September is Healthy Aging Awareness Month and that is one of my favorite topics with my patients and so I’d like to share some ideas with you!

This concept is frequently spoken about but it seems everyone’s opinion is different as to what that is. I talk to my patients about healthy aging concepts a lot in my integrative medicine clinic in San Jose, CA. There are some key fundamental ideas to adhere to and to work on.

  • Many people feel that healthy aging is only about our body’s health but so much of how we age and how healthy we are and what we are willing to do for our healthy aging goals is dependent on how we are feeling and what our thoughts about health and stress are. I feel that mental health is too often seen as a taboo topic and people aren’t willing to cop to the fact that they have anxiety or depression or bipolar disorder or OCD etc. This is thankfully improving from what I’ve seen over the years but what happens in our mind absolutely impacts our overall body’s health. If we deny those issues, then they will trickle into our behavior, our stress hormone levels, and our sleep and exercise patterns. I want to encourage everyone to seek help and to talk about it and look for solutions. If we are not willing to acknowledge an issue or problem, how can we find the solution. Mental health isn’t just mental health, it is a very important factor in our overall health. Please seek the help that you need if you are even questioning about this.
  • Diet is another major factor in aging. Inflammatory foods such as processed sugars and carbohydrates are a big factor in disease and lack of vitality with aging. So many of my patients who start an anti-inflammatory diet are able to see improvements in insomnia, fatigue, abdominal issues, migraines, chronic pain, and even hormonal symptoms. An anti-inflammatory diet is predominantly one that is abundant in wide variety and amounts of vegetables and include some healthy fats, proteins and whole grains. It’s important to make sure that processed foods are minimal. In this day and age, anything that is basically not in its original food form is not as desired as something in its own natural form. For example, quinoa is healthier than quinoa pasta. Seeds are healthier than seed crackers. The more man-made and farther away from its original form, the less optimal it is. So, try to eat whole foods and let the sugars and processed carbs be a rarity but let Mother Nature feed our body/cells naturally as it was intended with foods in their original healthy forms.
  • Lifestyle choices also significantly impact aging. Alcohol, drug, smoking, sleep deprivation, and sedentary lifestyles all impact your overall aging pattern. An excess of toxins, lack of sleep, and lack of exercise all negatively impact cell healing and all impact the rapidity of oxidative damage of cells. Obviously, there are going to be times where you can’t exercise as much as you’d like, your presentation is going to cause some nights of less than optimal sleep, and there are birthdays or events where there might be more alcohol than usual. But the overall point is this, let these things be a rarity; try to make sleep, stress management, exercise and avoidance of toxins be a typical general part of your daily life. Our bodies are resilient so if these deviations from health occur only occasionally, your body will likely recover fine. If you make these factors be a regular part of your life, then your body will not have a chance to heal in between insults to the body. So, be kind to your body and it, in turn, will be kind to you.

These are of course not the only factors that affect aging and health. There are so many other factors that impact overall healthy aging, including but are not limited to, spiritual health, cultural support, and environmental support, etc. But these three factors we are discussing today are a good starting point if you are only just starting on your journey of health.

Just remember, your concerns and questions are important and need to be addressed and answered. Please do not hesitate to talk to your doctor because we want to help you on your healthy aging path. So please initiate that point of contact with your doctor, who coincidentally might also be on his/her own healthy aging path…this way, you’ll have a friend on that journey with you as well as a health guide.