How to know the best way to guarantee great health as you age

Cancer and heart disease often take years to develop. Tissue breakdown and joint degradation is the same. We all know beaches were formed over millions of years. A process of rocks slowly being chipped away to form sand. At one point there is a straw that breaks the camel's back - and that is when we know it’s there. Disease, in the form of pain or dysfunction. And what do we do to solve the problem? We try to mask the symptoms or attack it, try to kill it or remove it.. Occasionally there may be a drug that is helping to support a healthier process, but most times they come with more side effects than the problems they solve. So, what is the best way to guarantee (at least as close to a guarantee as we can have) staying healthy as we age? And it’s not treating something once it’s taken hold. It’s not having arthroscopic surgery to replace an already deteriorated joint. Smart people solve problems. But geniuses

Geniuses prevent them. What is the problem with prevention? Prevention is boring. How do we really ever know we’ve prevented a heart attack, or cancer. Diabetes, the need for a hip or a knee replacement. There is no way of proving prevention. And we are a data driven society. We want proof. We want to see the change we’re paying for – I know this, because I could probably count the number of people on two hands who have come to me in my almost 20 years of practicing – to actually prevent disease who were already truly healthy. People are motivated by pain. People are motivated to get out of pain. But they’re not all that motivated by preventing pain that they don’t have. And it’s even harder to think about spending money on prevention. 

The one thing I will say, after discovering this quote – “Smart people solve problems. Geniuses prevent them,” is that it has made me think more about why prevention is the ultimate in graceful aging. I hear so often from patients they think they’re tired, or their hair is falling out, or their joints hurt because they’re getting older. It’s often not getting older that is the problem. It’s that we never paid attention when we were breaking things down.

Imagine this. You get a knee replacement in your seventies. Now your knee feels great. You can walk and play golf with ease again. It’s amazing! BUT, there is one problem. Chronic inflammation, the cause of chronic disease, is what has caused the need for the knee replacement. So we fixed the place that broke the camel’s back, but we didn’t remove all the straws that caused the camel’s back to break in the first place. Once the camel’s back has broken, there is a domino effect and other things start to break down too. And they start to happen faster and faster. This is because the inflammation, the cause of the knee needing to be replaced, was never addressed. 

We painted lipstick on a pig. We never solved the actual cause of the problem. SO! What we should have done is prevented the inflammation that was taking place over decades. And we wouldn’t have needed the knee to be replaced. Years and years of chronic inflammation slowly chips away at your joints, tissues, hardens arteries, misses eliminating cancer cells that are constantly forming. 

MOST THINGS THAT HAPPEN TO OUR BODIES HAPPEN SLOWLY. They really do take years to develop. This is why prevention is key to avoiding all of these issues. Just like maintaining a car. It’s boring. Have it detailed once a month. Clean it every week. It’s barely even dirty. But when you do this, the minor things that can happen to the paint, that left alone would have caused knicks and scratches. But if they were quickly and regularly wiped away, and the car is garaged when it’s not being used, not much happens. The car doesn’t seem to age much. That is prevention. You won’t see any satisfying huge change when you do it, but in the end, you’ll be walking around with strong bones and muscles. You’ll look years younger than your peers. Things will still work, and often surprisingly well. You’ll still have energy. 

What does it take to be preventative? There is no black and white, but here is a list of things you can choose from and work on adding something new every month. The key is being consistent. It’s not exciting, but you’ll be forever thankful as you get older that you made being consistent a priority. 

  1. Cut back or avoid sugar altogether
  2. Eat 6-8 servings of vegetables every day
  3. Avoid seed oils (anything refined)
  4. Choose meat and fish that is pastured or wild
  5. Cut back or stop drinking
  6. Get 7-8 hours of sleep every night
  7. Meditate every day
  8. Invest time in relationships that bring out the best of you
  9. Make sure you poop every day (at least once)
  10. Move your body every day (8000 steps or more)
  11. Maintain the muscle you have (and if you don’t have a lot, work on building it)

I’ll say it again. Smart people solve problems. Geniuses prevent them.