Vitamins and Supplements


Australians are living longer, but with this the rates of chronic disease have increased. Biochemist, Ann Cattelan shares some nutrition and lifestyle tips to help you stay healthy and age well.

According to a recent report by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), Australians are living on average 25 years longer than a century ago. But as a result, there has been an increase in the lifestyle-related chronic diseases; 63 per cent of adults are overweight or obese; and one in 10 Australians over the age of 65 has dementia. Chronic diseases including diabetes, heart disease, cancer and mental disorders continue to be the leading cause of illness, disability and death.

It’s up to each of us to take responsibility for our own health, because the reality is no one else will do it for you! If you’re nearing or have hit the half century mark, then take the first step and book a doctor’s appointment to tick off some health checks you’ve been avoiding for years!

Check-ups for the 50+ age group

Full blood test to check major organs are healthy – liver, kidney, heart, thyroid etc

Blood pressure, blood cholesterol and blood sugar levels

Healthy weight range assessment

Skin cancer checks

Bowel cancer screening (faecal occult blood test)

Bone density scan

Pap smear, mammogram for women (currently recommended every two years but more frequently if recommended by your doctor)

PSA blood test and prostate check for men

Vision check with your optometrist

Hearing check with your audiologist

Dental and oral hygiene check with your dentist

Brain health

As we age, one of the biggest concerns is “I don’t want to lose my marbles!” And really we are right to be worried, dementia now rates as the single biggest cause of disability in older Australians and if we continue at the current rate, dementia will triple by 2050. Here are some proven tips to protect against brain and cognitive decline that are worthy of consideration:

Get moving! – physical exercise will do more for your brain and cognitive health than a crossword! According to the University of Georgia, 20 minutes of exercise daily will facilitate information processing and memory. Not only that, it’s good for your heart and your mood. A study from Stockholm demonstrated that running had an antidepressant effect which was also associated with cell growth in the area of the brain responsible for learning and memory.

Stimulate your brain – so yes a crossword is also a good idea! Take up a new hobby or learn another language, because mental activity will help delay cognitive decline.

Take a cognitive health supplement – look for proven herbs such as bacopa, ginkgo and curcumin. In a study conducted at Southern Cross University, Lismore, Bacopa monnieri was shown to significantly improve memory in healthy older Australians. Curcumin, the active component of turmeric has some interesting new research which indicates that not only does it protect brain cells from damaging inflammation but it may also reduce the formation of beta amyloid proteins thought to play a role in the development of Alzheimer’s.

Eat well of course! It’s time to start treating your body as a temple! Opt for few processed foods and favour instead, antioxidant-rich foods – at the top of the list for your brain, eye and skin health should be salmon, avocado, broccoli, blueberries, raw nuts, coconut oil and green tea. As a special brain treat reach for a square (or two, but certainly not the whole block!) of high quality dark chocolate.

Digestive health

With age comes digestive disorders that weren’t present in younger years. In particular, constipation is a common problem in older adults, maybe due to the side effects of medication, not enough water or not enough exercise. Try these suggestions:

Get moving! Exercise is important for your gut health too!

Drink more water – staying hydrated helps stave off constipation at any age. Comprising of over 75 per cent water we need at least a liter a day to keep acidity, headaches, fatigue, cellulite, constipation, dry skin, stones, acne and UTIs away.

Consume more fibre to help your colon work better. A diet rich in low GI, high fibre complex carbohydrates like wholegrain cereals, oats, legumes, fruit and leafy green vegetables is recommended. Fibre will reduce the risk of chronic disease including heart disease, diabetes and cancer. If needed, supplement with Melrose Positively Active All Natural Fibre + Probiotic, a combination of psyllium husk powder and added probiotics to assist with regularity and digestive health.

Take a digestive enzyme supplement. Your body can use up to 80 per cent of its energy just digesting food! Digestive enzymes, which decline as we age, are important for the breakdown of food, and just might improve your energy levels as well!

Eye health

As we age, our risk of developing degenerative eye conditions increases. For example, age-related macular degeneration (AMD) affects one in seven people over the age of 50 and is the leading cause of vision loss in adult Australians. Here’s how to help preserve your eye health:

Take an eye health supplement containing bilberries, lutein, zeaxanthin, betacarotene and vitamin A – packed with potent antioxidants to keep the eye capillaries and blood flow strong. These powerful antioxidants will also help night vision, sun glare and visual fatigue problems that often become more pronounced with age.

Consume an antioxidant rich diet to help fight free radical damage. Include fruit and vegetables of all colours of the rainbow.

Eat more oily fish or take a daily fish oil supplement –fish oil is loaded with essential fatty acids, beneficial for eye health.

Protect your eyes from the sun – wear sunglasses with a high level of UV protection.

Skin health

If you’re looking for ways to help reduce the signs of ageing, then look to nature for some of the best ingredients to keep your skin smooth and youthful looking. Try these suggestions:

Drink a fresh juice daily. Combine beetroot, blueberries, strawberries, kale and water for a skin brightening tonic. If you don’t have a juicer, invest in one! Fresh juices are great to boost your energy, vitality and health! The BioChef Living Juicer is whisper quiet and preserves all the goodness from the produce so that the resulting juice can be stored for up to 48 hours. The gentle extraction nature means that no friction or heat is applied, so enzymes and nutrients remain intact.

Take a daily astaxanthin supplement to improve the overall condition of your skin. Derived from microalgae, astaxanthin has been shown in trials in both men and women, to improve the appearance of crow’s feet, age spots, skin elasticity, texture and moisture content.

Use Weleda’s Pomegranate Firming Facial Care range, it’s Nature certified and regular use can help the skin become firmer and smoother, minimising the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Pomegranate seed oil is rich in punicic acid, a potent antioxidant that helps promote skin cell renewal and regeneration.

Try jojoba oil, well it’s really a wax, that can increase skin suppleness by 50 per cent. Research shows that jojoba oil dramatically slows the metabolism in skin cells, effectively extending the life cycles of individual cells and insulating them against moisture loss, oxidation and structural breakdown (all of which cause skin ageing). Check out the Jojoba Company of Australia’s extensive range of 100% pure jojoba oil products.

Don’t forget – exercise, water and fresh wholefoods are also essential for optimal skin health.

Ann Cattelan is a biochemist, natural health advocate, health writer and educator.

Email Subject “10 ways for protecting your brain health”

Scheduled ON 14/8/17

Blog Title- “Maximising your brain health.”

Credit – “HERBS OF GOLD” for the blog post.

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