Wow, this week I was going to cover aging and all the ailments that generally tend to tag-a-long with it, but I wasn’t quite prepared. It is such a broad topic, that has different views, and classifications. You can’t just put a number on it, it’s quite complex, so I had to figure out how I’d reel it in without writing a book and getting overly scientific. Two posts is what I determined. This blog will be dedicated to the logistics and the second will deal with lifestyle and nutrition solutions. Here in the vain Western world we aging with crinkled noses and fight tooth and nail to turn back the hands of time, and discover the fountain of youth. Procedures run amuck fixing any sign or crease of true age. Women (and men) are notorious for lying about their age, always seeking to be perceived younger. There is the old adage that ‘aging is a part of life,’ which isn’t true because not all animals age. Age is generally identified as a degenerative process, with a decrease of physical and mental function over time. Yet there are some animals (lobster, alligators, Galapagos turtles,
fish like sturgeon and shark) grow indefinitely and if they are physically declining it’s so slight scientist can’t detect it. Aging is a new concept that we deal with. Until we got control over all other creatures and took control of nature, we didn’t have to worry about things, because natural order (how it is in the real animal kingdom, where the fit survive, and the slow and weak perish because they’re an easy target). So why do these animals not live forever? If we couldn’t age, would we therefore not die either? No, of course there is natural order, plus every creature is done in by something at some point (plus sometimes we just make mistakes). Aging only exist today because our technology for curing and treating diseases, has surpassed our technology for promoting health. How old could we live to be? Some scientist calculate the maximum human lifespan to be 120-160 years old (Wow!) So how do we classify age? First there is the traditional chronological age, which is based on time and is the same for everyone. Secondly, there is biological age. There are several factors and it varies person-to-person. We’ve all seen those 40 years old who look 50 or other 40 year old that look 30 (this is an example in difference between chronological age and biological age). Today, although many dread their chronological age, we should focus on biological age because it affects how young we think, feel, and look. The ideal aging situation would be for chronological age to reach the end destination way before biological, so that a person dies young at a very old age. What’s the key to aging successfully (live a long functioning, disease-free life)? Hormones! Hormones! Hormones! Specifically growth hormone (somatotropin), a powerful anti-aging and fat-burning hormone. It is lipolytic (fat-mobilizing), anabolic (muscle-enhancing), and supports immune function, and influences cholesterol and triglyceride levels. A decline in growth hormone is associated with changes in body composition, immune function, and coronary risk factors. A study by Daniel Rudman (in which men were administered growth hormone injections) that was published in the 1990 New England Journal of Medicine, showed that hormonal decline is the root cause for physical deterioration associated with aging. What happens when aging? As we age not only do muscles shrink, but our organs (liver, kidney, brain, pancreas) atrophy 30%. This means that the ability of glands to produce hormones declines. Taking growth hormone, not only increased muscle mass and decreased body fat, but it reduced organ shrinkage. So why aren’t we all lined up to get our growth hormone injections, to turn back time and reverse aging? Exogenous hormones are ones that come from outside of the body (every heard of steroids?). Because it’s coming from an outside source the body cannot control it. The body responds by turning off its internal production (endogenous). This over time can interrupt your entire endocrine system, so if you take it long enough and then stop your body will stop making it. So when the men the study stopped taking the injections, they reverted back. Plus they had side effects (because once again you can have too much of a good thing):
- carpal tunnel syndrome
- fluid retention
- high blood pressure
- joint pain
Not to mention the cost of having to constantly have injections (which you would have to continue for the rest of your life). I don’t get why humans are always trying to recreate nature, rather trying to naturally stimulate hormones (why pay for vitamin D supplements, when all you need to do is go outside for 20 minutes, why use steroids to increase testosterone?) Why are we constantly looking for that magical drug or pill? We want that easy way out (that pill that will make us lose weight rather than practice some will power, or worse have the fat sucked out, just to eat and gain more fat). Not only is growth hormone important, but all hormones are interconnected (hormonal synergy)
and growth hormone affects these (for example it works with testosterone to build muscles and bones). Hormones decline 14 % per decade, so that by 60 our output is half of what it was at age 20. Now we’ll check out some other types of hormones. Anabolic (which you might associate with steroids) is responsible for growth, maintenance (muscle, bones, connective tissues, and internal organs), and repair of cells and tissues (in addition to promoting fat storage). Lipogenic hormones (literally meaning ‘birth of fat’) is controlled by insulin and thus is responsible for obesity and linked directly to deathly diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. The opposite is lipolytic or mobilization of fat as a fuel source. By naturally activating this we can reduce body fat, tap into unlimited energy and prevent the accumulation of fat in blood and reduce the coronary risk factor. As we age we get fatter as the ratio of lipogenic to lipolytic increases. The key to combating aging successfully is to enhance anabolic and lipolytic hormones to counter the unfavorable shifting of ‘muscle axis’ (catabolic away anabolic) and ‘fat axis’ (lipogenic away lipolytic). A major way then to combat aging is through eating a ‘fat-burner’ lifestyle (low in carbs- using mostly plant based, low glycemic fruits and veggies, lean protein, and of course utilizing fat as a fuel source rather than carbohydrates and insulin, sugar-burner). When insulin dominates then there is an increase in fat storage, total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels. A high insulin/glucagon ratio increases LDL oxidation (which is the true precursor of disease, cholesterol is irrelevant so long as it is not oxidized). Controlling insulin then decreases obesity, which then decreases other health risks and diseases. The next article we’ll look at some foods with major benefits. Now though we’ll look at some other lifestyle choices for fighting again:
*Drink water: it transports nutrients and plays a vital role in all biochemical processes (including fat burning)
*Reduce Stress: stress raises cortisol, a catabolic, anti-aging, anti-immunity, anti-testosterone, anti-growth hormone, insulin-raising hormone.
*Sleep: (oh how many times I’ve mentioned sleep!) Crucial for immune system operation, cognitive function, emotional well-being, and physical development. Hormones (notably growth hormone) are restored during sleep.
*Sunlight: (again emphasized before) Positive affects on osteoporosis, cancer, psoriasis, multiple sclerosis, and arthritis.
*Alcohol: Negative effects on growth hormone and testosterone, plus it suspends fat-burning.
*Cigarettes: insulin resistance and lower serum testosterone in men.
*Love: love, intimacy, companionship, and feelings of security can positively affect hormones by decreasing stress and cortisol, while increasing growth hormone. Bad relationships with antagonism, mistrust, guilt, or resentment have the opposite effect and promote aging.
*Exercise: can stimulate growth hormone and testosterone, but it can also be wearing and raise cortisol (‘chronic cardio’ and constant fight-or-flight state).
What do I conclude about aging? Become a fat-burner to decrease body fat and incorporate lifestyle choices that promote hormonal balance. Do this and you’re on toward 160 (disease-free, still mentally and physically functioning)!