A huge thank you to everyone who came to my ‘Feel Great: Age Well’ webinar last month. It felt very special to launch The Age-Well Plan with our warm and wonderful community here. And if it wasn’t the In Real Life event I’d hoped for at the beginning of the year, it was lovely to have a chance to talk to you via Zoom, at least.
There were lots of questions! I promised to pick up on some of them on the blog, so here goes:
Is rapeseed oil a good oil to use or is it heavily sprayed?
Whenever Annabel and I do an event we’re always asked about cooking oils – clearly, it’s a subject that causes concern and confusion. I avoid seed oils these days as they are heavily processed and have been linked to increased inflammation in the body. I use a lot of olive oil – the liquid gold of the Mediterranean diet – in my kitchen. It helps trigger autophagy, the mechanism by which our body chomps through cellular waste products, broken DNA and damaged proteins which can make us frail and chronically sick.
Even extra-virgin olive oil remains stable at the temperatures we use in our kitchens and light olive oil has a higher smoke point than EVOO if you’re looking to fry or sauté at higher temperatures. I wrote a more detailed blog post about this here, and also included ‘recipes’ for some of the flavoured olive oils I use in my kitchen.
I’d be grateful for cholesterol-reducing tips and to know more about the high cholesterol/dementia link.
I’m not a doctor or dietician. As a health coach I can help guide you to make your own healthy choices, but if you have a medical issue like high cholesterol you need advice from your GP. What I can tell you is that many of the actions we can take to improve our chances of ageing well help reduce cholesterol levels. Regular exercise, plenty of omega-3 fatty acids and fibre all make a difference. Beta glucans, found in oats and barley, bind to cholesterol-rich bile acids, thus helping to limit the amount of cholesterol absorbed from the gut into the blood. I recently did a Thriva health test (something for another blog post) and found that I have higher cholesterol levels than I’d like. My omega-3 to omega 6 ratio was also out of whack so now I make sure I get plenty of oily fish and walnuts and keep seeds oils (high in omega-6) to an absolute minimum.
What do you think about intermittent fasting?
Intermittent fasting (IF) has become a cornerstone of my age-well day! When the body is in a fasted state it switches to energy production from stored fat, a process known as ketosis. This also triggers autophagy, increases telomere activity and reduces inflammation. There’s a whole section in the book on the subject, and I interviewed Dr Lori Shemek, one of the leading proponents of IF in the States. She has lots of good advice about gradually increasing your fasting ‘window’ and making sure you break your fast with a meal that includes, protein, fibre and healthy fats like nuts and avocado. There are lots of ways to do IF but I find that an overnight fast of about 15 hours works best for me. I now view breakfast as a mid-morning activity, not something for first thing.
Thoughts on pesticides?
There’s a detailed section in The Age-Well Project on pesticides and a list of the European ‘Clean Fifteen’ and ‘Dirty Dozen’ – the best and worst fruit and veg, rated according to pesticide residues. Also bear in mind pesticide ‘cocktails’. It works like this: Government guidelines set clear Maximum Residue Limits (MRL) for individual pesticides. These MRLs are set below the level at which the pesticides could be harmful to human health. So far, so good. But – big but – this doesn’t take into account the ‘cocktail effect’, caused by multiple pesticides being used on a single crop. 92% of oranges and 86% of pears tested in the UK in 2017 contained multiple residues. Over one-third of each crop contained five or more different residues. As we get older, our tolerance to toxins reduces, and these pesticide buildups are under-researched as there are so many variables: we simply don’t know the impact they may be having on our ageing bodies. Almost all the vegetables I eat now are organic, and I’ve switched to organic rice after learning about the multiple treatments of chemicals regular rice is subject to: over half the rice available in the UK containing pesticide ‘cocktails’. There’s more information on the Pesticide Action Network website.
Which cleaning products do you use?
The cleaning products we use daily in our homes add to the build-up of toxins around us, there are more details in The Age-Well Project. There’s no one clear culprit and, just like pesticides in foods, it’s impossible to research the impact of multiple combinations of products. Our tolerance levels are individual but they do diminish with age. I make some of my own products from simple base ingredients like household vinegar, Dr Bronners liquid soap and bicarbonate of soda. If making your own cleaning products is a step too far, there are lots of lovely ‘clean’ cleaning products on the market which will reduce the chemical load in your home. I like Method, Ecover, Bio D and Tincture (very expensive but so gorgeous it’s like washing up in a spa!)
I feel disorganised around my health, what can I do?
Pick one very simple action you can fit into your day and start there. It might be a daily walk, a later breakfast or a few moments of meditation. Schedule it into your diary and commit to making it happen. Ageing well doesn’t require a dramatic life makeover: it’s about tiny tweaks to your daily routine which add up to radically reclaiming your health. I wrote the Plan because I’ve been there too, and I wanted to lay out how I’ve made it work for me step-by-step and day-by-day. The book helps you prioritise the strategies you need and find the motivation to build them into your life. Most importantly, don’t let feelings of overwhelm come between you and your future health – start small.
Lots of people asked if a replay of the webinar would be available. I did manage to record it and spent hours trying to upload it to YouTube (I even roped in my tech-savvy daughter) but to no avail. I think I recorded it from Zoom in the wrong format. Ho hum, it’s all a learning curve. I’m SO sorry it’s not available if you weren’t able to make it on the day. I will do more online events in the future (once my day job is a little less hectic).
…. And a giveaway
In the meantime, I’ve got four copies of The Age-Well Plan to give away – two on our Facebook page @theagewellproject and two on Instagram @agewellproject. Go to our feed, tag a friend and make sure you’re both following us for a chance to win. Giveaway finishes next Friday October 9th at 6pm and winners will be chosen at random.