Saturday, February 23, 2013

Slowing Down Aging Pt 2

Earlier, I started posting about how to slow down the aging process.  I only talked about one thing: keeping your hormone production going. The reason for this has nothing to do with making babies (although it has helped women over 40 get pregnant). I'm talking about hormone production in regards to physical signs of aging. Healthy sex hormones keep your production of collagen going as you age, which reduces your wrinkles. In order to avoid wrinkles, skin needs collagen, elasticity and moisture.

Collagen is a protein. It's produced with the help of vitamin C, threonine and proline (amino acids), and omega-3 fatty acids. Proline is already produced by your body. Threonine, however, has to come from food. It's in stuff like watercress, fish, eggs, soybeans, turnip greens, kidney beans, soybeans, chickpeas & hummus, snap beans, asparagus, eggs, milk, pork, beef and chicken. (It's primarily in meat, but vegetarians can get a super high dose of it from watercress.

And without going into the boring details of things like molecules, hydrogen atoms and lipids, I'll just list foods that will support damaged collagen, protect healthy collagen, and produce more collagen:

AVOCADOS! This is the best superfood there is for anti-aging.
olives and olive oil
all brightly colored fruits; strawberries, blueberries, kiwi, cranberries, red grapes, etc.
threonine-rich foods like the ones listed above
anything with vitamin C in it (Vitamin C is the major player in collagen production)

Vitamin E prevents the oxidation (destruction) of lipid cells. Lipid cells are good fat cells, and they keep your skin moist and supple. Vitamin E is a very powerful fat-soluble antioxidant and keeps omega-3 fatty acids from dying. And you definitely want a lot of omega-3 fatty acids... which come from:
flax seeds
fish oil
fresh basil

Antioxidants. Most physical signs of aging happen when free radicals invade our cells and kill them. Cells go through a life cycle where they take in nutrients, perform their duties, then expel waste. When they expel waste, it goes running around in the body like crazy people on a shooting rampage. The waste is called free radicals, and they attack cells, causing them to die. This is what oxidation is.
Antioxidants come in like warriors and kill the free radicals before they have a chance to attack. Although there are other factors to aging, oxidation is the one most responsible. So if you can get a handle on this one, you're doing really well.

Other things that dry out skin and take away its elasticity:

1. Sugar. Too much sugar will show up as wrinkles. Especially white refined sugar. Reduce your sugar as much as you can (I have a hard time with this one). If you absolutely have to have sugar, use brown sugar and honey instead of the white stuff. Usually as a rule of thumb, remember that white things are bad (potatoes, bread, sugar, flour, etc.) Carbs produce a lot of sugar, so cut way down on them. Too much sugar will dehydrate your skin from the inside. Natural sugars in fruits are fine.
2. Smoking. Nicotine constricts blood vessels and prevents blood from flowing to the skin. Without blood flowing to your skin, it doesn't get oxygen and nutrients. If you're smoking cigarettes that are not natural tobacco, you have something else to worry about. The toxic chemical additives will destroy collagen and elastin. 
3. Chlorine. If you're swimming in pools regularly, make sure you wash off with soap. Chlorine will stick to your skin and dry it out.
4. Caffine. Caffine dries you out, so drink plenty of water if you're getting too much caffine.
5. Skipping meals when you're hungry will actually dry out your skin and age you. Keep an orange with you so that doesn't happen.
6. Hot showers and baths. Don't let the water get too hot, and don't shower every day. (Unless you're doing something really hard core or grungy every day) Hot water damages and dehydrates skin, and too much washing does, too. We're all trained to think we're supposed to scrub the heck out of ourselves every single day, and that's just overkill unless you're working in a coal mine or something.
7. No sleep. Deep, sound sleep does more than relax all your muscles and stop pain. It also rehydrates and replentishes your skin.
8. Salt. Too much salt will dry you out and turn you into a walking beef jerky.
9. Shower heads. Since most of us aren't lucky enough to have spring water on tap, we get bad chemicals like chlorine coming through our shower heads. An idea if you're a bit vain like me is to invest in a shower water filter.
10. Excessive alcohol. Duh.
11. Too much sun exposure. Double duh.

Drink water, water, and more water! Exercise every day, even if you're just getting outside for a walk down the street. (The more exercise you get, the younger your skin will look)

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Synthetic vs Natural Sources of Vitamins

I'm going to try to not nerd out too much and keep this as simple as possible.

Synthetic vs Natural sources of Vitamins

The universe is made of molecules. No two things made of molecules are alike, as no two people are alike. There are even chiral isomers that are identical images of the same molecule that absolutely do NOT function alike. An example is glucose. There are different forms of glucose such as d-glucose and l-glucose. While they are mirror images of each other, d-glucose is sugar and can be used as a sweetner. But l-glucose is poison and can kill you. So something may look the same, but it's definitely not the same. That being said, let's get into vitamins.. first you need to understand how they are formed before you can understand the differences and make decisions about which ones and how many of them you want in your body.

Synthetic vitamin supplements and additives are made in a lab. Scientists have very strict guidelines they adhere to when creating them. They have to mimic the molecule identically. So you are actually getting an identical replica of a natural vitamin molecule. And "molecule" is the key word here: you're getting only that one single vitamin molecule... with a filler. Vitamin C sold in stores is usually nothing more than ascorbic acid. In nature, ascorbic acid isn't the "vitamin part" of the vitamin.

Getting vitamins naturally from food works differently than simply getting ascorbic acid into your system. In nature, ascorbic acid in vitamin C actually only carries the vitamin C complex through the body and acts as a "shell" or protective covering for that entire vitamin complex.
I'll use an heirloom tomato as an example. An organic, heirloom tomato contains natural vitamin C. But this tomato also contains other things like co-factors and compounds. Together, these compounds and other chemicals work together along with the vitamin C molecule to form a biological complex. Vitamins in nature are not single molecules with fillers added to them. They are biological complexes.

These co-factors and compounds present in the shell of the vitamin complex found in a tomato play an extremely important role. They allow that vitamin C molecule to break down and get absorbed by the body correctly. And every food that contains vitamin C has its own complex that is different and allows the vitamin C of that particular food to work with the other chemicals in it to break down and move properly. Vitamin C complex in tomatoes is different than vitamin C complex in peppers. And each vegetable brings its own set of nutrients to the table, working to supply your body with minerals it needs to heal and bond human body molecules together correctly. This is why getting synthetic supplements isn't as great as getting natural vitamin complexes from foods. And in addition to getting the vitamin complex from a vegetable, you're also getting p factors as well from it.. those are things like antioxidants and other mineral complexes. But that all gets into something even more complicated. Let's stick to simple vitamins.

Now don't stop taking supplements if you're not getting enough good food - synthetic vitamins do have their benefits. It's better than not getting any part of a vitamin at all and going into full on depletion. If you can't get enough to eat, definitely take a supplement. If you're body building or are athletically extreme, take a supplement. If you're sick or going into surgery soon, take a supplement.  But don't replace supplements for real food. And there in the name is your eye opener.. "Supplement". 

It is never a good idea to think you're getting all the vitamins you need simply from taking a multivitamin every day. A lot of companies even use sugar in the fillers for vitamins. You absolutely need to eat good food as well. You will become nutritionally depleted over time without healthy fruits and vegetables, and that absolutely leads to cancer. Things like smoking and sun damage do not give you cancer. They are just things that help cause it. Cancer is a result of many different things going wrong in the body, and some of those factors are things like not having the ability to fight off infection, depletion/malnutrition, and hereditary dna mutations (which sometimes come from bad farming and slaughtering processes). As simple and stupid as it may sound to say it, we need good food to survive. We need natural, non-modified sources of vitamins. And for some reason, a lot of us are forgetting that very elementary idea. Cells turn cancerous when there are mutations within those cells. And mutations can occur when the body is trying to compensate for a lack of nutrients. Think of it this way: We, as human beings, do everything we can to survive. We sometimes get into desperate situations where we're depleted of basic things we need, like food and shelter. And when we find ourselves in this situation, we are likely to do some crazy, abnormal and desperate things to obtain the things we don't have. Well, the cells in our bodies are no different. They are alive and active, like little creatures in the big city streets of anatomy. They're fighting to survive. And when they find themselves without, they make desperate attempts to get what they need. Some develop mutations, or learn to adapt to their situation in order to make up for what they're lacking. And as with humans, those mutations are not always the best idea. Even nature isn't perfect; especially when she's been influenced by a toxic environment.

I know that is a weird way of looking at it, but I'm just trying to make it easier to visualize. The bottom line here is eat good food and don't rely on vitamin supplements for good health.

Take care.