As I approach the grand old age of 60 years old, now the new 40 (or so we are told?), I am adding my two cents in for what it is worth!
First a bit of background about myself.
In my previous life in the early 1980’s, aka before I became a cosmetic maker, I was a holistic therapist. Because of the fact my practise was home visiting, my clients had advanced conditions of both osteo and rheumatic arthritis, multiple sclerosis, cancer, Parkinson’s disease etc. I was in fact, most of the time, their last hope as the general medical system couldn’t do anything more for them except give or try more medications or (in the case of cancer) remove more tissue from the body.
My practise was extremely busy, and I was pleased to say that my treatments did have a positive impact whether it was relieving pain or symptoms such as trembling in Parkinson’s disease.
My treatments consisted of the use of essential oils (applied during treatment and for use in aftercare in-between treatments), reflexology and various massage techniques. But, the most valuable takeaway on this was the use of nutrition.
From a very early age I was fascinated and intrigued how nutrition worked on the body and it did make sense to me that what you ate must have an impact on how your health would be.
At the age of 13 years old, after reading a diet plan in a UK magazine called “Jackie”, I gave up adding sugar to my tea. I also had just been to the doctor complaining of being tired and he gave me a prescription of vitamins, what a forward-thinking Doctor he must have been at the time, this was back in 1973? I felt the effects immediately from the vitamins which kick-started a lifetime of taking supplements and the art of biohacking ‘Do it yourself biology’ my body.
I bought an advanced book on how to practise yoga and would religiously practise everyday in my bedroom. Didn’t bother with the breathing part or meditation, just went through each pose as fast as I could. It was more like an aerobic yoga workout! In my defence I was only 13 years old and didn’t injure myself too much, just had a few bruises on my neck, from doing advanced should stand poses!
Also I decided that I wanted to study medicine but was really attracted to Alternative medicine. I saw a reflexology demonstration and thought if this really works then this would be incredible. I went to school and studied human biology, nutrition, studies herbalism and went to study massage and skin care, I then went on to study Reflexology and Aromatherapy.
In 1982, I then ventured full time into the world of holistic medicine as a fully trained practitioner. I was very lucky in that I was a regular on BBC radio talking and answering questions about alternative medicine. Once I got over my initial shyness, I totally enjoyed this phase of my life and still have some copies of the first radio shows.
As I mentioned before, one of the most valuable part of the treatments I gave was biohacking the clients nutritional landscape.
I used a simple method of asking them to write down everything they put into their mouth for a week. I would then sit down with them on the 2nd visit and go through their food and drink intake. Most noticeably I noticed that 99% of clients didn’t drink water. The general diets in the UK in the late 70’s and early 80’s was mainly processed food, daily treats of biscuits and cake, pudding and custard after the main meal and lots of sugary tea. On top of that vegetables were boiled to death!
I started with getting clients to drink water and at the time I personally was following the acid/alkaline balanced diet. Information with a simplified acid/alkaline diet plan, is mentioned in my first book “The Creamy Craft of Cosmetic Making” 1995.
I was also very much into fasting, very similar to the fasting mimicking diet that is now in vogue.
My fasting mimicking food was to eat only grapes. Now, before you say anything negative about grapes, these grapes had to have their seeds in and at the time grapes were a lot healthier with less chemicals used on crops than used now!
The magic amount of time of fasting seemed to be 3 days. One would eat up to 1 kg of grapes chewing the seeds well. The only drink would be water.
I could feel in my body that on the 2nd and 3rd day of the fast, the deepest cleansing would be going on in my body and for weeks afterwards would feel and look amazing.
I now know it was due to a process called ‘autophagy’, which is a process that when fasting, the body breaks down and regenerates damaged cells. Afterwards in the refeeding stage, new stem cells are formed which maybe responsible for the regeneration and rejuvenation that occurred in my own body!
I personally fasted one day a week, which I did for many years with a full three-day grape cleanse taken twice yearly. In-between I would follow the acid/alkaline balanced diet during the week, and at the weekend enjoy a “regular meal” and a nice glass (or 3) of wine.
I discovered already in my late teens, that bread didn’t agree with my digestion (in other words, it bloated me and made me fat), so although I didn’t completely abolish it from my diet, it was seriously curtailed!
How did this help my clients? Well I was hesitant about putting them on a full three-day grape fast, although I did talk about this possibility to them, but I did manage to persuade most of my clients to eat grapes and drink water one day a week. Plus, most of them followed the acid/alkaline balanced diet and I was able at the time to get their doctors to prescribe vitamins and minerals for them. Yes, I was able to work with some doctors on this!
An example of just a couple of supplements I liked at the time was kelp and B vitamins.
The results were amazing! In my arthritis clients, the inflammation would be reduced, hence less pain. Most of my clients came off medication for pain relief and as side effect, medication for high blood pressure as well.
In my multiple sclerosis client’s, I noticed a lessening of tremors also better balance and again a relief of symptoms.
For my cancer clients, my purpose was to make their last days as pain free as possible, (I mostly had terminal bedridden cases), this usually involved foot massage and the use of essential oils.
Moving on, in my 30’s, I started a Holistic Health School in Toronto, where I put all my past experiences into a year long full time course which led to the qualification CNHP (Certified Natural Health Care Practitioner), which included Aromatherapy, Reflexology, Lymphatic drainage, Thai massage, Holistic Skin Care, Basic Nutrition plus.
Where is this leading to?
As I am now nearing 60 years old, people have been asking how come my skin is young looking, and how come my muscle to fat ratio is increasing and not decreasing.
I am still learning, biohacking myself using various skin care regimes, nutrition, supplements and exercise. I will discuss and share in my upcoming blogs from a “Jan Benham Perspective”:
Coming up in detail: Nutrition plans, both the latest and ones that worked for myself and my clients in the past, my favourite massage treatments, a skin care regime that really works and a good exercise program especially geared for pre and post-menopausal woman.
The first blog will start with nutrition as that affects skin care as well so we should start with the inside “Water the rose from the root”.
For further reading especially for skin care my first two books do include skin care programs and life style fun tips.
The Creamy Craft of Cosmetic Making with essential oils and their friends, 1995
This book is recommended to first read, with a KISS (Keep it simple stupid) approach to skin and body care.
The Baby Boomers Beauty Bible, 2004
For those of you wanting to know even more, this book covers specific skin problems and how to help deal with conditions such as rosacea, acne and ageing skin naturally.
Both these books along with others that I have written are available either through my web shop or on Amazon as e books and as hard copy books.
As always, I encourage you to do your homework. Some of the suggestions I make might or might not be suitable for yourself. Be warned that I will also be looking at some controversial practices!
Also, if over 70 years old or have certain medical conditions, always obtain professional advice before embarking on a new nutritional or exercise plan.