Beating The Aging Odds
Marcia Zimmerman, M.Ed., CN
All of us grow older, but aging is a choice. You have it in your power to retain much of the health, vitality and beauty of your youth. It boils down to a simple fact - retard oxidative stress and you’ll retard the aging process. The 70 million people who make up the “Boomer” generation and are getting ready for an active retirement welcome this news.
Stress and Cortisol
The early twentieth century “stress doctor” Hans Selye, M.D. was renowned for his work on the human adaptive response and the effects of stress on aging. He taught that every stress leaves an indelible scar, and the organism pays for its survival after a stressful situation by becoming a little older. That’s because stress raises levels of the adrenal hormone cortisol. It increases internal generation of free radicals, disrupts normal metabolism and leads to aging conditions. Because of this, cortisol has been dubbed the age-accelerating hormone.
The more stressful our lifestyle and the level of environmental hazards we are exposed to, the higher cortisol levels will climb in an effort to jump-start our adaptive response. Coupled with a poor diet, this is a recipe for pre-mature aging. At least eleven major aging factors are related to high cortisol levels:
- Breakdown of collagen and elastin in muscles, joints, and bone
- Memory loss and reduced cognitive function
- Increased cardiovascular risk
- Hypertension and fluid retention
- Disordered lipid metabolism (total cholesterol, triglycerides, HDL to LDL ratio)
- Decreased immune function
- Increased inflammation (vascular network, allergies, asthma, arthritis)
- Hormone imbalances
- Disordered sugar metabolism
- Skin problems (wrinkling, psoriasis, seborrhea, acne and hair loss)
- Nerve system damage
So, there you have it. Now let’s see how to tame cortisol and reduce oxidative stress.
Reducing Cortisol and Oxidative Stress
Be in the moment - Stress reducing techniques such as meditation, prayer, visualization, yoga, Chi Gong, and listening to inspirational tapes induce calmness and a sense of balance.
Eat right for your genes - As we get older, we don’t digest animal proteins as efficiently as when younger. Shifting to plant source proteins that are easier to digest and contain the full complement of vitamins and minerals is most desirable. We are accustomed to thinking of dairy, meat, poultry, and fish as “proteins.” All vegetables are good sources of protein. Along with legumes, whole grains, and nuts, daily protein needs are easily fulfilled. Meals that combine a variety of tastes from plant foods also require less salt for flavour enhancement and this helps keep hypertension at bay. So, explore just how good meals can be that either do not contain meat or use it as a condiment. If you do need some salt, try substituting table salt with NOW’s Potassium Chloride crystals.
Enzymes Increase Digestion - Use digestive enzymes such as Serrazimes to insure that you are absorbing all the nutrients in your food. They reduce the small proteins (peptides) that cross into the blood stream, thus reducing allergies. Serrazimes also help keep lymphatics clear of debris, support immune function, and boost your adaptive response to stress.
Tame Cortisol - As many people reach middle age they have a tendency to gain weight around the navel. High stress amps up levels of cortisol that results in increased girth. Middle body fat is considered a significant risk factor for impaired glucose metabolism and cardiovascular disease. Check your waist to hip ratio by dividing your waist measurement in inches by your hip measurement. If you have a ratio of 0.85 or below, you have lower risk of insulin resistance and cardiovascular disease. This measurement is one of the best indicators of cortisol induced metabolic syndrome and weight gain.
Super Cortisol Support with Relora is an herbal, vitamin and mineral formula that’s designed to fight mid-body fat by taming cortisol. Its key ingredients are herbal extracts of Phellodendron amurense and Magnolia officinalis. A small double blind clinical trial found that pre-menopausal obese women - half of whom took Relora - lost a significant amount of weight. These were women who eat in response to stress. Thus the researchers proposed that Relora appeared to reduce cortisol and perceived stress, resulting in weight loss. Super Cortisol Support also contains Ashwagandha and Rhodiola, herbs traditionally used for increasing adaptive response and reducing stress. You can read about these effects in the book 7-Syndrome Healing: Supplement Essentials for Mind and Body. My co-author for this book is Jayson Kroner. Order your copy from NOW.
Additionally, Chinese scientists found that the active components in Relora called honokiol and magnolol delayed gastric emptying, which would make you feel full longer. An additional anti-aging benefit was observed by another group of Chinese scientists. They reported that honokiol is a potent arterial thrombosis inhibitor because it inhibits prostacyclin release; a promoter of platelet adhesion. Platelet stickiness increases stroke risk. Phellodendron and Magnolia have been used in Chinese medicine for centuries.
Quell Free Radicals - Health and longevity essentially rests on the body balance between free radical load and antioxidant reserves. Toxic exposure depletes some of your antioxidant reserves. Eating a diet rich in antioxidant fruits, vegetables, legumes and grains, helps you rebound. Continued toxic exposure will challenge your antioxidant status and may overwhelm your reserves. VitaBerry Plus+ is a powerful antioxidant formula that contains a range of high ORAC fruits that naturally augment the diet. ORAC stands for oxygen radical absorbance capacity. It is a measure of the ability of a food to quell oxygen free radicals, the most dangerous kind.
Tru-E Bio Complex rounds out the antioxidant colours. It contains all eight tocopherols and eight tocotrienols in the natural ratios found in “tan” foods such as whole grains and legumes. It is the only natural vitamin E that is produced from soy that has not been genetically modified.
The best anti-aging advice I can pass on is from my friend and food columnist Joan Jackson. “Take Pleasure in Your Life TODAY and Enjoy What You Eat.”
Stipanuk, MH; “Protein Synthesis and Degradation.” Biochemical and Physiological Aspects of Human Nutrition. Philadelphia, PA; WB Saunders Co., 2000, pp 225-229.
Scheufele, PM; “Effects of progressive relaxation and classical music on measurements of attention, relaxation, and stress response.” J Behav Med 2000; 23:207-228.
Bale, TL; et al; “A new role for corticotropin-releasing factor-2. Suppression of vascularization.” Trends Cardiovasc Med 2003;13:68-71.
Taylor, CB; et al; “Psychochysiological and cortisol responses to psychological stress in depressed and nondeprressed older men and woman with elevated cardiovascular disease risk.” Psychosom Med. 2006;68:538-46.
Esch, T; et al; “Stress in cardiovascular disease.” Med Sci Monit 2002;8:RA93-RA101.
Agren, JJ; et al; “Fish diet, fish oil and docosahexaenoic acid rich oil lower fasting and postprandial plasma lipid levels.” Eur J Clin Nutr 1996;50:765-771.
Sacerdote, P; et al; “Cholescystokinin and the immune system; receptor-mediated chemotaxis of human and rat monocytes.” Peptides 1988: (suppl 1):29-34.
Chandra RK; “Nutrition and the immune system from birth to old age.” Eur J Clin Nutr 2002;56(suppl):S73-76.
Calcagni, E; Elenkov, I; “Stress system activity, innate and T helper cytokines, and susceptibility to immune-related diseases.” Ann N Y Acad Sci 2006;1069:62-76.
Geenen, R; et al; “The impact of stressors on health status and hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis and autonomic nervous system responsiveness in rheumatoid arthritis.” Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2006;1069:77-97.
Harbuz, MS; et al; “Stress in autoimmune disease models.” Ann N Y Acad Sci 2006;1069:51-61.
Carrasco, GA; Van de Kar, LD; “Neuroendocrine pharmacology of stress.” Eur J Pharmacol 2003;463:235-272.
Abbasi, F; et al; “Relationship between obesity, insulin resistance, and coronary heart disease.” J Am Coll Cardiol 2003;40:937-943.
Zouboulis, CC; et al; Corticotropin-releasing hormone: an autocrine hormone that promotes lipogenesis in human sebocytes. Proc. Natl Acad Sci USA 2002;99:7148-7153.
Arck, PD; et al; “Neuroimmunology of stress: skin takes center stage.” J Invest Dermatol 2006;126:1697-704.
Salford, LG; et al; Nerve cell damage in mammalian brain after exposure to microwaves form GSM mobile phones. Environ Health Perspec 2003.
Duclos, M; et al; “Increased cortisol bioavailability, abdominal obesity, and the metabolic syndrome in obese women.” Obesity Res 2005;13:1157-1166.
Garrison, R; Chambliss, WG; “Effect of a proprietary Magnolia and Phellodendron extract on weight management: a pilot, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial.” Altern Ther Health Med 2006;12:50-4.
Wei-Wei Zhang; et al; “Effects of magnolol and honokiol derived from traditional Chinese herbal remedies on gastrointestinal movement.” World J Gastroenterol 2005;11:4414-4418.
He Hu; et al; “Honokiol inhibits arterial thrombosis through endothelial cell protection and stimulation of prostacyclin.” Acta Pharmacologica Sinica 2005;26:1063-1068.
Zimmerman, M; “Introduction” 7-Color Cuisine: Making healthy, colorful foods a lifestyle for nutrition and good eating. Chico, California January 2007, Nutrition Solution Press.