Most of us would like to live to be 100 or older, provided we could maintain a highly functional body and mind. Of course, being functional is the important thing.
The thought of being confined to a wheelchair, with tubes from an oxygen tank stuck up our nose, or experiencing repeated bouts of angina while recovering from a stroke, or having little or no memory of who we are or where we are, is not exactly the kind of functional living most of us are hoping for.
Research has now shown that we can live to a ripe old age and live it in good health, provided we follow a few simple steps each day. Of course we need to watch our diets, do as much regular exercise as possible, reduce stress at every possible turn, but, we also need to take a few essential supplements that we can’t get from food alone.
Living to a healthy 100+ is truly possible if we try to achieve the following 5 vital health objectives:
Keep our arteries open and blood flowing
Maintain strength in our bones and muscles
Protect DNA from mutations that can lead to cancer
Maintain brain chemicals that preserve memory and thinking
Keep our hearts pumping with maximum force
Keep Our Arteries Open and Blood Flowing
Forty percent of all adults die from heart attack, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases. In most cases individuals have clogged up their arteries with a fatty-waxy plaque that blocks the flow of blood and deprives vital tissues of the oxygen they need to function.
Once deprived of oxygen, the heart muscle stops pumping (a heart attack), the affected section of the brain stops working (a stroke), gangrene sets into your fingers or toes, and our kidneys can no longer filter blood (and now we need dialysis for the rest of our lives).
How do we keep arteries open and blood flowing?
Most important of all, we need to stop eating foods that clog those arteries in the first place – there is no substitute for this advice!
Reduce or eliminate the intake of:
All milk or yogurt above 1% milk fat
All cheese above 3% milk fat
Lard, butter, sour cream, cream, ice cream
Regular chocolate products
Palm or coconut oil
I know that this is very difficult to do for most of us, but start by cutting back on some of these foods and gradually you may be able to cut them out completely.
We should also try to get our total cholesterol level below 3.9 mmol/L (150 mg/dL). If it’s higher than this, then it’s simply too high and we will likely die before our time from clogged arteries or related problems.
One good way to help keep cholesterol levels down and help reduce high cholesterol is to take a supplement containing Gum Guggul andArtichoke Leaf Extract, two ingredients that have been used for thousands of years in Asia.
Clinical studies show that these natural agents clear cholesterol from the bloodstream and flush cholesterol out of the body, without any significant side effects. These supplements can be used in conjunction with cholesterol-lowering drugs if necessary.
To further reduce cholesterol levels, we can add 2 heaping tablespoons of ground flaxseed and/or 2 teaspoons of psyllium husk fiber to our daily fare. Higher consumption of beans, peas and oat bran can also help.
Maintain Strength In Our Bones and Muscles
If you’re going to go the distance in life, you must prevent osteoporosis and muscle decay, which gets tricky after 45. As we age there is a decline in the hormones that caused our body to grow, mature, and develop during the years of puberty.
The production of estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, growth hormone, and other hormones all decline significantly after 45 years of age. This allows calcium to leak out of our bones and become excreted in the urine, which leads to bones that are weak and fracture-prone. Additionally, muscle tissue breaks down, causing us to become weak and frail as we grow older.
Note that one in four women and one in eight men over 50 develop osteoporosis in our society, which has life threatening and serious quality of life consequences. All of these problems are preventable. Don’t let this happen to you.
Finding a good supplement with the right blend of bone support nutrients, preferably one that contains calcium, vitamin D, silicon, ipriflavone, and magnesium can help maintain strong bones as we age. Studies have proven that you can prevent osteoporosis using a prudent supplement strategy.
Muscle mass and overall strength can also be maintained into our old age if we stay active, do some resistive exercise, and ingest lean protein each day - at least one gram per day for every kilogram you weigh.
Protect DNA From Mutations That Can Lead To Cancer
The National Cancer Institute has stated that 70-90% of all cancers are caused by faulty nutrition and lifestyle behaviors. While genetics are important, lifestyle has much more of an effect on our ultimate outcome in life.
Cancers develop when mutations arise in our DNA. In order to prevent this from happening we need to put practices in place that discourage these mutations from occurring.
There are a number of things we can do to prevent cancerous mutations from occurring:
Reduce our exposure to free radicals that cause mutations – which means not smoking, limiting alcohol to one drink per day, limiting sun exposure (and tanning beds), reducing intake of foods containing nitrates/nitrites (such as processed meats), charred foods, smoked foods and limiting the number of X-rays and CT-scans.
Boost our antioxidant intake - antioxidants help neutralize free radicals before they can damage our DNA. A good source of antioxidants comes from fruits and vegetables. To get an adequate amount, we need to eat 5-7 fruit and vegetable servings per day. This alone will lower the incidence of cancer by 50%!
Another good source of antioxidants can be found in a high potencymultivitamin supplement that contains boosted levels of antioxidants. We just don’t get enough from food alone for optimal protection.
For general health optimization a good supplement should contain: Vit C - 1,000 mg; Vitamin E Succinate - 400 IU; Selenium - 100-200 mcg; Beta-carotene - 10,000 IU, Vit A - 2,500 IU, Lycopene Powder - 6 mg; Lutein Powder - 6 mg, Bioflavonoids - 50 mg.
Slow down the rate of cell division – when cells divide too fast they make more genetic mistakes which increases cancer risk.
We can slow down cell division by:
adhering to a low fat diet
taking Vitamin D, Vitamin A, Beta-carotene, Lycopene – found in a high potency multivitamin
minimizing your alcohol intake
consuming fish twice a week
taking an essential fatty acid supplement containing borage seed oil, flaxseed oil and fish oil. Essential fats from these sources are converted by the body into unique hormones that slow the rate of cell division and provide other important health benefits.
Maintain Brain Chemicals That Preserve Memory
As we age the brain loses its capacity to make certain chemicals required for memory and thinking in general. The brain requires specific B-vitamins to make these important compounds and requires optimal antioxidant protection against free radicals in order to maintain brain health.
Over our lifetime, free radicals cause corrosive effects on the brain that promote a decline in memory and mental performance. So, the first step is to take a high potency multiple vitamin supplement each day that contains a B-50 complex.
People with more optimal B-vitamin and antioxidant status throughout life have been shown to be less prone to mental decline as they age.
However, around the age of 55, the brain’s memory chemical known as acetylcholine begins to decline in production and memory can begin to deteriorate. In order to boost acetycholine levels and maintain nerve transmission function, I suggest taking a brain support supplement that contains some of the natural ingredients that have shown to help.
Nutrients such as CDP choline, Phosphatidylserine, Bacopa Monnieri, and Huperzine “A” have been shown in clinical studies to support memory and cognitive function in older individuals – without any side effects.
Keep Our Hearts Pumping With Maximum Force
As we age our heart muscle tends to weaken, which sets the stage for congestive heart failure and other important circulatory problems. We can keep our heart strong by performing endurance exercise - walking, jogging, cycling, etc. - for a minimum of 30 minutes per day, preferably 4 - 5 times per week.
After the age of 45, we would be well advised to take a supplement containing coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) and hawthorn as well.
The heart muscle requires CoQ10 to convert food into energy to support the demands of the beating heart - which never gets a break. As we age our bodies make less and less CoQ10, which slowly creates a power shortage in the heart muscle, making the heart weaker and weaker with each year that passes.
Studies show that supplementation with CoQ10 and hawthorn can maintain heart muscle strength. Like CoQ10, hawthorn contains unique flavonoids that help convert food into energy and also improves blood flow within the coronary arteries themselves.
A large number of fruits, vegetables, and beans contain certain biological agents that have been shown to help the body reduce risk of cancer, heart disease and other ailments, but, most people just don’t get enough of them.
Some of these foods contain agents that help the body detoxify cancer–causing agents before they can do their damage, or contain unique antioxidants and other natural agents that ward of disease and promote health. Here are a several plant-based foods that should be main staples in your daily diet:
These include broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, bok choy, and turnips. Individuals with high intakes of these vegetables throughout their lifetime show a significant reduction in the risk of colon cancer, breast cancer and prostate cancer.
These vegetables contain indole-3-carbinol, which enhances the ability of our detoxification enzymes to neutralize and remove cancer-causing agents from our bodies. Indole-3-carbinol also promotes the conversion of estrone (one of the body’s estrogen hormones) into 2-hydroxy-estrone, which is associated with a reduction in risk of breast cancer, instead of 16-hydroxy-estrone which is associated with an increase in breast cancer.
Studies show that higher levels of 16-hydroxy-estrone tend to increase breast cancer risk by over-stimulating breast cells, whereas 2-hydoxy-estrone is a weaker-acting estrogen which does not over stimulate breast cells and therefore less likely to cause cancer.
Indole-3-carbinol may also block the synthesis of estrone hormone in fat cells, which in turn is associated with a reduction in the risk of breast and prostate cancer.
For all these reasons I believe that cruciferous vegetables are one of the most important foods that you can eat to guard against cancer and to help maintain overall health.
Tomatoes are a rich source of the antioxidant known as lycopene. Higher intakes of lycopene are associated with a significant reduction in prostate cancer and cervical cancer. Lycopene is a sister compound to beta-carotene and is one of many carotenoids found in fruits and vegetables.
Lycopene is the carotenoid that gives tomatoes their red color (also found in pink grapefruit and other red-pink fruits and vegetables). Two very large human studies, The Health Professionals Follow-Up Study and The Physician’s Health Study, showed that higher intakes of lycopene, mostly from tomatoes and tomato products (pasta sauces) and/or higher blood levels of lycopene were associated with lower risk of prostate cancer.
Lycopene has been shown to concentrate in the male prostate gland, where it provides antioxidant protection against free radicals and exhibits other anti-cancer effects. Anti-cancer effects of lycopene have also been shown to be important in the prevention of cervical cancer in women.
Lycopene is a fat-soluble nutrient and therefore, it must be consumed with a bit of fat in order for it to be absorbed from the intestinal tract into the bloodstream. This is why lycopene is best absorbed from pasta sauces (which often contain olive oil) or from salads that are dressed with olive oil-based dressings.
Drinking tomato juice on an empty stomach or consuming tomatoes without fat consumption, results in no lycopene being absorbed from the intestinal tract into the bloodstream. I highly recommend consuming tomatoes or tomato-based products every day, as part of your carbohydrate intake.
Spinach, Asparagus and Other Dark Green Leafy Vegetables
These vegetables contain lutein and zeazanthin, which are two carotenoids that help prevent macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in individuals over the age of 55 in the United States and Canada.
Lutein and zeazanthin concentrate in the back of the eye near the optic nerve (which enables vision to occur). In this role, lutein and zeazanthin quench free radicals induced by sunlight that can otherwise damage the optic nerve, leading to the development of macular degeneration.
Studies show that a higher lifetime intake of lutein and zeazanthin is associated with a lower risk of macular degeneration and cataracts and that lutein and zeazanthin supplementation can help slow the progression of macular degeneration problems, especially when taken along with other antioxidant supplements (Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Selenium, Zinc).
Many dark green vegetables also contain beta-carotene and folic acid. Beta-carotene is an important antioxidant that may help reduce cancer risk, and folic acid is required for normal DNA synthesis in every cell in the body.
Many individuals in North America, who do not take a multivitamin and mineral each day, have been shown to have a marginal deficiency in folic acid, which makes them more prone to certain cancers such as colon and breast and in women of child bearing age, increases the risk of giving birth to a child with a spinal birth defect, such as spina bifida.
Needless to say, consuming these dark green leafy vegetables (not iceberg lettuce) that are nutrient dense should also be part of your daily carbohydrate intake strategy.
Beans, Peas and Lentils
These legumes contain lignans and plant-based sterols, which provide many disease-prevention benefits to the body. Lignans help block the over production of estrone hormone in fat cells, which in turn, is associated with a reduction in breast and prostate cancer.
Plant-based sterols, such as beta-sitosterol, are known to block the conversion of testosterone into dihydrotestosterone and therefore help reduce prostate enlargement which is associated with prostate cancer.
Plant sterols have also been shown to block the replication of certain breast cancer cells, improve immune function, and help keep blood cholesterol in a safe range by blocking the absorption of cholesterol and bile acids from the intestinal tract into the bloodstream.
Beans, peas and lentils also contain the kind of fiber that improves bowel function and keeps it clean, which is thought to reduce risk of colon cancer. This kind of fiber also lowers overall blood cholesterol, which helps prevent heart attack and stroke.
Soybeans and related soy products (tofu, miso soup, soy nuts etc.) contain isoflavones, which are strongly associated with a reduced risk of breast and prostate cancer.
Onions and garlic are considered allium-containing vegetables, which contain a specialized group of disulfide compounds that demonstrate potent anti-cancer, anti-heart disease, and immune-stimulating properties. As such, higher intake of these vegetables is also associated with reduced risk of many degenerative diseases.
As you can see, nature provides us with these magnificent foods to help our body remain healthy and disease-free. Unfortunately, most people eat too little of these foods to gain the benefits of their protective effects. This fact, combined with eating too much highly processed food, animal fat, transfats and refined sugars, set the stage for many health problems. I suggest that you eat at least one food from each of the above categories each day in order to support your body’s natural defenses against disease.