EP 7: The Secrets To Healthy Aging

In this episode, we discuss:

  • Instinctual eating (2:05)
  • Thoughts and beliefs impacting our health (5:22)
  • Dr. Joe Dispenza’s story of men becoming younger (6:12)
  • Checking in with yourself to find balance for your health (11:10)

This is Dr. Jenny Sechler. Welcome to the art and science of defying aging. Today’s episode is about some secrets to healthy aging. I’ve been in healthcare for over 30 years, and I’m constantly reading. I’m kind of a knowledge junkie and I’m realizing over the last several months that I need to take a break. Knowledge and information is so important yet I think we’re getting lost in the complexity of some of our own information, the complexity of overanalyzing healthy aging. I think there’s some aspects that are still simple yet they’re overlooked. And I know I’m guilty of this, and I want to bring some of these pieces back into my life. So I want to invite you to look at your life and see whether you have these pieces into your daily life. We’ve learned so much over the years about just health and how we age things like genetics.

(01:10): We have so many different kinds of genetic testing, and they’re so important and so valuable to help us see we can affect the expression of our own genetic patterns. And now we’re realizing that we’re not stuck with those imbalances as o ur lifestyle and food choices , supplements, et cetera all have an impact. We can actually affect how those genes are expressed. We give so much power to our food and food is powerful. The old adage that we are what we eat while this is true, I think we’ve become somewhat too obsessed with our food. I have many clients that are on very strict diets, and yet it’s almost become an obsession. They’re so concerned about what goes into their mouth, it’s not really helping them. I worked with one young woman who had had an eating disorder early in life, and she was doing well on specific diets, but yet it still wasn’t really supporting her.

(02:03): So we discussed it and we introduced her to instinctual eating. She’d never heard of it. Basically the basic premises is that you wake up in the morning and you just talk to yourself and your body. What would you like to eat today body and allow that to be your guide. Now I know some people expressing concern oh my gosh, I’m going to eat candy bars and sodas all day. You know, I understand the concern, but I’ve never had a client experience that. So this particular patient tried it and she fell in love with it. Some days she said, I ate so many vegetables. I ate great meats. I would have a treat but I felt good about it. Then she brought her husband into it and he enjoyed it. I can just tell a change in her skin tone and her just her face. She feels so much more confident, so much more peaceful, as her own eating patterns are truly supporting her now.

(02:50): So I want to share a couple stories. I follow Chris Kresser. I follow Dr. Joe Dispenza, and they’ve had a couple of really good stories over the past several years. And I just want to reiterate and read these stories for you as little secrets about what we can do. I think that we often forget about simple things that will help us to age well and just be healthy. The first story is an old Chris Kresser story, and he was sharing the story about when he was working in an integrative clinic, out in San Diego. So here’s the story. One of those patients, they called him Andy who was a young man in his mid twenties who was very sick. He weighed about 130 pounds. They said 170 to 180 was his normal weight. He was exhausted. He could hardly get out of bed.HIs diet was restrictive and got to the point until he was only eating a small handful of foods like chicken breasts, steamed, charred, and squash, nothing.

(03:47): They worked with him for a while and they were very concerned. Finally, he just stopped coming in. They didn’t see him for maybe six to nine months. Well, when he came back, he looked like a completely different person. He had gained about 30 pounds. His color was normal. He was just visibly happier, more energetic and lighter and they were intrigued. The staff doctors asked him what he had done to cause these remarkable changes. Was it his diet? They asked him figuring that he might’ve found the magic combinations of foods that worked just for him. Yep. Well, what kind of diet was it macrobiotic, vegan, the maker’s diet paleo? What was it? Nope. He said it was the beer and pizza diet. Everyone’s jaws dropped to the floor. He proceeded to tell the clinic doctors that he had come to the point where he believed he was going to die.

(04:34): And he thought if I’m going to die, I might as well enjoy myself a bit before I do. He had been completely isolated before, because of his illness, his girlfriend had left him. He had lost most of his friends. He was locked up his house and he wasn’t able to work anymore. So he decided he would go out to have beer and pizza at least once a week with his friends and do whatever he wanted to. On the other days of the week, he reached out to old friends and made contact. He volunteered at a local animal shelter. He had been studying to be a vet before he got sick. The changes that happened, surprised him as much as they surprised the clinic, his energy started to come back. He gained weight. He found hope again. So what’s the point of this story? It wasn’t that his illness was all in his head nor really is the beer and pizza diet for everyone

(05:22): But the bottom line is really that our thoughts and our beliefs and our emotions and behavior have a very powerful impact on our health. Recent discoveries in the field of neuroplasticity have revolutionized our understanding of how these factors can literally change the structure and function of our brains, which in turn affects gene expression in every cell of our body. So in this person’s case, the joy, the connection and pleasure he got from reconnecting with friends, expanding his life and eating foods that have positive associations for him, went out to transform his health and heal his body. There’s a saying in Chinese medicine, it’s better eat the wrong food with the right attitude than the right food with the wrong attitude. So this may not be the case for everybody, but it’s certainly a good food for thought. And that’s the end of the story. The second story I want to share is a story from Dr. Joe Dispenza.

(06:12): And this is coming from his book entitled , you are the placebo.This is probably my favorite book from Dr. Dispenza. So here’s the story. It was a crisp September day in 1981 and a group of eight men in their seventies and eighties climbed into a few vans heading two hours North to a monastery in New Hampshire. The men were about to take part in a five day retreat. The men were asked to take part and recall old times, read old newspapers, talk about things happened years ago and just pretend they were young again, or at least 22 years younger than they were at the time. The retreat was organized by a team of researchers headed by a Harvard psychologist. There were going to be two groups where the control group were going to be asked to actively reminisce about being 22 years younger, but not to pretend that they weren’t in their current age.

(06:58): When the first group of men arrived at the monastery, they found themselves surrounded by all sorts of environmental cues to help them recreate an earlier age. They flipped through old issues of life magazine. Saturday evening post, they watched movies and television shows popular in that year. In 1959, they listened to old recordings of Perry, Como Nat King Cole, and the radio. They even talked about current events during those times like Fidel Castro’s rise to power, even the feeds of baseball star, Mickey mantle and boxing rate, Floyd Patterson, all of these elements were cleverly designed to help them and imagine that there were really 22 years younger. At the five day retreat end the researchers took several measurements. They compare those, those who have been taken to the control group, who just simply reminisced about these events rather than actually taking part in them. The bodies of the men from both groups were physiologically younger structurally as well as functionally.

(07:53): Although those in the first study group who were actually pretended there were younger, improved significantly more than the control group. The researchers discovered improvements in height, weight, and gait. The men actually grew taller as their posture straightened. Their joints became more flexible and their fingers lengthened their diminished their eyesight and hearing actually got better. Their grip strength improved their memory sharpened, and they actually scored better on tests of mental cognition with the first group, improving their score by 63% compared to 44% for the control group. These men literally became younger in those five days, right in front of the researcher’s eyes. So how did that happen? The men were able to turn on the circuits in their brains that reminded them of who they had been 22 years ago, and their body chemistry somehow magically responded and followed those cues.

(08:47): They physically actually became younger. I love this story and he has so many other similar stories in this book. But my takeaway from this for myself and for you is realizing the amazing power that goes untapped in our minds and our bodies. So as we age, look at your parents, if your neighbors, people that you might know that as they age, they do become less active and their belief system starts to show in what they do. I know my own dad has told me. I said, dad, you need to get out and exercise more. I’m concerned about your gait and you’re getting a little weaker. He says, Jenny, you’re just supposed to get weaker as you age, and I was shocked by that statement, but it’s so common in people as they age. I think Dr. Dispenza’s book full of stories really can tell us something otherwise.

(09:35): So just challenge yourself to think, well, gosh, how old am I? And how old do I act? Because you can actually make some positive changes by thinking otherwise, for the last story I want to share is back to Chris Kresser, this is recent blog post that I read And again, it made me realize that sometimes I too am getting lost in some of the things that we tell our clients to do that really realizing the power of our minds. What I mean by that is we’re really concerned about people’s diets. And tthis is true. There’s so many different ways to eat today. And again, one person’s poison might be another person’s healing. We just don’t know because everyone is so unique. But Chris Kresser in this particular blog, again, talks about how important our food is, but it’s not the only factor.

(10:25): And he shared a brief story about his own health when he was sick and all the things he had tried, but really didn’t help him. So he had quit his job. He had moved to an Institute in California. He spent some time in nature. Now he did say that there wasn’t one thing that really helped him heal, but it really made him realize the power of some of the things that we don’t think about on a daily basis. And one of them really is about self-care. I know I don’t take care of myself as well as I could. I tend to ignore myself. I’ve got a family, I’ve got my work. I just don’t spend enough time thinking about it. It makes me feel selfish. Well, it’s not a selfish activity because the more that we love and care for ourselves that will extend into how we treat other people.

(11:10): So he made a couple of points that help you take a look at your life. Am I stuck in my diet? Am I sick of my work? What really are you missing out on in your life? Let’s say that you are ignoring the importance of having fun. What do you do during a day or a week where you really just have fun because if you’re ignoring that aspect of your life, try dancing on your living room. Watch a funny movie with a friend. If you’re short on pleasure schedule an outing. Go for a massage, take a hot bath. If you’re cooped up a lot in your office or your home, go out into nature, go take a walk, go drive to the beach. It’s amazing how powerful these little things going to have on your health and your life. So thanks for listening and just remember the amazing power you have within your mind in your body. Take an evaluation of your life. Is there something that I’m not doing as much as I used to? Am I laughing every day or laughing a few days a week when was the last time I’ve actually watched a really funny movie When is the last time you’ve gotten together with friends and just really laughed and eaten and just enjoyed their company. These things can have an amazing power and how we age. Hope this sparks your interest to check in with yourself and bring more harmony and joy into your life.

Thanks for listening and we’ll see you the next time.

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