Digestion and Aging

As you age, the body’s ability to digest food changes. Our bodies begin to slow and certain digestive chemicals lose their potency. Digestive enzymes become even less effective if your nutrition is poor over many years. When this is the case, the body is placed under more stress every time it has to digest something.

As we’ve established increased or unnecessary physical stress is responsible for faster aging. It’s a good idea to invest in a supplement which helps with digestive enzymes or digestion in general. The reason for this is that poor digestion can lead to a host of other problems.

Our digestion is how our bodies process food into fuel. Not only that but we need proper digestion so that we can absorb nutrients and other benefits from our food in the most efficient way.

Without effective digestion you’re going to see nutritional deficits- less energy, and poorer performance athletically. In addition you might find that eventually you suffer from medical problems – diabetes, diverticulosis and constipation are more common the more the damage accumulates.

Effective digestion is also important in anti aging as well as general health. Think about it – every cell in your body relies on the food that you bring in. What you eat ultimately makes your cells. It’s true when they say ‘you are what you eat’.

Digestion begins the moment your food enters your mouth. As you chew you start the initial breakdown of food from its solid form into the nutrients and tiny particles for absorption and use in the body. Saliva, containing the enzyme amylase, aids in this as does the acids in the stomach.

A free solution to better digestion would be to simply chew and eat slower! This allows your food to be digested more effectively from the start. Furthermore, careful chewing makes you eat more slowly which in turn discourages overeating. It can take a half hour before your stomach sends a signal to the brain telling it that the body has had enough. A lot of people continue eating during this timeframe which means excessive caloric intake.

Over time eating junk, not exercising, and poor hydration will take its toll on our bodies both inside and outside. You could be aging the inside of your body much faster than the outside just because of eating poorly. This will eventually catch up with you.

Have you ever noticed how much better your skin looks with proper hydration? Just drinking the recommended 8 glasses of water a day can be a start to looking healthier and younger.

Our digestive systems are a combination of several organs designed to break down food into small molecules that can be used all over the body. The problem is that as we age we can’t do this as effectively.

What happens as we age is that our digestive track loses its efficiency – esophageal contractions aren’t as strong, the stomach loses its ability to resist damage and cannot accommodate as much food, the pancreas becomes scarred, food moves slower through the body and worse we can’t properly process the nutrients.

Slowing of physical functions happens – that’s a given. What contributes to this problem is the fact that many of the waste products we take in cannot be quickly eliminated. The liver is the body’s natural filter system.

Maintaining the liver is essential because it helps our bodies remove toxins, process medications, and eliminate dangerous byproducts in our food. Not only that but our livers are responsible for fat allocation and hormone production. If it is put under pressure from poor nutrition it also has to work overtime to keep up.

In an unhealthy environment the liver may then stop producing certain enzymes, or may stop you being able to absorb helpful nutrients properly. Not being able to function properly causes more unnecessary stress to an already aging and damaged system.

To keep the digestive system healthy you need to eliminate toxins and other chemicals as much as possible. This helps to ease the load on the liver. Think of it as simply cleaning the leaves from your gutters. By eating cleaner you’ll give the body less that can clog up the liver’s functions and allow it to focus on more important tasks.

If you have a clean liver you will naturally have a cleaner body. This will lead to the body being better able to process the toxins and chemicals that cause wear and tear and thus cause aging.

The first step is to stop eating these damaging items and the second is to get your body to eliminate them. Many people consider doing cleanses to help flush out things that can harm the body. Most cleanses focus on dietary intake that eliminates toxins and other harmful molecules via the body’s own waste system.

Cleanses

Exactly how useful a cleanse will be depends on much junk your body is taking in. For example, cleansing will make a dramatic difference if you’re a junk food addict and your body is loaded with processed chemicals and toxins.

These chemicals and toxins build up in the cells and damage them. When cells become damaged they can’t function properly which in turn affects the aging process. We are, after all, just a big collection of cells.

There are so many cleanses it’s often difficult to pick one. The simplest form of cleanse is to simply eat very healthily and drink plenty of water. Your body is a very efficient machine that can eliminate waste and toxins perfectly well on its own if fed properly

There is an abundance of information on what constitutes healthy eating and I won’t delve into that too much here. Entire books have been written on it and you can find all you need from other sources.

I’ll provide a simple, beginner’s plan here in case someone really needs it though:

1) Eat plenty of vegetables and fruits
2) Drink lots of water – water is the only drink you really need
3) Macronutrient ratios – 50% carbs, 25% fats, 25% protein
4) Red meat causes more strain on your body than other meats!
5) The more processed something is, the more likely it is worse for your body. An organic apple beats processed apple juice made 2 months ago any day.

A proper diet is balanced in all the nutrients your body needs, without excess calories, and is supplemented with good hydration. Eating cleanly every day will help keep excess toxins and chemicals from your cells in the first place. We need to eat well for our bodies to work well. Simple.

Nutrition and Calories

We hear a lot about “eating well”, and there is an abundance of information out there but there’s also an abundance of information that’s just plain wrong.

They tell you to eat organic, drink red wine, avoid carbs, don’t drink alcohol at all or eat only vegetables but who can you really trust? The choices are not only endless but confusing. It’s easy to suffer from ‘info overload’ if you read enough on the subject.

Eating healthily doesn’t have to be complicated. If you follow these little tips, you’ll get significant results :

– Eat as much unprocessed foods as possible
– Have lots of fruit and veg
– Don’t consume too many calories

That’s it! These three simple rules will start you off well and carry you a long way.

Caloric Restriction (CR) and Intermittent Fasting (IF)

Now we’re going to go into further detail and relate nutrition especially to the topic of Anti-Aging. You need a diet that supplies your body with the nutrition you need without giving you excess calories and without taking in a host of oxidants that can damage the body on the inside. We’ll cover oxidants and antioxidants after this section.

We’re all guilty of eating too much, even if it’s only on special occasions. Doing this once in a while isn’t going to kill you, but doing it every week will certainly affect your waistline and your body’s ability to digest properly.

This is common knowledge so most people try to achieve a calorie intake which keeps them at roughly the same weight. If you want to lose weight then you simply burn more calories and consume less. Did you know that there are health benefits of a very low calorie diet though ?

This is known as caloric restriction and some people go as low as eating 600 calories a day. The first benefit of this lifestyle is that it can help your cells work better. We are all just a huge collection of cells; anything that promotes their wellbeing promotes your health and graceful aging.

When you have lots of energy in the body, such as when you consume more calories than you burn, cells lose their efficiency. Remember when we talked about mitochondria being like a ‘workhorse’ for your cells?

With excessive calorie consumption the mitochondria lose efficiency and something called superoxide is increased in the body. This is a type of free radical which you don’t want too much of in the body.

How Calories affect Free Radicals

We know that aging is basically just cell damage over time. The free radical theory of aging states that these free radicals contribute to your cells getting damaged. A free radical is an atom which has one unpaired electron.

They damage cells, especially in the area where the mitochondria are. Scientists have extended the life of lab animals through calorie restriction. Fewer calories means fewer free radicals and less damage.

Furthermore, when calories are restricted you will naturally have less fat and use less energy to support your body weight. More energy production when you have an overweight frame just means more mileage on your body.

This slowly stresses and damages your body over a lifetime. Also you won’t need as much glucose in the bloodstream and as we all know excessive glucose leads to diabetes.

Calorie restriction has been linked to less DNA damage too. Scientists have shown in lab rats that their organs suffered less oxidative stress compared to their counterparts who had an unlimited diet. A contributing factor of this is that HGH or Human Growth Hormone is released when you are in a fasted state.

The benefits of this hormone are nearly magical and it’s highly valued by athletes. HGH has so many benefits that I’ll come back to it later. For now, all you need to know is that being in a fasted state increases HGH levels dramatically.

Caloric restriction has been shown to activate sirtuins. These are proteins that have been linked to longer lifespans in mammals. Toxins, calories, fats and sugars inhibit sirtuins which means our bodies will eventually desensitize to their production. This can be especially true with a western diet that is loaded with all of the nasty things above.

Fasting also puts you into a ketogenic state after 6-8 hours. This is where you are burning fat at accelerated levels. This can also be achieved by eating ketone rich foods.

So CR has all these amazing benefits that will help you with your anti-aging. Should you live this lifestyle then? The answer may surprise you. For most people I’d say that the answer is no. It’s just too impractical or difficult. I will say that there is an alternative route where you can get all the benefits of CR without nearly as much inconvenience.

IF instead of CR

I would say that CR is not ideal for 95% of the population. We are all busy, active and simply need calories to function. There is a way to get most of the benefits of CR without as much risk. Intermittent fasting has a similar effect on the body and according to some studies is even more beneficial.

You don’t even have to restrict calories; you merely restrict your ‘window’ of eating each day. Basically, you go for 16 hours a day without consuming food. You reach a fasted state 6-8 hours after your last consumed meal. During this 6-8 hour period your body is using glycogen or sugars as an energy source.

After that period you enter a fasted state. During the fasted state, your body burns fat for fuel instead of carbs. This will help you lose weight and put less strain on your body if your calories are correct.

Even 16 hours a day may be too much for some people to bear. Don’t push yourself too hard! If you can only manage to reach the 6 hour mark then start off with that and build up slowly.

Another problem with calorie restriction is that, as we age, our bodies actually need less and less calories to function. Intermittent fasting is an ideal way to reduce calories without causing excess stress or damage to your digestive system.

However, restricting calories below a minimum level is dangerous. Finding a way to mimic calorie restriction without actually cutting out your dietary needs is key if you want to help your insides age well.

A useful substance called Resveratrol is released in the fasted state and it is an antioxidant which mimics calorie restriction. Increasing resveratrol via IF ‘tricks’ your body into thinking that it is doing CR.

Warnings

– You should never push yourself too hard if you are interested in CR or IF. Always consult your physician about these lifestyles.

– Obviously, women who are pregnant or those with other related health problems should not try this.

– You should never feel malnourished

– Only adults should try this

– I highly recommend doing IF instead of CR

THE BENEFITS OF HGH

HGH levels drop steeply for almost everybody by the age of 30. The benefits of this hormone seem almost all encompassing:

It is important for virtually any type of repair in your body especially in the muscles. Since you are constantly repairing and regenerating cells this means a more efficient entire body.

– HGH levels have been shown to lower body fat percentage
– It improves sleep
– Energy levels rise
– It improves libido and sexual performance
– It improves your organs as well as bones
– The research is still ongoing and new benefits are still being discovered!

IF is one way to improve HGH levels. High intensity training such as sprinting also raises it. It’s much better to produce the hormone from within the body as opposed to buying synthesized versions which are inferior in quality as well as expensive.

Next time you’re at the gym, make sure to incorporate sprints into your regimen, exercises which make you really gasp for breath and which push you until you have nothing left.

Antioxidants

Oxidation is linked with how our cells take free radical damage as time goes on. Free radicals are just atoms which have a single unpaired electron in their outer areas. Usually this means that these atoms are highly reactive and more likely to damage our bodies.

Oxidation is the process by which our cells are slowly dying; the very air we breathe is in essence killing us because it’s full of oxidants. That’s the theory and you’ve probably heard health ‘experts’ touting the miraculous benefits of antioxidants.

Now for the important part; the theory of oxidation is a controversial and open one which science hasn’t fully backed yet. I only fully back things which have a solid grounding in science; this is an honest book after all. There is a possibility that antioxidants are useful and some people swear by them so I’ve included this chapter as a bonus to read up on if you’re still interested.

Resveratrol and pterostilbene are part of a group called antioxidants ie. substances which fight oxidation. Antioxidants are also found in red wine and green tea amongst other foods. There is a little research into the role of antixodants and aging.

Harvard professor David Sinclair found resveratrol activates sirtuins although further research seems to dispute this. It’s shaky evidence.

Antioxidants have been touted as being a potent tool when it comes to preventing aging. Trans-resveratrol is the most common form of resveratrol to take when it comes to anti aging.

A more detailed look into the free radical theory

The theory known as the “free-radical” theory was first proposed by Denham Harman back in the 1950s. He concluded that free radicals were responsible for all degenerative diseases and he wasn’t too wrong.

Rebecca Gershman expanded on the theory by observing that oxygen toxicity, caused by an increase in free radicals, was responsible for more mutations, cancer, and other aging effects. This damage was cumulative over time, becoming worse and more pronounced.

Free Radicals are molecules that have unpaired electrons (normal electrons come in pairs). Free radicals, having only one electron, are unstable which means when they encounter another molecule they will often steal the electron off of it to make a pair. This often causes such catastrophic damage to the original molecule that it ceases to function.

This can even go as far as changing your DNA molecules by causing a process of cross linking. DNA cross linking has been scientifically linked to aging, especially between fat and protein. The most obvious visible effect is when skin cells are damaged and wrinkles form.

Antioxidants work by neutralizing free radicals. What happens is that the antioxidants speed up the process by which your cells renew themselves meaning that the damaged cells are often replaced before they ever become a problem. This slows aging and can even prevent many age-related diseases.

More on Healthy Eating and antioxidants

In this section I’ve included information about antioxidant rich foods which you can take or leave. The parts about healthy eating in general are important for everyone though.

By eating antioxidant rich foods you can decrease the amount of free radicals in the body and help stop the aging process. Antioxidants are usually found in foods that are high in vitamins, beta carotene, and minerals.

Many of these foods are characteristically orange such as sweet potatoes, carrots, and cantaloupe melons. Colorful “whole foods” tend to have a greater nutritional value than anything else. Broccoli for example contains indoles which can help with the antioxidation process. Notably less colorful options are coffee and tea which are also rich in antioxidants.

Cacao (not cocoa) is considered a ‘superfood’. It was called the ‘food of the gods’ by the ancient Mayans and was actually used as currency in lieu of gold sometimes. It is the antioxidant densest food (by far) known to man. It’s also incredibly dense with magnesium which just so happens to be the #1 deficient mineral in the US.

Whole foods are unprocessed and recognizable items. The foods highest in antioxidants are things like spinach, tomatoes, beetroots, berries, grapes, and grapefruits. Fruits and vegetables have long been linked to leaner bodies and healthier living.

The reason for this is that by eating fruits and vegetables you are essentially taking in nature’s multivitamins. Rather than processed pill form these are how your body was intended to nurture itself – the nutrients in their raw form are more absorbable.

“Let food be thy medicine” is something that has time after time been proven to be true. The food you eat will make a difference in your aging by giving your body better tools to stave off the aging process.

Unlike fruits and vegetables, dairy and meats don’t have a particularly good level of nutrition per calorie consumed. Much of the reason we eat these things is habit. We are conditioned to think that we need dairy for calcium and meat for protein when in fact most fruits and vegetables contain higher levels and better quality versions of these without the added saturated fats and cholesterol.

Back in the 1950s nutrition started to become big business and the government gave out lucrative subsidies to the dairy and meat industry. To sell off this massive boost in production the public was told to eat dairy and meat, when in fact it was simply a case of the government needing to get rid of the excess it had created.

Many of the main dietary boards have now begun to advocate a protein rich vegetable based diet that has lower dairy and no meat consumption for better health and nutrition.

Eating organic also means avoiding pesticides. Many conventional foods are laden with pesiticides which cannot be washed off. Not only this but GMO foods have been created to actually have pesticide built into their DNA. Yuk!! Many scientists are fighting to have GMO banned because the foods have also been linked to cell mutation and damage.

Unlike natural foods these “frankenfoods” are created in a lab and have only been around a short while. In essence they are a science experiment and you are the guinea pig! Corn and soy are usually GMO foods and you’ll find them in almost everything processed.

By eating a whole foods diet that is organic you can be sure that you are avoiding these. Some genetically modified foods are actually harmless, such as seedless grapes, but the only way to be 100% sure you are not poisoning yourself in the long run is to go organic.

Going fully organic isn’t affordable for the majority people but there is an easy solution! There is a list of foods which changes every now and again called ‘The Dirty Dozen’. These are foods which are most heavily pesticide sprayed and you should definitely buy these organic.

Similarly there is a list called ‘The Clean Fifteen’ which are safer and there is less need to buy these organic. If in doubt, look at the skin of the food. Apples, for example, have a thin skin where the pesticide is sprayed directly onto it. Mangos and pineapples have thick skins which you generally dispose of and this offers the insides protection from harmful substances.

Many processed foods are full of trans and saturated fats among other chemicals. These are known to inflame the cells in the body. Inflammation is a contributor to aging and to overall poor health. Processed foods like refined flour and refined sugar should be eliminated.

Water

Without proper hydration we will die. It’s a known fact that you can live without food for a week or more, but without water you will die within a day or two. Our bodies are 60-80% water.

Consider this – running water is usually fresh, if you leave water sitting in a vase it eventually becomes stagnant and putrid. Would you want that to happen to the water inside you?

Without proper hydration our bodies cannot flush out toxins and waste products which mean they will eventually accumulate. This toxicity damages cells, organs and will eventually kills us. We need proper hydration to keep everything running properly. It’s the lubricant for our cells.

When it comes to aging hydration is just as important as diet but much simpler to implement well– just drink enough water! 3.7 liters is recommended for men by the IOM and 2.7 for women. Bottled or distilled is the best form but if that’s not an option for you, we’re lucky in the Western world to have very, very clean tap water in most places.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here