As naturopathic physicians, we always tell our patients that no one product in a bottle will, by itself, ever reverse the signs of aging. Healthy aging is a function of adequate water intake, eating healthy foods (eating “the colors of the rainbow” and limiting calories), not smoking, daily exercise, keeping positive relationships in your life, doing what you love, and avoiding environmental toxins.
The Naturopathic Pillars for Healthful Aging:
- adequate water intake
- eating healthy foods
- limiting calories
- not smoking
- daily exercise
- healthy relationships
- doing things you love
- avoiding toxins
While aging affects us all, how we age is different for everyone. In our practice, some of the most common aesthetic concerns tend to center around wrinkles, varicose veins, as well as weak and thinning hair.
With the aforementioned pillars of good health in place, some supplements can play a strong role by helping to tip the odds in your favor. Here, we’ll discuss three conditions of normal aging, and the supplements you can use to minimize them.
Wrinkles? Try GTF Chromium.
GTF stands for glucose tolerance factor, a complex molecule that has the mineral chromium. GTF chromium is found naturally in the body and works by making insulin more efficient. Insulin is a hormone that helps sugar move into the cells from the blood stream. GTF chromium helps insulin work its best and may aide in fighting wrinkles by controlling blood sugar.
How Aging Can Make You "Crusty"
Blood sugar in the body can damage body tissues and contribute to aging. Blood sugar crystals are involved in glycation reactions: glycation reactions are basically reactions where the sugar melds with protein in our body tissues (like in blood vessels, for example) and breaks them down. This reaction creates Advanced Glycation Endproducts (aptly called “AGES”) and is a major player in the aging of our tissues – and ages your body the way bread gets crusty. The more AGES you have, the more you get “crusty” and age.
GTF chromium helps control the sugar spikes that can damage the vessels that keep your skin looking young and vital. GTF chromium is naturally found in the food Brewers yeast. An optimal dose of GTF chromium is 500mcg (micrograms) once or twice a day. As a side note, more women tend to stop smoking when they learn smoking greatly increase wrinkles.
Hesperidin for Varicose Veins
Veins are the vessels in our body that carry blood away from tissues, and back to the heart and lungs. Varicose veins happen when this natural piping loses its strength and becomes bent and out of shape. Varicose veins usually look like dark purple, worm-like bumps under skin. While genetics can play some role in how severe these can show up for us as we age, we also know that excessive constipation, poor nutrition and being overweight can also play a role.
Flavonoids are natural plant pigments with amazing healthful properties. Hesperidin is a specific bioflavonoid found in citrus fruits like lemons and oranges, and is found particularly in the peel as well as the white stringy area. In essence, the parts we tend to throw away are chock full of this bioflavonoid. Hesperidin helps your veins by increasing venous tone (tightness) and reducing stasis, which is the pooling of poorly moving blood in the veins. Hesperidin also seems to lower inflammation in the vein as well.
To work most effectively, we recommend our patients take 50mg hesperidin per day. It seems to work even more effectively in combination with another flavonoid called diosmin, which can be dosed at 450mg a day. One study looked at over 5000 people with vein problems like varicose veins, and found those who took hesperidin and diosmin for 6 months had clear improvement.
While hesperidin may not completely get rid of the varicose veins that are already well established, it may help stop them from growing larger and will help prevent others from showing up. According to a study published in the International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics, hesperidin and diosmin was safe and effective in pregnancy, a time when women do tend to get varicose veins from the weight of the baby causing pressure on the veins coming from the legs.
Black Currant for Weak and Thinning Hair
Black currant fruits and juice, known to be rich in a specific flavonoid called anthocyanoside, are commonly consumed in many parts of the world and contains gamma linolenic acid (GLA). GLA can help in a number of different circumstances including eczema, rheumatoid arthritis, premenstrual syndrome, and attention deficit disorder.
GLA helps strengthen hair and decreases breakage by helping to decrease the effect of imbalanced hormonal effects, which weaken and thin your hair. A typical supplemental dose is 500mg twice a day.