Anti-Aging Alchemy

Can the right diet and supplements help you look and feel younger?


| May/June 2006



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Throughout history, people in Asia known as Taoists searched for the secrets of longevity and immortality. They studied the human body, mind and spirit, which they called San Bao, or Three Treasures. By preserving the Three Treasures, Taoists believe they can achieve longevity and, possibly, find the door to immortality.

Many scientists, herbalists, nutritionists and physicians in the Western world are preoccupied with a similar search to slow the aging process and increase lifespan. It seems that almost daily a new youth cocktail rears its head on the already crowded anti-aging market. From drugs to designer nutrients, elixirs of youth to water fasts, we are a culture obsessed with aging — or, more accurately, with trying to avoid aging.

It is likely that as long as humans have roamed the earth, we have searched diligently to slow the effects of the aging process and find the secrets to a long and healthy life. While scientists concoct high-tech solutions in their test tubes and surgeons attempt to reduce the outward effects of aging, Mother Nature gently offers powerful anti-aging remedies in the form of phytochemicals and antioxidants found naturally in foods and herbs.

The Link to Free Radical Damage

Many factors can contribute to the body’s formation of substances called free radicals. Some free radicals are produced normally during metabolism. Sometimes the body’s immune system creates free radicals to neutralize viruses and bacteria. Other factors that may spur the production of free radicals include exposure to radiation; air pollutants; fungicides, pesticides and insecticides; prescription and over-the-counter drugs; petroleum products; excessive sunlight; fried, charbroiled and barbecued foods; alcohol; coffee; sugar; industrial chemicals found in our air and water; and stress hormones. Free radicals are highly reactive molecules that bind to and destroy our bodies’ cellular compounds — even our genetic material — and speed the aging process.

Detoxify the Years Away

Because toxins damage cells and are linked to premature aging, it is imperative to lessen the toxic load of your organ systems by reducing your exposure to harmful substances such as pharmaceutical drugs, alcohol, sugar, cigarettes, coffee, chemical food additives and trans fats, found in fried foods and processed foods.

Due to the damaging role toxins play in our bodies, it is not surprising that regularly engaging in a cleansing program can protect cells from damage and even help reverse cellular damage. In numerous studies, scientists found that short-term detoxification may help people extend their lives. During one study on mice, researchers at Kyushu University in Fukuoka, Japan, found that mice who fasted for four consecutive days every two weeks had a significantly longer lifespan than the mice fed a typical North American diet. The National Institute on Aging also found that detoxification increases a person’s lifespan as well as or better than caloric restriction, a common strategy to slow the effects of aging.

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