There are many theories of aging. But to keep things easy we will start with two basic categories; oxidation reactions and sub-optimal hormone levels.
Oxidation reactions occur when the combustion of oxygen that keeps us alive and well produces by-products called oxygen free radicals. When this process occurs in metals we call it rusting. When it happens in us we call it aging!
Free radicals are molecules that have lost an electron. With this happens to oxygen, we call it “singlet oxygen” because it has only one of its electrons left. This is a highly unstable condition. To restore balance the radical either tries to steal one electron away from, or donate the remaining one, to another nearby molecule. In so doing, the free radicals create “molecular mayhem”, disrupting, damaging and destroying nearby cells. If DNA is involved, mutations occur, a favored theory of a common cause of cancer. In time, free radical damage accumulates, thereby aging us.
Free radicals are not only produced inside us, but we take them in through smoking, food, air and water pollution, x-rays, sun exposure, and various poisons to name the most common.
“Aging is a disease. The human life span simply reflects the level of free radical oxidative damage that accumulates in cells. When enough damage accumulates, cells can’t survive properly anymore and they just give up.” E.R. Stadtman, researcher on aging, NIH.
The other major theoretical cause of aging in this brief, introductory overview is sub- optimal hormone levels. As we age some hormones begin a precipitous decline that strongly parallels the onset of aging signs and symptoms. These include human growth hormone, melatonin, DHEA, androstene-dione (made famous by Mark McQwire), testosterone, estrogen, and progesterone.
Conversely, insulin levels tend to rise, eventually culminating in adult onset diabetes.A relative rise in cortisol, the stress hormone, is all too common as well.
Although thyroid hormone doesn’t generally fall with age, many anti-aging doctors insist that slow thyroid function is common, and when present, definitely hastens aging and heart disease.
Human Growth Hormone, aka HGH, as the name implies, stimulates the growth of our tissues. Our internal organs, skin, muscles, nerves and bones are all stimulated to grow by HGH. As our levels of growth hormone shrinks, so do we!
Melatonin helps us sleep and may help prevent cancer. One reason why people over 60 sometimes find it hard to go to sleep is declining melatonin levels. DHEA is a building block out of which estrogen and testosterone are made. (It is first converted to androstenedione, however.) DHEA also boosts are immune systems and our brains.
Testosterone, estrogen, and progesterone give us our sex drive, build muscle, skin and bone, keep our minds sharp, protect our hearts, and help us feel and be attractive.
Thyroid hormone helps keeps us energetic and trim. Along with the above hormones, it helps us burn fat. That spare tire that develops around our bellies at middle age (central obesity) has a lot to do with lower hormone levels. That may be why your last diet didn’t work!
Excess insulin levels are associated with diabetes, pre-diabetes, and the mysterious sounding “Syndrome X”. When insulin no longer works well, known as insulin resistance, both insulin and then blood sugar rise. The excess blood sugar is forced into the body’s tissues, damaging them with “advanced glycation end-products”, known as “AGE” appropriately enough!
Cortisol levels, like insulin levels, don’t decline with age. Excess levels of this stress hormone are catabolic. That means it catabolises you, or literally “eats you up inside”.
When cortisol and insulin are too high, they often lower Hgh, DHEA, and the sex hormones as well!
Now that you have had a brief introduction as to some of major factors in aging, let’s do an overview of a rational anti-aging program based on last issues theories of aging.
FIRST, regardless of age, we want to fill our bodies with an abundance of anti-oxidants, while we do our best to avoid oxidant poisons.(Some of us may even need to detoxify to rid our bodies of accumulated oxidants like heavy metals or pesticides). This is done through a good diet and aggressive supplementation.
“We could save billions of dollars if we could delay the onset of chronic diseases by as little as ten years.”- Dr. J. Blumberg, Tufts, who advises adults to take anti-oxidant vitamin supplements.
SECOND, we want to prevent sugar imbalances, Syndrome X, diabetes and the accumulation of advanced glycation end products (remember AGE?) by good diet, supplements and exercise.
THIRD, we want to minimize stress and maximize our ability to handle it by balanced healthy life-styles, and vitamins and herbs designed as stress handlers and relievers.
FINALLY, we want to restore our hormonal levels to closer approximate those levels we had when we were young. Today, most anyone can afford to do so safely, without prescription.
“Replacing the hormones which decline with age, such as estrogen, testosterone, DHEA, melatonin, and now HGH, is as important as replacing normal levels of insulin is to a diabetic.” Ronald Klatz, M.D.,President of the Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine (A4M).
The American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine (A4M) predicts 50% of all baby boomers alive and well today will celebrate their 100th birthday with physical and mental faculties intact. By instituting a life-style and supplement program that covers the above basics, you are much more likely to be among the 50% enjoying a 100 year active and sharp “health-span”. And if you are younger, your chances are even better!
Written by: Dr. John Maher, Solana Beach, CA USA,firstname.lastname@example.org http://www.RxforWellness.com
Dr. John H. Maher, Editor of the “Longevity News”, your FREE at home study course in anti-aging http://www.RxforWellness.com