Keep Those Feet, ‘HAPPY FEET!’
We all at some time suffer from memory loss. As a business owner in New Hampshire I am juggling many hats as a supervisor, decision maker,financial manager, delegater,customer relations wife, mother, sister, daughter, friend etc. At times you mind needs a rest and can be overwhelmed and at times forgetful. Here is a great link to an article on memory loss in older adults to read below:
Having enjoyed the unusually warm weather of a couple of weeks ago, at least up here in the Northeast, prompted me to write about vitamin D; aided by exposure to all that glorious sunshine accompanied the warmth of our early Spring. Well, that research lead me to read about vitamin B12, so sorry, but I must bore you with one more week of vitamin talk (and for all you vegans/vegetarians out there, you should pay particular attention).
Vitamin B12 is a water soluble vitamin found in our diet (not mine, but maybe yours) with highest concentrations in liver. Vitamin B12 is also found in eggs, cheese, and some fish, with vegetables generally thought to be a poor source of vitamin B12 (sorry again vegans). This particular vitamin is not easily absorbed into the blood stream, and as such is difficult to be effective. Because of this, it requires one to take in much more of the vitamin than is actually required.
Deficiency in vitamin B12 results in a couple of potential serious conditions. For example, “subtle cognitive and neurological changes, while serious shortages can result in dementia or anemia.” (Harvard Medical School, Harvard Health Publications, August 2005).
Some scholars speculate that there may be a connection between vitamin B12 deficiency and Alzheimer’s disease; with many patients suffering from AD showing a deficiency in vitamin B12. And, vitamin B12 is vitally important in “maintaining the health of the insulation sheath (myelin sheath) that surrounds nerve cells. The classical vitamin B12 deficiency disease is pernicious anaemia, a serious disease characterized by large, immature red blood cells.” (International Health News, www.yourhealthbase.com/vitamin_B12.html).
Unfortunately, a large percentage (30%) of folks over the age of 50 “suffer from atrophic gastritis, a thinning of the stomach lining. This condition reduces the amount of B12 absorbed by the small intestine,” demanding even higher intake of the vitamin. (Harvard Health Publication, August 2005).
So, once again, it appears that as we age many of our systems begin to fail us, thus requiring that we take extraordinary measures to ensure that we are optimizing our health. In this case, a deficiency in vitamin B12 can be easily resolved. See your doctor, have a blood test to determine vitamin B12 levels, and then take any number of dietary supplements easily found in your local pharmacy.
It's another beautiful day in your world, the sun is shining, the birds are singing, and you have a smile on your face. Yet, what if at least one the many things that we take for granted was missing in your daily enjoyment?
Let's say the skies were grey all the time or you simply never had the chance to get outside and enjoy the sunshine. Well, that is the harsh reality that many of our seniors face day-in and day-out. They are trapped, for numerous reasons, indoors, away from the sunshine. Now aesthetically that is a terrible fate – to never be outside in the sunshine, but, it becomes even worse when you begin to consider the negative effects of being deprived of the sun's wonderful positive effects on us – Vitamin D.
The 2009 study by The University of Colorado Denver and the Massachusetts General Hospital "shows vitamin D plays a vital role in reducing the risk of death associated with old age." (ScienceDaily, September 21, 2009).
Apparently, death from heart disease was significantly greater in elders who showed a marked deficiency in the vitamin D. And, this lack of vitamin D seems to be more readily apparent in the elderly for a couple of obvious reasons:
- As we age, our skin loses its' ability to take in vitamin D (which it produced naturally in our bodies with exposure to sunlight)
- Many elders find themselves sequestered indoors due to their lack of ability to perform physical activities as they once did, their long-time friends are also remaining indoors, and they may be living alone which clearly affects one's motivation to "get out and play"
These two points reduce the amount of natural sunshine they are receiving, and thus, a reduction in vitamin D.
How serious are the effects caused by this reduction in vitamin D? A study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine identified "vitamin D as playing a significant role in boosting the immune system and warding off colds and flu."
"Insufficient intake of vitamin D may lead to decreased physical strength, increased muscle weakness and increased risk of disability in older women and men," according to a study published in the Journal of Gerontology: Medical Sciences. (David Gutierrez, NaturalNews, December 10, 2007). The exposure to natural sunlight for as little as 15 minutes per day can aid in "protecting against cancer, diabetes, tuberculosis, and even the common cold." (Ibid)
Although the lack of vitamin D and its' affects on our elder's health may seem obvious, there are many splintering effects. For example, vitamin D helps with muscle strength and that muscle strength assists in stability, especially when related to mobility. So, a lack of vitamin D in our elderly will directly result in a increase in the risk of falling, which may then lead to more hospitalization and rehabilitations, which means more "down time" for the affected elder, which increases to risk of infection from surgery to repair the broken bone resulting from the fall, which then also reduces muscle mass as a result of inactivity further increasing future falls … you get my point? The lack of vitamin D is a far-reaching problem.
The solution? Well, quite simply, get outside more. Everyone needs to be exercising more anyway, so here is a good reason to get not only our elders outside more, but also our kids who are getting to be slaves to their computers, iPhones, iPads, game machines, etc.
Let's hope you're reading this in the middle of the day so that you've had many good things happen to you already, and that after read this you have time to readjust to a happier mood by night time. The rather blunt fact is that every day we are getting older and from a physiological perspective, that means our bodies are deteriorating every single minute; especially if we are over the age of 30 (which many of us are). There's no stopping this process and there's no denying it . . . In the vernacular of today's world: "It is what it is!"
So why keep reading, especially with such a doomsday intro? Well, there is a light at the end of this tunnel and one that is easy to achieve at no cost to you other than a little bit of time on your part.
I'm talking about MEDITATION. Meditation originated from the Sanskrit time and means "becoming" or "being." That's right, we've all heard the endless jokes about "being one with yourself," but there really is some truth and value to that statement. Of course, our image is of some scantily glad, skinny, frizzy long-haired, man from India sitting crossed-legged and chanting mantras. Well, ok, there is some truth to that image, but for different reasons than you might suspect.
Let's explore the healing nature of meditation.
As we age, our bodies visually become older (no need to remind us all of the physical signs of aging as we see them everyday in the mirror). Yet, what we don't readily acknowledge is the unseen, internal signs of aging – "cardiac, pulmonary, musculoskeletal, and brain functions are also declining as you become older. The primary reason we deteriorate as we age is due to the degeneration of the endocrine system." Examples of this can be detected through the reduction in the growth hormone HGH (very important in retaining our energy and youthful immunity; the decline of the pineal gland "which produces the sleep hormone melatonin," and the decline of DHEA, which "helps protect the body from stress." The hypothalamus, which helps to balance our system, also becomes far less effective in its work causing many of the functions of the endocrine system to function improperly. It clearly becomes a vicious circle of decline for our body's functions, or more commonly known as "the aging process."
"Meditation is the true anti-aging medicine because it activates our body's own natural anti-aging healing force. Medical meditation directly rejuvenates the hypothalamus, the pituitary, the pineal, and other endocrine glands. Medical meditation is the single most effective counter measure against stress."
Below are just a few of the benefits from meditation:
- Reduction of anxiety
- Reduction of chronic pain
- Lowered levels of cortisone
- Increase cognitive function
- Reduction of substance abuse
- Lowered blood pressure
- Improvements in post traumatic stress syndrome
- Reduction in the use of medical care and hospitalizations
Many of us are aware that our mind exists in different states of consciousness: wake state, sleep state, and dream state. Those who are true believers in the healing powers of meditation also believe there is a fourth mind state: healing state. This is a state where the anti-aging effects of meditation begin and where your life can develop a healthier and happier existence. Some of you must be saying to yourself, Jeffrey clearly has too much time on his hands, or, Jeffrey is becoming a bit of a freaky recluse . . . well, maybe, yet with time comes the availability to read and study and what better to study than becoming a happier person before we leave this world.
I think meditation is a safe and personally rewarding compliment to our western medicine. This is not the place to be going into a lengthy step-by-step rendition of the latest meditation process, but more a forum to let you know that although you can't completely stop the aging process, you can lead a healthier and happier life And believe it or not, it doesn't require a drastic lifestyle change on your part – just 15-30 minutes per day of some quiet time where you allow yourself to re-balance your system, where you can re-boot your personal/internal computer, and where life's worries gain perspective. Relax. Try it. Meditate about it.