One of my early mentors in health care was the world renowned nutritionist, Dr. Betty Lee Morales, PhD. She originally came to me as a patient, but in reality I was more her student. She was brilliant, still very active, and energetic well into her 80s when her life was cut short only by a tragic automobile accident.
I remember a conversation we had on the subject of old age. Dr. Morales said that aging is basically the process of decay, but we can intercede, slow, and even control that process.
Strictly speaking, decay means to break down, corrode, fall into ruin, decline in health and vigor, or deteriorate. Though we know we all grow older with each day, how does that make you feel about your future? The opposite of decay is to flourish, ripen, and prosper. Which would you rather look forward to?
Betty Lee said there are half a dozen areas of the body where this decay process is more obvious, but we can actively intervene and make a tremendous difference in whether we’re destined to deteriorate or flourish in our mature years.
Oxygen is the first requirement to sustain life on Earth. Maximum Oxygen Consumption is the measure of the body’s ability to transport and utilize oxygen. This ability diminishes as we age at about 1% per year and is accelerated by inactivity. Decreased oxygen capacity diminishes the function of every organ, tissue, and cell in the body. Exercise and activity not only slow this process, but can actually recapture much of that lost capacity. Adequate vitamin E is also important.
Water is the second most important requirement for life. Get this, in your mid-twenties water accounts for approximately 62% of the body’s weight, but by the time you reach your mid-seventies it has dropped to around 52%. Keeping the body and cells hydrated is vital to our overall health. This downward trend seems to result from using too much refined table salt, certain medications, a decrease in consuming fresh fruits and vegetables, and drinking too much soda, coffee, and tea instead of water.
Blood pressure rises with age, particularly the systolic or top number. Systolic blood pressure is the measure of the heart contracting and putting pressure on the arteries. Eighty percent of people over 65 years of age have high blood pressure. This is caused by decreased efficiency of heart muscle and changes in the flexibility of the walls of the arteries. Much of this type of decay can be reversed by proper diet, exercise, controlling weight, and never ever smoking.
Calcium is the predominant mineral in the body, but becomes increasingly difficult to assimilate in advancing years. A hospital based study found that by age 60 a person needs 67% more calcium than when they were a teenager. By the time the average person becomes a senior citizen, osteoporosis is the standard. Calcium wastage is predominately caused by the twin factors of insufficient usable dietary calcium and lack of weight bearing exercise activities.
Muscle wasting or loss of lean body mass is an extremely common physical change with aging. In other words, loss of strength, flexibility, and energy become a self-fulfilling downward spiral to even more inactivity. Use it or lose it is a harsh reality, especially as we age.
Other forms of decay involve losing the senses of hearing and smell, altered sleep patterns, lowered immunity, blood sugar issues, and depression.
The reality is time marches on; the years will have their impact; but each of us has great power in how the aging process will proceed. Do nothing and the course is fixed. You will decay, break-down, decline, and deteriorate. Or you can choose to prosper and flourish by taking charge with superior nutrition, daily exercise activities, and a challenging lifestyle. I choose the latter. I choose to be a Sunwarrior.Learn more about Dr. Steve Weston
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