Author Archives: Gabriel

Aging in Spain

On a recent trip to Barcelona to plan our next LCO clinic (Dates TBA), I couldn’t help notice the throngs of elderly people sitting in the public squares. There they were, well into their 70s and 80s, eating, drinking and laughing with the robustness of 20-somethings.

One afternoon, after two elderly woman elbowed me out of the way to board the bus, I began to jot down some of my observations about these vibrant seniors and why I suspected Spain enjoys such a high life expectancy rate (85 years for women, 79 years for men). Here’s what I noticed:

1) Sun makes all the difference

For all our talk about harmful UV rays, the sun is still crucial for our health and emotional well being. If you aren’t a snow bird now, then I highly suggest you become one. Vitamin D is essential and here in Spain they have it in loads. So put on some sunscreen (minimum 30 SPF) and find sunny days. Your body will thank you.

2) Olive Oil is a LIFESAVER

A very popular Spanish breakfast is a piece of toasted bread rubbed with tomato and a drizzling of olive oil on top. Tomatoes and olive oil are the perfect nutritional combo. Lycopene from the tomato is best absorbed by the body with olive oil, which is in itself an excellent source of HDL cholesterol (the good kind). By adding virgin olive oil to toasts, salads and pastas, you are helping to fight inflammation in the body and and reducing your risk of cancer and heart disease. For gorgeous recipes from the Spanish kitchen, including a life giving and truly delicious Gazpacho, click here 

3) Wine is good…really good

The Spanish love their wine. In most places in Barcelona, a glass of very nice red wine is a little bit more expensive than a cup of coffee. For many Spanish, a glass or two of red with lunch es necesario. And why not? Red wine is full of antioxidants as well as our friend, HDL cholesterol. It is also effective in digestion, activating the enzymes necessary to break down food far more effectively than water or nasty soft drinks. So drink up and say, “Salut!”

4) Don’t Drive…Walk!

After a week in Barcelona, I had gotten used to three-course lunches and plenty of gorgeous desserts including my personal favourite, creme catalana. And yet despite my Olympic eating, I rarely felt that sickening full feeling like I usually do in the States, when ambling out of a TGI Friday’s I can’t wait to go home and enjoy a well deserved food coma. Not here. Everyone walks or bikes or rollerblades. I even saw a few brave souls using a monocycle to get around. Elderly people are constantly active, walking to do their errands or simply enjoying a stroll in this beautiful city. Walking increases your heart rate and burns fat while lubricating joints and muscles, especially important for aging bodies. Haven’t I given you enough reasons to start moving?

5) Fruits of the Sea

I have never seen so much shrimp, crab, lobster, prawn, salmon and cod consumed as I did in Spain. Here in Barcelona, the rule seems to be that if it lives under water it can go into a paella. While fresh fish is in abundance so is frozen fish which nutritionists claim is just as healthy and even safer than a fresh catch as it contains less bacteria. But the power of seafood, frozen or fresh is indisputable as it contains essential Omega 3 and HDL cholestorol (notice a pattern here?).

The wine, the long lunches and walking are easy enough rituals to adopt, but it should be noted that these habits are part of a much larger factor for healthy aging. Attitude. Here, I’ve noticed that older people seem to maintain an attitude of excitement. They look forward to their next meal or outing with friends and family. That attitude, mixed with a little wine and a lot of sunshine, is what keeps all of us young.

For information on LCO’s Gerontology program, click here

Beautiful Eyes and Osteopathic Esthetics

Beautiful Eyes and Osteopathic Esthetics

Did you know that aging of the skin around the eyes begins as soon as we open them in the delivery room? We blink on average of 10,000 times a day and for the first 12 years we rub, squint, pull and most likely, do not moisturize.

An abundance of proteins such as elastin and collagen, largely responsible for skin elasticity, allow us to get away with it for a while. But closer to our 40s, even those of us with a disciplined skin care regimen notice unwelcome skin changes such as crows feet or lines on the forehead…to name a few.

As we get older, the level of “youth proteins” starts a gradual decline, resulting in the emergence of visible lines, wrinkles and sagging skin. Lack of sleep, diet choices, stress and prolonged sun exposure are other contributing factors. Another big one is our facial expression or mimic. Coco Chanel was not wrong when she said, “by 50 we have the face we deserve.”

The skin care industry has played a major role in helping us look good. Thousands of creams costing anywhere from a few bucks to hundreds of dollars per gram are being offered to every type of consumer. Facial acid peels, laser treatments, injectable line fillers and corrective surgeries are readily available. However, despite the popularity and effectiveness of the invasive treatments, there is a vast number of consumers who are looking for a ‘natural’ alternative.

Osteopathy, since its emergence in the mid 19th century, has been offering an alternative to the pharmaceutically driven approach to health care. Working with their hands, osteopaths are able to diagnose the cause of malaise and correct it through manual manipulation of the spine and musculoskeletal system. Incidentally, many people do not know that the origins of chiropractics lie in osteopathy, which was the first discipline to teach joint manipulation as a therapeutic modality.

As the demand for holistic skin care continues to grow, osteopathy has been successfully used in Europe as an effective anti-aging treatment for the face and particularly the eyes.

Osteopathic philosophy believes that with adequate stimulation, the body possesses innate resources to heal itself. Four main principles of this gentle manual medicine are:

  • The body operates as one whole unit
  • Structure (anatomy) and function (physiology) are interdependent and interconnected
  • An unimpeded flow of body fluids (blood and lymph) is essential to health
  • Given the right assistance the body is capable for self-healing

Osteopathic Estheticians use their hands to find the cause of the problem and correct it. Good understanding of anatomy (structure) and physiology (function) of the face and neck is an essential component of training. An osteopathic skin treatment is aimed at increase in blood circulation and lymphatic fluid output, release of micro-spasms in the facial muscles and joints, and deep relaxation. Osteopathic modalities include venous and lymphatic drainage technique, craniosacral technique, myofascial release and facial tissue manipulation.

Osteopathic treatment provided by a trained esthetician delivers remarkable results.

After a serious of 8-10 weekly treatments, clients report visible improvement in the face:

  • Healthy glowing skin
  • Reduced puffiness
  • Removal of under-eyes circles
  • Visible reduction of facial lines and wrinkles

For more information on Osteopathic Facial Treatments and how you can begin to incorporate them into your list of services as a skin care professional, click here

Skin Care Tips from an Osteopath

Skin Care Tips from an Osteopath

4 simple skin care tips for the face and eye area:

Skin and muscles supporting the vision process (watching TV, computer work, reading or playing sports) experience a heavy load as a result of muscular tension. Rub your palms vigorously until they feel warm and place them on your closed eyes without applying much pressure and relax eye muscles for a few minutes. Feel the difference.

If you have more time, do eye fitness exercises for an extra 5 minutes<.p>

1. Take frequent sips of water or herbal tea

Lack of water in the skin contributes to formation of wrinkles and dark circles. To keep the skin supple, drink a large glass of lukewarm water after waking up. I add lemon juice to make it taste better. Drinking on an empty stomach not only helps restore moisture to the skin, but also stimulates bowel movements, moving toxins out of the body.

2. Spend time outside

For many of us living a busy life, spending time outdoors is a luxury. Allow yourself to indulge…after all, it’s free. All functions of the body require oxygen.  Deprived of it, the skin becomes dry and thin, particularly around the eyes. This leads to the formation of those dreaded crow’s feet.

3. Eat and drink what you like…in moderation.

When we feel good, we look good. Allow yourself a delicious cup of coffee if your blood pressure is low: coffee acts as a natural pick-me-upper. Enjoy a glass of red wine with a meal to relax after a heavy day: anti-oxidants in red wine have done well for world centenarians.

London College of Osteopathy offers a unique Certificate in Osteopathy & Facial Esthetics for skin professionals wishing to expand their client base with effective, nonsurgical osteopathic facial treatments.

Drinking and Digestion

Drinking and Digestion

Most of us know that putting sodas or fruit juices in our bodies is the equivalent of adding tar to our bathwater. Water always seemed like the only trustworthy substance. But lately, even water has come into question, particularly its role in the digestive process.

The following article gives an in-depth overview of drinking, digestion and the impact that fluids have on the stomach’s ability to break down food. Some of the findings are surprising and challenge the nutritional principles we all firmly believed were true.

To read the full article, click here

Successful Aging

Recently, a young LCO student asked me what it means to age successfully. My answer was to describe the vision that I work towards every day. It includes a fit figure with moderately toned muscles. A face that reflects my life experiences, but is not ravaged by them. To be surrounded by family and true friends. To continue working with students and help them grow their holistic practices. Ideally, I will be walking my dogs, practicing yoga, Pilates and swimming at least three times a week well into my 90s. In my model of aging, I try to take responsibility for my own health and wellbeing, the very foundation of which I believe lies in one key holistic principle. Rest. By rest I don’t just mean getting more sleep although yes, that is essential. I am referring to “rest”  on a physiological and emotional level.

Science has confirmed that our cells are programmed for rebirth only a set number of times. Countless studies are showing that this number depends just as much on genes and lifestyle factors as it does on the energy that we spend. Consider that every obligation, every “yes” we say instead of the “no” we mean, impacts our nervous system and ultimately causes premature cellular expenditure. Every promise we make that we are unsure how to keep, every pessimistic thought or guilt ridden action takes a physiological toll. This extends to poor nutritional choices. Erratic sleep patterns. Overbooked schedules. Judgements and grudges. Ultimately, it is our physical bodies that pay the price. And that is why, it is essential to try and be kind to your cells and give them the one thing they need to maintain themselves. Rest.

To learns more about the biology of aging, visit LCO’s comprehensive gerontology course page. In addition, there are a number of excellent books on the subject of successful aging including Shock of Gray by Ted Fishman, Prime Time by Jane Fonda, The End of Illness by David B. Agus and Conquering Any Disease by Jeff Primack.

Rita Shpilt is an osteopathic practitioner, massage therapist and yoga enthusiast.