Although there is no way to turn back the hands of time, there are ways to hold back and possibly reverse some of the effects of aging with diet, supplements and lifestyle practices. Being born into a family with good longevity genes furthers the cause as well. An aging baby boomer generation has caused significant interest in the subject of anti-aging medicine as that group strives to stay young and active into their later years.
The simple answer to “what causes aging” is the uncontrollable passage of time. The more complex answer is that aging results from a various biological and pathological processes which vary a great deal from person to person. Your biological age can differ significantly from your chronological age, depending on how you treat your body, and to some extent what your beliefs are about aging.
Gary Null, Ph.D., in “Power Aging,” points to several culprits in the aging process. Free radicals impair healthy cells through a process called oxidation. Chronic inflammation shows up in disease like arthritis but can also damage brain cells, heart valves and arterial walls. Hormonal imbalances can affect fat distribution, libido, coronary artery disease, osteoporosis, fatigue and depression. DNA mutations and immune system dysfunction become more common as we age.
The anti-aging diet recommended by the Life Extension Foundation stresses eating roughly equal parts of lean protein, complex carbohydrates and healthy fats. It suggests eliminating sugar and refined carbohydrates and replacing unhealthy saturated fats and trans fats with monounsaturated fats such as olive oil and essential fatty acids. High-quality proteins are considered to be fish, egg whites, organically raised beef and poultry, low-fat organic dairy, beans and legumes. Eating more brightly colored vegetables full of nutrients and healthy phytochemicals is another recommendation.
Life Extension also points to laboratory experiments with caloric restriction in animals. Life expectancy increased by about one third in animals fed a calorie-restricted but highly nutritious diet.
A Younger You
Dr. Eric Braverman, an anti-aging physician, is the author of “Younger You.” By following his program, Braverman believes you can take 15 years off your age. His premise is based on the following ideas about aging. Believing each organ and body part has an age code which can be discovered through non-invasive computerized diagnostic tests, you can receive a picture of your body and the health of each part. His theory holds that by treating the “oldest” part first, then other parts in successive order, you are able to repair and rejuvenate the entire system and reverse the process of aging. Braverman believes the brain is the most important organ and its health is vital to age reversal. His overall method includes lifestyle changes, stress reduction, diet, supplemental bioidentical hormones and some pharmaceuticals when required for advanced illness.
A study reported in the July 2002 “Journal of Neuroscience” found that diets enriched in foods with high antioxidant activity reverse age-related decreases in cerebellar beta-adrenergic receptor function and increases in proinflammatory cytokines. The study followed 344 rats who improved by eating spirulina and apples.
A 2008 study reported by the Medical News, which was conducted in England and published in the “Free Radical Biology and Medicine” journal, found that phytochemical-rich foods, such as blueberries, are effective in reversing age-related deficits in memory.
Other Lifestyle Changes
According to Life Extension, many studies have shown the anti-aging benefits of regular exercise, both aerobic and strength training. To counter stress, they recommend yoga, meditation and breathing exercises for relaxation. Enhancing brain power with supplements such as gingko biloba, acetyl-L-carnitine, phosphatidylcholine, phosphatidylserine and DMAE is helpful, as is adequate and restful sleep and a positive mental attitude.
- “Life Extension Magazine”: The Life Extension Revolution
- “Life Extension Magazine”: Breakthroughs to Create a “Younger You”
- “The Journal of Neuroscience”: Diets Enriched in Foods with High Antioxidant Activity Reverse Age-Induced
- The Medical News: Phytochemical-Rich Foods Effective at Reversing Age-Related Deficits in Memory