Many experts believe that certain illnesses we start to experience when we reach middle age such as heart disease, cancer and arthritis could be avoided. This is because they claim that they are diseases of our lifestyle and the results of failing to eat well, exercise regularly or treat the body and mind in ways that heal the ageing system.
When you reach your forties, the cumulative effects of unhealthy eating habits and patterns of living make themselves known for the first time, as the natural resilience of the body unfortunately starts to reduce.
Most bodies come with warranties for 80 years of productive, relatively trouble-free service (if the basic requirements for preventative maintenance are followed):
- Take steps to improve your diet and exercise regime
- Use breathing techniques to reduce your stress levels
- Use vitamins, minerals and herbs to boost your body's healing system and protect yourself from toxins
Eat oily fish at least twice a week - oily fish such as sardines, mackerel and salmon are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids - special fats that have beneficial effects on many of the body's functions. For example they reduce the risk of heart attacks and inhibit the clotting tendency of the blood.
Eat broccoli at least twice a week - scientific evidence for the protective effects of vegetables is very strong. Broccoli is one of the most beneficial members of the cabbage family to eat. It has significant anti-cancer properties and contains many nutrients and protective compounds. Eat more garlic - the health benefits of garlic have been acknowledged for many years. It helps to lower blood pressure and cholesterol and prevents blood clots from forming. It is also a strong antiseptic which can stop the growth of bacteria or fungi that can cause disease.
Eat more whole grains - whole grains are an excellent source of fibre. Fibre keeps the digestive system operating well, helps lower cholesterol, reduces the risk of colon cancer and slows down the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream.
Incorporate soy products into your diet - soy proteins are considered healthier than animal proteins as they do not come with a lot of saturated fat that stimulates the liver to make cholesterol. They also contain compounds that may offer protection against cancer.
Drink green tea - green tea contains a high amount of catechins which lower cholesterol and also have significant anti-cancer and antibacterial effects.
Use ginger - the Chinese have always regarded ginger as a healing ingredient. It has remarkable therapeutic qualities and is particularly good for the digestive and circulatory systems and for reducing inflammation.
Vitamins and Minerals
Take more vitamin C
You need certain levels of vitamin C to build strong connective tissue, including the linings of coronary arteries and to allow the healing system to repair wounds.
Fruits and vegetables that contain carotenes (a family of red and orange pigments related to vitamin A) have excellent cancer-protective value. These include peaches, apricots, mangoes, squashes, sweet potatoes and carrots.
Take vitamin E and Selenium
These two compounds complete the antioxidant formula to prevent premature ageing. Selenium is a trace mineral with proven cancer fighting benefits, whilst vitamin E is a powerful protector of the body.
Keep on walking
I really can't understand why people don't walk more; you can do it anywhere, it carries the least risk of injury of any form of exercise, provides a complete workout and it's a lot gentler on your knees than jogging! Having said that, in order to keep up regular exercise you need to do something you enjoy so if you prefer to go to the gym, cycle or play sport - go for it!
Ideally, try to walk for at least 45 minutes a day, five times a week and try to include some uphill walking or walk briskly so that your heart rate goes up.
Stretching is one of the most natural forms of non-aerobic exercise. Again, for most of us it’s easy to do, there is no cost involved and you can do it anywhere! Ok, possibly not in the local supermarket!? Don’t forget to include areas such as your neck and shoulders; a lot of us carry a lot of tension in these areas.
Cumulative toxin damage is one of the chief reasons why, as we age, the body’s healing system is not as effective. It is very important to be aware of the toxin residues that are in our food and in our environment.
Avoid hydrogenated oils or fats
The process of artificially hydrogenating oils deforms fatty acids which creates trans-fatty acids. These could unbalance the hormones that regulate healing. The best oil to use is olive oil, as it contains mostly monounsaturated fat which seems to be much better for our bodies than either saturated or polyunsaturated fat. Good news for us living here in Spain as olive oil is easy to buy and not expensive!
Avoid artificial sweeteners, additives or colours
Many of these artificial substances can disrupt our physiology and some experts suspect them of having a toxic effect on the nervous system.
Be aware of the water you drink
Stop drinking tap water - especially if it tastes of chlorine - and think about buying a water purification system. Again, we are lucky that here in Spain bottled water is not expensive; however on the downside it is heavy to carry home!!
We all know that conventionally-grown fruit and vegetables are often sprayed with pesticides or coated with fungicides. Some of the worst offenders are: strawberries, cherries, celery, spinach, apples, peaches, green beans, cucumbers and grapes. It’s also a good idea to buy organic wheat, soy and potatoes. Unfortunately, organic produce doesn’t seem to be as readily available here as it is in the UK, but hopefully more shops will start to stock organic products
Emotional and Spiritual Wellbeing
There is no doubt in my mind that all imbalances in the physical body are as a result of what is going on in our minds. For your healing system to function at its best you need to look after your emotional and spiritual wellbeing as well as looking after your physical body.
Ways to increase your spiritual wellbeing
- Read inspirational books - they could be selfhelp titles, biographies or spiritual topics
- Connect more with nature - being surrounded by greenery and water helps absorb negative energy
- Spend time with genuine, positive people
- Listen to uplifting music
- Learn to forgive and let go
- Avoid reading the newspapers and watching the news on television for at least one day a week
- Learn to be grateful for everything you have
- Work with a local charity and help others who have more challenges in their lives than you do. Or, if you prefer, work with an animal charity and see how animals love us unconditionally
Finally, two very simple things to do to help fight ageing and encourage healing: get enough sleep and avoid getting sunburnt!