Growing older can be disease free, energising and liberating. All it takes is breaking degenerative practices, ideas and thoughts and following a lifestyle that feeds youthfulness. Dr Kevin Lentin shares some of the principles of youth.
DID YOU KNOW? Studies show that many of the centenarians around the world are people who eat less. Research conducted on centenarians in Japan show a general trend of eating until 80 percent full rather than eating until completely satiated.
Ever heard the saying, 'Getting old is not for the feint hearted?' I'm sure you have, but what does it really mean?
It seems we've come to accept that getting older inevitability brings with it an array of signs and symptoms, which can vary dramatically, but which definitely include some, if not all, the following:
' musculo-skeletal aches and pains
' cognitive decline, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's Disease
' a range of cardiovascular diseases like arteriosclerosis, raised cholesterol, hypertension and stroke
' digestive conditions
' and of course the ultimate dreaded disease ' cancer
Is it necessary to accept this as inevitable, or is there something we can do to reduce, reverse, and even totally prevent many of these degenerative aging processes?
According to research on ageing, studies clearly indicate that the effects of aging can be significantly slowed down, if not reversed.
So what we should really be concerning ourselves with is not the fact we get older, but more with the process of senescence. Senescence is the term given to the processes of age related changes that adversely affect vitality and function as we age.
There are many examples of folk in their 70's, 80's, and even older, that are hale, hearty and happy. Mostly people put this down to genetics. If you were unfortunate enough to be in the 'bad gene' queue you will have inherited 'unhealthy' genes and would so experience the adverse effects of senescence.
A study conducted by a group of investigators at the University of Pennsylvania, found that only 20% - 30% of our longevity, health and vitality is determined by our genes. Dr Bruce Lipton, well known cellular biologist, believes that the genetic influence on senescence may actually be as little 5% - 10%. This means that, at best, 70% - 80%, and perhaps even as much as 95%, of how long we live, the quality of our life, our sense of wellbeing, our health and vitality is determined by the influence of other factors; environment, the type of lifestyle we live, our diet, alcohol consumption, exercise and how well we control stress levels.
If this is true, and science seems to think so, what can we do to slow down or reverse this process?
Research around senescence and aging says there's a lot we can do to target the structures ultimately responsible for deterioration as we get older. The structures ultimately responsible for this deterioration are our cells, and more specifically our entire cellular system.
The human body is designed to act as a self-healing organism. It's able to produce all of its own anti-inflammatories, anti-biotics, 'happy' and mood stabilizing chemicals, immune complexes, friendly bacteria, and wound healing and repair substances ' all involved in the process of homeostasis and the management of balance in the cellular system.
This process of homeostasis, however, is vulnerable. Bombard it with too many 'pro ' death' cellular messages for too long and eventually cellular breakdown will begin. It is this cellular breakdown that is responsible for the adverse effects of ageing.
Here are 3 areas we need to focus on to slow down or reverse senescence.
1. Our structure
2. Our nutrition
3. Our stress
Our structural system comprises the muscles, bones, ligaments, tendons, cartilage and connective tissue. The structural system is generally very resilient, but modern lifestyles subject this system to constant overuse, repetitive strain and trauma.
The pace of the 21st Century means we're busy all the time. It's 'GO, GO , GO'; there's very little real R & R time.
Deprive your body of rest and relaxation for too long, not to mention sleep, and you place all body systems under physiological strain, which eventually, leads to tissue and cellular breakdown and speeds up senescence.
As we age our muscles get weaker and smaller. The muscles are the source of our energy production and structural support. A light resistance exercise programme, for example, to strengthen the muscular system, offers remarkable support for your structure, and for many of the other body systems as well.
Secondly, our diet and nutrition is responsible for maintaining the self-healing and homeostatic potential of our bodies.
Our bodies can essentially be described as complex chemical laboratories. Chemical reactions occurring every milli- second producing pain killers, antibiotics, cortisone, hormones, enzymes, energy molecules, 'happy' chemicals, immune complexes and thousands of other substances that keep us alive. These chemical reactions are dependent on that wonderful substance called food.
More important than food alone, the correct type of food is crucial to optimum functioning. Every meal should contain a combination of complex carbohydrates (potato, rice, root vegetables and some grains), proteins (fish, meat, chicken, nuts, seeds, cheese, eggs, beans, legumes) and fats (olive oil, fish oils, flax oils). Meals should always be eaten while sitting down and not 'on the run'. Each mouthful should be chewed at least 20 times!
Refined foods like sugar and white flour, processed foods like frozen meals and packet foods, 'deli' meats and tinned foods, fast food and junk foods are all 'nutrient deficient' and should be taken in moderation, if at all. These foods all contain the 'pro ' death' cellular messenger substances that promote senescence.
If consumed on a regular basis the bodies coping mechanisms are placed under stress, resulting in conditions like 'insulin resistance', which has been directly linked to cardiovascular disease, adult onset diabetes, raised cholesterol levels and raised uric acid. The body is at greater risk of free radical damage, also directly linked to quickened ageing.
One of the consequences is the immune system is 'up-regulated', as is adrenal gland stimulation, resulting in many of the adverse effects of getting older e.g. increased susceptibility to bacterial and viral infections, bowel disturbance, reduced libido, fatigue, menopausal symptoms and the list goes on and on.
Finally, attention needs to be given our psychological / emotional state. It is no coincidence that stress is considered the 'silent killer'.
Being constantly bombarded by stressors stimulates the stress activation response, also known as the flight or fight response resulting in the bodies ability to promote homeostasis being under constant pressure and threat.
Some of these stressors include time pressure, excessive deadlines, perfectionism, ongoing relationship, financial and career problems and living in regret of the past and fear of the future. Learned responses result in the production of 'messenger molecules' (hormones), like adrenalin, noradrenalin and cortisol with the effect of 'up-regulating' virtually every system and cell in the body to assist with persistent stress.
As time progresses the body becomes less and less able to cope, the coping mechanisms become exhausted and begin to falter and symptoms start manifesting.
Because of a constant influx of stressful situations our responses become habitual. Slowly but surely, we get caught up in 'habit loops' where we begin responding to almost anything (and sometimes everything) with a flight or fight response.
This eventually causes cellular fatigue, cellular breakdown, cellular dis ' ease and finally cellular disease.
These responses are learned and become our default mode to manage life. It's becoming more widely accepted that one can break these 'habit loops' and create new, more positive responses to old stressors.
Meditation, visualization, affirmations and mindfulness, practiced regularly, are techniques that provide the impetus for this reprogramming. The amazing power of positivity, as a healing tool, is becoming well recognised, as a way to manage stress.
As we become proficient at seeing everything in a more positive light the cellular system is less traumatized and can maintain optimal function for much longer.
So it's not too late to take control and make the necessary lifestyle changes that will add years to life and life to your years.
About Dr Kevin Lentin
Dr Lentin has been in private practice for more than 30 years. While his is core interest revolves around the diagnosis, treatment and management of neuro-musculo-skeletal conditions, his continual search to deepen his understanding of 'wellness' led him to study and practice Functional Medicine. He now focuses his years of study and clinical experience on a more integrated approach to health and wellness, incorporating his skills in the musculo-skeletal (chiropractic), bio-nutritional and functional wellness (Functional Medicine) as well as the psycho-emotional realms to offer patients a holistic approach to health care.
1976 graduated from the University of Natal with a B. Social Science, majoring in Psychology.
1984 graduated Doctor of Chiropractic, Cum Laude, from Life Chiropractic College, in Atlanta, Georgia.
2004 Diploma in Applied Clinical Nutrition from the Academy of Nutrition, in Sydney, Australia
2006 & 2012 Applying Functional Medicine in Clinical Practice'
Contact Dr Kevin Lentin at Constantia Chiropractic Clinic, 36 Constantia Road, Wynberg, W Cape Tel: 021 797-8056
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