Scientific Theories of Aging and the Logical Vitamin-Mineral Supplements to Remedy Each One
Scientific Theories of Aging
and Their Logical Remedies - This sample is excerpted from my book Look Younger, Live Longer: Reverse the Aging Process in One Year Using Eastern Traditions and Modern Nutritional Science
Western science has developed (and continues to develop) many theories on aging as to why our bodies gradually weaken and lose function over time. The theories attribute aging to “wear and tear,” accumulated cellular damage, changing metabolism rates, genetic mutations, hormonal imbalances, waste accumulations, chemical changes within cells, structural shape alterations and more. Some theories assert that our body is designed to age and therefore must follow certain biological limits while others propose, like the Taoists, that any natural limits can be surpassed if they do indeed exist.
Only rarely do the scientists behind these various theories recommend any natural remedies to counter the proposed processes. In the light of what we have already learned from the Chinese Taoists, let us visit just a few of these theories and suggest some logical ways to address them.
Wear and Tear
The first aging theory of “Wear and Tear” concerns the detrimental accumulation of cellular abuse over time. It entails the idea that cells and tissues have parts that eventually wear out as time progresses and this results in aging. Deterioration naturally happens to most material things in life, and therefore most people readily understand the idea that ordinary insults, injuries and toxins in the diet and/or environment might wear down or damage cells that would then “age” and die.
The wear and tear of cells due to chance damage that accumulates over time (such as due to toxic exposures, over-working or random damage) seems to be a feature of aging, but is not the cause of aging. The natural remedy for reducing damaging onslaughts of the “Wear and Tear” theory, however, is to stop doing the stupid things that everyone knows will hurt you and age you.
You should avoid bad habits such as drinking, smoking, taking drugs and exposing yourself to chemical toxins (such as pesticides) since this definitely causes extra wear and tear on cells and sickness. To avoid wear and tear on the body, you should also avoid dangerous sports that commonly cause injuries and which might even be deadly.
In other words, if you stop doing stupid things that hurt you and also reduce your exposure to what is harmful this will reduce physical damage to your cells and you will be healthier, look younger, live better and live longer.
The remedy for this theory of aging is therefore to be more moderate in your living and avoid physical assaults to your system both internally and externally. Also, to help with the processes of cellular repair you can improve your diet so that it is more nutrient dense and devoid of harmful substances such as sugar. A sensible strategy of vitamin-mineral and herbal supplements can also help provide your cells with ample amounts of the substances necessary for internal repair processes.
A final point is that when proteins and other molecules that are no longer useful in our bodies break down, junk accumulates inside as well as outside of our cells. Therefore the more wear and tear you undergo the more important must be your elimination processes to get rid of cellular junk, and a wise strategy would be to undergo regular detoxification protocols to help remove the buildup of cellular wastes in your system.
Some health professionals believe that extra detoxification efforts are not necessary for anyone, and that any detoxification routines are therefore a “scam” because your body has the ability to detoxify itself without need of external assistance. However, the degree of toxic assaults on bodies today – because of unclean diets and countless chemicals in the environment that we absorb – is far too much for the body to handle without extra assistance. Doctors commonly joke that we need two livers today, instead of just the one we have, in order to be able to keep up with the detoxification demands placed on the body due to its exposure to countless chemicals in the diet and environment. Detoxification routines help purge the body of excessive toxins that have built up within the bones, organs and connective tissues and are a great assist to longevity. Detox Cleanse Your Body Quickly and Completely teaches you how to do this.
Overall the keys to countering the physical wear and tear of aging are improved nutrition (to supply the necessary nutrients that help your body rebuild and repair what’s broken), better assimilation (so that you can digest and absorb what you need), and better circulation, elimination and detoxification procedures to help improve the cellular repair process.
The “Altered Protein Theory” of aging postulates that as we age the proteins in the body change shape, such as by twisting or hooking together so they can no longer do their jobs properly. As a result of these changes the cellular membranes lose their elasticity and become less pliable by so that tissues become unable to function. Body processes then start slowing down and the net result is aging.
In 1965, Dr. H. B. Bensusan proposed that the chemical process called the Maillard reaction caused long-lived proteins in the body to cross-link and become less elastic over time. This fits with a school of thought that pictures the body as a kind of low temperature oven with a very long 70-year cooking cycle; one that eventually cooks cells and destroys their proteins to create aging. Some believe that the Maillard reaction is in this way partly responsible for premature aging and degenerative disease.
You can see an example of this theory in action when you cut an apple in half. The exposed apple core eventually turns tough, yellowish and leathery because oxygen comes in contact with compounds inside the apple cells and changes their texture, which results in browning or “aging.” The hardening of collagen in the body over time is yet another example of the altered protein theory.
Collagen production decreases with age, beginning in our twenties, and it progressively declines with each decade. If one were able to regenerate their body’s ability to replace collagen then they would look years younger and stay younger too. Since collagen formation requires vitamin C, copper and proline, supplying highly absorbable forms of these substances (as well as lysine, glycine, zinc and N-acetyl-glucosamine) in the diet would be certain a way to reverse the clock and look much younger. Joint pains would also be reduced as well as strains and sprains due to running or jumping. Products like Jarrow Type II collagen, NeoCell Collagen 2 or NeoCell Collagen 1 & 3 can help you restore collagen levels so that joint pains and even wrinkles are eliminated. Other supplements can certainly help along these lines as well.
The cross-linking of glucose and protein through glycosylation, such as seen in diabetes and cataract formation, is another example of the altered protein theory in action. This is called the “cross-linkage theory of aging” and involves the linking together of two or more large molecules. These linked molecules end up progressively linking with yet more molecules, which then eventually impairs the functioning of cells and tissues and results in aging.
When too many cross-links form between cells in a tissue, the tissue hardens and loses its elasticity. This produces negative consequences in cellular biology. In the case of glycosylation, the unwanted binding of protein to glucose in various tissues produces compounds that interfere with normal cell functions. The proteins become so impaired that they are no longer able to perform as intended.
One strategy to address this “altered protein” process would be to break up cross-linkages by using chelating agents such as EDTA (ex. Detoxamin suppositories). These agents attach to heavy metals within the body, and cart them away so that they can be excreted. Chlorella, vitamin C, garlic and many other substances are natural chelators, but usually too weak to effectively remove heavy metals safely from the body. Rather, at times they tend to simply cart heavy metals from one location to another, thus spreading the problem. In terms of metals, for those worried about Alzheimer’s disease caused by aluminum, lithium is an effective chelator for aluminum detachment and silica is an aluminum chelator as well.
Over time, the cumulative errors from the alteration of proteins changing shape and the deformation of larger physical structures (such as organs) causes an organism to vary so much from its original design that it can eventually fail to function and start to fall apart. If proteins in the body change shape as we age, the logical remedy is to reduce or eliminate the conditions that cause them to do so if the process is not purely a function of time.
For instance, the natural remedy for glycosylation is to cut down on excess sugar consumption in the diet (or hi-glycemic foods that readily turn into glucose), especially since sugar has been implicated in countless health conditions such as cancer. Limiting the sugar in your diet is a well-recognized key to longevity; of all the substances able to inflict damage on your body cells, sugar molecules are probably the worst. This is especially true of fructose since it damages the liver, creates intestinal flora imbalances and leads to insulin resistance, obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancer. It basically speeds up the aging process so you should eliminate it as much as possible from your diet.
It is also possible to consume helpful anti-glycosylation supplements, such as the amino acid carnosine, resveratrol, alpha-lipoic acid, vitamin C and benfotiamine. Sulfurated proteins (such as in the cottage cheese and flax seed oil combination recommended by the Budwig diet) might also help to thwart any cellular membrane hardening processes, though the evidence for this approach is as yet inconclusive. Choline, lecithin, phosphatidylserine and centrophenoxine are also considered possible nutritional assists to restoring fluidity in cellular membranes.
Yet another proven way to restore the fluidity, elasticity and permeability of cellular membranes is by consuming sources of beta-sitosterol and phytosterols, which are an essential part of the “Mediterranean diet.” Membrane permeability governs insulin resistance, and restoring membrane permeability with phytosterol supplements like PMCaox has helped restore the health of diabetics. This is the approach I recommend since phytosterols can also clear clogged arteries over time and eliminate prostate problems, too.
Basically, the remedy for this particular theory of aging is a better diet and nutritional supplementation.
The “Free Radical” theory of aging proposes that free radicals, which are molecules having an extra electron creating a negative charge, damage the macromolecular components of cells, which then gives rise to the symptoms of aging. The idea is that free electrons react with healthy cellular molecules in a destructive way, producing accumulated damage that eventually causes cells and then organs to stop functioning.
If this theory is correct, then since your diet and lifestyle factors (smoking, alcohol consumption, etc.) are the accelerators of free radical damage this means that changing your lifestyle to avoid these factors will reduce aging. Once again you should aim for a healthier diet and better habits to counter the underpinnings of this theory of aging.
Furthermore, while your body does possess some natural antioxidants (in the form of enzymes) that help to curb the dangerous build-up of free radicals, it makes sense to support your enzyme levels through additional antioxidant supplements. This includes the key antioxidants that work with phytosterols because phytosterols help restore membrane elasticity so that these micronutrients (and others) can enter into cells. In particular, you should also supply your cells with additional levels of CoQ10 so that they have enough cellular energy to devote to repairs.
Lastly, because the simple processes of eating, drinking and breathing form free radicals due to the energy production cycles within cells, slower living will reduce free radical damage and thus aging. How do you accomplish slower living? Don’t eat too much, breath slower and deeper, live life with less stress and haste as the Taoists have recommended and practice meditation.
The “Metabolic (Rate of Living)” theory of aging revolves around the idea that the greater an organism’s rate of basal metabolism, the shorter the animal’s life span. For instance, hummingbirds have a very fast metabolism and thus do not live as long as other animals.
We can understand this principle better if we examine the respiratory rates of animals and compare this to their normal life spans. Mice, for instance, breathe about 60-230 times per minute and have a typical life span of about 1.5-3 years. Rabbits have a respiratory rate of 30-60 breaths per minute and a typical life span of 5-6 years. Monkeys breath about 30-50 times per minute and ordinarily have a life span of 20-30 years. Humans breath about 12-16 times per minute and have a typical life span of 70-80 years. Whales breath about 3-5 times per minute and often live to be more than one hundred years old.
Maintaining accelerated breathing and heart rates not only requires more energy but accelerates aging due to the faster metabolism that increases the body’s wear and tear. As a nutritional intervention you might address the implications of this theory of aging with CoQ10 that supplies cells with energy, B-vitamins that are involved with cellular energy cycles, and the mineral magnesium (in an absorbable form like magnesium orotate) that is necessary for stronger heart function. Magnesium additionally helps in reducing constipation so that wastes can be more efficiently eliminated from the body.
In Taoism you would counter this cause of aging simply by slower living, not getting too excited, and by slower, deeper breathing to lengthen and smoothen the Qi flow within your body. According to Taoist theory, deep breathing is a powerful aid to longevity and is preferred to shallow chest breathing. The Indian schools of Yoga would maintain this as well.
Are the Taoists and Indians right? Actually, modern scientists now believe that slow, deep breathing is probably the single best anti-stress medicine there is. Studies show that deep breathing into the lowest portion of your lungs hits the spot where oxygen exchange is the most efficient. Breathing in this way has been proven to lower your heart rate, decrease blood pressure, relax muscles, reduce stress and anxiety and calm the mind. Using the breath you can definitely calm both your body and mind, which is why breathing techniques are a cardinal route to anti-aging used in most cultural traditions.
Aren’t the physical benefits mentioned due to deep breathing ones that can lead to longer lives? To counter the metabolic theory of aging, Taoist notions of living and breathing would certainly be the natural remedy.
The “Mitochondrial Decline” theory of aging centers around the fact that the mitochondria in your cells produce ATP for your body’s energy. If an organ’s mitochondria fail then the organ loses energy, stops working and also fails. In fact, mitochondrial dysfunction or death are linked to Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, heart failure and virtually all the killer diseases of aging.
Mitochondrial counts decline over time as we age, so the enhancement and protection of cellular mitochondria would be an essential part of preventing and slowing this aspect of aging. The logical countering strategy is to supplement ourselves with materials that protect the mitochondria and improve their functioning in cellular energy production cycles, or which can actually increase the number of mitochondria in the body. This approach is basically a maintenance and supplementation strategy.
The substances that can actually do this include CoQ10 (coenzyme Q10), pyrroloquinoline quinone (PQQ), alpha lipoic acid, acetyl-l-carnitine (ALC), NADH, Malic acid, Fumaric acid, Succinic acid, D-Ribose, and various B-vitamins. In particular, PQQ increases the number of mitochondria in cells as well as their energetic efficiency so it is a great addition to the anti-aging arsenal. CoQ10 directly supplies the energy that cells need to perform their functions such as DNA repair while B-vitamins are critical to proper cell reproduction and maintenance as well.
The remedy for countering mitochondrial decline is thus a maintenance and augmentation strategy through specific dietary supplementation.
The “Mutation Accumulation” theory of aging recognizes the fact that DNA damage occurs continuously in the cells of living organisms and the accumulation of these errors over time gradually damages the cellular genetic code. When DNA repairs aren’t performed perfectly (since the repair mechanisms deteriorate over time), flawed DNA molecules eventually accumulate causing abnormal gene expression and in some cases disease such as cancer. This faulty repair or mutation process has also been proposed as a reason why we age.
Cancer, in particular, is often caused by genetic mutations. Since diet, smoking and alcohol are responsible for about 70-90% of all cancers, improving your diet and eliminating negative lifestyle factors is a way to reduce your chances of cancer and thus live longer. Raw foods are often proposed as cancer cures since they supply raw enzymes and nutrients that help your body repair itself, as are various sugarless but nutrient-rich diets which make use of important natural ingredients (see my book Super Cancer Fighters).
It is true that as DNA mutations occur over time and begin to accumulate with increasing age, cells deteriorate and no longer operate properly. Mutations occur in DNA chromosomes (and in mitochondria as well) that eventually cause cellular malfunctions. It therefore makes sense to supply special nutrients in our diets, such as nucleotides (the sub-unit molecules or building blocks of RNA and DNA), to help rebuild them. Amazingly, it turns out that many foods considered “miracle cures” in the past have this common denominator that they are rich in nucleotides. Perhaps that is why they have earned such a reputation for healing and are claimed to have anti-aging properties.
To put more nucleotides in the diet, Dr. David Williams suggested that we eat the nucleotide-rich foods of Spirulina, Chlorella, Brewer’s Yeast, Lentils, Beans, Oysters, Liver, Sardines, Anchovies and Mackerel. By consuming - in the most easily digested and assimilable form - the very micro-ingredients that power cellular repair processes for DNA and RNA you are going a long way to battling many of proposed causes of aging.
The practice of juicing fruits and vegetables also supplies an extremely high density of possible DNA repair nutrients in highly absorbable form, which perhaps explains why juicing diets also produce beautiful skin, miraculous cures and are said to be a remedy for aging. Fresh juicing is one of the best ways to ingest countless micronutrients that are still biochemically active. Fresh juices often contain many natural phytochemicals shown to prevent cancer, heart disease, osteoporosis, nervous system disorders, depression and more.
Consuming superfood powders are an easy alternative to the inconveniences of juicing, though this is often a lesser solution. Nonetheless “something is better than nothing,” so consuming a green/red superfood powder drink every day solves the problem of deciding what fruits and vegetables to consume in order to help your body rebuild itself. Just take one scoop and mix with a liquid such as rice milk or almond milk and you are covering many nutrient bases by supplying a cornucopia of herbs, adaptogens, vitamins, minerals and other ingredients that will help feed your cells and transform your inner biological terrain. The best course of action is to do your own fresh juicing and to add these powders to the final mixture.
Nutrient dense, the superfood powders usually contain many substances such as the concentrated essences of Spirulina, Chlorella, Wheat grass, Alfalfa, Barley grass, Oat grass, Spinach, Broccoli, Parsley, Kale, Tomato, Acai Berry, Amla Berry, Acerola Berry, Camu Camu Berry, Strawberry, Raspberry, Blueberry, Cherry, Pomegranate, Cranberry, Turmeric, Cinnamon, Maca Root, Green Tea, Reishi, Shitake, Maitake, Beet Juice, and Wasabi. Packed with the healing powers of nutrition that offers the potential for cellular repair, the list of possible ingredients they might contain, in concentrated and easily absorbable form, goes on.
Two common ingredients, Spirulina and Chlorella, are single-celled algae organisms that are easily digested and absorbed, partially because when they are in powder form their particles are particularly small. Chlorella, in particular, can often help to rid your body of heavy metal accumulations and can provide many of the materials necessary for repairing faulty RNA and DNA.
Since DNA/RNA damage increases in our cells with age while repair mechanisms decline over time, remember that a possible solution to increasing numbers of cellular mutations is to consume the very foods which would be the most useful for repairing RNA and DNA. Therefore, why not consume nucleotide-rich foods such as Chlorella and Spirulina that are readily found in most super green powders?
You might also think about products such as Bragg’s liquid amino acids, Barley or Wheat Grass powder, or even whey concentrate. These foods supply powerful nutrients in an easily assimilable form. Much of the work your body will need to perform for digestion is eased when you consume foods that are in the form of very small particulate pieces as these products typically supply.
In terms of the supplements that might help with genetic repair, once again CoQ10, the B-vitamins and mineral co-factors come to mind. B-vitamins are critical for proper cell reproduction and phytosterols, such as beta-sitosterol, are necessary for making cellular membranes flexible – one of the keys for countering the negative effects of aging. CoQ10, B-vitamins, minerals as well as other micronutrients and co-factors cannot get into the cell if its membrane is inflexible so I personally use anti-aging supplements like Life Assure and PMCaox (see BCN4Life.com).
Various genetic theories of aging postulate that mutations, changes in gene expression and genetic error catastrophes that accumulate over time are what ultimately cause aging and death. The idea is that genetic mutations eventually occur inside cells and this gradually causes flawed molecules to accumulate. As a result, cells stop operating properly. However, since gene replication is supposed to happen in tune with a genetic clock, there might be a possibility of not just accelerating but of slowing DNA aging.
For instance, the “Hayflick limit” (the normal number of times a human cell divides until cell division stops) suggests that the life span of cells is limited. In order to stay alive cells must continually divide and replicate themselves, however, there is a limit to the number of times they can do so. Research has demonstrated that with each replication the telomeres at the ends of chromosomes (which control cell replication) shorten; and when the telomeres reach a critical length, the cells can no longer duplicate themselves.
If this is correct, and there is in fact some kind of genetic or molecular clock operating that determines cellular senescence, perhaps it is possible to slow the clock down. One solution might be to supply any nutrients that might help telomeres retain their lengths. Some scientists think that telomeres might be repaired by the introduction of relevant hormones, and at this time some people think that folate or derivatives of the herb Astragalus might somehow be helpful. Future research is sure to come up with better suggestions.
In any case, this would be pursuing a maintenance or continuance strategy through appropriate supplementation even though no one, as yet, knows what the proper supplementation should be. They do know that telomere shortening can be accelerated by unhealthy lifestyles, but little is yet known about how to reverse telomere shortening. We’re not even sure this is a cure for aging either.
Another solution is to restrict calories. Scientists have observed that calorie restriction increases the life spans of humans and most animals because overfed cells divide faster and thus quickly run up against the molecular clock limits that control gene expression and aging. An additional benefit to this approach is that calorie restriction lowers insulin levels, and high insulin levels have also been shown to speed up the aging process. Intermittent fasting shows benefits along the same lines.
An easy remedy to restrict calories is the Taoist recommendation to avoid overeating and to fast on a regular schedule to avoid being overweight. Once again a modern theory of aging has a remedy in basic Taoist longevity teachings.
As to the many variations of aging theories that involve genes and their repair, a logical supplementation routine would once again revolve around the B-vitamins, CoQ10, minerals (as biochemical co-factors), membrane elasticizers (such as phytosterols like beta-sitosterol), and herbs like Curcumin that might help reset genetic switches. In mid-life the body experiences hormonal changes that turn off genetic switches, and when turned back on again these genetic mechanisms provide protection against cancer and cardiovascular disease. Full spectrum Curcumin (BCM-95) is one of the herbs that helps turn genetic switches back on and like resveratrol should be considered as part of an anti-aging protocol.
The “Neuroendocrine” theory of aging postulates that the body’s hormonal regulatory mechanisms deteriorate over time, especially those of the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus (a walnut-sized gland in the brain) controls various processes in the body that instruct other glands to release their hormones.
As we age, the secretion of many hormones declines so their blood levels fall. Additionally, their effectiveness is also gradually reduced because cellular receptors in the body also become down-graded.
It is well-documented that age-related decline includes a variety of hormonal imbalances. Deficiencies of hormones such as progesterone, testosterone, and thyroid hormone become common as we get older while insulin, estrogen and cortisol excesses often appear. Particularly noteworthy is estrogen overload in both men and women. Estrogen imbalance is aggravated by a variety of factors including the ample presence of xenoestrogen chemicals we absorb from the environment. These look like estrogen and therefore disrupt many biochemical pathways within the body after being absorbed. They are very difficult to remove from the body without detoxification regimens.
Modern medicine recognizes that adequate, balanced levels of hormones are a foundation for coping with aging. Therefore, for those who can afford it, physicians will measure and monitor the hormone levels within your body and then prescribe hormonal “replacement therapy,” a supplementation strategy, when they believe levels are too low for your optimum health. This is both expensive and very difficult to do correctly. Since natural hormones are preferred to synthetic substitutes in all cases, some people alternatively consume animal glandular products (or organ meats) in order to derive the benefits of hormonal supplementation to counteract the ills of aging.
Cortisol, the stress hormone, is in particular frequently identified as one of the chief culprits of aging. As the Taoists explained, the solution to high levels of stress - and the resulting high cortisol levels - is to take up meditation to cultivate internal peace and calmness. If you cultivate a tranquil, happy life you will look years younger, so we can rightfully say that meditation is one of the cures for aging. It will help you both look younger and feel younger.
The meditation practice of internally visualizing the glands within your body, and thereby sending Qi to those areas to help reactivate and rejuvenate them, is a powerful restorative and balancing method most commonly used in various spiritual schools. This practice, just by itself, is a useful tool for anti-aging efforts.
The “Waste Accumulation” theory (“Membrane” theory) of aging suggests that as waste products accumulate inside cells, producing toxic conditions, the cells become less lipid, namely less watery and more solid. As age-related changes cause cellular membranes to become less permeable and less able to transfer chemicals, heat and electrical processes in and out of the cell, it becomes more difficult for cells to repair themselves and retard aging. Junk therefore accumulates inside cells, which impedes their functioning, and they die.
A visible example of this aging process would be the appearance of lipofuscin age spots on the skin, which are produced from a complex reaction that binds fats to protein. Often called the “ashes of metabolic fires,” they evidence the accumulation of waste produced in cells that eventually interferes with metabolism.
Another aspect of the waste accumulation theory is acidification that extends to organs in the body instead of just cells. The idea of acidification is that too many acidic wastes eventually accumulate in the body due to a poor diet along with inefficient circulation and elimination processes. If acidic wastes – the ashes of metabolism - cannot be excreted from the body they must accumulate and become stored in the body’s cells. Over decades, the accumulation of wastes that are not eliminated, discharged or nullified through normal detoxification processes then overburdens and ages the whole system.
While most toxins not removed from our body are stored in our fat cells, thus creating problems, the lipid layers of our cells also deteriorate over time when the wrong types of fats are consumed in our diets. If you consume trans-fats rather than cis-fats, the wrong fats (trans-fats) will be used as building blocks to construct cellular membranes. This weakens them because the shape of trans-fats leads to membranes that easily deteriorate. Cellular membranes composed of trans-fats therefore readily become subject to conditions such as cancer.
The first step in a naturopathic approach to waste accumulation would therefore be adhering to a cleaner diet, including replacing bad fats with good ones, so that fewer wastes and the wrong ingredients do not accumulate in our cells. Following the work of Weston Price, Sally Fallon and Mary Enig you would prefer butter, extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, palm oil, flax seed oil, fish oil and sesame oil to trans-fats, processed vegetable oils (soy, sunflower, corn, canola, etc.) and substances like margarine in your diet.
The second step to counter cellular acidification and waste accumulation would be to practice detoxification to help clear out the body’s channels of elimination, which is also a way to delay aging and work towards life extension. This not only means actions such as taking herbs to cure constipation to open the channels of elimination, but undertaking any naturopathic regimes that might help to pull poisons out of the connective tissues.
MAINTENANCE, SUPPLEMENTATION AND DETOXIFICATION STRATEGIES
As seen, there are multiple theories on aging but no clear consensus on what will work for life extension. Most of the theories focus on various types of molecular and cellular damage caused by metabolic processes gone haywire, and scientists are therefore arguing over which biochemical theories are primary versus secondary. Actually, you should consider that all these theories supply pieces to the puzzle. The question then remains, how can you slow or repair the damage of aging?
Whether we are talking about mutations in chromosomes or mitochondria, junk accumulating inside and outside of cells, damage to cellular membranes, damage to proteins, imbalances in hormones, or the acidification of tissues, one approach is obvious. That is to periodically cleanse the body of accumulated poisons, wastes and cellular debris and thereby limit their interference with metabolism and their contribution to aging. You can do this through various detoxification regimes that clean the intestines, liver, kidneys and connective tissues, which is why I wrote Detox Cleanse Your Body Quickly and Completely.
An additional approach is to help the body periodically repair (not completely but a lot) the various types of damage or imbalances that occur over time as we age so that we keep below the threshold level that makes conditions pathogenic.
We can do that by devoting ourselves to a very good diet and by wisely supplying various herbal, dietary and vitamin-mineral supplements to assist in the processes of maintenance and repair. Once again, this is the basic Taoist path of supplementation.
There are many types of cellular aging damage, but as the Taoists properly reasoned, the basis of most regeneration therapies would involve some form of supplementation to get things back to a steady state level. The proper type of supplementation – whether through food, herbs, or minerals and other special substances - can help to counter cellular damage and address some of these proposed theories of aging.
For instance, our bodies need CoQ10 to keep running, but cellular levels of CoQ10 significantly decline with age. Supplementing with CoQ10 makes sense because it would help boost our energy levels and just make us healthier. The extra supplementation also gives faltering cells the extra energy they need to detox themselves of accumulated junk that is interfering with their functions.
Resveratrol, a substance found in the grapes that make wine, penetrates your cells and works as an antioxidant to repair free radical damage. Studies have confirmed that it also has numerous benefits for anti-aging. Specifically, it triggers genes associated with slowing down aspects of the aging process, and it also enhances mitochondrial function. The herb Curcumin, such as in BCM-95, would also be useful due to similar reasons and more.
Carnosine is yet another substance with promising longevity benefits (such as inhibiting harmful glycation processes) whose supplementation has been proven to extend life spans and prevent many of the detrimental effects of aging.
The number of substances clearly proven to help with longevity is ever increasing and yet, remarkably, many people refuse to even believe that nutritional supplements can help at all while they wholeheartedly trust pharmaceuticals. This is sheer ignorance because there are many examples of supplements and dietary changes playing a key role in curing fatal diseases – and by extension adding to longevity.
Several studies of healthy people over age fifty indicate that the death rate from all causes (including cancer) can be reduced by about 50% and longevity increased an average of eleven years just by taking nutritional supplements. Vitamin C alone can add several years to the life span when taken regularly. How can one say that nutritional supplements are ineffective or useless for health and anti-aging efforts?
The western approach to longevity science and life extension is basically centered on diet, lifestyle changes and supplementation. In brief, it is oriented to biochemistry. Biochemistry, however, is only half of the equation as we saw in our study of Taoism. Western science, including modern nutritional science, does not consider the inner factor of Qi vital energy at all; and yet this is paramount for the super life extension feats of Taoist Immortals like Li Qingyun. Qi is the second half of the equation necessary for healthy anti-aging and life extension.
While diet, lifestyle changes and supplementation can delay or prevent many age-related diseases and thus help extend your longevity, as we will next see they should be combined into a larger holistic approach that also includes various forms of meditation and Qi maintenance.
For more information, such as lessons from the Blue Zones, what to do to look younger, the Buddhist and Taoist methods of anti-aging, pick up a copy of Look Younger, Live Longer: Reverse the Aging Process in One Year Using Eastern Traditions and Modern Nutriitonal Science.