Thriving Senior Health

Written by

Sabrina Freudenmann

Although you may inch towards seniority with reluctance, in essence it is those wonderful senior years which bring forth a new and beautiful chapter of your life. There is no greater gift than living these years healthy and worrisome free. Nonetheless it is true, that ageing can bring about numerous health issues due to the fact alone that most of our organ systems decrease in function.

Let me guess you’ve probably pondered this question before… is it possible to prevent ageing?

You probably won’t believe it but there is a loss of function at a rate of 1% per year starting from the age of 30! Crazy right? As the efficiency of body cells decline the ability of our cells to repair also reduces. This disturbance in the immune system leads to functional decline of the immune system and decline in the ability to respond to new pathogens. Another important element in the decreased ability to deal with stress levels and as a result there is a gradual loss of our bodies ability to control balance (homeostasis).

As a result many health problems start to appear. So, being aware of the changes is already the first step in trying to minimise the effects ageing brings along.

Gastrointestinal System

  • The ability to digest and absorb nutrients decreases with age.
  • Changes in appetite can reduce the intake of nutrients and variety of food consumed.
  • More susceptibility to food sensitivities especially dairy – for example the enzyme lactase production decreases strongly with age. Thus, people with lactose intolerance may feel bloated or have gas, diarrhoea after consuming milk products.
  • Intestinal motility decreases which can cause constipation.
  • Age related alterations in the gut microbiome may contribute to neuroinflammation in Alzheimer disease

Hepatic System (Liver)

  • Cells of the liver and blood flow to the liver both decrease with age.
  • Reduction of liver enzymes which in turn slow down the detoxification process. This means that drugs and other substances won’t be as efficiently metabolised and therefore the effect of drugs can last longer.

Cardiovascular System

  • Loss of elasticity in arterial and venous tissue can lead to hardening of the artery walls.

Renal System

  • The renal system declines in function by about 50% between the years of 30 and 80 leading to excessive protein excretion. This disturbs the water-salt equilibrium causing oedema. The accumulation of fluid beneath the skin can produce inflammation in some parts of the body. The protein loss leads, in many cases to protein malnutrition.
  • The maximum volume of urine that the bladder can hold decreases. Thus, older people may need to urinate more often.
  • The bladder muscles weaken. As a result, they cannot empty the bladder as well and often more urine is left in the bladder.
  • The muscles that controls the passage of urine out of the body (urinary sphincter) is less able to close tightly and prevent leakage. Therefore, with age individuals have more difficulty postponing urination. This can all lead to urinary incontinence.
  • In women, the urethra (the tube through which urine leaves the body) shortens, and its lining becomes thinner. The decrease in the oestrogen level that occurs with menopause may contribute to this and other changes in the urinary tract.
  • In men, the prostate gland tends to enlarge. In many men it enlarges enough to interfere with the passage of urine and to prevent the bladder from emptying completely.

Immune System

  • The immune system slows down and makes infections more possible.
  • Some infections, such as pneumonia and influenza are more common among older people and result in death more often.
  • Autoimmune disorders also become more common.
  • Cancer which is directly connected with the immune system is more prevalent in older age.

Respiratory System

  • Our lungs lose their ability to take in air, and our respiratory efficiency declines.
  • Lack of elasticity of the lung cells affects respiration while altered vessel wall elasticity causes stiffness leading to increased pressure.


Neurological System

  • Learning and memory begin declining after people reach their seventies; depression and other mental and/or emotional disorders can set in.
  • Alzheimer, Dementia and Parkinson's disease all connected with brain inflammation are a lot more prevalent in old age.


Endocrine System



Women
  • The affects of ageing on sex hormones are far more obvious in women than in men. This is mostly related to menopause where oestrogen decreases drastically.
  • The decrease in female hormone levels causes the ovaries and uterus to shrink. The tissues of the vagina become thinner, drier and less elastic (a condition called atrophic vaginitis). In severe cases, these changes can lead to itching, bleeding, pain during intercourse, and a need to urinate immediately (urinary urgency). 


Men
  • Changes in sex hormone levels are less sudden. Levels of the male hormone testosterone decrease, resulting in fewer sperm and a decreased sex drive (libido), but the decrease is gradual.
  • Erectile dysfunction (impotence) becomes more common as men age and is often due to a disorder, usually a disorder that affects blood vessels (such as vascular disease) or diabetes. 



In Both Sexes
  • Growth hormone levels decrease, leading to decreased muscle mass.
  • Aldosterone levels decrease, making dehydration more likely.
  • Insulin, a hormone which helps to control the sugar levels in the blood, is less effective and also produced at lower levels. Insulin enables sugar to move from the blood into cells, where it can be converted to energy. The changes insulin mean that the sugar level increases more after a large meal and takes longer to return to normal.

Oxidation

During normal processes of the body including breathing – free radicals are produced! Free radicals in small and controlled quantities are useful in everyday metabolism. Only when they are produced in large amounts and control has been lost do they cause problems.
Ageing is characterised by an increase in intracellular oxidative stress due, in part, to progressive decreases of intracellular antioxidants. The generation of reactive oxygen specifies (ROS) is thought to play an essential role in the ageing process. 
Glutathione depletion has been identified as an important factor in the ageing process occurring as a general phenomenon in tissues and blood of ageing organisms concurrently with enhancements in oxidative stress-related damage. The reduction of glutathione leads to decline of detoxification which is linked too many chronic diseases.

To put this all into practice, it means to prevent exposure to free radicals from sources such as pollution, bad diet, and smoking and taking antioxidants.

Mitochondrial function

With advanced age, mitochondrial DNA volume, integrity and functionality decrease due to accumulation of mutations and oxidative damaged induced by ROS. This results in lowered oxidative capacity, decreased ATP production (less energy) and diminished antioxidant defences. Faulty mitochondria can both directly and indirectly promote inflammation.

Ozone is a powerful mitochondrial stimulant. Ozone increases antioxidant protection by activating Nrf2 more than any other therapy. Under conditions of stress or growth factor stimulation, activation of Nrf2 counteracts the increased reactive oxygen species production in mitochondrial. In addition to this, ozone helps support oxygenation which is another factor which impacts ageing. 

Methylation

When ‘methyl groups’ are being added to different constituents of the proteins, DNA and other molecules to keep them in good, active condition, it is called methylation. This is necessary for the normal maintenance of tissues and is usually kept at a healthy levels naturally by the body.

Any chronic inflammation process affects methylation because the immune system, which is heavily involved in fighting inflammation, binges on methyl groups, leaving nothing for other tissues of the body.

Low methylation is reflected in the increasing levels of homocysteine, which is found in chronic inflammatory processes such as lupus, heart disease and diabetes. Increased intake of methylators reduces the risk of these diseases.

Chronic inflammation

Almost every modern disease today can be linked to chronic inflammation. If your body is continually exposed to stimuli that triggers an inflammatory response your immune system is always on red alert.

When there is chronic inflammation, the body tissues are eaten away by toxic chemicals, resulting in dementia, thickening of the arteries, arthritis, diabetes, hormonal imbalance and so on. Addressing the triggers of inflammation and leading an anti-inflammatory lifestyle can not only increase your lifespan, slowing aging, but also decrease your risk of chronic disease.

A diet containing nutrients i.e. fish (contains anti-inflammatory oils), fruit and vegetables, particularly berries (which are packed full of antioxidants and inflammation-fighting flavonoids) along with supplements like alpha lipoic acid and co-enzyme Q10 are helpful.

Is it possible to prevent ageing?

Although attempted, scientists have not been able to avert the “natural” process of ageing. Nonetheless when implementing a healthy lifestyle, diet, exercise, reduced toxin exposure, supplementation, a positive outlook on life – these can play a significant role in “how” you age.

The earlier we start taking care of our bodies and our overall health the less complications can be seen in those later years. There is good news too because it is possible to delay some of the many effects of ageing. To induce these “anti-aging” effects, it is important to activate our cellular mechanisms, in addition to our biochemical and hormonal pathways to restore functioning. As always it is imperative to look at all the underlying root causes that drive mitochondrial dysfunction, free radicals, chronic inflammation etc. a proper functional medicine approach.

Healthy diet

As we age, our bodies change and so does the amount of food we need, how we metabolize it and how food tastes. Also, our dietary needs will vary depending on various health conditions.  For optimal health, follow a well-balanced diet rich in fiber, vitamins and minerals, and try to limit the consumption of processed sugar, saturated and trans fats, and salt.

Digestive enzymes and digestive fire is lower than in younger years that’s why cooked food is a lot easier to digest as raw food.

Exercise

One important factor to consider when doing exercise is not to over-train or over-exhaust yourself. Stick to low-impact exercise routines that will gradually strengthen and energise your body without causing exercised induced low grade inflammation.
Walking, swimming, yoga, resistance training and spending more time in the beautiful outdoor is probably the healthiest change you can make. It is better to do a little every day than nothing at all.
Exercise also improves mood and reduces risk of “major mobility disability” as found out in a 2014 research study in JAMA- involving sedentary adults aged 70-89.

Sleep

Sleep is critical for our physical and emotional health. A good night sleep improves our immune system, memory, and concentration and enhances alertness. Unfortunately many older adults struggle with sleeping and silently suffer from insomnia.

Chronic sleep deprivation is linked to increased cardiovascular disease, increased levels of inflammatory blood markers, and decreased immune function. Following a good bed time routine can help with a better sleep pattern.

Chronic stress

Research suggests that chronic stress can lead to acceleration of cellular ageing which is linked to higher systemic inflammation, cardiovascular disease, insulin resistance and decreased immune function.

Reducing stress is paramount for longevity. Hobbies which bring joy and relaxation are a great way to defeat stress. If that is gardening, reading a book, pottery etc. doesn’t matter, anything that calms the mind and slows down our sympathetic nervous system is a great tool to combat stress. Vagus nerve stimulation is another effective way to counteract the sympathetic nervous system dominance. 

PEMF Therapy

As mentioned previously, ageing is the process of declining ability to repair cell injury or cell damage. In the stages of more severe cell injury there is reduced oxidative phosphorylation with depletion of ATP, cellular oedema, mitochondrial dysfunction and DNA damage.
However, this process can be slowed down through the proactive use of pulse electromagnetic field frequency known as PEMF.
PEMF has become a stable component in many clinics and sport institutes to support faster recovery and to improve results of other treatments significantly.
Due to the fact that PEMF – improves detoxification of heavy metals, – opens ion channels of every cell by increasing membrane potential, – increases ATP production for faster healing, – improves nutrient uptake, – increases oxygenation, you will experience dramatic increase in energy.
PEMF is known to be the most powerful recharge station for the human body. Like a battery needs recharge, so do all of your cells when sick or exhausted. The analgesic effects which reduce pain significantly are a welcome side effect many patient use to reduce their pain medication.
PEMF is recognised in oncology, chiropractic, physio therapy, sport rehabilitation and recovery from injuries. PEMF is successfully applied in cases of Alzheimer disease, MS, chronic depression, incontinence, ED, osteoporosis, autoimmune diseases and as a very powerful immune support. It’s the obvious choice to combat ageing


Nutrients

When you improve cellular function, every one of your cells operates better, of course with improved cell function this also improves our ageing.

First and foremost, one of the most studied proteins called “sirtuins” also known as the silent information regulator have been found to aid in the ageing process. These proteins control the rate at which we age and also the length of our lifespan. Sirtuin’s activity is linked to metabolic control, cell apoptosis, cell survival and resistance, development, inflammation and healthy ageing. Sound’s fairly important right? They act as sensors of energy and redox status in cells – modulating the acidity of key metabolic enzymes as well as metabolic genes. One of the most studied sirtuins is called SIRT1.

SIRT1 is stimulated by: Alpha Lipoic Acid, Berberine, Curcumin, Quercetin, Resveratrol, Pterostilbene, Green Tea Polypenols.

Polyphenols are antioxidants that are naturally found in brightly coloured foods like red cabbage, coffee, blueberries and cacao. They protect your brain from stress and free radical damage, support learning and memory as well as slow down ageing.
It also can be speculated that systemic ozone therapy can induce Sirtuin -1.

There are countless other supplements and herbs which help to improve our cellular function and reduce the affects of ageing. Some of these include: ECGC (found in green tea), red grape juice, coffee, hawthorn, gingko, hops, fennel, fenugreek, red palm oil, nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD), R-alpha-lipoic acid and CoQ10…

Vitamin A, D and K work together to support your immune system and bones. How? Well, vitamin D acts on over 1,000 different genes and assists in calcium metabolism and bone formation. Vitamin K helps transport calcium from your blood stream into your bones. Vitamin A works with vitamin D to support your immune system. Essentially they are a triple threat to combat the effects of ageing.

Curcumin is the compound in turmeric that gives the root its vibrant colour. It supports a healthy inflammation response which is excellent in old age. Why? Because even with gentle forms of exercise you can actually cause a low baseline inflammatory response.

Vitamins, minerals, herbs, antioxidants and numerous other compounds have the power to make a real impact on how long you live and how vibrant and healthy you feel.

Conclusion

Ageing has a wonderful beauty and we should have respect for that. The nature of ageing and the extend of ageing varies widely among older people. Some individuals are frail at the early ages of 50-65, while others remain vigorous and energetic well into their 70’s and beyond! When addressing the root causes to ageing we can make changes to delay and improve “how” we age. It can be as simple as implementing a healthy lifestyle, diet, exercise, reducing your toxin exposure, appropriate supplementation, a positive outlook on life which can make a great impact on how you feel.

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  • Leave your comments for! "Thriving Senior Health"

    One Response

    1. Nice work! It's free, and it is excellent. Btw, the picture of the man kissing a woman (she is much younger than he is was …well, annoying. Interestingly, she is looking the other way…toward a younger man, perhaps? Haha. Best wishes, Helen Levin, now 80 and sprightly as hell! I dance, sing,paint, write stories, bike, swim. Remember my satirical song I wrote: “Welcome to the Cancer Clinics USA”? Btw. You saw Rob't F. Kennedy spoke before hugs crowd in Germany this week!!” Wow. Telling it like it is.

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