In the UK alone there are now over 15 million people, almost a quarter of the UK population, over 60, including myself, with most significant health problems kicking in at 65. That’s when the most arthritis, diabetes, heart disease and cancer diagnoses kick in. Avoiding these preventable diseases, including dementia later in life, is the first step to planning for healthy ageing, and I’d like to show you how. You'll then be able to write your own Healthy Ageing Plan tailored to you.
Measure how you are ageing
Healthy ageing isn’t something nebulous – you can actually measure how you’re doing. My FREE online 100% Health Check will give you a good measure of your biological age, versus your chronological age, and as you make positive changes you can rescore yourself.
If you do some of the tests that I recommend, such as homocysteine and HbA1c (more on this later) you can also feed in your latest test results to see how you’re doing in winding back the years. The online BioAge calculation also includes some physical tests, like your pulse and standing on one leg, or getting up from a chair without using your arms, or blowing out a candle at arms length, which help to measure things like muscle, lung and heart strength, all of which can be improved. The average woman in the EU spends 13 years unable to climb 10 stairs. I want to make sure you’re not one of them.
Biologically, the two best tests are your homocysteine level and your telomere length. Everything you do that ages you shortens your telomeres. Think of them like the hard bit at the end of your shoelaces, except these shoelaces are the spirally chromosomes that house your genes, the blueprint for making new, young cells. Every time you make a new cell your telomere length shortens. When you run out of sufficient telomere length the game is over. So, the longer your telomeres slower you’re ageing. My telomere length is that of someone half my age precisely because I’ve been doing all the things that are associated with longer telomeres most of my life. Read on and I’ll show you what these are and how to test youre telomere length.
Also, the lower your blood homocysteine level the slower you’re ageing. Homocysteine determines a fundamental process, called methylation that’s happening a billion times every few seconds, and is strongly linked to heart disease, strokes and dementia. One man I helped, Chris, who was slipping into dementia, went from a homocysteine level of over 119 to 11 mmol/l in 6 months and, with that, completely regained his mental acuity. He cannot believe how well he feels. His memory and concentration is completely restored, his energy is so good he now exercises for an hour every day and his sex drive has returned. “You have saved my life, or, at least made it worth living again.” He told me. My mentor psychiatrist Dr Abram Hoffer, retired from seeing patients two weeks before his death and died without pain, and without disease in his mid 90’s, without all that unnecessary suffering and expense. It can be done if you do the right things. So, what’s the secret to healthy ageing?
Energy and Blood Sugar Health
The first sign of fading health most people experience is low energy. This is most often linked to losing blood sugar stability. Behind this is decreasing insulin sensitivity, called insulin resistance. You can measure where you’re at on this slippery slope by measure something called ‘glycosolated haemoglobin’ abbreviated to HbA1c. red blood cells (haemoglobin) live for three months and the greater the number that are sugar damaged (glycosolated) the more often your blood sugar level is spiking too high. Yorktest.com have a simple home-test kit for your HBA1c called Diabetes Check. This is what GPs measure if they think you’ve got diabetes. You want your score below 5.5%.
You’ll achieve this easily if you:
a) follow my low GL diet – these books show you how
b) supplement chromium with an extract from cinnamon called Cinnulin®
c) supplement daily 1g of vitamin C, 150mg of magnesium and antioxidants. I take these every day in my 100% Health Pack. If you want to check your levels Vitamin C Urine Test Strips are now available in the UK.
d) Keep reasonably fit with a combination of aerobic/cardio exercise and resistance/strength exercise. Strength exercise builds muscle and loss of muscle leads to worsening blood sugar control. You need three 30 minute cardio exercise sessions a week, or a one hour brisk walk, twice a week. This also improves your heart health.
e) Control your weight. My low GL diet, plus these supplements, will help you here.
Also see the section on ‘cell health’ if your energy is low.
Forget statins. Studies show that, at the most they might add 2 weeks to life in someone with heart disease and don’t tackle the true causes of heart disease and stroke. High cholesterol does not cause heart disease. What causes high cholesterol is, for the most part, sugar damaged cholesterol (glycosylated LDL). Then it accumulates in places in the arteries damaged by homocysteine. If your homocysteine level is low so too is your risk for heart disease. Your doctor probably won’t measure this, but they should in anyone over 50 if prevention was seriously on the health agenda. You want your score below 10 and ideally below 7mmol/l. Yorktest have a home test kit for this too.
By keeping your blood sugar under control (see Energy and Blood Sugar Health) you reduce heart disease risk and lower cholesterol if high. So here’s how to maintain heart health:
a) Control your blood sugar (see above)
b) Keep your homocysteine level low. B vitamins helps do this more than anything else. If your homocysteine is high a combination of homocysteine modulating nutrient in my Connect formula bring this to normal. That’s what Chris did. High homocysteine, and a lack of folate, is very strongly linked to stroke risk.
c) Take in 300mg to 450mg of magnesium, which relaxes arteries thus lowering blood pressure. Eating plenty of greens, seeds and nuts can give you 150mg. My daily supplement gives me an additional 155mg. That’s enough for maintenance, but if your have concerns in this area, perhaps with raised cholesterol, the combination of niacin with magnesium and vitamin C works wonders.
d) Get enough omega-3 fish oils. That means eating oily fish and supplementing omega-3 fish oils. This both reduces heart disease risk and lowers blood fats called triglycerides.
e) Exercise, with lowers both blood pressure and pulse, which is your indication of heart strength.
The two single most important factors for brain health and your homocysteine level, determined mainly by B vitamins, and omega-3 fat intake, from fish and fish oils, not seeds. This is because brain cells are made by incorporating DHA, the key omega-3 found in oily fish but not vegetable sources of omega-3 such as seeds, into brain cell structure using methylation, dependent on B vitamins, which is what homocysteine measures. The combination of sufficient omega-3 plus B vitamins lowering homocysteine has reduced annual rate of brain shrinkage by up to 90 per cent, and improved memory, in those in the early stages of dementia. It is a scandal that we’ve known this for almost ten years yet NHS standard practice has ignored the simple fact that Alzheimer’s and dementia is, for the large part, preventable by these simple steps for the simple reason there’s no money in B vitamins because you can’t patent them. Forget ‘amyloid protein’ – every drugh that has lowered this marker has failed.
B12 is key. Two in five over 60, perhaps you, have insufficient blood B12 levels, often due to poor absorption, made worse by common medications especially antacids such as omeprazole, metformin for diabetes, and diuretics given for high blood pressure. So here’s how to maintain brain health:
a) keep your homocysteine below 10, and ideally below 7. (Anyone over 50 needs to test this – see yorktest.com. Supplementing more B6, B12 and folate (also TMG and zinc) help normalise this if your level is high. If your level is normal then make sure your multivitamin gives you 10mcg of B12, 200mcg of folate and 20mg of B6.
b) Both eat omega-3 rish oily fish three times a week (salmon, mackerel, sardines, tuna, taramasalata) and supplement omega-3 fish oils giving at least 200mg of DHA daily.
Your body is made of trillions of cells, each with millions of energy generating factories called mitochondria. These get worn out and damaged and, like an old factory, then generate too much exhaust in the form of oxidants which damage cells. That is why increasing antioxidant nutrients is so vital as you get older. But there’s a rapid way to repapri and make new shiny mitochondria in five days. It's the whole basis of my five day Hybrid Fast Detox diet, delivered in my Hybrid Retreat. This is also explained in my book The Hybrid Diet. It involves switching your metabolism from running on glucose to running on ketones derived from fat, like a hybrid car going from petrol to electricity. It allows cells to run a clean up/reboot program called ‘autophagy’. But you have to lower calories too. Of course, it’s an amazing way to lose weight to boot. So here’s the secret for cell rejuvenation:
a) increase your intake of antioxidants, both by eating colourful foos and by supplementing an all-round antioxidant containing vitamins A,C,E,selenium as well as alpha-lipoic acid, glutathione, resveratrol and CoQ10. That’s what I take every day in either my 100% Health Pack or Hybrid Pack. (The Hybrid pack has more antioxidants for cellular renewal. The 100% Health Pack has more brain food nutrients for brain health.)
b) Switch your metabolism, for five days a month, to running on ketones. Read my boo The Hybrid Diet to find out how, or come on my Hybrid Fast Detox Retreat to learn how. Having a tablespoon of Ketofast oil, direct fuel for ketones, and supplementing a combo of three nutrients in GL Support (carnitine, HCA rich Garcinia cambogia and chromium) helps.
Your skin, like all cells, stays healthy by following the advice above but there are two nutrients that are especially important for the skin – vitamin A (both retinol and beta-carotene) and vitamin C. For optimal skin health, especially if you’re over 50, I recommend 2 grams if vitamin C a day internally (diet and supplements) and 20mcg of retinol and 10mcg of beta-carotene a day. Retinol is rich in fish (and meat) and beta-carotene is rich is yellow-red-orange foods. You can achieve half these amounts by eating the right foods so ideally need to supplement 10mcg of retinol and at least 5mg of beta-carotene. That’s what I take daily.
I also apply transdermal vitamin A and C on my skin using Environ’s AVST and CQuench creams. See www.iiaa.eu for more details. So, anti-ageing skin secrets include:
a) increasing antioxidants both from food and diet
b) decreasing your oxidant exposure by not smoking, not eating deep-fried food, not spending too long in polluted environments
c) using a vitamin A rich sun screen when in the sun
d) supplementing antioxidants, vitamin A, beta-carotene and vitamin C
e) using a transdermal vitamin A rich skin cream
f) drinking enough water – 8 glasses a day inc hot drinks.
Bone, Joint and Muscle Health
Most people only get concerned about joint or bone health when arthritic aches and pains kick in, or they’re diagnosed with osteoporosis or low bone mass density. But bones and joints are supported by muscles and losing muscle and muscle tone is how these other problems develop. The need for weight bearing exercise for keeping bones healthy is because weight bearing exercise builds muscle. Far too many older women have an aversion to exercise and consciously avoid lifting anything heavy. They are destined to suffer as a result, losing about half a pound of muscle mass every year – 5 pounds of muscle in 10 years from the age of 40.
Vitamin D is also vital and, finally, after decades of campaigning, the medical profession have woken up this fact and routinely test people’s vitamin D level. You want yours above 75 nmol/l. if your GP won't test this you can do so yourself at www.vitamindtest.org.uk. Vitamin D not only strengthens bones, it strengthens muscles too.
Lack of supporting muscle, lack of spinal alignment, and lack of movement are the main drivers that put stress on joints leading to inflammation, but systemic inflammation can also be triggered by too many inflammatory foods (mainly meat, milk and any foods you’re intolerant to) and a lack of anti-inflammatory foods such as turmeric, quercitin in red onions, antioxidant rich foods and, most importantly, omega-3 rich foods especially oily fish. Chia seeds also help make EPA which is the main anti-inflammatory omega-3 fat. So, the secrets for healthy bones, joints and muscles are;
a) get your vitamin D above 75nmol/l. I supplement 15mcg (600iu) every day in my multi as well as getting, on average, at least 20 minutes outdoors every day and eating oily fish and eggs. That’ll get me up to the equivalent of 30mcg a day, which is what you're shooting for.
b) Exercise – both cardio/aerobic and resistance/strength. The exercise routine in Burn Fat Fast, developed by Kate Staples, is a really good routine. You can see most of these on the Burn Fat Fast topic page if you scroll to the bottom.
c) Increase anti-inflammatory foods by eating oily fish, red onions rich in quercitin, adding turmeric and chilli/cayenne/paprika, plus black pepper to antioxidant rich meals. Also, if you are suffering my Glucosamine Support provides five potent anti-inflammatory nutrients, designed to be taken with one of the Packs, ideally 100% Health Pack or the Hybrid Diet Pack.
d) If you’re suffering from inflammation, aches and pains, bloating, IBS or inexplicable headaches find out if you have a intolerance with Yorktest’s Foodscan (go to www.yorktest.com). People with a food intolerance such as coeliacs who are gluten-intolerant have shorter telomeres.
Put all these factors together and you’ve got a recipe for longer telomeres, slowing down the ageing process. Here’s what has been associated with longer telomeres:
- Higher B12
- Higher folate
- Higher Vitamin C
- Higher Vitamin D
- Higher vitamins generally
- Higher minerals including zinc and magnesium
- Higher Omega-3, especially DHA
- Taking Supplements
- Mediterranean diet
- Nuts and seeds
- Antioxidant rich foods
- Lower homocysteine level
Supplement takers have been shown in every study so far to have longer telomeres. An example of this is a study in the European Journal of Nutrition which gave 60 older people a supplement of vitamin B6, B12, folate, D and calcium versus just vitamin D. One year later those taking the B vitamins had lower homocysteine and longer telomeres.
If you want to test your telomere length you can do so at www.regeneruslabs.com in London who have many centres around the UK for taking a blood sample. They send you a collection kit. The test costs £413.
To find out more about healthy ageing read my book Ten Secrets of Healthy Ageing, co-authored with Jerome Burne.
FREE 100% Health Check
My FREE 100% Health Check will give you a good measure of your biological age, versus your chronological age.
100% Health Club
You can get a 30 page Personal Health Programme and Action Plan and support by joining the 100% Health Club. As you make positive changes you can rescore yourself.