Aging Beautifully – Beautiful Aging
by Mark J Kaylor
Saints and seers, explorers and scientists, doctors and dreamers, all have long sought immortality (or at least a much longer lifespan), historically in the form of a fountain of youth or an alchemical – magical elixir. While this search continues today, albeit more “scientifically”, individually and culturally we have accepted a fate that the last years of our lives will consist of becoming more and more frail, more and more sickly, and lacking the vitality and energy of our earlier years. In the area of life expansion at least, we have recently seen some successes. It has been estimated that by the mid part of this century there will be over 800,00 Americans aged 100 or older. But what of the quality of these additional years? How do you want to spend them?
Clearly the answer to aging and longevity cannot be answered in 1,000 words, but the direction for a strong start on your path to aging beautifully can. We needn’t live out our life following someone else’s rules for how we are supposed to age; the choice is yours. Sitting around worrying and fretting about growing older will do nothing but make you grow old faster. Aging is a complex, long-time developing process but there is much we can do, so, as the saying goes, “there is no time like the present” to begin aging beautifully.
Even today, with all our science and research, we still don’t fully understand what causes us to age. There are many theories that have been proposed and below are several of the leading offerings including a few tips.
Wear-n-Tear – The body and its cells eventually wear out as a result of damage caused by normal use; with overuse, abuse, toxins, poor diets and stress speeding up the process.
Tips: Eat a healthy diet, reduce stress (Reishi, Holy Basil, Relora, Ashwagandha), Alteratives* (Red Clover, Cleavers, Nettles, Yellowdock, Scudder’s, Green Magma), Chlorella, Shilajit, sleep.
Free Radical – Volatile molecules that have a free electron that react and damage other particles and tissues. These “promiscuous” free radicals exist throughout the body attempting to steal an electron from a balanced pair.
Tips: Cut out highly heated foods, especially fried foods, Pycnogenol, Turmeric, Chyawanprash, Spices, Amla, GliSODin, Gynostemma and Vitamins A, C, E.
*Alteratives are commonly known as blood cleansers but they do so much more by restoring proper cellular function and waste removal.
Neuro-Endocrine – A wear-n-tear theory that focuses on how a network of biochemicals, including hormones, governs bodily functions and eventually causes mal-function.
Tips: Panax Ginseng, Maitake mushroom, Cordyceps, Shatavari (especially for women), Shilajit (for men), exercise.
Waste Accumulation – Normal metabolism and toxic lifestyle choices contribute to a buildup of wastes in the body and cells. This eventually interferes with normal functions and in the end contributes to the death of the cell and organism. This accumulation can also decrease the life span of cells by limiting the number of cell divisions.
Tips: High fiber plant-based diet, Triphala, Alteratives, Liver support (Milk thistle, Liv 52, Reishi Schizandra, Turmeric), Chlorella.
Hayflick Limit and Telomerase – The Hayflick theory holds that every living cell contains a biological clock that limits their lifespan. Telomeres are the nucleic acid tips of chromosomes that seem to shorten every time the cell divides ultimately leads to malfunction and cell death.
Tips: Calorie Restriction diet, low fat plant-based diet, minimal refined carbohydrates, moderate exercise, Anti-oxidants, Carnosine, Astragalus.
Mitochondrial – These energy-producing components within cells sooner or later succumb to free radical damage and “burn-out”.
Tips: Combining Acetyl l-carnitine and Alpha Lipoic Acid, CoQ10, B Vitamins, Antioxidants.
With so many different causes and contributors to unhealthy aging, a path that works on building, harmonizing, and integrating the whole makes the most sense to me. The remedies that best fit this bill have been some of the longest used, most highly prized medicines from our oldest schools of healing, traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda. These tonics modulate, restore balance and strengthen multiple physiological processes and systems to improve functioning, resilience, overall health and vitality of the whole body all the while supporting the detoxification processes. Some of my favorites include:
Cordyceps – rebuilds the fire of life so many lose as we age and supports the brain, lungs, heart, kidneys and sexual function
Schizandra – it is said that if you use it for 100 days straight that it will make you young and beautiful
Turmeric – an antioxidant and alterative that purifies the blood and liver, reduces inflammation and strengthens the GI tract and digestion
Astragalus – builds primary and protective energy while improving metabolic function and lifting energy
Ashwagandha – a general stress-relieving tonic that builds energy while calming the nerves, supports the brain, thyroid, kidneys, and heart
Gynostemma – a new tonic comparatively, the region where they drink it as tea is reputed to have a large number of centenarians
Reishi – “the tonic for the 21st century”, a tonic for the central nervous system and brain, heart and cardiovascular system, liver, kidneys, and lungs while nourishing the body’s “heart/mind”
Chyawanprash – herbal formula in a paste used by an Indian sage to rejuvenate and restore his youthful vigor so that he would be worthy of marrying the king’s young daughter – he is reputed to have lived a very long life and fathered many children.
The US Surgeon General stated, “of the 2.2 million Americans who die each year, 1.8 million die from diet-related disease.” Clearly diet has a profound impact on how well and how long we live. While there are countless diet books and programs offering a vast array of suggestions, there are a few diet guidelines that have a growing amount of scientific support. Probably best known and most studied to this point is the Caloric Restriction Diet, which simply put, consists of eating fewer calories, anywhere from 10% to 40% less. The theory behind this diet is that the reduced caloric intake significantly lessens a number of the stressors and causes of aging. The problem is that we already have a problem with cutting our calories even when we are already eating way too much. And on top of this, food tastes too good. Thankfully there are a couple of options. One would be to not necessarily cut back on all foods but to eliminate the refined carbohydrates and sugars thereby keeping insulin and blood sugar levels low. You do this by eating foods low on the Glycemic Load and Glycemic Index. New research out of the Institute of Healthy Aging at University College London suggests that it is not the cutting of calories that yields results, but it is the process of eating fewer methionine-rich proteins that may lead to greater longevity. Some common high methionine foods include: meat, fish, egg whites, sesame seeds and Brazil nuts. The simplest diet advice is to eat a primarily whole, unprocessed, organic plant-based diet.
Many cultures and healing schools have emphasized the importance of eating and living according to your constitution or body-type for health and longevity. While these paradigms/traditions can provide useful information it usually requires a good bit of study and knowledge. It needn’t be so complicated. Learning to listen to the (initially) subtle communications from our body allows us to provide or remove what our body needs when it needs it. Does eating this food or taking this supplement make you more tired or does it invigorate you? Do you feel more rested and energized when you get 6, 8, or 9 hours of sleep? Listening and then taking responsibility for our health, healing and aging is one of the most effective and powerful tools we have available to our self. It’s easy; slow down, quiet your mind, and just listen.
For far too many of us aging brings with it the seeming inevitability of high cholesterol and blood pressure, arthritis, heart disease, forgetfulness, weakened thinner bones, poor hearing and eyesight, and less energy and zest for life. And on top of this we consider this process to be “normal”. Well it isn’t normal. Your body was designed to keep you healthy and balanced; it all comes down to the choices you make. Possibly the most impacting of those choices is how you chose to perceive the aging process. Since perception is a learned phenomenon and we have learned to perceive aging a certain way, then we can unlearn that and follow a new path to a long life aging beautifully.
Mark J. Kaylor has been exploring holistic health and healing for close to four decades. He is the founder and director of the not-for-profit Radiant Health Project. Mark welcomes you comments and questions and can be contacted at his website: www.RadiantHealthProject.com or on facebook at www.facebook.com/RadiantHealthProject
Disclaimer: All information and results stated here is for educational and entertainment purposes only. The information mentioned here is not specific medical advice for any individual and is not intended to be used for self-diagnosis or treatment. This content should not substitute medical advice from a health professional. Always consult your health practitioner regarding any health or medical conditions.