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Aging

Anti-Aging: 7 Steps on living to a 100

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What are some things you can do to improve your immune system?  How can taking care of your immune system affect your aging?  Plus, common immune system diseases that can be prevented by taking anti-aging action.  Get advice from Dr. Liponis, author of UltraLongevity: The Seven-Step Program for a Younger, Healthier You.

Anti-Aging: How to live to 100?

Ever since hitting the menopause years, it finally has dawned on me that I’m closer to 100, then 20 years old. No longer able to create a baby and my so-called babies now sporting facial hair, it’s clear that I’m at a new juncture in life.  Over the last year, I’ve been contemplating what the future holds and what the keys to happiness are in the 50 plus life.  What can I do today to change the course of my life for the better when I’m 80?

If I look at the friends and family around me, the future looks bright.  I’ve been blessed to have a mom and in-law’s in their eighties that are still taking classes, working, working out, and enjoying life. Is everyone living this way? According to my mom who is in an assisted living place, she shares that some people her age can barely walk, lots are on fistfuls of medications, and a few have passed.  So, is 80 the new 50? Or is everyone around me just lucky? Are genetics the only factor?

If you are looking for the fountain of youth, Dr. Mark Liponis, who is the medical director of the Canyon Ranch Spa, has a Seven-Step program backed by lots of scientific research.  The book focuses on the all mighty immune system as being key to understanding how we age.  According to the medical research,  all the conditions we consider part of aging – including arthritis, diabetes, asthma, emphysema, obesity, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, stroke, heart disease, poor brain functioning, weak lungs, and diabetes-  are not simply the result of getting older, but are conditions caused by an overactive immune system.

What are some things you can do to boost your immune system?  Why does boosting your immune system affect your aging? What are common diseases immune system diseases that can be prevented by taking action?  Get advice from Dr. Liponis, author of Ultra Longevity: The Seven-Step Program for a Younger, Healthier You.

What is Aging? Why do we die?

Dr. Liponis explains that aging represents the cumulative changes in an organism, organ, tissue, or cell that leads to a decrease in function and ultimately death and that the decrease in function is primarily brought on by a highly active immune system.

He explains that people don’t die of old age, but they die of organ failure, such as heart failure, lung failure, kidney failure, and/or brain failure.  We lose so much function that disease sets its. The good news is that we can grow to be quite old without any sign of disease of diminished organ functions and it isn’t just about our genes.

One way that Dr. Liponis explains aging which starts into our late twenties or early thirties is comparing aging to a growth spurt, he explains in his book the analogy:

“We’re all familiar with growth spurts… It’s recently been discovered that we age in a similar way. Remember that aging takes place as our cells dies.  

But like growth (growth spurts), aging happens in spurts. These are periods during which we lose organ function much more quickly than at other times.  The impact of these spurts depends on which our immune system is over active; the more intense and prolong the activation, the more profound the spurt.  

In order to slow down the aging process, you need to avoid aging spurts caused by unnecessary immune activation.” P 59

Dr. Mark Liponis YouTube:  What are typical health issue for over 50+ group?

  • 0:42 What is the best time to start focusing on your health? Dr. Liponis describes that health is relative and to start thinking about your health at age 20,30, 40’s
  • 2:11 What types of things does Dr. Liponis see at age 50, 60, 70, and beyond?  50-60’s big issue is stress, 70’s focus on health issues (blood pressure, etc).
  • 4:04 How can Dr. Liponis know that preventative health measures work?
  • 6:20 What is a health profile of a typical 70-80yo?
  • 6:55 What are the two primary causes of premature death?
  • 10:55 What are the top two killers of Americans over age 45?

Why do we age?

There are many reason why we age, such as gravity and exposure to environmental radiation and toxics that injure our body. Genetics play a role as well, but even that is being called into question with epigenetics (find out more here: http://www.fireitupwithcj.com/epigenetics-how-thoughts-and-emotions-affect-our-genes/).

But despite all these factors, Liponis has found that medical science keeps on extending the maximum life span estimate with current estimates that humans should be able to live to 150 years old.  So, why is it that we have people like the Frenchwoman, Jeanne Calment, who lived to 122 years old and lived a vibrant life where she fenced at 80, rode a bike at 100, and release a rap CD at 121, and the worldwide average age of death at 71?

Dr. Lipnois’s states his belief that the immune system is the key to the fountain of youth:

“What’s now clear is that people who live to be over 100 years old have immune systems that are able to resist overstimulation and hyperactivity”. P27

How do we know if you are aging too fast?

If the immunity system is a major contributor to aging, then it makes sense to monitor your immune system.  Dr. Liponis offers a few ideas on how to monitor your immunity system:

  1. Get a baseline CRP (C-reactive protein): Next time you have a physical exam get a CRP reading.  It may be helpful to also keep a record of your medications, vitamins, and supplements so you can correlate your CRP reading with your health habits.

“If you find your CRP is 0.6 or below, you are doing great.  If your CRP is between 0.6 and 3.0, think about taking some supplements (fish oil, a multivitamin with some vitamin D, and try taking a probiotic).

If your CRP is higher than 3, you’re more at risk, and you’ll need a more comprehensive approach.  You might want to take a daily dose of 3,000 milligrams of fish oil, the full 1,000 units of vitamin D, and vitamins C, E, B6, and B12 in addition to ensuring an adequate intake of chromium, magnesium, selenium, zinc, and fiber.

If your CRP is drastically elevated (over 10) as a result of a serious inflammatory condition, say rheumatoid arthritis or inflammatory bowel disease, you’d want to add a blend of herbal and phytonutrient supplements to help reduced the level of immune system activation.” P 222

  1. Calculate your waist-to-hip ratio: Measure the circumference of your waist by placing the tape measure on your belly button.

Take the same measure at the hips.  Divide the first number by the second.  For example, 32 “ waist /39”hip = 0.892.  The target ratio for men is less than 0.9 and for women less than 0.8.  People whose numbers come in over these levels are those who tend to put on weight around the middle; their bodies make more immune-activating cytokines such as leptin.  It’s especially important that these individuals get sufficient chromium, fiber, and fish oil.” p223

Dr. Mark Liponis YouTube:  how do you know if you are aging too fast?

  • 13:30 How can you gauge the health of your immune system during your next annual physical?
  • 15:55 What does it mean that you have a high CRP test?

How can we prevent aging?

What is the immune system? Why is the immunity so important?

Our immune system has only one single goal: DEFENSE. The immune system vigilantly surveys our bodies looking for possible threats of attack from both inside and outside of our body. For example, the immune system must protect us from the food and water we drink (interior of our body), and our contact with other people, chemical exposure, and radiation (exterior of body).  In addition to defense, the other function of the immune system is to store memories of every battle it’s ever fought with an intruder.

The immune system is made up of cells and organs.  One of the problems with addressing the immune system is that it’s not made up of only one organ, nor is it localized to one area of the body.  Instead, it’s spread out everywhere in your body to over thirty different organs, which include more than two hundred different cell types.

Sadly, our immune systems are becoming too powerful to allow us to reach our full potential life span.

Dr. Mark Liponis YouTube:  Why is the immune system the root to most health issues?

  • 8:07 Why is our immune system so important to our overall health?

How can our immune systems hurt us?

Dr. Liponis describes that the weakness in the immune system lies in two areas: overstimulation and being overpowered by invaders.

Examples of not being able to defend include not being able to address an infection from killer germs, such as typhoid, diphtheria, or tetanus, or an invader such as HIV or conditions such as immunodeficiency disease or an immune-suppressing medication. Dr. Liponis points out that it’s less common in developing nations where immunizations are prevalent to have aging be a result of the immune system being invaded.

However, the more common problem in developing countries is having an overactive immune system, which is measured by a CRP blood test. Based on the heart research by  Dr. Paul Ridker from Harvard Medical School, medical science started noticing high levels of C-Reactive Protein (CRP) for patients who had heart attacks. In fact, follow-up studies showed that CRP levels were a better predictor of heart attack then cholesterol, blood pressure, family history, or any other traditional risk factors.

Recent research show high CRP has been found to predicted abdominal aortic aneurysms, Alzheimer’s disease, arterial fibrillation, diabetes, high blood pressure, macular degeneration, osteoporosis, stroke, sudden cardiac death, and cancers (colon, prostrate, other). The main take away is that your elevated CRP levels before the diseases shows up and that immune activation precedes diseases.

Scientists continue to learn more and more about how the immune system causes disease. What they’ve found is that when defending your body from a threat, innocent bystanders- your heart, brain, blood vessels, pancreas, etc.can get harmed during the immune system’s friendly fire.

How age factors into the equation is that the older you are, the longer your immune system has to fulfill it’s other role of cataloging all attacks from invaders.  Over time your body may build up such a large storehouse of data that your immune system becomes confused as to what’s part of you and what isn’t.

Dr. Mark Liponis YouTube:  How does our immune system hurt us?

  • 11:14 How does immune system trigger heart attack and worsen cancer?
  • 13:32 Why is reducing the immune systems responsiveness important?

What are 7 steps to Live to 100 without disease?

In the book, Mark Liponis offers a 7-Step Program is based on the idea that the quieter your immune system, the healthier you are.  The 7 steps include the following seven steps:

Step 1: Breathe

Learning how to breath properly is the first key to healthy aging.  Dr. Liponis shares that more than a dozen recent studies have showed the link between impaired breathing and immune activation.

“The conclusion of these studies, as reported in Thorax in March 2004, was that reduced lung function was associated with systematic immune activation as measured by white blood counts and levels of CRP and TNF-alpha.” p91

One of the keys is learning how to breathe properly.  With the exceptions of babies, I notice that most of us breath shallowly and in the upper part of our body neglecting our bellies.  In Yoga there is an idea of a three part breath that starts by breathing into your stomach, chest, and then high up in the chest, neck and shoulders (Demonstration here: https://youtu.be/WAG-eyCgZOY?t=1m50s).  This type of three-part breathing is way more calming to both our overall central nervous and immune system.  Dr. Liponis’s other breathing tip is focusing on the exhale of the breathe versus the inhale and breathing in oxygen.

“A full and complete breath out allows us to take a slow and full breath in, which slows down our respiratory cycle.  Dropping our respiratory rate from twelve breaths per minute (one breath every five seconds) to six breaths a minute or less has a profound effect on our level of stress and on our immune system”. P89

Dr. Mark Liponis YouTube:  Breathe: Easy way to improve health

  • 21:40 How should we be breathing for better health?
  • 20:29 How does your breathing affect your immune system?

Step 2: EAT

Your diet powerfully affects your immune system.  The immune system responds to the pattern of your eating, the way you eat, where you eat, and even with whom you eat.

  • Hunger:  The research suggests that hormone exert a powerful impact on the immune system and that the sensation of hunger may actually be one way that body lets us feel how well our immune system is functioning.  Dr. Liponis advises” Ideally you want to feel a little bit hungry every three hours or so- not a sense of starvation, but a reminder that your body is ready for refueling”p100

“Leptin, which regulates appetite and weight, has a powerful effect on the immune system by activating it.  Thus people who are thin, with lower leptin levels, have less immune activation, while overweight people have higher levels of leptin, show more immune activation and will suffer from more immune system problems, such as arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and cancer”

  • Eating patterns: The key is to eat lots of smaller meals over the course of the day and to break the habit of consuming most of your calories at night because eating too much in one meal overstimulates the immune system.

“Eating the bulk of your daily calories in one meal over stimulates the immune system and causes a mini aging spurt (see above on age spurt).  Changing your pattern of eating to spread calorie consumption over the course of the day is one way to curtail this process”

Dr. Liponis also shares a tip for those who are used to loading up at the end of the day and skipping breakfast.

“The real issue isn’t what you should or shouldn’t do when you get up.  It’s that a person who isn’t’ hungry in the morning (for breakfast) probably ate her breakfast for dinner the night before—in other words, she continues to eat after 9 or 10pm, enjoying a sizeable snack, probably loaded with quick carbohydrates and too many calories.  Of course she has no appetite when she wakes up.

The way to shake someone out of the habit is to ask her to eat breakfast when she rises in the morning.  What she’ll usually find is that when she does, she’s hungry again at midday and will eat lunch.  By the time dinner rolls around, she won’t have her normal appetite because she’s been eating correctly through the day; that late night craving should also diminish

Like our body temperature and our metabolism rate, our appetite has its own thermostat that tells us when to eat.  The appetite thermostat is set to shut off when we have eaten enough calories to maintain our current weight.  So if the bulk of those calories have been eaten by three o’clock in the afternoon, you’ll have smaller appetite at dinner and later” p102

  • Quantity of food: Each time we swallow anything, the immune system activates to scan the borders and make sure nothing harmful is trying to pass.  Dr. Liponis suggests we eat less during one sitting and that we eat smaller, more frequent, meals to have a milder immune system reaction versus eating all their daily calories in a few big meals. Additionally, he suggests eating low-calorie food and getting that feeling of being full without having consumed a great many calories.

“The greater the quantity of food you ingest in a single meal, the more strain you place on your immune system. Researchers measuring after-meal CRP levels in test subjects have found that the higher the meal’s caloric content, the higher the CRP level afterwards.”

  • Chew slowly:  From the standpoint of the immune system, digestion is critical to prevent an immune reaction every time you eat- and unless you thoroughly chew your food, proper digestion doesn’t take place.

Dr. Mark Liponis YouTube:  eating-how shifting our eating habits will make us live longer?

  • 22:52  What is the one thing that can do to change the aging process?
  • 24:06 Why is binge eating a problem?
  • 24:37 What is an age spurt?
  • 25:05 What is the one superfood you need to include with every meal to combat aging (e.g.-stroke, heart attack)?
  • 27:12 Why is eating till you’re full important for your health?
  • 28:24 What your mom told you that was dead wrong?
  • 32:22 Dr. Liponis tip for gauging hunger.
  • 33:01 How many calories should I consume?
  • 37:25 How does your set point weight work?
  • 38:20 How long does it take to change your set point weight?

Step 3: Sleep

Sleep is far more critical to the immune system than we may have thought.  The immune system senses whether or not you have slept well. The better you sleep, the better it functions.  Liponis shares that when you are getting enough deep, restful sleep, your immune system is calm and relaxed.  Sleep problems such as sleep deprivation or insomnia are important causes of of immune activation. Here’s what Dr. Liponis writes about sleep in his book “Ultra Longevity:”

“A lack of deep, restorative sleep, or of delta waves, has been repeatedly shown to cause immune activation”. P 128

“It’s the quality, not the quantity of sleep that counts.  Some people need to be in bed for seven hours, some for five, others for nine.  The differences in quantity of sleep required probably are due to quality of sleep. P129

Dr. Mark Liponis YouTube:  sleep- why it’s so important to aging?

  • 16:34 How do you calm your immune system? How does sleep relate to your immune system?
  • 18:29 Why is quality not quantity of sleep important?

Step 4: Dance

Rhythmic exercise (walking, jogging, biking swimming, hiking, jumping rope, dancing (hip-hop, ballet, square, jitterbug, polka, etc), tennis, racquetball, volleyball, gymnast, martial arts, and even golf  can add healthy years to your life.

“Extensive research links exercise and movement with reduced levels of immune activation and lower levels of cytokines and CRP” p 144

“Exercise directly affects the white blood cell’s production of immune-activation and protective cytokines” p 144

In an April 1984 study in the International Journal of Sports Medicine, those that moved rhythmically lowered their CRP levels.

“The study measured the CRP levels of athletes from various sports to see whose were lowest. The results: those who moved most rhythmically enjoyed the lowest CRP levels. Swimmers had the lowest CRP levels of all; swimming, with its left, right, left, right stroking and kicking, is among the most rhythmic of exercises. The second-lowest levels were found in rowers, who also engage in a rhythmic process.” P145

Step 5: Love

Dr. Liponis reminds us that the immune system is like a second brain that is tracing emotions just like the mind.  It knows when we are worried, threatened, or upset.  Fear is often followed by pain, infection and injury.  The immune system perceives fear as a threat, or at least a warning of one.  Similarly, it recognizes hostility, despair, and frustration as possible dangers.

When you fill yourself with love, fear and all its associated emotions (anxiety, depression, anger, etc) cannot coexist.  Love is the antidote to fear, which from a health perspective results in calming the immune system.  In this case, it’s not just about romantic love, but holding love in your heart for all things.

“New medical research shows that when we are afraid, angry, or depressed, we are more likely to contract the diseases linked with aging.  In a ten-year study of young adults published in JAMA (May 17, 2000), the degrees of hostility measured was correlated with a buildup of calcified plaque in the coronary arteries.  In this same study, hostility was also linked with the development of high blood pressure; the greater the hostility felt, the higher the risk of high blood pressure” p69.

Anxiety has been shown to activate the immune system in a 2004 study of 1,100 men and women, the degree of fear of a terrorist attack one experienced was correlated with the level of immune activation (Psychosomatic Medicine, July/August 2004).”p70

Dr. Mark Liponis YouTube:  Why stress causes us to age?

  • 17:14 How does emotional stress (anger, depression, etc) affect our immune system?

Step 6: Soothe

It’s important to create an external environment at home and with your loved ones that creates a sense of calm around you.  You can create a sense of peace, calm, and relaxation at home by pleasing aromas, loving touch/massage, and relaxing sounds within your home environment.  Equally important is making sure you have, clean air through HEPA filters, clean filtered water, and removing radon and other toxins such as mold, cockroaches, and dust mites within your house.

Step 7: Enhance

This is a focus on optimizing the performance of your internal environment through vitamins, and nutritional supplements that enhance immune function and help deactivate the over stimulated immune systems.  Dr. Liponis offers the following guidelines for supplements:

For everyone:

Take a multivitamin

We should be getting 20 grams of fiber for every 1,000 calories we consume.

We should all hydrate often

Those of us living in temperature, northerly latitudes, or who don’t get out in the direct sunshine daily, should take additional Vitamin D.

Those who don’t consume small, oily fish (salmon, arctic char, sole, trout, herring, mackerel, sardines) more than twice a week should be adding fish oil supplements.

If you have special issues( Alzheimer’s disease, diarrhea, high blood pressure, irritable bowels, asthma, arthritis, diabetes, constipation, chronic hepatitis, liver problems, then check out Dr. Liponis book for specific guidelines.

Vitamins and supplements aren’t monitored by the FDA, so if you are getting supplements make sure you get those that are certified by USP label.  USP certifies the quality of its products and ensures your vitamin is not filled with unnecessary fillers, colorings, preservatives, stabilizers, or glaze (http://www.kxnet.com/story/28026664/wal-mart-walgreens-target-gnc-under-fire-for-fake-supplements). To get a list of vitamins certified by USP see: http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/2012/05/multivitamins/index.htm

In terms of supplements and amounts here are some recommended dosages pulled from Dr. Liponis’s book:

Vitamin Dosage
Fish Oil 10-20mg
Vitamin (D3) 800-1000 mg
Vitamin C 250-500 mg
Vitamin E (gamma tocopherol) 100-400 ieu
B6 50-100 mg
B12 0.5-1 mg
Zinc 10-20 mg
Selenium 50-200 mcg
Magnesium (glyciniate/chelate 400-600 mg
Chromium Picolate 400-1000 mg

Dr. Mark Liponis YouTube:  questions from our radio listners

  • 39:12 Listener Questions