Ask the typical person on the street about anti-aging and the first thing they think about is skin care. When you look at the real issues of aging or anti-aging, you must realize these involve issues both inside and outside the human body. The internal issues include a wide variety of diseases and self-induced attacks coupled with the body’s progressive demise resulting from continuous years of oxidative stress. The outside issues involve constant pressure put on the body by the environment including radiation, pollution, contaminants we ingest, and, again, our own self-induced attacks.
Our Internal Battle
The body is an amazing piece of work. There is a constant battle going on inside our bodies to maintain balance or chemical harmony. One of the primary battles is between free radicals (the bad guys), created by the normal chemical processes of the body, and antioxidants (the good guys), which work to rid the body of these harmful substances.
Why are we concerned about the free radicals? Just as an oxidation process causes rust on metals, our oxidation process causes “rust” or free radicals to build up. If free radicals are allowed to go unchecked, this will accelerate the body’s aging process and invariably build up causing inflammation and a degeneration of cellular DNA. Comparing cellular DNA of a person 5 years old and that same person at age 90 we typically find only 5% of the original DNA remains intact. This results in a breakdown in our immune systems, loss of energy, illnesses, and non-reproduction or reproduction of mutated cells.
Inflammation, alone, causes most major diseases and debilitating conditions associated with the aging process. These range from Alzheimer’s and Rheumatoid Arthritis to Cancers and Diabetes, just to name a few. And cellular DNA degeneration causes cells not to reproduce properly and even die, an entirely different major problem altogether!
Our energy creation process alone causes a chemical reaction or burning process in our cells. This burn, better known as oxidation, results in waste (free radicals), which must be dealt with by antioxidants. Antioxidants attack the free radicals rendering them harmless and in this state they may be flushed out as waste. Without this process, our lifespan would be severely limited. For example, let’s just look at one, glutathione, the body’s master antioxidant. If glutathione is depleted in the liver, the liver dies, and we, in turn die.
The Champion – Glutathione
Glutathione is said to perform as many as 27 different functions in preservation of the body including countering free radicals. Researchers have found during rigorous aerobic exercise, we use up 40% of our glutathione in the first 10 minutes! If no other health issues or age issues exist, the body merely replenishes itself. If there are health issues, nutrition issues, smoking, stress, drugs or alcohol, over-weight, age issues or any number of other challenges, these further deplete our glutathione reserves. Decreased glutathione levels are known to cause over 74 major diseases and conditions and the long-term effect of glutathione loss is death!
Our Degenerative Cycle
This problem is exasperated as the decreased glutathione results in major illnesses and, in turn, the illnesses themselves use up more glutathione. This results in a vicious degenerative health cycle. There is always a delicate balancing act going on inside our bodies with antioxidants being used up versus the body’s ability to replenish.
Our External Battle
Outside the body we have external forces also challenging this delicate process. The body concentrates glutathione in our skin and eyes to fight the harmful effects of the sun’s radiation. In the lungs, glutathione is concentrated to battle pollutants entering from the air we breath. Of course, we get involved in the process through smoking and the use of drugs. This use of drugs is not limited to alcohol or illegal drugs but also through the use or abuse of prescription drugs, which accelerate the use of antioxidants.
We also get involved in the process through foods we choose. Nutrients needed to replenish antioxidants are often not available because of poor diet choices. Even if chosen properly, our foods may not possess sufficient nutrients, the results of poor or over- farming practices or poor soils in which they are raised.
The Aging Process
Of course, there is always the issue of body’s ability or inability to absorb and process nutrients. As we age, starting around 25, we lose our capability to produce glutathione at the rate of 10-15% per decade. Under ideal conditions we may be on the low end of this scale, however, there are scientists today that believe with all the stresses and outside attacks on our body systems, we are living in an era where 15% loss may be the norm.
Medical science through research and innovation has given us a longer life. The problem is the quality of life of our last 20 years has decreased because of external challenges.
As you can see, anti-aging not only involves the extension of our life, but must also focuses on health issues caused by an imbalance in our internal processes. We need to correct the root causes of depletion and regeneration of antioxidants and there will be little or no need for addressing major health issues. Without addressing the depletion versus production cycle, medical science merely applies a “Band-Aid” to these problems.