Discovering longevity genes and activating them gave us hope that we could extend our lives. The Foxx genes and the Sirt2 genes are thought to be responsible for great health and a long life—the kind of health that would allow people to drink and smoke to their delight yet reap no adverse consequences. People without these genes, on the other hand, suffer premature negative health consequences despite eating healthy foods and exercising appropriately. Activating these genes is like activating an internal maintenance team that fixes almost any damage in our body before bad health sets in. When scientists discovered resveratrol and rapamycin, we had glimpses of turning these and other genes on in animals and other primitive life forms. But translating this information to humans has been more difficult.
Finding optimal health and slowing the aging process down is like cracking the code that opens up a combination safe full of energy, feeling good, looking good, pleasant mood, restful sleep, and improved libido. The combination is different for every person because our health is so individualized. We must be our own superintendents. Our minds must be the supervisor of the maintenance teams. The maintenance workers must be the appropriate whole foods, amino acids, medicinal oils, vitamins, minerals, nutraceuticals, and drugs. We must use our minds to control our health and to mimic these longevity genes. We must use all the tools in our toolbox if we want to extend our lives and enjoy an optimal quality of life for as long as possible. We must use medicinal diets first, natural products second, drugs, and hormones third. All these approaches should be based on medical studies and in alignment with what up-to-date medical experts say.
There are ten areas in which we can intervene with natural products to bring us back into alignment with the vibrant health of our youth. The natural products used to optimize these ten areas of health are the combination codes for opening up a vault fault full of energy, health, great mood, and looking and feel good. This combination code is based on our genetics and our lifestyle. It is different for everyone.
There are overt and subclinical vitamin deficiencies. Most people over 50 have some sort of vitamin deficiency due to malabsorption of nutrients and lifestyle. We know these deficiencies are real because they show up in blood tests at low levels. The most common deficiencies are vitamin D, magnesium, and phosphate. Sometimes they show up as disease symptoms. The B vitamin deficiencies are common causes of neurological problems, such as Wernicke’s encephalitis, migraines, and other neuropathies.
To maintain excellent health, our vitamin levels must be in the perfect range—not too high and not too low. Who is at risk of falling out of the perfect zone? I write about signs and symptoms that can manifest when these individual and specific levels fall out of range.
What are overt symptoms and subclinical symptoms of vitamin deficiencies? Subclinical vitamin deficiencies mimic signs of old age, but they are not signs of old age. They include frequent colds and infections, low energy levels, brain fog, and other mysterious symptoms. Overt symptoms of deficiencies are obvious signs that medical practitioners can detect, such as rickets, scurvy, neurologic damage, pellagra, and anemia, to name a few.
We must dispel the myth that more vitamins are necessarily better. When a low vitamin level is restored to normal, miraculous things happen. When a normal vitamin level is elevated, good things rarely happen, and sometimes, bad things happen
Two: Correcting Excessive Oxidative States with Antioxidants before Damage Sets In
What is an antioxidant? Imagine hydrogen peroxide poured onto an open wound. The liquid forms bubbles as it consumes dead or infected flesh. The right amount cleans up the wound. But if the hydrogen peroxide solution is too strong and excessive, damage to healthy tissue also takes place. Our bodies normally make the perfect amount of natural hydrogen peroxide to keep our tissues clean. However, too much or too little of this natural hydrogen peroxide is not good for us. Studies have shown that in healthy individuals, antioxidant use can have negative effects, but in certain disease states, especially diabetes, antioxidants can improve health.
The Gut: The Three: Beginning of Good Health
Many doctors believe that a healthy gut is the foundation of good health. There are six ways our gut affects our health. Biochemical reactions take place in the gut, the immune system is located here, leaky gut contributes to systemic inflammation, latent infections or dysbiosis can occur here, toxin and waste removal occur in the gut, and the gut extracts nutrients from the foods that we are digesting. Which natural products optimize the gut and keep it running in top condition?
Four: Controlling Systemic Inflammation with Natural Supplements
Many antiaging experts believe systemic inflammation accelerates bad health into a downward spiral. Systemic inflammation is also thought to be responsible for body aches, swelling, puffiness under the eyes, skin eruptions, and redness—to name just a few things. Natural products have been shown to reduce low-grade inflammation. I will discuss this in detail.
Five: Fortifying the Immune System by Using Natural Products with Antiviral Properties
Natural products with antiviral properties can be used to treat and prevent the common cold, flu, and outbreaks of skin blisters. For long and healthy life, it is essential to have an immune system that is in perfect balance. An immune system out of balance is associated with autoimmune diseases and frequent infections. We must support and develop the immune system but not throw it off balance with the wrong types of products. We are fighting an invisible war against pathogens. We must first have a strong immune system and then use antiviral products to speed recovery and prevent viral infections during epidemics. Bacterial, fungal, parasitic, and serious viral infections require drugs. But the common cold and flu viruses can be treated with specific natural products that are readily available on the market. People need to keep up with changing information about products coming on and off the market as new findings alter previous best practices.
Six: The Mind/Body Connection
The mind/body connection is real, and it goes both ways. A brain on fire with inflammation and other diseases will sabotage our thoughts and cause a downward spiral of physical health. Which products keep the mind balanced with abundant neurochemicals and proper blood flow to the brain?
Toxins sabotage our health, so keeping the liver and kidney healthy so that they can help us to detoxify is essential. Our bodies have four methods by which to remove toxins: the liver; the kidneys; the intestines; and skin, hair, and nails. Toxins are called enzyme disruptors and hormonal disruptors. They disrupt the biochemistry in our bodies and sabotage optimal health and energy production. What does heavy metal poisoning look like so that people can recognize if it occurs?
Eight: Appetite Control, Medicinal Diets, and Controlling Blood Sugar
The best predictor of health and longevity is a test called Hemoglobin A1c. The number from this test is closely related to elevated blood sugar levels that damage our cells and tissues microscopically. Amino acids, medicinal oils, fiber products, and probiotics can help us take control of our appetite. Which products can affect insulin resistance, as well as controlling and lowering blood sugar levels?
Nine: Energy and Natural Supplements that Build Adenosine Tri-Phosphate (ATP)
Energy is the essence of life. As we age, scientists can measure a reduction in the quantity of certain energy-related chemicals in our bodies. Some doctors believe that restoring these energy-related chemicals to normal levels would allow the body to make repairs, avoid disease, avoid bad health, and strengthen the immune system.
The epic article “Hallmarks of Aging” (López-Otín et al., 2013) discussed mitochondrial dysfunction. In addition to that, we can learn from treating people with diseases that involve energy production, such as congenital mitochondrial dysfunction, heart failure, and certain brain-related anomalies.
Ten: Hormonally Active Natural Products and Longevity Medicine
Hormones are like vitamins. They must be in the healthy zone. Levels that are too high or too low cause problems. Some hormones cause cell growth, while others cause cells to break down. With the passage of time, we want continued cell growth to maintain bone mass, muscle mass, brain mass, strong tendons, and strong internal organs. Too much cell breakdown is bad. Too much cell growth is also bad. We need the right balance of cell growth to maintain youthful homeostasis. Which natural products alter our hormone levels? Which are the most important hormones that affect our longevity: the parathyroid hormone and Vitamin D, insulin, the growth and repair hormone, testosterone, estrogen, progesterone, DHEA, and others.
It is my belief that there is no single product that will yield overall good health for everyone. Natural products yield good health by correcting a problem or an imbalance. How and when we can use natural products is a complex picture that is slowly coming into focus for us. We will continue to gather more knowledge and information. I look forward to sharing my knowledge with the world and listening to others’ thoughts on the subject.
This post is an excerpt from my book Investing In Your Health: A Pharmacist’s Guide to Choosing Natural Products to click here to find it on Amazon