In this world there are innumerable things one may wish for, varying according to age, nationality, culture, sex, political affiliation, mental disposition, intellectual level, physical prowess, world view, even sexual proclivity.
Underpinning them all, however, are two things without which all else is meaningless: Potential for longevity and quality of life. Rarely considered is that the former without the latter is nothing more than a nightmare.
So to our question: how does one age well?
Without doubt, inflammation is the biggest villain for those who wish to avoid premature ageing. It’s the single greatest cause for making you look and feel old, as well as the driver of age-related diseases (and all diseases for that matter).
Inflammation – What to Avoid
Eliminate foods that inflame us, with the two main culprits, sugar and industrially made seed oils being the “poster children” for inflammation. Sugar causes glycation, a process by which sugar binds with proteins and lipids causing them to stiffen and rendering them less effective. The products of these oxidative reactions are called Advanced Glycation End Products (AGEs for short – quite appropriate).
Industrially made seed oils, I consider a ‘hidden’ danger because despite their toxic , inflammatory effects, have received very little bad press, at least in the mainstream. Most know little to nothing about them. Man-made in factories using solvents and all manner of nasty chemicals, they are highly oxidative, inflammatory, and cause the formation of free radicals (atoms with unpaired electrons that can have a highly damaging effect on cellular function). canola oil, vegetable oil, safflower / sunflower oil, cottonseed oil, soybean oil, corn oil, rice bran oil and others…
Inflammatory are also foods with a processed flour base. Such foods, for most people, lead to increase in body fat. In addition, the gluten component causes inflammatory problems for many. Either celiac disease or widespread non-celiac gluten sensitivity are autoimmune conditions characterised by inflammation. If you get bloating in the stomach after eating bread or pasta, you are probably gluten sensitive to some degree.
Omega-6 is an essential fatty acid but in excess is unduly inflammatory. The ideal ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 is 1:1. If you have the following foods / oils in your diet, your omega-6s will be elevated. This is associated with increase in inflammatory disease, particularly cardiovascular mortality.
- Industrial seed oils
- most processed foods
- grain fed beef (cows are herbivores – go with grass fed every time)High Glycaemic Index Foods – For the vast majority, foods of a high glycaemic load spike blood sugar very high and very quickly. This necessitates an insulin response to lower it (high blood sugar is toxic for the body). If such foods are eaten on a regular basis, wild blood sugar fluctuations, and constant high circulating levels of insulin are damaging to the body and have been associated with increased mortality. Over time, this can lead to a condition called insulin resistance, a short step away from diabetes type 2.
So, keep your blood sugar levels as stable as possible, and strive to be as insulin sensitive as you can by avoiding high glycaemic index foods.
Avoid Chemicals from Contacting Your Skin. Chemicals can enter your bloodstream trans-dermally (without being filtered by liver)
- Synthetic colours
- SLS / SLES
- T oluene
- Propylene Glycol
Anti-Inflammation – What to Consume
- Brightly coloured vegetables, leafy greens, broccoli; Omega-3 fats like mackerel, anchovies, sardines, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, krill oil, and Glutathione (aka GSH)GSH is known as the master antioxidant, it removes ‘free radicals’, maximises the actions of other antioxidants, removes toxins, protects from chemicals and pollutants, is an essential factor in preventing age-related diseases, and is dependent on ATP (energy) which makes exercise vital for endogenous GSH production.Important to note is GSH supplements don’t absorb well from your digestive system, and can inhibit endogenous production. Best option is to get them from food like high quality whey protein (grass fed, hormone free, chemical free, sugar free), raw eggs (or as lightly cooked as possible), and raw vegetables, and fruit, with the best being spinach, asparagus, broccoli, avocado, squash, walnuts, garlic, curcumin (turmeric). Two additional side notes are worthy of mention: sugar depletes GSH, and GSH increases the integrity of telomeres, an indicator for ageing well.
- Organic Free-Range Eggs, Best eaten raw, or very lightly cooked are a powerful anti-ageing ally, and one of the most unfairly tarnished foods of all. Research has ended the debate: there is no link between eggs and heart disease. A single egg contains: nine essential amino acids, six grams of high-quality protein, lutein and zeaxanthin (for macular health), choline (for brain and nervous system), vitaminD, and yolks have high concentration of biotin (good for skin, hair, liver, and nervous system).Leafy Greens reduce the risk of AMD (age-related macular degeneration), contain fat soluble vitamins K1, K2 for bone strength, blood clotting, prevention of heart disease and brain dysfunction, regulation of insulin and blood sugar levels. They contain isothiocyanates which are a powerful cancer fighting compound. They are found in broccoli, Brussel sprouts, rocket, cauliflower, cabbage, watercress, horseradish. Spinach, Kale and Broccoli Sprouts are packed with cancer fighting antioxidants beta carotene, vitamin c, sulforaphane. Spinach has a very high ORAC score (Oxygen Radical Absorption Capacity – measures a food’s ability to destroy free radicals). If you can afford it, go organic. Organic greens have a higher nutritional content and taste better.
Garlic contains a potent antioxidant – allicin. It’s anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-viral, relaxes and enlarges blood vessels (especially heart), inhibits plaque formation in arteries and oxidation of cholesterol. The best way to have it – smashed and freshly chopped
Prolonged stress or anxiety causes a steady stream of cortisol to flow through our bodily system. This leads to
- increased blood pressure and blood sugar levels
- hardening of arteries
- increased fat storage
- lower growth hormone
- high circulating insulin
- muscle and collagen loss
- weaker immune system
- All associated with accelerated ageing (and very poor health indicators generally)A lot has changed in our understanding of what stress is, and therefore how not only to mitigate it, but remove it at its root. The central breakthrough has been the realisation that the origin of stress is psychological.In his breakthrough book ‘The Myth of Stress’ author Andrew Bernstein identifies key points providing new insights into understanding the origin of stress
- Stress is not a physical process with a psychological component but a psychological process with a physical component doesn’t come from what’s going on in your life – it comes from your thoughts about what’s going on in your life is a manifestation of your internal landscape, of the beliefs and assumptions you hold about the world comes from inside out, not outside in cannot exist in the absence of thought; it is a psychological process, a process of interpretation is a function of beliefs, not circumstances, and the same is true for pressure.
Here are 4 key concepts you should know about anti-ageing: Key Concept 1: Telomere Length
Telomeres are protective caps on the end of our chromosomes. As we age they shorten causing cellular degeneration. Shortened telomeres are the main cause of age related cellular breakdown. When they get too short, the cells can no longer reproduce, leading to degeneration and death.
Three lifestyle factors that positively affect telomere length:
- Intermittent Fasting
- Resistance Training
- Regularly Elevating Heart Rate
- Fermented Foods
- Krill Oil
- Vitamin K2
- Polyphenols (green tea, cacao, resveratrol)
- Vitamin B2
- Turmeric (curcumin)
- Vitamin ATwo factors that negatively affect telomere length: • Sugar
• Industrially made Seed Oils (i.e. most processed food)
Key Concept 2: Sleep Quality and Quantity
Here are 9 tips to assist you getting a good night’s sleep
- Light (Get sunlight in the morning and ensure no blue light after sunset)
- Temperature (15-20 degrees optimal ambient temperature)
- Timing (most important hours to be asleep – 10pm-2am)
- Magnesium Supplementation
- Air Quality (fresh air)
- White Noise (sound masking)
- Neuro Association (between bedroom and sleep; remove any entertainmentor work-related paraphernalia)
- High Quality Earplugs and Eye Mask
- Train Your Brain Waves (Meditation, Neurofeedback Technology)
Key Concept 3: Downregulation of the mTOR Pathway Mammalian Target of Rapamycin (mTOR)
Researcher Dr Ron Rosedale has done extensive work on mTOR, and has concluded the following:
mTOR is an ancient signalling pathway responsible for
- growth and reproduction (if upregulated)
- repair and optimisation of cellular function (if downregulated)
- If mTOR is downregulated (or inhibited) cellular focus is on repair and maintenance longevity is boosted cancer risk is lowered
- Dr Rosedale (and mounting research) advise limit protein intake to 0.8 grams protein per KG of desired body weight
- Intermittent fasting
- Increase healthy fats
- Limit net high GI carbsThe Potential Problem of over consuming protein (amino acids) is the upregulation of mTOR which stimulates growth not repair and maintenance. This will age you prematurely because high protein helps to optimise reproductive success not life extension.From an evolutionary perspective, nutrients had to be prioritised either for growth, repair and reproduction or maintenance. As a rule, nature keeps an organism alive long enough to replicate and reproduce, and cares not about staying alive post reproduction. So life extension depends upon upregulating repair mechanisms which naturally deteriorate as we age.
- Key Concept 4: Upregulation of Autophagy(see my articles on ‘Intermittent Fasting’ and read ‘The Complete Guide to Fasting’ by Dr Jason Fung)
- Autophagy is a natural, regulated process. It is a destructive mechanism of the cell that disassembles unnecessary or dysfunctional components, such as senescent cells – like a ‘spring cleaning’ for your cells.Senescent cells are like cellular debris. Senescence is the phenomenon by which cells cease to divide, and may be described as a permanent state of cell cycle arrest induced by cellular stress. It has recently emerged as a fundamental ageing mechanism that also contributes to diseases later in life, including cancer, atherosclerosis and osteoarthritis.Autophagy (literally “self-eating”) is the body’s system of cleaning house. Your cells create membranes that hunt out scraps of dead, diseased, or worn out cells. They then consume them, strip them of parts, and use the resulting molecules for energy to make new cell parts. Think of it as the body’s innate recycling program. It makes us more efficient machines to get rid of faulty parts, stop cancerous growths, and stop metabolic dysfunction like obesity and diabetes. There is also evidence that the process plays a hand in controlling inflammation and immunity. It is a key component in slowing the ageing process.
So how do you initiate autophagy?
The most effective way is intermittent fasting (anywhere from 16 to 24 hrs on a regular to semi regular basis).
Longevity and quality of life – nothing is more important.
Plus, here is another story by Jaymes Gleeson on fasting.