Senior Health, Nutrition, and Your Pocketbook

Senior Health, Nutrition, and Your Pocketbook

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Read two articles today on orthomolecular medicine and the elderly. One article was an 18 page paper on using nutrition, specifically vitamin supplements in high doses, to treat and sometimes reverse senility. Vit B3 (Niacin) in its form as nicotinic acid allowed one doctor in the early ’70’s, to reverse signs of aging in a number of patients. Dosage was 1 to 3 grams per day. That’s quite a bit, and a healthy person taking that dose may experience unwanted flushes that can affect heart rate among other things. But for those who are drastically deficient in this vitamin, it has been shown to benefit joints, memory, central nervous system, cardiovascular behaviour, etc.

Back in the ’60’s and on into the ’80’s, it was often felt that healthy nutrition alone was never enough, and to supplement even the best diets. The more we learn about the nutrition found in our food, the more we are realizing that just ensuring we eat a nutritional regimen strategic to our body’s needs is often enough and can reduce our need for supplementation. In addition, it’s been discovered over the past 30 years, that affordable supplements often have unhealthy fillers in them. The supplement industry forked at this discovery, and there is one arm of it now that feels if you want “the good stuff”, you must pay through the nose to ensure you get your supplements with as few binders and fillers as possible.

dollar valueHowever, there’s a flaw with that argument that as of yet, no one has been able to logically and satisfactorily answer. If you as a manufacturer, are not including the binders and fillers that manufacturers of store-brand supplements use, then you are not putting out the expense of sourcing, shipping, storing, and adding those to your product. This means it costs you less to make the product than the other brands who use such things. If you are not putting out that expense, it is nolonger part of your base costs that you calculate mark-up from. This begs the question: Why is your products close to 5 times more expensive than the store-brand supplement when your costs are less and there are fewer ingredients in the product?

The illogical argument is that you are paying for purity, paying for a healthier product, etc. By buying into this argument, the supplement industry has played into the hands of Big Pharma, making the unhealthy option cheaper than the healthy option. People who are low income or on fixed incomes can’t pay for the “healthier option”, so they buy the product that should actually cost more due to having more ingredients in it, but that costs less because it isn’t as “pure”. The added ingredients contribute to health problems that send them to the pharmacy again, this time to the over-the-counter medication section that the vitamin section is supposed to reduce the need for. By pricing the so-called “pure” vitamin supplements out of reach of the person on low or fixed income, they are making supplemented health available only to the middle and upper class, the same two groups who can better afford health care if they need it, than the lower or fixed income people. If Big Pharma’s efforts are to maintain a steady stream of clients passing through mainstream medical doors, they are going after the wrong group of people.

With the concept of maintaining your health naturally, using the food God has provided as your medicine, anyone of any income can figure out a way to ensure they are getting adequate amounts of the various nutrients they need. If grocery stores make this endeavor unnecessarily expensive, go to the farmers, if they decide they have to match store prices (such as in my area), learn to garden or learn how to forage the wild plants that God grows in your area. In these ways, general maintenance of your everyday health, and even access to nutrients in enough quantities that can be of medicinal assistance, can be obtained by anyone.

One plant that grows wild pretty much anywhere that livestock is kept, is alfalfa. You might be familiar with buying Alfalfa Sprouts at the grocery store. Whether in sprout or adult form, alfalfa is known to contain the entire B complex of vitamins! I’m told that in the US, alfalfa crops are often GMO’d since roughly the mid 2000’s. The good news about wild versions, is that 3 to 4 generations after they’ve been scattered from the farmer’s field, those GMO’d genes have been targeted for removal by the plant, and discarded.

Other wild salad fixings that contain the B complex, are chickweed, dandelion, plantain and purslane. Purslane has a really nice lemon-like flavour when fresh, and a somewhat peppery flavour when roasted to a dry state. These same plants have a wide range of other nutrients and health-giving compounds as well as medicinal qualities.

The second article I read today, addressed general health of seniors who are often targeted for the flu vaccine. The article was written in 2008 and was a scathing rebuke of the vaccine back then! Simply boosting the vitamin C intake of most people over 70 was deemed by the article writer as being enough to deal with not only the flu, but other bugs that are often known to kill our senior population. The article writer lamented that while the nutritional needs of people rise as they get older, portion sizes and healthy food choices often get smaller. They argue two reasons for this: dental health (presence or lack of teeth), and lower digestive acids. If there’s one supplement I DO recommend, it is that of digestive aids for the older population! Does that mean because these are recommended, that they should cost more??? Far from it! Does this mean if the senior needs it, they are expected to sell their life savings to get it??? That is so insulting I don’t have words, and I’m not a senior yet!

Nutritionally-speaking, there is a wide range of foods that aid in digestion. Dandelion and Alfalfa show up in this list too. Bromelain, appearing in Pineapple, aids in breaking down the proteins and fats found in animal foods, and due to animal foods being the highest bio-available source of such nutrients as iron, zinc, amino acids, etc, Pineapple is a handy food to have in the fridge if you are over 70.

Ensuring a healthy gut, including healthy levels of beneficial bacteria is important even at this age, perhaps moreso at this age, to ensure you get as much out of your food as possible. For those who develop weaker jaw muscles, smoothies, thick soups, etc can be useful, but make sure you are doing the chewing action anyway before swallowing, so that your body sends out the amylase in your mouth to begin the digestive process. Certain nutrients are only released by the presence of amylase, so even if you cant break down your food by chewing and require a blender to do it for you, engage in the chewing action anyway to give your body the right signals it needs to continue processing your food.

It isn’t necessary to sell your children to pay for optimal health! I’ve personally seen many direct-marketing companies who think you should, but as mentioned earlier, pricing their products so that “cheaper” products fit into your budget better is only playing into the hands of Big Pharma! You’d do better to get your kids to build you a raised garden than to die a premature death due to poor nutrition that doctors instead recognize as some “incurable” disease. If doctors were discovering how vitamins in high doses could repair various conditions in the 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s, surely we can use that to our benefit now in the 2020’s!

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