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These Habits DESTROY YOUR HEALTH & Decrease Lifespan! | Dr. David Sinclair

Source: Greatness Clips – Lewis Howes

Dr. David Sinclair, a professor of genetics at Harvard University, shares his insightful research into habits that destroy health and decrease lifespan.




Is Aging Reversible? A Scientific Look with David Sinclair | TEDxBoston

Source: TEDx Talks

Have you ever wondered how long you will live? And if so, how could you change that number to live drastically longer? The science might be in your favor: follow David Sinclair, Australian biologist and professor of genetics at Harvard University, as he shares his research on slowing and reversing the process of aging in mice, and how the same technology may someday be transferable to humans. David Sinclair, Australian biologist and professor of genetics at Harvard University, shares his insightful research into the science of age reversal and anti-aging medicine.

David Sinclair, Australian biologist and professor of genetics at Harvard University, shares his insightful research into the science of age reversal and anti-aging medicine. This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community.

NOTE FROM TED: Research around aging discussed in this talk remains an ongoing field of study. Please do not look to this talk for health advice. TEDx events are independently organized by volunteers.




Research Shows Thinking Negatively Affects Your DNA and Shortens Your Life Span

By April McCarthy | Prevent Disease

Lose your temper on the road? Frustrated with colleagues at work? You may be cutting your life short, warns molecular biologist Elizabeth Blackburn–who won the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 2009–and health psychologist Elissa Epel, who studies stress and aging.

The authors claim in their new book, The Telomere Effect, that negative thoughts harm your health at the DNA level. Research has shown that a person’s “social relationships, environments and lifestyles” affect their genes. “Even though you are born with a particular set of genes, the way you live can influence how they express themselves.”

Blackburn and Epel say components of DNA called telomeres determine how fast your cells age. Short telomeres are one of the major reasons human cells grow old, but lab tests have shown that they can also grow longer. In other words, aging “could possibly be accelerated or slowed -and, in some aspects, even reversed.” The

The aging and lifespan of normal, healthy cells are linked to the so-called telomerase shortening mechanism, which limits cells to a fixed number of divisions. During cell replication, the telomeres function by ensuring the cell’s chromosomes do not fuse with each other or rearrange, which can lead to cancer. Blackburn likened telomeres to the ends of shoelaces, without which the lace would unravel.

In one study, telomere length, an emerging biomarker for cellular and general bodily aging, was assessed in association with the tendency to be present in the moment versus the tendency to mind wander, in research on 239 healthy, midlife women ranging in age from 50 to 65 years. “People who score high on measures of cynical hostility tend to get

“People who score high on measures of cynical hostility tend to get more cardiovascular disease, metabolic disease and often die at younger ages. They also have shorter telomeres.”

Pessimism shortens telomeres too.”When pessimists develop an aging-related illness, like cancer or heart disease, the illness tends to progress faster… They tend to die earlier,” warn the authors.

Ruminating over a bad situation is also destructive. “Rumination never leads to a solution, only to more ruminating… When you ruminate, stress sticks around in the body long after the reason for the stress is over.” The resulting depression and anxiety only make your telomeres shorter.

Trying to suppress thoughts and feelings makes matters worse. “The more forcefully you push your thoughts away, the louder they call out for your attention… In a small study, greater avoidance of negative feelings and thoughts was associated with shorter telomeres.”

Even lack of focus is bad for telomeres because “when people are not thinking about what they’re doing, they’re not as happy as when they’re engaged.” To reverse the harm to telomeres, try meditation and long-distance running.

Read more great articles at Prevent Disease.




Five Ways to Keep Your Brain Healthy as You Age

By Jill Suttie | Greater Good Magazine

Like many people over 60, I sometimes lose my keys or forget the names of my favorite films. When I do, it makes me wonder: Is this the beginning of the cognitive decline? Or, worse, am I fated to follow in the footsteps of my mother, who died of Lewy-body dementia in her 70s?

According to neurosurgeon Sanjay Gupta, CNN medical correspondent and author of the new book Keep Sharp: Building a Better Brain at Any Age, the answer is no. Forgetfulness is normal at all ages, and your genes don’t doom you to dementia. What’s important is taking care of your brain in the best way possible, he argues.

“You can affect your brain’s thinking and memory far more than you realize or appreciate, and the vast majority of people haven’t even begun to try,” he writes.

Gupta distills results from hundreds of research studies to help readers understand what’s known (and not known) about keeping your brain healthy. Along the way, he busts common myths—for example, that doing puzzles is a good way to ward off dementia—and replaces them with science-based advice on how to live a longer, healthier life with a more functional brain. He also distinguishes typical memory lapses (like forgetting an acquaintance’s name) from more troublesome ones (like not remembering the way home from a frequent destination)—a distinction I found quite reassuring.

While he’s quick to hail the cognitive strengths of older people (they tend to have better vocabulary skills, for example), he also points out that our cognitive capacities can start to decline much earlier in life than we think, even in early adulthood. That’s why he recommends making lifestyle changes now to improve brainpower at every age—not just when you hit your 60s.

Keep Sharp includes a questionnaire assessing risk for cognitive decline—with some surprising questions, like “Do you sit for most of the day?” or “Do you have a history of depression?” Understanding your risk can inspire you to take corrective action. To that end, here are Gupta’s five keys to a healthier brain.

Move more

“When people ask me what’s the single most important thing they can do to enhance their brain’s function and resiliency to disease, I answer with one word: exercise,” writes Gupta. Being inactive is probably the most significant risk factor in dementia while staying fit can help stave it off. Fortunately, it doesn’t take much movement to make a difference: Even walking for two minutes every day counts.

Exercise provides many benefits overall, including better stamina, strength, stress management, and immune function. But the main reason movement helps the brain is that it reduces inflammation while stimulating growth factors that promote the function and growth of neural cells. That’s why aerobic exercise (more than stationary exercise, like weightlifting) confers cognitive benefits—though weightlifting can build muscle.

Get enough sleep

“Sleeping well is one of the easiest and most effective ways to improve your brain functions, as well as your ability to learn and remember new knowledge,” writes Gupta. That’s because sleep seems to clear the brain of debris that might otherwise build up and create problems.

Of course, some people have trouble getting good sleep; so, Gupta’s book reminds them of sleep hygiene principles that can help. He also points to the importance of resting, in general, and suggests replacing daytime naps with stress-reducing walks in nature or meditations.

To reduce stress and rumination (those troublesome thoughts that keep us up at night), he recommends that people add a gratitude practice to their day—which, he writes, “acts like a big reset button.” You can also think about community volunteering, taking regular breaks from email and social media, and avoiding multitasking.

Learn, discover, and find purpose

While puzzles may not be the answer to cognitive decline, we do need to stimulate our brains with learning and discovery, writes Gupta. Learning creates new neural pathways and promotes brain resiliency—something that may help stave off the outward symptoms of dementia (like memory loss) even if you develop the telltale brain plaques associated with Alzheimer’s.

<a href=“http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1501166735?ie=UTF8&tag=gregooscicen-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=1501166735”><em>Keep Sharp: Building a Better Brain at Any Age</em></a> (Simon & Schuster, 2021, 336 pages)

Keep Sharp: Building a Better Brain at Any Age (Simon & Schuster, 2021, 336 pages)

“Think of it as a big backup system in the brain that results from enriched life experiences such as education and occupation,” he writes.

Building cognitive reserve doesn’t happen overnight, he warns—it results from a lifetime of challenging your brain through education, work, social relationships, and other activities. However, just because you don’t have a college education doesn’t mean you will experience greater cognitive decline, either. Aiming to challenge your mind throughout your life is more protective than a formal degree.

Gupta warns that the majority of commercial “brain games” are not effective at staving off dementia, though they may improve memory because they don’t train problem-solving or reasoning—keys to cognitive reserve. People would be better off taking a traditional class or learning a second language, he says, because these activities offer more complex challenges and social contact, too—also important for brain health.

Finding purpose in life can be good for the brain, especially if it involves contact with people of different generations or personal learning and challenge. Research suggests that people with a sense of purpose have a reduced risk of suffering the deleterious effects of dementia—even if their brain contains Alzheimer’s plaques—probably because having purpose inspires them to take better care of themselves.

Eat well

“What’s good for the heart is good for the brain,” writes Gupta. Still, there is so much conflicting information out there about diets and dietary supplements, it can be hard to separate the wheat from the chaff (pun intended).

Gupta takes pains to dispel myths around gluten and so-called “superfoods” (like kale and fish oil). There is no evidence to suggest gluten affects people’s brain function, he says, and kale and fish oil, while good for you, are not going to stop cognitive decline.

While it’s hard to recommend a perfect brain diet based on research, Gupta cites Martha Clare Morris’s work. An epidemiologist and founding member of the Global Council on Brain Health, Morris recommends a Mediterranean-like diet—one rich in vegetables, berries, beans, whole grains, fish, poultry, and olive oil.

That diet may not be palatable or available for everyone, though. So, Gupta provides more general diet advice, too (using the acronym SHARP):

  • Stay away from lots of refined sugar.
  • Hydrate regularly.
  • Add more omega-3 fatty acids from dietary sources (not pills).
  • Reduce portions (possibly trying intermittent fasting).
  • Plan ahead—meaning, have healthy snacks around so you don’t turn to junk food if you become hungry.

Connect with others

Having close relationships with others you can count on is important to a happy, healthy life, and may help you live longer. It’s important for brain health, too, as research suggests its opposite, loneliness, seems to be a factor in developing Alzheimer’s.

Gupta suggests combining socializing with other activities designed to get you moving or learning. That could mean taking a walk or class with a friend, joining a team sport, or volunteering. Socializing with more diverse people or people of different generations can also be a plus. And staying connected virtually, while less than ideal, maybe helpful when one lives in a remote place without many social supports. An added bonus: Learning how to use social media for the first time may help boost memory.

While it’s true each of these lifestyle factors is good for preventing cognitive decline, Gupta has advice for people already experiencing cognitive decline, too. Part of his book is devoted to helping readers experiencing decline to assess where they’re at and figure out how to move forward from there.

For the rest of us, his book is a useful and highly readable primer for sharpening your brain at any age—not just to stave off dementia, but to simply enjoy your life more fully.

“The brain can be continuously and consistently enriched throughout our life no matter your age or access to resources,” he writes. If you change your lifestyle, even a little, he promises, “Your brain—no, your whole body—will love it.”

About the Author
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Jill Suttie

Jill Suttie, Psy.D., is Greater Good’s former book review editor and now serves as a staff writer and contributing editor for the magazine. She received her doctorate of psychology from the University of San Francisco in 1998 and was a psychologist in private practice before coming to Greater Good.




Is This A Science For Immortality?

Video Source: SOMA Breath

Can you live forever? In this video, Niraj Naik talks about immortality and longevity, and the ability to live forever. Do you think this is a myth, or is it something that’s actually true? There’s a technique in pranayama and yoga called Kumbhaka. Learn how to do the Kumbhaka Pranayama and how to fully utilize full breath retention.




11 Daily Habits that Boost Health and Longevity

No one has ever dreamed of a short life. We want to enjoy what the world has to offer. Yet, death is inevitable. To make the most of life, one of the best things we can do is invest in our health.

If we try to look around, we’ll be able to find different pieces of advice for improving our lifestyle. For instance, working out and following a quality sleep schedule are just some of the many good habits that experts recommend.

This article aims to help you learn more about the habits you need to develop. They will help you avoid disease, have more energy, and be less stressed.

Keep reading.

1. Try new alternatives

Despite the conventional methods of improving a person’s overall health, some people seek alternatives to avoid unwanted side effects. Medications and surgical interventions can, at times, do more harm than good.

That is why they explore naturopathy, yoga, meditation, and guided imagery. When it comes to safe and non-invasive strategies to boost health at the comfort of your home, one therapeutic technique that’s worth a try is red light therapy.

2. Be physically active

Exercise, in any form, is beneficial to our health. It boosts our bodily functions and promotes excellent blood circulation. It makes us feel renewed and invigorated.

Aerobic exercise like running or jogging improves the way your heart pumps, making blood flow all through your organs smoothly. One study revealed the impact of exercise on our health and longevity. The results showed how a one-hour exercise could add up seven hours to our lives.

Exercise doesn’t only improve your blood circulation, but it also relieves stress and promotes better mental health. Now, that’s what we genuinely call a better way of existing, not just living.

3. Nourish your body with healthy food

Healthy food is fuel to our bodies. People who eat a diet that’s high in processed foods tend to have a higher risk of developing diseases than those who stick with clean diets.

Choosing the right foods is a great habit to develop. Some people intentionally limit their carbohydrate intake to control their blood glucose levels and burn more fat effectively, while others follow a standard diet. Whatever your dietary preference is, what’s most important is that you eat more whole foods.

They’re more nutrient-dense which means that they contain most of the vitamins and minerals that your body needs to function optimally.

4. Explore the benefits of turmeric

Turmeric is a spice that’s known to contain anti-aging properties that other crops can’t produce. It has anti-inflammatory properties and antioxidants that help eliminate toxins in your body and protect you from certain cancers and other age-related diseases.

5. Quit smoking

Smoking shortens your lifespan by damaging your lungs and blood vessels. A study revealed that those who quit smoking before age 35 might prolong their lives by up to 8.5 years.

Also, smoking has a negative effect on your skin. It may make you look older than you are. If you’ve never smoked before and are thinking of trying it, it’s best to ditch the idea right now – or it’ll be too late to walk away.

6. Do what makes you happy

Happiness is contagious – and sometimes, it can be the remedy to almost any problem. If your heart is happy, you’re less likely to get stressed out easily. This can improve your immune response and cardiovascular health. Doing what makes you happy can significantly increase your life’s longevity!

Grab that book you’ve been wanting to read. Meet up with an old friend. Give someone a compliment. Shop for the healthiest foods at the grocery store. Enjoy a day at the park.

7. Drink alcohol in moderation

When ingested occasionally or moderately, alcohol may have positive health benefits. However, when you become addicted to the taste and feeling it brings, it becomes more challenging to quit.

Heavy drinking increases your health risk and poses an internal threat to your system. CDC’s dietary guidelines for alcohol defines moderation as up to one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men.

8. Surround yourself with the right people

The kind of friendships you have contribute to your overall health. A group of researchers has proven that maintaining healthy social networks helps you live up to 50% longer.

Hang out with those who motivate you to be the best version of yourself. Ask yourself, “Do my friends inspire me to think and live more positively?”

9. Have enough hours of sleep

Quality sleep is a necessity. It’s the period in which your body heals, repairs itself, and regenerates. You need to have at least 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep to be able to recuperate properly.

A lack of sleep may lead to irritability, stress, and other health-related problems. It also significantly affects your immune response, making you more susceptible to serious health conditions.

10. Practice being more conscientious

Being conscientious without requiring too much effort can lead to a happier and longer life. It would be best if you had unshakeable self-control to avoid external and internal threats that may damage your health as a whole.

One way to raise your conscientiousness is to plan your day so you can stick to a realistic schedule. Another is to prepare healthy meals instead of grabbing whatever satisfies your hunger.

11. Do not overwork yourself

Some people find joy in investing in their careers and working long hours to earn an income that rewards them for their hard work.

This kind of determination is impressive. However, it’s important to not overwork yourself. A person may get overwhelmed by heavy workloads, and that makes them a ticking time bomb.

If you want to thrive, make sure you also have another life outside the four walls of your office. Never force yourself to carry a load that’s too heavy to bear.

Final Thoughts

There are a lot of steps we can take to boost our health and longevity, and the tips above are some of the most important ways to do it. Yet, developing the right habits doesn’t happen overnight.

It takes the right amount of patience, consistency, and determination. When all of these traits are combined, you’ll transform into a better person with more years to live and goals to strive for.




The Science of Longevity: Lessons From Methuselah

By Ronald Peters | Mind-Body Medicine Center  

“People don’t grow old. When they stop growing, they become old.”

              Anonymous

LESSONS FROM METHUSELAH

According to Genesis 5: 27, Methuselah, son of Enoch and grandfather of Noah, lived for 969 years. Adam, Seth, Lamech, and several others also lived into their 900s, making modern centenarians look like kids. So, what was Methuselah’s ancient secret? I doubt if green smoothies, jogging, or some exotic Chinese potion were part of the plan. According to the scriptures, after his father’s death, Methuselah is designated by God as a priest. Furthermore, Methuselah asks his father for a blessing and is given instructions on how to live righteously. Now after some 5000 years of human contemplation, what have we learned about the enchanting topic of longevity? What threads of insight or knowledge have grown, like the branches of an ancient vine, through the annals of time?

Modern researchers focus on the importance of nutrition, exercise, stress reduction, cholesterol, cortisol, blood pressure, homocysteine, telomeres, and DNA repair, while others find that optimism, meditation, passion and human connection may be more powerful predictors of a healthy and long life. As a physician for the past 45 years, it is my strong opinion that the deepest roots for longevity arise from human consciousness as the creative force for the infinite variety of human experience. And, just as Methuselah was designated a priest and told to live righteously, we too can access a spiritual source within and in so doing we unshackle the creative power of consciousness leading to untold possibilities, including longevity.

Therefore, in this writing, I will present time-tested and scientifically supported tools for creating longevity, starting with diet, exercise, and the medical perspective.  I will leave the most powerful for last which is consciousness and our connection to Spirit.

NUTRITION – CALORIC RESTRICTION

Don’t dig your grave with your knife and fork.”

English Proverb

The wisdom of our English ancestors has been proven again and again by modern scientists: eat less and live longer. Reducing the number of calories consumed by all species tested so far, including, yeast, rotifers, nematodes, fruit flies, spiders, fish, rodents (hamsters, rats, mice), dogs, and chimpanzees, as well as humans, will improve health and extend life span by 30 to 40%.  The caloric restriction varies between 30 and 50% and may be significantly below that for maximum growth, but enough for maintaining overall health.  The reduced-calorie diets create “under-nutrition without malnutrition.”

Caloric restriction is far and away from the most researched and successful approach to life extension discovered so far.  Thousands of published articles over 70 years have proven again and again that it works in every species tested. So why aren’t we all jumping on the caloric restriction bandwagon?  We can’t stop eating; that’s why.  We are flooded daily with images of yummy food and somehow along the way food has become self-directed psychotherapy. Surrounded by junk food, we eat when we are lonely, frustrated, or depressed.  It rewards us after a difficult day.  Since the days of suckling at the breast of a mother, food is curiously associated with love.  It seems that if we are deficient in love in our lives, whether for another or for ourselves, we revert to the primal programming of the infant, and eating moves beyond simply fueling the body and becomes an unconscious surrogate for love and well-being.

But don’t worry, it is the same for chimpanzees. The caged chimps used in caloric restriction research had no choice.  Living in captivity and given the opportunity to eat at will, they will overeat, gain weight, and often develop the same chronic diseases that we do. In contrast, chimps living in nature seldom gain weight.  Living in nature affords them guidance in the principles of longevity: rich social lives, food prepared by mother nature, and lots of exercise.  Basically, they can live as they wish in accordance with the biological intelligence they are born with.

Perhaps many of us are caged as well.  However, the bars of our cages are the conscious and unconscious limiting beliefs conditioned into us from childhood which create the all too common dramas of modern life: unfulfilling employment, dysfunctional relationships, loss of creativity in life, and chronic disease. We too are lacking in the natural guidance provided by honoring our emotions, following our excitement, and generally loving ourselves and others.  However, unlike the chimps, we have the keys to our cages and we can fling the doors open.  But I am getting ahead of myself.  More on the high-powered tools for longevity later in this writing.

Back to nutrition – you can achieve 30% caloric restriction by switching to a whole-food, plant-based diet.  You can eat as much as you want of gluten-free whole grains such as brown rice, millet, oats, and quinoa, as well as a great variety of vegetables and beans. And, this happens to be the diet of the longest-lived peoples on the earth.

These are the areas on our beautiful planet where people live long and free of common chronic diseases, often reaching into the 110s and 120s and beyond:

  • Okinawa, the island off the coast of Japan
  • Hunza Valley in the northern mountains of Pakistan
  • Vilcabamba, “The Valley of Longevity”, tucked away deep in southern Ecuador
  • The Nicoya Peninsula on the West side of Costa Rica
  • Icaria, the Greek Island
  • Seventh-day Adventists in Loma Linda, California
  • Sardinia, the Italian island in the Mediterranean

These long-living societies eat organic, mostly vegan, whole foods, including grains, vegetables, beans with minimal animal products and fat.  Their days usually require lots of movement and exercise and they live in close-knit communities.  Most of them also live with a strong spiritual focus in their lives.

Beyond longevity, the following is a summary of the benefits of caloric restriction:

  • Reduction in body temperature.
  • Reduction in fat mass, including visceral adiposity,
  • Increase in muscle mass.
  • Restoration of hormonal secretions that tend to fall with age (DHEA and HGH).
  • Enhanced cognitive function and mood.
  • Improved ability for physical activity.
  • Stimulation of growth factors e.g. BDNF

MOVEMENT AND EXERCISE

From the first appearance of vertebrate life on earth almost until the present century, our ancestors have been active and strong – “athletic” . . .. Viewed from the perspective of evolutionary time, sedentary existence, possible for great numbers of people only during the past century, represents a transient, unnatural aberration.

Boyd Eaton, Marjorie Shostak, and Melvin Konner MD,  The Paleolithic Prescription, A Program of Diet and Exercise

Intuitively, we know that exercise promotes longevity.  And, the scientific literature is crystal clear in support of our intuition. Like caloric restriction the science is conclusive.  However, I doubt if Methuselah went jogging and the people of Okinawa or the Hunza Valley have seldom seen organizing marathons.

Long prior to the “unnatural aberration” of the modern sedentary human confronted with the new epidemic of “sitting disease”, people were physically strong and “exercise” was not a separate part of the day.  It was woven into the fabric of daily life.  And, indeed, the human body is a masterpiece of engineering with bones that can withstand compression forces twice as well as granite, and 600 muscles that permit movement ranging from Olympic athletics to playing the piano and brushing your teeth. Your heart, arteries, veins, intestines, lymphatic circulation, bones, joints, liver, and brain depend on vigorous movement to function well. The body is designed for movement and our ancestors survived because of this natural endowment.  They ran from danger and worked vigorously to support family and communities.

Our hunter/gatherer ancestors looked like the professional athletes that we watch on TV. They walked, ran, and lifted every day, sometimes for hours and days at a time. Their fitness program was life and survival. This is the wisdom of the body.

Daily life in long-lived societies requires movement. Instead of sitting at desks and computers, they walk everywhere, working the fields, visiting neighbors and family, and taking care of the requirements of daily living. Walking, lifting, carrying, pushing, and perhaps playing punctuate their days like automobiles, elevators and desk chairs do ours.

In modern times, we “don’t have time to exercise”, and yet we seem to find time to be sick. Our ancestors died of infections and trauma, while we succumb to cancer, heart disease, and diabetes, all of which are prevented by exercise.

STRESS AND CORTISOL

“Every stress leaves an indelible scar, and the organism pays for its survival after a stressful situation by becoming a little older.”

Hans Seyle

The fight or flight human stress system has ensured human survival on earth for tens of thousands of years, yet in modern times this powerful system is killing us through stress-related diseases.  Our hunter/gatherer ancestors ran from danger with the help of cortisol and adrenaline, while we modern “hunters” worry about an endless stream of imaginary dangers while sitting on the sofa or driving the car.  All the while cortisol is doing its job of preparing us to run or fight, even though neither is appropriate for our modern “dangers”.

For us, “fight or flight” has become “anger or fear”, or, more commonly, worry, anxiety, apprehension, frustration, guilt (anger at self), and resentment.  Unless you can stop worrying about money, the kids, work problems, or, feeling frustrated about traffic and busy schedules, you need to understand the effects of cortisol and why it is considered by some to be the death hormone.

I have talked to thousands of patients over the years and most of them cannot imagine living without worry.  We live in the Age of Stress and our bodies are not designed for it.  Cortisol is the molecular messenger that tells every cell in your body you are in danger. Research has shown that cortisol levels in the blood steadily increase as we get older.  The average 50-year-old has 17 times as much cortisol in his or her blood at bedtime as the average teenager.  It is difficult to sleep when you are in danger.

Unless you live in Bagdad, Somalia, or the ghettos of an American city, the clear majority of your stress comes from your mind – what you think about day after day.   As Eckhart Tolle writes in his remarkable book, The Power of Now, we are all afflicted with “thinking disease”.  We worry about what may go wrong in the future, or, we feel resentment, guilt, or frustration about what did go wrong in the past.  Your body cannot distinguish the difference between a man pointing a gun at you in a dark alley, and your worried thoughts about financial problems.  So it is important for you to understand what excessive cortisol is doing to your body. Consider the following effects of high cortisol over time:

  • Increased appetite and food cravings
  • Increased body fat, especially in the abdomen
  • Decreased muscle mass
  • Decreased bone density, or, osteoporosis
  • Increased cholesterol and triglycerides
  • Increased depression
  • Increased anxiety
  • Mood swings
  • Decreased sex drive and sexual performance
  • Weakened immunity and increased infections
  • Memory and learning impairment
  • Brain atrophy
  • Increased symptoms of PMS
  • Increased menopausal side effects such as hot flashes and night sweats

It is easy to see how these powerful and recurrent changes in the body can contribute over time to a range of diseases, including:

  • Obesity
  • Coronary artery disease – angina and heart attack
  • High blood pressure
  • Insulin resistance and eventually diabetes
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Alzheimer’s disease due to shrinkage, or, atrophy of brain cells
  • Osteoporosis due to accelerated bone breakdown
  • Erectile dysfunction and loss of libido, or sex drive
  • Recurrent infections due to impaired immunity
  • Mild cognitive impairment with poor focus, concentration, and memory
  • Cancer

There is little doubt that persistent and recurrent stress, the biggest toxin of all, will shorten your life. Let us look at some of the research on stress and longevity.

Work-Related Exhaustion and Telomere Length: A Population-Based Study
Kirsi Ahola, PLOS, July 11, 2012

  • Researchers measured the length of telomeres,
  • individuals with the most job stress had the shortest telomeres
  • Those who did not experience work exhaustion had longer telomeres.

Accelerated telomere shortening in response to life stress, Elissa S. Epel, et al. Proc Nat  Acad Sciences 12/2004

  • 39 women ages 20 to 50 who had been experiencing grinding stress for years because they were caring for a child suffering from a serious chronic illness, such as autism or cerebral palsy, and 19 other very similar women whose children were healthy.
  • Measured levels of telomerase
  • The longer a woman had been caring for a sick child, the shorter her telomeres, the lower her levels of telomerase, and the higher her levels of “oxidative stress.”

Accelerated telomere shortening in response to life stress, Elissa S. Epel, et al. Proc Nat  Acad Sciences 12/2004

  • The greater a woman’s perception of her stress in the study, the worse she scored on all these factors.
  • Women with the highest perceived stress had telomeres equivalent to someone 10 years older.
  • “It was just the same with oxidative stress — the worse the perceived psychological stress, the greater the oxidative stress. “

Anticipation of Stressful Situations Accelerates Cellular Aging Brain, Aoife O’Donovan, Brain, Behavior and Immunity May 2012

  • The study involved 50 women, about half of them caring for relatives with dementia, and therefore presumably dealing with daily stress were told that they would have to engage in public speaking or math problems.
  • the researchers assessed cellular age by measuring telomeres, which are the protective caps on the ends of chromosomes. Short telomeres index older cellular age and are associated with increased risk for a host of chronic diseases of aging, including cancer, heart disease, and stroke.
  • those who felt most threatened by the anticipation of the stressful event exhibited greater signs of aging on the cellular level.
  • The researchers proposed that greater anticipated threat levels in daily life may promote cellular aging in chronically stressed persons.

Cortisol levels during human aging predict hippocampal atrophy and memory deficits, Sonia J. Lupien, et al Nature Neuroscience  1, 69 – 73 (1998)

Elevated glucocorticoid (cortisol) levels produce hippocampal dysfunction and correlate with individual deficits in spatial learning in aged rats. Previously we related persistent cortisol increases to memory impairments in elderly humans studied over five years. Here we demonstrate that aged humans with significantly prolonged cortisol elevations showed reduced hippocampal volume and deficits in hippocampus-dependent memory tasks compared to normal-cortisol controls. Moreover, the degree of hippocampal atrophy correlated strongly with both the degree of cortisol elevation over time and current basal cortisol levels. Therefore, basal cortisol elevation may cause hippocampal damage and impair hippocampus-dependent learning and memory in humans.

MEDICAL PERSPECTIVE: THEORIES OF AGING

  • CORTISOL AND STRESS REDUCTION

Stress is the biggest toxin of all and is deeply woven into the mind. High levels of cortisol over time will weaken the immune system, lower hormone levels, atrophy brain cells, and contribute to almost every disease.

  • BLOOD GLUCOSE REGULATION

Maintain low normal blood glucose levels to avoid cross-linking of sugars with proteins which will cause cell and organ damage [advanced glycation end products, or AGEs).

  • REDUCE CHRONIC INFLAMMATION

Inflammation is at the heart of all diseases including chronic illness.

  • DETOXIFICATION OF CHEMICALS AND HEAVY METALS

Reduces Free radical oxidative damage which is thought to be a key element of aging

  • HOMOCYSTEINE AND METHYLATION

Transfer of methyl groups is the most fundamental biological reaction in the trillions of cells in your body. Compromised methylation will disturb neurotransmitter production, DNA repair, cellular energy production, detoxification of chemicals and heavy metals, immune function, cell membrane repair.  Poor methylation may also shorten your life.

  • IMMUNE SYSTEM

The immune system weakens due to persistently high cortisol as well as aging in general and is reflected in thymus shrinkage, auto-immunity, and increasing incidence of cancer.

  • HORMONAL DECLINE

DHEA is a natural steroid that plays a fundamental role in the maintenance of hormonal balance and youthful vitality. In addition to being the precursor to androgens and estrogens, it supports the immune system, modulates inflammation, protects bones, and helps us adapt to stress. Aging disrupts hormonal balance, with the levels of several critical hormones dramatically reduced in comparison with youthful levels. By age 80, levels of DHEA fall by as much as 80%–90% compared to what they were during young adulthood

Menopause and andropause greatly reduce estrogen, testosterone, and progesterone, but the process is accelerated by stress. Optimal hormone levels are associated with longer telomeres.

  • MITOCHONDRIAL FUNCTION

Mitochondria convert the energy-rich nutrients in our food into the cellular energy source, ATP. Free radicals and oxidative stress are necessary by-products of “burning” food and oxygen and are eliminated by intrinsic antioxidants as well as antioxidants from our diet.  Antioxidant deficiency for a variety of reasons can damage mitochondria reduce energy production needed for healthy organ function and create “mutant” mitochondria which generate even more oxidative stress.

And, as we toss toxic chemicals into the environment polluting the land, water, land air of our planet, we find the same toxins in the tissues of our bodies creating further damage to mitochondrial energy production

  • DNA REPAIR

Perhaps the greatest mystery of life is the 100 trillion feet (about 19 billion miles) of DNA packed into the nucleus of every cell in your body.   DNA contains the instructions for growth, reproduction, and survival.  Since DNA is constantly making new copies for new cells, DNA repair is essential in order to maintain cell vitality and survival as well as cancer prevention.  However, DNA repair declines with age for reasons not fully understood.

Research at Harvard Medical School reveals many of the DNA repair enzymes are dependent on the signaling molecule NAD. In addition to energizing DNA repair enzymes, NAD improves cellular energy production, reduces cell-damaging inflammation, and increases neurotransmitter production, it also activates the longevity-related Sirtuins 1-7 genes.  Next to the power of consciousness, intravenous NAD is one of the most promising treatments for longevity.

  • TELOMERE LENGTH

The telomere is the region of highly repetitive DNA at the end of a chromosome which functions like a disposable buffer. Without telomeres, repeated cell division would quickly result in the loss of vital genetic information, which is needed to sustain a cell’s activities.

Age-adjusted telomere length is the best method to date to determine accurately a person’s biological age which is compared to their chronological age. Serial evaluation of telomere length will determine how rapidly one age relative to a normal population. Therapies directed at slowing the loss of telomere length will slow aging and age-related diseases

  • DECLINE IN STEM CELLS

Adult stem cells are undifferentiated cells found throughout the body that divide to replenish dying cells and regenerate damaged tissues. Adult stem cells have been found throughout the body, including the brain, bone marrow, blood, blood vessels, muscles, skin, and the liver. Stem cell populations decline with age and they may become dysfunctional, which produces an impaired regenerative response to cellular and tissue or damage

CONSCIOUSNESS – THE FINAL FRONTIER

“. . .for the aging person it is a duty and a necessity to give serious attention to himself.  After having lavished its light upon the world, the sun withdraws its rays in order to illumine itself.”

Carl Jung

Consciousness creates reality. We all create our life experiences in co-creation with those around us, including society.  The creative force of consciousness is our beliefs and 80% of them are unconscious. It is the unconscious beliefs that create the painful experiences, whether they be marital or work problems, financial lack, “accidents” or physical diseases.

Our strong, foundational beliefs come from our family and our society.  When a belief is energized by emotion, such as anger or passion, the creative power is stronger.

Therefore, we are responsible for the life circumstances that we create.  When we are young it is easy to play the victim and blame others for our misfortunes.  It seems natural and society supports this misconception.  This is how people and societies have given away their power for millennia.  This is a lot to swallow in the beginning, but quickly you will see that taking responsivity for your life is empowering and painful life experiences can be the doorway to healing and self-knowledge as well as a happy, productive, and long life.

This is how it works. The pristine nature of the infant is quickly programmed.  Many believe that most of the ego operating system is done by the age of three or four, long before the onset of childhood memories.  The non-thinking and vulnerable human infant is in a hypnotic trance, feeling his or her way in a complex, startling, and often scary world.  Add in neglect, abandonment, family violence, and abuse and the grip of fear intensifies.

Just as physical wounds heal automatically without you having to think about it, emotional wounds also have a natural healing mechanism. The belief behind every emotional issue unconsciously influences your choices in life in order to set up circumstances, which will permit the unowned emotions to come up, be felt, and released. Basically, the past will return to us again and again until we allow the emotions to surface into consciousness, to own and release.  This process is called “the natural therapeutic experience”.

Carl Jung addresses this issue when he said:  “Emotion is the chief source of all becoming conscious. There can be no transforming of darkness into light and of apathy into movement without emotion.”   Carl Jung referred to the unconscious mind as the shadow, and its relentless efforts to discharge its contents as shadow projection.

Our health and happiness depend on accepting all that we are with self-love. Love is the energy of healing, not only for those around us but also for ourselves. The rejected parts of our psyche are also a part of us, and they are a powerful part. We can accept and release the contents of the shadow by allowing ourselves to fully experience emotions as they arise in the course of our lives, as they will in particular when we are faced with intimidating challenges such as relationship difficulties, career hurdles, and physical illness. Thus, this healing process depends on accepting challenges, and the emotional pain they entail, as our own creation instead of blaming them on others around us. In this manner, the shadow within becomes a little lighter, and we know, and own, more of who we really are.  Also, we will improve our mental and physical health, experience more creativity in life, and are more likely to live longer.

Conversely, if we follow the lead of the ego and keep the “unacceptable” parts of consciousness locked in the shadow, then we are thwarting the natural self-healing mechanisms of the human mind. This self-denial can intensify and become neurosis, which Carl Jung called “a substitute for legitimate suffering.” If the feelings that arise from shadow projection are denied, again and again, the repressed energy can affect the body, creating physical illness, which in turn presents yet another opportunity for healing the unconscious burden of past denial.

Like Methuselah, we too can use the tools of Mastery and create life experiences we prefer, as well as learn and grow from the inevitable shadow projections and dramas in our lives.

Longevity, therefore, is ultimately an expression of consciousness and includes the following:

  • Optimism
  • Happiness and life satisfaction
  • Altruism
  • Responsible emotional expression.
  • Following your excitement, or passion, in life.
  • Meditation – you are who is listening to your thoughts
  • Understanding the healing power of disease
  • Love of self, love of others, and human connection
  • Self-actualization

MEDICAL RESEARCH:

Happy People Live Longer: Subjective Well-Being Contributes to Health and Longevity
              Ed Diener, Applied Psychology, 2011

  • Seven types of evidence are reviewed that indicate high subjective well-being such as:
    1. life satisfaction,
    2. absence of negative emotions,
    3. optimism, and
    4. positive emotions
  • Produce improved health and longevity.

Spontaneous Remission,      Written by Andrew Weil, MD

“A study of nearly one thousand older adults followed for nine years concluded that people with high levels of optimism had a 23% lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease and a 55% lower risk of death from all causes compared to their pessimistic peers.”

Fulfillment at Any Age,  by Aoife O’Donovan, Susan Krauss Whitbourne, Ph.D. University of California:

  • Researchers studied telomere length in the immune system cells of postmenopausal women ranging from 50 to 86 years old.
  • pessimists have poorer immune system functioning and
  • shorter telomeres than optimists.

Positive emotions in early life and longevity: Findings from the nun study, Danner, D. et al Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol 80(5), 5-2001, 804-813.

  • Handwritten autobiographies from 180 Catholic nuns, composed when participants were a mean age of 22 years, were scored for emotional content and related to survival during ages 75 to 95
  • Positive emotional content in early-life autobiographies was strongly associated with longevity 6 decades later.

 The Energy Prescription, by Constance Grauds, RPh

Altruism, immunity, and longevity

  • Michigan study of 2,700 men studied over 10 years
  • ½ of the men who engaged in regular volunteer activities had death rates half of those that did not.

“altruistic side effects include reduced stress; improved immune system functioning; a sense of joy, peace, and well-being; and even relief from physical and emotional pain.”

Longevity Increased by Positive Self-Perceptions of Aging, Levy, et al., J Pers Soc Psychol. August 2002

  • Older individuals with more positive self-perceptions of aging measured up to 23 years earlier,
  • lived 7.5 years longer than those with less positive self-perceptions of aging

Life Beyond 100,   Norman Shealey, MD

Summarizes four personality types and links them to longevity.

    1. Life long pattern of hopelessness
    2. Life long pattern of blame or anger
    3. Bounce between hopelessness and anger
    4. Self-actualized

Based on the work of Dr. Hans Jurgen Eysenck – a 20-year study of over 13,000 European subjects

    • 75% of people who die of heart disease and 15% of those that die of cancer are members of the Lifelong Anger Club (Group 2)
    • Group 1, Hopelessness, tend to die 35 years younger than those in Group 4 – 75% die of cancer and 15% of heart disease
    • People in Group 4, self-actualizers, tend to die of old age, and less than 1% die of cancer or heart disease

Positive psychological changes from meditation training linked to cellular health, Clifford Saron, UC Davis Center for Mind and Brain.  Psychoneuroendocrinology,  October 29, 2010

  • Compared 30 participants at a meditation retreat with matched controls on a waiting list for the retreat.
  • Meditated six hours per day for three months.
  • After three months, researchers found that the meditators had on average about 30% more activity of the enzyme telomerase than the controls did.



What Is the Key to Japanese Centenarians’ Long Lives? | Dr. Joseph Mercola

Source: Mercola.com 

Story at-a-glance

  • Data from a group of centenarians whose average age was 107 revealed gut microbiota that include Odoribacteraceae, which reliably produces a bile acid called isoallo-lithocholic acid, which are important to preventing illness
  • A strong balance of beneficial gut microbiota may also help lower chronic inflammation, which is associated with atherosclerosis, cardiovascular disease, frailty, and early death
  • Eating probiotic fermented foods to seed your gut microbiome and prebiotic foods rich in insoluble fiber to nourish the beneficial bacteria is an important strategy to benefit your health and wellness
  • More ways to optimize your gut health are to eliminate sugar, implement a cyclical ketogenic diet and use antibiotics sparingly. Fasting is another strategy that helps support autophagy, boost growth hormone and burn calories

Researchers from Keio University School of Medicine in Tokyo, Japan, recently released data1 after studying the gut microbiome of centenarians living in Japan. What they discovered was a unique bacterium that produced a type of bile acid, which seemed to be common to most of the study participants.

People have been searching for the proverbial Fountain of Youth for centuries.2 Alexander the Great was said to have discovered a river of paradise in the fourth century BC. Similar legends have been told in England, Japan and Polynesia. But likely one of the most famous is that of Ponce de Leon, who received a contract from the King of England to settle an island called Bimini.

In 1513, he set sail with three ships and anchored off the eastern coast of Florida. Not long after his death, he was linked with the Fountain of Youth. In his later years, author Mark Twain noted that “life would be infinitely happier if we could only be born at the age of 80 and gradually approach 18.”3

Through the ages, there have always been hopes that a cure would be discovered for aging, whether it was the magical waters of the Fountain of Youth or stem cell research. Yet, as I’ve written in the past years, this magical fountain is likely closer than you think.

Centenarians May Have Unique Gut Microbiome

Data from the research team in Japan were published in the journal Nature.4 They noted that the centenarians displayed a decreased susceptibility to illnesses associated with the elderly, namely illnesses, chronic inflammation, and infectious diseases.5

The researchers analyzed fecal samples from 160 centenarians living across Japan. The average age of the individuals was 107 years. They compared the gut microbiome found in the fecal samples to that of another 112 people in their 80s and to another 47 participants who were younger.

The goal was to look for differences in the gut microbiome that may help explain the differences in inflammation and chronic disease noted between the groups. The researchers began with an understanding that the gut microbiomes of centenarians likely have a higher diversity of core microbiota as found in a study of residents in Sardinia, Italy, who had lived more than 100 years.6

Functional analysis of the gut microbiota in the study from Italy showed a high capacity for central metabolism and gut microbiota that was “low in genes encoding enzymes involved in the degradation of carbohydrates.”7

The recent study from Japan looked at the differences in the bacterial species present in the gut microbiomes of each group and analyzed the type of compounds the gut microbiome produced.

The researchers hope that by identifying the bacterial communities that support longevity and health, it may be possible to correct imbalances that would prevent disease and improve health in other people.

It May Also Be About Bile Acids

However, it’s also important to remember that the gut microbiome is complex and sensitive. Past research has shown that changes in what you eat can rapidly alter the composition of your gut microbiome.8,9 However, as you may imagine, reaching an age over 100 is not common, so the data collected from these individuals may help identify health practices that reduce disease.

While some of the participants exhibited low levels of inflammation, ScienceAlert reports the researchers wrote that “the majority of centenarians were free of chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes, hypertension [high blood pressure], and cancer.”10

Over the course of two years, as the fecal samples were collected, the type of bacterial community in the centenarians remained stable. However, the study did not look at other lifestyle factors, such as diet. On further analysis, the researchers found that the centenarians had a group of bacteria (Odoribacteraceae) that reliably produced a bile acid called isoallo-lithocholic acid (isoalloLCA).

The research team did further experiments which showed that the bile acid produced by Odoribacteraceae could inhibit the growth of Clostridium difficile (C. difficile) in a lab culture. Using an animal study, they also found the same bile-producing strain of bacteria could reduce the amount of C. difficile infected mice shed below detectable levels.

This suggested to the researchers that this strain of bacteria could help ward off infection with C. difficile. Scientists are finding the bile acids may be a new class of intestinal hormones that do more than aid in digestion.

Research physiologist Kim Barrett from UC San Diego was not involved in the study. She believes that this work revealed more correlation than causality but also said:11 “It is certainly conceivable that manipulating concentrations of specific bile acids, whether microbial or by giving them directly, could exert health benefits.”

Aging and Inflammation

Inflammation is at the core of many negative health conditions. This includes atherosclerosis,12 cardiovascular diseases, multimorbidity, and frailty.13 Researchers now call it inflammaging, which is “a condition characterized by elevated levels of blood inflammatory markers that carry high susceptibility to chronic morbidity, disability, frailty, and premature death.”14

Inflammation affects people of all ages. For example, adults with obesity and children with skin and respiratory allergies all struggle with high degrees of inflammation in the body. Researchers understand that aging is complex and chronic information is a pervasive feature in the elderly.15

Inflammaging represents a significant mortality and morbidity risk factor and even low-grade inflammation observed in aging can result in dysregulation of the innate immune system and cell death.

Inflammation is also related to your mental health. In one study, researchers connected depressive symptoms and behavioral disorders strongly with chronic inflammation.16 For example, in melancholic depression, bipolar disorder and postpartum depression, white blood cells called monocytes express pro-inflammatory genes that provoke secretion of cytokines.17

At the same time, cortisol sensitivity goes down, which is important as it is a stress hormone that buffers against inflammation. Together, these inflammatory agents transfer information to your nervous system, typically by stimulating your vagus nerve, which connects your gut and brain.18

Prebiotic and Probiotic Foods Can Help Nourish Your Gut

Prebiotic foods are the nutrients beneficial bacteria need to thrive. They are found primarily in fiber-rich foods, which is perfect because your gut bacteria thrive on indigestible fiber. In animal research,19 data showed dietary prebiotics had a significant effect on rapid eye movement (REM) and non-rapid eye movement (nonREM) sleep cycles.

This may positively affect your sleep quality. Researchers studying the effect of probiotics on gut health and REM sleep found that the animals who ate the prebiotics had an increase in beneficial gut bacteria20 and excreted metabolites beneficial to brain health.21

Prebiotic foods include those high in indigestible fiber, such as asparagus, cashews, a fennel bulb, leeks, and snow peas.22,23 Although I highly recommend getting most of your nutrients from real food, probiotic supplements can be helpful when you’re unable to eat fermented foods.

For probiotics to do their job, you also need to optimize the conditions where they flourish, which means eating plenty of prebiotic foods. In other words, if you take a probiotic supplement and continue to eat a highly-processed diet with added sugars, you’re only feeding the potentially pathogenic bacteria in your gut since they love sugar.

On the other hand, pathogenic microbes do not thrive in the presence of fiber-rich foods or those with healthy fats, proteins, and complex carbohydrates. When the gut microbiome is unbalanced, it can affect the immune system, mental health, mood, and even brain function. In other words, it can raise the level of chronic inflammation in your body and speed the aging process.

More Ways to Optimize Gut Health

Following are several key dietary components that will help you nourish your gut microbiome, thereby protecting yourself against a whole host of chronic diseases:

Eliminate sugars and processed foods from your diet, as sugar feeds microbes known to have a negative influence on your health.
Implement a cyclical ketogenic diet. While nutritional ketosis will initially improve your gut microbiome, thanks to the elimination of excess sugars, in the long term, continuous ketosis may be problematic. To optimize your gut health, be sure to eat lots of fiber-rich vegetables and implement a cyclical ketogenic diet, where once or twice a week you increase the amount of net carbs (total carbohydrates minus fiber).
Eat plenty of fiber-rich foods/prebiotics. There are two main types of dietary fiber: soluble and insoluble. Ideally, you need both on a regular basis. Soluble fiber, found in cucumbers, blueberries, beans, and nuts, dissolves into a gel-like texture, helping to slow down your digestion.
Insoluble fiber, found in foods like dark green leafy vegetables, green beans, celery, and carrots, does not dissolve and stays basically intact as it moves through your colon. By adding bulk to your stool, it helps food to move through your digestive tract more quickly for healthy elimination.
Prebiotics are found primarily in fiber-rich foods, which is perfect because your good gut bacteria thrive on indigestible fiber. Inulin is one type of water-soluble fiber found in asparagus, garlic, leeks, and onions that helps nourish your beneficial gut bacteria.
Regularly consume traditionally fermented and cultured foods, which are loaded with a wide variety of healthy live bacteria. Healthy choices include lassi, kefir, natto, and various pickled fermentations of cabbage, turnips, eggplant, cucumbers, onions, squash, and carrots.
Consider a spore-based probiotic supplement, especially when taking a course of antibiotics. Sporebiotics are part of a group of derivatives of the microbe called bacillus. This genus has hundreds of subspecies, the most important of which is Bacillus subtilis.

Essentially, sporebiotics consist of the cell wall of bacillus spores, and they are a primary tool to boost your immune tolerance. Because sporebiotics do not contain any live Bacillus strains, only its spores — the protective shell around the DNA and the working mechanism of that DNA — are unaffected by antibiotics.

Antibiotics indiscriminately kill your gut bacteria, both good and bad, which is why secondary infections and lowered immune function are common side effects of taking antibiotics.

Chronic low-dose exposure to antibiotics through your food also takes a toll on your gut microbiome, which can result in chronic ill health and increased risk of drug resistance. Since they’re not destroyed by antibiotics, sporebiotics can more effectively help re-establish your gut microbiome.

Fasting Is a Significant Part of the Longevity Solution

In this interview with David Sinclair, Ph.D., professor of genetics, and co-director of the Paul F. Glenn Center for the Biology of Aging at Harvard Medical School, we discussed another important strategy to slow the aging process. Sinclair is the author of “Lifespan: Why We Age — and Why We Don’t Have To.”

In the interview, he talks about calorie restriction and intermittent fasting that affect two of the scientifically demonstrated strategies to suppress mammalian targets of rapamycin (mTOR)24 and the activation of autophagy.25 Fasting is not a revolutionary concept as it’s been practiced for more than 5,000 years.

However, researchers have only recently discovered the biochemical pathways affected by fasting. Another factor is limiting food to at least three hours before bedtime. This is because late-night eating increases your nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+) levels that are important for a variety of bodily functions.26

As explained in the video, it also reduces nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate (NADPH), which is the cellular battery of your cells and has the potential to recharge your antioxidants. When you eat close to bedtime you won’t be able to use the NADPH to burn calories and instead it is stored. However, to store them, you have to create fat.

Another strategy we discuss in the video is that the ideal time to do your strength training is in a fasted state, just before your first meal after a 16- or 18-hour fast. This helps boost your growth hormone that is already activated from fasting and increases the maximum benefit of exercise.

As you may surmise, you cannot simply take a supplement or two and live a long life while eating junk food and being inactive. While researchers from the study in Japan demonstrated centenarians have a unique gut microbiome, it is simply impossible to use just one strategy to lead a long and healthy life.

Sources and References



The Four Pillars For Living A Healthier Life

Maintaining your health takes more than eating right, getting sleep, and exercising. To live a healthy life requires a process of those three fundamental principles along with regular health screenings.

Having regular health screenings will help determine and diagnose any potential underlying health issues and provide better guidance to improve your health and wellness.

To live well requires that you focus on the four central pillars of health, diet, exercise, sleep, and wellness exams. So let’s examine each of those four pillars and provide some tips to help you live the best life.

Diet

The sayings, “junk in, junk out” and “you are what you eat” are more than something to help you remember to eat better. There’s truth in these adages that what we consume provides us with the necessary macronutrients to fuel our bodies.

Macronutrients are the primary sources of energy and nutrition, so it only makes sense to provide our bodies with the best macronutrients we can provide. Avoiding processed foods that may be high in sugar, salt, and additives is a great start.

Focusing on a diet that is low in calories but rich in protein and high in fiber will provide your muscles with the energy needed to perform critical functions, aid in the digestive process, and provide long-sustaining energy.

These are all essential functions of weight management and appetite control.

There are numerous health benefits to moving to a more plant-based diet, and there are a wide variety of menu options available to you.

For example, you can decrease the amount of meat you consume and substitute it with beans and legumes.

Additionally, you can move to a breakfast routine that includes daily smoothies. Smoothies provide essential vitamins and minerals, protein and fiber, and are delicious ways to create flexible, filling meals.

Exercise

A second pillar to wellbeing is getting regular exercise. The World Health Organization recommends 75 minutes of vigorous activity every week for a fully grown adult or up to 120 minutes of low-impact movements for optimal health.

The apparent benefits of exercise include strengthening the skeletal-muscular system, enhancing the immune system, slowing the aging process, helping the digestive process, and weight control.

One of the more significant benefits of exercise, we enhance the body’s immune system empowering it to fight off illness and other diseases such as cancers.

Exercise causes the body to strengthen its respiratory system and cardiovascular function and helps the body to perform more efficiently.

That said, one often overlooked benefit from regular exercise is that it works in boosting moods.

When the body is stressed, the brain releases powerful neurochemicals that can inhibit or strengthen moods.

For example, too much negative stress, such as when we experience depression and grief, can lower the body’s spirits.

On the other hand, when we stress the body in a good way, such as strengthening it through exercise, the brain releases dopamine that boosts moods and energy.

Sleep

Sleep is the primary function of the body and mind to relax, regenerate, and rebuild itself. Yet, it is often the first thing we sacrifice when we’re stressed or overstimulated but should be considered necessary for our overall health as the other two cornerstones to good health.

The WHO recommends that fully grown adults get at least 7-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep a night, and some studies show that even with the proper amount of sleep, occasional naps are encouraged.

Regular Health Exams

At different stages of our life, we are prone to more or fewer health concerns. For example, at 45 years of age or older, getting regular colon exams is the recommendation, and those examinations may occur earlier in cases of family history of colon cancers.

However, if colon cancers are a concern for you, you can always get an at-home test before scheduling a professional examination. An at-home test, known as a fit test, will help you have peace of mind before your regular exam.

The primary benefit of regular health examinations is to screen for potentially more serious diseases or other underlying health concerns.

Taking a balanced approach of eating right, getting regular exercise, sleeping well, and getting annual health screenings will help you live a healthy, happy life.




Does Drug And Alcohol Abuse Make You Age Faster?

Many people, particularly middle-aged and older adults, worry about the effects of aging. The United States’ aging population is rising, and American culture has long revered the preservation of energy, beauty, and vitality associated with youth.

With this, many have turned their attention to lifestyle factors that can affect the aging process, such as fitness level, adequate nutrition, and drinking and drug use habits.

Various health conditions, including substance use disorders, have been associated with premature aging, due to the effects of heavy drug and alcohol use on various systems in the body.

While the aging effects of drug and alcohol abuse can vary, understanding the full scope of long-term health complications of heavy substance use can be an important consideration.

Aging And The Effects Of Drugs And Alcohol On The Brain

Research on the connection between aging and substance use disorders shows that heavy, prolonged substance use can affect bodily processes associated with aging.

This may be true even for those who seek recovery through a drug or alcohol rehabilitation program.

Drug and alcohol use disorders, over time, can have toxic effects on the brain that researchers believe could affect the aging process. These toxic effects include:

  • changes in the brain’s dopamine system
  • inflammation of the brain
  • lack of oxygen and nutrients reaching the brain
  • changes in stress response

The effects of heavy drug and alcohol use on the brain can affect everything from a person’s thoughts to their emotions, cognition, self-control, and behavior. 

Chronic substance abuse has also been associated with the acceleration of age-related conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease, dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease.

Aging And The Effects Of Drugs And Alcohol On The Body

Substance abuse can have significant effects on the body, particularly over time with chronic use. 

Chronic drug and alcohol abuse can affect a person’s skin, cause changes in weight, affect a person’s hormones, as well as affect the pulmonary, cardiovascular, and immune systems.

Effects of substance abuse on the body can include:

  • dry skin
  • sores
  • dehydration
  • scarring (from injection drug use)
  • heart damage
  • kidney and liver damage
  • weight gain or loss
  • malnutrition
  • changes in sex drive
  • irregular menstrual cycle
  • ocular damage
  • lung damage

Moreover, certain health conditions associated with substance abuse—such as malnutrition and organ damage—can accelerate the development of health issues linked to older age, such as brittle bones (osteoporosis), various cancers, memory troubles, and poor vision.

Who Is At Increased Risk Of Premature Aging From Drugs And Alcohol?

There are various factors that can affect a person’s risk for experiencing the negative effects of drug or alcohol use.

Drinking alcohol in moderation, for instance, may not be the healthiest behavior, but it’s unlikely to cause serious enough problems to speed up the aging process in the average person.

Factors that can increase the risk of premature aging from substance use include chronic substance abuse, heavy substance use, the abuse of multiple drugs, genetic factors, and co-occurring medical conditions.

Can The Effects Of Substance Use On Aging Be Reverse?

It depends. Whether the effects of substance abuse on aging can be reversed will largely depend on the duration of use, the severity of use, and other personal factors.

Drug and alcohol addiction is a progressive illness that can have more serious effects on a person’s health the longer a person struggles.

But many of the harmful effects of substance use disorders can be managed and sometimes reversed with medical and behavioral health treatment, which is offered at multiple levels of care, including an inpatient rehab program or on an outpatient basis for milder cases.

Getting help for a drug or drinking problem as soon as possible is the best way to prevent negative health consequences down the road.

Sources for additional reading:

Author bio: McKenna Schueler is a content specialist for the company, Ark Behavioral Health. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English with a minor in Psychology from the University of South Florida. 




SECRETS TO A LONG LIFE: The Importance of Managing Your Energy & Time | Sadhguru [3-minute video]

Source: London Real

In this 3-minute video, Sadhguru shares some great advice for living a long life by managing your energy and your time.




5 Scientifically Proven Ways that Happiness Improves Your Health

Joyous couple in the rain-compressed

By Dr. Marianna Pochelli | Prevent Disease

There is an irrefutable argument in favor of happiness: Happiness and good health go hand-in-hand and scientific studies have been finding that happiness can make our hearts healthier, our immune systems stronger, and our lives longer through enhancements of our cellular structure.

Dr Derek Cox, Director of Public Health at Dumfries and Galloway NHS, suspects that for decades health professionals have been missing a big trick in improving the health of the nation.

“We’ve spent years saying that giving up smoking could be the single most important thing that we could do for the health of the nation.

Related Article: 8 Natural Stress Relievers to Try Now

“And yet there is mounting evidence that happiness might be at least as powerful a predictor, if not a more powerful predictor than some of the other lifestyle factors that we talk about in terms of cigarette smoking, diet, physical activity and those kind of things.”

The science of happiness is increasingly suggesting a link between happiness and health.

1) Protects Our Heart
A 2005 paper found that happiness predicts lower heart rate and blood pressure. In the study, participants rated their happiness over 30 times in one day and then again three years later. The initially happiest participants had a lower heart rate on follow-up (about six beats slower per minute), and the happiest participants during the follow-up had better blood pressure.

In a 2010 study, researchers invited nearly 2,000 Canadians into the lab to talk about their anger and stress at work. Observers rated them on a scale of one to five for the extent to which they expressed positive emotions like joy, happiness, excitement, enthusiasm, and contentment. Ten years later, the researchers checked in with the participants to see how they were doing–and it turned out that the happier ones were less likely to have developed coronary heart disease. In fact, for each one-point increase in positive emotions they had expressed, their heart disease risk was 22 percent lower.

2) Enhances Our Immune System
Happy people, as compared with less happy people, tend to have greater immune system functioning, a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, and report greater marriage and job satisfaction. It is therefore valuable to develop a deeper understanding of the positive affect by investigating its biological basis. Several studies have begun to investigate potential biological markers of positive affect.

In a 2003 experiment, 350 adults volunteered to get exposed to the common cold (don’t worry, they were well-compensated). Before exposure, researchers called them six times in two weeks and asked how much they had experienced nine positive emotions–such as feeling energetic, pleased, and calm–that day. After five days in quarantine, the participants with the most positive emotions were less likely to have developed a cold.

Related Article: Fasting For Two Days Could Regenerate the Immune System, According To Research

Some of the same researchers wanted to investigate why happier people might be less susceptible to sickness, so in a 2006 study they gave 81 graduate students the hepatitis B vaccine. After receiving the first two doses, participants rated themselves on those same nine positive emotions. The ones who were high in positive emotion were nearly twice as likely to have a high antibody response to the vaccine–a sign of a robust immune system. Instead of merely affecting symptoms, happiness seemed to be literally working on a cellular level.

3) Combats Cortisol and Stress
To protect the brain from stress, happiness releases a protein called BDNF(Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor) which has a protective and also reparative element to memory neurons and acts as a reset switch. That’s why we often feel so at ease and things are clear after moments of stress and eventually happy.

Happiness also seems to carry benefits even when stress is inevitable. In a 2009 study, some diabolically cruel researchers decided to stress out psychology students and see how they reacted. The students were led to a soundproof chamber, where they first answered questions indicating whether they generally felt 10 feelings like enthusiasm or pride. Then came their worst nightmare: They had to answer an exceedingly difficult statistics question while being videotaped, and they were told that their professor would evaluate their response. Throughout the process, their heart was measured with an electrocardiogram (EKG) machine and a blood pressure monitor. In the wake of such stress, the hearts of the happiest students recovered most quickly.

4) More Prone To Optimistic Thought Patterns
Neuroscientists have discovered that people who have a more cheerful disposition and are more prone to optimism generally have higher activity occurring in their left PFC. But that’s a brain explanation. Interestingly, behavioral scientists have observed fascinating differences between optimists and pessimists. Optimism, for example, involves highly desirable cognitive, emotional, and motivational components. Optimistic people tend to have better moods, to be more persevering and successful, and to experience better physical health.

A 2005 study suggests that positive emotion also mitigates pain in the context of disease. Women with arthritis and chronic pain rated themselves weekly on positive emotions like interest, enthusiasm, and inspiration for about three months. Over the course of the study, those with higher ratings overall were less likely to experience increases in pain.

5) Lengthens Our Lives
In the end, the ultimate health indicator might be longevity–and here, especially, happiness comes into play. In perhaps the most famous studyof happiness and longevity, the life expectancy of Catholic nuns was linked to the amount of positive emotion they expressed in an autobiographical essay they wrote upon entering their convent decades earlier, typically in their 20s. Researchers combed through these writing samples for expressions of feelings like amusement, contentment, gratitude, and love. In the end, the happiest-seeming nuns lived a whopping 7-10 years longer than the least happy.

You don’t have to be a nun to experience the life-extending benefits of happiness, though. In a 2011 study, almost 4,000 English adults ages 52-79 reported how happy, excited, and content they were multiple times in a single day. Here, happier people were 35 percent less likely to die over the course of about five years than their unhappier counterparts.

These two studies both measured specific positive emotions, but overall satisfaction with one’s life–another major indicator of happiness–is also linked to longevity. A 2010 study followed almost 7,000 people from California’s Alameda County for nearly three decades, finding that the people who were more satisfied with life at the beginning were less likely to die during the course of the study.

Related Article: Does Happiness Really Help You Live Longer?

As the science of happiness and health matures, researchers are trying to determine what role, if any, happiness actually plays in causing health benefits. They’re also trying to distinguish the effects of different forms of happiness (including positive emotions and life satisfaction), the effects of “extreme” happiness, and other factors. For example, a new studysuggests that we should look not just at life satisfaction levels but life satisfaction variability: Researchers found that low life satisfaction with lots of fluctuations–i.e., an unstable level of happiness–was linked to even earlier death than low life satisfaction alone.

Sources:
ubc.ca
bbc.co.uk
berkeley.edu
psychologytoday.com
illinois.edu
bmj.com

Read more great articles at Prevent Disease.




Hyperbaric Oxygen Treatment Reverses Signs of Aging

By Dr. Joseph Mercola | mercola.com

STORY AT-A-GLANCE

  • Researchers from Tel Aviv University have been exploring the benefits of exposure to high-pressure oxygen at different concentrations inside a pressure chamber for years, with studies showing such treatments improved stroke, brain injury, and brain function that was damaged by aging
  • A recent study suggests hyperbaric oxygen treatment (HBOT) targets two cellular hallmarks of aging — shortening of telomeres and cellular senescence, or the loss of a cell’s ability to divide and grow — helping to reverse signs of the aging process in humans
  • After HBOT, telomeres at the end of chromosomes grew longer instead of shorter, at a rate of 20% to 38% depending on the type of cell
  • Senescent cells decreased significantly, by 11% to 37% depending on cell type, after HBOT
  • The use of telomere length as a marker for aging is in itself controversial, and the study sample was small, with some suggesting the results should be interpreted with caution; however, other experts agree HBOT can have significant benefits for longevity and chronic conditions

Hyperbaric oxygen treatment may be a practical method for slowing down the hands of time. At its foundation, aging represents a progressive loss of physiological capacity, researchers from Tel Aviv University and the Shamir Medical Center in Israel explained in the journal Aging.1

The biological deterioration leads to impaired functions and increased vulnerability to diseases, including cancer, heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, and others.

Hyperbaric oxygen treatment (HBOT), the Aging study suggests, may target two cellular hallmarks of aging — shortening of telomeres and cellular senescence, or the loss of a cell’s ability to divide and grow — thereby reversing signs of the aging process in humans.2

Sixty Hyperbaric Oxygen Sessions Slow Down Aging

The research team has been exploring the benefits of exposure to high-pressure oxygen at different concentrations inside a pressure chamber for years, with studies showing such treatments improved stroke, brain injury, and brain function that was damaged by aging.3

The current study looked at hyperbaric oxygen treatment on healthy adults aged 64 and over to determine its effects on the normal aging process at a cellular level.

Thirty-five subjects were exposed to a series of 60 hyperbaric oxygen sessions over a 90-day period. Blood samples, which were analyzed for immune cells, were collected before, during, and after the treatments. Two exciting results were found:4

  • Telomeres at the end of chromosomes grew longer instead of shorter, at a rate of 20% to 38% depending on the type of cell
  • Senescent cells decreased significantly, by 11% to 37% depending on the cell type

In a Tel Aviv University news release, study author Dr. Shai Efrati of the university’s Sackler School of Medicine explained:

“Today telomere shortening is considered the ‘Holy Grail’ of the biology of aging. Researchers around the world are trying to develop pharmacological and environmental interventions that enable telomere elongation. Our HBOT protocol was able to achieve this, proving that the aging process can in fact be reversed at the basic cellular-molecular level.”

Telomeres and Cellular Senescence: Keys to Aging?

Telomeres are repetitive nucleotide sequences at the end of each chromosome. Sometimes compared to the plastic tip on a shoelace, telomeres help protect DNA, preserving chromosome stability and preventing “molecular contact with neighboring chromosomes.”5

Evidence suggests telomere length may predict morbidity and mortality, with shorter telomeres linked to an increased risk of premature death,6 but the link is controversial.

“This uncertainty is actually due to a kaleidoscope of biological and technical factors, including preanalytical issues (e.g., sample matrix), poor standardization of techniques used for their assessment, and dependence of telomere structure upon genetics, epigenetics, environment and behavioral attitudes, which may be present at a variable extent in various physiological or pathological conditions,” researchers wrote in the Annals of Translational Medicine.7

Still, despite the controversy, telomere shortening has been associated with a 23% higher risk of all-cause death, along with an increased risk of certain cancers, including glioma, neuroblastoma, ovarian, endometrial, lung, kidney, bladder, skin, and testicular.8

Telomere shortening is also said to represent a “major measurable molecular characteristic of aging of cells in vitro and in vivo,” which may have developed as a mechanism to protect against tumors in long-lived species.9

Dr. Amir Hadanny, chief medical research officer of the Sagol Center for Hyperbaric Medicine and Research at the Shamir Medical Center, an author of the featured study, added that lifestyle modifications and intense exercise have previously been found to slow telomere shortening, but HBOT appears to be another viable option:10

“In our study, only three months of HBOT were able to elongate telomeres at rates far beyond any currently available interventions or lifestyle modifications. With this pioneering study, we have opened a door for further research on the cellular impact of HBOT and its potential for reversing the aging process.”

Cellular senescence is also known to play a role in cellular aging, and the accumulation of senescent cells is believed to be an integral part of the aging process, even potentially acting as a causal factor in age-related disease.11

Research is underway to develop therapeutic strategies to interfere with cellular senescence, including eliminating senescent cells,12 and HBOT have emerged as one potential strategy.

Not Necessarily a Clear-Cut Fountain of Youth

It’s important to take the study’s limitations into account when evaluating whether HBOT is truly a fountain of youth, as the researchers imply. It was a small study, which means the results should be replicated in a larger sample of subjects.

Also, as mentioned, the use of telomere length as a marker for aging is in itself controversial. The study also measured telomere length on immune cells called T cells, which may fluctuate depending on a number of environmental conditions, such as exercise.

It’s a positive sign that HBOT also decreased cellular senescence in T cells, but as noted by Steve Hill, who serves on the board of directors for LEAF, a nonprofit promoting increased healthy human lifespan:13

“The problem with interpreting these results as rejuvenation or age reversal is that T cells are a poor choice of cell type to use for this kind of thing due to their highly dynamic nature. Unfortunately, they are a popular cell type to use in these sorts of studies, due to the ease of collection from the bloodstream.

These particular immune cells can have large variance in their telomere length based on the demand for cellular replication at that particular time.

T cell populations replicate rapidly in the face of pathogens, and with each replication, the telomeres shorten, meaning that telomere lengths can vary in these cell populations from day to day. Infection and other environmental factors can play a key role in the status of T cell telomeres, and this is why they are not overly useful as aging biomarkers.”

This isn’t to say that HBOT isn’t useful, as other experts agree HBOT can have significant benefits for longevity. One of the reasons I’m fascinated by HBOT, in particular, is because of its ability to improve mitochondrial function.14 However, it should be viewed as one component of healthy aging, not necessarily a magic bullet that will stop it in its tracks.

How Does Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Work?

HBOT has long been used as a treatment for decompression sickness that can occur among scuba divers. When you sit in a hyperbaric oxygen therapy chamber, you breathe air that has two to three times greater air pressure than normal, which allows your lungs to absorb more oxygen.

This, in turn, increases the amount of oxygen in your blood, which is transported throughout your body, fighting pathogenic bacteria and stimulating the release of healing growth factors and stem cells.15

In my interview in the video above with Dr. Jason Sonners, a chiropractor who has worked with HBOT for over 12 years, he explains that oxygen can be viewed as a nutrient. Your body needs it to carry out its regular functions and, when tissue is injured, it needs even more oxygen for healing.16

Most healthy individuals have somewhere between 96% and 98% oxygen in their hemoglobin, which means your capacity to increase your oxygen level is between 2% and 4%, were you to breathe medical-grade oxygen, for instance. However, you can increase your oxygen level far beyond that if your body is under pressure. According to Sonners:

“Two main laws govern how that works: Boyle’s Law and Henry’s Law. Basically, as you take a gas and exert pressure on it, you make the size of that gas take up less space. As a result of that pressure, you can then dissolve that gas into a liquid.

An easy example is a can of seltzer. They’re using carbon dioxide and water. But basically, you can pressurize that can, so you can put carbon dioxide into that can. As a result of that pressurization, you can dissolve molecules of carbon dioxide into the water.

In the hyperbaric version of that, we’re using oxygen, and the can is the chamber. But as a result of dumping excess oxygen inside that chamber, you can dissolve that into the liquid of your body … directly into the tissue and the plasma of your blood.

The oxygen in your blood is carried by hemoglobin. The plasma that carries your red blood cells that holds the hemoglobin normally does not carry oxygen. We rely wholly on red blood cell oxygen-carrying capacity. But inside the chamber, you could literally bypass the red blood cell oxygen-carrying capacity altogether, and you can absorb oxygen directly into the plasma and tissue of the body.”

HBOT Fights Mitochondrial and Oxidative Stresses, COVID-19

HBOT can be used to help speed healing of any inflammatory condition, and it’s known to facilitate wound healing and cell survival.

A small study involving 10 healthy men also revealed that a single 45-minute HBOT session reduced levels of metabolic stress-related biomarkers, including attenuating mitochondrial and oxidative stresses and relieving metabolic burdens, which suggests it may be useful for treating metabolic diseases.17

The fact that HBOT protects against mitochondrial dysfunction18 is a major benefit, considering most chronic and degenerative diseases involve mitochondrial dysfunction. Unfortunately, conventional medicine still reserves HBOT for a limited number of conditions, such as certain brain injuries and serious wounds, as well as the following:19

Severe anemia Brain abscess Bubbles of air in your blood vessels
Burns Carbon monoxide poisoning Crushing injury
Deafness, sudden Decompression sickness Gangrene
Infection of skin or bone that causes tissue death Nonhealing wounds, such as diabetic foot ulcer Radiation injury
Skin graft at risk of tissue death Traumatic brain injury Vision loss, sudden

In the U.S., there are only 14 conditions for which insurance will pay for HBOT, whereas there are up to 100 approved indications for HBOT internationally, according to Sonners.

From my perspective, it’s medically reprehensible and inexcusable for a doctor to not treat patients with diabetic neuropathy, infections in the distal extremities, or peripheral vascular disease with HBOT, as it will in most cases prevent the need for amputation. Other conditions that may benefit from HBOT include:

All autoimmune conditions
Neurological conditions, including concussion, traumatic brain injurydementia, and post-stroke
Musculoskeletal injuries, including broken bones, disk herniations, and torn muscles and tendons
Any condition involving mitochondrial dysfunction
Any condition involving damaged microcirculation or that can benefit from capillary growth
Chronic infections such as Lyme disease, and subacute infections that cause damage over time
Cancer co-management — As noted by Sonners, researchers are looking at HBOT in cancer treatments in a number of different ways. For example, doing it may allow you to use less radiation or chemo and still get the same outcome. Or, it may allow the patient to tolerate higher amounts of radiation by speeding the healing between sessions. A third avenue of investigation is the use of HBOT in isolation.

HBOT is also showing promise for treating COVID-19 via a number of beneficial effects, including reversing hypoxia, reducing inflammation in the lungs, increasing viricidal reactive oxygen species, upregulating HIF-increasing host defense peptides, and reducing pro-inflammatory cytokines such as IL-6.20

Typically, hospitals will only provide HBOT if you have one of the 14 approved indications. If you’re interested in HBOT for other medical or longevity purposes, you’ll need to look into the private sector for treatment. The International Hyperbaric Association21 (IHA) and Hyperbaric Medical International22 (HMI) are two organizations that may direct you to more local centers.

You can also learn more on HBOTusa.com, which is Sonner’s primary education website where you can find a list of treated conditions, research, the benefits of HBOT in athletics, testimonials, and much more.




This Spice Might Extend Your Life

By Dr. Joseph Mercola | mercola.com

STORY AT-A-GLANCE

  • Chili peppers are a type of fruit in the nightshade family that’s associated with longer life by reducing the risk of all-cause mortality and heart- and cancer-related deaths
  • Scientists attribute the health benefits to capsaicin, the bioactive compound that triggers the sensation of heat in your mouth or on your skin; capsaicin is found in the seeds and inner white membrane
  • After analyzing the personality of people who enjoy the heat of the chili pepper, evidence shows some are drawn to spicy foods and may not be as sensitive to the heat as others
  • Health benefits associated with capsaicin include promoting long-term heart health, fighting the growth of cancer cells, pain relief, and weight loss

Researchers from Cleveland Clinic in Ohio reviewed health records of more than 570,000 people from four large studies and found, as compared to those who rarely or never ate chili peppers, that those who ate them on a regular basis reduced their risk of death from heart-related sources by 26%, from cancer by 23% and from all-cause mortality by 25%.1

This reduction in the potential risk of death is significant and could make an impact on the number of people with heart disease and cancer. An American Heart Association report released in January 2019 found 48%, or 121.5 million, adults in America had cardiovascular disease.2

The 2020 statistical update showed cardiovascular disease continues to be the No. 1 cause of death, accounting for 859,125 deaths in 2017 and claiming more lives every year than chronic lower respiratory disease and all forms of cancer combined.3

According to the National Cancer Institute, there will be an estimated 1.8 million people diagnosed with cancer in the U.S. and an estimated 606,520 people will die in 2020.4 The sheer number of people who may experience an impact on their longevity by making simple changes to their nutritional intake is overwhelming.

While chili peppers are not the answer for everyone, it is important to note that scientific evidence continues to mount supporting the hypothesis that you can take control of your health by making consistent changes in your lifestyle choices.

Chili Peppers May Extend Your Life

You may find chili peppers in your favorite Tex-Mex foods or Indian curry. Preliminary data presented at the American Heart Association virtual conference titled “Scientific Sessions 2020”5 suggest that those who regularly eat chili peppers could have a longer life.6

The researchers hypothesize this is a result of the antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anticancer, and blood glucose mediating properties known to be present in chili peppers. Each of these factors may play a role in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease or cancer.

To reach this determination, the team analyzed 4,729 studies and included four large studies with health outcomes from China, the U.S., Iran, and Italy. They were surprised that past published studies demonstrated that regularly eating chili peppers could reduce the overall risk of all-cause mortality.

Senior author Dr. Bo Xu commented, “It highlights that dietary factors may play an important role in overall health.”7 Xu, a cardiologist at Cleveland Clinic, went on to say in a press release:8

“We were surprised to find that in these previously published studies, regular consumption of chili pepper was associated with an overall risk-reduction of all-cause, CVD (cardiovascular disease) and cancer mortality. The exact reasons and mechanisms that might explain our findings, though, are currently unknown.

Therefore, it is impossible to conclusively say that eating more chili pepper can prolong life and reduce deaths, especially from cardiovascular factors or cancer. More research, especially evidence from randomized controlled studies, is needed to confirm these preliminary findings.”

Xu cautioned there were several limitations, including that the four studies only had limited information on health data and confounding factors that may have influenced the results. He also noted the amounts and types of chili pepper the participants ate during the studies were also different.9 The researchers are continuing to analyze the data and plan to publish the literature review.10

What’s the Secret Ingredient?

Capsaicin is the bioactive compound in chili peppers responsible for the hot and spicy kick,11 and the likely compound researchers named as a potential explanation for the benefits they found.12

Chili pepper is a fruit pod belonging to the nightshade (Solanaceae) family. Other members of the Solanaceae family include tomato, potato, eggplant, cayenne pepper, and paprika.13 The plant is a perennial shrub that grows up to 1 meter (3.2 feet) in height and is native to Central America.14

Capsaicin is concentrated in the seeds and the inner white membrane found when you cut the pod open. The plant produces capsaicin as a protection against fungal attack.15 Peppers with more capsaicin are spicier and hotter. While it’s colorless and odorless, it tricks your brain into perceiving heat where it touches your body.

This burning sensation is what you experience when you eat the peppers, as it is not a taste. Instead, the compound stimulates nerves that send two messages to the brain of warmth and intense stimulation. The burning sensation is a combination of these two messages.16

Although the benefits of foods that contain capsaicin are plentiful, as I discuss below, eating chili peppers is not a cure-all and some people cannot tolerate the compound or the flavor. As with many other things, too much of a good thing is not always a better thing. Eating too much capsaicin can trigger nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, and a burning sensation in your gastrointestinal tract.17

The Capsaicin Connection

Many of the health benefits from chili peppers come from the compound capsaicin. There are hundreds of varieties of peppers that come in different shapes, sizes, colors, and degrees of hotness. How the heat is measured is based on the work of Wilbur Scoville in 1912. He developed a test to measure chili peppers’ pungency and heat that is now called Scoville heat units.18

Different factors can affect the perception of heat and the units are used to measure anything that’s made from chili peppers. Scoville’s first tests depended on a panel of taste testers and the units were based on how to dilute the pepper mixture must be before it lost the sensation of heat.

The test now uses high-performance liquid chromatography and measures the concentration of capsaicin in the product. The scale ranges from zero to 2.2 million. For example, the common bell pepper has zero Scoville heat units (SHU). Popular banana peppers range from zero to 500 SHU and Anaheim peppers can go as high as 2,500 SHU. Jalapeno peppers range from 2,500 to 8,000 SHU and serrano peppers top out at 23,000 SHU.

If you’re looking for more heat, Komodo dragon peppers range from 1.4 million to 2.2 million SHU and the supreme hot chili pepper, the Carolina Reaper, is measured at 2.2 million-plus SHU. When scientists measure pure capsaicin, they find it contains 16 million SHU.

Capsaicin is the active ingredient used in self-defense pepper spray. The spray burns the skin on contact and has a SHU ranging from 2 million to 5.3 million, depending upon the brand. Yet, it’s this same compound chili makers use to create their spicy concoctions that have health benefits for those who partake regularly.

In the 1980s Paul Rozin, professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, studied chili and the people who ate it, describing a form of “benign masochism.”19 The term was used to describe how some people enjoy negative emotions when there is no real threat to their safety, like riding a roller coaster or watching a scary movie.

Later, another team of researchers from Penn State set out to discover if there were personality traits that drew some people to love spicy foods and found those who liked the burn weren’t as sensitive to the heat.20

“They don’t rate it as intense. And again we’re not sure if that means that biologically they’re not getting as much of a response, or if they’re desensitized, or if they are the type of person who went skydiving the day before, so the burn of capsaicin in relation to the rush of adrenalin doesn’t rate that high.

We expected the sensation-seekers to rate spicy meals higher, for example, and they did. But there was variation in their responses depending on the type of spicy meal. Some people like Asian cooking — which may include capsaicin but has other chemesthetic ingredients, too, like ginger and Wasabi — yet they don’t like chili barbecue. Why do they like one type of spicy and not another?”

Adding Ginger Boosts Anticancer Activity

Capsaicin has been studied extensively and it may surprise you how many health benefits have been associated with the compound. For instance, capsaicin may help promote long-term heart health. In one animal study involving rodents with high blood pressure, the animals experienced relief after eating food mixed with capsaicin.21

The researchers suggested the compound activated the transient receptor potential vanilloid 1 (TRPV1), which contributes to vasorelaxation and lowered blood pressure. Capsaicin may also help promote healthy functioning of the digestive tract.

In one study researchers suggested capsaicin could be a gastroprotective agent in those with Helicobacter pylori mucosal damage or who use nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).22 Capsaicin may participate in the fight against cancer by attacking cancer cell growth.23

The results of one study presented at the 2019 Experimental Biology meeting in Orlando, Florida, showed capsaicin could reduce metastasis in lung adenocarcinoma, which is the majority of all non-small cell lung cancers.24

While it can act on its own, in combination with 6-gingerol, a compound found in raw ginger root, evidence shows it has greater potential. In one animal study using mice prone to lung cancer, researchers found that when fed a combination of capsaicin and 6-gingerol, they had a reduced risk of lung cancer.25

While under observation, all the mice that received capsaicin developed lung tumors; half the mice that received 6-gingerol developed lung tumors, but only 20% of the mice given the combination developed cancer.

Capsaicin Plays a Role in Pain Relief and Weight Loss

Capsaicin plays a role in pain relief, in part by depleting your body’s supply of substance P. This is a chemical component of nerve cells involved in transmitting pain signals to your brain. Capsaicin also works by desensitizing sensory receptors in your skin.26

That’s why capsaicin is used in topical creams and patches, which deliver an intense burning sensation that ultimately relieves pain. In one case study, scientists acknowledged that capsaicin was most often analyzed for relieving postherpetic neuralgia after shingles and in HIV-associated neuropathy.27

In an effort to determine if it had efficacy in other forms of neuropathic pain, capsaicin was used in a man who had persistent wound pain after a bomb explosion. He experienced an 80% reduction in symptoms after using a capsaicin patch.

The compound also may play a role in weight loss when added to your diet. In a study published in the Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology, participants were given 10 grams of red pepper during a meal.28

After eating, the researchers monitored the participants’ energy expenditure and learned that chili peppers increased carbohydrate oxidation for as much as 150 minutes after the meal. Scientists found your body can burn an extra 50 calories per day when you consume capsaicin regularly and:29

“… would produce clinically significant levels of weight loss in 1-2 years. While capsaicinoids are not a magic bullet for weight loss, the evidence is that they could play a beneficial role, as part of a weight management program.”

Several studies have demonstrated that capsaicin may help reduce hunger as well.30,31 According to a study published in the European Journal of Nutrition, including capsaicin during the meal had no effect on satiety but did reduce the production of ghrelin, the hormone responsible for triggering hunger, within 15 minutes after the meal.32

In another study, after 12 weeks of supplementation, participants were found to eat less and had a reduction in their waist-to-hip ratio.33 While not a magic bullet, chili peppers may be one weapon you can add to your arsenal of healthy food and lifestyle choices that help you take control of your health.




COVID Vaccine: What We Don’t Know

By ANH-USA | Alliance for Natural Health

An FDA committee is meeting next week to review the first COVID vaccine. We must demand that full transparency is given to the American public. Action Alert!

Pfizer has applied for emergency use authorization (EUA) for its COVID-19 vaccine, and an FDA advisory committee will meet in an open session on December 10 to review Pfizer’s data; Moderna recently announced that it, too, has filed for an EUA. We’re being told by the manufacturers that both of these vaccines have above 90% efficacy and serious adverse events are low. That’s all well and good, but we cannot rely on the word of vaccine makers that their products are safe. We need the data, and so far, we are not even close to getting it. This is completely unacceptable.

The chart below shows that BioNTech/Pfizer and Moderna have fallen pitifully short of demonstrating the full transparency that we and ANH-International have been calling for. Out of ten areas, full transparency has been provided in zero categories. In 6 of 10 categories, none or very little of the data is in the public domain.

Table. Current status of transparency on BioNTech/Pfizer and Moderna mrna vaccines
(19th November 2020)

Courtesy of ANH-International

We should not even think about receiving a COVID vaccine, nor should the FDA grant an EUA to a COVID vaccine, until these companies show us their cards and let all of their data be independently analyzed. Only then can we know the true risk/benefit of these vaccines and be able to make informed choices, for ourselves and our families.

[Read more here]

Robert O’Leary, JD BARA, has had an abiding interest in alternative health products & modalities since the early 1970’s & he has seen how they have made people go from lacking health to vibrant health. He became an attorney, singer-songwriter, martial artist & father along the way and brings that experience to his practice as a BioAcoustic Soundhealth Practitioner, under the tutelage of the award-winning founder of BioAcoustic Biology, Sharry Edwards, whose Institute of BioAcoustic Biology has now been serving clients for 30 years with a non-invasive & safe integrative modality that supports the body’s ability to self-heal using the power of the human voice. Robert brings this modality to serve clients in Greater Springfield, Massachusetts and New England (USA) & “virtually” the world. He can also be reached at romayasoundhealthandbeauty@gmail.