Efforts to Achieve Healthy Aging


We are all used to "healthy eating" and "healthy drinking" with which consideration, food and drinks considered to be good for health are particularly stressed and listed for recommended consumption. To date, not only is healthy food and drink redefined, but other items are analyzed and labeled as being bad for health. Such "bad" items are not short of surprises, as for example, milk products, sugar, unsprouted grains, and alcoholic drinks, have been labeled as "bad" food. (Werbach, 2003) The rationale for such consideration is based on a new concept of food digestion which takes into consideration the possible occurrence of food allergy which could be sub-clinical. A food item traditionally taken as good, e.g. milk products, is likely to be the cause of sub-clinical allergy, therefore, could become bad for health. Such items induce allergy through a complicated mechanism of changing the intesti- nal flora (Gibson, 2006). "Toxicity" is redefined as not only a state that produces direct adverse effects on the normal physiology, but the accumu- lative results of sub-clinical allergy initiated through the consumption of "bad" food.

"Chronic fatigue syndrome" is a term commonly used for the aging people and the cause of this syndrome has been attributed to the careless con- sumption of food which suffers an imbalance between a sufficient amount of essential food items and an excess of "toxic" items.

An analysis of the "toxic" effects could be accomplished via a careful history taking on the nutritional intake. At the same time, enthusiasts have been creating new laboratory tests to confirm the existence of allergy and "toxicity".

When serological tests are used to detect imbalances, titre values of opposing internal secre- tions are observed. Such are manifestations of hormonal imbalances.

Normally only gross imbalances are considered significant in clinical situations. Now that sophis- ticated tests to measure minute deficiencies are available to confirm small insufficiencies or overactivities, ailments like "chronic fatigue syndrome" and "subclinical allergy" that still lack perfect objective definitions appear to have reliable pathological explanations (Lindstedt, 2001; Krabbe, 2004). Before the establishment of such evidences, the aging people are advised to rely on exercises and a variety of harmless measures like meditations and spiritual involvements to help themselves. These measures could now be com- bined with a sophisticated hormonal control (either supplement or suppression), administrated through medical attention.

These current developments are really getting popular. However, if one applies principles of evidence-based medicine to critically evaluate the efficacy of the treatment, one might be disappointed because the parameters are yet to be properly defined.

There is yet one other important consideration in the attempt to uncover the black box of fatigue and aging. Pollution in the atmosphere and environmental water in the sea and rivers is deteriorating so rapidly that one has little reserva- tion associating one's physiological distress with

without which, one's internal balance will be lost (Leung, 2001). The means and efforts to initiate a reasonable state of holistic equilibrium have not been medication orientated.

One of the essential requirements towards the achievement of the internal harmony is balanced nutrition. Balanced nutrition refers to a regular food consumption according to the need, a balanced diet which avoids the choice of rich entities, a careful selection of fresh and hygienic items and, sometimes, using herbal choices to help keeping a good balance (Liang, 2006). For the Chinese people, gourmet recipe often contain items of herbs that are commonly known as vegetables, although the same items might be medicinal choices for special uses. Indulgence on rich food and drink is strictly not recommended. Table 1 listed some of the vegetable herbs.

There are also specific food items which are better known for their use as anti-aging selections. Although some of these are leading items in classical formulations recommended for specific treatment, they could still be used as food. Table 2 listed some of the popular examples.

The oriental way of assessing patient needs among the aging population does not rely on specific symptoms, signs or laboratory tests. Actually when the manifestations of aging, be it

Table 1. Nutritional items favored in Chinese medicine.

pollution. Unclean air and contaminated water

certainly would not do anything good for the degenerating tissues. In contrast to the mounting interests on the pursuance of deductive practices to maintain health in the deteriorating process of aging in the affluent world, the oriental concept of anti-aging has kept its popularity.

The Oriental Concepts

The oriental concept of longevity emphasizes less

on the external influences but concentrates more on an internal balance. The Yin-Yang forces need to be kept under harmonious balance, without which, the living individual suffers either an over- or under -- active state. The balanced state relies on a Holistic equilibrium. The holistic equilibrium is mainly internal, but also needs to be harmonious with the environment, i.e. respecting climatic and geographic changes. One's position in the family

Chinese name

Chinese herbs

Radix Ginseng Radix Codonopsis Radix Astragali Rhizoma Dioscoreae Fructus Crataegi Fructus Lycii

Adenophora stricta Miq. Rhizoma Polygonati Odorati Bulbus Lilii


Semen Coicis

Semen Nelumbinis

and community needs to be kept in harmony too,

chronic fatigue, different degrees of disability or frailty, appearance, it is considered too late. The practice of achieving the holistic balance needs to have proactive measures which could actively prevent the appearance, or premature appearance of the aging syndrome.

The oriental practice gives a special term to this active promotion of stable health, viz "Treating before falling ill". The literal term refers to an active practice which includes physical activities, nutritional considerations and a peaceful mind. The literal term might apparently resemble disease prevention in the public health sense. However, this prevention and "treating before falling ill" refers to a personal level. So it is a personal practice to maintain personal health. With the modern concept of immunology, this practice might be understood as personal practices that bring the immuno-defense system to an efficient level which helps to maintain a good balanced healthy state. Apart from a healthy life-style, which includes the choice of favorable living environments, the oriental practice of health main- tenance often actively include the consumption of

Table 2. Anti-aging herbal items favored in Chinese medicine.

special natural products, vegetables and fruits, all of which could be considered herbal medicinal items.

In recent years, a lot of interest has gathered around the demonstration of favorable immuno- logical responses to the consumption of herbal items, and many positive evidences have been achieved. (Imazu, 2006; Miura, 2007) To quote just a few examples, fungal products, ganoderma (Wang, 1997; Guo, 2004), coriolus (Wong, 2004), and cordyceps (Chen, 1991) have all been demon- strated in the laboratory to be immuno-supportive. Some herbs, on the other hand, have been found to be effective in the control of allergic responses (Tan, 2004; Zhao, 2005a; Zhao, 2005b).

While exercises have been advocated to be universally beneficial to health, in Europe and the U.S. strenuous types of exercise like ball games and aerobics have been popular. In The Orient, mild bodily exercises with a lot of static trainings, in the form of Taichi, or Qigong in China, and Yoga in India, emphasise more on the promotion of internal well-being (Gibson, 2006). The Journal of American Geriatric Society reported in April 2007 the results a randomized controlled trial of

112 subjects, aged 59 - 86, on Taichi exercises against health education, using chicken pox vaccine

as a stimulant to immunological responses. Those

Supplementing haemopoiesis:

Chinese nameChinese herbs

Angrllica sinesis

Radix Polygoni Mulitiflori

Fructus Lycii

Supplementing Yin deficiency:

Chinese nameChinese herbs

Fructus Ligustri Lucidi Rhizoma Polygonati Odorati Fructus Mori


Supplementing Yang deficiency:

Chinese nameChinese herbs

Cortex Eucommiae

Cornu Cervi Pantotrichum

Herba Epimedu

The above herbs are generally used in food.

in the Taichi group enjoyed a 40% increase in their immunological responses (double that of controls) and an improved physical and mental state of health was also observed.

It is interesting to look at Japan which has been famous with many champion regions of longevity. The Nobuyoshi Hirose Centenarian Research, reported that the life style of the people living beyond 100 years of age in Okinawa, Japan, share the following criteria:

i. Consuming a healthy diet with good vitamins;

ii. Plenty of physical exercises;

iii. Sleeping a lot and facing little stress;

iv. Living in quiet, peaceful surroundings with fresh air, fresh water, but no excessive sunlight; and

v. Keeping active in the community (Kazuhiko,


Recommendations for Healthy Aging Aging is a normal life process. To make it a happy event, one has to understand the physiological changes in response to the structural deteriorations

with age. While the European group insistent on a scientific deductive approach to give endless efforts to detect minor changes inside the body (hormonal alterations), which might be responsible for the deteriorations and then act accordingly by either supplement or elimination. However, the oriental group continues its holistic approach of maintaining the internal balance. Health is a complex issue. The individual as…