sugar and eat bone broth. Sugar increases the need for insulin which promotes inflammation. Inflammation contributes to ageing and redness of your skin. Bone broth contains multiple vitamins, minerals and gelatin, all of which help your body make collagen, the support structure or scaffolding for your skin.  Vitamin C, and the amino acids lysine and proline are the other necessary constituents to make healthy collagen. Collagen also helps to keep your joints healthy.  You can take collagen supplements, but personally, I prefer the all-around nourishment of bone broth.

Poor Sleep

Maintaining strict sleep hygiene becomes ultra-important after 50. Good sleep helps us with staying young physically and mentally.  Any little thing that wasn’t a problem before 50 can disrupt sleep after 50. For optimal sleep, shut down any screen time by 8 p.m., make sure you are getting enough physical activity but do it early in the day, use blackout curtains in your bedroom, avoid sweets and alcohol in the evening, engage in relaxing activities in the evening, aim to be in bed by 10 p.m. and cut yourself off caffeine after noon. If stress is keeping you awake, talking it over with a psychotherapist may help.

No More Resolutions

picture saying no more resolutions

Resolutions are all wrong! Set yourself up for success instead!

By Dr. Pamela Frank, BSc, ND

Every New Year the “R” word kicks into full force. RESOLUTIONS. We evaluate the past year, how we ‘performed’, what we ‘lacked’, and what we are committed to doing 100% the next year. The trouble is that only about 8% of people actually keep their resolutions. For the rest of us, resolutions serve to remind us of what we didn’t follow through on, what we might have ‘failed at’ again, or what we fell short of achieving. In the end, resolutions create a measuring stick that sets most of us up for failure.

So this year, what if you let go of the “R” word and focus on intentions instead?

There’s a difference between these words, though we tend to use them interchangeably. A ‘resolution’ is similar to a ‘SMART goal’: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely, except that when it comes to making personal resolutions, the most common ones usually miss out on the measurable and realistic parts. Unfortunately, those are the two aspects of resolution-making that make most of us give up or fall short!

These were the top 10 New Year’s Resolutions for 2017:

1 Lose Weight / Healthier Eating 21.4%
2 Life / Self Improvements 12.3%
3 Better Financial Decisions 8.5%
4 Quit Smoking 7.1%
5 Do more exciting things 6.3%
6 Spend More Time with Family / Close Friends 6.2%
7 Work out more often 5.5%
8 Learn something new on my own 5.3%
9 Do more good deeds for others 5.2%
10 Find the love of my life 4.3

When you read these themes, I bet you can imagine how they’re translated into ‘resolutions’ like: “lose X lbs by Y date” or “save X amount of money by Y date”. Can you see how much pressure and expectation there is on finding one acceptable and final outcome for these resolutions – and how discouraging it would be to not meet them? Just reading them makes my heart sink with the expectation of it all! Why do this to ourselves – and at the start of a brand new year, too? 

This is where intentions can be more useful, more positive, and more sustainable.

In his book, The Power of Intention, Wayne Dyer defines intention as “a strong purpose or aim, accompanied by a determination to produce a desired result.” Rather than focusing on a problem to be solved, intentions focus energy on a gradual shifting towards change, a continual checking in with one’s Self to remember and activate inner motivation to live with the intention set.

This New Year, try the following:

  1. Write a “Letter of Intention” to yourself. Consider a maximum of FOUR intentions you want to live with and guide your life by over the next year and beyond. The idea is to choose four things that will become themes to live by, that you can cultivate rather than a goal to be ticked off a list.
  2. When you select your four intentions choose one based on the physical body, one on the emotions, one on the mind, and one on the spirit. Allow these four intentions to be broader than a specific end-goal, and more of a theme or quality to which you can tend.
  3. Re-read your letter and sit with it for a while. Come back to it and distil the content into four intention statements beginning with “I want…” Hang onto that full letter though!
  4. Use these four statements as a daily personal mantra when you arise in the morning, and let them be the way you begin each day – excited and content in the intentions you’re planting. You can even write them on cue cards, or print them on a poster to keep where you’ll be able to read them each morning.

Need some ideas for themes? Here are a few to start you off…

I WANT A LIMBER, COMFORTABLE BODY (body theme)

I WANT A NOURISHED BODY (body theme)

I WANT A CALM HEART (emotions)

I WANT SOFTNESS (emotions)

I WANT EQUANIMITY, MENTAL COMPOSURE (mind)

I WANT OPTIMISM (mind)

I WANT GRACE IN BE-ING (spirit)

I WANT LIGHTNESS (spirit)

Intentions are done in partnership with the Self, with personal creativity, and inner motivation. When you design them, you do so from a place of desiring improvement – not a measurement or pass/fail – which allows you the freedom to grow, shift, and evolve as your intentions take on practical meaning in your life. There is an embedded mindfulness to this kind of intention-setting that is neither demanding nor outside or particularly foreign to how most of us move through our days, making it simple to incorporate into your morning routine.

Over time, with this practice, you’ll nurture your intentions to become a part of your daily actions – and in that way, you’ll see them develop and grow into the way you now live!

Periodically throughout the year, revisit your Letter of Intention and see how much more able you are to notice your success in bringing those themes into your world – and how much prouder you are than when trying to live up to those impossible resolutions of the past. Then, give yourself a pat on the back, because you’re doing great!

We want to be a part of your personal care team. No question or curiosity is too small for us to address together. So don’t be shy to give us a call!  Our door is always open and your road to optimal health is just a phone call away.

From all of us at Forces of Nature Wellness Clinic:

We wish you success, happiness, and good health for 2018!

References:

https://www.statisticbrain.com/new-years-resolution-statistics

Why Do I Wake Tired?

picture of a woman who will wake tired

Wondering Why You Wake Tired? Here’s how to Lose the Snooze Button

By Dr. Pamela Frank, BSc(Hons), Naturopath

An overwhelming majority of my patients report that they wake tired in the morning when they have to get up. I’m always a little pleasantly surprised when I ask and a patient says yes, they feel refreshed. If you wake tired, there are a number of possible explanations, read on to learn more.

Not Enough Sleep

Studies show that the optimal amount is 7-7.5 hours of restful sleep. With hectic lifestyles, never enough time, trying to have a little down or me time, we often sacrifice time spent sleeping.  Also, if you are waking frequently in the night or up to go to the washroom, then you only get broken sleep. Broken sleep is not as refreshing as 7 hours of continuous sleep.

3 Action Steps for Better Sleep:

  1. Set an earlier bedtime, ideally by 10 p.m. and stick to it.  If you want some quiet time, get up early in the morning to be more aligned with your body clock. Aim for 8 hours of sleep per night, that way if you fall short, you’ll still get 7-7.5.
  2. Unplug by 8 p.m.  Looking at a screen tricks your brain into thinking it’s still daytime and decreases melatonin production that should enhance your sleep.  Melatonin has a multitude of additional benefits: it’s a powerful antioxidant, it repairs the esophagus, it can help fertility and it helps stimulate growth hormone production.
  3. If you find you are waking in the night, have a bite or two of protein containing food before bed.  A couple of bites of egg, fish, a tablespoon of almond butter etc, helps stabilize blood sugar to help you get to sleep & stay asleep better.

Low Iron

Ferritin is a blood test that we do to check for stored iron. Iron deficiencies can lead to exhaustion. An optimal ferritin level is above 60 mcg/L.  Some labs consider anything above 11 mcg/L to be normal.  As a result, your doctor may have told you your iron (ferritin) was normal when it was a fair bit below ideal. Ferritin below 40 mcg/L can definitely lead to problems with low energy and cause you to wake tired, as well as contributing to hair loss and shortness of breath.

2 Action Steps for Low Iron

  1. Ask your doctor to check ferritin and then ask for a copy of the blood work. Check that your ferritin is greater than 60 mcg/L.
  2. If your ferritin is below 60 mcg/L, it’s important to determine the cause of the low iron.  Simply taking iron supplements is not the best approach.  If you experience heavy periods that may explain the low iron, but in that case, it’s best to address the hormone imbalance that is causing the heavy periods.  If you absorb iron poorly or don’t take in enough from your diet, it’s best to address that.

Low Thyroid

Your thyroid regulates energy, body temperature, and metabolism.  Think of it like the gas pedal for your body.  If it’s not supplying enough gas, that means that having a sluggish thyroid can have a huge impact on energy. Blood work for thyroid is usually limited to testing TSH, a hormone that should stimulate the thyroid to work harder if it is underactive. So, a lower TSH means that the thyroid is working well, a higher TSH means the thyroid is sluggish.

The normal range for TSH is 0.35-5.00 mU/L.  If we converted this to whole numbers it is like saying that 35 to 500 is normal. The range is far too broad and once TSH gets above 3.00 there can be indications of an underactive thyroid. Some endocrinologists and fertility specialists will medicate the thyroid if TSH is above 2.50 as thyroid problems can contribute to infertility. As with ferritin, you may have been told that your thyroid is “normal”. I will treat a patient’s thyroid if the TSH exceeds 3.00 to try to restore normal thyroid function.

2 Action Steps for Low Thyroid

  1. Ask your doctor to check your thyroid and then ask for a copy of the blood work. Check that TSH is between 0.8 and 3.00 mU/L.
  2. Additionally, it would be helpful to have the following measurements relating to thyroid: free T3, free T4, anti-TPO and anti-thyroglobulin.  A TSH measurement alone is not adequate to determine that your thyroid is working perfectly.

Allergies

Allergies can often leave people feeling exhausted a good deal of the time as their immune system is working double time, all the time.  Many people will have low-grade food allergies or food sensitivities that they are either unaware of or they are unable to pinpoint the culprit foods.  Dairy and gluten are common, but you can have a food sensitivity to literally anything you are eating.  Journaling what you eat and rating your energy both later that day & the following day may help you unearth patterns between foods & energy.  If not, food sensitivity blood testing is the most efficient way to determine exactly what your immune system is fighting.  For environmental allergies, we aim to limit exposure if possible, but you can’t necessarily avoid pollen and dust.

4 Action Steps for Allergies

  1. Support adrenals – the adrenal glands help your body keep inflammation in check, read more on them below.
  2. Detoxify the liver – phase I and phase II liver detoxification are the steps that your liver takes to remove toxins, body waste, pollution and even hormones from your body.  There are certain vitamins and minerals that are essential for these processes to work optimally including vitamin B6, B12, 5-MTHF, magnesium, glucarate and indole-3-carbinol.  Supporting efficient liver detox can help remove chemicals that may be adversely affecting your immune system.
  3. Cleanse your gut and restore good bacteria to the digestive tract – Healthy gut flora keeps the immune system regulated and working normally.
  4. Remove existing food sensitivities to settle allergies down – Food sensitivities create inflamed, hypersensitive tissue in your respiratory tract (nose, throat, lungs, bronchi, sinuses).  Calming down this tissue by removing food allergies can help make them less sensitive to environmental pollutants.

Underactive Adrenal Glands

If all else above has been ruled out, the reason you wake tired is likely due to underactive adrenal glands. These are your stress glands, they sit on top of your kidneys and regulate a wide range of functions including: blood pressure, blood sugar, nervous system, libido, energy, drive, motivation, stress response, inflammation, hormone balance etc. Signs of low adrenal function include: wake tired after at least 7 hours of sleep, hypoglycemia, PMS, anxiety, depression, feeling dizzy or light headed on standing up quickly, low libido, inflammatory conditions like allergies, asthma, eczema, arthritis, and inflammatory bowel disease etc.

3 Action Steps for the Adrenal Glands

  1. Lower your stress.  The adrenal glands were meant to help you deal with short term stress, like running away from danger.  Chronic stress is hard on them and depletes vital vitamins and minerals for them to function normally.  Stress reduction techniques like yoga, meditation, breathing exercises, exercise, and getting good sleep can help.
  2. Support the adrenals with lots of vitamin C, B5, B6, zinc, magnesium and potassium rich foods like avocadoes, citrus and leafy greens.
  3. Measure.  You can do blood work to determine how well the adrenal glands are working.  Your adrenals produce all of your DHEAs, much of your testosterone and a stress hormone called cortisol.  These can all be measured in your blood.  Lab ranges are not particularly ideal for these tests either, so it’s best to obtain a copy of your results and consult with a naturopathic doctor to see if blood work is showing a problem with your adrenal glands.

Our naturopathic doctors are the masters at troubleshooting fatigue and why you might wake tired.  Traditional Chinese Medicine and acupuncture with Joy Walraven may help you have more energy. If pain is keeping you up at night, address the cause with massage therapy and chiropractic. If stress is keeping you up, combine massage therapy with psychotherapy.    Book an appointment now. 

 

6 Steps to Increase Longevity

older woman trying to increase her longevity

Longevity: Add More Years to Your Life and More Life to Your Years

Live life to its fullest every day and don’t sweat the small stuff

Unnecessary stressing over little things increases cortisol.  Cortisol is considered a catabolic hormone, meaning that it tends to break down tissue.  Avoid expediting the breakdown of your body that occurs as a natural part of the ageing process by keeping stress in check.  Check out our stress video here.

Live in moderation with little or no stress

Overindulgence in food, alcohol, stress, sugar and other addictions, television, internet time etc are all associated with damage to your body.

Walk everywhere you can

Walking is great exercise.  Being outdoors is a natural cortisol reducer.  Nature is one of the greatest stress relievers.  Walking to run errands is not only environmentally friendly, it’s good exercise, it reduces air pollution and encourages local consumerism.

Eat as little as possible of freshly prepared food, three times per day

Reduced caloric intake increases longevity. Overindulging in food or anything else isn’t healthy.  Caloric restriction has been shown in many studies to promote longevity.  It keeps excess weight in check, which in turn prevents a host of health problems, maintains healthy blood pressure and blood sugar, prevents diabetes and insulin resistance and maintains healthy digestion.  Studies have shown that consuming 3 meals and 2 snacks per day increases caloric intake, try to only eat 3 meals per day.

Drink six to eight glasses of water every day

Keeping your kidneys flushed helps prevent kidney stones, and carries waste out of your system.  Water helps every cell in your body to function at its peak.  Need help drinking more?  Make it a habit to drink 2 glasses of water first thing every morning, keep a big glass of water on your desk and carry a stainless steel water bottle with you so that water is always accessible.

Share at least one meal per day with another person

Our souls need a daily dose of another’s spirit to truly thrive.  Isolation and loneliness contribute to ageing and even dementia.  So keep communicating with other people to keep your brain sharp.

Looking for more ways to turn back the years and thrive for as long as possible? Our naturopathic doctors can help design an anti-ageing supplement regimen. Call us at 416-481-0222 or book online now.