Stay Young - How to Slow the Ageing Process
- HOW OLD DO YOU WANT TO BE?
by Sharon Palmer
We are an ageing population in a youth-obsessed culture. Many baby boomers are afraid of getting older, equating it with loss of enjoyment in life, declining health and loss of our mind and independence.
Our focus for anti-ageing is often a cosmetic approach that progresses from covering grey hair, to the more radical botox, liposuction and cosmetic surgery solutions. Unfortunately, although these may give one a more youthful appearance, at least for a while, ageing is a process that occurs at the cellular level.
The good news is that anti-ageing medicine is advancing at a rapid rate and we now have a very good understanding of what causes ageing and how to slow and even reverse it.
We know with certainty that our chronological age does not mean anything. We have the capacity to be much younger physiologically if we have good health habits, or can be much older physiologically if we engage in unhealthy health habits. The question is “How old do you want to be?”
What Causes Ageing?
If you want to slow or reverse the ageing process you need to know what causes ageing.
There are four major processes that contribute to ageing. They each have their own impact but are all interrelated and having one process in operation will encourage and perpetuate the others.
Glycation is the process by which extra glucose molecules attach themselves to protein. Not the protein from your diet, but the protein that is the building block of the human body. These proteins are used to make your hormones, enzymes, neurotransmitters, cells of your immune system, and form the structural base of your chromosomes.
After a glucose molecule has joined to a protein, the protein is damaged and unable to perform any useful function. What you end up with are AGEs (advanced glycation endproducts), and these are the most toxic molecule to protein, especially to collagen which is what your skin is made from.
AGEs make your tissues, muscles, ligaments, organs and the retina of the eye stiff, hard and inflexible and increase oxidation. And because the only fuel source for our brain is glucose, our brain is very vulnerable to glycination. The brown ‘liver’ spots on the skin of older people are AGEs laid down in the skin.
To decrease the risk of glycination you need to avoid high levels of glucose in the blood. So avoid sugar, high glycaemic foods, refined carbohydrates and alcohol. Regular exercise improves glucose control. Have a fasting glucose and insulin test and make sure you do not suffer from insulin resistance or diabetes. Uncontrolled diabetes is like highspeed ageing. Good levels of magnesium and chromium in the diet will help you regulate glucose levels. Lipoec acid, Vitamin C and green tea are a few of many nutrients which will decrease glycination.
Although oxygen is necessary for life, our using oxygen to produce energy results in the production of free radicals, and it is free radicals that cause oxidation. Free radicals damage DNA and the mitochondria that produce energy. They damage your body’s protein and immune system and damage the cell membrane which controls how nutrients get into your cell and toxins and wastes are eliminated. It has been estimated that each cell sustains 10,000 free radical hits per day.
With anti-ageing testing it is now possible to measure the oxidative damage to your DNA.
A healthy well nourished cell that has plenty of antioxidant protection can protect and repair itself from free radicals. It is important to keep a high intake of antioxidants in the diet by eating lots of fresh fruit and vegetables especially blueberries, green tea, cruciferous* vegetables (those in the mustard family including cabbage, radish and broccoli), turmeric and ginger. The cell membrane that controls what gets in and out of our cells is largely made up of fat and is very prone to oxidation as is our brain.
It is important to consume good quality essential fatty acids from fish, nuts, seeds and avocadoes. Avoid saturated fats, hydrogenated or trans-fatty oils and never eat rancid oils or butter which are already oxidised.
3. Poor Methylation
Methylation is a very important process in the body. It is how we make sure our genes off, control protein synthesis, and how we clear oestrogens, toxins and heavy metals from our body. When we fail to methylate well we increase our risk of cardiovascular disease, have poor gene expression which can lead to more diseases and cancers, and we fail to detox and inactivate harmful substances we ingest or are exposed to.
By measuring homocysteine in the blood (a fasting blood test) you can see how well your body is methylating. The important nutritional support for methylation is folic acid, B6, B12, Coenzyme Q10, choline, and foods rich in sulphur such as garlic, onions, and cruciferous vegetables.
Inflammation is our body’s natural reaction to injury and infection. As we age we tend to release more inflammatory cytokines into our body.
Diseases such as arthritis, inflammatory bowel disorders, asthma, eczema, allergies, fibromyalgia are all inflammatory in nature. We now realise that cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity are also inflammatory mediated diseases. Stress increases inflammation. The more inflammation we have the more free radicals we generate.
Inflammatory markers can be measured in the blood.
Fish oils are anti-inflammatory in the body so increase intake of fish and other sources of essential fatty acids in the diet. Turmeric (curcumin) and ginger both have strong anti-inflammatory properties.
How to Slow the Ageing Process
Anti-ageing does not need to be complicated. In fact, everything we have been told for years forms the basis of an antiageing program.
- Eat more fruit and vegetables.
- Eat less junk food.
- Decrease alcohol. and
- Exercise regularly.
By simply following this advice you can have a dramatic impact on the rate at which your body is ageing. If you wish to take it to the next level you can visit a health care professional that specialises in anti-ageing.
The advantages of seeking professional advice are:
• Access to specific anti-ageing testing which will measure the important biomarkers of ageing. Testing also allows you to track improvement.
• A nutritional and herbal supplement targeted to your individual requirements. When using supplements for anti-ageing, it is best to seek professional advice.
• A risk and needs assessment of anti-ageing treatments such as bio-identical hormone replacement therapy and intravenous vitamin therapy.
About the Author: Sharon Palmer (Adv. Dip. Herbal Medicine, Member of National Herbalists Association of Australia, NHAA) specialises in anti-ageing and female hormonal issues. Based in West Perth, WA, Sharon can be contacted on 9226 0561 or 0412 345 476.
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