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Seniority complex

As we age, different health issues can affect us – the good news is there are natural ways to help yourself and improve your quality of life. Rude Health magazine examines the big issues

I firmly believe that the health of the over 65s can be every bit as strong as the health of the over 45s,” says Matt Ronan, of health store Evolv in Eniscorthy, Co Wexford. “It is vital that older people foster a positive attitude and educate themselves on how to develop and enhance their health and vitality, rather than presuming that a gradual decline is an inevitable part of ageing. When you have extra time on your hands following retirement, you can educate yourself on how to get the best from your life and really learn what creates a healthy body, mind and spirit.”

Gain not pain
“In terms of the everyday aches and pains which we encounter with joints and muscles there are a wealth of products which can help to address these conditions available in the modern health store,” says Matt Ronan. “We have collagen products, glucosamine, chondroitin and MSM products, wonderful anti-inflammatories which draw on the power of turmeric and its capability to reduce pain. Teaming these products along with lifestyle changes and good hydration can make a huge difference to the comfort and mobility of joints.”

Natural options for pains

Organic apple cider vinegar – helps reduce inflammation in the joints.

Serrapeptase – an enzyme that relieves joint pain.

Turmeric – reduces inflammation in the body and therefore pain.

Omega 3 essential fatty acids – help lubricate the joints and has anti inflammatory properties.

Glucosamine - helps repair cartilage in the joints, easing pain and improving mobility.

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

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

Drink water – dehydration contributes to inflammation.

Vital vitamins
“As we enter our golden years unfortunately our bodies may require extra amounts of certain vitamins,” says Elaine Melican, nutritional therapist and manager at Open Sesame in Ennis, Co Clare. “Vitamins such as vitamin D, which many are deficient in, are essential not only for immune health, but also bone and joint health, cardiovascular health and reducing the risk of certain cancers. Vitamin E is a potent antioxidant that is protective of many of the body’s systems and can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, degenerative eye disease and aid in poor wound healing. Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant that not only protects the body from free radical damage but also from bacterial and viral infection.”

Stomach for it
Digestion issues associated with ageing include lower levels of stomach acid – taking antacids unfortunately do not solve the problem in the long-term, but there are other ways to help yourself. One of the most effective is to take apple cider vinegar a few minutes before meals.

Natural options for stomach:

Slippery elm – anti-inflammatory for the digestive tract.

Digestive enzymes – a good general aid and can be more specifically used to help with a food intolerance.

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.

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

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

The eyes have it
Age-related eye issues can include macular degeneration (AMD) and cataracts, but there are some health store supplements that can help keep your eyes healthy.

Natural options for eyes:

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

Bilberry – a powerful antioxidant that helps vision and fights against macular degeneration. Contains vitamins A and C.

Lutein and zeaxanthan – antioxidants that help protect eyes against age-related eye diseases.

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

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.

Heart of the matter
Heart issues are common as we age with risk factors which include smoking, high blood pressure, raised cholesterol, physical Inactivity, overweight and obesity. “There are hundreds of books and an unlimited amount of information on the internet which give a scientific approach to good health,” says Matt Ronan. “One of my current favourite sources is Dr Aseem Malhotra who presents current information on Ireland’s number one killer - cardiovascular disease – in a very scientific and measured way.”

Natural options for heart:

Magnesium – dilates blood vessels, supports the nervous system.

CoQ10 – has heart health benefits.

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.

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

Water works
A number of health issues associated with your waterworks can become a problem with age. More frequent urinary tract infections (UTIs) and prostate problems are the main issues.

Natural options for UTIs:

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.

Natural options for prostate issues:

Seek medical advice – any man with frequent or painful urination, blood in urine, inability to urinate, pain in their back, hips, thighs or pelvis should see a doctor straight away.

Remedies – containing nettle root, zinc, lycopene, pumpkin seed and sea buckthorn can help.

Saw palmetto – traditionally used by men to relieve the discomfort of an enlarged prostate.

Mind matters
“Mental health has to be a vital area which we need to have a good handle on as we age,” says Matt Ronan. “It is essential for us as human beings to feel useful. As we age finding activities which give us a sense of achievement and connection with our community is massively rewarding. I would encourage people to develop hobbies and activities which utilise some of the wealth of talent which they have developed over a lifetime.

“What I find fascinating is that many researchers are now referring to Alzheimer’s disease as ‘type 3 diabetes’,” says Matt, “they are identifying that it is largely caused by uncontrolled high blood sugars over a lengthy period of time. This means that we should go back to foods that are more in their natural state in order to avoid continually raising our blood sugars with sugary convenient food.”

Natural options for mind:

B vitamins including B5, B6, B12 and folic acid.

Acetyl-l-carnitine – good for cognitive function.

Omega-3 fatty acids (DHA) – improve memory, cognitive function and can help prevent memory loss.

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