published in U.S. News and World Report, nutritionist Dr. Jonny Bowden identifies the four main causes of aging in the human body as free radicals, inflammation, glycation and stress.
While DNA and genetics play a minor role, poor diet and lifestyle directly contribute to the leading causes of mortality, coronary artery disease, cancer, stroke, and dementia. Fortunately we can steer our destiny toward optimal health even after years of dietary and lifestyle abuse by addressing each identified aging factor.
Neutralizing the Effects of Free Radicals
Consuming a natural food diet packed with organically grown fresh vegetables, leafy greens, nuts and seeds is the best way to combat free radicals. These foods are loaded with antioxidants which act to neutralize the free radicals before they penetrate our cells. Choose from a wide variety of brightly colored vegetables to benefit from an assortment of antioxidants.
Damping Systemic Inflammation
Following a Mediterranean-style diet of whole grains, olive oil, fatty fish, vegetables, and minimally cooked meats has been shown to dramatically lower the effects of inflammation. It’s important to limit refined carbohydrates and sugar with this diet, as these cause dramatic spikes in blood sugar and lead to insulin resistance that are known to promote inflammation.
Prevent Damaging Glycation
Sugar mixes with proteins in our body to create non-functional structures call advanced glycation end products (AGE’s) which accelerate the aging process. AGE’s enter our body either pre-formed from over cooked, browned foods or as a result of chemical reactions in the blood. Regardless of how they form, AGE’s result in cellular damage and cause disease.
You can fight the effects of glycation with a two-step approach. Steam vegetables instead of stir frying and avoid grilling or blackening foods. Limit or eliminate sugar in your diet to prevent the cross-links which bind proteins and fats, making useless molecular garbage which inhibits normal cellular function.
Lower Your Stress Level
Continual stress forces the release of stress hormones in the body which help us cope under pressure. Stress which remains unresolved leads to excess cortisol circulating throughout the body, and is linked with shrinking of the hippocampus and accumulation of belly fat. Combat stress by identifying and removing the root cause, and try practicing meditation or yoga which are known to reduce stress. Aim for 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night to further lower stress hormone production.
Alternative health practitioners have come to understand that aging is a disease that is accelerated by poor diet and lifestyle. Each of the identified factors which promote poor health and disease are preventable by following a natural diet of fresh vegetables, healthy uncooked fats, nuts, seeds and protein sources. The body has an amazing capacity to reverse the aging process caused by decades of dietary abuse by following the path to life extending, natural health.