Having trouble with memory? Forgetting people’s names? Feeling a lack of energy to do the things you used to do? You are not alone, but it is NOT inevitable! It is NOT a natural expectation of aging. We hear about some people in remote communities living well and with great health to past 100 years of age. What is their secret? Do you need to move there? What if you could recreate their lifestyle in your own community? Yes, you can!

Following just one if not all 6 of these Essentials will help you learn how to defy your age, tap into great energy, improve your memory, get better sleep and create an active lifestyle!

1.   Just Eat Real Food!

Eat whole, high quality (ideally organic), fresh, local and nutrient-dense Real Food that will increase your energy, sharpen your memory, improve your sleep and have you feeling younger. Eat protein, fat and fibre at every meal and snack, as this will balance blood sugar and help reduce cravings. Let a rainbow of vegetables and other plants be the main attraction on your plate, with everything else taking the role of “condiments.”

Minimize or avoid “pseudo” foods (such as processed grains, dairy, refined sugar, oils, alcohol, etc.), which can drain your energy, unbalance various systems and stagnate your digestion.

What you drink counts too—try to avoid calorie and sugar-laden drinks. Choose water and other calorie-free beverages instead! And know that too much alcohol can lead to depression, confusion, disrupted sleep and memory loss.

Action Steps:

  1. Plan and prepare a day of “from scratch” meals made only from nutrient-dense whole foods and see how you feel.
  2. Try my 10-Day Body Reset Programfor at least 3 days and notice a bigger difference!

2.   Manage your Stress through Meditation and Self Care

Stress is a natural, human response to problems and concerns in your life. In prehistoric times, a dangerous situation (think lions and tigers) required our ancestors to ramp up their hormones and bodies to allow them to engage in either “Fight or Flight.” That was a survival mechanism! Fast-forward to the 21st Century and our paleolithic bodies still respond in the same way, this time to our frenetic, over-scheduled, and highly-stimulating lives.

Now some stress is actually a good thing. It can be a motivator. It can be essential to survival. The “fight-or-flight” mechanism can tell us when and how to respond to danger. However, if this mechanism is triggered too easily, or when there are too many on-going stressors at one time, it can undermine a person’s mental and physical health and become harmful.

What are some powerful Stress Reduction Habits?

#1 Meditation is a powerful tool that will help you reduce stress, sleep better, refocus your mind and change your habits!

#2 Move your body, as much as you are able.

#3 Self Care – take time for yourself to relax, treat yourself and pursue your own interests.

Action Steps:

  1. Develop a Daily Meditation practice: If you are used to meditation and make it a regular habit, keep that up. If this is new, make a commitment to sit every day this week for 5 minutes.
  2. Book a Self-Care treat of your choice: Treat yourself to a massage; book a mani-pedi; take a cleansing bath; gift yourself some downtime; take a restorative yoga class!

3.   Move your body as much as you are able

Moderate physical activity increases blood flow to your whole body, including your brain, which will deliver nutrients and remove toxins. This may help keep your memory sharp and it will keep your muscles supple and your joints flexible. Include variety: moderate aerobic activity, such as brisk walking; strength training; flexibility/mobility training such as yoga, Pilates, tai chi; sports and social activities such as hiking, golf, skiing, snowshoeing, etc.

Start where you are right now:

  • As you go about your day, try to move every hour—recent research now suggests we should take at least 250 steps every hour all day. Try and sit as little as possible!
  • Schedule exercise into your day and Just Do It! Studies show that for many people, planning to exercise in the morning before the rest of the day interferes, is easier to stick with than something later in the day.
  • In addition, several times each week get some additional exercise of your choice. Make these activities fun, join in with friends to add social connection—you are more likely to stick with your commitment!

Action Steps:

  1. If you are used to exercise and make it a regular habit, keep that up!
  2. If you’ve been “off” exercise for awhile, make a commitment to incorporate walking every day. Start with 20 minutes–this could be a loop around your neighbourhood or park, or 10 minutes out and 10 minutes back.
  3. Invite some friends and family to join you in a day of fun, active sports or games.

4.   Sleep! Rest, restore, heal and rejuvenate!

Deep sleep is essential for rest and repair. Too little sleep increases the stress hormone cortisol, which can wreak havoc on many of the body’s functions, including your memory. Make getting enough sleep a priority:

  • Before the invention of the electric light, people slept when it was dark and got up with the sun – differing amounts summer vs. winter but an average of 9 to 10 hours a night—now we are lucky to get 7 hours!
  • There are many tips to help you get a better night’s sleep—here are the most important ones:
    • Keep the bedroom dark and quiet, cool temperature, wear comfortable clothing
    • Take time to “wind down” before bedtime – don’t eat or exercise too close, avoid alcohol and caffeine (which decreases melatonin) for at least 3 hours before bed, avoid anything disturbing or exciting on TV (most shows!); get your TV out of the bedroom!
    • Deal with any underlying stress

Action Steps:

  1. For the next week, set your bedtime to ½ hour earlier than you are used to and make it consistent!
  2. Try shutting down all screens at least ½ hour before bedtime, to minimize light disruption of your sleep hormones.

5.   Detox Your Environment

Not only should your food choices be as free of toxins as possible (think organic, hormone and antibiotic-free) but it’s also important to think about the rest of your environment:

  • Drink filtered water. Filtering will remove chlorine, fluoride and other contaminants, that are not healthy for your body.
  • Personal Care Products, everything from body wash, to toothpaste and makeup. Choose natural products and avoid toxic chemicals such as fluoride, triclosan, sodium lauryl sulfate, parabens, carrageenan and propylene glycol. What you put on your skin will be absorbed into your body!
  • Household Cleaning Products. Clean with water and lemon or apple cider vinegar instead!

Action Steps:

  1. Read labels on all products you purchase, not just foods! Avoid any toxins. Purchase and store your food and beverages in glass containers rather than plastic.
  2. Check out this Article on Toxic Chemicals for many additional ways to clean up your environment.

6.   Connect With Your Community

Socialize regularly and stay mentally active. Social interaction helps ward off depression and stress, both of which can contribute to memory loss and lack of energy. Look for opportunities to get together with family, friends, loved ones and others — especially if you live alone.

Just as physical activity helps keep your body in shape, mentally stimulating activities help keep your brain in shape — and these can be more fun done in groups. Join a book club. Learn to play bridge. Attend cultural or educational events. Volunteer at a local community organization.

Action Steps:

  1. Make a plan to reach out to friends and family this week. Plan at least one get together.
  2. Ask your friends what community groups they are in and get ideas for how you can be more involved—but not too many as that can actually increase your stress!
  3. If you’re already in a community organization, see if you can be more involved in the running of that organization.

Memory loss and depleted energy do not need to be an inevitable result of aging. You can turn back the clock by adopting healthy nutrition and lifestyle habits that will reduce stress and reduce the toxic load of our 21st Century world. Take one step at a time, one day at a time, and notice the difference healthy habits can make!