By: Dr. Darin Stokke, DC Lifestyles Healthcare Group
The big question for all of us is how can we get more years of life and, more importantly, more life out of the years we live?
Looking for answers that optimize health and longevity from our traditional medical care system us not ideal. Our Western model of health care is simply not designed to bring about health and wellness. Indeed, our traditional medical system in the United States is setup in a way to be very effective and efficient at providing acute care and trauma care. This means that if you suffer a heart attack or are involved in a car accident today, statistically there’s no better place in the world to be than right here in the United States. However, when it comes to treatment of chronic diseases and bringing about health and wellness, statistics also show that our healthcare system is severely lacking. When taking all factors into consideration, the World Health Organization ranks the United States at #37 in overall health and efficiency worldwide yet ranks our country #1 overall in health care costs. So, how can we achieve optimal health and a better quality of life as we get older?
Firth thing to consider as we age is the cumulative effects of degeneration of the joins caused from past traumas, bad postures, weight gain, and inactivity as well as degeneration of our mind and mental capacity. degeneration of our joints and our mind is one of the most common events we see as we age. However, it doesn’t have to be that way. Degeneration can be prevented and, in many cases now with stem cells, even reversed. The most common cause of degeneration is inactivity. Our joints and our brain are designed to function best through use. If we don’t use them, we begin to lose them. Exercise training done right can prevent this from happening.Not only does exercise lead to stronger muscles and bones, it also has been shown to improve cognitive function, reverse muscle wasting, decrease weight, decrease Alzheimer’s disease and control blood sugar and diabetes. Movement and exercise are key to staying strong, energetic and healthy as we get older.
Second thing to consider is increasingly dysfunctional balance and coordination as we age. The leading cause of injury for those over 65 years of age is from preventable falls due to balance and coordination issues. Our balance and coordination are controlled through our nervous system and the neruo-biomechanical feedback system. Every moment of every day our body is providing the brain important information as to its position in space. The purpose of this system is to provide locomotion and movement while keeping us upright. This feedback system is dependent upon proper information getting relayed to the brain especially from our feet, our core, our joints, our eyes, and our inner ears. When any one of more of those ares is dysfunctional, the feedback becomes distorted and our balance and coordination suffer. Maintaining optimal range of motion of all our joints through stretching or yoga as well as maintaining optimal posture are important. The feet, arch height and ankle mobility are also important to look at and alignment or orthotic arch supports used as necessary.
Third thing is having potential increased nutrient deficiencies and toxic overload as we age. Our dietary needs change as we age and the necessity to eliminate toxins even more important. In particular, increasing water intake, vitamin B12, vitamin D, increasing protein intake, increasing soluble fiber intake and eating smaller meals are important things to consider. Also increasing good fat intake through eating avocados, coconut oil, nuts and olive oil is critical to maintaining optimal functioning of our nervous system and brain. Consider eating a more plant based diet and confine eating times to within a 12 hour periods during the day and no more than 3 hours before bedtime. Proper hydration and moving the body each day also helps in eliminating toxins and improving digestion. As we age our thirst reflex diminishes so it becomes even more important to measure out our water intake each day to ensure we are getting enough hydration.
Finally, feeling like there is no purpose to getting up each day becomes more common as we age, especially after retirement. It’s incredibly important to have a purpose, something that inspires us, to keep us going each day. There is a pervasive and limiting illusion concerning aging that can diminish our life and energy and that is the myth of retirement. Even if we retire from a long career, it’s important that we find something else in life that inspires us to get up and go each day. There is inside each of us, a vision and calling to do something extraordinary. No matter our chronological age, this divine spark cannot be extinguished unless we allow it to be. Look at the many examples of people stating something important at a later stage in life. Harland Sanders was 65 years old when he started Kentucky Fried Chicken. Laura Ingalls Wilder was 65 years old when she wrote her first “Little House” book. Gladys Burrill was 86 years old when she ran her first marathon. Peter Mark Roget wrote the first edition of the Thesaurus at age 59. Each of us has that kind of potential within us. We must find that spark, that unique thing that inspires us to get up each day, knowing we have a purpose to be alive.
As always, choose today to live well, to more often, and to live out the lifestyle you desire!