It's funny how sayings take on different meanings as we age, isn't it? Several years ago, when someone would tell me "Don't get old," I'd laugh and say that the alternative isn't too good. Recently, I've been thinking about that phrase and realized that I pretty much cringe when people say this. So, why has that particular phrase changed for me now? Well, here's the thing, I used to believe that we could prevent old age by exercising, eating right, meditating, etc. But now that I have experienced some "aging" myself, I know differently. What I know now is that our bodies age. They wear out. And, while this is not what I had pictured, nor is it what advertising wants us to believe, I am grateful for my career as a health coach. I’m grateful because I know that this doesn't mean that we have to become decrepit, or that we can no longer do the things we love to do, like kayaking, hiking, and Pilates. What is DOES mean, is that we might have to take a new vitamin, or make a change to our exercise program, or maybe eat a bit more fiber. Here’s the catalyst that pushed me to a better understanding.
Back in October, I got what I thought was a stomach bug. BUT, it didn’t go away. In fact, I got worse. I would have a few good days and think that I was getting better, and then BAM! Sick as a dog again. I thought maybe I wasn’t eating enough greens, so I made an effort to eat tons more and that didn’t help. I tried everything that I could think of, but I spent my Thanksgiving lying on pillows on my bathroom floor sick as a dog, I got dressed long enough to drive down to the local country store and pick up an over the counter laxative, which made me sicker. That’s when I decided enough was enough and made an appointment with my doctor. My doc knows that I have a great mind body connection. I’m also fortunate to have a doc who will spend more than 15 minutes with you when it’s necessary. She ordered some tests, and even ordered a test for heavy metals because I asked for it. She did question why I was asking, but when I explained that I have been drinking well water for most of my life, which can be high in heavy metals; and that for 8 years, I lived in an area where there was a high amount of arsenic in the water, she had the test done. She gave me a referral to a gastroenterologist and recommended a plant supplement called psyllium. Psyllium is high in fiber, and after not getting the results I wanted from adding prune juice, tons of kale, etc., I hesitated on the psyllium.
The next week, when I meet with my gastroenterologist, I brought all the results of those tests with me to discuss with him. He was pleasantly surprised that my primary care doc had ordered all the same tests that he would have ordered. (He told me she was a good doctor!) Basically, he said all the tests were normal, and since I had had a colonoscopy two years prior that was spotless, he didn’t think it necessary to repeat that yet. He gave me a brief, but very good, explanation of how our digested food works its way through the body and what can happen as we age.
Did you know that there are little nerve endings in the small and large intestines that trigger Peristalsis (muscle contractions) which work the food through the digestive system? YUP. Little nerve endings make those contractions move the food through and out. And as we age, those nerve ending can become lazy. Imagine these little buggers getting tired after 66 years! :0 He also recommended psyllium. Psyllium is not only extra fiber, which gives the food something to grab onto, so it can move through easier, but, according to Ayurvedic medicine, it also has the capacity to nourish those little nerve endings. Cool. Psyllium worked well for me: regular pooping and no more pain. 😊
Some of my clients have asked, “Isn’t Metamucil the same as psyllium?” The answer is no. Citrical and Metamucil both contain other ingredients like sugar, color, etc. which your body doesn’t need. Pick up plain old ground psyllium husks with nothing added at your local whole foods or similar store.
As they say, (whoever “they” are), experience is the best teacher. In the last several years I’ve learned that we can do specific exercises to help restore the bone loss that occurs as we age, and that we can take magnesium to help those leg cramps and our heart health, and that Kirtan Kriya meditation can keep our grey matter from wilting away, and the list goes on. And now I’ve learned that psyllium helps us poop better. Too much information? Maybe, but now you know, too! I wonder what my next lesson will be?!
Best of Health,