Natural Ways to Age Gracefully
Apr 29, 2011 11:58PM
By Wendy L. Cullitan
Aging gracefully is one of the top concerns of American women. To provide women with a healthy perspective on maintaining their sense of beauty as they get older, Natural Awakenings sought the expertise of Chinese medicine expert Anatoliy Pak, owner of Healing Arts of Oriental Medicine, of Deerfield, who highlighted a few simple changes women can make to enhance their outer beauty, as well as their inner beauty.
While Pak relies on traditional Oriental practices, such as acupuncture, massage and Chinese herbs to help his patients heal, he firmly believes that we must consider food for true health. “The food we eat is the greatest factor in destroying or restoring health,” he says. “We literally are what we eat, and the food we consume affects us not just on a daily basis, but on an hourly basis.”
Pak’s answers to the following questions show women how to achieve optimal health.
1. What are some natural ways for women to age gracefully?
The simplest way is by doing whatever makes them feel good and keeps them self-connected. That may mean taking a walk, spending time with family or pursuing a favorite hobby or pastime.
In my practice, I see many women who are stagnant—they are depressed and lack energy. We need to address nutrition and exercise, but if women want that sparkle in their eye, they need to supplement healthy living with life choices that make them feel happy inside.
2. How do you define beauty?
Beauty is a reflection of one’s inner glow that stems from a sense of well-being. This contradicts the stereotypical American definition of beauty, which primarily focuses on outer appearance (clothes, hair, makeup, plastic surgery) to attain a superficial sense of wellness. A person may look good on the outside, but may be unhealthy on the inside.
The key components to beauty are body shape (weight) and the quality of a person’s skin, hair, teeth and bones. Most important, the eyes reflect one’s spirit and represent happiness. If one is not happy, it is impossible to feel beautiful and healthy.
3. What are the fundamentals of good health?
According to Chinese medicine, there are three fundamental aspects of good health that are interconnected: energy, supplies and function.
Energy is everything. People who lack energy are unable to participate fully in their lives. The easiest way to gain energy is with fresh air and sunshine combined with good nutrition. Energy provides people with the supplies (adequate fluids, blood flow, tissue regeneration, balanced hormones, etc.) necessary for their bodies to function in a healthy manner. People with ample energy are more active, and more active people tend to be happier.
Function is critical for optimal body performance. Some important bodily functions include: adequate fluids to lubricate joints, protect nerve tissue and remove toxins; sufficient proteins to repair injured muscles and keep organs healthy; and ample blood circulation, which is known to reverse the aging process.
4. What can women do to achieve lifelong, optimal health?
Prevention is an important component of Chinese medicine and, for most people, is attainable by making some simple lifestyle changes. Once someone is committed to making changes to their lifestyle—getting enough rest, eating whole foods and exercising—new habits are formed.
Beginning with a daily, 30-minute walk outside not only gets the blood circulating, but also provides a healthy dose of vitamin D, one of two vitamins not found in food. (The other is vitamin B-12, known to improve brain function and memory).
Many women are too focused on how much they weigh and losing weight quickly. A healthier viewpoint is aiming for their “optimal” individual weight that can be naturally maintained over a lifetime, not a number on the scale.
5. What are some simple changes that women can make to improve the way they eat?
Shift from a primarily animal-based diet of red meat and poultry to a plant-based diet of whole grains, green leafy vegetables and beans. Our modern way of eating includes too many processed foods made with chemicals that overwhelm the immune system and often lead to disease such as cancer and diabetes.
Try to eat organic. Organic food has fewer chemicals and retains more nutrients. Even though organic food may cost more, in the long run, people tend to eat less because their bodies are more satisfied.
Eat locally grown, whole foods. It is much better to eat food that is not processed. For example, brown rice offers huge nutritional advantages (it is good for brain function, soothes the stomach and expels toxins). It is also relatively inexpensive. Support your local farmers’ market by buying seasonal produce in an eco-friendly, social environment.
Use sea salt instead of table salt, which contains aluminum.
Read labels and avoid processed or refined foods, which typically have more than five ingredients listed.
Create a healthy structure for eating. Eating is serious business and should be respected. Mindless eating while driving or sitting in front of television is counterproductive to being present in the experience and being aware of how much one has eaten.
Finally, women should be consistent and persistent. Changing habits is hard to do, but it is doable and worthwhile. Remember that everything is interconnected. How we think is how we eat. Truly beautiful women glow from the inside as a result of healthy lifestyle choices.
Healing Arts of Oriental Medicine, 405 Lake Cook Rd., Ste. A211, Deerfield 60015. For more information, call 847-845-4090 or visit OrientalMedicineArts.com.
Wendy L. Cullitan, Principal of Wordsmith Communications, is an award-winning writer, editor and marketing consultant. She finds balance in her life through an avid personal yoga practice as well as through giving private yoga sessions and teaching at multiple studios on the North Shore. She can be reached at [email protected] or 847-337-4461.