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Problems with Getting Older

by SMT

SMT's question...

Hi Suzy! Ive been laid up for 7 weeks with back problems, so I've had a lot of time to look through your website. I am in my forties and I've been looking for vitamins... to help improve memory and also to help slow down arthritis. I just can't find what vitamins... to take. My doc says the memory loss is age-related, but I think it's more than that.


Suzy's answer...

I'm sorry to hear that you have been laid up for two months! I hope you are on the mend now.

Your questions cover basically two areas: memory loss and arthritis, so I will cover each topic separately.

Memory Loss

First, I wondered if you are taking any statin drugs (for cholesterol). If you are, there is some good evidence that these drugs can have an effect on memory. In fact, memory loss is the second most common complaint of those taking these drugs. Statin drugs can also cause a variety of other symptoms, including aching joints and muscles. If you are taking statin drugs, you may want to talk to your doctor about taking a smaller dose, which could help, or you could talk to him about making lifestyle changes instead of taking the drug at all.

Having said that, there are some nutritional changes you can make to help keep your brain healthy and slow down memory loss due to aging.

*Cut down on saturated fats which cause inflammation in the brain. Saturated fats are generally animal fats, so the best way to cut down is to choose lean meats, and low-fat or fat-free dairy products. Any fats that are solid at room temperature are saturated.

*Include foods like salmon, sardines and flax seed to get more Omega-3 fats which seem to be protective to the brain.

*Eat antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables, particularly blueberries, which contain phytonutrients that protect you from disease.

*Turmeric, that spice that makes mustard yellow and flavors curry dishes has been shown to reduce the risk of Alzheimers, and to have other health benefits. You can use it in cooking or take it in capsule form.

Click here for more information on turmeric.

*Keeping your brain exercised by learning new things, doing puzzles or getting involved in intellectual discussions can also help.

*Physical exercise is also recommended to keep your brain healthy and reduce memory loss. Daily aerobic activity, such as brisk walking, swimming or biking, will go a long way toward keeping your brain healthy.

*Learn to manage stress, with relaxation techniques and prayer. You may not know that stress releases a hormone, called cortisol, that actually is destructive to the area of your brain that stores information.


I have to begin this discussion with a personal story. Twenty years ago, my husband went to the doctor because his knees were killing him. I think bad joints run in the family! The doctor recommended that he get his knees replaced. We thought that seemed a bit drastic for a guy
in his thirties, so we looked for alternatives.

My husband started eating two Tablespoons of flax seed every morning and the problem has improved to the point that he can do all the active things he likes to do without pain. He also has not been to the doctor for his back in many years. This is amazing since he used to have so much problem with his back that he would end up crawling around on his hands and knees when his back "went out."

Here are some tips for help with arthritis:

*Take two tablespoons of freshly ground flaxseed every day. Don't get the ground flax, but buy the whole seeds, preferably golden, and grind them right before you eat them, since they begin to deteriorate as soon as the seed case is crushed. A small coffee grinder works well. You can put the ground flax on cereal or yogurt, or drink it in juice, but it is important that you be faithful in eating it at least 5 or 6 days a week.

Click on this link for more information on flax seed.

*Include other Omega-3 foods such as wild salmon and other cold-water fish, omega-3 eggs, and walnuts.

*Eat a low-protein diet, and eat more complex carbs such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains and legumes.

*Aspirin is anti-inflammatory, and will help relieve arthritis pain without too many side effects. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist if you are taking other drugs before adding aspirin to your regimen.

*For some people, dairy products can make arthritis symptoms worsen. You can try eliminating them and see if if helps.

*Get regular aerobic exercise and learn to manage stress.

*Avoid margarine and other solid vegetable shortening and commercial baked goods made with hydrogenated fats, since these products promote inflammation.

Click here for more information on trans-fats.

*Ginger and Turmeric are spices that can help with the inflammation associated with arthritis. You can eat these spices in cooking or take them as a supplement. There are supplements that have both of these spices in the same preparation.

*Eat lots of colorful fruits and vegetables, since the phytonutrients they contain will help fight inflammation.

I hope this helps! I know this is a lot of information to absorb, and you don't need to make drastic changes all at once. There are some small things you can do, such as adding freshly ground flax seed to your daily diet and finding a supplement or tea with turmeric and ginger.

Eating healthy in general, skipping processed foods and getting regular aerobic exercise, will go a long way toward making you feel better and live a longer, healthier life.

There is no reason why getting older means that you have to feel bad all the time. You are not even in your fifties yet, so you have a lot of years ahead of you where the quality of your life will be important.

Eat and be healthy with my warmest regards,

Suzy Staywell

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