3 Myths of Aging

by Steven Carney on August 23, 2012

Almost daily, the medical community and the media repeat myths about aging, health and diseases. And for years the assumption has been that age itself (as opposed to lifestyle) brings a decline in health and vitality. It’s believed that age and aging cause health problems. Here are 3 common myths about aging, health and fitness:

1. It’s normal to gain weight with age

This is an important myth to address first because it’s so common. Many people assume that adding a few pounds a year after age 35 or 40 is normal and inevitable, but it is not! It reflects an unhealthy diet and a lack of activity. Excess weight can increase risk for a whole range of health conditions and problems. Once the extra pounds are there, especially in the abdominal area (visceral fat), the fat cells pump out inflammatory chemicals, increase insulin resistance (insulin is less effective), and shift normal hormonal balances toward a more estrogenic one.

For women, these problems increase risk for a host of diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer (especially breast cancer). For men, it also means trouble with increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer and hormonal shifts that are less masculine.

What is true is that age can bring a gradual decrease in various hormones starting in the 30s, mostly because people don’t do enough to keep more youthful hormonal function. Because it’s gradual for many years, it’s also easy to adjust your lifestyle as you go. Unfortunately, too many adults don’t make the right adjustments to their diets, activity and other lifestyle habits until they are overweight and develop bad screening tests or health problems.

Put simply, lifestyle choices are the primary cause for weight gain and other health problems. All the addictive sugary and refined-carb foods cause blood sugar spikes, while processed foods are harder to digest (have you seen the video with ramen noodles and Gatorade? See my Links/Articles page for a shocking video link).

Those spikes in blood glucose trigger insulin to be released and your energy crashes. You crave more sugar and refined carbs because they increase neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine which then drop with insulin release. It’s a cycle of addiction and withdrawal all day long as your energy jumps and crashes! Sugar is toxic in the amounts many people have. Daily sugar consumption is destructive to stable energy, brain function, mood and long-term health!

To manage glucose better, eat more whole, healthy foods, such nuts, veggies, greens, unprocessed fruits, lean proteins (chicken and fish), healthy fats (olive oil), and switch to tea, water or coffee for sodas. Add a quality, bioavailable multi-vitamin/mineral and you’ll be doing yourself a big favor! If you do it right, your weight will start to drop naturally!

2. It’s normal to be less active with age

Another myth! As I mentioned above, an unhealthy diet will often add extra pounds to carry around and bring down energy levels over time, so people feel more tired and less energy to be active. More weight also brings additional stress on knees, hips and other joints which increases inflammation and pain in joints.

And when you are less active, your body gets progressively weaker. Key organs like your heart and lungs become less efficient (can you walk a mile briskly? Can you jog a mile?). Your tissues have less oxygen and nutrients, affecting your entire metabolism and health status! You lose muscle tone and strength as your muscles become more permeated with fat cells. You get progressively weaker each passing month. Your muscles and joints are less flexible so you are both weaker and more prone to losing your balance or falling down. And don’t forget, inactivity also weakens your bones!

Over the years, most experts have said that with age, you will lose about 1% of your muscle mass each year (that loss is due to people not maintaining their strength and stamina. Aging doesn’t cause it). That may not sound like much but in 5 years, it’s a 5% loss. Because muscles are a big part of your calorie and fat burning engine, a 5% loss will add significantly to weight gain if you eat the same foods and have the same calorie intake.

Research has shown that a healthy diet, plus good activity 4-5 days a week can activate hundreds of genes that keep you healthy. Conversely, an unhealthy diet and inactivity activates numerous disease genes (for heart disease, cancer, arthritis, etc.)! So the combination of healthy nutrition with more simple, unprocessed foods, and activity will have a profound influence on keeping you healthy and disease free!

When I work with clients, I usually start with diet, helping them to make a few small changes or substitutions to help stabilize blood sugar. These changes tend to drop excess weight and boost energy in a week or two. That way, people feel more energetic and will find it easier to start a walking or activity program! I build on activities clients already like so it’s pretty easy!

3. It’s normal to have chronic health problems with age

Another myth! I mentioned inflammation earlier and it turns out that inflammation is connected to, and can drive nearly every common health problem and disease people develop with age, including:

  • Heart disease/atherosclerosis
  • Cancer
  • Stroke
  • Alzheimer’s
  • Diabetes
  • Arthritis
  • MS/autoimmune disorders

All of these chronic problems are related and they’re all tied to unhealthy eating, inactivity, smoking and other unhealthy lifestyle habits. Those bad habits drive weight gain and inflammation, along with other hormonal imbalances. And if you are female, guess what? These unhealthy lifestyle habits will increase any hormonal changes you are noticing, whereas healthy habits and better nutrition can help minimize the changes that occur around menopause.

The truth is that most health problems we have with age are largely driven by lifestyle, not some mysterious disease that comes from the outside. That’s why taking pills for conditions like hypertension, cholesterol, blood sugar and pain never cures the problem (but will cost you money, erode your quality of life, and lead to higher health costs).

When you make unhealthy lifestyle choices, you turn off health-promoting genes and you activate disease genes! That really is the process. Get help to change your lifestyle and many of these chronic conditions and diseases will largely disappear!

The good news is you don’t need to feel guilty1 Realize that you have the power to change what you’re doing and take a few steps to initiate those changes! As a health coach, I’m here to help you in that process. My role is to help you make the adjustments that will bring the biggest results for the smallest effort to get you on your way! I can teach you how to live a long, healthy life, largely free of the common aches, pains, and chronic conditions many adults and medical practitioner think are age related! They are not!

Helpful links:

http://www.endsicknessnow.com/inflammation-the-cause-of-health-problems-and-pain

http://www.naturalnews.com/036722_inflammation_disease_prevention.html

http://www.endsicknessnow.com/age-and-weight-gain-a-myth

http://www.endsicknessnow.com/3-shocking-myths-about-heart-disease

http://www.articlesbase.com/diseases-and-conditions-articles/you-are-what-you-eat-lifestyle-alters-your-genes-5288748.html

A few months after I published this post, I found this study on healthy living and heart disease:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121105161357.htm

© 2012 by Steve Carney/End Sickness Now

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