Three years ago I wrote an article titled 3 Secrets to Aging Well. And while I still stand by the three step original morning routine, there are two more that I have come to believe are equally important for aging well. The 3 Secrets article was based on a book given to me by my good friend and partner in Prime Women, Jan. The book was Alternative Aging by Suzy Grant. While her book is loaded with lots of great advice, and I would highly recommend reading it if you’re serious about aging naturally and healthfully, I found three of her recommendations easy to follow, saw the results, and have stuck with them for years, as has Jan (who looks fabulous by the way!).
There have been two more “secrets” I’ve stumbled onto that have greatly impacted my general overall health. I’ve now incorporated them into my morning routine for aging well.
Yes, I know, most of us would much prefer to start with a cup of coffee, and you can have your coffee, just not until you wake up your system with a cup of warm lemon water. The idea of drinking warm lemon water in the morning has been around for at least a couple of centuries. The benefits are many. It aids digestion because it encourages the liver to produce bile and the lemon juice helps to relieve symptoms of indigestion, such as heartburn, belching and bloating. It is a natural diuretic and the vitamin C boosts the immune system. Lemons are also one of the most alkalizing foods for the body and may be why it can lessen urinary tract infections. It is also a very easy step to incorporate into your morning routine.
2. Warm up your body with the Five Tibetan Rites.
The Tibetan lamas were so convinced of their ability to maintain a youthful body they named these exercises “rites.” They believed the only difference between youth and old age is the spin rate of the chakras – the body’s seven major energy vortexes – and the quickest way to regain health and vitality is to start these energy centers spinning normally again. There are five simple exercises that supposedly accomplish this, but whether any of that is true about the chakras or not, I do not know. However, there are lots of benefits to adding these to your morning routine. A few of them are:
- increase physical strength.
- enhance bone mass.
- improve digestion.
- eliminate fat around midsection.
- strengthen core muscles.
- heal back pain, strengthen spine.
You should gradually increase the number of movements over a ten week period until you are doing twenty-one repetitions of each. You need to do them daily (they take less than 10 minutes) and Suzy recommends you do them before or right after you drink your warm lemon water. The best way to learn the five Tibetan rites is by watching a video.
Once you’ve had your warm lemon water and done your five Tibetan rites, add a serving of flaxseed (1 tablespoon of whole seeds soaked overnight or 2 tablespoons ground) to your morning routine. You can either mix the soaked flaxseeds with a little orange juice and down them all at once or mix ground flaxseed in your yogurt, protein shake, or sprinkle them on cereal with fruit. If you want regular bowel movements with what Suzy refers to as “the perfect poo,” then this remedy is for you.
Like drinking warm lemon water and the five Tibetan Rites, consuming flaxseed has been around for awhile. Flaxseed was cultivated in Babylon as early as 3000 BC. In the 8th century, King Charlemagne believed so strongly in the health benefits of flaxseed that he passed laws requiring his subjects to consume it. Now, thirteen centuries later, there seems to be good evidence that Charlemagne was right. In addition to the perfect poo, there’s some evidence that daily consumption of flaxseed may help reduce your risk of heart disease, cancer, stroke, and diabetes.
If you happen to not drink milk or you don’t take calcium with vitamin D, chances are you are deficient in this important vitamin. I learned this past summer after having blood work done in conjunction with my bone density testing, that I was deficient in vitamin D. Because of a study released on the hazards of women taking calcium to protect their bones (turned out not to be a very reliable study), I stopped taking calcium and drank two glasses of almond milk a day instead. While I was getting sufficient calcium, I wasn’t getting any vitamin D, which does help some in absorption of calcium. When I mentioned to my doctor that I was having a major flare in my autoimmune arthritis that had been going on for over six months (highly unusual), he suggested that my deficiency in vitamin D may have been a contributing factor. I started taking a supplement immediately and within six weeks the inflammation was gone and I’ve not had a flare since.
Vitamin D, or lack thereof, may not have been the cause of my inflammation, but there are certainly doctors who believe a vitamin D deficiency can cause inflammation. There is also much disagreement on whether vitamin D aids that much in the absorption of calcium. Two studies in 2015 had different results. One study found vitamin D provided no benefit, while the other study found older women should be taking more vitamin D than previously thought. As always, the best advice is to speak with your doctor and have them check your blood for vitamin D levels before taking a supplement. If you are deficient in vitamin D, taking a supplement may be the best morning routine for aging well.
Several months back, a study caught my eye that was so astounding in it’s findings that I had to research it further. Researchers in Belgium set up a six-week study to determine if the order of men’s morning routines would make a difference in how they metabolized fat. The group that exercised before breakfast gained almost no weight from all that overeating and showed no signs of insulin resistance. They also burned the extra fat they consumed more efficiently.
Before I decided to change my exercise habit or write an article for Prime Women, I thought I should research if there were any studies done on women as to when was the best time to exercise to burn fat; turns out there were. The U.K.’s Daily Mail reported a study done by Dr. Adam Collins of the University of Surrey. Dr. Collins discovered that women burned more fat than men, and those who were taking carbohydrates before working out burned up to 22 percent more fat.
The experiment confirmed the Belgium study findings – that men should eat after exercising to maximize fat-burning. But women need to eat before exercising and we need to wait for at least 90 minutes after a workout before eating again. You can read the entire story in The Antidote to Overeating.
I now do try to do at least 30 minutes of exercise each morning after breakfast, making sure I’m getting my heart rate up to 70% of my maximum heart beat. While 30 minutes is not long enough to lose weight unless you have quite a bit to lose, it is enough to burn off the extra calories I find myself eating on a pretty regular occasion. The results of adding this to my morning routine became visible very quickly with less fat around my middle and much firmer thighs.
There are a lot of recommendations out there on how to maintain optimum health and vitality, but the first three recommendations have stood the test of time. The last two are more anecdotal, but certainly worth investigating to see if they make a difference in your overall health. We are all going to age, but a morning routine like this one can help you age well.
This article is for informational purposes only. Consult your doctor before making any changes to your diet, taking any supplements or embarking on a new exercise program.