Can you really prevent the ageing process?

They say that the 50s of today are the 40s of yesterday, in other words we appear younger now than previously, but is that in mind or body? Certainly I would say that we are all trying to keep our youth not only energetically but in health and looks too.

We certainly cannot stop the years from passing, and getting older may be beyond our control, but the good news is, that how we age, is not.

The first step is to recognize the changes taking place. As a child the changes are pretty obvious, we get taller, stronger, increase our weight and then puberty happens! As we age the changes are less dramatic, a few lines on the face, slight muscle tone changes, a little extra fat around the middle and even slightly less stamina. We may not notice them very much but that does not mean that they are not happening!

Most of the cells in our body have the ability to reproduce at will. However, each time a cell divides a tiny portion of the DNA is lost and it begins to slow down.

Every one of our cells has energy producers called mitochondria and they generate fuel for all cell activities. Unfortunately, as we age there are free radicals that are produced during normal metabolism that are constantly attacking our cell membranes and interrupting the energy production of our mitochondria.

Free radicals are molecules that have a single unpaired electron in and are looking to pair it up, so they have the capacity to strip another electron from its molecule. Normally the body can handle free radicals, it is the antioxidants that can quickly disarm them from damaging our cells. However, if antioxidants are unavailable, or if the free radical production becomes excessive, damage can occur.

Let’s see what we can do to stop the slowing process and damage.

1. Diet.

a. Look for food sensitivities, they will be compromising the immune system and can make you feel very unwell.
b. Eat organic foods. So many people say to me that they don’t necessarily taste any better….in my opinion they do but it is not the taste that I am concerned about so much as the nasty chemicals that we are putting into our body and that our liver has to cope with. We live in such a toxic environment with chemical toxins such as solvents, medications, pesticides, herbicides, and food additives, and heavy metals such as lead, mercury, cadmium, arsenic, nickel and aluminium. These stay for years in our fatty tissue which surrounds our vital organs and the nervous system including the brain, and are very resistant.
c. Eat raw fresh fruit and vegetables as they contain their own enzymes, which are essential, not only for digestion but for life itself. Every action and reaction in our body is dependent on enzymes, and not only are we getting too few of them in our over-cooked, over-processed foods, but stress, ageing and environmental factors also render them less numerous and less efficient in our bodies.
d. Eat green vegetables as they are the most alkaline food once digested, and it is very important to keep the body alkaline. The pH level of our internal fluids affects every cell in our body. The entire metabolic process depends on an alkaline environment. Over acidity interferes with life itself.
e. Cut out all processed foods and sugar. Sugar is not just non-nutritive, it’s anti-nutritive, and the reason for that is, that when sugar is found in real life foods and plants, like apples or berries, it comes complete with the vitamins, minerals, and enzymes needed for its complete digestion. Nature is amazing! When it is found in our sugar bowl, or in any of the typical chemical compounds that food manufacturers use to sweeten their goods like ‘brown rice syrup’ or ‘high fructose corn syrup’, it contains nothing of any value and is pro-inflammatory. Our body actually has to borrow from its stores of nutrients in order to process it. That’s one reason sugar is considered to be an immune system depressor, it can put our white blood cells, and therefore our immune system, to sleep for hours.

2. Inflammation

Studies have shown that chronic inflammation is a prime factor in ageing. Early in life, these levels can be so low that we might not even be aware that we have any inflammation in our bodies. That’s because our bodies do a fairly decent job of controlling the inflammation, at least for a while. Then one day we wake up and we’re in our 40s and something is just not right. This inflammation is the result of diet/lifestyle such as high glycaemic food, insufficient fruit and vegetables, processed foods, irradiated foods, proteins and fats that have gone through high velocity cooking such as frying, toxins, drugs and the stress of life in the 21st century!

Homocysteine is an amino acid that accumulates in the tissues and if we have high levels in our blood stream it causes inflammation and greatly increases our risk of heart disease, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and impotence.

As we age there are less ‘clean up’ (Proteolytic) enzymes that control the inflamed tissue and the laying down of fibrous tissue, such as the plaque that clots the arteries, thrombosis or blood clots in the blood vessels, fibrocystic breast disease and fibromas in the uterus. The more free enzymes we have in our body, the stronger our immune system, the younger we stay.

3. Hormones

As we get older, our hormone levels change. This natural process can create more oestrogen in our body than we need, resulting in premature wrinkles, unwanted fat around the middle, soft muscles, mood swings, and even a low sex drive!

Synthetic hormones are high profile these days. Industrial, agricultural, and chemical companies dump toxic substances into the environment. Many of these toxins mimic the effects of oestrogen. They’re called xenoestrogens and have been proven to wreak havoc with our oestrogen levels causing foggy thinking, depression, skin problems, increased breast tissue in men, unwanted facial hair in women and premature aging.

Massive amounts of hormones are regularly injected in beef and poultry and by eating hormone-fed animal fat, we can upset our natural oestrogen levels. Even the plastics used to wrap and heat foods release dangerous xenoestrogens, resulting in headaches, prostate problems, abnormal breast cells, bloating and water retention, hair loss, and sleepless nights!

4. Exercise

Muscle itself is a sign of youth. The first physical sign of ageing is muscle wasting. People who age well, who seem to be far younger than their years, are well ‘muscled’. This healthy muscle protects our body from aches and pains, disease and other age related ailments.

Exercise is very important to keep our muscles strong and toned, to strengthen the heart and lungs, to increase the oxygen to our cells, to help keep our bones from getting brittle and to burn fat.

5. Deep breathing

Breathing is the bridge between body and soul. Oxygen is the elixir of life. Germs and disease cannot live in an oxygenated environment so it is important to fill our cells with oxygen. Make it a routine thing to power breathe several times a day.

6. Sleep

Sleep is important because it is the time when the body gets the chance to regenerate and build up its reserves. Melatonin is a hormone produced by the pineal gland and its role is to regulate the circadian rhythm of several biological functions. It is only produced at night from approx 9.00pm and is stimulated by darkness, peaking at midnight. Any light will inhibit melatonin production, so a dark sleeping environment is important. It is also an antioxidant and therefore absorbs free radicals and toxins during sleep and it is thought that it may have immune enhancing and anti-inflammatory effects in the body. Who would know that so much was happening at night whilst we are asleep?

7. Skin

Many factors play a part in the ageing and health of our skin including excessive exposure to sunlight, temperature, humidity, smoking, dehydration and the use of alcohol and drugs. Eating a lot of artificially prepared foods containing chemicals are harmful to clear skin and stress can also greatly affect the skin.

In the skin the damage is to the collagen, elastin, and the matrix, at a pace that exceeds the body’s natural ability to regenerate them. The result is that collagen breaks down and wrinkling occurs, elastin loses its flexibility so sagging occurs and the skin’s ground substance becomes polluted, disordered and unable to hold moisture. Of particular importance is that free radical damage accumulates with age. However, the skin has a remarkable ability to renew itself, as long as it has the nutrients it needs to constantly renew the matrix and here anti oxidants are very important.

8. Water

The human body is 70% water. It makes up 75% volume of our muscles and heart, 83% of our brain and kidneys, 86% of our lungs and 95% of our eyes and is very important to keep the skin supple and elastic. If we do not drink enough we will compromise our body and our health, and we will get wrinkles! Water increases the oxygen in the blood and maintains the normal electrical properties of cells improving cell to cell communication. Without it, cells lack communication. It is important to drink 1-2 litres of water a day and preferably alkaline water to replenish the bicarbonate in our blood.

9. Stress

Stress can lead finally to ‘adrenal burnout’, where our emotional, mental and physical resources are all greatly depleted. This leads to mental and physical exhaustion and illness, and will age us more quickly than anything, bringing out those grey hairs!
It is so important to give ourselves some ‘me’ time. Meditation, just sitting listening to music, a good massage, yoga or thai chi are all great ways of relaxing.

10. Nutrients

Your body needs a steady supply of nutrients to grow, to replace worn-out tissue and to generate energy.

So now that we know what can cause our bodies to age, what can we take to help prevent that happening?

Firstly a good multivitamin and mineral, and I recommend a liquid form for better absorption. 90% of liquids get absorbed as opposed to 40% of tablets!

Secondly a strong antioxidant to wipe out all the free radicals.

Finally, you may consider cosmetic procedures to combat signs of ageing like dermal fillers, tummy tuck and more. There’s also labiaplasty for women who would like to regain their sexual confidence and look more youthful.

Wyndham Health