Prevention & Recovery
Q&A: Suzanne Somers on healthy aging
Prevention & Recovery
Q&A: Suzanne Somers on healthy aging
At 63, Suzanne Somers claims to be feeling better -- and thinking better -- than she has in her whole life. Her secret? Good food, lots of sleep, minimal stress and balanced hormones. In her book, Ageless, Somers continues the discussion of bioidentical hormones begun in her bestselling The Sexy Years. Through interviews with leading doctors on their recommendations for healthy aging, she shares with readers -- both men and women -- concrete solutions on how they can stay healthy and happy by taking control of their health and well-being. We spoke with Somers about her book, her lifestyle and her advice on living well.
Canadian Living: What is the key concept you want people to take away from your book?
Suzanne Somers: The concept is you have to learn how your body works and be proactive about your own health, because we're living in a world of the greatest environmental assault the human species has ever before endured. We experience more stress in one day than people in Elizabethan times experienced in their entire lifetime. And people are losing their hormones -- men and women -- 10 years earlier than they once did. So normally a woman would start losing her eggs at 50 and go into menopause; it's now starting at 40.
What I've done for myself by taking advantage of my celebrity and getting to all these doctors is I really learned how my body works at a hormonal level. And I've tried to simplify it in this book and also to explain that we don't have to expect the diseases we associate with aging, which is heart disease, stroke, cancer, Alzheimer's. We take too many drugs -- every drug is designed to keep us on them for life -- and really, we should only be taking drugs for three things: for pain, infection and mental illness. All the rest are conditions that can be dealt with in a natural way and only going to Western medicine as a last resort.
Our biological reason for being here is reproduction. So if we're no longer of reproductive age, our body wants to eliminate us. Technology has figured out how to keep us alive now, to 90 and 100 years old, but nobody's thought about the quality of life in those years, and without hormones, there's no quality of life.
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CL: And why should people listen to you about these topics?
SS: You know the group Al-Anon? The whole concept of Al-Anon is by attraction, others will want what you have. So if it looks like I have quality of life and health and a youthful vitality at my age, then maybe by attraction they'll want what I have. Everything that I say is backed up by Western doctors. I've spent hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of hours [researching hormones]. I think that something about me has an energy that people want, and I think that's why they read my books.
CL: What are your top five recommendations for healthy aging?
SS: The first thing is eat real food. And by real food I mean no chemicals, no preservatives, no trans fats, no hydrogenated oils. Eat real fats: butter, cream, sour cream, olive oil. Every cell in the body requires protein, fat and carbohydrate to reproduce itself -- just make sure it's real, and you're way ahead of the game with that. Get a good night's sleep. It's more important than I ever even realized. Nature has provided all this healing work that happens within eight and nine hours. Manage your stress. [Stress] blunts hormone production, so manage your stress, because an imbalance of hormones is where disease has an opportunity to occur.
And then replace hormones only if they are low or missing. Never too much, never too little -- it's got to be individualized. Then understand that as you get older, you need a doctor who specializes in your years. They can make a huge difference in your health and your life span. And the goal is to die healthy. The goal is to not end up like everyone's ending up now, in nursing homes with tubes up their nose. Women on this continent can expect eight years of disability before they die. Eight years. Wheelchairs, Alzheimer's, cancer, stroke -- it's kind of crazy.
CL: Would you say those are in order of importance?
SS: I do. Unless you are 50-ish and have no hormones, maybe you want to get your hormones put in first and then think about your eating. But it all goes hand in hand.
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SS: I think that it will help a lot -- it will help with the quality of your life. But the fact that you're living these bad lifestyle habits -- you've accelerated the aging process, which means you've accelerated your death. So the hormones are going to give you a better quality of life, but you've probably already shortened your life by your bad lifestyle and diet choices. But I don't think it's ever too late and I think that even after a lifetime of bad eating and not sleeping and stress, if you embrace real food, getting a good night's sleep, replacing hormones, getting an anti-aging doctor, managing your stress -- if you do that, you can make a remarkable turnaround in your health and you can probably extend your life even though you've already done so much damage to yourself.
I don't know why people don't value their bodies. People take better care of their cars than they do of their bodies. We so take it for granted, but it's a machine, and the more finely tuned it is, the better you're going to work. I now really know that aging doesn't mean you have to get fat. You don't have to get senile. You don't have to lose your sex drive. You don't have to lose your vitality, and you not only don't have to lose your brain, but you can improve upon your cognitive abilities by making these changes in your life. My brain is working better now than I think it ever has in my life, and I think the last five or 10 years is the first time I've ever been hormonally balanced in my whole life.
CL: What's a daily routine like for you?
SS: I try to go to bed between nine and 10. I try to only go out two nights a week, and not consecutively. I try to do yoga four times a week and walk the other days. And my hormonal/supplemental routine takes about 20 minutes every morning. I eat real food. And I try to eat organic as much as possible.
CL: If you could go back 30 or 40 years and give your younger self a piece of advice, what would it be?
SS: I wouldn't change anything. It was all a process of growth. I made a lot of bad choices, a lot of mistakes, but I did a lot of work to improve myself emotionally, spiritually, intellectually. I educated myself and I'm sitting here at 60 years old and I'm really happy with what I've done with my life. And I'm really happy with my family and I don't look over my shoulder wishing I was anybody else. So all the mistakes have been lessons. Even the cancer was a lesson. I don't think I'd change anything.
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