Do more of the right things and fewer of the wrong things to improve quantity and quality of life.
Getting healthy and staying healthy are two completely different things. The first requires a sound commitment for a few months and the second involves changing your habits for life. In order to experience true health, you have to be motivated by the alternative—a life of low-energy, excess fat, unbalanced moods, low sex drive and the list goes on. No thanks!
Below are the five pillars of optimal health. If you follow them, you will be one of the lucky ones who actually buck the system—looking, feeling and performing the way your body was actually designed. Let’s go!
When it comes to exercise, I like to use the analogy of the factory and its workers. If a factory is productive, the workers have nothing to worry about and more workers are brought on to help with the supply and demand. But in times of hardship, the work starts to slow and workers get laid off and the factory closes for business.
And so it is with your muscles. When they get lots of activity, they thrive, grow and get stronger to meet the demand. But lack of activity results in muscle loss (called sarcopenia), which is a key factor associated with aging.
Studies show that our cells’ ability to produce energy declines when there is decreased muscle mass, hence the aging process. In order to avoid be- coming an aging statistic, get moving and try to stimulate muscular activity through resistance exercise at least three times each week.
Up your protein
Protein is absolutely essential for life.
It is second only to water as the most plentiful substance in the body. In fact, more than 50% percent of your body’s dry weight is protein. Protein synthesis is a term used to describe the creation of new proteins from simple amino acids, the building blocks of protein. When we are healthy, protein synthesis runs efficiently, but as we age or fall out of health, the body’s ability to construct protein declines. This is one of the reasons we lose muscle tissue and gain body fat with advancing age.
Getting the right protein can make all the difference to your health protocol. A study in the Journal of Clinical Investigation indicates that highly bioavailable protein (amino acids) given to elderly people resulted in the restoration of youthful metabolism due to enhanced protein synthesis. Try supplementing with high-alpha (alpha stands for al- pha-lactalbumin) whey proteins, as alpha is one of the most recognized proteins for the human body.
Stress may be an unavoidable part of life, but chronic stress is one of the leading causes of disease, aging and death. Researchers have document- ed that the cells of people living with excess stress can show the equivalent of at least one decade of additional aging. Aside from this, elevated stress hormones degrade muscle mass, caus- ing further disability and premature aging.
Aside from exercising regularly and consuming high-alpha whey protein (which also helps with stress), try drinking less coffee and supplementing with a group of nutrients known as adaptogens. Nutrients like Ashwagandha, Rhodiola rosea and raw adrenal gland extracts can significantly help strength- en our bodies against the negative effects of stress.
Those tiny scurrying chemical messengers called hormones don’t exactly work alone. In fact, they are more like big bosses who get all their workers to deliver their messages for them. Hormones usually dock onto receptors that reside on cell surfaces and then transmit secondary messengers that actually make the magic happen. The good news is that the number of hormones isn’t necessarily as important as the message they are carrying, which is great when you consider aging is associated with a reduction in the number of hormones.
Peruvian maca is a large turnip-like root that grows high up in the Andes. Various phytonutrients within maca have been shown to help hormones spread their messages more effectively, which is why they are an incredible addition to one’s optimal health protocol. Look for 100% organic maca that comes in a 6:1 extract.
Get better sleep
The one-third of our lives we spend asleep will dictate how healthy we are during the other two-thirds. As we get older, experience stress or have excess inflammation, we experience a rise in levels of an enzyme called IDO (indoleamine-pyrrole 2, 3-dioxygenase). This leads to lower levels of serotonin (the happy brain chemical) and melatonin (the sleep hormone). With this, comes excessive cravings for sweets, depression, anxiety and sleep problems. In an earlier article, we wrote about how sleep and your weight can impact your sex life, check it out here.
Try supplementing with sleep-promoting formulas that include the amino acid l-lysine. Lysine competes with the IDO enzyme, helping serotonin and melatonin, which is made from serotonin, do their jobs more efficiently. Aside from this, make sure to steer away from bright lights at least an hour before bed, as light interferes with melatonin production.