In this section, the basic process of physical and mental aging as it relates to many of the chronic degenerative, and sometimes fatal, diseases will be explored. This program can be used in conjunction with other programs, such as Immune Enhancement, Anti-Stress, Cancer Prevention, Sexual Vitality, Cardiovascular Disease Prevention, and Skin Enhancement. For example, since this Anti-Aging plan may help to prevent both cellular and DNA changes, reduce the level of mutagenic cells and decrease the impact of environmental chemicals, it may help us prevent the twentieth-century plague of cancer.
This program can also take us beyond just learning to be healthy; it can lead to an enhancement of vitality in our elderly years so that we can experience the fruits of our years of labor and embrace more the wisdom and joys of life. Aging is not inevitable. To live 100–110 years in a healthy state is not out of the question if we just take care of ourselves in regard to diet, exercise, and the many other factors discussed here. Though it may be difficult in our younger years, we will look back and know the worth of our efforts as we enjoy feeling good and staying youthful. The goals of this program are twofold: first, to increase longevity by preventing and decreasing the potential for and progression of degenerative disease and, second, to improve the vitality and tissue health of the body through proper nutrient support.
There is, of course, a wide individual variation in the aging process. Genetics and constitutional factors will make some people more predisposed to problems in such areas as the cardiovascular system and circulation, skin, or memory. But with better care and by following some of the guidelines of this program, those less fortunately endowed can increase their potential and lengthen their years on Earth, while those genetically well-endowed people will further increase their health and longevity.
The aging process does not have to reach a level that interferes with function. The Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging, almost 30 years old itself with no gray hair, has shown that many healthy older people can have cardiovascular systems and memories as functional as those of much younger people. It is true that to keep the body fit, we need to exercise it, and to keep the mind sharp, we must also give it a regular workout. Unless there are specific health problems, particularly with the circulation, our memory should not really diminish until a late stage of life. Similarly, sexual hormones, particularly in men, are present and active in the later years, most assuredly in those who have been sexually active and who have maintained their activity into their 60s, 70s, and 80s. Sex is not just young people’s activity.
The program presented here can be employed by anyone over 40 years of age, especially those who wish to begin the protective, antiaging process early, though it can also be utilized in later years. This Anti-Aging program can also be useful to those under stress or with demanding jobs, as well as people who push themselves in work or have trouble dealing with day-to-day demands. People who live in cities and those whose work or life exposes them to chemicals may benefit from many of the suggestions here. Those on diets of processed foods, red meats and cured meats, and other chemical foods would do well to change these habits and follow the Anti-Aging plan for at least six months to experience the benefits. Smokers, alcohol drinkers, and those who have used other drugs that contribute to body breakdown are also candidates for this program, which can reverse some of the damaging effects. There are other programs for most of the above-mentioned concerns in Part Four.
Problems of the Aging Process
The most common problems of aging affect the cardiovascular and nervous systems, as in atherosclerosis and senility. Others include arthritis, cancer, diabetes, certain immunological diseases, gastrointestinal problems, such as diverticulosis, and skin diseases. People with these problems or those who want to prevent them can utilize either this program or one more specific to their condition. Here we explore some of the common physiological effects of aging that generate many of these diseases. Most of these lifestyle-related diseases, of course, come about when we do not take the best care of ourselves. Many subtle and gross changes in the cardiovascular and respiratory systems lead to poor delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the tissues. In conjunction with an insufficiency of the necessary nutrients coming into the body, this is the most important underlying factor in most problems of aging. Many other changes occur in the heart and circulation prior to the diminished nutrient supply. A reduction in heart pumping action with decreased lung capacity reduces oxygen delivery and increases carbon dioxide buildup. An increase in blood vessel stiffness and blood pressure with age also diminishes circulation. Many aspects of living, such as smoking, a high-fat diet, and lack of exercise, affect these changes. Other diseases, such as diabetes and hypertension, contribute to further problems of atherosclerosis, abnormal heart function, and reduced circulation.
The nervous system can also be affected, with a slowing of nerve conduction, loss of brain weight, reduced reflexes, and a decrease in memory and learning capacity. Dementia or senility may result from the diminishing nervous system function along with the cardiovascular effects of reduced circulation. Brain neurotransmitters are vital to nerve conductivity and brain function. Acetylcholine, norepinephrine, and serotonin, the three main neurotransmitters, are all produced and affected by dietary nutrients, such as choline, pantothenic acid, and the amino acids tyrosine, phenylalanine, and tryptophan. Acetylcholine supports brain function, memory, and sexual activity; norepinephrine also affects sexual and general energy levels, memory, and learning; and serotonin aids relaxation and sleep.
Alzheimer’s disease, a common form of senile dementia (loss of mental capacity), has received a lot of attention recently. It often begins earlier (in the 50s) than other types of senility. Theories as to its cause range from aluminum toxicity or sensitivity to an autoimmune process to a virus infection affecting the brain. Cigarette smoking clearly increases the risk of Alzheimer’s. Microscopic brain cell and brain tissue changes described as “neurofibrillary tangles” are classic in Alzheimer’s disease; the diagnosis is most often accomplished by excluding other possibilities. The main effect seems to be on the “cholinergic” system, which is governed by the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, but other neurotransmitters are probably affected as well. Many treatments have been tried, without much success. Clearing excess aluminum and reducing aluminum intake may be helpful. Lecithin or choline supplements have been helpful in some people.
Other body systems affected by aging include the musculoskeletal system and the gastrointestinal, genitourinary, and endocrine organs. There is often a loss of muscular strength and coordination with aging. There is often some thinning of spinal discs and bones in general, degeneration of cartilage and ligaments, and the loss of tissue elasticity and flexibility. With aging there is a loss of height and an increase in bone fractures. Arthritis becomes more common with the years and leads to greater joint wear and tear. The hips are a common site for both joint pains and arthritis in the elderly.
Good digestive function is important to proper assimilation of nutrients. This begins with good teeth. Teeth are made up of minerals, nutrients that are not well absorbed when there is low stomach acid and pancreatic digestive enzyme function. Good colon function and elimination are also important to prevent constipation and diverticular disease, common problems with aging. Kidney function may also diminish with aging, inhibiting clearance of excess nutrients, chemicals, and toxins. The prostate and sexual organs also need good blood and energy supply to keep them functioning properly.
Many hormonal changes also occur with aging. The basal metabolic rate and thyroid hormone function may diminish, thus decreasing the energy level. Weakened glucose tolerance can lead to more problems with diabetes. Body fat percentages usually increase with age, even with the same dietary intake. Immune functions may also be reduced with the “scavenger” white blood cells becoming less effective, allowing an increase in infections. Cell repair and elimination of defective cells may lessen, leading to an increased incidence of cancer. Autoimmune problems from a misguided immune system may also occur.
Many habits and activities affect these common changes of aging. Factors that increase aging and degeneration include smoking, excess alcohol, fats and chemicals in food, poor or deficient diet, overeating, stress, pollution, and laziness. Psychological factors influencing aging include extreme emotions, negativity, resisting positive suggestions and support, getting trapped in ruts, and hanging onto depression, loneliness, anger, and grief. A positive attitude and psychological health will greatly increase longevity and delay “getting old.”
Theories of Aging
My own combined theory of aging is that stagnation is the key—stagnation of bioenergy circulation and stagnation of the digestive tract and bowels. Good colon function to prevent toxin buildup, regular exercise to stimulate energy production and circulation of the blood and lymph, dealing properly with extreme emotions and stresses, and maintaining a positive attitude all help to support vitality and circulation on all levels. Chemical irritants and nutritional deficiencies accelerate the aging process. We need to maintain proper food acquisition, digestion, assimilation, and elimination to have long-term health and minimize the aging process. We also need to have all the nutrient building blocks available to the cells and tissues when they need them. This requires eating wholesome, nutritious food, as well as proper digestion and assimilation.
Stagnation and toxicity
Aging clock and hormones
Cross-linking of proteins
Errors in DNA
Changes in brain
The aging clock theory regards the aging process as programmed by an inherent, preset number of possible cellular divisions. Our individual set of cell divisions and the time between them determines our life span. Different cells have different division rates. Lifestyle factors such as stress and nutrition, degenerative changes, and immunological and hormonal health can affect our inherent cell division potential or the length of time between cell divisions. Our genes are most closely influenced by nucleic acids, RNA and DNA. When RNA is affected, it may influence cell activity, protein building, and tissue repair and healing. Basic wear and tear and random insults to our genes can speed up our aging process. Chemicals, microorganisms, random toxins, and nutritional or functional deficiencies (such as reduced digestive enzyme production) all affect this important cellular process.
As far as we know, at present there is no hormone or code that causes death or self-destruction. But there are many subconscious, self-destructive tendencies such as not taking care of ourselves in the best ways possible. As we age, we must attend to minimizing internal aging to maintain vitality and tissue health.
This is accomplished in part by eating light and staying light, but eating well. It is the synergy of nutrient and emotional deficits and depletions that contributes to both aging and the subsequent dying process.
The cross-linking theory suggests that molecular changes occur in the protein molecules of body tissues that cause microfibers to be laid down against the normal direction of other tissue fibers. This creates aging through loss of elasticity, stiffness, and degeneration. This may always be going on as the underlying mechanism for tissue change, inflammation, and degeneration, but it is more likely a result of the biochemical process of free-radical formation.
The free-radical theory, currently the most accepted aging hypothesis, offers an explanation of the basis of degenerative disease. It suggests that free radicals—unstable, reactive molecules with a free electron—seek to latch onto whatever they can find. When they are not countered by antioxidant nutrients, they may attack cell membranes, fat molecules, or tissue linings. Free radicals are generated by the metabolism of oxygen and other chemicals. Singlet oxygens, hydroxyl ions, peroxides, and superoxide molecules are some of the products of oxidation. Unsaturated fats, certain reactive chemicals, both inhaled and consumed in food or water, microbes, and smoking cigarettes all generate free radicals.
The antioxidants, also termed “free-radical scavengers,” protect us by binding the free radicals. When we get sufficient levels of these antioxidants, such as vitamins E and C, selenium, and beta-carotene (vitamin A precursor) in our diet or as supplements, we can neutralize the free radicals and prevent cellular and tissue damage. Our body produces superoxide dismutase (SOD) and glutathione peroxidase (GP), enzymes that also counteract free radicals. These enzymes, however, are themselves unstable and are not specifically helpful as supplements because they are metabolized very rapidly and are not readily absorbed. By keeping our liver and its cells functioning well, we can support the production and function of these important antioxidant enzymes.
Other aging theories include errors in DNA (which could be generated by free radicals), chemical exposure, general toxicity, and basic genetic tendencies. Changes in brain function and the regulation of balance in the hormonal and nervous systems may also be at the core of the aging process. Autoimmunity and a general breakdown of immune function is another theory of degeneration; stress, which likely increases free-radical formation, may itself be at the heart of the aging process, as well as diminishing other vital physiological processes. The general process of aging probably involves combinations of all of the above theories working together in varying ways within each individual.
Diet and Supplements
The diet and supplement plan that will best provide us with the basic and special nourishment we need to maintain health and prevent aging includes the following guidelines:
- Regularly undereat. Avoid obesity; eat more low-calorie foods, such as vegetables, especially those high in beta-carotene.
- Minimize fat intake. The diet should be low in saturated and animal fats, with only moderate intake of vegetable-oil foods and cold-pressed vegetable oils and very low intake of fried fats or oils. Overall, not more than 25 percent of the calories in the diet should come from fat.
- Focus the diet on complex-carbohydrate-containing foods to acquire more fiber and sustained energy without overconsumption and congestion. Complex carbohydrates such as whole grains (specifically, brown rice, millet, oats, barley, buckwheat, and whole wheat), legumes, potatoes, and other starch vegetables and squashes are the key to any diet for longevity.
- Protein intake should be moderate—no more than 50–70 grams daily—with an increase in vegetable proteins such as nuts, seeds, and whole grain/legume combinations to about 75 percent of the dietary protein intake.
- Eat a chemical-free diet as much as possible. Most chemicals have some toxic properties, and
many generate free-radical production. Some, such as certain pesticides and the nitrates and nitrites in cured meats, can even be carcinogenic in the body.
- Moderate salt, sugar, alcohol, nicotine, and caffeine. Each of these has specific irritating properties; however, regular nicotine use is the worst in regard to aging.
- Drink plenty of good drinking water, free of toxic pesticides and other chemicals. Proper hydration is important to skin health, digestive function, proper elimination, and all bodily functions.
- Follow the Anti-Aging program for micronutrients and antioxidants presented in the table below.
- Use periods of detoxification, or cleansing, to balance and rest the body’s systems. Fasting or cleansing, I feel, is the missing link in Western nutrition. It is very important to regenerate optimum function and to enhance elimination. It helps improve many body functions, including the important digestion-assimilation-elimination cycle (see the programs on Fasting and General Detoxification in the last chapter for more information).
Supplements are important to the Anti-Aging program. First, a general and complete multivitamin-mineral formula is recommended. There are now more high-quality multivitamins that contain additional antioxidants; because these extra nutrients counteract so many disease processes as well as stress, likely the underlying cause of many problems. In addition to a general formula, the following nutrients are specific to the Anti-Aging program (the first seven are antioxidants):
- Vitamin E is an important antioxidant nutrient when taken in doses well above the RDA, usually at least 400–1,000 IUs daily. Vitamin E protects cell membranes and in particular prevents lipid irritation and breakdown. It also counteracts some of the negative effects of air pollution chemicals and metals.
- Selenium is an antioxidant mineral that works synergistically with vitamin E; that is, together they have a better effect than each separately. The selenium-containing enzyme, glutathione peroxidase, protects cellular membranes and irritation from metals. Selenium deficiency is associated with an increased risk of cancer, and adequate selenium intake is correlated with a reduced incidence of malignancy, particularly of the breasts, colon, and lungs, common sites of cancer.
- Beta-carotene is another cancer-preventing antioxidant nutrient. As an antiaging nutrient, this form of vitamin A is better than retinol (from animal sources). Beta-carotene is a dual vitamin A molecule that can be split easily in the small intestine or liver. Vitamin A deficiencies are associated with an increased risk of cancer, particularly cervical and lung cancer. Beta-carotene specifically protects smokers from lung cancer (it reduces but does not eliminate the risk) in amounts of 25,000–40,000 IUs daily taken in one or two doses.
- Vitamin C is a crucial antioxidant nutrient. It is also an anticancer nutrient, as it has been shown to reduce cervical dysplasia, an early stage of cancer, and to prevent the conversion of nitrites to the carcinogenic nitrosamines. Ascorbic acid specifically protects cell membranes from viruses and may prevent chemical irritations. It also helps to lower blood fats, thus decreasing cardiovascular disease risk, and reduces irritation from cigarette smoke and air pollution. Bioflavonoids, found in many vitamin C foods, may also have antioxidant properties. Adequate amounts of bioflavonoids in the diet can help strengthen and protect blood vessels, improve enzyme activity, and may even help reduce the incidence of cataracts. Vitamin C supplements should contain some bioflavonoids.
- L-Cysteine is a sulfur-containing amino acid that acts as a free-radical scavenger, binding and neutralizing those irritating molecules. It aids detoxification, in part by supporting the liver in producing and storing glutathione, a tripeptide (protein) that is part of an important antioxidant enzyme system. L-cysteine gives cellular and tissue protection from chemicals as well. This amino acid is usually taken with vitamin C to protect the kidney from forming stones made of cystine (a by-product of cysteine metabolism). The recommended dose is 250 mg. of L-cysteine with 1 gram of vitamin C twice daily. If this amino acid is taken regularly, it is wise to also take a general formula containing the other required amino acids.
- Zinc also has mild antioxidant effects through its function in the enzyme superoxide dismutase, a free-radical scavenger. Zinc also contributes to immune support. A daily dose of 30–60 mg., including diet, is part of the Anti-Aging plan.
- Manganese and copper act as mild antioxidants, mainly as support, along with zinc, of the superoxide dismutase (SOD) enzymes, which metabolize the superoxide free radicals.
- Fiber is necessary as part of the diet and as a supplement. It helps colon elimination and may reduce the likelihood of cancer, especially in the breast and colon. Low-fiber, high-fat diets have been associated with an increased incidence of colon cancer.
- Water is a vital part of the “fountain of youth” program. It helps all the body functions, nourishes the skin, and is necessary for good elimination.
- Calcium protects against carcinogenic changes of the cells in the colon lining. It is also important to energy (ATP) production, heart and nerve function, good teeth, and bone health, protecting against osteoporosis.
- Magnesium protects the cardiovascular system by supporting heart function and preventing vascular spasms. It also aids in relaxation by reducing nervous tensions, an important part of staying healthy. Magnesium is also necessary for amino acid metabolism and energy (ATP) production.
- Chromium supports glucose tolerance, often reducing sugar cravings and possibly the incidence of diabetes, and also helps to lower blood cholesterol, thereby helping to prevent the main degenerative disease, atherosclerosis.
- Molybdenum is another trace mineral that may play a role in inhibiting cancer.
- Niacin is the active circulatory stimulant form of vitamin B3. This nutrient helps improve circulation and also lowers cholesterol, two factors that reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
- Vitamin B12 helps keep energy up and protects nerve coverings. B12 is needed in the production of red blood cells and in the synthesis of DNA and RNA, important rebuilding processes in the body.
- Folic acid also helps in RNA and DNA (and red blood cells) production, but only in dosages higher than the 400 mcg. RDA. A dose of 1–2 mg. twice daily is commonly prescribed in Canada for this supportive function.
- RNA, as is found in foods such as the blue-green algae, chlorella, spirulina, and wheatgrass, all high in chlorophyll as well, help slow the aging process. RNA supplements have not been shown, however, to be very effective in actually increasing RNA in the tissues.
- Choline, as is found in lecithin, supports production of cell membranes and the important neurotransmitter acetylcholine.
- Omega-3 fatty acids, such as EPA and DHA, help reduce cholesterol and cardiovascular disease risk. Flaxseed oil contains both these omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids.
- L-carnitine is a nonessential amino acid that helps to balance fat metabolism (utilization) and support energy production within the cell and in the muscles. L-carnitine may also reduce body fat and weight, which is important to longevity.
- Coenzyme Q10, also called ubiquinone, improves the function of the cardiac muscle, our body’s most important pump for longevity. It also may enhance specific immune functions.
- Lactobacillus acidophilus and other intestinal bacteria are also important at times to support the normal colon ecology and for the breakdown of food and production of colon vitamins. Reimplanting healthy bacteria may also help reduce other organisms, yeasts, or parasites.
- Organic germanium (trace mineral complex, germanium sesquioxide) is an oxygenating nutrient that I am sure future research will demonstrate to possess antiaging properties.
- Mucopolysaccharides, or chondroitin sulfates, may have a role in reducing inflammation, which can be a culprit in aging, and in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease and arthritis. These substances, found in mussels and oysters, also help keep the collagen tissues and cells strong. Though the research so far has not substantiated the usefulness of mucopolysaccharides, the clinical responses have been favorable.
- Hydrochloric acid and digestive enzyme support may be helpful, particularly if these substances are deficient in our bodies. Proper breakdown and utilization of food nutrients are essential to staying healthy. Poor digestion can lead to many problems, including increased incidence of allergy; furthermore, improper assimilation of undigested foods can ultimately lead to increased nutrient deficiencies as well as free-radical formation from food reactions.
Herbs have long been known for their benefits in cleansing the body and blood, protecting us from irritants and cancer cells, and supporting longevity. Those that I think are best for these purposes are garlic, ginseng root, capsicum, also known as red or cayenne pepper, and gotu kola.
- Garlic has some antiviral, antifungal, and antibacterial properties. It also probably has some anticancer function. Garlic helps to stimulate liver and colon detoxification and aids in reducing both blood pressure and cholesterol levels, which reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease.
- Ginseng root, known as the “longevity herb,” has been used for centuries in the Orient to improve energy, especially in the elderly. Ginseng seems to support the adrenal glands and the immune function, though further tests are needed to confirm this. There are many kinds of ginseng; the red may lead to a mild increase in blood pressure, while the white varieties may help reduce it. Ginseng should not be used regularly in an antiaging program unless there is fatigue. It may be used three or four times a year, with a few capsules taken daily for a week or two or a tea prepared from the root, drunk over several days.
- Capsicum is a very interesting herb. A spicy bush-berry, cayenne helps to stimulate both the circulation and elimination. It also acts as a mild diuretic, increasing kidney cleansing. Cayenne is a natural energy stimulant that, unlike coffee, helps to reduce the blood pressure as well as the cholesterol level.
- Gotu kola has long been used by the East Indians for a variety of conditions. It is used in an antiaging program as a memory and brain stimulant and has been known as a longevity herb, likely for its effect on mental and physical vitality. Gotu kola has a diuretic effect and has been used as a glandular tonic in both men and women.
In the future, more and more specific nutrients and herbs will be used to slow down the aging process and enhance health, mainly by reducing stress and supporting immune function. Immune enhancement and a greater understanding of the relationship between immunology and health will probably be the basis of our future medicine.
Unless we get involved in serious cloning of cells and tissues or in cryobiology, the freezing of cells, tissues, and whole bodies to prolong or regenerate life, it is going to be up to each of us to live according to the health-sustaining laws of nature and the universe. A total revamping of the diet, with nutrient-rich, wholesome foods and a focus on regular undereating, will support us best. Reducing chemical exposure by cleaning up the environment will also be necessary for greatest longevity. Learning to reduce and manage stress in our daily lives and generate an attitude of enthusiasm and love for life is crucial to our future health and happiness.
The specific nutrient program I recommend for antiaging is shown in the following table. The values given are averages for men and women of different sizes and shapes. Ranges are shown for most values to allow for some flexibility in individual application. Unless otherwise noted, these amounts are to be taken daily, usually divided into two or three portions over the course of the day. Amounts consumed in the diet can be taken into consideration for nutrients such as folic acid, calcium, or iron; excess iron should not be taken unless you are being treated for iron deficiency or are monitored by a nutritional specialist. This supplementation program may be used for one month several times yearly for healthy people in their 40s and 50s, and then more regularly in the later years or with particular aging concerns. For specific medical conditions, using more specific programs discussed later may be more relevant.
|Protein||50–75 g.||Chromium||200–500 mcg.|
|Fats||40–70 g.||Copper||2–3 mg.|
|Carbohydrate||250–400 g.||Iodine||150–200 mcg.|
men and post-menopausal women
|Water||1.5–3.0 qt.||menstruating women||18–30 mg.|
|Vitamin A||10,000 IUs||Manganese||5–15 mg.|
|Beta-carotene||25,000–50,000 IUs||Molybdenum||100–500 mcg.|
|Vitamin D||400 IUs||Selenium,|
(preferably as selenomethionine)
|Vitamin E||400–800 IUs||Silicon||100–200 mg.|
|Vitamin K||300 mcg.||Zinc|
|Thiamine (B1)||10–50 mg.||men||30–60 mg.|
|Riboflavin (B2)||10–50 mg.||women||25–50 mg.|
|Niacin (B3)||50–100 mg.|
|Niacinamide (B3)||50–100 mg.||L-amino acids complex||1,000 mg.|
|Pantothenic acid (B5)||250–500 mg.||L-cysteine||500 mg.|
|Pyridoxine (B6)||25–200 mg.||L-carnitine||250–500 mg.|
|Pyridoxal-5-phosphate||25–50 mg.||Coenzyme Q10||30–60 mg.|
|Cobalamin (B12)||50–250 mcg.||Flaxseed oil||1–2 t.|
|Folic acid||1,000–2,000 mcg.|
|Organic germanium||75–300 mg.|
|Choline||250–1,000 mg.||Hydrochloric acid||5–10 grains|
|Inositol||l500–1,000 mg.||(with protein meals)||(1–2 tablets)|
|Vitamin C||2–6 g.||Digestive enzymes|
|Bioflavonoids||250–500 mg.||Wheat germ oil||4 capsules|