In a previous health tip, I discussed what I considered to be the pointlessness of spending your hard-earned money seeing a specialist in anti-aging medicine. This tip is for those curious about anti-aging supplements.
But first, a quick list of the current theories about why our bodies age:
• Genetic Genes are probably overrated, but if everyone in your family lives to their nineties, you’ve selected wisely. It’s true we probably have genetic factory-installed aging systems, but experts agree that a healthy lifestyle will allow you to thumb your nose at your less-than-perfect genes.
• Free radicals damage our cells, causing them to age. Free radicals are the altered oxygen molecules we generate just by living and also take in from our polluted environment. They’re mopped up by antioxidants.
• Immunologic failure The slow decline of our immune systems renders us more prone to infections and cancer.
• Stress Chronic stress has a cumulative damaging effect.
• Repair failure Our ability to bounce back from injury and illness declines with the passage of time.
• Miscellaneous Obesity, chronic inflammation, mind/body inactivity, nutritional deficiencies, and hormonal deficiencies can all affect how we age.
To combat this inexorable slide, the first step is to start an anti-aging eating program: reduce sugars of all types (high fructose corn syrup, white sugar, brown sugar, candy, all sugared drinks); high-glycemic foods (the white foods, including white-flour breads and pasta, pastry, cakes, and cookies); and saturated fats.
Your modest calorie intake should be nutrient-dense, meaning you consume no empty calories. Choose lean meats, fish, and dairy for protein; whole-grain, high-fiber carbs such as brown rice, chickpeas, oatmeal, nuts, and black beans; and every day go for nine servings of fruits and vegetables. Drink green tea daily for its antioxidant effect.
In addition, work your body every day, both physically (brisk walking, stationary bike, swimming, jump-rope, push-ups) and mentally (crossword puzzles, Scrabble, bridge, new language, challenging reading). Stay connected to family, friends, neighbors, the FedEx delivery person, and the guy at your grocery. Maintaining connections has been shown to lengthen life, and it certainly enhances it.
Dare I say it again? Use it or lose it.
You notice I’m getting to the supplements after all that:
• Begin with a good high-potency multiple vitamin and mineral combination, because our food itself isn’t as nutritious as it once was. Choose Clinical Nutrients for Women if you’re menstruating, Clinical Nutrients for Women Over 45 if you’re going through the menopause transition or are in menopause. And, yes, Clinical Nutrients for Men is available, too.
• Add a high-potency mixed antioxidant such as Cyto-Redoxin, one capsule twice a day.
• Unless you eat fish at least twice a week, some omega-3 such as OrthoMega, one capsule twice daily.
• Include an adaptogen to help your body cope with stress, such as Resveratrol (from red grapes), one capsule twice a day. By the way, the pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline just bought Sirtris Pharmaceuticals for a cool $720 million. Sirtris has been conducting most of the research on the anti-aging properties of resveratrol. Expect a pricey prescription version of resveratrol in the next couple of years.
• With all the health risks now linked to low Vitamin D, take 2,000 IU of vitamin D daily.
• Finally, that most potent of antioxidants, Coenzyme Q 10 as UBQH (for maximum absorption), 50 mg once daily.
Do understand there is an impersonal randomness to illness, aging, and death that even our best efforts can’t prevent. Nonsmokers die of lung cancer, assiduous vegetarian exercisers are diagnosed with lymphoma. Fate can simply deal us a bad hand of cards.
Essayist Joseph Epstein thought it useful to imagine our lives as if huge darts were endlessly raining down from the sky. When we suffer an illness, a dart has left a painful glancing blow. With death, we’re simply nailed. Even with our best efforts, we’re all just dancing among the darts, trying our damndest to survive.