4 More Myths of Aging

by Steven Carney on December 19, 2012

This article is a continuation of the one I put up last week called, 5 Myths of Aging (scroll down if you want to read that one first). In that article, I covered some common age-based medical myths, such as:

  • You’ll have weight gain
  • You’ll slow down
  • Have back and joint pains
  • Develop chronic conditions
  • Get an enlarged prostate

As an intro to this new batch of myths, here is the opening paragraph from that first post on aging myths again:

I hear myths about aging all the time, whether it’s from TV news, medical sources or online stories. These myths are often based on unproven beliefs and platitudes that news and medical people repeat often! It seems that they no longer think about what they are saying as they repeat these myths. Here are 4 more common myths that medical people, news media and the public often believes:

6. It’s normal to have less immunity with age

This is something I knew was wrong for several reasons (my own health is great, and I haven’t had a cold or flu in years, that your nutrition and activity drive your health, etc.).

And a new study on immune response to viruses had some great results. Older people can have an immune response equal to younger people! A quote from the study says it very well (full article in link below):

“For a long time, it was thought the elderly were at a higher risk of infections because they lacked these immune cells, but that simply isn’t the case,” said Jonathan Bramson, the study’s principal investigator. “The elderly are certainly capable of developing immunity to viruses.”

The study showed that the older people had a good response to viral exposures, and that their immune systems responded well. Their age had no real bearing on their T cells for their immune response. The report insightfully explained that vaccines for older people don’t take this response into account and that this info should be considered in the future.

So yet another myth falls, and rightfully so! These immune myths probably develop because medical people see sick people every day, and they believe that age itself brings sickness, decline and frailty! And as pointed out in the previous post on myths, these falsehoods become programmed into our thinking, resulting in inappropriate and ineffective treatments (often drugs that don’t cure)!

Of course, unhealthy people will have a less effective immune response, no matter what the age! Things like diet, activity, stress, and inflammation regulators like vitamin D are critical for a well-functioning immune system. I can help you achieve better immune health so you don’t get colds and flu as often!

7. It’s normal to have hormone problems with age

Although I’ve covered some hormonal issues in previous articles, this section is mostly geared toward women’s hormones. While it’s true that hormone levels tend to drop gradually for men and women in their 20s to 50s, nutrition and activity can help keep your main hormones more vital and stable. How?

When your diet includes mostly whole, healthy foods (lean proteins like chicken and fish, veggies, greens, whole fruits, nuts, seeds, olives, etc.), you help key hormones like insulin and thyroid hormones work better. You will also help activate genes that keep you healthier (yes, your lifestyle can change your genes).

On the other hand, sugar, junk foods, refined carbs, wheat and fast foods have the opposite effect. They upset blood sugar, insulin, energy and mood. Those junk foods also increase weight, inflammation and stress. Unhealthy foods also activate more disease genes so the effects are significant! All those carbs and extra weight disrupt normal hormone levels, including insulin, sleep/melatonin, stress and sex hormones!

Being active most days will also help control weight, blood glucose, cholesterol, BP, inflammation, etc.,  and activity also activates health genes. Together, you can stay leaner as you age, with more energy and more normal hormone levels. In other words, how you live can significantly help or hurt your hormones!

Women tend to have a more significant drop of estrogen and progesterone at menopause, usually around age 50. These changing hormones often affect mood and well-being, and can bring on hot flashes/sweats, and other difficult symptoms. And again, lifestyle matters, including the nutrition and activity choices mentioned above.

Once you’re eating better, if you need additional hormone support, a range of supplements can contribute to improved health and mood. DHEA is considered a “mother” hormone and your body can use it to make a whole range of hormones, including testosterone and estrogen.

Also, adding flax seed and soy products (phytoestrogens) can be helpful along with vitamins like E, and herbs, such as black cohosh or red clover for supporting estrogen. Other supplement blends and topical creams are available to support good sex hormone levels, including estrogen and progesterone.

Also, thyroid function should be checked every few years, and if low, (or when TSH levels are climbing), consider kelp tabs to boost iodine levels. Many women have an iodine deficiency or insufficiency and your thyroid uses about 70% of the iodine in the body! Iron deficiencies and borderline anemia are also important to watch.

For sleep, various natural formulas with herbs and small amounts of melatonin (1-2 mg) can help to break cycles of sleeplessness but you need to cycle off a few days a week.

When working with hormones or natural replacements, it’s best to work with someone like a health or wellness coach who can guide you through the process. Many hormone supplements are best if cycled on and off so you keep your own production going. I can help you put a custom package of approaches together, one’s that will improve the quality of your life!

8. It’s normal to get gray hair with age

Although this is not a direct threat to health, thinning, graying hair will often reflect your overall health. Here again, people often blame genetics and age when it’s not! Many lifestyle habits effect hair and skin health directly, including smoking (constricts circulation), high sugar intake (causes inflammation and collagen breakdown), a lack of healthy proteins, high stress, etc.

Each hair has it’s own follicle with pigment cells and a blood supply to bring nutrients and oxygen. The pigment cells give your hair its normal color. Aside from the contributions of diet and activity for hair health, recent research indicates that a new influence behind graying hair is hydrogen peroxide. Yes, you have some in your body and when you have it in excess, it can bleach the hair follicle at its root! An internal enzyme called catalase can help break down excess hydrogen peroxide and keep it under control.

As has been true for this whole list of myths, a healthy lifestyle, including good nutrition and activity can boost circulation and nutrients, as well as catalase, keeping hydrogen peroxide levels under control. Things like adequate amounts of quality proteins, especially from lean meats and fish, plus lots of veggies, unprocessed fruits, nuts, and good quality vitamins and minerals (especially if you are over 30), can improve your nutritional foundation and help to control hydrogen peroxide.

To keep catalase high, get a good supply of key vitamins like A, B and C along with minerals because they can boost catalase, keeping excess hydrogen peroxide under control. Although you may get a few gray hairs here and there with age, you may be able to keep your hair healthy and strong with little gray for many years longer with improved nutrition and activity! So another myth bites the dust!

9. Family history reflects genetics

This is another myth that medical people repeat often (look up “family history” and it assumes genetics, with little or no evidence)! Newer, more insightful medical experts agree that most health conditions and chronic disease is not from family history/genetics (perhaps 10-20% are from gene influences). The rest due to family culture and lifestyle! Real genetic defects are more rare, and often show up earlier in life, often before age 21.

So if you have weight and health problems like your parents and siblings (such as high BP, heart disease, arthritis, diabetes or other chronic problems), ask yourself:

  • How similar is your lifestyle to that of your parents and siblings?
  • Do you enjoy the same/similar snack foods and favorite foods?
  • Do you smoke, use alcohol, or celebrate the same holidays in the same ways?
  • Do you watch sports and TV with snacks and drinks like they do?
  • Are your activity levels also similar?

These kinds of behaviors are often the real origin of why health problems run in families. Family culture and upbringing is a powerful driver and often seems “normal” to us! As indicated in the above sections, lifestyle choices (nutrition, activity, etc.), can activate genes for good metabolism, hormones and health or activate those for a range of health conditions and problems when you copy unhealthy choices. So when families follow unhealthy choices, the same health conditions will often arise! And let’s face it: how many people get health or disease training?

If you do share some genetic predispositions for health problems with your family and you follow a similar lifestyle, then yes, you will tend to develop the same health problems that your parents or older siblings have!

Conversely, if you improve your lifestyle and live in a more healthy way, you can literally turn off those disease genes and activate health genes instead! In most cases, you will not get the same health problems! I’ve written other posts on the issues of genes, lifestyle and health,

My family was full of health problems at a similar age to mine and I don’t have them! No strokes, kidney stones/failure, no gum disease, no bad infections, no big tummy, cancer or diabetes! It’s because I don’t live the way I grew up!

If you’re interested in other medical myths, I’ve written articles on cancer, heart disease and more. Check the “Myths” category in the right sidebar to see more myths that I’ve covered.

If you have questions about this or other posts, drop me a line. You can also follow me on social media (see icons in upper right or after each post).

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© 2012 by Steve Carney/End Sickness Now

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