A patient just told me the other day that “it sucks to get old.” This is an interesting belief system around something that is an inevitable part of our lives. The aging process seems to be something that most people fear. I believe this fear is centered around two primary themes, the first being pain and discomfort. Too often as individuals age, their bodies break down. Now, while the conventional belief may be centered around the idea that pain/disease and aging come hand in hand, I can confidently tell you this is not the case. Your body does not break down because you are getting older. Your body breaks down because of the choices that you make, and the environment that you live in. By design, we do dehydrate as we age and we are constantly working against gravity, but that is really the extent of catabolism (“breakdown”). We are supposed to slow down as we age (this is another thing that most people fight; slowing down does not mean you have to stop, it means that you have to adapt your output of energy to sustain for “the second half of the game”).
So, where else do we get the burden that causes us to break down at a faster pace than our design dictates? Well it is pretty straightforward. We get it from the things we put into our bodies, such as the food we eat, the liquids we drink, the products we put on our body, the medications we swallow, the things we breathe into our body, and everything else our body comes into contact with. The definition of these prior examples is simply toxicity. If you increase states of toxicity within the human physiology, you will break down and you will start to feel the the effects of those choices. These will come in the form of symptoms and for most people in their 2nd and 3rd decades of life, they seemingly tolerate the symptoms without much impact on their quality of life. But if you continue to make choices that burden the physiology, in the 4th decade of life you begin becoming very aware of the burden that has built up over the past 20-25 years.
The second theme or fear has to do with the fact that things change as we age. There is an obvious resistance against change in our culture (which I believe is justified at times). But what we need to keep in mind is that “the one thing in life that is constant is change.” Embracing the aging process and adapting to it is the best way to enjoy it. If we create a state of resistance against the aging process, it will only make us age faster. The power to adapt and improve your self-care routine are primary tools that help the aging process. These principles need to be applied to choices such as sleep, exercise, nutrition, stress management, etc… If we fail to understand the importance of these daily self-care routines, our bodies will break down at an increased pace which results on the occurrence of chronic illness.
Take a step today towards improving your own aging process by reflecting on the choices you make and how they fit into your self care plan.