The Aging Process
Aging is a process of life that cannot be stopped. Unfortunately, as the human body ages, its natural reaction is to deteriorate and cause degenerative issues that can affect quality of life.
While there are many serious health issues out there to deal with, many people in today’s world are focused on helping their bodies look and feel much younger. Not only does this give them a better quality of life, but it also ensures that they will be less likely to face these degenerative issues later on in life.
What many people don’t realize is that defying the aging process isn’t just about appearance. Most people see the term and think of facial serums, cosmetic treatments, and other solutions to make skin look younger, but that’s just one small part of the overall plan.
The rest involves making the entire body feel and function younger and healthier despite what time is doing in the aging process.
The age defying process has many elements to consider, which you must understand as a whole, not just the separate parts. Would you rather have a younger looking face thanks to some topical cream or a healthier, more youthful body that can keep your complexion looking great for years to come?
If we start from the inside out, the results will be much longer lasting and more successful when it comes to anti-aging.
Some scientists and physicians suggest that aging is a ‘disease’ – this is an unfair description. Aging is not a disease but part of the process of life itself. You cannot reverse aging but you can help slow it down to an optimal level in which nature intended.
So, how long should we live for? This is a subject of much debate and disagreement. Some scientists claim extraordinary spans of 200+ years. However, this is really in the realm of science fiction.
The position of Xtend-Life is that it is possible to live to the projected maximum human life span of 120 years. To achieve this, your life has to be well balanced – your lifestyle, diet, exercise regime, nutrient intake and the environment you live in have to be as close as possible to optimal. In addition to this, it is best to avoid excess stress in your life.
Over the next few decades we will see people achieving the age of 120 years in good health. Only in recent years scientists have really gained understanding of what causes us to age at the rate that we do.
As a nutritional / supplement company, we focus on what your body needs to ensure optimal nutrient intake to support a healthy functioning body. Our aim is to ensure that you have a natural and adequate supply of the correct nutrients, and your body is in the best condition to accept and metabolize these nutrients. With this in mind, you can help support your body’s ability to manage Free Radicals, Glycation, Methylation, and Chronic Inflammation.
In order to understand free radicals and how they work, you first have to understand the chemical bonding process in the body.
Simply put, atoms are the very basic elements of our bodies, which make up molecules. Molecules in turn, make up the cells in the body.
Atoms are notorious for their stability, and strive to achieve stability at every level. The goal of any atom is to be balanced so that the molecule is not volatile or unstable.
How Free Radicals Work
Free radicals are atoms or molecules that are missing an electron. All atoms and molecules have electrons in pairs. When an atom or molecule is missing an electron, it is unbalanced and unhappy and is considered to be in a state of oxidation. These unstable molecules are highly reactive and quick to react with other molecules, stealing electrons from them to gain stability.
However, in the process, free radicals leave the attacked molecule unstable, creating another free radical and a subsequent chain reaction and causing oxidative stress within the cell. If the chain reaction is not stopped, this can eventually result in damage to cellular membranes and other organelles within the cell. A damaged cell is unable to function at its best and is which causes the visible signs of aging.
Where Do Free Radicals Come From?
There are many things that can cause a molecule to become oxidized and trigger a free radical.
Not all free radicals are bad, and sometimes free radicals are created by the body for particular purposes such as:
- Defending against microbes
- Breaking down fatty acids
- Creation of energy in the mitochondria
- Creation of prostaglandins
The problem isn’t when we create free radicals as part of our process of living, it’s when we get a whole bunch of free radical creation from other external factors.
The following is a partial list of the external sources that can cause free radicals:
- Cigarette smoke
- Air pollutants
- Industrial solvents
- Radiation such as x-rays and UV light
- High levels of oxygen
What are Antioxidants?
Antioxidants are substances that donate an electron to a free radical in order to bring the receiving molecule into balance and out of an oxidative state.
Antioxidants identify free radicals in the body and give them what they need to help support the body’s ability to manage healthy cells, tissue and nerve cell damage.
You can find these antioxidants in everyday fruits and vegetables, but they are also available from supplements if you’re not capable of getting your daily dose of fruits and vegetables.
Examples of Antioxidants
The following is a list of antioxidants and the best sources for them:
- A / carotenoids: apricots, broccoli, cantaloupe, carrots, dark green leafy vegetables, romaine lettuce, peas, sweet peppers, sweet potato and winter squash
- C: bell peppers, broccoli, brussels sprouts, dark green leafy vegetables, guava, kiwi, orange, papaya, pineapple, strawberries
- E (aka, tocopherols): almonds, asparagus, avocado, dark green leafy vegetables, olive oil, peanuts, shrimp, spinach, sunflower seeds, trout
- Copper: cashews chickpeas (aka, garbanzo beans), lentils, lima beans, mushrooms, oysters, sesame seeds, soybeans, sunflower seeds, walnuts
- Iron: beef (especially liver), poultry (especially liver), pork, oysters, clams, shrimp, eggs, beans / legumes, dark green leafy vegetables, molasses
- Manganese: bass, brown rice, chickpeas, cloves, hazelnuts, mussels, pineapple, pumpkin seeds, soybeans, spinach
- Selenium: beef, brazil nuts (especially!), fish, lamb, mushrooms, oysters, pork, poultry, sunflower seeds, trout
- Zinc: beef, cashews, cocoa, crab, lobster, oysters (especially!), pork, poultry, spinach, wheat germ
- Thiols (aka sulfur-containing compounds which are found in the onion family and cruciferous vegetables)
- Glutathione : internal creation, whey protein, milk thistle, in addition to sulfur-containing foods
- Alpha Lipoic Acid: internal creation, organ meats, spinach, broccoli, tomatoes, peas, brussels sprouts
- Thioredoxin: internal creation
- Plant polyphenols like resveratrol and catechins: colorful fruits and vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, green tea and herbal teas
- Ubiquinol (aka, coenzyme Q10): broccoli, cauliflower, chicken, fatty fish (ex:herring, mackerel, sardines), meat (especially organ meat), peanuts, pistachios, sesame seeds, spinach, soybeans
- Uric acid: internal creation
- Metallothionein: internal creation
There are literally hundreds of antioxidants, all with varying levels of potency. For example, the common vitamins A, C and E are all antioxidants, but they are quite weak, likewise selenium. They are all necessary but not as potent as L-Glutathione.
The body can produce L-Glutathione (providing your internal systems are functioning ok and it is given the necessary precursors) but sometimes supplementation is required.
However, supplementation with L-Glutathione is not effective in most supplements for two reasons. One is that it has to be taken in the special ‘reduced’ form. This is a smaller molecular size as the ‘normal’ L-Glutathione will not pass through the intestinal walls into the blood stream. This reduced form is a lot more expensive than the normal L-Glutathione and few manufacturers use it.
The second reason is that it must be protected as it passes through the stomach before being released in the upper intestine. This is the only place that L-Glutathione when taken orally can be effective. This means that the supplement must be in the form of an enteric coated tablet and the nutrient released in the upper intestine.
However, free radical control is only one part the answer in avoiding premature aging and degenerative disease.
Glycation is even more dangerous to your health than free radicals. It is important that you understand what it is and how it is caused.
In order to appreciate the problems associated with glycation there are some basic biological facts that you need to be aware of.
Firstly, the role that proteins play in your body.
Proteins are valuable biological molecules which are found in almost every part of your body and have a variety of functions. They are present inside the cells making the life of the cell possible. Without them you would not survive as these proteins are needed to carry oxygen and nutrients to the tissues.
Proteins are made up of strings of different amino acids. To function properly they need to be ‘free agents’. In other words they need to remain as singular molecules to move around and perform their tasks.
However, proteins have ‘enemies’ that they are exposed to every day. These ‘enemies’ are in the form of glucose molecules, sugars, and similar chemicals known as aldehydes. All these molecules can be referred to loosely as glycating agents.
These ‘enemies’ try to attach themselves to protein molecules. When they do this it is the start of a dangerous situation. Why? Well, when the glycating agent attaches itself to a protein molecule the ‘combined molecule’ is a bit like a particle floating around with a bit of superglue stuck to it.
If that bit of ‘glue’ comes into contact with another protein then that combined molecule may then attach itself to that ‘free agent’ protein in a process referred to as ‘cross linking’.
Advanced Glycation End-products (AGE)
The reason why this cross linking is so bad is because now instead of having two good proteins to help the overall health of your body and prevent premature aging, you now have what is referred to by bio-chemists as a ‘grotesque’ molecule known as an AGE which is short for Advanced Glycation End-products.
These AGEs are real troublemakers! They move around the body binding to cells and causing a number of issues. AGEs also increase the formation of amyloid beta which is a toxic material found in the brains of older people and abundant in Alzheimers and dementia patients.
As well, AGEs stimulate the production of free radicals which in turn can create more aldehydes which in turn stimulates more glycation and so, a vicious cycle can continue to accelerate unless you are aware of it and do all that you can to slow down this process which causes aging and degenerative disease.
This process also contributes to heart disease by thickening artery walls. and it will make you look old before your time because the skin proteins and collagen clump together and then collapse, resulting in wrinkles!
There are three actions that you can take:
- Minimizing your intake of glycating foods such as simple carbohydrates and sugars.
- Inactivating the aldehydes (glue) before they attach themselves to the protein.
- Preventing the protein which has already got ‘glue’ on it from sticking to another protein.
The first action is self explanatory. The next two are fortunately possible thanks to recent scientific discoveries using a dipeptide known as Carnosine.
Benefits of Carnosine
It has two unique abilities. One, is that it has an ability to attach to glycating ‘agents’ and neutralize them. The remaining ability allows it to put a shield around a protein molecule which already has a glycating agent attached to it. By providing that shield it prevents that protein molecule from ‘cross-linking’ with another protein molecule and forming an AGE.
No other natural substance has yet been discovered that can perform this task, other than Carnosine. Vitamins such as C and E although helpful for free radicals do nothing to help prevent glycation! Same applies to other antioxidants.
At this stage it’s important that you don’t forget the other two critical issues that you need to be aware of — Methylation & Chronic Inflammation.
If your body's methylation is not working at an optimal level it will translate into many different health problems and will accelerate your aging process.
What is methylation?
In simple terms it is a process in which certain chemicals called ‘methyl groups’ are added to various constituents of proteins, DNA and other molecules. These are needed to keep them in good ‘working’ condition.
For example, if the ‘feel-good’ brain chemical serotonin is not methylated it will become inactive which in turns leads to low moods! This is just one of the many ‘chemicals’ in the body that need to be methylated and if they are not, can lead to serious health consequences.
Probably the most important methylation process is when it is applied to homocysteine! Homocysteine is a byproduct of an important amino acid methionine and is what remains when methionine is used to methylate your proteins and DNA. Homocysteine needs to be methylated to convert it back to methionine to keep the cycle going.
As we age the methylation processes in our bodies start getting ‘tired’ and become less efficient with a resulting build-up of homocysteine, cellular damage and the development of other flow on effects.
As with everything related to successful aging, methylation must be balanced. Too much can be as bad as too little. Fortunately your body will balance your methylation processes providing that you give it the support to perform the task.
There are three groups of compounds that help support the body’s ability to manage methylation with varying levels of efficacy. They are the B Vitamins, B6, B12 and folic acid, Tri-Methyl-Glycine TMG, (also known as Betaine), and SAMe.
The B Vitamins are important but more in the capacity of co-factors rather than being a solution for methylation in their own right. This is because as we get older these vitamins tend to become a bit ‘sluggish’ and as such progressively less effective.
By far the most effective methylating agent is SAMe which stands for S-Adenosyl-Methionine and is a natural chemical found in all living cells. It is formed in the body by combining the amino acid methionine and ATP (adenosine triphosphate). The science confirming the effectiveness of SAMe as the best methylating agent is indisputable.
It can be taken as a supplement but it is not readily available for two reasons. One is that it MUST be taken in enteric coated form because SAMe is particularly susceptible to stomach acids and two that it is very expensive.
Do not forget that methylation is only one important component. Out of the four main causes of aging, there is one more left — Chronic Inflammation.
As well as your body having to deal with free radicals, glycation and methylation it also has to fight against chronic inflammation. This is an ongoing battle which is being waged every second of the day.
As with the other three concerns (free radicals, glycation and methylation), the cause of chronic inflammation cannot be narrowed down to one thing only. All four issues are interrelated.
If it is not managed, chronic inflammation will wreak havoc in your body. In fact, some scientists believe that chronic inflammation is the cause of most age related damage. This is because excessive inflammation causes toxic chemicals which eat away body tissues, thus leading to heart disease, dementia, arthritis and diabetes just to mention a few.
For example, let’s take MDA (malondialdehyde). MDA is a dangerous chemical byproduct formed in your body as a result of the action of free radicals on the fatty membranes of your cells. It is a major factor in the production of AGEs from glycation. This same chemical, MDA, is also implicated in chronic inflammation.
This perhaps helps show you how nothing works in isolation.
Using the example of MDA. If you reduce the free radicals in your body then you will reduce the oxidation of your cell membranes which will in turn reduce the formation of MDA which in turn will reduce glycation and thus the formation of AGEs and this will help reduce chronic inflammation. In other words, cut the supply line.
However, it is not possible to control all the free radicals so no matter how many antioxidants you take MDA is still going to form and will continue to attempt to produce AGEs which in turn can contribute to chronic inflammation. So, this is why you have to ensure that you address chronic inflammation in addition to the above mentioned three concerns.
Human Growth Hormone (HGH)
HGH by injection has been touted as being the proverbial 'fountain of youth'. It is available only by prescription. This injection contains a synthetically produced hormone identical to human growth hormone.
It became popular after a study by Dr Daniel Rudeman, which was published in the New England Journal. This study found that over a short period of time there were improvements in the obvious signs of aging in most of the subjects participating. Some 'experts' suggested it was equivalent to turning back the clock by 20 years.
However, it was a short study and most of the participants ultimately withdrew. Dr Rudeman is long deceased.
Whereas HGH injections have applications in specific cases where the patients' own natural production of HGH is impaired, it is not the 'fountain of youth' originally suggested and indeed has possible dangerous implications for healthy adults.
HGH injections have many potential side effects. Amongst others these include:
- High blood pressure
- Soft tissue swelling
- Thickening of the skin, abnormal hair growth
- Glucose intolerance
- Muscle weakness
- Breathing problems
- Skin problems, rash or itchy or swollen skin
- Premature aging and death
The use of HGH injections also has the potential to shut down your own natural production of HGH. Should this happen, once your injections are discontinued, you are left with no natural HGH production resulting in a rapid deterioration of all your organs along with accelerated aging.
The American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists has warned that the clinical use of growth hormone as an anti aging treatment or for patients with ordinary obesity is not recommended.
HGH Human Growth Hormone — 'natural' hype
Over recent years a Homeopathic form of HGH has been marketed extensively. These Homeopathic supplements contain synthesized HGH in minute quantities (around 1/200,000th of the dose used in the original studies by Danial Rudeman who was actually using injectable HGH in his study).
Most scientists believe that these products cannot possibly work because, if taken sublingually (dissolved under the tongue), the HGH molecule is simply too large to get through the membranes of your mouth and, if taken orally, the molecule would not survive the passage to the stomach.
Many unscrupulous companies market HGH in this form, misleading customers with unrelated studies believing this to be enough to persuade them that a homeopathic 'spray' version is the solution. However, again scientists warn that this will be ineffective because the molecule is so sensitive it could not survive in such a form.
There are NO studies supporting the efficacy of these forms of HGH.
The marketers of the homeopathic HGH products are not the only ones to mislead the consumer about the 'benefits' of their products. There is another group that use the results of Dr Rudeman's short study and relate it to a totally different product. These products are known as HGH precursors, which are a cocktail of amino acids and are sold globally as supplemental products.
High doses of these amino acids can and do raise your levels of HGH temporarily which is measured by Insulin Growth Factor - 1 (IGF-1) IF you are still young. But they become less effective as you reach the age of 40 and most people over 50 get limited if any benefit.
Some promoters of these products show convincing graphs of increases in IGF-1 levels. However, what is withheld is the information that these levels can and do fall back to original levels after a few months — and often end up lower than what they were before starting the program.
This potentially has serious long-term negative effects.
HGH is NOT a 'fountain of youth' and as indicated above could actually be detrimental to your health.
You can maintain high natural levels of HGH without taking either HGH in injectable form or as high dose amino acid precursors and it can be done naturally whilst enhancing your overall health.