People reaching their senior years are aiming to stay healthy and active and are looking to natural practitioners to aid them in their journey.
The aging process is normal and expected, but the realization that someone is getting older actually comes when they can’t do the things they used to be able to do with ease. Today, Baby Boomers are the largest growing segment of the population, and after watching their parents deal with health issues as they aged, Boomers are attempting to be as healthy and active as they can—for as long as possible.
“There has never been a time in U.S. history where a category within supplements for healthy aging was more needed than right now,” said Vincent C. Giampapa, MD, FACS, co-founder and chief medical office for New Jersey-based healthycell. “The demographics now demand it due to the Baby Boomer population—the largest generation of Americans born in U.S. history between 1946 and 1964. Baby Boomers are estimated at 75 million people as of 2015 and projected to grow to over 86 million by 2050.1 Given their ages between 52 and 70 years, they experience accelerated chronic cellular decline.”
But many members of the Baby Boomers generation are much more aware and proactive about their health than their parents before them. According to William Stow, medical content writer for MitoQ Ltd. in New Zealand, today’s aging population is more health conscious, has a potentially higher disposable income, and has better access to knowledge and information.
Kristi Belohlavek, RD, director of product development and clinical education at Pennsylvania-based Douglas Laboratories, added that people of all ages are starting to pay more attention to healthy aging. “Those in their 30s—and sometimes even in their 20s— aren’t waiting until they see or feel the physical signs of aging to start healthy habits,” she explained. “They are taking charge now by filling in nutrient gaps with supplements and a preventative care regime because they know that the smart decisions they make today will have a significant impact on their aging process in the long run.
“Today’s aging population also seems much more proactive about incorporating healthy lifestyle habits—like eating healthily, exercising and proper supplementation—to help them maintain a healthy and active lifestyle well into their later years,” Belohlavek continued. “They read the research indicating the numerous health benefits nutritional supplements can support including healthy skin, hair and nails. This population is also aware that supplements can play a major role in promoting optimal hormonal health, mobility, vision, cognitive function, energy and digestive health—all key age-related health concerns.”
According to Dr. Giampapa, aging is the chronic condition of declining cellular function over time. “All organs and tissues are made of cells so health truly starts at the cellular level. The best natural approach to healthy aging targets cellular health,” he explained. “No matter the term used—‘anti-aging,’ ‘healthy aging,’ ‘age management’—we are referring to our ability to impact cell health.”
MitoQ’s Stow agreed, noting that the “research going into anti-aging is accelerating and we now know that there are levers that can be activated at the cellular level that will impact directly on the aging process,” he said. “This research will deliver significant interventions into the aging process over the next decade and beyond that will radically change our life expectancy and health span.”
healthycell pro is a multi-nutrient system for cell health. It comes with a morning and evening formula for a 24-hour nutrition cycle that completely replaces the need for a multivitamin. “It is a new category—Epigenetic supplements for cellular health,” Dr. Giampapa explained. “The ingredients include: 90-plus vitamins, minerals and protective phytonutrients, combined with probiotics and enzymes for advanced cellular nutrition.” The company is also developing healthycell DNA repair and healthycell telomere health.
MitoQ offers a number of formulas including: MitoQ 5 mg Capsules, MitoQ Liver Capsules, MitoQ Heart Capsules, MitoQ Blood Sugar Capsules, as well as MitoQ Cellular Energizing Crème Serum 50 ML. “MitoQ contains a brand new type of antioxidant called a mitochondria-targeted antioxidant that is many hundred times more effective than other antioxidants at reducing oxidative stress within the mitochondria and supporting mitochondria function,” Stow explained. “Over $50 million of research and over 200 published papers suggest that MitoQ is a uniquely active compound that supports mitochondrial health and in so doing directly impacts on the health and function of cells and organ systems and our overall health.”
With so many seniors wanting to remain healthy as they age, Amber Lynn Vitale, BA, CN noted that focusing on the diet is incredibly important. “Food is information, it determines our inner milieu and that determines our genetic expression,” she explained. “Then we supplement to compensate for abuses to our bodies over the years, and to make up for things we’ve been missing in the food supply without even realizing it, in the case of most of our currently aged population.” And as for what dietary supplementation, Vitale recommends vitamins K2 and D, collagen, probiotics (Bifidobacterium), omega-3 ratios, CoQ10, resveratrol, among others.
When it comes to caring for people aged 50 and older, Pamela Jeanne, ND, National College of Natural Medicine (NCNM) adjunct faculty member and author of Healing Matters, said that she focuses on immune health and the digestive tract because both support the immune system. “For physicians supporting digestive health in their patients, betaine HCl may be indicated or a combination of digestive enzymes may [be] helpful, depending on the person’s medical history,” she explained. “Supporting lower GI (gastrointestinal) health may require pre- or probiotic supplements. Studies are clearly showing that factors such as stress, poor nutrient intake from highly processed foods, antibiotic use and other prescription medications alter the balance of friendly colon bacteria. Eating more fermented foods like sauerkraut, miso and live culture yogurt can be beneficial to many people.”
Another area of concern as we age is cognitive health. According to the Alzheimer’s Foundation, it is estimated that as many as 5.1 million Americans may have Alzheimer’s disease. And while Alzheimer’s is not a normal part of aging, the risk of developing the illness rises with advanced age. Current research from the National Institute on Aging indicates that the prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease doubles every five years beyond age 65.
One ingredient that is garnering attention is curcumin. “Curcumin, an anti-inflammatory component found in turmeric, has anti-inflammatory properties that have been correlated with lower rates of dementia,” said Ellerie Jean Nagy, ND, MSOM and NCNM Age Wise Institute Inspired Living Series instructor. “Turmeric is a spice commonly found in India where rates of dementia have been much lower than those in the United States.”
Douglas Laboratories offers Optimized Curcumin, which provides bioavailable brain-permeable curcumin that supports memory and cognitive function. This product contains Longvida curcumin clinically studied for cognitive function in healthy aging adults, according to the company. The company also offers more than 500 products, which are categorized into 10 key health functions that reflect aspects of healthy aging, such as Bone and Joint, Cognitive and Mood, Hormone Health and Foundational Health.
As we age, the bones decrease in density, which can make them more brittle and possibly lead to osteoporosis, while developing some type of arthritis affects a large number of seniors. Practitioners often recommend glucosamine, chondroitin, MSM and collagen for these issues. Additionally, to combat joint pain, arnica is beneficial to help temporarily relieve pain, stiffness and swelling of the muscles and joints.
“The importance of Arnica montana as a healing herb was first recognized in the 16th century,” said Dana Chadwick director of medical development for Boiron USA in Pennsylvania. “St. Hildegard of Bingen (1099-1179), a nun well versed in medicine, wrote extensively about Arnica montana. Additionally, legend has it that mountain climbers would chew the fresh plant to relieve sore, aching muscles and bruises from falls.” Chadwick explained that helenalin, the main active substance in arnica, is known for its ability to reduce swelling and pain. Additionally, polysaccharides present in the plant stimulate phagocytosis and reduce bruising.
Boiron’s Arnicare line of pain relievers offer an option for medicines with natural active ingredients. According to the company, Boiron’s Arnicare line of topicals contain the optimal amount of arnica. Both Arnicare Gel and Cream contain 7 percent arnica since more would increase the risk of allergies. Additionally, Boiron offers a special arthritis formula, Arnicare Arthritis tablets, to help relieve joint pain and minor pain associated with arthritis.
Education & Support
The fact of the matter is that everyone gets older, but it is how a person approaches the inevitable aging process that can aid them in remaining healthy and active well into their golden years. Practitioners can be large part of the journey by helping to educate their patients.
NCNM has embraced this school of thought by forming the Age Wise Institute, which is aimed at improving the lives of senior citizens through promoting healthy, active living. “Besides facing chronic or acute health conditions, our seniors deal with a host of other challenges—debilitating aches and pains, disruptive sleep, fatigue, memory problems, falls, depression and apathy, decreased quality of life, to name just a few,” said Amy Henderson, MA, lead gerontologist of the Oregon-based Age Wise Institute. “The fact is, aging isn’t for the faint of heart. NCNM’s Age Wise Institute embraces and promotes healthy, vibrant living. We want to share wisdom of the collective generations through community-based programs, education and research. It is our goal to begin to change the paradigm of expectations about aging and the aging process.”
According to Chadwick, homeopathic medicines can be beneficial for seniors because of its low risk of side effects and recommended that practitioners become more educated on these medicines to better serve their patients. “Training programs like the Center for Education and Development of Clinical Homeopathy (CEDH) offer physicians continuing education courses that teach practical ways to integrate homeopathy into their patients’ therapeutic plan. The organization also provides members with access to reliable and up-to-date information on homeopathy.”
Companies can also support their practitioner partners in a number of ways. For example, Douglas Laboratories not only shares the research it conducts, but the company also collaborates with leaders in integrative and complementary medicine to provide education on the benefits and science behind nutritional supplementation. Douglas Laboratories also holds in-person seminars, webinars and has developed online tools including product selection guides, clinical protocols and videos.
“As a naturopathic physician, I use natural protocols that minimize risk and help my patients maintain and optimize their health by facilitating their body’s inherent healing and restorative abilities. I engage with my patients, young and old, by treating the whole person—examining their overall health and lifestyles—and not just their presenting conditions,” concluded Dr. Nagy. “I especially want to help my patients take responsibility for improving and maintaining their heath, so education about a patient’s health plays an important part of my treatment plan.”
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
For More Information:
Boiron USA, www.boironusa.com
Douglas Laboratories, www.douglaslabs.com
MitoQ Ltd., www.mitoq.com
Z Skin Systems, www.zss-skincare.com