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The following is an excerpt from the book MicroMiracles
by Ellen W. Cutler, DC with Jeremy E. Kaslow, MD
Published by Rodale; October 2005;$15.95US/$21.95CAN; 1-59486-221-4
Copyright © 2005 Ellen W. Cutler, DC with Jeremy E. Kaslow, MD

The Secrets of Lasting Youth

Just as science continues to turn up information about what promotes aging, it's also revealing exciting new details about how we can slow and even reverse the process. Some of the most compelling evidence to date pertains to a trio of anti-aging measures: calorie restriction, nutritional supplementation, and physical activity. Let's look at each in turn.

Calorie Restriction

Richard Weindruch, PhD, professor in the department of medicine at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, is a pioneer in the study of calorie restriction and the aging process. His research has shown that reducing calorie intake by 20 to 30 percent can measurably extend life span in laboratory animals. While his diet reduces calories, it doesn't sacrifice vitamins and minerals, which remain at nutritionally sound levels.

Other researchers have confirmed the connection between eating less -- especially meats and fats -- and living longer. When Roy Walford, MD, an immunologist and gerontologist at the University of California, Los Angeles, put mice (ages 30 to 33 in human years) on a low-calorie diet, they survived 29 percent longer than normal. They remained in excellent health all of their lives, with just a fraction of the heart disease and tumors that occurred in mice on full diets.

Dr. Walford also experimented with total fasting and other alternatives to a low-calorie diet. He determined that limiting calorie intake every other day was highly effective in increasing the life span of mice. This strategy works, he surmised, by reversing the immune dysfunction that occurs with overeating, though the mechanism isn't really well understood.

Based on his research, Dr. Walford recommended that humans reduce their daily calorie intake by 49 percent. By eating this way, he theorized, we could live to age 120 or even longer. He also recommended eliminating sugar and fat to make room for nutrient-dense whole foods.

Taking digestive enzymes with meals usually helps with the transition to a low-calorie diet. The stomach isn't all that big; when empty, it can hold about 2 cups, or 1/2 liter, of solids or liquids. But it can stretch to accommodate a lot more -- for example, a full meal and a beverage. See if you can fit your lunch into 2 cups or 1/2 liter.

How much food do you need to fill your stomach? The answer lies in the size of your fist. Less than this, and you're not eating enough; more than this, and you're eating too much.

Nutritional Supplementation

The absorption and utilization of nutrients is vital to the prevention of age-related illness. As we get older, the combination of nutrient deficiency and enzyme deficiency can be devastating to our health. Overwhelming evidence suggests, however, that even among the elderly, intervention with nutritional supplements can improve immune function and disease resistance.

In the United States, a year's supply of supplements costs less than three doctor visits and much less than 1 day of hospitalization. It can reduce the frequency and duration of infection while increasing stamina and vitality.

At the end of the chapter, you'll find a number of enzyme formulas that contain key anti-aging nutrients. You can take these nutrients in combination or as separate supplements. Either way, they offer valuable nutritional insurance for optimal health and maximum longevity.

Physical Activity

Like calorie restriction and nutritional supplementation, regular physical activity helps fight aging. Studies have shown that exercise increases blood flow, which improves delivery of nutrients and oxygen to cells while speeding the removal of toxins and waste products from them. It also strengthens the cardiovascular system, which promotes heart health.

For maximum anti-aging benefit, we recommend at least 30 to 45 minutes of aerobic activity -- such as brisk walking, jogging, cycling, or swimming -- at least 3 days a week. A longer workout of moderate intensity is much more effective than a short workout of high intensity. Walking is an excellent aerobic exercise because it promotes overall fitness with low risk of injury.

Just as important for lifelong good health is strength training with free weights and/or weight machines. It helps counteract the muscle loss and sluggish metabolism that come with age. A number of fitness books offer short but effective strength-training routines. Another option is to work with a personal trainer for at least a few weeks to learn specific exercises as well as proper lifting technique. Most experts suggest lifting 2 or 3 days a week, perhaps alternating strength-training sessions with aerobic workouts.

Incidentally, enzyme supplementation is an essential adjunct to exercise. By supporting proper digestion, it ensures the bioavailability of nutrients to cells. This means the cells can function at 100 percent of their capacity so you feel stronger and more energetic during your workouts.

On the Horizon

As enzyme therapy continues to grow in popularity, research will not only confirm its known anti-aging benefits but also identify more ways in which it protects against age-related illness. We're convinced that enzymes will become an accepted alternative for preventing and treating all manner of health problems, from inflammatory bowel disease and thyroid disorders to autoimmune conditions and cancer.

For example, because enzymes dissolve blood clots, they can reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke -- and with it, the incidence of heart disease in the United States, where it ranks as the number one cause of death. Indeed, enzymes could improve the cardiovascular health of populations worldwide, in which heart disease is also on the rise.

Perhaps one of the most intriguing findings in anti-aging research involves the identification of a potent anti-aging enzyme that's present in living cells. The enzyme, called surtuins, regulates the aging process in virtually all living organisms -- including bacteria, plants, and people. Experts expect that the discovery of surtuins could speed the development of drugs to prevent age-related illness and extend the human life span.

Like other enzymes, surtuins support essential biochemical reactions inside cells. In people, they help rejuvenate cells by beefing up the repair process and stimulating production of protective antioxidants. Surtuins also enhance the survival of cells during times of stress. They even delay cell death.

One compound that appears to serve as a booster to surtuins is resveratrol. Researchers believe that resveratrol is responsible for the ability of red wine to lower the risk of heart disease. It's an exciting area of study that's certain to reveal more about why we age -- and how we may be able to regulate the process.

Copyright © 2005 Ellen W. Cutler, DC with Jeremy E. Kaslow, MD