HEalTH FRONT

Anti-aging secrets
By Dr. Leow Chee Seng Fellow of British Institute Homeopathy (UK), Certified Stress Management Professional (US) There’s a huge difference between your biological age and feeling psychologically young.

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ince the dawn of time, mankind has searched for a mythological fountain of youth and anti-aging secrets have been spoken of in the very earliest myths and legends. Every culture has myths about immortal heroes who found some sort of rejuvenating herb, device or potion that allow them to stay young forever – or at least for a very long time. For example, a Chinese legend described the Qin Dynasty emperor Shih Huang Ti – who ordered his warriors to hunt for longevity potions for him, but failed. In this universe, no one wants to die, and no one wants to grow old. It is no wonder that ideas about anti-aging secrets are so widespread all over the world. Sorting out the real anti-aging secrets from all the myths, however, can be quite a task. For all we know, the secrets to anti-aging could be well guarded so that they would not fall into the wrong hands. Who knows if somewhere, in an isolated village up in the mountains, a whole tribe of people have learned how to live for hundreds, or even thousands of years? If they knew how to do that, would they share the anti-aging secret with the rest of us? Or would they keep their precious anti-aging treatment to themselves? I have visited several places in Mediterranean; I observed that the life expectancy of the people there is higher than other countries. A qualitative research conducted on their lifestyle and eating habits found that people who eat Mediterranean diets tend to live longer and healthier lives. It is not because they are necessarily wiser or smarter, but because they live in an area where certain foods grow, and have developed a specific lifestyle that contributes to longevity. Olive oil, grapes, a diet high in vegetables and fish, and many other aspects of the Mediterranean diet contribute to good health and long life. When I was conducting a public seminar, a participant asked me how we could identify if a person has undergone degenerative process or

getting old. The traditional designation for old age is 65 years old. Even a judge retires at the age of 65. (Constitutional Law, Article 125). In fact, many people are vigorous and active at 65. Some researchers refer to aging from the perspective of biological age. Biological age refers to changes in the body that commonly occur as people age. For example, vision and hearing abilities reduce as we age. Nowadays, we can observe that people are biologically old at 40. Turning to psychological age, I would describe it as how a person would feel and at his emotional stage. For example, a 75-year-old who works and participates in different activities is considered to be psychologically young. Diet factors As we age, hormonal levels diminish and our skin, muscles and bones begin to deteriorate. A good anti-aging diet should stimulate hormone production and promote strength and flexibility. Natural anti-oxidant sources The US Food and Drug Administration has identified 20 types of food with high anti-oxidant levels. 1. Red beans 2. Wild blueberries 3. Red kidney beans 4. Pinto beans 5. Cultivated blueberries 6. Cranberries 7. Artichokes 8. Blackberries 9. Prunes 10. Raspberries 11. Strawberries 12. Red Delicious apples 13. Granny Smith apples 14. Pecans 15. Sweet cherries 16. Black plums 17. Russet potatoes 18. Black beans 19. Plums 20. Gala apples

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The oxidation process also contributes to aging. Oxygen is released by plants during photosynthesis and we need them for survival. However, oxygen produces by-products that are harmful to our health. Clinical research to overcome the effect of the oxidation process in cells include methods to slow down the oxidation process or eliminate its effects – Dr Musalmah Mazlan, a lecturer from medical faculty, UKM and Associate Prof Maznah Ismail from medical faculty, UPM are actively involved in such research. Their findings are that there is a possible impact of anti-oxidants on aging. But, when you walk into a pharmacy – where you can buy different brands of supplement – how effective that supplement with anti-oxidants is on our bodies is debatable. Some of us have misunderstood the importance of balanced diet. Supplements can never be used to substitute balanced diet. Besides, beware that we can “over-supplement” our bodies by taking more than the recommended daily dosage of certain vitamins and minerals. For example, excessive vitamins A and E (types of fatsoluble vitamins) stored in liver and fatty tissues can lead to toxicity and diseases. Many of the studies and research done lately about anti-aging and anti-disease nutrition have focused on the nutrients known as anti-oxidants. Antioxidants help to reverse the oxidation process or slow down the oxidation process in the cells. Before further discussion on anti-oxidants, it is a good idea to understand the concept of aging. Aging starts when a person is born. An infant develops and matures into an adult; the aging process eventually leads to a decline in function that ultimately leads to death. There are several factors which lead to cell degeneration – including chemicals, radiation, environment, drugs and toxins, emotional stages and stress. The cells die because they can only divide for a limited number of times. When a cell stops dividing, the cells enlarge and die. Hence, the aging process starts.
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So, I strongly believe in natural therapy where nutrients are obtained from natural food. In practice, we should eat a lot of fruits and vegetables in order to obtain high level of anti-oxidants. Thus, in nutrition therapy session, I always encourage my clients to take diet rich in fruits, veggies and whole grains. We all agree that eating the right thing is sometimes difficult. But when the bleak prospect of pain and suffering beckons with the possibility of getting even cancer, arthritis or arteriosclerosis, a bowl of salad and an orange seems like a very tasty choice. According to Dr Charles Silverman, a natural therapist, we should take at least two types of food with high anti-oxidants to maintain our health and reduce the aging process.

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Since sweet potatoes, carrots, spinach, cantaloupe and mangoes are great sources of anti-oxidants, it is recommended to consume them half cooked or even raw. This way, the nutrients will not be destroyed by heat during preparation and the antioxidants remain at optimum levels. Psychological stress The importance of good nutrition to keep away the early signs of aging is clear, but the truth is that this is only the first step. Prof Dennis H. Novack, who studied the link between emotions and health at Drexel University College of Medicine in Philadelphia, found that the hypothalamus excretes adrenocorticotrophic hormone (ACTH) in times of stress. The hormone shortens the telomere (structure at the ends of a chromosome) and the cells start to degenerate and aging starts. Stress management techniques like breathing, progressive relaxation, mediation and visualisation should therefore be used when there is an indicator of stress. Also, what is the relationship between exercise and anti-aging? Studies have shown that nothing works better for anti-aging effects than a regular exercise program. ‘Regular’ is the key word – unless your

exercise routine is consistent, the process won’t have the same effect. Flexibility exercises are especially important to beat the aging process. It increases blood circulation and releases serotonin – a chemical produced by the brain that is necessary for overall health and well-being. Flexibility exercises are also safe and easy to perform. Further, strength-building exercise helps build sturdiness and sustain bone mass. Your chances of having a debilitating injury are lessened as you build your muscle strength. Exercises to improve the muscles in your shoulders, back and legs will also help with hormone production. Lastly, I would recommend taking up cardiovascular exercises. This form of aerobic exercises also helps fight depression and keeps your weight down. Running, brisk walking and any other exercise that will increase your heart rate for a sustained period of time releases brain chemicals that produce good hormones. Don’t forget that the key element to be incorporated into our life-styles if we want to live longer and look younger is to also reduce the amounts of chemicals, synthetics and over-the-counter drugs that we expose our bodies to. OH!

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