How do you “age well”? You eat right, exercise, keep the mind active, have a purpose and a great social network. As someone in my 50’s, I strive to do all these things. However, what could I have done throughout my life, or what can you do for your kids or grandkids to help them live a healthy life?
Dear Want-to-Be Moms and Dads, please start eating healthy before you get pregnant. There’s a great book called Deep Nutrition, by Dr. Catherine Shanhan, that outlines how an ancestral diet can help your child start life with an edge on health and wellness. I read this book a few years ago and it forms the basis of my diet. Here are the basic guidelines and an Amazon link for more information about the book.
- Quality sourced meat on the bone (e.g., grass fed ribeye or wild fish with bones)
- Organ meats (started eating liver and headcheese)
- Fermented foods (Sauerkraut, Kombucha, Kimchee, etc.)
- Lots of high quality, fresh produce
Cesarean vs Vaginal
According to Science Magazine, “Babies born vaginally are thought to have an edge over those born via cesarean section. They pick up bacteria from their mother’s birth canal, which scientists believe helps protect them from asthma, obesity, and other health issues as they grow older.”
There has been some effort to help babies born via cesarean by wiping gauze, that had been placed in the mother’s vagina, over the new born baby’s face. Dr. Clemente, one of the doctors involved in initial trails states, “We know that this is an approximation; we cannot reproduce all the factors that are involved in labor,” Clemente noted that his own daughter was in the birth canal “for hours.” Newborns wiped with gauze, typically get a minute’s rub-down with the bacteria from their mother’s vagina.
Cord Blood Banking
Cord blood banking involves collecting blood left in a newborn’s umbilical cord and placenta and storing it for future medical use. Cord blood contains potentially lifesaving cells called stem cells, which can be used to treat diseases that harm the blood and immune system, such as leukemia and certain cancers, sickle-cell anemia, and some metabolic disorders. Cost is about $1200 to $2500 with an annual storage fee of approximately $125. As more people so this, the costs should come down. Of course, there is a chance it won’t be needed (most cord blood is discarded), but I guess that is the deal of most insurance policies: you really hope you don’t need them.
I recommend everyone get their DNA tested. 23andMe is popular and though the company limits the genetic markers they test for, once you have your DNA you can go to other sites to get additional information. From there you can use epigenetics, i.e. lifestyle factors, to turn off undesirable genes and switch on desirable ones. Exercise, food, stress all effect your genes. Here are some websites to get more information on gene testing and epigenetics:
Since 23andMe is no longer supplying as much genetic health information as they once did, I recommend this site for a deeper look. As of this writing, they were only charging $5 to upload your 23andMe DNA report and getting a report that you can share with your doctor or genetic couselor. https://promethease.com/ondemand
Lifestyle Factors Beyond Exercise and Eating Well
Learn to Cook
Cooking involves all the senses: taste, touch, feel, sound, sight. Learning to cook will save you money and help you to eat healthy. Your focus should be on tasty ways to add variety to your diet and to boost intake of veggies and fruits and other nutrient-rich ingredients. As you experiment with herbs and spices and new cooking techniques, you will find that you can cut down on unhealthy fats, sugar and salt, as well as the excess calories found in many prepared convenience foods. Your goal should be to develop a nutritious and enjoyable eating pattern that is sustainable and that will help you not only to be well, but also to manage your weight.
Find a Purpose
There is a great book by Steven Kotler called, The Rise of Superman: Decoding the Science of Ultimate Human Performance. It talks about living life to the fullest by getting into a “flow state”. If your work isn’t providing you with enough stimulation get a hobby, volunteer, become passionate about something. Check out his book at Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Rise-Superman-Decoding-Ultimate-Performance/dp/1477800832
If you’re not eating right, exercising and enjoying life, supplements won’t help. However, there are some supplements that are on the cutting edge of anti-aging and one of the most interesting is NAD or Nicotinamide Adenine Dinucleotide, which may possibly reverse mitochondrial decay. Mitochondria are our cells energy powerhouses and they get shabby as we age. NAD is a precursor for mitochondria production. Though there are many NAD supplements on the market, the one I find most interesting is one made by a company called Elysium Health which has been clinically proven to increase NAD levels. The one caveat is that it hasn’t been proven that your cells can make use of all that additional NAD. Here’s the link to the Elysium Health website if you want to learn more: https://www.elysiumhealth.com/
No one gets out of here alive. The biggest factors for a healthy life are exercise, healthy diet, stress management and a purpose. Live, Love and Laugh and Give my friends.