After a recent conversation with my mother it made me realize something. As a society we expect our health to decline as we age. My mom is the biggest propagator of this false wisdom, (sorry mom). She had made several comments about not remembering things “because she’s getting old”. In the same conversation she said, “ at my age I can’t do that!”. She was referring to my suggestion of riding a stationary bike for a little exercise. My mother then quickly reminded me that I am not getting any younger….
We pass this school of thought to our children as if it’s normal to have heart attacks and strokes by the age of 50. If the doctor prescribes high blood pressure meds or cholesterol meds at 40 or 50 its normal. Think about how many people you know currently taking a prescription for something that could be easily controlled with diet and exercise.
There have been recent studies pertaining to gluten intolerance and gastrointestinal symptoms, correlations with autism, diabetes and how the protein composite can be related to cognitive function. One study shows large changes in brain tissue, specifically, white matter, in those who are sensitive to gluten. White matter in the brain is actively involved in neurogenesis, or the growth of new neurons. If gluten is possibly disrupting this process, like chemotherapy has been studied to do, then its effects may not be just temporary and transient. Instead they may be both long lasting and potentially damaging. Also stress, sleep disruption, lack of exercise and inflammation have all been linked with regulating hippocampal neurogenesis and implicated in the pathophysiology of mood disorders. But can gluten be linked to mood disorders? The science says yes.
Age is often blamed for hormone imbalances but it’s important to remember that this balance directly correlates with diet. Insufficient consumption of dark leafy greens, brightly colored vegetables, lack of protein, persistent dehydration and stress can all be contributing factors. Hormones influence many bodily functions including metabolism, blood sugar balance, blood pressure, energy levels, kidney function, sleep patterns, aging, and appetite. Signs of imbalance in both sexes include the typical symptoms of fatigue, headaches, digestive complaints, poor sleeping, easy weight gain, increased signs of aging, depression, anxiety, and decreased sexual desire. Cholesterol is also crucial to our wellness and very instrumental in hormonal balance. Many of the most important hormones are actually made from cholesterol. It is the mother of all fat molecules in the body: a cornerstone of normal cell function and mood regulation. It is needed to maintain neurotransmitter and brain function, build brain and nerve tissue, and nourish the immune system. It provides the insulation around nerves that transmit electrical impulses and helps to digest fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, E and K. So if you are drinking “green smoothies” for health benefits, add some healthy fat to assist in the uptake of vitamins! My favorites are avocado and MCT oil.
Although much about getting older is controlled by food, exercise is also important. I can guarantee if you fuel your body with good food you will have the energy to move around and be active. None of this “I’m old and tired” crap. There’s no need to run marathons. A simple 20-30 minute walk after big meals is fantastic! Take the stairs, park far away, (unless its dark and not safe…), and go for a bike ride. Just keep moving.
Aging is only a number. If you sit around eating junk and expecting to have some catastrophic health event by a certain age because that’s just what happens, then you probably will. If you choose to eat smart, be active, and empower yourself by researching new health statistics and trends then you’ll be the inspiration a younger generation will want to become!
Soares FL, De oliveira matoso R, Teixeira LG, et al. Gluten-free diet reduces adiposity, inflammation and insulin resistance associated with the induction of PPAR-alpha and PPAR-gamma expression. J Nutr Biochem. 2013;24(6):1105-11.
Available at: http://www.cbsnews.com/news/gluten-free-diet-more-popular-than-ever-but-who-really-needs-it/. Accessed August 3, 2014.
Murray JA, Watson T, Clearman B, Mitros F. Effect of a gluten-free diet on gastrointestinal symptoms in celiac disease. Am J Clin Nutr. 2004;79(4):669-73.
Buie T. The relationship of autism and gluten. Clin Ther. 2013;35(5):578-83.