Lots of people think that aging is going to happen irrespective of the decisions they make. 'It's in my genes,' or 'my Mom aged well' are things I hear all the time. The truth is that every human on this platform has their own aging mechanisms, and it is thought that 75% of these are driven by the environment we live in and the lifestyle decisions we make, and 25% of these are based on our genetics (study linked here). In fact, in 2015, a study also confirmed that "although some of the aspects of aging involve gene-related processes, aging is not linked with genes."
In today's article, I'm going to take you through this 101 guide on how to age well. Want to understand how to slow, reduce or offset aging? This one's for you.
Inflammation is a silent killer. It's something that you can't see or sometimes even feel, but it lays the foundations of so many problems in the body. A recent study went as far as to say that 'all human aging is characterized by a chronic, low-grade inflammation, and this phenomenon has been termed as 'inflammaging'. It's the understanding (off the back of overwhelming evidence) that a state of mild inflammation is associated with and predictive of so many states of aging, including changes in:
- Body structure, composition, and function
- Energy production
- Metabolism & metabolic balance
- Immunity & power of the immune system and
- Neuronal health
When inflammation is controlled, your body works well like the self-regulating, self-healing vehicle it is meant to. However, many things drive and flare inflammation in the body (a recent study linked here looks at these in more depth), and understanding these drivers is the first place to start. The most notable ones are frequent or excess alcohol intake, smoking, sugar intake, seed oils, toxic relationships, mental stress, suppressed emotional trauma as well as gut dysbiosis (an imbalance gut), and high levels of reactive oxygen species. These all drive inflammation within the body and so reducing your exposure to these is the first place to start.
To get inflammation levels under control, I always advise on overhauling your diet, reducing processed and sugar-based foods, understanding how your body and blood glucose react to the foods you eat, increasing your filtered water consumption, balancing your gut, taking a good probiotic, getting into therapy, and navigating and prioritizing healthy and self relationships in your life. Of course, you can fuel up with anti-inflammatory nutrients like EFAs, turmeric, and frankincense oil, but it's always important to not just use these to try to cancel out the high levels of inflammation your body might be experiencing.
Next up, is oxidative stress.
- Oxidative Stress
Oxidative stress is another process going on within the body that you can't see but that proponents of the concept believe to be a key driver in the aging process. In this school of thought, it is believed that the mitochondria and their function (or failure) contribute to the aging process. In fact, mitochondrial damage and dysfunction due to oxidative stress is considered one of the most significant contributors to aging. Read more here.
Oxidative stress is an imbalance in the body that is driven by stressors (often environmental stressors outside of the body) that cause cellular reactions within the body that create damaging and destructive free radicals. These free radicals are constantly being formed in the body (even by processes like exercise, digesting food, inflammation, pollution, sunburn, etc), and the body is quite used to fighting against these, particularly using free radical scavengers called antioxidants created within the body to protect against the harmful effects of oxidative stress (known as reactive oxygen species). Aging will occur when there is more oxidative stress than free radical scavengers and fighters fighting against it.
Again, like with inflammation, to manage oxidative stress, you want to be looking into reducing stress, getting good, high-quality sleep, having a good diet, reducing sun damage and sun exposure, and focusing on free radical battling activities like grounding and red light therapy. Again, like with antioxidants, you can look at supplementing with things like matcha, curcumin, resveratrol, quercetin, Vitamin C, and glutathione, but alongside supplementation, I'd always advise people to look into the root cause of their free radical exposure because increasing your antioxidant levels is just a band-aid approach if you don't look at what is actually driving the oxidative stress.
- Mitochondriopathy (mitochondrial damage)
Next up, energy. For many within the anti-aging community, it's believed that you need to keep your energy factories running at optimum levels, and so to slow the aging process, you need to support your mitochondrial pathways to keep the energy factories strong.
Mitochondria are the powerhouse of every single one of our cells and just like the gut, brain, and blood vessels, these can become leaky when they are not functioning properly - as well as weakening in power over time. You can focus on increasing mitochondria power by taking PQQ (pyrroloquinoline quinone), NAD+ (most frequently through a drip), and incorporating more good fats into your diet. Specialists advise eating 2-3 meals within an 8-10 hour window, reducing refined carbs and sugars, eating quality, pasture-raised protein, and eating good quality sources of omega-3s and alpha-lipoic acid, too.
Again, mitochondrial health at its source is fueled by the sun, movement of your body, and being out in nature, so make sure that you are prioritizing movement and getting outside where possible.
Autophagy is a cool concept that you can read more about here. It's the process in which a body cleans out unnecessary or damaged parts, cells, and components in a self-healing mechanism. A 2015 article published in Nature explains that autophagy is a natural process. It is basically getting rid of the weaker cells and replacing them with stronger / viable cells so that you can be more resilient to life and the internal and external stressors that come our way and impact our cellular function.
Some of my favorite ways to drive autophagy include:
- Intermittent fasting- because a dip in nutrients available to a cell gets them to work more efficiently. I prefer the 5:2 method (fasting only 2 of the 7 days of a week) and making sure that I eat dinner by 7pm and then waiting until lunch the next day to break my fast;
- Food & supplements - think cinnamon, garlic, chaga and reishi mushrooms, coffee, green tea, turmeric, ginger and more;
- Moderate exercise (mixing cardio, resistance training, and HIIT training) about 30 minutes a day. Be careful not to do this excessively, or you could negate the benefits.
- Hit the sauna - exposure to high temperatures can create heat shock proteins that stimulate the lymphatic system and that increase circulation within the body. This has been supported by Science Daily. I love an infrared sauna session.
So, while people think that aging just happens due to life getting in the way, our genetics taking over, or because of the products that perhaps we DIDN'T put on our face, it actually goes so much deeper.
Getting a handle on inflammation, oxidative stress, autophagy, and harnessing your mitochondrial power are four of the cornerstones to taking control of the aging process.
You can age well.
Love Jena x
***THESE STATEMENTS HAVE NOT BEEN APPROVED OR REGULATED BY THE FDA. WE ARE NOT DOCTORS; THEREFORE ALWAYS CONSULT WITH YOUR DOCTOR FIRST****