In 1971, the median age in Canada was 26.2 years. In 2011, it was 39.9 years and it is projected to double in the next 25 years. That means, that by the year 2050, 1 out of every 4 Canadians will be above the age of 65! Your Naturopathic physician has a plethora of natural remedies to help you age with vitality, increase longevity and prevent the chronic diseases of advanced age.
Oxidative damage is the primary cause of all age-related conditions and natural medicine has many ways to stem the tide of oxidation in the body’s core systems. As we age, the cardiovascular, endocrine, gastrointestinal, musculoskeletal, neurological and metabolic systems begin to show signs of imbalance. Here are some examples:
Some issues affecting an aging digestive system include: Hypochlorhydria (low stomach acid affects 100% of people age 70 and older!), constipation, IBD/IBS, and gas or bloating. Low stomach acid causes poor digestion and subsequent nutritional deficiencies. Reduced stomach acid causes reduced sterilization ability leading to overgrowth of unhealthy bacteria and yeast such as H. pylori and Candida. This overgrowth impacts all of the above symptoms! Inflammation is also a concern and is generated by consuming irritating or allergenic food. Medications commonly prescribed such as an aspirin a day for cardiovascular support and other NSAIDS frequently used for arthritis can also contribute to digestive tract inflammation. Naturopathic medicine helps by healing the lining of the gut, restoring stomach acid production, supporting healthy gut flora, replenishing nutritional deficiencies, and teaching patients about healthy diets for their individual long term needs.
Common cardiovascular issues for the aging include: Hypertension, Atherosclerosis, Congestive Heart Failure, and Hypercoagulation (thickening blood). Some of the root causes of these conditions are nutritional deficiencies (especially Magnesium and CoQ10, Vitamins C and E), elevated Homocysteine, elevated Heavy Metals (Lead, Mercury, Cadmium that also contribute to osteoporosis and accelerate oxidative damage to blood vessels), and other lifestyle factors such as smoking and consuming a beef-based diet. There are also genetic factors, however research has shown that people who consumed a Mediterranean diet were able to significantly reduce adverse effects from the genes responsible for cardiovascular risks. Naturopathic Doctors can help identify and address your particular risk factors through routine laboratory testing, specialized genetic testing, assessing heavy metals, oxidative damage and inflammatory markers.
The Endocrine system regulates our hormone production and as we get older there is a reduced output of several hormones leading to imbalances and dysfunction and causing many common complaints of aging. For example, low levels of growth hormone lead to a flabby belly and decreased muscle mass. Low estrogen can cause abdominal weight gain, hair loss, osteoporosis and increases cardiovascular risks. Low progesterone leads to insomnia, coldness and contributes to many menopausal symptoms. Low testosterone also affects abdominal weight gain, irritability and insomnia. Thyroid dysfunction, adrenal insufficiency and pituitary imbalances should also be recognized and addressed. Endocrinology can be complicated! Thankfully there are a variety of hormone tests available for both men and women of all ages to address your specific concerns. Gentle Naturopathic therapies are extremely effective in balancing hormones, restoring function and improving vitality, stamina and libido!
Age is just a number, getting old is something entirely different!
Thank you to Walter Crinnion ND, who inspired this article with the lecture ‘Naturopathic Gerontology: Vitality after 60’ at the 2013 OAND conference on Healthy Aging.