The Middle-aged Makeover

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By  Jonny Bowden, PhD, CNS

How to fix the five health mistakes you may be making if you’re over 40

If you’re reaching big 4-0, you just may be your own worst enemy when it comes to your health. “Sometimes my clients get so anxious about changes to their bodies and their health that they either take unnecessarily drastic measures or they feel paralyzed and do nothing,” cautions health and psychology expert Jonny Bowden, PhD, CNS. “The truth is their symptoms can often be fixed with simple solutions.”   

Bowden has listed five common health mistakes typically made by folks over 40 and offered his suggestions for fixing them.

1. You think you’re taking care of your heart. But you’re not! As cardiologist Steve Sinatra, MD and I wrote in our best-selling book, “The Great Cholesterol Myth,” watching your cholesterol is not an effective way to prevent heart disease. In fact, cholesterol levels don’t even predict heart disease very well. More than half of those admitted to hospitals for cardiovascular disease have perfectly normal cholesterol.

We need to be thinking about the lifestyle changes that account for 80 percent of disease, including heart disease. That means the right foods, exercise (like walking, above) and the right supplements. Some of my favorite supplements for supporting heart health are omega-3 fats, magnesium, vitamin D and a special form of vitamin K known as K2, which is very difficult to get from food. K2 actually acts as a traffic cop keeping calcium in the bones where it belongs and OUT of the arteries where it doesn’t.

2. Ignoring mouth breathing. “People who breathe through their mouths, especially while exercising and sleeping, are setting themselves up for problems. The nose filters and warms the air and supports the immune system. Mouth breathing may lead to higher blood pressure, posture problems, depression and fatigue. It may also cause snoring! Mouth breathing may be the result of something as simple as having a bottleneck in his nasal airway. Try a comfortable, over-the-counter nasal dilator called Mute. It goes unobtrusively into the nose and keeps the nasal airway from closing. Sometimes something simple can make a big difference.”

3. For guys only (and the people who love them!): Ignoring your leaking, dribbling and urgent bathroom dashes. “Frequent urination, especially in the middle of the night, is the signature of an annoying but essentially harmless condition called benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). BPH is one of those conditions where using nutritional and herbal supplements can really make a noticeable difference. Herbal medicines for BPH are used widely in Europe, and for very good reason.

4.  You’re not making a much-needed oil change. “Virtually all of us need what I call an “oil change,” meaning a big shift in our use of edible oils. First, we thought all fat was bad; then we realized that there are good fats and bad fats, but we weren’t clear on which was which. Now, we’ve come a long way towards identifying what oils are pro-inflammatory, which oils are anti-inflammatory and which oils are neutral.

Most of us are consuming a huge number of omega-6 (pro-inflammatory) oils such as corn, soybean, vegetable oil, canola oil and peanut oil, and relatively little of the healthiest oils on the planet such as fish oil, extra-virgin olive oil, coconut oil and Malaysian palm oil. These oils do not contribute to inflammation. In fact, quite the opposite. And many of them are loaded with nutrients Malaysian red palm oil, for example, is loaded with nutrients such as carotenoids and tocotrienols.”

5.  You’re not taking walking seriously. “I was a personal trainer at Equinox for many years, so I know full well how important things like weights and high-intensity interval training are. In the fitness world, it’s easy to forget about walking, a low-intensity exercise that isn’t as glamorous as Hollywood spin classes and extreme skateboarding. But walking — simply walking — is one of the most-researched activities in the world. And the findings are very clear and consistent: More so than any other physical activity, walking is actually associated with significant risk reduction for a baker’s dozen of diseases (like cancer, depression and heart disease). You don’t need any special equipment. Just about anyone can do it. If you’re competitive, you can even track your speed and distance using a FitBit or the stopwatch feature on your phone. Or, you can ignore such things, relax and just get the enormous metabolic benefits of a slow, leisurely walk, preferably where you can see greenery!”

Bowden concludes, “Try these easy fixes first. See how well they work. You may find that you’re far more willing to make these simple changes when you see how good you feel and look.”

Jonny Bowden, PhD, CNS, (aka “The Nutrition Myth Buster”) is a nationally known expert on weight loss, nutrition and health, and the best-selling author of 15 books on health. Dr. Jonny earned six certifications in personal training and fitness, has a Master’s degree in psychology, a PhD in holistic nutrition and is board certified by the American College of Nutrition. He has written, contributed to or consulted on hundreds of articles in print and online publications as diverse as the New York Times, People, Us, O the Oprah Magazine, In Style, Vanity Fair Online, People, GQ, Forbes Online, Clean Eating, the Huffington Post and many others.

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