Health-conscious consumers are confused about anti-aging. They listen to news reports of promising scientific advances, and they are inundated with anti-aging product claims. But when they go to their doctor for advice, they are often told that anti-aging is impossible. What's the truth?
It starts with the observation that some people age a great deal slower than others. While this was once thought to be just a matter of "good genes," we now know that only about 35% of the aging process is controlled by your genes and the remaining 65% is determined by metabolic forces that are to a great extent within your control.
The Metabolic Model states that the speed at which you age depends on the ratio between damage and repair. In general, repair, rebuild and regenerate activity is termed anabolic, while the damage we experience and accumulate is mostly catabolic in nature. It can be said, therefore, that the day your catabolic metabolism exceeds your anabolic drive is the day you begin to die, for that is the moment that aging starts to accelerate, as unrepaired damage begets more damage. In other words, the older you get, the faster you age.
You can dramatically alter the speed at which you age by restoring anabolic repair and reducing catabolic damage. Because this has been proven in double blind, placebo-controlled human clinical trials, the Metabolic Plan can indeed help you age slower.
Reducing the damage we're exposed to on a daily basis is not an easy task, considering that environmental pollution, ultraviolet radiation, highly processed food, dehydration, stress, obesity and a sedentary lifestyle are all catabolic accelerators. An action plan is available, however, once you understand that most catabolic damage comes from oxidation.
Oxidation is damaging your blood vessels, your brain, your heart and your liver. It increases your risk to cardiovascular disease and cancer. Altogether, this disease-promoting, age-accelerating activity is known as oxidative stress. Fortunately, much of this can be controlled by compounds known as antioxidants, found primarily in fruits and vegetables. Cultures that eat a varied staple of fruits and vegetables exhibit the lowest rates of lifestyle-related diseases. Simply put, there is no better way to get antioxidants than by eating more fresh fruits and vegetables.
Since we are exposed to thousands of times more oxidative stress than our ancestors, even the best diet cannot provide adequate levels of antioxidants. There are a few steps you can do to prevent rapid aging. They are: 1. Increase your intake of fruits and vegetables in their raw, natural state. Making fresh juice is also beneficial, as are green drinks if they are carefully processed at low temperatures.
2. Use sugar-free berry concentrates. Berries, especially blueberries, bilberry, black cherries and cranberries, are loaded with powerful antioxidants and hundreds of other phytonutrients. Concentrates you find in the health food store are nutraceutical-grade, as opposed to grocery items, with no added sweetener and quality controls that maintain the highest levels of antioxidants and other beneficial compounds.
3. Green tea contains powerful antioxidants known as polyphenols, shown to be more potent that vitamins C or E. These compounds provide a wide range of protection, which may include significant enhancement of the immune system.
4. Modern science is finding that many spices contain powerful antioxidants. Since different spices contain different antioxidant compounds,
the best strategy is to use cayenne, garlic, turmeric, cumin, rosemary, oregano and paprika liberally in your diet.
5. Take a variety of supplemental antioxidants. The following summarizes current research on antioxidants and provides a general dose range. Today, there are many antioxidant products available which contain many of the listed nutrients below. Sources and daily recommended allowances are also included:
Vitamin C (citrus fruits, 200 to 1000 mg); Vitamin E (d-alpha, raw nuts, seeds and unprocessed oils, 30 to 1,000 IU tocopherol); Carotenoid Complex which includes lycopene, lutein and zeaxanthin antioxidants (beta carotene, orange, yellow and red fruits & vegetables, 20-50 mg); Flavonoids (wide variety of fruits and vegetables, 50-100 mg); Anthocyanins (berries, cherries, grapes; 100-500 mg); proanthocyanidins (pine bark, grape seed extracts, 20-100 mg); Coenzyme Q-10 (whole grains, nuts seeds 20-200 mg); NAC (no natural source, 100-200 mg); L-cysteine (eggs, garlic, onions, RDA N/A (Daily allowance not available); polyphenols (green tea, red wine, rooibos tea, RDA N/A); Selenium (yeast, wheat germ, nuts, 50-100 mcg); Alpha Lipoic acid (Liver, yeast, 50-200 mg).
Stephen Cherniske M.S. is the author of the new book, The Metabolic Plan (Ballantine Books; 2003; $25.95). Stephen directed the nation's first FDA-licensed clinical laboratory specializing in nutrition testing and advised the US Olympic Team. He currently serves as President and Chief Science Officer for Oasis Wellness Network. For more info, visit: www.themetabolicplan.com.