Aging is inevitable consequence of being alive but is there a way we can slow the ticking clock? I believe slowing inflammation will slow down aging. Remember aging is unavoidable and unfortunately as we age inflammation rises, but healthy aging is also achievable target by following some simple steps. One scientifically proven way to slow aging is to combat hidden or obvious inflammation. Based on latest scientific evidence inflammation is now considered the mother of all ailments and when it comes with accelerated aging; it is called “Inflamaging”. This is an area of immense interest among scientists and physicians looking for a window of opportunity when inflammation is on the rise causing accelerated aging.
Inflammation and aging combined together cause oxidative damage to cellular genetic material and denature DNA material resulting in production of promoter genes which produce pro-inflammatory cells and decrease our host defensive cells. These two processes determine our vulnerability to aging and autoimmunity. To make it more complex adipose (fat) tissues around waist and around internal organs also becomes a storage house of inflammatory cells. Inflammation eventually affects our brains hypothalamic pituitary axis which serves as a processor for maintaining hormonal balance. Inflammation causes bursts of cortisol eventually leading to burnt out adrenal glands. All of this chaos leads accelerated aging and frailty by decreasing muscle mass, cancers and autoimmune diseases.
To combat aging, I have introduced a stepwise protocol called “RISE and SHINE”. First let’s go over the RISE part of the protocol. First step is to Reduce Inflammation; achieve it by reducing and even eliminating food with high inflammation factor (IF) such as animal fats, processed foods and sugar. I encourage Mediterranean style nutrition rich in omega 3 fatty acids such as EPA and DHA. Certain botanicals like Turmeric and Ginger also act as anti-inflammatory agents.
Second step is to Reduce Stress which is achieved by developing positive attitude, regular exercise, meditation, and biofeedback. Incorporate massage, Tai chi, yoga all of these modalities have proven benefits. If needed adding natural adaptogens herbs like Panax Ginseng, Eleutherococcus and Rhodiola help adapt to various forms of stress.
Third Step is to Reduce Exhaustion (Fatigue) which can be helped with increasing energy production and reducing oxidative DNA damage. Natural adaptogens mentioned above along medicinal mushrooms can help with energy production and supply chain. Nutritional support can further be supported by adding B complex, B12, multivitamin with minerals. Acetyl- L-carnitine contributes to conversion of fatty acids in to energy cycle. Alpha-Lipoic acid helps reduce oxidative stress and improves mitochondrial function. Another source of energy is Coenzyme Q10 consumed as Ubiquinol. NADH and D-Ribose are also widely used supplements to provide energy.
In my approach; I have modified SHINE protocol which was initially introduced by a well renowned physician named Jacob Teitelbaum MD. To address pain, inflammation and aging this approach has all important steps which can deliver results. Let’s go over steps involved in SHINE; S for SLEEP whichis first and foremost. Sleep is usually under rated and ignored in our hectic lifestyle and most of time we assume we can easily catch up on lost sleep. But remember quantity and quality both matter equally. In my opinion, poor sleep is one of the most important factors for accelerated aging and inflammation. Consider simple ways to improve sleep hygiene such as avoiding coffee after 5pm and avoiding alcohol or exercise too close to bedtime. I avoid use of prescription medications but encourage combination of melatonin with calming herbs such as Valerian, Passion flower and lemon balm. L- Theonine also helps with restful sleep without the adverse effects and addiction potential.
H for HORMONE is next issue; remember that there is a constant surge of cortisol caused by inflammation. This persistent adrenal rush causes a sense of anxiety and fright. This leads to unhealthy high levels of adrenaline and eventually leads to decreased immunity and frailty. High levels of cortisol need to be counteracted. This can be done by use of anti-inflammatory diet, DHEA supplementation under close supervision. Make sure your all vital hormones are at adequate level such as thyroid, estrogen and testosterone levels. There are functional medicine tests for hormones and neurotransmitter evaluation.
I for INFECTION, IMMUNITY & INTESTINE: You may want to overcome include infections such as untreated lyme disease or recurrent lung or urine infections. Chronic fungal infections, allergies and food sensitivities can be detected through immunologic testing. Avoiding infections with use natural antibacterial, compound found in garlic called Allicin is also helpful. As you age, immunity starts to crumble due to ongoing stress so make sure you are taking adequate multivitamins, anti oxidants such as Glutathione, Zinc, Vitamin C, E (alpha tocopherols) and Lycophene.
Intestinal health is very important aspect of inflammation process. It is believed that our GI track has the biggest collection of immune cells monitoring what goes in our body. GI inflammation is lined to development of leaky gut called dysbiosis. It is triggered by food allergies, prolonged use of medications such as NSAIDs. I check for celiac disease and other food sensitivities which may be contributing to GI inflammation. I suggest prebiotics and probiotics which help maintain healthy flora in your intestines and prevent GI inflammation. Glutamine, an amino acid is found to be very beneficial for GI health.
N is for NUTRITION; I recommend looking for nutritional deficiency and reducing processed foods. I inform patients about avoiding food which have been contaminated by insecticides and give out the ‘Dirty Dozen’ list created by EWG.org.
E for EXERCISES: Last but not least is regular exercise, single most important factor to slow the clock of aging. It is seen that aging population who remains active has less complications related to cardiovascular disease and dementia. So “Use it or lose it” was true then and even truer now in our industrialized world. So no matter what you do, don’t be a couch potato; just stay active and enjoy physical activity, soon you will feel natural endorphins kicking in to keep you young at heart, soul and body. So don’t delay, lets help you Rise and Shine