Healthy Aging: How to maintain youthfulness and reverse premature aging.

By Dr. Andrew Baranski 

The process of aging is a dreaded, but accepted human experience. The narrative has long been that one is born, grows up, experiences the joy of young adulthood, and then hits a magical number where the body begins to deteriorate. Throughout history people have sought to offset aging by searching for fountains of youth, and consuming traditional Chinese herbs in a mixture termed the elixir of life. These efforts have resulted in no prevail, and all humans have been subject to the aging paradigm. 

The cause of aging has been a mystery long studied by science, but new research has provided clues into explaining the process. Even more importantly the information provided through anti-aging research provides a road map on how to age healthily, and even reverse your current premature aging process. 

The aging process

A single cause of aging is nonexistent. A basic sequence of aging includes: mutations to chromosomes, mutations in mitochondria, junk inside of cells, junk outside of cells, cell death, protein cross-linking, and cells losing senescence. Some other key components include the loss of available stem cells and the loss of reproductive usefulness. 

The story has been that your muscles become weaker and joints stiffer. Your digestion becomes altered. Your respiration becomes poorer. You urinate more frequently. Your sex life deteriortates. The heart becomes weaker. Your mental sharpness declines. The skin begins to wrinkle and sag. The different systems of the body are all affected differently by aging, but the same underlying causes are shared. 

The underlying causes of aging includes:

  • Chronic inflammation: An uncontrolled inflammatory state can go years without notice until the sudden onset of aging or disease is noticed. A constant state of inflammation alters normal organ function and is linked to: Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, chronic lower respiratory disease, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, influenza and pneumonia. 
  • Glycation: When sugars in the bloodstream attach to proteins a harmful molecule is created called advanced glycation end products (AGEs). The more sugar consumed increases the likelihood of AGEs developing, which causes inflammation and cell membrane damage linked to degenerative diseases such as diabetes, atherosclerosis, chronic kidney disease, and Alzheimer’s disease. 
  • Methylation deficits: Methylation occurs when a methyl group is transferred from one compound to another. This process is responsible for turning off less desirable genes and turning on helpful genes. Methylation is also required for cell division, neurotransmitter synthesis, detoxification, cellular energy metabolism, neuron health, and early developments of the central nervous system. Undermethylation and overmethylation are both linked to a number of health conditions and is caused by stress, nutrient deficiencies, and genetics,   
  • Decreased mitochondrial function: Within each cell lives an energy producing factory known as mitochondria. The power factory is transformed by products of carbohydrate and fat metabolism with oxygen to create adenosine triphosphate (ATP).  ATP is the fuel that keeps the body going. Mitochondria are susceptible to free radical damage. Poor lifestyles such as bad air, unclean water, artificial light, electrical pollution, inflammation, a nutrient-poor diet low in antioxidants, and many others create a mitochondrial depleted state. 
  • Fatty acid imbalances:  Fat is a vital nutrient, and the body needs an optimal ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 to support normal cell membrane function in aging cells. A weak cell membrane, caused from high omega-6 and low omega-3 consumption, allows for junk to enter the cells and for inner cell waste to remain. 
  • Immune Dysfunction: Auto-immune conditions are becoming alarmingly common. These conditions are being caused by living in a society that promotes exposure to toxic chemicals, the overuse of antibiotics, and unhealthy gut activity. These diseases develop when the immune system turns on itself resulting in inflammation, organ damage, and cell damage. Autoimmune diseases include rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, multiple sclerosis, thyroid disease, and inflammatory bowel disease (IBS). 
  • Shortening of Telomeres: Telomeres are like the plastic tips of your shoelaces that prevent the laces from fraying. Telomeres are segments of DNA at the end of chromosomes, that serve as protection from chromosomes becoming damaged or tangling with one another. A damaged chromosome causes destruction of genetic information and cellular malfunction, which causes disease and mortality. The cause of telomere shortening can be attributed to inactivity, chronic stress, and low plant consumption. 
  • DNA Expression: Your environment dictates the expression of your genes. Nutrient depletion, chemicals, and radiation damages DNA and alters gene expression. Research is showing that our conscious thoughts and emotions directly affect gene expression. 

Habits to Age Naturally

Health is the natural state of being human. The human body is designed to live 120-140 years with minimal signs of aging. This means that our external and internal environments have caused rapid progression of aging in modern humans. The good news is that you can begin today the process of aging naturally, and even reverse some effects of premature aging. 

Habits to age naturally include:

  • Get adjusted: The spine is designed to be straight from the front and have 3 distinct curves from the side. In this position the spine is strongest and a distribution of weight is shared by each vertebral disc as the individual vertebra work in synchrony with one another. As the spine loses its integrity, aberrant motion is placed on the different spinal structures, the discs begin to decay and bulge placing pressure on the spinal nerves, the lack of joint space causes the joints to develop osteoarthritis, and the muscles supporting the spine lose strength and flexibility. This inflammatory cascade does not need to happen, but a regular corrective chiropractic adjustment is needed to offset the damages we put on our spine daily. 
  • Do not smoke and avoid toxic chemicals: Smoking and toxins create inflammation within the body. Toxins wreak havoc on the immune system and can actually have receptor sites that mimic different organs and structures in the body. This then causes an autoimmune disorder which further promotes chronic inflammation.
  • Eat plants: The standard American diet is very poor in vegetable diversity and rich poorly raised animal products. Eating a diet rich in muscle meat contributes to an accumulation of methionine within the system, and a depletion of glycine. An optimal methionine to glycine ratio is necessary for healthful living. Eating plants is the best way to incorporate antioxidants into your body. These antioxidants decrease inflammation, improve mitochondrial function, and improve immune system function. 
  • Avoid Processed and Packaged Foods: These food sources are rich in refined carbohydrates, processed vegetable oils, and sweeteners. The high amounts of refined carbohydrates and sweeteners causes an increase in blood sugar and the synthesis of AGEs. Processed vegetable oils are rich in omega-6 fats and create a pro-inflammatory ratio of omega-6 to omega-3. Stray from packaged so-called health foods that contain high amounts of pro-inflammatory fats and blood-sugar-spiking ingredients, such as “organic sunflower oil,” “can sugar,” and “agave syrup.” 
  • Incorporate Low-Level Physical Activity Throughout the Day: The human body was not designed to perform a bout of high intensity interval training then spend the rest of the day sitting inside. The human body is designed to be in motion, and motion is life. Motion is vital for regulating blood sugars and expressing positive genese. Some ways to incorporate low-level physical activity includes: walking, stretching, working at a standing desk, swinging a light kettlebell, taking a break from sitting every 20 minutes and performing 20 jumping jacks, and any other fun ways to get your body in motion. 
  • Restrict Calories and Fast: When your body is constantly metabolizing food it is unable to fully focus on repairing cellular structures, recycling dead and faulty cells, and removing waste in and around the cell. This places the body in a toxic state. The best way to promote calorie restriction is through time-restricted fasting. This happens by consuming food within a three to twelve hour window daily. 
  • Prioritize Social Engagement: When studying the areas of the world with the largest population of centenarians, known as “Blue Zones.” A shared habit of all the communities was the practice of socializing. This could be a family dinner or playing golf with friends, but making social engagement a habit is essential for healthy aging. 
  • Possess a Strong Life Purpose: Connecting with your purpose helps to give you a strong “why.” When you connect to this purpose all of life’s decisions are guided by it. This also connects to the power of mind, and increases your will to live a long and fulfilled life. 
  • Manage Stress: Stress is inflammatory and accelerates aging. Stress is also inevitable, so stress is not the problem. The ability to appropriately manage stress is the problem. Some stress management techniques include: exercise, meditation, journaling, and spending time with uplifting people. 

Remain Reproductively Useful: People who maintain a healthy sex-life throughout life are shown to be happier and suffer less from age related detriments.