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  • Simple Steps to Healthy Aging

    AgingSupport the healthy aging process with nutrition and supplements that can help keep your bones strong, your heart healthy and your mind sharp. We spoke with Karen Carleton, naturopathic doctor at our Portland store, about some of the things we should be thinking about as we age.

    Inflammation is the source of so many of our health complaints,” says Karen. “We all have a certain amount of inflammation, and as we age, that increases.” To combat inflammation, she recommends turmeric, which is not only good for reducing inflammation, but also good for brain health. New Chapter’s Zyflamend incorporates turmeric, and can be beneficial for your blood vessels and joint health as well.

    Enzymes are another key inflammation fighter. “If you take them with food it’s going to work more on digestion,” says Karen. “But taken away from food, it works systemically on whole body inflammation.” Wobenzym-N, from Garden of Life, is especially good for systemic inflammation, she says, and she often recommends it for aches and pains, like knee and hip joint pain. She adds that depending on your needs, you can continue to up your dosage and it’s still quite safe.

    Of course, good digestive health is important, too. In this vein, Karen recommends a high-quality, well-made probiotic like Dr. Ohirra’s or Pharmax HLC. “They support the immune system, boost digestive health and support good nutrition,” she says.

    “Another thing that comes to mind as far as anti-aging is a good antioxidant,” says Karen. Look for anything with dark blue, red and purple pigments, like Natural Factors’ BlueRich Blueberry Concentrate. Or look for products that contain trans-resveratrol, she says, like Reserveage Organics Resveratrol, which in studies has been shown to produce a marked reduction in signs of aging, including greater motor coordination, preserved bone strength and reduced cataract formation.

    Bone strength is another important factor in aging. “Calcium-rich food is always the best place to start,” says Karen, but don’t forget about weight-bearing exercise. “Without it you’re not going to build bone.” Even walking helps give that message to your bones that they need to continue being strong, she says. As far as supplements, Karen recommends New Chapter’s Bone Strength Take Care. “It’s plant-based calcium, with small molecules that are easy to digest, and the formula itself has vitamins and minerals that are also important for building bones like vitamins D and K.”

    Finally, Karen says, make sure you’re getting essential fatty acids like DHA, which are vital for reducing inflammation, boosting cognitive health, heart health and more. She recommends Nordic Naturals’ DHA, from fish oil, or Bluebonnet’s Vegetarian DHA, from algae.

  • The Buzz Around Inflammation

    Inflammation: It’s vital to our body’s natural healing process. It clots blood, fights infection and heals wounds. But certain factors, such as allergies, injury or poor diet, can keep your body in a constant state of inflammation.

    “Usually what happens is there’s an event, like an injury, surgery or other stressful event, that kicks our immune system into action,” says Dr. Ashleigh Putnam, naturopathic doctor and lead practitioner at Pharmaca’s Monterey store. “The immune cells come to the area and do their work, but if that work doesn’t die down, our body continues to be under a state of stress.”

    So what causes the immune system to stay in gear after the work is done? It could be poor lifestyle habits, such as a diet high in animal proteins or grains, smoking or too much alcohol, chronic allergies, prescription drugs or even just normal wear and tear as we age. Chronic inflammation is, basically, any time your body has to work harder to heal itself.

    If a joint, for example, is overused, Ashleigh says, “The joint gets swollen, the cartilage can wear down, there’s not as much fluidity in the joint, and it stays inflamed because your body’s under the impression that there’s an issue.” Inflammation in the gut, on the other hand, may be spawned from a bad infection or a course of antibiotics that wipe out good bacteria and make it more difficult to absorb nutrients from food.

    But inflammation comes with a variety of symptoms, and it’s not always easy to identify the culprit. “It could start with aches and pains, getting sick frequently, sinus congestion, indigestion, skin issues, joint swelling or stiffness,” says Ashleigh. You can also ask a doctor for a blood test that measures c-reactive proteins (CRPs), a general marker for inflammation. “While most of us will see somewhat elevated CRPs, it can be markedly elevated in someone with chronic inflammation.” Ashleigh adds that there are very specific CRP levels that are an indication of inflammation of the heart, so it can be helpful for those concerned with cardiovascular issues.

    Fortunately there are a variety of dietary and supplement options that can help. Ashleigh recommends inflammation-fighting omega-3s from fish or flax. “You want to maintain a balance of omega-3s and 6s,” she says. “We get a lot of 6s in our diet anyway (through animal proteins and grains), so you have to balance it out.” Ashleigh recommends Nordic Naturals’ Ultimate Omega, especially the liquid version that provides 3,000 mg of omega-3s per teaspoon. Limiting inflammatory foods like beef, chicken and pork, adds Ashleigh, can also be helpful.

    “Probiotics can help rebalance and repopulate your gut with good bacteria,” says Ashleigh, who recommend’s MegaFood’s MegaFlora. “Probiotics boost gut health, which in turn helps your immune system, which controls the inflammation response.” Probiotics, therefore, can help break the cycle of inflammation. Along the same lines, digestive enzymes can be really helpful to break down food and help get more nutrients.

    Next, Ashleigh says, add in an anti-inflammatory like the turmeric found in Thorne Research’s Meriva-SR. Turmeric can help with a variety of types of inflammation, including in the joints, skin and gut. “In Thorne’s formulation, the turmeric is bound to a fat molecule, which makes it much more absorbable,” Ashleigh says. Another great choice is New Chapter’s Zyflamend, which combines turmeric with circulation-boosting rosemary and ginger and antioxidants like green tea.

    Another important inflammatory issue to look at it your allergy state. “Allergies are a kind of inflammatory response, so if it’s chronic, then you become more susceptible to infection, other allergies or inflammation elsewhere in the body,” Ashleigh says. That’s why, she says, it’s good to maintain a low allergy response. “I really like WishGarden’s Kick-Ass Allergy, as well as a xylitol nasal spray to nourish the nasal passages.”

    Finally, Ashleigh says, make sure you’re resting well. “Sleep is when your body fixes itself, so getting a good night’s sleep can have a big impact on overall inflammation,” she says.

    If you’re concerned about inflammation, speak with a Pharmaca practitioner about natural options.  

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