Many people believe that aging is a natural part of getting old, yet nothing could be further from the truth. While we can’t prevent the calendar from turning each day and year, we can make a number of changes to our diet and lifestyle which will effectively slow or stop our metabolic clock from ticking. Although genetics has a minor role in determining our ultimate fate, food and environmental factors are much more important in shaping our destiny.
Key Causes of Aging Identified
Famed nutritionist Dr. Jonny Bowden has identified the key metabolic alterations which influence our genes by switching them either on or off, preventing or promoting poor health and illness. U.S. News and World Reportdetails the dangerous processes which cause heart disease, diabetes, stroke, cancer and dementia, as well as how we can make simple changes to thwart the devastating effects of aging.
Free Radicals Wreak Havoc
Free Radicals are created through the normal process of metabolism, causing damage to the cell nucleus and DNA where they can lead to mutations. Free radicals are believed to be one of the key factors in cancer initiation. While free radicals can’t be avoided, there are a number of important steps you can take to minimize their detrimental effect.
Cigarette smoking and breathing polluted air dramatically increase the number of free radicals in our body. Stop smoking, and use environmental filters if you live in an area where pollutant levels are high. Our diet also introduces free radicals by consuming foods with hydrogenated trans fats, or meats which have been over cooked. Choose meats which have been roasted, as grilling and frying impregnates our food with a preformed source of free radicals.
Stoking the Flames of Inflammation
Systemic inflammation fuels a never ending immune response within our body which is associated with the development of heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. Typically a result of metabolic dysfunction and excess body weight, inflammation causes changes to our immune response, as healthy cells are inadvertently attacked.
Diet is the best way to calm the flames of inflammation. Nutritional experts recommend a Mediterranean-style menu which includes plenty of fresh vegetables, whole grains, fatty fish, fruits, nuts and olive oil. Fish Oil is a critical supplement to include in your anti-inflammatory medicine chest, as it has been shown to reduce the risk of sudden death from a heart attack by one-third.
Glycation is a Sticky Subject
Glycation occurs when sugars and proteins combine, making a cellular structure which no longer functions, known as an advanced glycation end product (AGE). The body recognizes AGE’s as foreign, and shuttles them away for storage, leading to the formation of age spots and cataracts. AGE’s arrive preformed from foods which have high sugar content or meats which have been overcooked. They also form within cells as sticky sugar molecules attract proteins and permanently bind together. AGE’s are much larger than the individual sugar and protein complexes, and can damage the very small capillaries in the eyes and kidneys as they circulate, leading to blindness and many of the complications associated with diabetes.
Limit AGE formation by reducing sugar intake and avoiding grilled, char-broiled or barbequed foods. Minimally cook all foods and be sure to avoid any grill marks or excessive browning, as this increases the AGE load which your body has to break down and store.
The outward signs of aging are not a normal part of getting older, but should be viewed as a disease condition which is fully preventable. Wrinkles, age spots and the ravages of heart disease, diabetes and cancer are not inevitable, but rather represent poor diet and lifestyle decisions over the course a lifetime. Fortunately it’s never too late to make corrective actions which will begin to reverse the effects of free radicals, inflammation and glycation, with renewed health as a natural benefit.