“That’s just a natural part of getting older.”
You’ve heard it a million times from friends, relatives, and even experts. Next come the suggestions: what to eat, what not to eat, what to take, and what to do to feel better in your own body as you age.
You’ve probably tried a few of those things—in some cases, with no noticeable difference or worse. Your body might be telling you what you already suspected: Not every food or supplement is good for everybody. It doesn’t help that “expert” guidance keeps changing: You loaded your salads, smoothies, and soups with kale, and now you’ve learned there’s trouble possibly lurking in those leaves.
So exactly what is it that your body needs?
There’s no escaping that bodies change over time. But your body doesn’t come with a best-by date, and aging is a complex process. Your cells are always at work, responding to changes, good and bad, with results that feel good or bad. Your habits and even your environment influence what is happening in your body at the cellular level, turning on gene expression (or turning it off) and sustaining your energy (or causing fatigue).
It’s a self-fulfilling cycle: Your body changes as it responds to change, which means what used to fuel you (and your cells) may not be as helpful anymore. Likewise, particular foods or a workout that didn’t make a difference in the past now might affect you in a positive way.
You’re not necessarily aware of your changing needs, either. For example, your body builds bone mass until around age 30, but you might not give it much thought until later when your doctor points out it’s important to maintain what you’ve got for the rest of your life.
Those calcium supplements? They’re not adding bone mass, but they are helping to preserve what you’ve got. Nutrition plays a special part in aging well, and not just in terms of specific nutrients, amounts, or both. What you eat and the supplements you take also can support other things you need to get, like exercise, to feel great.
Your body doesn’t come with an owner’s manual that tells you what you need. Putting individual nutrients in your body doesn’t guarantee they go where they’re needed, and in fact, a particular supplement that’s supposed to be good for everyone might not be great for you. Your supplements might even give you more of what you don’t need than what you do, like additives or fillers.
Putting “good” foods in your system doesn’t automatically mean you’ll feel great, either. Take spinach: overloading on oxalates—a naturally occurring chemical in those leaves—can create the right conditions for kidney stones.
That bloating you feel after a handful of almonds, though, or a little gas after your lentil salad? Don’t dismiss those uncomfortable feelings because your body is telling you something.
Here’s why your gut feelings are literally the place to begin to understand what your body needs. The millions of microbes (bacteria, fungi, archaea, and eukaryotes) living in your gastrointestinal tract help break down your food into nutrients that your cells need to thrive.
Different microbes tackle your food in distinct ways and under specific conditions, so diversity in your gut population is important. Without it, your gut might not process certain foods well, allowing natural toxins to build up (oh, those oxalates!).
A gut microbiome that’s out of balance also can lead to a “leaky gut.” You’ve probably heard of it: Imbalances in your gut can weaken the lining, allowing food and even microbes to pass through the intestinal wall into your bloodstream. The issues that come with the body’s natural immune response to those toxins—like occasional constipation and bloating, fatigue, irritability, joint discomfort, feelings of anxiousness, and brain fog—are also probably what comes to mind when you think of aging.
Now that you know to trust your gut, you’ve taken the first step to figuring out what your body needs. It’s essential to find out not only what microbes are in your gut but what they produce as they metabolize your food and what your body does with those nutrients.
You don’t have to guess. In fact, it’s possible to measure the exact state of your gut microbiome and what your cells do with those nutrients. It’s even possible to determine whether the microbes in your gut are producing harmful stuff at a faster rate than stuff that’s helpful. With those insights, you can plan to make specific changes that will help you age well.
Specific tests are available to find out this information. In addition to gut microbial composition and activity, testing for specific chemical levels and other markers in your bloodstream reveals your immune function, stress response, and whether your cells are getting enough energy to function well. In fact, those markers reveal whether your cells act your age or behave like cells in someone who’s older—or younger.
Together, insights into your microbiome and your cells’ activity make up what Viome calls your “health intelligence.” The Viome Health Intelligence™ Test measures and evaluates your gut, cellular, and immune health to deliver health insights and food and supplement recommendations designed for you alone and no one else.
There are three elements to Viome Health Intelligence testing:
Hopefully, you’re not ready to settle for stiffness, bloating, dull, irritated skin, and more as “normal aging.” And if you’ve got good digestion, a clear complexion, and pain-free movement, congratulations! Now’s the time to check what you need to keep it running smoothly. Since your body can respond positively to change, understanding and getting the right nutrition will support you to age well, naturally.
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