Stopping aging: Are we there yet?

Can aging be stopped? No, but here’s a better question to ask: Can aging be slowed? The answer to that question is an emphatic, “Yes!” Chronological aging starts from the moment you’re born and nobody can stop that clock from ticking. But there’s also biological aging and scientists have discovered powerful molecular mechanisms for cellular repair and rejuvenation built into our DNA called Adaptive Cell Stress Response Pathways (ACSRPs). When trig­gered, ACSRPs can induce anti-aging cellular activity that can increase energy, lifespan, and resistance to disease, as well as improve mental and physical performance.

It has been said that “age is just a number.” That’s only true if you are in good health. People are supposed to look good, feel good, and function correctly for a lifetime. But most don’t. Americans have gotten so used to seeing unhealthy people, they think it’s normal. But it’s not! We need to understand that the “normal” state of humans is not being sick, not taking countless medications, and not visiting the doctor’s office on a frequent basis. The normal human condition is to be lean and fit, energetic, and active.

Life is an ongoing, repeating cycle of injury and repair. As we age, our cells are subject to wear-and-tear from poor diet, environmental toxins, stress, inactivity, and lack of sleep. A chief cause of disease and even aging itself is unrepaired cellular damage. As the accumulation of damage rises, tissues and organs made from the cells begin to function poorly. The resultant dysfunction increases the risk of disease and premature death.

The most noticeable and despised effects of aging are asthenia (loss of energy and strength), immunosenescence (age-related deterioration of the immune system), neurodegeneration (age-related cognitive decline), and sarcopenia (loss of muscle mass that eventually leads to frailty). Together, these conditions steal your quality of life (healthspan) and quantity of life (lifespan). It doesn’t have to be this way.

While we cannot stop aging, using the right environmental stimuli, we can trigger powerful biological mechanisms that can slow the aging process, prevent or delay chronic disease, and increase cellular repair and tissue rejuvenation. These mechanisms are encoded in our DNA and are the very reason humans have been able to adapt, survive, and even thrive through the ages under the harshest of conditions.

Fortunately, the “secret” to living a long and healthy life does not require taking vitamin supplements with dubious safety and effectiveness, expensive stem-cell therapy (often with over-hyped promises), or personal trainers who know little or nothing about exercise physiology. Furthermore, it is not dependent on being “lucky” enough to have great genes or long telomeres.

Oxidative stress has been found to be a chief underlying cause of aging and its effects. But, will prevent­ing oxidative stress slow or reverse the aging process? Yes and no. Our bodies are designed to thrive under oxidative stress. This seems contradictory, but that’s what’s so fascinating about the human body. It’s full of contradictions! The impact of oxidative stress all depends on the dose, frequency, and duration of exposure. There are two kinds of oxidative stress—chronic and acute—and they have completely different effects on the aging process.

Chronic oxidative stress is caused by such things as poor diet, chronic stress, sleep deprivation, muscle disuse, overtraining, toxicity from chemicals and heavy metals, and chronic infections such as Lyme dis­ease, Epstein-Barr virus, and cytomegalovirus. These conditions can overwhelm the body’s built-in anti­ox­idant defense mechanisms designed to neutralize oxidative stress. This leads to profound damage of mito­chondria, cell membranes and proteins, DNA, and vital organs, including the brain, heart, liver, kid­neys, and muscle. Chronic oxidative stress leads to the characteristic mental and physical decay of aging. This is not the case with acute oxidative stress, how­ever.

Acute oxidative stress has been found to retard aging and helps your body to thrive. Acute oxida­tive stress can be stimulated by strength training exercise, manipulation of your hunger and satiety hormones with meal timing, and intravenous oxidative therapy. Together they stimu­late the body’s powerful, built-in antioxidant defense mechanism. This will not only render your cells more resilient to the harmful effects of chronic oxidative stress, it can reverse existing damage to the mitochon­dria, cell membranes and proteins, DNA, vital organs, and muscle fibers caused by chronic oxidative stress.

As good as reducing chronic oxidative stress is to our health, it does not exceed the benefits of autophagy. Autophagy literally means “self-eating” and it is the cellular self-cleansing process in which cellular organelles and material such as mitochondria and proteins that become damaged or dysfunctional, are broken down and their components are recycled for making new organelles and proteins. Autophagy repairs and revitalizes aging, poorly functioning, and diseased cells. By getting rid of faulty cellular parts, autophagy can also help rid us of cancer cells as well as bacteria- and virus-infected cells. It can also reverse autoimmunity and can help stop metabolic dysfunction, such as obesity and diabetes.

Triggering and enhancing the life-extending mechanism of autophagy can rejuvenate tissues throughout the body, and can help prevent or reverse the effects of aging, including asthenia, immunosenescence, neurodegeneration, and sarcopenia. It is far more powerful than any sort of “juice cleanse” or “detox diet” in terms of detoxifying and cleansing your body. With autophagy, you can transform your health and achieve your true biological potential.

When we are young, our cells can easily repair damage, but as we get older, the damage-repair mechanism itself (autophagy) gets damaged. This is due in large part to the accumulation of a toxic cellular waste product called lipofuscin that builds up within the lysosomes. Lipofuscin is a yellow-brown pigment composed of lipid-containing residues of lysosomal digestion. Lysosomes are membrane-enclosed organelles that contain a variety of enzymes (lysozymes) capable of breaking down all types of biological material, such as proteins, nucleic acids, carbohydrates, and lipids.

Unfortunately, a small fraction of recycled organelles and proteins are impervious to breakdown. The leftover residue becomes oxidized in the presence of iron and this forms lipofuscin. It is a marker of “wear-and-tear” on the cell and is extremely difficult to get rid of. Over the years, as lipofuscin accumulates in the lysosomes, it begins to impede the very process of autophagy. Lipofuscin tends to accumulate in the cells of our most vital tissues and organs, including the brain, heart, liver, kidneys, retina, and muscles and leads to their deterioration.

To reduce the presence and slow the accumulation of autophagy-inhibiting lipofuscin, we use acetyl-L-carnitine, N-acetylcysteine, molecular hydrogen, centrophenoxine, creatine, zinc, oxidative therapy, and blood donations to lower elevated ferritin (iron). To stimulate autophagy, we use carbohydrate restriction, intermittent fasting, strength training (with proper scheduling), and powerful natural autophagy inducers, including hydroxycitrate, nicotinamide, resveratrol, curcumin, epigallocatechin gallate, lithium orotate, and C8 caprylic acid. With active autophagy restored, we can increase resistance to disease and prolong lifespan.

By reducing chronic oxidative stress and stimulating autophagy, a cascade of beneficial cellular events is set into motion. This will trigger the very genes, cell-signaling molecules, and growth factors that can repair, rejuvenate, and replace aging brain, muscle, and immune-system cells. Some of these growth factors include brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and muscle regulatory factors (MRFs). BDNF protects existing neurons (brain cells) and induces dormant stem cells in the brain to become new neurons; stimulates new synaptic connections and enhances neuroplasticity, and improves cognitive function. MRFs signal satellite cells in the muscle to convert into new muscle cells.

If you’re ready to live a longer and healthier life, the first step is comprehensive bloodwork. The second step is completing a medical history form and biological age calculator. The third step is having all your vital signs measured, including blood pressure, resting heart rate, heart rate variability, body temperature, body mass index, waist-to-height ratio, respiratory rate, oxygen satura­tion, lung vital capacity, and grip strength. Together, all this information reveals your true state of health. For many, this important infor­mation provides a much-needed “wake-up call.”

The fourth and final step is sitting down with the right kind of doctor who can properly analyze this information and outline a plan to prevent and reverse disease, and maximize your health and longevity. This plan should not only be tailored to your distinct metabolism, hormone profile, genetics, per­sonal and family his­tory, lifestyle, and environment, it should also trigger your Adaptive Cell Stress Response Pathways.