Beauty is more than just skin deep? Indeed!
That healthy glow that many seek to attain or maintain only comes from behavior that respects the body’s limits and nourishes mind, body, and spirit.
Preventive lab testing, therapies, and smart lifestyle will help you live a long life.
Anti-aging is big news these days and for good reason. Who wouldn’t want to live a long and healthy life and feel beautiful while doing it? Maybe you feel a bit like Ponce de Leon, the famous explorer tracing through the jungle looking for the fountain of youth. This yearning to learn how to stay healthy longer has also captured the attention of the scientific community, and while science has yet to discover an elixir that magically adds years to our lives, some interesting research has pointed to a few factors that can help us all extend our lives and maximize our health.
The key to a long life, though, is to have a healthy long life. This is where your focus truly belongs: discovering what makes you healthy. No one wants to live to be 100 years old if it means being hooked up to machines and not enjoying life. We all know people who look radiant and have a healthy glow about them; this comes from taking good care of themselves throughout their lives.
The Biohealth approach to anti-aging insists that we live our lives in awareness of how stress impacts the body and mind and take action towards reducing and eliminating stress. This would be a good time to purchase Dr. Timmins’ book,The Chronic Stress Crisis, as it is truly a no-holds barred guide to longevity. Read it, set goals, and strive to reach them and maintain balance in your life!
What is Aging?
Not an easy question to answer. It appears obvious – for we all know what aging looks like – but what scientists struggle with is what, exactly, is going on at a cellular level and why.
Somewhere around middle age our bodies start to change. We become more vulnerable to daily wear and tear and there is a general decline in physical, and possibly mental, functioning. The symptoms of aging are many:
- Hearing tends to decrease.
- We gain fat and lose muscle.
- Our liver, kidneys and other organs become less efficient.
- Digestion changes, we have a decrease stomach acid.
- We lose muscle strength, coordination, reflexes, agility, flexibility.
- Hormone levels gradually decline, including thyroid hormone, melatonin, sex hormones and growth hormone.
- Our memory and learning are diminished.
- Decreased bones strength and density.
- Loss of sight including cataracts and macular degeneration.
- Skin become less pliable, hair turns grey, loss of hair.
Most of these symptoms are familiar but we still don’t know why we are aging; let’s take a look at a few theories running around the scientific community:
- DNA: This theory states that our genes are somehow programmed to “turn off” at some point, or that our cells can only have so many times that they will divide before they fail.
- Hormonal Theory: This theory suggests that our hormonal systems changes as we age (and this is true). These changes create damage to various parts of our body; certainly stress hormones wreak havoc on our bodies.
- Free Radicals: The free-radical theory suggests that our bodies are damaged by free-radicals. This underlies the reason why many people take antioxidant supplements.
- Glycosylation: The Glycosylation Theory of Aging suggests that sugars in the foods we eat bind to proteins. Once these proteins are bound or glycosylated the proteins become ineffective and are damaged.
The real answer is that we really don’t know what causes aging (maybe it is a combination of factors), but what is interesting is that we may not have to know what causes us to age, because scientists are starting to get a good idea of what we need to do to live a longer life.
How to Improve Your Chances for a Longer Life
While there are no guarantees, here are some ways you can stack the cards in your favor for a long and healthy life.
Handle your Stress: Nothing does more harm to our bodies than stress (to familiarize yourself with the many forms of obvious and obscure stresses, see this page). For example: Long-term stress has been shown to damage our guts, leading to ulcers and even increasing diseases such as irritable bowel syndrome1. Stress also hurts our brains and even our mental status leading to conditions such as anxiety, depression2. Heart disease and stress have been linked for a long time3. Stress is known to decrease the functioning of the immune system4 and increase inflammation5. Stress can even impact the growth of a child6. The examples go on and on. No one just wakes up with a disease! It was developing quietly—or not so quietly—all along, as the result of Chronic Stress.
Altogether there is a lot of damage stress can do to your health. Learn ways to deal with the stressors in your life and work with a healthcare provider experienced in Functional Diagnostic Medicine to get the preventative lab testing you need.
Calorie Restriction: Scientific studies have shown that calorie restriction does extend life, even in such diverse species as yeast, fruit flies, rats, mice and rhesus monkeys. Short-term studies in humans have shown that calorie restrictions improve metabolic, hormonal and functional changes, but the precise amount of calories needed to extend life in humans is unknown.7 How to practically restrict calories is a long subject, but start by looking for things in your diet that you don’t need. Hint: Choose fresh food over the packaged stuff.
HPA Glands and Hormone Balance: HPA syndrome, also referred to as HPA exhaustion or HPA insufficiency, is one of the most undiagnosed, misdiagnosed, and mistreated health problems in America today. The degree of its severity ranges from mild dysfunction to total failure of the HPA glands (known as Addison’s disease). Because the HPA glands are responsible for so many critical functions, even a minor impairment in their function can have a negative impact on the entire body. A chronic disruption—one that persists over time—of normal HPA function can undermine immunity and metabolism, leading to debilitating health conditions. With weak HPA glands and the resulting hormone underproduction and imbalance, longevity becomes a steep uphill climb, if not a pipe dream.
Obey the Standard Advice: While not specifically for a long life, we do know that some almost cliché and often repeated basic advice improves your chances for avoiding disease and living a healthy life.
- Eat your fruits and vegetables: Yes, these foods packed with vitamins and other nutrients do help you to avoid many of the diseases that plague most of us as we age.
- Take supplements with anti-aging benefits.
- Get out of the house: Exercise is one of the best anti-aging elixirs that we have and it is free.
- Avoid eating too much sugar: Remember that sugar binding to proteins is one of the theories of aging. Look at your cart when you are leaving the grocery store, most packaged foods contain some form of sugar.
- Don’ts: Don’t drink too much alcohol, don’t smoke, avoid street drugs…keep as many poisons out of your body as possible.
- Do’s: Do laugh, enjoy, share with friends, play and enjoy life.
If you haven’t already, familiarize yourself with the important concepts of Chronic Stress and HPA Syndrome. Also see this site’s section on lifestyle to focus on what you absolutely can control.