Anti Aging: Let Food by Thy Medicine

Old age is a consequence of civilization; it is seen seldom in primitive societies and very rarely seen in wild animals. Although in this century the average life span of women and men has increased by 30% since the onset of industrialization and by over 300% since Neolithic times, we don’t exactly know how or why aging occurs. We do know that aging is a function of cells ceasing to divide. Some scientists speculate that any given differentiated
cell can only divide a fixed number of times (as opposed to a
cancer cell, which is undifferentiated, and theoretically immortal
in that it continues, unchecked, to divide). The human body has

more than 10 million, million (that’s 13 zeroes) cells, all of

which are differentiated into nerve, muscle, adipose, etc., and

are thus mortal. Given that we all die at some point, the

objective now is to maximize the QUALITY of our lives and avoid

controllable causes for premature death.

Many of the precautions against premature death are well known:

wear seat belts; eat a low fat, high fiber, high complex-

carbohydrate diet with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables; get

regular, moderate, exercise; get enough sleep; love yourself and

your friends; do work that makes you happy; don’t do drugs. It is

worth repeating the low fat part: low fat. To quote from an

editorial published in 1991 in the New England Journal of

Medicine, “the optimal intake of cholesterol is probably zero,

meaning the avoidance of animal products… Most recommendations

suggest that total saturated fats be reduced to about 10% of

energy intake, but the optimal level may well be much lower…”

Wow! Radical! The American Heart Association still recommends

“cutting back” to 30% which is three times the amount eaten by

societies with the lowest incidence of cardiovascular disease.

The causes for premature aging are somewhat more obscure, but the

very bottom line for optimizing longevity seems to be EAT LESS,

and stay active. Three communities whose populations seem to

enjoy exceptionally long lives are 1) the village of Vilcabamba

high in the Andes of Ecuador, 2) the Hunza, a small territory in

the Himalayas of Pakistan and 3) the Georgian province in the

Caucasus Mountains of the USSR. Diets in these communities are

low to moderate in calories, and the primary source of calories

for all three groups is complex carbohydrates, suggesting a

generous intake of fiber.

Classic studies were done by McCay and coworkers in the 1930’s

with animal models that definitively proved calorie restriction

increases life span. The mechanism may be via retardation of the

development of degenerative diseases. Animals consuming high

protein early in life and low protein with moderate calories

thereafter had the longest life spans. It is also documented that

food restriction also delays the appearance of lesions in

infectious diseases. Obviously we are not talking starvation,

which is extremely detrimental to health. However, once we reach

a mature size it is appropriate to consider reducing total caloric

intake as a way to spare our bodies the wear and tear of

metabolism: digesting,assimilating and storing the amino acid,

sugar and fat fractions of the food we eat. Juicing is an

excellent way to consume high quality, partially pre-metabolized


Given the general trend in soil mineral depletion with the advent

of mechanized farming and pesticide use, it may well be advisable

to take a basic vitamin/mineral supplement. It is especially

important for vegetarians to supplement B12. All of us will

benefit from consuming antioxidants (which protect against

excessive free radical damage) such as the fat-soluble vitamins A,

E, and C; and the micronutrients zinc and selenium — both co-

factors in enzymes which break down by-products of peroxidation

(cellular oxygen damage). All of the above (except B12) may be

automatically accomplished by a diet rich in fresh fruits and

vegetables. Organic produce is preferable, especially for root

crops such as carrots, onions and potatoes, which sit in the soil

to grow. Avoid all forms of animal fat (there’s just nothing good

about it) except fresh fish oil, which has been shown to

significantly reduce inflammation and the damage incurred by

tissue irritation.

Since we’re going to be eating less, it makes sense to ingest

calories of the highest possible quality; that we minimize “empty”

calories found in fast foods, processed foods and “junk” foods.

It is easy to “fast” for 12 hours each day by not eating late at

night. And don’t be afraid to “breakfast” with a salad or

freshly pressed juice!

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Written by Emily Kane ND

Explore Wellness in 2021