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Slowing the Aging Process Naturally

by Dr. Kristen Halland @BalanceDoc

I recently had the opportunity to present a Continuing Medical Education talk on Aging and how healthcare providers can naturally slow the aging process and prevent conditions like dementia, Alzheimer's or cognitive decline. I wanted to share a few of the biggest take-aways from my research with you:

  • GENETICS OR LIFESTYLE? 95% of all known diseases today (including dementia and cognitive decline) are caused by our environment and lifestyle.....  NOT genetics. Your parents health does NOT have to be yours. 
  • RESEARCH ON LONGEVITY. A huge research project, called The Blue Zones, found the five areas of the world that have the greater number of people over 100 years old and studied them to find out why they have such great longevity. If you had to guess, you might think they concluded that the communities eat a Mediterranean diet, or a lot of fish, or don't have as much stress as our lifestyles do. NOPE. Surprisingly, one of the researchers' biggest conclusions was that social support, family, and purpose were significant factors in our longevity. 
  • OUR ORGANS CAN AGE QUICKER THAN OUR BIRTHDAYS. What I mean by that is - at age 35, we start losing 1% of bone mass each year. At age 50, our intestinal villi (the things in our gut that help us absorb vitamins and minerals) start degrading. So, our chronological age (the number of birthdays you have had) is not the same as our biological age (how old our body is).

Did you know that the average American's heart is 8 years older than their body?

WHY DO WE AGE?

There are 6 main theories of why we do - one of the most interesting is called "inflamm-aging" where long-term, low-level inflammation is both associated with and predicts aging.

Inflammation damages our metabolism, energy production, immune system... and in fact, inflammation is associated with all age related diseases!

 What are some of the best ways to measure or predict aging?

Telomeres are the gold standard of aging measurement - if the protective "end caps" of our DNA called Telomeres become shortened by damage then we will age quickly.

Other top contenders that can be predictive of aging that are commonly utilized include: Inflammatory markers, bone density loss, antioxidant status, and cognitive tests for the brain.

Personally in my office, I like to utilize telomeres, inflammatory markers, and antioxidant status!

So after all of that research, what are the best stategies to slow aging? The best, most well researched and most successful strategy was..... hang on to your seats now....

Mindfulness Meditation!

Here's my brief summary of the five best, most well-researched ways to slow the aging process and keep your telomeres long and healthy:

1. BOOST YOUR ANTIOXIDANT STATUS - by eating foods with high ORAC scores (such as blueberries and goji berries), foods with great color (more color in your vegetables means more "good guys" to fight off bad cells!) or perhaps an antioxidant supplement powder.

2. TAKE A QUALITY MULTI VITAMIN - studies show it increased telomere length by 5% in women thus promoting longevity and slower aging!

3. GET DAILY EXERCISE - Even just 30 minutes of walking, five days per week was found to increase brain volume and prevented cognitive decline.

4. PRACTICE MINDFULNESS MEDITATION - of all the lifestyle suggestions that were researched, improving how we respond to stress through meditation performed the best for keeping our telomeres long and healthy! Check out a free app called Headspace for a 10-minutes-per-day instructional!

5. KEEP IT CLEAN- reduce chemicals in our lifestyle with smoking cessation (clearly linked to damaging our telomeres and promoting aging) and reducing toxic load on the body. Check out the Skin Deep Database by research firm EWG.org for the healthiest and cleanest product recommendations.

"The average American leaves 12 good years on the table."

- Dan Buettner, author of The Blue Zones

And we wouldn't want you to be one of those! We all want to live longer, but we don't want to age. What we do today affects the later years of our life. What one thing can you try doing today ?

Please ask your functional medicine or integrative nutritionist what strategies or data collection may be best for your goals.

Dr. Kristen Halland is a chiropractor with specialty certifications in acupuncture and functional medicine nutrition. She has enjoyed serving the northwest suburbs of Chicago since 2010 from our Hoffman Estates, IL location alongside her Integrative Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, massage therapist, chiropractic colleague, and a great support team! Dr. Halland enjoys blogging about natural treatments, staying modern and accessible with virtual appointment access for her patients, and her podcast, The Nutrition & Lifestyle Review.

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Dr. Kristen Halland is a chiropractor with specialty certifications in acupuncture and functional medicine nutrition. She has enjoyed serving the northwest suburbs of Chicago since 2010 from our Hoffman Estates, IL location alongside her Integrative Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, massage therapist, chiropractic colleague, and a great support team! Dr. Halland enjoys blogging about natural treatments, staying modern and accessible with virtual appointment access for her patients, and her podcast, The Nutrition & Lifestyle Review.