Friday, April 15, 2011

How To Slow Biological Aging With Nutrition

Myths, Magic and Medicine In Biological Aging

For thousands of years, men and women have developed myths, magic and medicine to slow down aging. Recent medical research has jumped into the foray with mortality to uncover the biological processes that age us. Some of the patients I see are young in age but old in terms of biological functioning. The reverse is also true so in some sense, your birth date may not have much to do with your level of vitality.

In some cultures, longevity is seen to be a result of a lifetime of personal discipline. For example, men and women in the Orient carefully regulate their life with special diets, herbs and qi gong exercises using traditions that have been handed down for thousands of years. In India, Ayurvedic doctors have been advocating a practice called “Panch Karma” to detoxify and purify the body. This practice has been used for the last five thousand years and bears remarkable resemblance to modern detoxification medicine.

Naturopathic physicians believe that healthy aging is related to healthy organ reserve. The more you lose of your organ reserve, the more you age. By preserving the function of your liver, heart, kidneys and brain, you can function in a healthy way. A healthy diet, antioxidant vitamins, exercise and plenty of rest are a traditional recipe from naturopathic doctors for longevity. All of these help preserve our vital reserves. Good health is not rocket science. The healthiest cultures in the world are peasants.

The main problem with understanding how you can be healthier is that the modern medical system of pigeon holing disease with names hides the fact that there are only a few recurrent processes in all of the chronic degenerative diseases. Diet, exercise and supplements are key factors in preventing cell aging because the alter how our genes express themselves. Diet, toxins, lifestyle and trauma are all potent forces that act on our genes to change how our cells will function. As an example, calorie restriction helps improve cellular function by altering gene expression. This causes the cell to live longer. Obesity, lactose intolerance, heart disease, auto-immune disease, diabetes, and some forms of cancer are disorders of altered gene expression for which nutrition and detoxification can play a role in modification.

There are several processes of aging where we can modify gene expression to slow down aging:








Mitochondria are small organs inside of each cell in the body. Their purpose is to generate energy for the cell. These small organs strip the energy in our food, removing electrons to make ATP, the super fuel of the body. Even though we don’t completely know how mitochondria strip this energy from our food, we do know that free radicals are created during the process of generating ATP. Since oxidative damage is a central feature of aging, it is important to prevent free radical damage to the mitochondria.

One way of preventing free radical damage to mitochondria is to reduce calorie intake. A decrease in calorie intake of 30%, undernourishment without the expense of critical nutrients, gives a 50% increase in life-span. Diabetes actually causes the opposite situation by altering mitochondrial function and increasing oxidative stress.

I my clinic, I prevent mitochondrial damage by giving therapeutic doses magnesium and glutathione. In fact, intravenous therapy of glutathione and magnesium appears to be the best route of administration. One research study on treating Parkinson’s with glutathione used the intravenous route for therapeutic effects because of the negligible effect of oral glutathione. Taking oral glutathione does not increase blood glutathione levels because of the damage by hydrolysis to glutathione by intestinal and liver enzymes (gamma-glutamyl transferase).

Natural foods and supplements which increase glutathione:

¨ Cruciferous vegetables

¨ Pine bark extract (pycnogenol)

¨ Melatonin,

¨ Bilberry

¨ Grape extract

¨ Turmeric

¨ N-acetyl-L-cysteine

¨ Lipoic acid

¨ Selenium

¨ Vitamins E and C.


Medical research linked insulin to heart disease almost a decade ago. Some estimates show that as many as one-fourth of the people in North America have a genetic “lax” response to insulin, the hormone that signals cells to take up sugar from the blood. People who have high insulin are deemed to have “Syndrome X”. In these people, the pancreas must pour out more insulin to hold blood sugar to normal. As a result, they may be prone to type II, or non-insulin-dependent diabetes, in which the overworked pancreas can’t supply enough insulin to satisfy the body’s demand. Abnormal insulin also contributes to stroke, heart attack, hypertension, dyslipidemia, cancer, obesity, hormone imbalances, and accelerated aging.

In fact, high insulin from consuming a diet high in sugar and carbohydrates, may be nearly as potent a risk factor for obstructive artery diseases as smoking or high blood pressure. Even though fasting glucose and glucose tolerance tests may have been done, research has found that two-thirds of tests judged normal, based on glucose were found to have abnormal insulin.

Many medical doctors are unfamiliar of research that is extremely important in the area of insulin regulation. Hyperinsulinemia precedes the onset of adult-onset diabetes by as much as ten years, and one-third of patients with diabetes develop the disease without knowing it.

Syndrome X Criteria:

1] dyslipidemia (high triglycerides, low HDL)

2] resistance to insulin

3] obesity of the abdomen

4] elevated blood pressure.

Causes of Syndrome X:

- Overeating

- Alcohol

- Smoking

- Physical inactivity

- High fat diet

- Excess carbohydrates (sugar, white flour)

- Low fiber diet

Treatment of Syndrome X:

Diet: fruits, vegetables and high-fiber complex carbohydrates

Regular physical activity

Fatty acids from fish and flax


Several years ago, a doctor at the University of British Columbia did a study where he discovered that patients ho were taking anti-inflammatory medications for their arthritis had a lower incidence of Alzheimer’s disease. Research has further shown that people who have chronic inflammation anywhere in their body, will have more tendency to chronic disease. For example, the inflammation from a sore knee or hip, over a long period of time, damages vital organs like the brain and cardiovascular system.

One reason for chronic inflammation that I have seen in my patients is the Western diet which is high in sugar and low in fiber and omega 3 oils. This diet tends to promote inflammation at the cellular level in the cell membranes. A person eating this diet, is more likely to generate an inflammatory reaction from trauma and infection. This will then send chemical messages all throughout the body by the blood stream, causing inflammation in other tissues and organs.

The key to curing this chronic inflammation is to alter the diet, get rid of all chronic chronic bacterial infections and suppress chronic inflammation in old injuries with herbs and vitamins.


Toxins age the body and damage the brain, kidneys, liver and brain. Detoxification medicine is a traditional naturopathic physician’s strategy for healing and longevity. Resting the immune and detoxification organs of the digestive tract and promoting elimination are the core concepts used in detoxification medicine. Even with the advancements in biochemistry, physiology and pharmacology in the 20th century, the ancient wisdom of detoxification therapy in maintaining health and curing a wide range of disease processes remains unequaled.

The core concept of detoxification is assisting in proper cellular functioning. Disturbed cellular function is the basis of disease, poor health and lowered physical and mental performance. It is caused by environmental and lifestyle habits that poison the blood which should only carry nutrients and oxygen, not pollutants and toxins. Scientific research into various aspects of detoxification programs have indicated detoxification is a safe, sound and effective approach because it works by amplifying the body's existing mechanisms of self healing. Detoxification processes in the body are primarily driven in the liver because it is here that the body filters the blood into a life-giving fluid that carries oxygen and nutrients to all the cells of the body. A sick or sluggish liver, caused by faulty lifestyles and environmental stress, loses its ability to protect every cell in the body from toxin damage. By improving the health of the gut/liver environment, enhanced immunity is brought to optimum function.

Signs of a sluggish liver:

• Sallow skin color and poor skin tone

• Dark circles under the eyes

• Yellow-coated tongue

• Bitter taste in the mouth

• Headaches

• Irritability

• Premenstrual tension

• Arthritis

• Inability to digest fats


Hormones deliver messages to cells about metabolism. When our hormones are in balance, we feel terrific. When they’re out of balance, we can feel exhausted and/or depressed, have poor immune function and/or sexual problems, and get fat even though we don’t eat too much. Cellular aging can alter the healthy balance of hormones in our bloodstream because as we age our hormonal system goes into a “pause”. With lowered production of melatonin, testosterone, DHEA and other sex steroids, both men and women can look and feel older.

Salivary hormone tests are useful tools for evaluating sexual dysfunction, fatigue, arthritis, cardiovascular disease, menopausal problems and impotency problems. Imbalanced hormones can cause significant changes in mood and behavior. Fortunately, ssessment of free salivary hormones gives an accurate picture of what’s really going on. For example, a typical saliva hormone test screens for two adrenal hormones, cortisol and DHEA, and checks saliva levels four times daily. The results of these tests correlate with the actual levels of the hormones in your bloodstream. This can be very helpful in determining whether supplementation with DHEA is indicated. Low levels of DHEA have been found in people with chronic fatigue syndrome, lupus, arthritis, insomnia, high blood pressure, Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, heart disease, and nearly all diseases associated with aging. DHEA also increases sensitivity to insulin, increases fat metabolism, increases antioxidant enzymes in the liver, helps to scavenge free radicals.

Many of my patients with chronic disease commonly have low DHEA.


Stress ages the body. The only hormone we make more of as we age is the stress hormone cortisol. Chronically elevated cortisol which the body creates during long term stress can have very damaging effects on our health. Cortisol elevates blood sugar, induces insulin resistance and also disturbs other hormones like testoserone and DHEA. High cortisol is especially damaging when the cortisol overproduction is accompanied by low levels of DHEA. DHEA somehow protects cells from the physical and mental damage caused by stress and high cortisol.

Stress hormones are produced in the adrenal gland. The damaging effects for every cell in the body begins with the stress hormones that are produced in the adrenal gland.

To protect the body form stress hormones the best thing is to avoid a lifestyle which causes a sense of being trapped, a feeling of inescapable suffering. One should also eat a diet high in protein, vegetables, and omega 3 fats (flax, fish) and low in carbohydrates (sugar and white flour). Supplements of adrenal extracts, thymus, ginseng, vitamin C, pantothenic acid, vitamin A and magnesium are all critical for preventing the damage caused by stress hormones. Exercises which strengthen and tone the nervous system, like yoga, are also ideal.

A lifestyle which includes relaxation, regular exercise, good nutrition and careful medical evaulation to look for genetic weak links is the most powerful anti aging therapy that has been discovered. Biological aging can be changed by our own careful attention to preserving good health, the most precious gift of our life.

Dr. Bennett’s Lifetime Performance® Health Strategies:

Daily exercise to:

¨ Increase muscle mass

¨ Increase strength

¨ Maintain a proper Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR)

¨ Reduce body fat

¨ Improve aerobic capacity

¨ Increase bone density

Low calorie/high nutrient diet to:

¨ Maintain proper insulin and blood sugar tolerance

¨ Provide critical bioflavonoids as antioxidants

¨ Give adequate protein for essential amino acids

¨ Avoid toxins, eat organic food

Daily intellectual pursuits to:

¨ Preserve cognitive abilities

Daily supplements:

¨ Antioxidants

Daily relaxation to:

¨ Reduce stress

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