Many of us are living longer (thanks to modern medicine). But some of us are living longer in a poor state of health unable to enjoy those additional years. What a shame. It does not have to be that way.
“Youthful aging” seems contradictory, yet it is possible to live a life that is energetic and productive. It is possible to live a live full of verve, vigor, and vitality into our senior years. We can square off the mortality curve so that we don’t spend the last 10 to 20 years in a nursing home, but rather spend them doing all things we enjoy.
Why We Age
Free radicals, inflammation, declining hormones, and glycosylation accelerate the aging process. We also age because the power plants of the cells, the mitochondria begin to fail. Proper nutrition can limit free radical production, reduce inflammation, help maintain optimal hormone levels, prevent glycosylation, and improve mitochondrial function.
Stop Aging by Fighting Free Radicals
Free radicals are molecules that have an extra electron making the molecule unstable. The molecule steals an electron from another molecule setting off a cascade of events that ultimately leads to cell and tissue damage.
Antioxidants fight free radicals. Natural sources of antioxidants are fruits and vegetables. Antioxidants include vitamin C, vitamin E, and beta-carotene. Other potent antioxidants are grape seed extract, resveratrol, quercetin, alpha lipoic acid, and coenzyme Q10. Melatonin, a hormone that facilitates sleep is also a potent antioxidant.
Stop Aging: Stop Inflammation and Glycosylation
A major key to stop aging is to stop inflammation. Inflammation is at the heart of many chronic diseases like diabetes, obesity, hypertension, heart disease, and cancer. The typical American diet high in saturated fats, trans fats, sugar, and preservatives contributes to increased inflammation. The high glycemic nature of the American diet leads to excess insulin production which also increases inflammation.
High glycemic foods cause a rapid spike in blood sugar levels. This leads to glycosylation. Glycosylation occurs when sugar binds to protein, essentially deactivating the protein. Proteins are necessary to carry out metabolic and biochemical processes. Once sugar binds to a protein, the protein becomes impaired and unable to perform efficiently. Preventing glycosylation is another key to stop aging.
Eating low glycemic carbohydrates can reduce inflammation and glycosylation. To learn more about the glycemic index of foods go to www.glycemicindex.com Consuming fish or taking fish oil supplements is another great way to inhibit inflammation. Flax seed functions much like fish oil and soy products have anti-inflammatory effects. Many of the antioxidants discussed above also inhibit inflammation.
Maintaining Mitochondrial Function
The mitochondrial are the power plants of the cells producing ATP that we use for energy. They are unique in that they are the only organelles of the cell that have their own DNA. Mitochondria are susceptible to free radical damage. Coenzyme Q10, alpha lipoic acid, acetyl-L-carnitine, and the B vitamins can help maintain mitochondrial function. Vigorous exercise can generate new mitochondria. There is some evidence that pyrroloquinolone quinine (PQQ) can also generate new mitochondria.
Hormones are produced by the endocrine system, and they enable the body to function more efficiently and effectively. The endocrine system is under the control of a part of the brain called the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus responds to varying levels of hormones regulating directly and indirectly the body’s production and release of hormones. As we age the hypothalamus begins to malfunction and operates with less precision usually leading to a decline in hormone production.
Declining hormones are contribute to weight gain, loss of energy, loss of reproductive ability, loss of muscle mass and strength, loss of bone density, depression and mood alterations, declining cognitive skills, stiffening of blood vessels, and a host of other symptoms as we age.
Fortunately, hormone levels can be measured and hormones can be restored to youthful levels through the use of bioidentical hormones.
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