How to be Healthy: Introduction
Telomeres are specialized structures at the ends of linear chromosomes. In some studies, length is related to diseases such as cancer, and in others, length is related to longevity.
Longer is always better. If we start with the premise that oxidative stress and inflammation cause shorter telomeres, then perhaps we have the two most important steps on how to stay healthy; or become more healthy at the very least.
If we add the additional multi-factorial 7 “secret” steps, then we just might have the recipe for how to be healthy for life.
Below is a synopsis of the topics I’ll cover in this article. Let’s begin by talking about the “toxic two” — inflammation and oxidative stress; which each worsen the other.
Basic Rules of How to Become Healthy
- Inflammation and Oxidative Stress
- Boost your Mitochondria
- Control Glycation (blood sugar)
- Manage Stress (Cortisol levels)
- Clean up your Gut
- Balance your Hormones
- Optimize your Vitamins D Levels
- Avoid Toxins/Detox as Needed
Unlike seeing a gash in a finger, with the accompanying signs of acute inflammation (heat, redness, pain, and swelling), chronic inflammation can be “silent.” When inflammation becomes chronic, it can be a very serious problem. It stops your body from working as well as it could, and it can contribute to many other health problems. So, what causes chronic inflammation?
Causes of chronic inflammation:
Inflammation risk is much greater if you are obese or overweight.
Solution: Lose weight.
Common foods which are processed just like sugar and therefore “inflammatory” are sugary foods, high-processed carbohydrates, high-industrial fat, high-gluten, and, basically, all fast foods. We’re talking about the typical U.S. diet which now includes all vegetable seed oils.
Solution: Eat an anti-inflammatory diet (search my blog for info)!
Insufficient omega-3 intake
Omega-3 fats form the precursors for the anti-inflammatory substances called eicosanoids. Poor omega-3 status translates to inadequate production of anti-inflammatory eicosanoids and a decreased “proper” inflammatory response.
Solution: Fish oil caps or lots of omega-3 rich fish meals.
Excessive omega-6 intake
On the flip side of Omega-3, we have omega-6. Omega-6 fats form the precursors for inflammatory eicosanoids.
Solution: Eat less meat and animal-derived milk products.
Heavy metals such as mercury, biotoxins such as mycotoxins and Lyme toxins and more cause chronic inflammation and often; leaky gut which further compounds this problem.
Solution: Toxin avoidance and proper detoxification methods.
A high level of stress will give you elevated cortisol levels which can do everything from kill brain cells to cause leaky gut and more. Note: We’ll talk more about this when I discuss the effect of stress on your overall health.
Lack of sleep
Poor sleep is linked to elevated markers of inflammation.
Solutions for sleep improvement are multi-factorial; with many resources for you in this blog.
Exercise and movement patterns
Insufficient exercise and even insufficient movement, in general, add to inflammation. Poor recovery and/or overtraining can cause inflammation.
Solution: Never over-do it!
Poor gut health
The GI tract hosts the bulk of the human immune system. When it’s unhealthy, so too is your inflammatory regulation. Many things can lead to an unhealthy gut; which we’ll discuss. If you are the typical American, you have some degree of leaky gut, which further contributes to the unfortunate “typical” state of oxidative stress most Americans suffer from. Let’s discuss this problem next.
A certain amount of oxidation in our bodies is necessary for health. Our immune systems use oxidation to kill microorganisms. However, in many instances, the level of reactive oxygen species (ROS) overcomes the antioxidant defenses (levels of antioxidants in the tissues) of the biological host, resulting in an excess of tissue-damaging free radicals. This physiologic state is called “having oxidative stress.” Another way to look at it is, in this state, we don’t have enough antioxidants onboard. Adequate antioxidant protection is obtained from antioxidant-rich foods and/or supplements.
Decreasing oxidative stress will also reduce inflammation and cortisol levels. For this reason, I use a Raman spec scanner and measure my patient’s “scan scores” and then usually treat them with high-antioxidant vitamins. When I rid them of oxidative stress, here’s what I’m doing for them.
Oxidation of small, dense, LDL particles makes them stick to coronary artery walls. With antioxidants, I’m creating an environment where their LDL isn’t sticky.
Increasingly more evidence demonstrates that oxidative stress can influence risk for the development of cancer, prognosis following the diagnosis of cancer, and quality of life during cancer treatment. There is a strong correlation with several cancer types including breast and prostate cancer. Therefore, using Antioxidant therapy helps reduce risk and/or treat certain cancers.
Antioxidants enhance immune function.
Disorders of the Eye
In developed nations, age-related macular degeneration is the #1 cause of blindness in the elderly. Cataracts are also a widespread problem. Antioxidant therapy indicates prevention and even reversal of both of these conditions.
Antioxidants both help prevent and improve periodontal disease. Antioxidants help control diabetes. Pain management also improves with antioxidants on board. Weight loss appears to be facilitated by antioxidants. Brain aging is visibly decreased; as shown in imaging studies, with obvious implications for degenerative brain issues such as Alzheimer’s disease. The list is long and includes a significant decrease in all-cause mortality when we increase tissue antioxidant levels.
These very important cells of respiration located throughout your body are called mitochondria; most abundant in our brains, hearts, and muscles. Mitochondria produce energy as adenosine triphosphate (ATP) which our body uses to fuel daily activities. You want your mitochondria working at full strength to keep your energy levels up, brain sharp and muscles (including your heart) at optimal performance.
The creation of new mitochondria is crucial for healthy aging. ATP generation is necessary to keep your energy levels at peak and to help protect you from oxidative stress. And as you’ll see shortly mitochondrial dysfunction bottoms out your energy levels and contributes to numerous physical problems.
Mitochondrial dysfunction and disease
Mitochondrial dysfunction, characterized by a loss of both mitogenesis as well as efficiency in the synthesis of ATP, is a characteristic of all chronic diseases. Loss of function in mitochondria can result in excessive fatigue and even other symptoms in just about every chronic disease you can imagine. Mitochondria are damaged by inflammation and oxidative stress. Mitochondrial biogenesis is helped by certain behavioral activities, but especially by supplements such as alpha lipoic acid, acetyl-l-carnitine, ageloc vitality and more.
Cellular glycation (translated as the stiffening and aging of all cells) occurs at levels of fasting blood sugar somewhere in the range of 75-85 ng/dL. Research continues to lower the bar at which we set the definitions of glucose-intolerant, diabetes and “glycating.” I treat patients with integratives if they have a fasting glucose level of 85 or more or a Hgb-A-1-C or 5.2 or more.
High blood sugar levels are associated with immune system depression, increased risk of cancer, dementia, heart disease and more. The “more” includes the cellular stiffening part. Virtually all cells get stiff, less pliable and less functional in every single organ; including the skin.
Cancer is an immune-mediated and mitochondrial dysfunction disease which is largely preventable. Some studies demonstrate that certain cancers are more effectively treatable when blood sugar is lower; achievable either via ketosis or medication.
Heart disease, Alzheimer’s and other diseases fall under the category of being largely preventable and under the “watchful eye” of your glucose-mediated immune system.
How to Stay Healthy? Control your Stress!
It is not an old wives tale — there are, in fact, physiological reasons why stress makes you sick. Please, tell me you know this! And, what exactly happens during times of stress?
Cortisol stimulates glucose production in the liver. Cortisol is also involved in the breakdown of glycogen stored in the liver and muscle cells. It further inhibits insulin from shunting glucose into cells. If this occurs, you have lots of glycation which causes glucose to just “float around.” This is great if you’re escaping a polar bear, but not so great if you’re stressing about taxes.
Cortisol partially tanks your immune system when levels are high through a complex series of actions involving (mainly) T cells; a type of white cell.
Cortisol also negatively affects your bones and muscles by being catabolic; which is the opposite of anabolic.
In addition, cortisol high-alerts our entire nervous system as it is coupled with adrenaline (epinephrine) release. It, therefore, regulates heart and blood vessel tone and contraction/relaxation responses. It has a way of messing up energy, sleep, mood, and more!
Prolonged high cortisol levels will also impair cognitive performance, decrease thyroid function, elevate blood pressure, slow wound healing and increase body fat; especially abdominal fat. Perhaps, most damaging of all, it will cause leaky gut as well!
The majority of Americans either eat a standard American diet (cringe), take gut-damaging medications, have stress, or toxin exposure. All of these things can cause leaky gut and by doing so, will disrupt and disorder the microbiome. If you have “food sensitivities,” chances are, you have leaky gut.
Let’s just say that it’s a very common disorder; and causes a plethora of systemic problems from chronic inflammation to neurological disorders to autoimmune diseases. An effective gut “clean-up” involves eating an anti-inflammatory diet, taking supplements to heal the gut lining, sometimes taking herbals to kill “bad bacteria,” and usually taking good probiotics to repopulate the intestines.
Each decade after age 25-30 we see hormone levels drop on routine lab testing. The symptoms are initially quite subtle. The signs that your hormones are “out of whack” may masquerade as sleep, mood, cognition or energy issues. Certain hormone deficiencies are linked to a higher incidence of certain diseases as well as telomere shortening. A more complete discussion is found here.
We are aware of the association with Vitamin D deficiency and many diseases, and the levels we all need are rarely (if ever) achievable by sun exposure alone. Vitamin D deficiency (now defined as a serum level less than 75 ng/ml) is associated with many types of cancer, all autoimmune disease, heart disease and most neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease. You can easily raise Vitamin D to normal levels with supplementation which includes coupling it with vitamin K. Most people cannot obtain enough from dietary measures without going over the limit for calcium and or dairy consumption. Lastly, we have toxins.
You might be aware of the acquisition of Monsanto by Bayer. Rumor (and editorials) have it that the Monsanto name was so toxic that the major shareholders wanted a newer, “cleaner” name. Bayer — associated with good, old-fashioned aspirin, rather than toxic glyphosate (the weed-killer Round-up now strongly associated with cancer) and GMO organisms — became the new face for the old problems. Quite a nice “facelift,” wouldn’t you agree? However, Bayer is now paying the price, with lawsuits aimed at them; regarding cancer and Round-up.
Anyway, we live in a world not just full of toxic cancer-causing weed-killers, but GMO organisms, plastics, and contaminated water sources, not to mention biotoxins such as mold toxins, Lyme toxins, and toxic algae blooms. It’s a veritable toxin jungle out there. Yes, there are some easy rules to lower your toxin load which are in this article. And yes, there are ways to detox that are scientifically valid. If you think you have a toxin problem, find a Functional M.D. to diagnose you properly; don’t just do ineffective juice fasts and so on. Legitimate binders can clear toxins after legitimate diagnoses are made. When you have symptoms which cannot be “explained,” think “toxins” as a possibility and get some help.
No one can guarantee you a lifetime of perfect health. However, if you eat “clean,” control your stress, avoid gut-damaging practices, exercise, get enough sleep, and follow the guidelines above, you’ll have a much better chance of a disease-free life than someone who “breaks all the rules.”
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The Power of Exercise: Buffering the Effect of Chronic Stress on Telomere Length
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Vitamin D Deficiency Harms Patients with Coronary Heart Disease by Enhancing Inflammation
Prevention in older age : key factors
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