The Secret to Aging Gracefully

Secret to Aging GracefullyBy Ellen Kamhi, PhD , RN, AHG, AHN-BC
The Natural Nurse®

Looking for the Fountain of Youth? We are all wanting to look and feel our best. Over the last decade the term anti-aging has become popular. I personally, prefer to use the term Aging Gracefully, or Healthy Aging, which more correctly mirrors the practice of slowing down the signs and symptoms that occur as people get older. These include: a change in skin tone and appearance, such as wrinkles and grey hair, as well as functional changes like memory loss, decreased brain function, and an increased risk for chronic diseases including cancer, heart disease, osteoporosis and diabetes. Healthy Aging focuses on slowing these changes and increasing overall feelings of health and wellness, into the golden years. The best way to do this ( beyond being blessed with longevity genes) is to eat small meals of mostly organic vegetables and small amounts of high quality protein, drink clean water,  and include moderate exercise and stress reduction techniques in your daily routine.

I have been a health practitioner for over 40 years, with a focus on natural health. The usefulness of particular practices becomes more apparent the longer we have to evaluate the outcome. The term ‘Anti-Aging’ is not regulated by any governing body, and can be widely used as a marketing ploy with no proof to back it up. To understand the attraction that ‘Anti-Aging’ has in the marketplace, just watch the sales figures soar as soon as this term is  thrown on the label.

There is an ongoing plethora of products, dietary supplements and skin care applicants that are heavily promoted for their youth enhancing and anti-aging properties, but only a very short list includes scientific evidence.  I have seen thousands of consumers jump on board with the latest ‘Anti- aging ‘ craze, only to do the same again ( with no effect) when the next product comes along. No matter how much money you spend, and how many pills and potions you pop, none of this will likely yield any kind of measureable response, without the basis of  healthy eating, exercise and a stress reduction regime. Both science and practical life observations support several activities that actually DO lead to increased health and longevity.  A Harvard Magazine article ( ), included information on the science behind anti-aging. Sirtuin activating compounds, or STACs- are cellular ‘signaling’ compounds that help cells to defend themselves from the effects of oxidative damage (similar to rusting), which causes aging. A few things have been found to increase Sirtuin: caloric restriction, moderate exercise, resveratrol ( found in wine and other compounds).  Other studies have shown that stress reduction, eating unprocessed vegetables and fruits, ALONG with other supplements, such as alph-lipoic acid, and carnosine , also offset the pro-aging effects of oxidative damage. Excellent foods to include in your youth enhancing diet are pomegranate, kale, swiss chard, brussel sprouts and most other fruits and vegetables, and fatty fish like wild salmon. Lifestyle choices that have the opposite effect, and lead to increased oxidative damage include consuming Trans-fats, all fried, processed, refined , and other ‘junk food’, high levels of stress , and lack of exercise and a sedentary lifestyle.

The best day to start to focus on healthy aging practices is when you are ready to commit to a healthy lifestyle. Of course, in hind sight, you can admonish yourself for not starting sooner, but one of the main tenets of recognizing the healing power of mind, body and spirit is to be kind to yourself for past mistakes, and to learn to use uplifting ‘self talk.’ It is certainly true that ‘the sooner the better’ is the best policy. For example, babies whose mothers consumed high amount of DHA while they were pregnant tend to have higher IQ’s and are more capable learners. (Oken E, et al. Associations of maternal fish intake during pregnancy and breastfeeding duration with attainment of developmental milestones in early childhood: a study from the Danish National Birth Cohort. Am J Clin Nutr 2008 September;88(3):789-96) Woman who exercise and get enough dietary calcium and Vitamin D while young tend to suffer less from osteoporosis. That’s because bone growth naturally slows down after 50, so the more dense bone that is already formed during youth, the better. However, that does not mean to ‘give up’. You can always be in better shape tomorrow by making different choices today!
Although, the younger healthy lifestyle choices are initiated the better, there is no time like the present- it is never too late. You can always be in better shape tomorrow by making different choices today!

As The Natural Nurse®, my personal focus has been to write books, host radio and television shows, and teach at conventional medical schools, to elevate the knowledge about the evidence behind the safety and efficacy of natural therapies. I also follow this lifestyle on a daily level, and have since 1964. I use organic food, eat a small amount, exercise daily, take herbs and supplements and practice stress reduction techniques. I also have the benefit of long lived, healthy relatives which indicate a positive genetic influence.

Ellen KamhiEllen Kamhi, PhD, RN, AHG, AHN-BC , ( ) is a medical school professor, and author of THE NATURAL MEDICINE CHEST and several other books, all of which contain specific anti-aging therapies.

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