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Seniority complex

Your guide to key health issues affecting seniors, including nutrition and prevention

Aching joints

“Many customers swear by organic apple cider vinegar to reduce inflammation in the joints,” says Jill Bell of Well and Good, Middleton, Co Cork. “The enzyme serrapeptase has been used for generations in the Far East, and can be very effective in relieving joint pain.”

“Wear and tear can cause joint pain and stiffness,” says Lucy Kerr of The Good Earth in Kilkenny. “Turmeric helps ease joint pain by reducing inflammation in the body. Omega-3 essential fatty acid helps lubricate the joints and has anti-inflammatory properties easing joint stiffness. Glucosamine helps repair cartilage in the joints, easing pain and improving mobility.”

Stay away – from the family of aubergines, peppers, tomatoes and potatoes.

Drink water – dehydration contributes to inflammation.

Reduce sugars and starches – in your diet and increase vegetables.

A bone health supplement – should include calcium, magnesium, zinc, vitamins K2 and D and boron.

Osteoporosis prevention – take a calcium supplement with vitamins D3 and K2.

Weight gain

“Getting older you may not be as active so a healthy diet is vital to maintain a healthy weight,” says Lucy Kerr. “Chromium helps balance blood sugar levels in the body which can help prevent cravings.”

“Many people are now adding cinnamon to their breakfast porridge or muesli to help balance blood sugar levels,” says Jill Bell. “The amount in three daily cups of cinnamon tea has a definite therapeutic effect. If it’s taken alongside chromium to support the activity of insulin, provided a customer is careful with their diet, we’ve found that a ‘pre-diabetes’ warning can be very successfully reversed.”

Dodgy digestion

“Many people tend to lose stomach acid as they age, and since the effects are so like those of over-acidity, they reach for antacids which don’t solve the problem long-term,” says Jill Bell. “Organic apple cider vinegar, however, taken a few minutes before meals can be a boon. Slippery elm is a very useful and safe anti-inflammatory for the whole digestive tract, and digestive enzymes can be useful if a food intolerance is suspected but hard to identify.”

“Digestive enzymes contain the enzymes vital in the proper breakdown of food in the body,” says Lucy Kerr. “Probiotics (live bacteria) help in building up the good bacteria in your gut which aids digestion.”

Garlic – has a cleansing and antibacterial action on the gut.

Natural yoghurt – restores natural bacteria.

Centaurium bitter herb – good for acid reflux. Available as a tincture.

Camomile tea – drink after eating for heartburn and acid reflux.

Eye issues

“Eyesight can diminish the older we get and it’s important to protect our sight,” says Lucy Kerr. “Bilberry is a powerful antioxidant that helps vision and fights against macular degeneration. Lutein and zeaxanthan are antioxidants that help protect eyes against age-related eye diseases.”

Flax oil – good for dry eye. Available as capsules and a liquid.

Bilberry – contains vitamins A and C that help to prevent damage to the eyes.

Omega 3 fish oil – good for general eye health and clear eyesight.

Selenium – benefits the eyes. Found in small amounts in brazil nuts, eggs, garlic, and brown rice, seafood and yeast or take a supplement.

Happy heart

Heart issues are common as we age with risk factors include smoking, high blood pressure, raised cholesterol, physical Inactivity, overweight and obesity.

Fish oils – help to cut down on unhealthy fats called triglycerides.

Garlic – take a supplement to help arteries to stay clear.

Sterols and stanols – found in nuts and grains, help control cholesterol levels. Also available as supplements.

Fibre – you need 25-30g per day, available as a supplement.

Urinary issues

For anyone suffering from UTIs or other urinary issues, these may help:

Cranberries – dried, fresh or as pure organic juice. Make sure juice does not contain sugar.

Dandelion herbal teas – help to support the urinary tract.

Goldenrod – for anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmodic and antiseptic actions.

Magnesium – a mineral that can help muscles to completely empty the bladder.

Acidophilus – a probiotic that helps to keep unfriendly bacteria at bay. Available in chewable tablets.

Acupuncture – can help urinary problems like incontinence.

Hair loss

“It is reported that 60% of women will experience some degree of disruption to their hair growth at some stage in their life,” says Dr Omar Milhem, an expert in alternative health and advisor to Nourkrin. “On average we lose around 100-150 hairs a day. When this number increases, the hair growth cycle may have become disrupted, resulting in increased shedding and a thinning of the hair.

“Aproximately 50% of men will see a level of hair loss by the age of 50, rising to 80% during their lives. Women’s hair can be affected by stress, diabetes, thyroid, medication, hormones, childbirth, over-styling and hypertension which can cause a disruption that results in the follicle releasing the hair prematurely (shedding), a shortening of the growth cycle and in the follicle becoming dormant.

“The sooner you react to a disrupted hair growth cycle, the better. First try and identify what the ‘trigger/cause’ might have been (something that occurred two to three months previously) and then ensure this has been addressed, which may require a visit to your doctor.

“A three- to six-month course of treatment that includes a product containing specific proteoglycans can help to awaken dormant follicles. If this is done then recovery for women is a significant possibility. For men longer term treatment is about preserving and prolonging the hair growth cycle. Unfortunately, there are certain types of hair loss that are more difficult to address.”

Memory loss

“To keep the mind sharp I recommend B vitamins including B5, B6, B12 and folic acid,” says Lucy Kerr. “Acetyl-l-carnitine is good for cognitive function. Omega 3 fatty acids (DHA) improve memory, cognitive function and can help prevent memory loss diseases.”

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