My focus is healthy aging through anti-inflammatory nutrition.
Yes, I believe that healthy aging is possible.
What they say about aging may not be true
You may have heard it said that as we age, our bodies deteriorate and more often than not, we get sick. I’ve certainly heard it. In fact, someone said to me as I was turning 36 that I should enjoy the few years left before turning 40. ‘It’s all downhill from there,’ they said, as if tracing the contour of my life’s stepping stones from there onward.
What they meant, of course, was that I will likely experience the effects of aging:
- The wrinkles
- Stiff, painful joints
- Extra weight around my waist, and the extra ‘jiggling’
- Memory glitches
- Digestive issues
- Muscle loss
Spoiler alert: there were no earth-shattering changes after turning 40. And not for a few years afterwards. But then, they start popping up.
And with that, so did the questions and the worries. However, I also realized, with each day lived, that there was a certain feeling of plenitude and all-around goodness and wisdom about this new stage.
Yes, it’s called aging but I call it healthy aging, because to me, that means being able to:
- Live independently for the rest of my life
- Feel good at any given time in my body
- Reduce my risk of chronic illness and live without fear
- Have time and energy to do the things I want to do
- Spend time with my loved ones
- Not be a burden to my partner or family
I want to live in a way that will allow me to enjoy every day and to taste all that plenitude and wisdom.
What about you?
Allow me to ask what may seem like a silly question. Do you believe that our food and lifestyle have a say in the aging process?
I told you it was silly, but here’s the back story. I have heard many people say that because their parents or grandparents died early after suffering from aging-related illnesses, that’s to be their fate too, no matter how they live. ‘Might as well enjoy the forbidden pleasures instead of succumbing to a life half-lived’ is what they said.
And at the other end of the genes vs. the environment debate there is someone whose uncle or grandma smoked heavily and ate bacon, washing down with whiskey at least three times a week and they lived well into their 90s. Yep, they exist.
What gives then?
Our genetic inheritance is what it is, but that accounts for approximately 15 percent when it comes to our health and longevity. The rest of it, 85 percent or so, is diet and lifestyle.
It’s not wishful thinking, but science-backed reality: we do have the power to influence health and the risk of aging-related diseases. (For the nerdier bunch: the science exploring these changes is called epigenomics and it’s a spectacular knowledge forest to get lost in.)
As for the whisky-chugging, smoking, bacon-loving uncle… Well, sometimes you’re just plain lucky, but we all know that luck is not contagious. So there’s that.
This is how I look at it: I may not have a say in WHEN I start aging, but I do in HOW I age.
Much of the ‘HOW’ has to do with food, although everything in our bodies is connected. As our bodies age, the interconnections become that much more evident. And that could be a great incentive too.
Aging healthfully matters to me because there are many things I want to accomplish, many adventures to embark on and most of all, I want to have many good years to tread along my loved ones and share
How about you?
Let’s say you are in your 50s, or over, and mostly feeling OK…
But some days there’s this nagging thought following you around: Am I aging too fast?
It’s on those days that you are acknowledging changes in your body and that makes you think of all the aging-related illnesses that your parents or grandparents may have struggled with:
- Cardiovascular disease
- Insulin resistance
- Type 2 diabetes
- Alzheimer’s disease
Or perhaps you have been diagnosed with one of the above and find yourself lost and scared: Why is this happening and where to from here?
What if I told you that you are not predestined to have any of those diseases even if they run in the family?
And would you believe me if I told you that Real Food Can Heal?
What I can help you with
Through working together, we will find the main food culprits that may be having an impact on your health and well-being, which can ultimately lead to premature aging. We will work together in making changes that can help with:
- Addressing metabolic imbalances (including insulin resistance)
- Making sure you have the nutrients you need, while addressing weight gain or muscle/weight loss
- Moving with ease and reducing joint stiffness
- Enjoying your meals while experiencing less bloating and other digestive issues.
- Relishing the freedom that comes with honouring your body, your health and the stage you are in. Minus the fear of aging.
- Ultimately, reducing the risk of preventable chronic diseases.
Our relationship with food is complex
Here’s another question that may seem silly, but please indulge me: Could it be that some of the foods you’ve always thought to be good for you are actually affecting your health?
Before you answer that, let’s agree that it’s foolish to think of food only as nutrition. Food is comfort, memories, traditions, and connections.
Food is roots you can’t just yank out because someone comes along and says you should.
I grew up eating a lot of fresh veggies and fruit, many of them from our own garden. But when you grow up in Transylvania, there’s some heavier food fares too, albeit tasty and hospitality goes deep. Those special foods met all the requirements for comfort food but they were even back then, more of an exception. Treats you cherish not just for the taste but for what they connect you to your roots.
My intention is to live and eat in a way that will allow me to have the occasional culinary indulgence without fear or physical discomfort.
How about you?
Food grounds us and that’s a good thing
One of my prized possessions is a 1937 cookbook, which my mom passed on when I moved out. As years go by and I dig deeper yet into more nutrition knowledge, I still draw inspiration from it, but with a health panache that bridges the two worlds I am grounded in: family and health.
I know that food is that bowl of THAT yummy, ultimate comfort food you had growing up that ALWAYS made you feel good.
And I know that food is sitting with loved ones and threading stories with bites of goodness into a tapestry of taste and emotions you take with you wherever you go.
Why would you give that up and with it the joy, comfort and really, that part of you that means so much?
You should not.
UNLESS you realize that some of those very foods may be impacting your health, causing you to live with pain, lose precious days to feeling sick and anxious about what’s to come, and miss out on enjoying life and the time with our loved ones.
Consider this though: you do not have to overhaul your eating habits entirely just to appease the gods of aging. And you can still have a treat every now and then, and being in good health will allow you to do so without significant physical discomfort (this excludes food intolerance and allergic reactions of course).
Food can become your trusted ally on the path to freedom. From fear of aging too fast and from fear of getting sick as you age.
Healthy relationships are a two-way street: they rely on respectful boundaries, reciprocity and the occasional balance-keeping compromise. I want my relationship with food to be all that.
What about You?
It’s never too late to change things
You may think, well, that sounds nice but I’m too late for changes, and even more so, for the small changes I am willing to consider.
Let’s not jump to conclusions just yet. Because at any point in time, choosing some foods over others can help with:
- Reducing pain and inflammation
- Alleviating digestive issues.
- Losing weight or slowing down muscle loss
- Reducing the risk of chronic disease which is both debilitating and scary.
How do I know all that can happen? Because our bodies are resilient and they are constantly renewing themselves, albeit the speed at which they do so slows down with age. We have an open tab when it comes to building healthier cells (hence tissues and bodies) as long as we honour our end of the deal: making wise food and lifestyle choices.
With that in mind, here’s a somewhat rhetorical question: Shouldn’t we expect that food loves us back at least as much as we love it?
For an answer, I will paraphrase a well-known Chinese proverb: The best time to eat healthier was a few years ago. The second best time is now.
And a food-for-thought question for you: If changing one thing at a time could help you lose weight, have less pain, or fewer digestive issues, or a lower risk (and less fear) of developing chronic disease, would you consider getting started on that path?
Let’s go a bit deeper
Most of us think it’s the (very) elderly that are affected by the cohort of symptoms and diseases we associate with aging, right?
Well, real present-day life is challenging that narrative. Nowadays, more people start showing symptoms, usually a cluster of them, at younger ages.
So what does that ultimately mean?
Our choice of food and certain lifestyle habits can contribute to a state of inflammation that can increase the risk of developing chronic illness as we age.
Further yet, there is a process called inflammaging (yes, that is now a word!) which is low-grade, systemic and chronic inflammation that accompanies aging.
Wait, inflammation on top of inflammation?
Yes, you could say that.
Inflammaging determines how fast we age and it is associated with an increased risk of chronic illness.
Here’s a twist on it: some inflammaging is normal as we age, but too much can be damaging, and that’s where we can have a say.
Like they say, the dose makes the poison. And there is something that works in our favour, which I have mentioned above: RESILIENCE.
Specifically, we will address
- Metabolic dysfunction and insulin resistance
- Gut health (better digestion, less bloating and discomfort, a healthier gut bug population)
We do it one meal at a time
‘The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.’ Lao Tzu
I find that to be one of the most encouraging things I’ve ever heard. It makes me have hope and it allows me to think in steps. No matter how small, they count.
And that’s huge!
It applies to eating habits too and the big (healthy aging) picture we’re building, one meal at a time.
Eating more whole foods (including a wide variety of seasonal, local produce whenever possible) can improve digestion, boost our body’s defense systems and reduce pain associated with inflammation because Real Food Can Heal.
And beyond the effects on the digestive and immune system (70 percent of our immune system resides in the gut), there is an intimate connection our gut shares with the brain.
Simply put, what happens at one end will affect the other. Choosing anti-inflammatory foods will help your digestion and provide adequate nourishment for your body, but they will also improve your mood, memory and brain function.
If I could choose, I’d like to keep a healthy brain and good memory for my entire life, never mind my age.
How about you?
All this to say: Healthy aging is possible!
Yes, our bodies change as we transition from one life stage to another; that’s only natural.
But summing up the aging process as pain, discomfort, weight gain, plus the ribbon to bundle them – fear – is both wrong and unfair.
I believe that wanting to age healthily is not a baseless aspiration. I see it as a continuous process that has people transform the way they think of food and the way they integrate new meals, healing ones, into their present lifestyle.
We can only pursue something when we truly believe it, and when the WHY encompasses all the things that give meaning to our lives.
My WHY has to do with wanting to be around for as long as I can, able to enjoy time with my loved ones and pursue whatever I choose to.
My goal is to age healthfully, because I know that healthy aging is possible.
No matter your age today, I hope you are choosing health, caring for your body and celebrating every day with joy and gratefulness.
Minus the fear of aging, of course.