Taking care of your health is an important part of living a well, fulfilled life. As we live longer and seek quality of life and good health for as long as possible, taking a preventative approach to our wellbeing is essential.
Aging is a healthy and natural part of life but aging well and putting our wellbeing first takes work. Thankfully, there is plenty we can do ourselves and with the helping hand of herbs and nutrients to keep feeling fit, strong, mentally well, and full of energy. Want to receive our complete day to night naturopath guide to aging well? Download your free guide here.
Stiffness and discomfort can hinder movement, and ironically, using our bodies regularly can keep some of these issues at bay. If declining flexibility and range of movement in joints are a deterrent to leading an active life, the following three ingredients might be useful to consider, along with exercise and good nutrition:
Turmeric has well and truly earned itself an impressive reputation in recent years. It has good reason to hold a top spot as a supplement, as the many health benefits of turmeric are hard to ignore. One of Turmeric’s unique qualities is its ability to offer broad support for our overall and everyday health. Turmeric contains the powerful antioxidant Curcumin, which is the most researched and known active ingredient within Turmeric. Its ability to support the body after a workout, soothing tired muscles and stiff joints, makes it the perfect supplement for sports people, as well as anyone who wants to maintain an active lifestyle.
Top Pick: Coyne Healthcare Bio-Curcumin 400mg
Otherwise known as Frankincense, Boswellia serrata is an excellent plant that supports joint comfort and movement. Boswellia contains Boswellic Acids, which have been shown in scientific studies to support key enzymes involved in the maintenance of healthy tissues. Through these mechanisms, Boswellia may help to support the immune system's balanced response to the typical wear and tear of everyday life in joint tissues.
Top pick: Solgar Boswellia Extract
Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body, acting like a ‘glue’ that holds us together. Making up around 75% of our skin’s structure, collagen gives our skin that youthful bounce and plump appearance that is sought after as we age. Along with skin, collagen also plays a significant role in the health and structure of our hair, nails, joints, bones and even our gut too. Within the joints, collagen supports comfort and lubrication within the joint capsule, supporting free flowing movement. Unfortunately, things like age as well as diet and lifestyle factors can cause collagen levels to decline, and this can result in thinner skin, wrinkles, less firmness, stiff and uncomfortable joints.
Top pick: Nutra Organics Collagen Body
Taking care of our bones helps ensure we are physically robust in the years to come. There is no better time to think about supporting bone density because bones are one of the slowest parts of our body for cell renewal, taking around 10 years.
One of the most essential nutrients for healthy bones is Vitamin D and one that about a third of Kiwis have low levels of. Found naturally in the edible bones of small fish and made when the sun hits our bare skin, Vitamin D supports the way that calcium is utilised and absorbed in the body. And don’t just think of Vitamin D for bones – it also supports good muscle strength, making it a reliable choice for those people prioritising bone health.
Calcium rich foods include dark leafy vegetables, celery, sesame seeds (tahini is a great option), dairy foods, and sardines. For women, calcium metabolism is linked with oestrogen production which declines after menopause, leading to an increase in activity of the cells that break bone tissue down. Ensuring our diet is rich in bone supporting nutrients is important to reduce risks associated with weak bones in older years. Supporting balanced levels of glucose in your blood is even more important because there is a tendency for people with unbalanced blood sugar levels to also have an increased fracture risk, due to bone cells that break down bone tissue (osteoclasts) increasing in activity.
Walking into a store and forgetting everything on your list is a frustrating event. The old brain is not as flexible as it used to be, and as those neurons lose flexibility, the way messages are transmitted in our brain changes and some messages do not get through as easily.
Choline is made in tiny amounts by the body, and found naturally in many foods, including egg yolk, and fatty substances like meat. In the body choline is used for the structural foundations of a cell and is essential for good nerve health. This matters because the integrity of our cell walls reflects the integrity of our cellular boundary system, controlling how things enter and leave the cell. Choline is a precursor to acetylcholine - a neurotransmitter involved in how our muscles work, our sleep patterns, how our brain functions, and how messages are sent in the body. Choline should be thought of as a foundation nutrient for good mental function.
Top pick: Clinicians Brain Boost with Cognizin
A healthy brain is when our mental clarity and focus are all working optimally, and we do not have a lag. The function of these faculties is important for work and social interactions and ingredients like L-theanine is great to support a calm mind and clear thinking. L-theanine occurs in naturally in green tea, and research has shown how useful it can be to quickly calm worries, ease tension, and support healthy mental function when performance is required. Whether you want a helping hand to get that crossword finished, or you’re looking for support to ease worries, L-theanine offers excellent support.
Top pick: Arepa Nootropic Capsules
While some level of age-related mental clarity change can be a normal part of getting older, if learning new things and retaining information is important to you, additional support is available. Supporting a healthy brain throughout life is seen as an asset, particularly for those who have supported or seen parents struggle with mental clarity in older years.
For women in menopause less oestrogen circulating can mean mental clarity challenges occur. While this can re-balance after menopause, it can certainly be an alarming and frustrating experience, so supplementary support can be a useful tool.
Herbs like Brahmi ( Bacopa monniera) support healthy circulation within the brain and mental clarity and focus. Brahmi has been used in Ayurvedic healthcare for thousands of years, and more recently science has shown that this pretty plant can support healthy mental clarity and focus.
Top Pick: Biotrace Cogni Complex
Age is a funny thing - we might still feel 30-something until we look in the mirror and see that our skin is not as plump as it once was and the reality of the gap between the age you feel and the age you look sets in. Thankfully, there are nutritional support options for common complaints that can be useful to consider.
Sun and UV exposure throughout life causes damage to the skin at a cellular level, contributing to signs of aging and brown spots – also known as age spots. UV exposure can also result in a production of certain enzymes in the skin, damaging collagen and elastin fibres and leading to fine lines and wrinkles. While we all want a bit of fun in the sun, the best way to protect your skin at any age is to limit your sun exposure, always wear sunscreen, and do not forget a wide brimmed hat and your sunnies. Eating an antioxidant rich diet throughout life is an essential approach.
Thin, dry, or sagging skin - Collagen for skin
A good skincare regime can make a dramatic difference to the appearance of lines and wrinkles because products like serums, oils, and moisturisers help the top layers of skin absorb the lipids that we tend to be lower in over time. Other ingredients in skincare, like humectants, help draw the ingredients deeper into the skin layers, but most do not tend to pass through the dermis into the bloodstream, so we need to consume skin supporters from the inside out. Similarly, to the age spots, an antioxidant rich diet supports a healthy complexion and the maintenance of normal collagen levels. Consuming collagen protein or protein rich in the amino acids found in collagen also means you are eating the ingredients that your body needs to produce new collagen.
Top pick: Neocell Super Collagen + C
As people age, digestive processes are not as powerful as they once were, leading to a reduction of nutrients being absorbed from the food we eat. Symptoms of poor digestion can include:
- Feeling full and never really feeling hungry
- Reduction in bowel motions
- Poor energy
- A bad sleep
Some of the best ways to support digestion and get more from our food is to increase the enzymes in your diet. These are found in fresh foods like pineapple and raw fruit and vegetables, or in capsule forms. Adding a fresh vegetable juice or making sure there are raw fruit and vegetables consumed each day is a fantastic way to have an enzyme rich diet, as are naturally fermented foods like kombucha, kefir, or sauerkraut - easily made at home. Eating more fresh foods is usually a bit easier on the digestive system as well and can support digestive comfort.
Top pick: Lifestream Advanced Digestive Enzymes
Fired up digestion
Our stomach is supposed to be in an acidic state – a pH of about 1.5 - 2 to chemically break down the food we are eating. This acidic state has multiple functions including supporting our immune system by killing bacteria in the food we eat, activating pepsin, which is needed to break proteins into amino acids, helping our absorption of Vitamin B12 which is essential for brain function and energy, and preparing minerals for absorption by splitting them from up for easier absorption. Sometimes, food (and acids) goes in the wrong direction back up the oesophagus causing irritation to the tissues.
There’s a couple of ways to approach this:
1. Relieve and soothe the tissues in the form of soothing herbs like liquorice, chamomile, or slippery elm.
Top pick: Artemis Digestive Ease
2. Support the way the stomach empties into the small intestine and support the sphincter between the oesophagus and stomach.
Top pick: Nature’s Way Primadophilus Reuteri
It should take approximately 24 hours for food to travel from your mouth to the toilet. The longer it takes, the more by-products from the breakdown of bowel flora are produced which can result in discomfort. As well as being hydrated and paying attention to dietary triggers, having the right balance of intestinal flora is important for regular bowel motions. People over 40 tend to produce lower amounts of Bifidobacterium which can negatively impact on the frequency of bowel motions.
Top pick: BioBalance Bowel Balance
Want to receive your complete guide? Our naturopath shares sleep tips to support aging well. Download your free guide here.