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Get Off Autopilot

We’ve been on autopilot for way too long, feeding our bodies, not nourishing them, and allowing ourselves to feel like crap without any thought to the fact that what we’re actually doing is slowly and painfully killing ourselves.

This needs to stop and it needs to stop now!

Aging well, without all the aches, pains, and illnesses of what we’ve come to associate with “normal” aging takes work.

We need to take ourselves off autopilot and start paying attention to how the foods we’re consuming, the thoughts that we’re thinking and the stress that we have in our lives, makes us feel.

Think about how you ate dinner last night – maybe in front of the TV watching some sitcom and the next thing you knew your plate was empty; or maybe you had a bad day and ate dinner with a knot in your stomach; or maybe you just tuned out and shoveled food into your mouth.

All of these things cause us not to pay attention to our food and barely chew it, and they are really bad for our aging selves.

In order for your body to absorb nutrients food must first be broken down by chewing food into small particles with a larger surface area for digestive enzymes, stomach acid, and bile to finish breaking down it down into the nutrients simple sugars, fats, and amino acids so they can be absorbed through the gut wall and into the bloodstream where they can be delivered to the body where they are needed.

Digestive enzymes, stomach acid and bile can only do so much breaking down, so if you don’t chew your food well, they can’t do a very good job. This leaves large particles of undigested food in the gut that can cause bloating, gas, heartburn, constipation, acid reflux, poor digestion and malabsorption of the vitamins and minerals the body needs, an increased risk of food poisoning, mood swings, and weight gain.

We also need to get off autopilot and deal with our stress.

Stress is aging us terribly and we have to stop turning a blind eye to it.

There are two types of stress, physical and emotional.

Physical stress you can see, but it’s the emotional stress that has alarming consequences as we age.

Stress causes the release of cortisol and adrenaline which are good in the short term because they provide focus and energy, but chronic stress overloads these hormones and has been linked to heart disease, high blood pressure and a weakened immune system, which are all the things we don’t want as we age.

Part of the reason we may have poor memories as we age, the ones we chalk up to “senior moments” is because when we have chronic stress and the stress hormones are constantly being released over the years, they can damage the memory storage and retrieval part of the brain. If allowed to continue you’re at an increased the risk of Alzheimer’s.

And, as if this wasn’t enough, stress speeds up the aging of your individual immune system cells.

We go through life without realizing how stressed we are, we just continue to ignore the signs – heart problems, cardiovascular disease, insomnia, headaches, depression, digestive problems, anxiety, sleep disorders, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, eczema, rash, ulcerative colitis, and IBS.

All of these things are aging us.

The key process of aging is when a cell can no longer divide or replenish itself. Research has found that the immune system cells of highly stressed women had aged by about 10 years.

The good news is that small changes in your lifestyle, like getting off autopilot and paying attention to what and how you’re eating and how what you’re eating makes you feel and checking in with yourself regularly to see how stressed you are and finding ways to deal with it.

A research study by Yale University found that people who feel good about themselves as they get older live about seven and a half years longer than those who have a negative outlook.

Change can be stressful, which is the last thing we want but there’s momentum to good habits.

Locking in one makes the next one easier to add, and the next, and the next.

Change is hard but we can do hard things – Glennon Doyle

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