Category: Aging

How to die young at a very old age

How to Die Young at a Very Old Age

I would like to debunk 7 common myths about aging:

I will be quoting out of the new book by Dr. Steven Gundry: The Longevity Paradox

Myth 1: Your genetics determine your health

These days there is a lot of excitement about genetic testing and what kind of information could be gathered from it. But many people do not realize that genetics are estimated to only determine about 10% of your overall lifetime disease risk, the other 90% are environmental factors and consequently epigenetics. Epigenetics are the sum of all factors that determine which genes are turned on and which are left turned off.

Myth 2: The Mediterranean diet promotes longevity

Now do not get me wrong, you certainly are better off following the Mediterranean diet then eating the standard American diet, but: By taking a closer look at the cultures in the Blue zones which are known for their longevity, it turns out that 2 of these Blue zones are in the Mediterranean. That led many people to believe that the Mediterranean diet was the ideal diet to follow. The Mediterranean diet however does contain cereal grains and it turns out that this is actually a negative component of that diet and that these people live long despite eating so many grains, not because of it.

What these Blue zones have in common is not what they eat, but what they do not eat, which is a large amount of animal protein. That brings us to:

Myth 3: Animal protein is essential for strength and longevity

You do need an adequate amount of protein to power your body and build muscle to avoid muscle wasting as you age. But there is a big difference between the amount of protein you have been let to believe you need and the amount you actually need, primarily because of commerce.

Animal protein has become ridiculously inexpensive thanks to government subsidies of corn, other grains and soybeans that are fed to industrially farmed animals, poultry and even fish. The result is that many Weston societies fastly overconsume animal protein, leading to higher blood sugar levels, obesity, and a shorter life span.

You might ask why animal protein was so mischievous when it comes to aging. It goes back to the fact that we amended to thrive an annual cycle that includes periods of growth and regression. During periods of growth, your cells communicate with one another by a pathway that sends signals per cells to grow and proliferate. This pathway, which is known as the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR), helps to regulate cell metabolism and is itself a sensor for energy availability within the body.

So if “mTOR” senses that there is plenty full energy in your body, it assumes that you are in the growth cycle. It then activates the production of a growth hormone called insulin-like growth factor I, which sends a signal to your cells to grow. On the other hand, if it senses that there is little energy in the body, it assumes you are in a period of regression, such as a famine, there is little food and it is time to batten down the hatchets, so it limits production of IGF 1.

Constantly high levels of IGF 1 lead to disease and rapid aging, it also paves the way for cancer cells to proliferate. Your cells would never get the signal to call the heard and recyclables or dysfunctional cells through so-called autophagy, which is programmed cell death which is necessary for renewal of tissue and optimal function.

You can therefore use IGF 1 testing as a marker for aging.

But what does this have to do with animal protein? It turns out that when mTOR is scanning the body for energy availability, it keeps an eye out for certain amino acids more than others, specifically methionine , cysteine and isoleucine, which happen to be most prevalent in animal protein.

Mouse and red studies have shown that avoiding these amino acids extends the life span at levels comparable to those that result from calorie restriction.

Myth 4: Growth hormones promote youthfulness and vitality

It makes sense that hi IGF-I levels, caused by mTOR sensing energy in the body, would promote cell growth. This includes growth of both the cells that help us grow tall and the cells that become cancerous. Many studies also revealed connection between height and cancer. In one study, rapid growth during adolescence resulted in an 80% increased risk of cancer 15 years later.

Another way to look at this is that if consuming sugars in animal proteins increases your IGF 1 level, then lessening your consumption of them generally, or at least periodically, is the way to go.

Myth 5: A high metabolic rate is a sign of good health

A high metabolic rate is not a sign that you are burning calories more quickly at all; it is a sign that your metabolism is inefficient and working much harder than it should in order to burn fuel.

During times of stress your cells become more fuel efficient by stimulating the birth of new mitochondria, the energy plants within each cell. A high metabolic rate is the exact opposite–like a car that gets only 10 miles to the gallon.

Recently, I have seen a lot of my patients jump on board to Crace of the high protein ketogenic or carnivore diet as a weight loss strategy. Yes, if you are looking to lose weight quickly, consuming a lot of protein will work, but it works in much the same way that a 12 cylinder sports car works.

The heat generated by a high metabolic rate ages you quickly. This is because when a glucose molecule bounced would amino acid in a chemical process known as the Maillard reaction, compounds called advanced glycation end products (AGE’s) are produced. This is a function of both you metabolic rate and, which determines the heat in your body, and the amount of sugar you consume.

One example for this process are the brown age spots that show up as you get older, but it does not only happen only in your skin, it happens in all of your organ systems.

In a 365 day growth cycle, glucose, protein and feet are always present, so you are producing these chemical bonds all the time. A good measurement for this process is the so-called “hemoglobin A1c” value which your doctor may have determined for you to screen for diabetes. It is an indirect measurement of how fast or slow you are becoming a giant brown age spot.

Myth 6: Saturated fat should not be demonized

If you followed along this far, you know why this is a myth, because animal fat does not come without animal protein.

Not coincidentally, the fat sources best for longevity all come from plants.

Myth 7: Milk does a body good

The people in the blue zones do not only eat much less animal protein than elsewhere, they also consume sheep and goats dairy products and rarely cow. Why would that make a difference you might ask:

Here is why: About 2000 years ago, a spontaneous mutation in northern European cows changed the type of protein in their milk from casein A2 casein A1. During digestion, casein A1 can turn into beta- casomorphin-7 and opioid peptide, that attaches to the pancreas insulin producing cells and prompts an immune attack and thus inflammation. This is likely the primary cause of type 1 diabetes. The most common breed of cows worldwide is the Holstein, who’s milk contains this problematic protein.

Furthermore, conventionally raised livestock and there dairy products are laced with antibiotics and Roundup, which will send your good gut bacteria running for the hills.

For longevity sake, stay away from A1 casein products and nonorganic dairy in general, and do not drink milk as a beverage, particularly for children, cows milk is loaded with insulin-like growth factor I.

How to give yourself Alzheimer’s disease – or rather not

How to give yourself Alzheimer's disease - or rather not

“Alzheimer’s disease can be prevented, and in many cases its associated cognitive decline can be reversed.” *

You read that correctly, let me say it again: Alzheimer’s disease is preventable! Unfortunately, however not with a single medication.

As the Alzheimer’s Association puts it: “A genuinely new Alzheimer’s drug has not been approved since 2003 and the currently approved Alzheimer’s medications are ineffective in stopping or slowing the course of the disease.”

We now know that Alzheimer’s disease is a normal physiological response to protect the brain– gone rogue. In a nutshell, what happens is, that more synapses are broken down then are being rebuilt at any given time. There are 3 main factors to cause it: inflammation, nutrient deficiencies and environmental toxicity.

Every single case of Alzheimer’s disease is different because there are at least 36 identifiable factors that can contribute to any combination of these 3 processes.

I will quote a longer section from Dale Bredesen’s book “The End of Alzheimer’s”, as I simply cannot say it any better:

“Why would you want to give yourself this dreadful disease? In truth, of course, you probably would not, but looking at the multitude of factors that can contribute to the development and progression of Alzheimer’s disease helps you to understand how to prevent the process in the first place, or reverse it once symptoms appear. It also gives you a check list to see just how many of these factors you already have in your life.

Okay, how shall we start? Well, if you are like me you often work late and find yourself craving a late night snack, preferably something sugary, making your insulin level skyrocket right before bed, keeping it high while you are sleeping. May be you get to bed well after midnight and sleep poorly because of sleep apnea (often the result of weight gain). Nonetheless, your eyes open bright and early, getting just a few hours of sleep. Your feet have barely hit the bedroom floor when you start feeling stress as you contemplate the day ahead. You grab the typical American breakfast–a sweet roll or doughnut, a large glass of orange juice, a big slug of low-fat milk in your coffee–and thereby get a hefty dose of inflammation triggering dairy, take another step toward insulin resistance with the sugar and poke holes in your gastrointestinal lining with the gluten. You pop your proton pump inhibitor to prevent gastric reflux, even though by reducing stomach acid you will impair your ability to absorb key nutrients such as zinc and magnesium and vitamin B12; then you will take your statin, a great way to lower your cholesterol below 150 and thereby increase your risk for brain atrophy. Oh, and we will do all this less than 12 hours after our late night snack, which means the body never gets to induce autophagy and remove the accumulating amyloid and various damaged protein debris.

Rushing out the door keeps our stress level high, producing the cortisol that damages our hippocampal neurons. Next we’ll jump in the car making sure not to get any exercise before work and minimizing sun exposure, an excellent way to keep vitamin D levels suboptimal. Since we are stressed out and irritable from lack of sleep, we will keep our interpersonal interactions high pressured and unpleasant, avoiding positive social interaction and killing joy. When our blood sugar crashes around mid morning, we will hit the office pantry, where a thoughtful colleague has left a box of chocolate chip muffins for everyone to partake of. Then lunch?! here is no time for anything but a sandwich from the cafeteria or deli–white bread, spongy saline injected turkey with hormones and full of antibiotics and stress factors–yum! Alternatively, how about some mercury-laden tuna? The salad does not look that good, anyway. Wash it down with a diet soda, to damage our microbiome. Now let us go for the brownie, so we can get our trans-fats and minimize our healthful omega 3 fats.

At this point, we have done a yeoman’s job of setting our physiological course for Alzheimer’s disease. But if we want to get their even faster, we top it off with a cigarette, decreasing the delivery of oxygen to our tissues–that would include brain tissue–and sending hundreds of toxic chemicals into our bloodstream. No need to brush or floss our teeth–who cares that poor oral hygiene promotes systemic inflammation and destroys the barriers that otherwise keep bacteria such as P. gingivalis out of the brain.

Our postprandial torpor sends us to the candy machine and–hey, we worked so hard today, we deserve a treat!–to that luscious Frappuccino we have been keeping in the fridge. Sugar and fat runs have been our only “exercise” today (and every day), but who has time to get up and move around frequently? Finally time to hit the freeway, heading home while screaming at the idiot riding his break in front of us, thus keeping your blood pressure up and making your blood brain barrier as porous as the colander we plan to use for tonight’s gluten filled pasta dinner. On second thought, let us get something at the drive thru. Start with large fries, a perfect source of Alzheimer’s-inducing advanced glycation end products, or AGE–trans-fats, starchy insulin, oxidized reheated oils with little vitamin E, and neurotoxic acrylamide. You can almost picture each frie with tiny little boxing gloves, snarling: “Let me at that hippocampus!” Add the burger–from corn–and not grass-fed beef, high in inflammatory omega 6 fats and low in anti-inflammatory omega 3s, slathered in high fructose corn-syrupy ketchup, on a bun so packed with gluten it is the perfect way to punch holes in your intestinal lining and your blood–brain barrier.

Home again! Ignore that moldy smell. Collapse in front of your favorite screen for some Netflix bingeing or other favorite fare, as long as it does not offer mental or physical stimulation. (Leave that Wii tennis and soccer to the kids.) Then we can top off the perfect Alzheimer’s inducing day with a relaxing margarita or 3 to accompany that amaretto cheesecake, then dutifully pretend to get caught up on work before drifting off to sleep with the lights on and the electronics still blaring. Rinse and repeat.”

Most of us will find themselves at least in some aspects of this description of a typical day. That is no reason to panic however: just as it takes many years for mild cognitive impairment to develop into full-blown Alzheimer’s disease, so it takes many years for the metabolic processes of the brain assaults that come from a typical American diet and lifestyle, to do their damage. So much for the good news.

The bad news is that the more you find yourself in that description above, the more certain you are already on track to develop cognitive decline and ultimately putting yourself at risk to develop Alzheimer’s disease.

The take-home message: You can reverse Alzheimer’s or prevent it by addressing any and all factors that you can identify, with assistance of your physician, for yourself. If you were concerned, find yourself a functional medicine provider, or integrative medicine minded practitioner to assist you. Dr. Bredesen’s book is a good start.

* Dale Bredesen, MD: The End of Alzheimer’s