As we move further into the 21st century, people are living longer than their ancestors. According to the Administration on Aging (a division of the Department of Health and Human Services), North Americans reaching age 65 have an average life expectancy of an additional 18.8 years (20.0 years for females and 17.3 years for males). In comparison, the average life expectancy for Americans in 1960 was 73 years. As the aging population grows, the medical community becomes more involved in the science of aging and more adept at treating and helping to prevent various conditions. An important distinction to make is that it’s not about anti-aging per se, rather optimal-aging. Let’s work with our bodies and optimize the capability to live as long with as high quality of living as possible.
How can we become proactive in slowing the degenerative processes our body goes through as we age? Current science continues to discover links in diet,lifestyle and environment and their role in cellular aging and degeneration. Here are some of the simplest and easiest ways to become proactive in your optimal-aging process!
- Stay Active
We have all heard about the many merits of exercise for staying fit, keeping our heart healthy, feeling good, etc. However, did you know that daily physical activity can actually slow down aging and extend lifespan?Turns out that exercise can get deep in your body, even into your DNA. Researchers have found that people who exercise have younger DNA — by up to 9 years. That is an incredible benefit.There are many ways to be active.Even getting out for a 40 minute walk, bike ride, or playing a sport daily has tremendous health benefits.Find an activity you enjoy, and get your move on!
- Reduce Caloric Consumption
Despite much research, energy and resources invested in uncovering the elusive ‘fountain of youth’ cure-all. , researchers believe that caloric restriction may be the closest thing to date.Studies show mice that had unlimited access to feed, consistently aged quicker and had more disease than those who received a fraction of the feed dose. This applies to humans as well.We are seeing a strong correlation with increase of obesity and increased rates of disease (i.e. heart disease, diabetes, cancer, etc.).A significant cause of this is the standard American diet (SAD), heavily weighted in refined carbohydrates, trans fats, and genetically modified foods.A diet high in these foods block biochemical signals notifying us that we are full and to stop eating.Foods that contain empty calories encourage overeating.Stick with a whole food based diet, free of added sugars/preservatives/GMO foods.Stop eating when you’re full.Chew your food.These simple tips will go a long way in slowing down cellular degeneration.
- Keep your Telomeres happy
Telomeres are the focus of much research today. Part of our genetic material, they act as protective caps on our chromosomes preventing our double helix DNA strands from becoming unraveled.In English, think of the plastic tip on your shoelaces – without our laces would unravel rendering them useless.Telomeres are becoming an enormous part of any optimal-aging program since 2009, when researchers Blackburn, Greider, & Szostak won a Nobel prize discovering how telomere length affects aging.It was discovered that longer telomere length increased longevity in animal models.This has since been applied to human models.Even more exciting, it has been found that specific nutrients prevent telomere shortening, and in some cases even lengthen telomeres.A simple blood test can determine your telomere length, and provide a tool to measure your anti-aging therapies.
- Do. Not. Smoke.
There aren’t many people who would argue against the heaps of evidence showing that smoking ages us, and predisposes us to a variety of serious disease.If you want to slow down aging inside and out – stop smoking.Granted, this is a hard habit to kick cold turkey, but many persevere and reap the benefits of doing so.There are many safe and effective natural therapies to help quit smoking.Hypnotherapy, botanical medicine, acupuncture, and neurotransmitter testing/correcting are among the best.As always, discuss treatment options with your primary care practitioner before embarking on any program.
- Manage Stress
Let’s face it, we all have stress in our lives – and it’s not likely going away anytime soon. That being said, some stress is actually a good thing. However, like many things, too much of a good thing = bad thing. In many instances finances, work, relationships, health, etc. can all add up and surpass our tipping point at times. With the fast pace of our living today stressors can become overwhelming very fast. This in turn can elevate levels of inflammatory hormones and chemicals in our body that accelerate degeneration and aging. Some simple ways to manage these stressors include meditation and deep breathing. There are many ways to do these exercises. Simply taking 10-15 consecutive deep breaths at 3-4x each day has been shown to reduce cortisol levels, and you can do this while at work, walking, in a meeting, etc. An added benefit to those already strapped for time, this requires no down time! Breeeeeaaaathe and enjoy…
Yours in health,
Dr. John Dempster, ND