Sam Rose, CN MS
The human body is a miracle of design. At conception, our
cells are encoded with a genetic blueprint for the construction and maintenance
of a full-grown adult human. If their work area is kept clean and all the
necessary nutrients are provided, our cells continue to do their job perfectly.
And for a lot longer than you might expect. Current thinking holds that the
human body is genetically engineered to last up to 120 years. So why do so
many of us wind up on the scrap pile, sputtering to a painful conclusion in
our 60’s and 70’s? The reason is more a function of poor maintenance, how
we live our lives, than it is the result of our genetic disposition or some
mysterious biological clock winding down.
In other words, if people took better care of themselves,
they would live longer.... a lot longer. It’s never too soon to start
preparing for a healthy future. If you’re 30, 40 or 50 something, the
information in this article could make the difference between aging gracefully
and healthfully or going out in pain, prematurely.
In her book, Stop Aging Now, Jean Carper writes: “In
the natural, universal order of things, as we get older, two critical things
happen biologically to hasten aging. The rate of increase of cell damaging
free radical reactions accelerates dramatically. Even worse news, your inborn
abilities to diffuse and repair the damage from the free radicals - your
detoxification systems - lose steam also as you age. This means that the older
you get, the more damage accumulates in your cells and the more the aging
process speeds up. We can never escape aging because nature’s plan builds it
into our genes, some say, because nature cares little about us after 40 or 50,
when we have performed our duties of reproduction, providing fresh gene pools
for evolution. It becomes more difficult with time to fend off free radicals
that are taking away our youth.”
Today the average life expectancy for the average American
is 75.5 years. That sounds like a reasonable age, until you consider a recent
Surgeon General’s report that concluded that 80% of Americans do not die of old
age. They die of degenerative diseases. Diseases like cancer, heart disease,
diabetes and arteriosclerosis. People don’t catch degenerative diseases like
we catch a cold. We earn them over years of poor life style and inappropriate
The aging of our cells, or senescence, is controlled
primarily by two factors. Heredity (our genetic makeup) and the impact of
internal and external elements that result from the way we live our lives (the
kind of foods we eat, the quality of air we breathe, the amount of stress we
hold in our bodies).To a degree, our life span depends upon the number of times
our cells are programmed to replicate themselves (genetic potential) and the
amount of time between the generations of cells. This time frame is not set in
stone. The life span of cells and their replication rates are dramatically
influenced by lifestyle factors like stress and the quality of our nutrition.
Many people have a fatalistic attitude about how long they
will live and their potential for quality of life. The danger with this
attitude is that it causes them to relinquish responsibility for taking care of
themselves. For example, “If nothing I do matters, and I’m going to die
anyway, why should I bother?” However, there is plenty of evidence to suggest
that we can influence our potential for developing degenerative disease,
improve our vitality, and improve the length and quality of our lives –
regardless of the quality of our parents health or how long they lived.
Smoking, consumption of excess alcohol, rancid and
oxidized fats, chemicals in food, nutrient deficient diets, overeating, stress,
and pollution are all factors that speed the aging process.
One of the biggest culprits is polyunsaturated fat from vegetable oils, which can become rancid very easily. This fat absorbs
oxygen molecules quickly, creating lipid hydroperoxide. In our bodies, these
molecules split apart, releasing very powerful free radicals that cause a chain
reaction of destruction. The overall acceleration of aging that these fats
cause is even more common than heart or vascular disease. The most common
sources of these fats are margarine, shortenings, and salad oils from corn,
safflower and sunflower.
On the other hand, monounsaturated fats slow the
aging process. They are slow to oxidize, curb free radical reactions, and
lower LDL cholesterol. The best food sources of these oils are olive oil, macadamia
nut oil, flaxseed oil, olives, avocados, almonds and hazelnuts. Cholesterol
researcher Ancel Keys summed up the case for monounsaturated fats when he
documented that Mediterranean people who use olive oil as their main source of
fat have the lowest mortality rates. They are least likely to die prematurely
One of the other problems with oils is how they are used.
Cooking meat, poultry, and even fish creates substances called Heterocyclic
amines (HCA’s) when these meats are browned. HCA’s have been shown to
cause colon, breast, pancreatic and bladder cancers in animal studies. They
stimulate free radicals and damage the cell’s genetic material (DNA). Cooking
at high temperatures, such as frying, grilling, broiling and barbecuing produce
the most HCA’s. Roasting and baking produce less HCA’s, and stewing, boiling
and poaching produce virtually no HCA’s.
Poor elimination and toxic build-up are responsible
for a tremendous amount of the premature aging that we see in our clients at Rose
Nutrition Center. Dr. Alexis Carrell, at the Rockefeller Institute for
Medical Research, took small pieces of heart tissue from a chicken embryo to
produce one of the most remarkable experiments in medical history. He
attempted to demonstrate that under suitable conditions, the living cell could
live a very long time, perhaps indefinitely. The heart tissue was immersed in
a nutrient solution from which it obtained its food. Likewise, waste material
was secreted into this same solution. Every day the solution was changed,
taking away waste substances and providing fresh nutrients. This chicken heart
tissue lived for 29 years in this fashion. It died one day when an assistant
forgot to change the metabolized polluted fluid. In other words, autointoxication
claimed this great masterpiece of experimental scientific investigation. Said
Carrell of this experience; “The cell is immortal. It is merely the fluid in
which it floats which degenerates. Renew this fluid at intervals, give the
cell something upon which to feed, and, so far as we know, the pulsation of
life may go on forever.”
Constipation is the main culprit in producing toxic
build-up in the body. Any of the following factors can contribute to why
someone becomes constipated:
Ignoring the call to eliminate
Lack of physical activity
Emotional or mental stress
Lack of adequate water
To improve elimination eat plenty of high water and fiber
content foods, drink plenty of water, make sure your diet includes enough
minerals (especially magnesium), and acidophilus. Super greens, supplemental
fiber, flaxseed tea, flaxseeds, bran, whey,
brewer’s yeast, yogurt, and leafy greens are all good
colon health foods.
Poor digestion and absorption deprive aging bodies of the
vital nutrients they need. The human body is a self-maintaining organism, but
it can only repair itself if it receives the necessary raw materials. Digestive
enzymes, HcL and pancreatic enzymes can be used to promote
good digestion and absorption, but the single best thing you can do for proper
digestion is to be sure to chew your food thoroughly.
One of the most powerful things we can do to slow aging and
increase longevity is to eat a nutrient-dense, low-calorie diet. On the island
of Okinawa, there are more people over the age of 100 than in any other
population. These people eat 17 to 40% fewer calories than other Japanese and
have 30 to 40% less heart disease, strokes, cancer, diabetes and age-related
brain disease. This is exactly the opposite of the way Americans eat (low
nutrient, high calorie). Excess calories are the enemy of youth because
converting them into energy requires more oxygen, which releases more free
radicals (a natural by-product of metabolism). The more free radicals in our
bodies, the more potential damage to the body. Restricting calories by eating
less but more nutrient-dense food reduces free radical production. Experiments
have shown that underfeeding animals produced higher levels of antioxidant
enzymes and that these caloric restricted animals have 1/3 stronger immune
systems than normal animals. The answer is to eat whole foods, which are
naturally low in calories and high in nutrients
The following are keys to a longevity diet:
Eat at least 5 to 9 servings of fruits and vegetables a day (a
serving equals 1/2 cup of cooked or chopped, 1 cup of raw leafy veggies or 1
piece of fruit)
Eat vegetables both raw and lightly cooked (raw are highest in antioxidants,
but cooking lightly will help nutrient absorption
Eat vegetables and fruits that are deeply colored. The deeper
the pigment, the more antioxidants. For example: red grapes, red onions and
yellow onions have much more quercetin than green grapes and white onions.
Blueberries contain high amounts of antioxidant flavonoids.
The following is a list of the
best antioxidant fruits and vegetables:
Avocado - high in glutathione, the widest acting
antioxidant. Eating avocados lowers and improves blood cholesterol better
than a low-fat diet.
Berries - blueberries, cranberries, raspberries
all loaded with antioxidants and protect us from premature aging.
Broccoli - contains a broad spectrum of antioxidants
including sulforaphane, discovered by Johns Hopkins scientists. Fed to animals,
broccoli slashed cancer rates by 2/3. Other antioxidants in broccoli include
vitamin C, betacarotene, quercetin, and glutathione.
Cabbage - especially savoy cabbage, has the strongest
antioxidants. Cabbage accelerates the disposal a harmful form of estrogen that
promotes breast cancer. Researchers in New York found that about 70% of a
large group of women who ate cabbage started burning off dangerous estrogen
within 5 days.
Carrots - a recent Harvard study found that women who ate
carrots at least 5 times a week reduced their risk of having a stroke by 68%.
The betacarotene in one carrot (6 mg) eaten daily cuts lung cancer risk in
Citrus fruit - an orange is a complete package of every
class of natural anti-cancer inhibitors known including carotenoids, terpenes,
flavonoids and vitamin C. Grapefruit reduces cholesterol and may reverse
arteriosclerosis - contains glutithione that fights off all kinds of free
Grapes - contain 20 antioxidants in the skin and seeds.
The more colorful the skin, the more antioxidants. Red and purple grapes are
more powerful than white grapes.
Raisins - have 3 to 5 times more antioxidant content than
Onions - loaded with antioxidants. Onions prevent cancer,
raise HDL cholesterol. Red and yellow onions are the richest food in quercetin which inactivates cancer-causing
agents, is anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-viral.
Spinach - high in lutein and betacarotene, reduces risk of
cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure, strokes, cataracts, macular
degeneration. Spinach cuts the risk of macular degeneration by 25%. It’s also
rich in folic acid, a brain and artery protector
Tomatoes - The richest and only reliable source of
lycopene which preserves mental and physical functioning among the elderly.
High blood levels of lycopene reduce the risk of pancreatic and cervical cancer
as well as other cancers of the digestive tract. Cooking and canning tomatoes
does not destroy lycopene.
Eating foods high in antioxidants is smart, but limiting
the production of free radicals makes even more sense. There are plenty of
things a person can do to limit free radical production in their bodies. Exercise puts more stable oxygen in the system. Poorly oxygenated tissue is more prone
to free radical damage than tissue with healthy amounts of oxygen. Chlorine
in water, pesticides in food, and smog are all toxic to the body. You may
not be able to do a lot about smog, but you can drink purified water and eat
organically grown produce and meats. Stress promotes formation of
free radicals, so it’s very important to learn to manage stress. Maintain
healthy intestines. The colon produces more free radicals than any other
part of the body. Keep it clean and running properly. Repopulate the colon
with bifidobacteria, a natural enemy of pathogenic bacteria. Get
enough sleep. Melatonin, a powerful antioxidant, is produced during
sleep. Sleep not only restores tissues, its also important for removing free
radicals from the body. Drink plenty of water. It helps absorb the
damaging effects of an excited form of oxygen called singlet oxygen (which is a
free radical). If we’re drinking enough, this free radical will be absorbed
into the water as heat and will be harmless. If we’re not drinking enough
water it will damage the tissues.
In Stop Aging Now, Jean Carper says “Aging - the
detrimental changes that occur as you get older - is actually in large part, a
monumental, progressive deficiency disease. As we get older, our bodies are
less and less able to extract nutrients from our food because our digestive
systems weaken with age. But our older bodies don’t require less nutrients to
stay well, and in many cases require more to avoid disease. High quality,
easily-absorbed supplements seem like the best insurance for everyone over the
age of 50. Older people don’t metabolize vitamins nearly as well as younger
people. So, they have to take higher potencies of vitamins to get the same
Zinc deficiency, common in 95% of older people can
lead to a decrease in appetite. Zinc deficiency can cause or worsen arthritis,
depression, macular degeneration, and poor immune function. 40% of people 51
and older don’t eat enough. 30 to 50 mg of zinc a day can spark the appetite.
B vitamins are essential to keeping our minds sharp
as we age. Niacin has been shown to prevent and even reverse symptoms
of senility. 100 mg a day works well as a preventative amount. People with
low levels of B-12 and folic acid also test low in cognitive function.
Dementia and confusion have been shown to improve with B-12 injections and
folic acid supplementation.
A Harvard study of 87,000 nurses found that incidents of
major heart disease (the #1 cause of death in women) was reduced by 41% in
women taking 100 to 250 IU’s of vitamin E a day for two years or more.
They also showed a 29% lower stroke risk and a 13% lower overall mortality rate
than women not supplementing vitamin E.
Antioxidants block free radical damage. They have
an extra electron in their molecular structure to give up without becoming
unbalanced. We produce fewer and fewer antioxidant enzymes in our bodies
as we age, so if we want to stay young looking longer, we want to increase
our intake of antioxidants in our foods and supplements. The best known antioxidants
are vitamin C, E, betacarotene. These are helped by zinc, selenium,
folic acid, B-6, manganese, and magnesium. Other powerful antioxidants include SOD, CoQ10, pycnogenol, quercetin, grape seed
extract and NAC. It’s a good idea to use a variety, because they work in
different parts of the body. For example: Vitamin C neutralizes free
radicals in watery tissues and pycnogenol works more in the connective tissues.
Polyphenols and bioflavonoids are found in many herbs, spices, fruits and
vegetables and also have powerful antioxidant properties. Eat plenty of fresh
fruits, vegetables, whole grains, raw nuts and seeds. Restrict iron.
Unless you are a child, an adolescent or a woman of child-bearing age, chances
are you don’t need extra iron. Excess iron in the body, especially past middle
age, is much more apt to make you sick and old than keep you young and energetic.
Iron turbocharges free radicals, making them more active and destructive.
Iron converts harmless cholesterol into the type that damages arteries and
the heart. If you have high cholesterol, too much iron is especially dangerous.
In a 1992 Finnish study, men with high iron levels were twice as likely to
suffer heart attacks as men with low iron levels. To minimize free radical
activity, stay away from extra iron - cut down on animal products and iron-fortified
Sam Rose, CN MS is a licensed and certified nutritionist
and owner of Rose Nutrition Center in West Los Angeles. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 310-473-8835.