Recipe: Cauliflower Sheppard’s Pie

This is a hearty and wholesome meal that our whole family loved. We always get excited when we find recipes that are both delicious and packed with nutrients that will keep us healthy. We found the recipe from Dr. Raza Shah, ND, we made some tweaks and came out with a beautiful Sheppard’s pie.

To limit exposure to toxins, we suggest buying organic vegetables. It is good to refer to the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen to identify which vegetables and fruits are typically high in toxins. These are the vegetables and fruit which we prioritize when buying organic.

One of our favourite places to get our meat is from TK Ranch. They are an Albertan company, animal welfare approved, certified grass-fed and focus on environmental sustainability.

We hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we did!

 

Serving Size: 4

Time: 1 hour

 

Ingredients

  • 1 head of cauliflower (chopped into florets)
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion (diced)
  • 2 cloves of garlic (minced)
  • 16 ozs of extra lean ground beef
  • 3 cups mushrooms (sliced)
  • 2 cups carrot (diced)
  • 2 stalks of celery (diced)
  • 1 tbsp Italian seasoning
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF (177ºC)
  2. Place cauliflower florets in a saucepan, cover with water and bring to a boil. Let the florets boil until they are soft, about 15 minutes.
  3.  Heat a large pan with 1 tbsp of olive oil. Add in onions and garlic, until translucent and fragrant, about 5 minutes.
  4. Next, add the meat, and cook until browned
  5. Add the mushrooms, carrots, celery, Italian seasoning and salt. Cook for a few minutes, until the meat is cooked through. Remove from heat.
  6. Drain the cauliflower. In the same pot, add 1 tbsp of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt to the cauliflower.  Mash well until the cauliflower becomes almost like a puree
  7. Transfer the meat mixture to a casserole or pie dish and distribute it into an even layer. Top with the cauliflower mash and spread it evenly across the top.
  8. Place in the oven and bake for 20 minutes. Turn the oven to a low broil and broil for 10 minutes or until golden. Remove from oven and serve. Enjoy!

Note:

  • If you are following a vegan or vegetarian diet you can substitute the ground meat for cooked lentils.

What’s In Your Summer BBQ? Series (Part 2 of 2)

This is part 2 of a super summer BBQ series, following from part 1 that talked about hot dogs, burgers, veggie burgers and buns. Now read up on all the other trimmings that come with a BBQ so you can enjoy your next summer hang to the fullest!

#4: Condiments

Ketchup, BBQ Sauce, Relish

Classic ketchup is made with tomatoes, vinegar, lots of sugar, and artificial flavouring. A tbsp of it contains 4g sugar, and the average person puts at least 2 tbsp on a burger or hot dog, giving you another 8-10g sugar – yikes!  Conventional ketchup is also made with conventional tomatoes, which are on the Environmental Working Groups dirty dozen list of the most chemically-sprayed agricultural products. For a healthier choice, choose organic ketchup and reduce the amount you use to cut back on sugar. Dr. Mason-Wood, ND loves his ketchup so he makes it himself or buys the Simply Naturals Organic ketchup.  The same applies to bbq sauces and other sweet-type sauces and relishes. When using these condiments, choose organic and low-sugar when possible, and limit use as much as possible.

Mustard

There is a bright side to condiments: mustard! Mustard is relatively low in preservatives and is usually very low in sugar (but check the label). Mustard seed is also a good source of vitamin B1, selenium and magnesium, which are important nutrients for various body functions. Its only downside is that it can contain a high amount of sodium.

Mayonnaise

It’s especially important to pay attention to mayonnaise because there is so much variation between the different kinds. Regular Hellman’s mayonnaise is mostly fat from canola oil and low-quality eggs, along with preservatives, salt and sugar. Canola oil is becoming a dangerous food the more that its agricultural source, rapeseed, is becoming genetically modified. It can also be partially hydrogenated, but this is now banned because of the well-documented negative health impacts from hydrogenation. A good alternative to regular mayo is a version made with avocado oil, cage-free eggs and honey instead of sugar.

#5 Toppings

It’s hard to go wrong here because they’re vegetables, right? There are always options that can make your choices healthier.

Lettuce

Iceberg lettuce, for example, while being a lettuce is just basically water: not a lot of nutrients or vitamins. Swap this out for Boston lettuce, romaine or even leafy kale and you’ll get B vitamins, antioxidants and minerals with your meal.

Tomatoes

Tomatoes are generally great to add, but make sure they are organic because they are in the top 12 foods most heavily sprayed with pesticides. According to the Environmental Working Group, one sample of conventional tomatoes contained 15 different pesticides and their harmful breakdown products. Also something to think about: have you ever considered if you have a food sensitivity to nightshades? This is a family of vegetables that include tomatoes, eggplant, peppers and potatoes, and for some people these foods can cause inflammation and exacerbate conditions like arthritis, skin conditions, autoimmune conditions, and even mental health concerns. A good way to test for this is by doing an elimination diet or food sensitivity testing with your Naturopathic Doctor.

Sauerkraut

Sauerkraut is generally a healthy food traditionally consisting of fermented cabbage, other vegetables, and salt. This means it is a live food with gut-healthy bacteria that will support your bacterial microbiota. But did you know that the grocery-store types that are sealed or canned are actually devoid of fermented bacteria? This is because they’re eliminated in the canning/processing. You can find a good, healthy, natural version at the Italian Centre locations in Edmonton.

#6: Drinks

Often at BBQs there are all sorts of sugary drinks, especially when there are kids around. Keep an eye out for pops and sodas with sugar, caffeine and artificial colours and flavours and carbonated drinks. Opt for water instead, or diluted juices or cooled herbal teas. Try an iced peppermint tea or iced hibiscus tea- refreshing, delicious and good for you! The reason that carbonated drinks (including water) are to be kept to a minimum and best avoided is that regular consumption contributes to osteoporosis.

#7: Socialize and run around

Don’t forget that the point of barbecues is to get together and enjoy summer. The guidelines of the most widely recommended diet, called the Mediterranean diet, has a whole section that recommends sharing meals and socializing with others. Lowering stress and increasing face-to-face contact with other humans actually changes the way we digest and metabolize food. So maybe once you’ve done your best with your food choices, let yourself relax and enjoy being with others. Let yourself make some Vitamin D naturally by running around in the sun without lathering yourself up in sun screen.

Here’s to a happy summer!

References

  1. Nutritional info on ketchup http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/3005/2
  2. Bad condiments https://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/02/21/bad-condiments_n_2733484.html
  3. Canola oil https://draxe.com/canola-oil-gm/ 
  4. Environmental Working Group Dirty Dozen https://www.ewg.org/foodnews/dirty-dozen.php 
  5. Sauerkraut https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/health-benefits-sauerkraut
  6. Mediterranean diet https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/mediterranean-diet/art-20047801.

 

Using Hydrotherapy for Pain Relief

Hydrotherapy is the use of water for healing the body. Specifically, alternating hot and cold water therapy is hugely beneficial for pain relief and it’s free! 

Using hot and cold can help manage pain.  For acute pain (eg. sprained ankle in the first 48 hours), cold is always used, to keep swelling down.  But chronic pain doesn’t have the same kind of swelling as a very recent injury. Often, the issue is actually that the area is not getting enough circulation.

Circulation is necessary for healing chronic injury and damage because it brings fresh, healing blood with growth factors and platelets, and takes away cellular waste products and toxins. Injuries in tendons and other areas with poor circulation often heal poorly for the lack of fresh blood.

For this reason, many injuries and areas of damage benefit greatly from hydrotherapy.  Alternating exposure to cold and hot water is an excellent way to stimulate circulation and waste removal from an inflamed or injured area of the body and reduce pain.

How does it work?

Cold water makes the superficial blood vessels constrict, sending the blood into deeper tissue. Following that with hot water dilates the superficial vessels and draws it out again. Alternating hot and cold in buckets of water or in hot/cold showers is essentially acting like a pump in your muscles, moving the blood around and helping flush out areas that don’t get quite as much circulation. This is also an excellent technique for someone with cold hands and feet in the winter- alternating hot and cold showers can save you from the painful cold in the fingertips and toes.

When using alternating hot and cold hydrotherapy, it is important that you always start with hot and finish with cold. A basic hydrotherapy protocol looks like this:

  • Start hot (not scaling) for 3 minutes
  • Alternate between hot and cold every 3 minutes, going as cold as you can go without pain and as hot as you can go without scalding yourself.
  • Repeat for 8 cycles (4x each temp) and finish cold.

You can use buckets of water if it’s for ankles or feet, visit a spa or spring with hot and cool baths, or you can simply turn your shower to hot and cold.

What does it help treat?

  • Strains and sprains of the foot, ankle, elbow, knee, wrist, neck, or shoulder
  • Swelling (once the acute stage has passed)
  • Muscle spasms
  • Joint aches
  • Repetitive-strain injuries, such as tendonitis or tennis elbow
  • Sports injuries
  • Flare-ups of chronic conditions, such as arthritis or fibromyalgia
  • Some pains associated with cancer
  • Any other injury that causes swelling or aching

When to use contrast hydrotherapy

Use when an injury is a semi-chronic or chronic condition. This means when it’s been more than 72 hours after an injury and your body is not in acute inflammation. It’s particularly helpful for recurrent or very long-term “achey” pain, even pain that’s been there for months or years.

When not to use contrast hydrotherapy

Don’t use when there is any open skin wounds or risk of infection. Be cautious if there is decreased sensation or neuropathy (as in a diabetic foot, for example), because it may be harder to tell if the water is scalding or freezing the skin. Likewise be cautious if there are any heart or systemic conditions that react to varying temperatures, like cold urticaria (hives).

Learn more about pain management by booking a consult with Dr. Mason-Wood, ND and discuss your treatment options today.

It’s the Season of Renewal, Growth and … Seasonal Allergies

It’s that time of year again: the sun is up, the snow is melted, it’s perfect weather to be outside. You get out there and then it hits you. Your eyes are red and itchy, your nose is stuffed, and you’re sneezing a lot. Being outside suddenly becomes exhausting and uncomfortable. These symptoms can last for weeks or sometimes even months. It can make it more difficult to concentrate, sleep or work.  This is a common feeling for those who experience seasonal allergies. 

 

There are many different things that you may be allergic to this time of year. Most people who have seasonal allergies are allergic to pollen from trees that start to bloom around this time. However, you can also be allergic to “snow mold” or spores from the mold growing on leaves left on the ground from last fall. Seasonal allergies can also occur in the summer which is more likely to be caused by grasses or in the fall from Ragweed, however, this is not common in Alberta.

 

Allergic Responses in the Body

When particles such as pollens, molds, or grasses are released into the air they can be inhaled. The immune system picks up these particles and tries to identify it. In healthy individuals, the body recognizes this as a non-threatening particle and gets rid of it. However, in a person with allergies, these little particles are identified as a threat and they set off a cascade of events. The body will create antibodies against it. These antibodies attached to mast cells, a type of immune cell. Whenever more of those particles enter the body, the mast cells will release something called histamine, which causes blood vessels to dilate and fluid to move into the area, resulting in the symptoms associated with seasonal allergies. The nose and the eyes have a lot of mast cells, which is why we see a lot of symptoms related to eyes and nose.

 

Seasonal allergies can be managed naturopathically. If you suffer from seasonal allergies and need help, book an appointment with one of our doctors today. 

The Time To Quit Smoking is Now

Smoking and the Immune System

Many common viruses, such as influenza and COVID-19, attack the respiratory tract and can make a person sick. Smoking decreases the antiviral factors in the lungs, leaving individuals who smoke or people who are exposed to high levels of smoke, more susceptible to viral infections [1].  New studies have shown that those who smoked and contracted COVID-19 were 1.4 times more likely to have severe symptoms and approximately 2.4 times more likely to be admitted to an intensive care unit, need mechanical ventilation or die compared to non-smokers [2,3]. These studies show that quitting smoking is an important way to keep your immune system strong.

Obstacles to Quit Smoking

Quitting smoking is no easy task: It takes incredible will-power, discipline and strength.  Some of the biggest obstacles to quitting smoking are dealing with cravings and nicotine withdrawal. Nicotine, the addictive substance in cigarettes, can rewire the brain so that a person keeps wanting to go back to smoking. Certain cues can make a person have stronger cravings. Another obstacle to quitting smoking is nicotine withdrawal. After 4-24 hours of not having nicotine, the body can react.  Symptoms of irritability/anger/frustration, anxiety, depressed mood, difficulty concentrating, increased appetite, insomnia, constipation, dizziness, nausea, and sore throat are common in nicotine withdrawal [4].  Luckily, all these symptoms can be managed and typically decrease and stop 2-3 weeks after quitting. If you are considering quitting smoking there are several steps you can take to help prepare yourself for success.

5 Tips to Help You Quit Smoking

Here are 5 helpful tips to get you started on quitting smoking…

1. Write down the reasons why you want to quit

Quitting smoking will take willpower and motivation. Writing down the reasons why you want to quit can help encourage you to take the first steps, and are great to refer back to to keep you motivated.

2. Avoid Triggers

Before quitting, take some time to record your smoking habits. Write down when you are smoking, and identify what makes you want to have a cigarette. Some common triggers may be stress, drinking alcohol, coffee, driving, break times or social gatherings.  Another common trigger can be things that remind you of smoking. On your quit day, get rid of all cigarettes, ashtrays and lighters. Try cleaning your house, clothes and car to avoid smelling the cigarette smoke which can lead to temptation. Avoiding triggers can often mean changing up your routine, be flexible in your schedule while you are quitting.

3. Find Support

Telling your friends and family you are going to quit is a good idea. They can help encourage you when things are getting tough and help keep you accountable. Reach out for support from counsellors, doctors (including naturopathic doctors), or online support if you feel like you are struggling.

4. Exercise

Exercise has not only been shown to increase motivation for people to stop smoking, but it has also been shown to help reduce cravings and increase the likelihood of quitting [5]. Try to do some exercise daily, especially when experiencing cravings,  to help improve your chances of quitting.

5. Take some deep breaths

Deep breathing has been shown to help reduce smoking withdrawal symptoms, irritability and reduce cravings [6].  When you feel a craving coming on, take some deep breaths, it will help calm your body and the craving will pass.

In addition to these tips, there are a variety of different treatments that can be used such as diet, lifestyle, supplements, herbs, and acupuncture that can help decrease cravings, manage the symptoms of nicotine withdrawal and increase the chances of quitting smoking long term.

If you are considering quitting smoking, make an appointment with one of our Naturopathic Doctors who can help support you through the process of quitting and keep you healthy.

 

Resources

  1. Duffney PF, McCarthy CE, Nogales A, et al. Cigarette smoke dampens antiviral signalling in small airway epithelial cells by disrupting TLR3 cleavage. Am J Physiol Lung Cell Mol Physiol. 2018;314(3):L505-L513. doi:10.1152/ajplung.00406.2017
  2. Vardavas CI, Nikitara K. COVID-19 and smoking: A systematic review of the evidence. Tob Induc Dis. 2020;18. doi:10.18332/tid/119324
  3. A Good Reason to Quit Smoking Now | Metagenics Institute. https://www.metagenicsinstitute.com/articles/covid-19-smoking/?utm_campaign=MI%20Newsletters&utm_source=hs_email&utm_medium=email&utm_content=86101142&_hsenc=p2ANqtz-_d2227sRwMD7p5PLFoaV4SKzb_Hzu-_zna3q-D_C2HgPcPORmNwN6DDqJQN3SqmAA_fR7tzQ-dTvKJYynP7upUHpoK2w&_hsmi=86101142. Accessed April 15, 2020.
  4.  McLaughlin I, Dani JA, De Biasi M. Nicotine Withdrawal. Curr Top Behav Neurosci. 2015;24:99-123. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-13482-6_4
  5. Aveyard P, Lycett D, Farley A. Managing smoking cessation‑related weight gain. Pol Arch Med Wewn. 2012;122(10):494-498.
  6. McClernon FJ, Westman EC, Rose JE. The effects of controlled deep breathing on smoking withdrawal symptoms in dependent smokers. Addict Behav. 2004;29(4):765-772. doi:10.1016/j.addbeh.2004.02.005

3 Lifestyle Tips for Post-Concussion Syndrome

After a head injury, people may suffer from symptoms of concussions. These symptoms typically disappear between 7 and 10 days. But what happens when these symptoms persist?

 

This is known as post-concussion syndrome and it can last months and even years. Symptoms of post concussion syndrome include headaches, insomnia, dizziness, concentration difficulty, fatigue, memory difficulty, irritability, and intolerance of stress, emotion, or alcohol. There are several different approaches in which naturopathic doctors may take in treating post-concussion syndrome. Dr. Mason-Wood, ND has experience supporting those with concussions and post-concussion syndrome and will use a range of modalities to get his patients feeling better.

 

These are a couple of basic lifestyle tips that can help people with post-concussion syndrome.

  1. Limit Screen Time

    • Patients with post-concussion syndrome often have increased sensitivity to noise and light. The light given off from screens, such as T.Vs, computers, and cell phones is considered blue light.  Blue light activates a certain part of the back of your eye and brain which can aggravate symptoms. By reducing your screen time, you are letting your eyes rest and helping your brain recover. Reducing screen time may not be easy if your job or schooling requires you to be on a computer so there are several different ways you can get around this. You can use a red light filter on your screens (or in the meantime, turn night shift on your MacBook or iPhone) and try blue-blocking glasses.
  2. Exercise

    • Starting with light aerobic exercise after 1-2 days of the injury has been shown to speed up time to recovery and improve symptoms. It is believed that light exercising increases the ability of your brain to repair itself by increasing the amount of brain-derived neurotrophic factor. Make sure to pick activities that do not increase your risk of re-injury.
  3. Listen to your body

    • Be gentle with yourself. Listen to your body, and identify when it is telling you to rest. Step away from your computer, move into a dark room, if you are having bad symptoms with a certain food or drink, avoid it and don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Honour what your body is saying and rest when you need it. This can significantly help in your recovery.

For more ways to help manage your concussion or post-concussion syndrome book an appointment with Dr. Mason-Wood, ND

World Autism Day

April 2 is World Autism Day! We want to bring awareness to this condition, and celebrate all who are diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorders and their families who provide support.

Receiving an autism diagnosis for you or your loved one can be challenging. However, there are more and more families facing this reality. One in every 66 children will receive an Autism Spectrum Disorder. It is 4 times more common in males with 1 in every 42 boys being diagnosed.

Over the years, new theories about the cause of autism have emerged and others have been disproven. However, the exact cause of autism is unknown. Based on the current evidence, it is believed to be an interplay between genetics and environmental factors.

As the name suggests, Autism Spectrum Disorders can present with a range of different symptoms and severities. The most common symptoms are trouble forming relationships and responding to others emotions, a lack of eye contact, delayed or absence of speech, being highly focused on one task, performing repetitive actions, and difficulties with changing environments and sensory inputs. In addition to these, people diagnosed with autism often have other health concerns. Sleep disorders, gastrointestinal problems, seizures, anxiety, ADHD and phobia are highly prevalent in those who have autism. These conditions can be managed well through Naturopathic Medicine and can help relieve some of the pain and stress that autistic children are facing.

At Natural Terrain, Dr. Michael Mason-Wood, ND has years of experience working with children with autism and their families. He uses a kind, gentle approach to help connect with autistic children and helps to find solutions to their health concerns.

Read More Here!

 

7 Tips for Healthy Ageing

Ageing is a natural and normal process. Although ageing can not be stopped, there are many different things you can do to prevent feeling old. Here are some practical tips you can apply to your everyday life to help ensure that you are healthy ageing.

1. Get 7-8 hours of sleep

Sleep plays an important in reducing mental and physical ageing. Sleep helps to consolidate memories, clear toxins, repair tissues and promote muscle growth. Decreased sleep has been linked to high inflammation rates, cognitive impairment and chronic disease which all play a role in unhealthy ageing. It is important to get a good nights rest and aim for 7-8 hours of sleep every night.

2. Exercise

Exercise helps to improve cardiovascular function, muscle strength, bone density, mental health and improves immune function. All of these are can result in increased longevity. Try to get at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise each week.

3. Weight control

As we age, the risk for many different chronic illnesses increases. These risks can be further increased if a person is overweight or obese. These illnesses include type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke and mobility issues. To promote healthy ageing it is important to maintain a healthy weight. If you need help starting this process, check out our 8 tips for weight loss and call the clinic for an appointment (587-521-3595).

4. Eat Vegetables and Fruits

Fruits and Vegetables are high in antioxidants. As we age, the number of antioxidants in our body’s decrease. Eating antioxidants can help prevent chronic disease, and ageing processes that occur as a result of free radicals, as discussed in last week’s article. Some of the vegetables and fruits highest in antioxidants are blueberries, blackberries, kale, and spinach.

5. Not smoking or vaping

Free radicals can cause a lot of damage to our skin, hair and organs which are typically associated with getting old. One of the main sources of free radicals is smoking. When something is smoked (tobacco, marijuana, or even meat), there is an reaction called incomplete combustion that occurs. This creates free radicals that are linked with unhealthy ageing.

6. Limited alcohol consumption

Alcohol can increase the amount of inflammation in the body, which can lead to chronic disease and decreased organ, tissue and cellular function. Alcohol also decreases the immune function and depletes some vitamins, such as vitamin B1 (thiamine) which is important in turning our food into energy. In an older population, it is important to monitor alcohol intake closely as it can cause falls, which is one of the major causes of older adults having to move into more assisted living facilities. Ensure that you are limiting alcohol and drinking lots of water to best support healthy ageing.

7. Seldom snacking

Because one of the processes that occurs in ageing is glycation, it is important to monitor what is put in the body and how often. Consider limiting snacks, as it improves insulin sensitivity. This means that the body is able to take up and utilize the sugars to make energy for the cell. Therefore, there is less sugar in the blood to make Advanced Glycation End Products (AGEs) and cause damage to our cells. Try eating only at 2-3 times a day and eliminate any snacks you may be having in between.

Despite growing older every day, we want you to feel the best you’ve ever felt physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Healthy ageing can start with these 6 easy tips. If you need more guidance, Dr. Mason-Wood is happy to help.

Don’t Wait to Get Your Frozen Shoulder Treated

“Will I ever be able to reach that shelf in the kitchen?”

When you have a frozen shoulder, even simple everyday tasks like putting away your groceries are daunting, painful, or simply impossible.

Frozen shoulder can be extremely painful in its early stage; it becomes even more debilitating when the lack of range of motion sets in later on. Recovery from this condition can take months – sometimes years – for full recovery.

Although frozen shoulder is a very common condition, there are some things that are mysterious about it. Typically frozen shoulder tends to affect one side, usually the non-dominant side, but some develop the condition in both shoulders. In rare cases, patients develop frozen shoulder on the other side within five years.

It’s important to seek treatment early for frozen shoulder to avoid permanent damage to the joint. During the many months of decreased shoulder mobility the rotator cuff muscles weaken and the joint capsule tissue surrounding these muscles stiffens. This can place the shoulder at significant risk for cuff tears, arthritis, and possible osteopenia or thinning of the bones.

Without treatment, the shoulder joint can actually deteriorate to a point where full recovery becomes very difficult – if not impossible.

The risk of permanent damage however can be reduced with early physical therapy, with a focus on shoulder mobility under the guidance of a skilled health care professional. The therapist might recommend strengthening the rotator cuff muscles. A strong rotator cuff can help support your shoulder and allow it to move more freely. They might also give you exercises to work on your scapula. (One way to diagnose frozen shoulder is by observing if the scapula or shoulder blade moves excessively when you reach to the side or above you head.)

It’s important to keep mobilizing your shoulder – but don’t overdo it by making up strenuous exercises at the gym.

A Naturopathic Doctor might suggest prolotherapy – both non-surgical injection treatments that can greatly reduce pain and speed the healing process. In a prolotherapy treatment, dextrose is injected into the affected area to bring immune factors to the area and effectively stimulate the body’s own healing capacities.

Take it slow. Remember that your frozen shoulder didn’t develop overnight – it will take some time and patience to repair it with a little help from a skilled health care professional. Dr. Michael Mason-Wood, ND and the team at Natural Terrain Naturopathic Clinic are trained in alleviating joint pain. Click here to find out more about prolotherapy. 

The Natural Process of Ageing

Whether we like it or not, we are all growing older every single day. We are not the same person we were 15 years ago, not physically, psychologically or socially. The process of getting older is known as ageing. Some of the first things that might come to mind when you hear the word ageing, is wrinkles, gray hairs, and sagging.  However, ageing goes beyond the outer appearance. The bones also get less dense, some organs begin to slow down and cells are slower at regenerating which can lead to disease. There are many processes in play that attribute to ageing. This article features 3 of the main causes of ageing: Oxidative stress, Telomere shortening and Glycation.

Oxidative Stress

Every day, our cells make energy in the form of a substance called ATP. While making ATP, oxygen atoms are exchanged and passed to different molecules. Oxygen has a negative charge and therefore binds to different molecules to become neutral and stable. However, occasionally one of those oxygens gets loose from the process. This free oxygen is called a reactive oxygen species (ROS) or free radicals. Because of the negative charge on the oxygen, it finds other molecules to bind to in the body, such as proteins, cell membranes, and DNA. When the oxygen binds it creates damage and can destroy the cells. When we are young, our bodies have antioxidant molecules that help prevent reactive oxygen species from causing damage. However, as we age, the number of these reactive oxygen species increases and there is less of the protective antioxidant molecules. This causes an increase in damage to our cells and can lead to some of the common ageing problems. For example, grey hair can be caused when reactive oxygen species (O-)  bind to water (H2O) in our hair resulting in hydrogen peroxide (H2O2). The hydrogen peroxide bleaches the hair, making it appear gray or white.

Telomere shortening

Our cells are constantly regenerating. As old cells die, our bodies replicate the DNA and create new cells. At the end of DNA, there is a small portion called a telomere. Telomeres are caps of the end of DNA. Every time the DNA is replicated, the telomeres become shortened. Once the telomeres become too short, that cell is no longer able to replicate. This causes damages to our cells and tissues and increases the ageing process.

Glycation

As we age, our body becomes less equipped to deal with sugars. The sugars in our blood combine with proteins and fats, creating advanced glycation end products (AGEs). The AGEs will then bind to certain receptors on our cells. This combination of AGEs and receptors (called RAGE) causes an increase in inflammation, a decrease in skin cell growth and causes collagen and elastin to break down. Collagen and elastin are proteins that are present in the skin and organs to help provide structure.  Therefore, glycation is one of the reasons that skin becomes more wrinkly and saggy during ageing. Glycation also affects the blood vessels, bones, muscles and organs and can cause decreases in body functioning.

Ageing is a complex process which involves many different mechanisms. While we can’t stop ageing, there are many things that can be done to ensure that you are ageing healthfully.