Aging Forces: Telomere Shortening

Telomeres are the protective caps at the ends of our chromosomes. They are the biological clocks of our cells. Each time our cells divide and our DNA is replicated, we lose some telomere length. Telomere length is a marker of biological aging. We age as our telomeres shorten. Telomere shortening is involved in all aspects of aging and chronic disease.

If we  could maintain telomere length we could  prevent cellular aging! If we accelerate the shortening of our telomeres we accelerate aging. If we slow the rate of telomere shortening we slow the rate of aging. Research reveals that our lifestyle choices impact the rate of telomere shortening, and as a result, our rate of aging. Continue reading

Aging Forces: Hormone Deficiencies

As we age, certain hormone levels decline, creating hormone imbalances that increase our risk of many degenerative diseases. These hormone imbalances and deficiencies accelerate the rate of aging.

As women age, they produce less estrogen, progesterone and testosterone hormones. As men age, they produce less testosterone and frequently produce excessive estrogen. In addition, both men and women often produce less HGH (growth hormone) and DHEA (dehydropieandrosterone).

It is crucial to acknowledge that insufficient levels of some or all of these hormones result in hormone deficiency states that will adversely influence health and aging. Continue reading

Aging Forces: Chronic Stress

imagesWe are all familiar with the “fight or flight” response to a stressor. This well-known stress response is activated automatically by our body to help us through any stressful situation. When we are exposed to a physical or emotional stress, our sympathetic nervous system is turned on and stimulates our adrenal glands to pump out epinephrine, norepinephrine and cortisol. These hormones released from the adrenal gland help us acutely to survive the stressor at hand. The stress hormones help focus our attention, heighten our senses, increase our heart rate, increase our blood pressure, and rapidly mobilize energy for fuel. The stress response arms us for action.

The activation of the stress response gives us what our body needs to utilize immediately, whether we choose to “fight” or “run like hell”. Our chances of surviving any stressor are contingent on the activation of this acute stress response. After the stressful event, our body is able to recalibrate stress hormone levels and allow us to return to our baseline. The stress response works extremely rapidly to activate our nervous system, immune system, cardiovascular system and metabolism. After the stressor, when we relax, our body is able to activate the relaxation response and take us off “high-alert ” status. Continue reading

Aging Forces: Mitochondrial Dysfunction

Mitochondria are the energy producing structures inside our cells. They are traditionally referred to as the “powerhouse of the cell”. Think of mitochondria as small furnaces inside our cells that burn food to produce cell energy. The cell energy produced is called ATP (adenosine triphosphate).

All cells vary in the number of mitochondria they contain. Amazing as it is, inside the trillions of cells in our body are located anywhere from 50 to 2500 mitochondria per cell. Ninety-five percent of cell energy produced occurs in the mitochondria. The high energy producing cells of the heart and brain contain the highest density of mitochondria.

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Aging Forces: Inflammation

Inflammation is part of our immune system and is required for healing and tissue repair.

Acute inflammation is the immediate, short-term response to an injury or illness. Acute inflammation results in increased blood flow to the area, increased white blood cell production and increased production of inflammatory molecules called cytokines. This acute inflammation response leads to redness, swelling, pain and warmth to the injured area. For example, after you sprain your ankle you develop swelling, pain, warmth and redness to the injured ankle. This acute inflammatory response improves the healing process and usually resolves spontaneously.

When you have an acute infection, such as the flu virus, the fever and body aches you experience are another example of acute inflammation. These symptoms resolve as you recover from the illness. Continue reading

Aging Forces: Oxidation

Oxidation, or oxidative stress, is a well-known aging force in the body. Many of us take antioxidant supplements to optimize health and slow aging. Let’s learn more about oxidation and how we can best combat this aging force.

Oxidation is a by-product of our oxygen-based metabolism. Our metabolism and cell energy production generates free radicals which are unstable molecules. Free radicals steal electrons from other molecules to stabilize themselves. They commonly steal electrons from cell membranes and other cell structures including our DNA. This process of stealing electrons damages cells and contributes to disease and accelerated aging. Free radical damage plays a role in a multitude of diseases including cancer, heart disease and dementia.

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Aging Forces: Insulin Resistance

Insulin resistance accelerates the aging process in multiple ways and puts your health at risk.

We will define insulin resistance, learn why insulin resistance accelerates aging, and review what we can do to reverse insulin resistance to improve health and slow aging.

Insulin is a powerful hormone with multiple functions in the body. The insulin hormone is released from the pancreas when our blood glucose level rise. The primary determinant of the rise in blood glucose levels is the quantity and quality of the carbohydrates we eat.

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Aging Forces: Glycation

One of the most important anti-aging strategies to utilize is to control our blood glucose (sugar) levels. Elevated blood glucose levels are a common cause of accelerated aging. Elevated glucose levels damage cells throughout the body. One of the mechanisms in which high glucose levels promote aging is via the process called glycation. Glycation occurs when glucose combines with proteins in cells and disrupts cell function. High glucose levels literally “gums up the works”. Think of how sticky the floor is when you spill a glass of juice! This is how elevated glucose acts in the body, sticking to things it shouldn’t. For example, when glycation occurs blood flow is impaired, often damaging organs throughout the body, including the brain, heart and kidneys.

The “cross-linking” or combination of glucose with cellular proteins produces advanced glycation end products which are extremely destructive to the body. These advanced glycation end products have the acronym AGEs because of their role in the aging process. AGEs accelerate your rate of aging. AGEs accumulate everywhere in the body and injure all cells and organs.

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Why slow aging?

No matter what your health-related goals, following an anti-aging program will help you achieve success.

With normal aging our risk of degenerative disease increases. Our risk of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, dementia, osteoporosis, and much more, increases as we age. When we slow the rate of aging we improve our health and decrease the risks of degenerative disease. Anti-aging is synonymous with “anti-diabetes”, “anti-obesity”, “anti-osteoporosis”, “anti-heart disease”, “anti-hypertension”,  even “anti-disease”.  The main goals of an anti-aging program are to improve your health and increase your health span.

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