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Age concern

Getting older can present us all with health challenges, but with good advice and support healthy living is a real option. Rude Health magazine looks at the most common age-related conditions and how to alleviate them

1 Bones and joints

“Sugary foods and drinks lead to tissue acidity and aggravate joint and muscle pain,” says Nancy Flexman of Eats of Eden in Limerick city. “Make 40% of your diet vegetables. Eat oily fish at least twice per week; consume plant foods rich in fats such as chia, pumpkin and linseed; use fresh ginger and turmeric liberally in your cooking.”

“Glucosamine, often with added chondroitin and ingredients such as aloe vera can help soothe pain as well as support cartilage,” says Jill Bell of Well and Good in Midleton, Co Cork. “Turmeric is a very effective anti-inflammatory. Organic apple cider vinegar is a cost-effective and popular alkalising anti-inflammatory remedy for aches and pains.”

Try Omega-3 fatty acids – essential nutrients for bone health and strength. Sometimes fortified with vitamin D for bone health.

Vitamin B12 – keeps homocysteine levels down, an amino acid linked to bone fracture.

Magnesium and zinc – both vital for bone health

Ask your local health store for a bone-friendly supplement.

2 Heart health

“When it comes to prevention, hawthorn supports heart health gently and effectively,” says Jill Bell. “Magnesium dilates blood vessels, giving the heart an easier job, and it supports the nervous system. Essential fatty acids such as fish oils, natural vitamin E and garlic supplements also provide benefits to the circulatory system.”

“Avoid sitting for long periods of time,” says Nancy Flexman. “Do regular exercise which you enjoy. Ideally, have a few different physical activities.”

Try CoQ10 – may be of benefit to heart health. Ask in your local health store.

Fish oils – if you don’t eat much fish, take a supplement of fish oil with omega 3 to cut down on unhealthy fats called triglycerides.

Garlic – cook with it, eat it raw or take a supplement to help arteries to stay clear.

Fibre – if you don’t get enough fibre from fruit, vegetables and grains consider a supplement to ensure your body gets 25-30g per day.

3 Cholesterol

“Reduce consumption of inflammation-triggering foods such as sugar, grains, processed meats and other highly processed foods,” says Nancy Flexman. “Helpful supplements include plant sterols, red yeast rice, lecithin and citrus extracts. If you take statins or beta blockers, be sure to take CoQ10, which helps to reduce some of the adverse effects.”

“Oatbran in porridge binds with cholesterol in the gut and is a natural aid, as of course are exercise and a healthy diet,” says Jill Bell. “Lecithin which binds with cholesterol is a popular preventative, especially when taken with fish oils.”

Try Sterols and stanols – found in nuts and grains, these compounds help control cholesterol levels.

Green tea – a relaxing drink thought to be helpful in controlling cholesterol.

4 Eyes

Combination supplements provide a variety of nutrients that have been found to be helpful for the eyes, including lutein, zinc, vitamin A and bilberry or blueberry extracts.

Try Vitamin A – a vital nutrient for eyes. In dairy products, fish oils and egg yolks.

Carrots – a rich source of beta-carotene which the body converts into vitamin A.

Zeaxanthin and lutein – from leafy green vegetables such as spinach, kale and watercress.

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

Flaxseed oil – good if you have dry or itchy eyes. Available as capsules and a liquid.

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

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

5 UTIs

Cranberries play an important role in easing symptoms and frequency of urinary tract infections (UTIs). Available dried, fresh or as pure organic juice.

Try Dandelion herbal teas – may help to support the urinary tract.

Goldenrod – has important anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmodic and antiseptic actions.

Birch leaves and horsetail – can help to strengthen the urinary system.

Cantharis – very effective at easing the burning sensation when urinating.

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

Acidophilus – a probiotic that helps to keep unfriendly bacteria at bay.

6 The role of magnesium

“Magnesium is necessary for over 300 body processes,” says George Esser who is responsible for the formulation of products made by ITL Health. “One of these is DNA repair which becomes more important as we age. Astronauts age faster in space than on earth and NASA has concluded that this is due to magnesium deficiency.

“Magnesium is necessary for energy, for relaxing your muscles and for thinning your blood,” says George. “People on prescription drugs need more magnesium than their counterparts. “You can find magnesium in spinach, chard, pumpkin seeds, yogurt, almonds, black beans, avocadoes, figs, dark chocolate and bananas. The best magnesium supplements are powders that generate ionised magnesium with an interaction between magnesium carbonate and citric acid.”

7 Constipation

“As muscles age and digestion slows up, constipation can become a real problem,” says Jill Bell, “but soaking linseeds overnight, and adding the soaking liquid and seeds to whatever is being had for breakfast is a simple solution. Psyllium husks are another answer, and probiotics are the food supplement par excellence to support regularity and the immune system.

Try Digestive enzymes – help the body to break down food and absorb more vitamins and minerals from food.

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

Yoghurt – restores natural bacteria.

Digestive aids – which combine aloe vera juice with herbs such as chamomile, slippery elm and papaya.

Magnesium – for the relaxation of intestinal muscles.

8 Thinning hair

“Around the menopause, approximately 40-50% of women will develop some sort of hair growth disorder,” says Professor Dr. Jan Wadstein. “As lesser amounts of oestrogen are produced in the body around the menopause, the normal hair growth cycle can become disrupted. Beyond maintaining a balanced diet, supplementation can be key to maintaining normal, healthy hair growth. A few natural supplements do support the cycle directly, including the drug-free supplement from Nourkrin.”

Click here to read earlier Rude Health Magazine natural health articles.
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