As we age, things start to… shift…
I’m not just referring to physical changes, although that definitely comes with the territory. I’m talking about pretty much everything. Hormones change, brains change, perspective changes, relationships too. It all shifts. It’s important to support our bodies in the aging process by giving them what they need to be their best.
In my mid-40s now, I feel this deeply. But I have also never been in a happier or healthier place than I am now, and I know a lot of that has to do with really listening, finally, to what my body has to say. And of course, responding with love to those messages. Doing something about the feedback.
When Kidneys Attack
When I turned 45, things started to change a bit for me. I had 3 kidney infections, back to back, each about 2 months apart. I still don’t know exactly what the issue was, but I did learn one interesting thing about the aging bodies of women: an uptick in general issues involving UTIs, bladder and kidney infections, etc. is relatively common because everything inside us becomes thinner and more permeable.
I was having kidney infections with no warning at all, which actually is a thing, and a pretty annoying one too. So I added a couple of things to my diet specifically to support my kidney, bladder, and urinary tract health: bananas and moringa. Bananas have a lot of potassium and are easy to make a smoothie with, making them a great vehicle for moringa oleifera, which is extremely beneficial to humans and well worth adding to your diet. Its medicinal properties and health benefits are well-known; moringa has been used therapeutically for hundreds of years. It has antifungal, antiviral, antidepressant, and anti-inflammatory properties, and that’s probably why this beauty is also known as “the miracle tree”. (1)
Intermittent fasting is a way of eating that I adopted after I turned 40. There is significant evidence to support the idea that eating with less frequency helps your body make more efficient use of the fuel you give it. At a certain point towards the end of your fasting window, the body will literally start to snack on cells that aren’t doing their job, or causing problems, like pre-cancerous cells. In this way, intermittent fasting is thought to be a great anti-aging, anti-cancer factor.
So every day I break my fast at about 11:30am with a banana smoothie:
- 2-3 bananas
- 1 heaping tablespoon of moringa
- 1 heaping tablespoon of spirulina (tons of antioxidants, really good for you)
- 3 tablespoons of chia seeds
Sometimes I add a little yogurt, or some berries. Whatever I have laying around. Papaya is really good for gut health and makes a nice addition to a smoothie, it blends really well.
I love supplementing with foods. Our bodies work best with fuel they recognize, so anytime I can add a certain food to my diet to support my specific body, I do it. But it is important to know your body too… a person with kidney disease, or kidney failure, would not want to add a bunch of bananas to their diet. A low-functioning kidney allows potassium to build up in your body, and you certainly don’t want to add fuel to that fire.
So, the question of how to supplement as your body ages will always be a personal one to some degree.
Mother Nature’s Supplement Store
With that said, generally speaking, here are some things our bodies need plenty of as we age:
- Calcium and vitamin D – these things work together and should be taken together whenever possible.
- B12 – a tricky one if you follow a plant-based diet, but is found in fortified breakfast cereals.
- B6 – chickpeas are a great source of this vitamin.
- Magnesium – found in nuts, seeds, and leafy greens, and you probably need more than you’re getting… research magnesium supplements carefully to make sure you get the right one for your needs… they don’t all function the same way.
- Probiotics – found in fermented foods like sauerkraut.
- Omega 3s – get this important vitamin from fatty fish, walnuts, canola oil, chia and flaxseed.
- Zinc – another one that can be tough to find in food, but zinc is found in oysters and our friend the fortified breakfast cereal.
- Selenium – found in brazil nuts, but don’t overdo it!
- Potassium – add some dried apricots, bananas, spinach, milk, or yogurt to your diet.
- Folate – this natural form of vitamin B9 is found in leafy greens, nuts, beans, and plenty of other foods.
- Fiber – as we get older, we need about 8-10 servings daily of vegetables… most people don’t get nearly enough fiber.
Supplementing for Joint Health
One strange effect of shifting estrogen levels in our 40+ bodies is in the joints. They get sore. Fun stuff. So I added a glucosamine and chondroitin supplement, that I take in pill form. This is another dynamic duo like calcium and vitamin D, they go together. I walk at least 6 miles daily and since I added this to my life I have no knee pain. I do still have minor discomfort in a few finger joints, so I don’t think I have 100% solved that problem, but it’s absolutely manageable and doesn’t interfere with my life at all.
Though it’s not a “supplement”, it’s so important to move your joints. Walking, yoga, just literally purposely moving your joints, is going to get more and more important as your body ages. The joints don’t have any way of flushing themselves out. So metabolic waste can accumulate and cause stiffness. The way our joints stay running smooth is by moving… lubricated by synovial fluid that helps keep them free of gunk. You gotta move your body, buddy.
I have already begun to notice changes in my brain and will do everything I can to support it as it ages. It’s really just no fun when you lose your train of thought or otherwise experience a “brain blip”. At the moment I take ginkgo biloba for my brain function and memory, and will continue to revisit it as I get older. I want to remain as high-functioning as possible for as long as possible, and that means always remembering where you put your keys.
Don’t Be Afraid Of Aging
I do believe that age is nothing but a number, but I also believe that knowledge is power. By paying attention to the signals your body is sending, you can partner up with it, and do some real good for it.
As you age, you’re going to change. It doesn’t have to be a bad thing at all, in fact so far I am finding it a lot more interesting and empowering than I thought it would be. And fascinating. Our bodies are incredible. What’s yours telling you?
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