We all know that we age – but have you ever wondered what you can do to slow down the process, and to live both well and longer? What if there were therapies and tools that existed that could drastically slow down the aging process, perhaps even reverse it. Reversing aging by removing wrinkles, helping blood vessels and skin become elastic again, and recharging our mitochondria. Intrigued?
Many people believe that we age because our bodies wear out. The theory goes that because our bodies operate 24/7, day in and day out, that eventually this causes wear and tear, degeneration of our cells throughout many organs and body parts, and inevitably death.
The problem with this theory however, is that it is way too simple. Here is a Toronto Naturopathic Doctor’s perspective on aging and what you can do about it.
So…What causes aging?
Aging is a natural part of being a living species, but we have come to understand that there are a lot of factors that accelerate and contribute to the aging process. The effects of aging are what most do not look forward to – frailty, immobility, wrinkles, skin damage, and the cascade of chronic and degenerative illnesses.
While we cannot stop aging process altogether, we most certainly can seek health and vibrancy well beyond the years of what we anticipate. The idea of glowing skin, shiny hair, and a flexible strong body that is capable of what we still want to do.
Here are the top 9 common and leading causes of aging:
- Shortening of telomeres: Telomeres are protective protein structures found at the ends of chromosomes to help prevent degradation. Shortening of telomeres is associated with aging, but we have research to suggest we can modify how quickly the telomeres actually shorten.
- Loss of energy production from the mitochondria: One of the main roles of the mitochondria is to produce energy for our cells all throughout our body. As we age, our mitochondria becomes less efficient in producing energy for a variety of reasons. There are a lot of modifiable risk factors we can control to help keep our mitochondria healthy longer!
- Loss of stem cells: Stem cells are extremely important to help replace lost cells due to turnover, injury and disease. However, as we age their function declines and this factor contributes to degeneration and dysfunction. It’s a fascinating area of up and coming research!
- Accumulation of senescent cells: Think of senescent cells like “zombie-cells”. They are non-functioning cells that linger in the skin and other tissues. Although they can be protective in some instances, the accumulation of these cells has been linked to aging and preventing healthy cell turnover and repair.
- Aggregation of proteins: This is the process of misfolded proteins, and causes the proteins to cluster affecting their ability to properly function. This is involved in aging, but also a number of neurodegenerative diseases as well. We have clean-up crews that would help clean up these misfolded proteins, but the older we become the less efficient these clean-up crews work, perhaps our environment is accelerating the amount of misfolded proteins we have, and all of a sudden our body can no longer do its job properly leading to an accumulation of these proteins.
They have been linked to Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s and Parkinson’s disease when accumulated in the brain, slower reflexes in the nerves, heart failure in the heart, strokes when accumulated in the vessels, and decreased elasticity in the lungs.
- Collagen Breakdown: Both the quality and quantity of collagen plays a major role in the skin’s appearance, the health of your hair and nails, as well as your joints. As we age, the body starts to produce less collagen. This can appear as the skin becoming thinner, drier, and less elastic. Targeting treatment to slow down the breakdown of collagen, and support its quality can help make you look younger again!
- Glycation: Glycation occurs as a result of too much sugar intake, and these excess glucose (sugar) molecules link to structures like collagen and elastin in the skin. Glycation causes the skins proteins (collagen, elastin) to lose their ability to function normally. The fibers become rigid, and have a reduced ability to regenerative contributing to cracking and thinning skin.
- Inflammation: Acute inflammation is needed to help fight against foreign invaders such as bacteria and viruses. However, chronic inflammation has become a hot topic amongst many chronic conditions we see in clinic, including accelerated aging. Chronic inflammation impairs the cells ability to heal and regenerate, it promotes inflammatory pathways and can lead to redness, irritation, sensitivity, and damage to the tissue all which affect the process of aging.
- Oxidative Stress: Oxidative stress occurs when the amount of free radicals exceeds what are body is able to neutralize via antioxidant pathways. Free radicals are very reactive small molecules, and can damage virtually any molecule or cell in the body. Our bodies have been designed with internal antioxidants, but often due to our environment, and lifestyle it is not enough to protect our skin, mitochondria, and organs from damage. We have the ability to reduce our oxidative stress by making conscious lifestyle decisions, and also supplementing with extra antioxidants to help our body’s defense.
As you can probably guess, although a lot of these processes are a natural part of aging, what we do and what we expose ourselves to can affect the rate at which they happen.
This is where Naturopathic medicine shines, and can address your internal physiology, lifestyle and environment, to give you the tools to help your anti-aging process.
IV Therapy and Anti-Aging
IV Therapy can be a big help with your anti-aging through two main processes:
- By Providing a high dose of antioxidants which can have a direct anti-aging benefit
- IV Therapy Contains several key ingredients which can act as a nutritive for cellular health, slowing down aging and promoting cellular repair.
Let’s take a look at some of the specific anti-aging ingredients more closely.
Vitamin C : Vitamin C slows down age related telomere shortening in human skin cells. It is a cofactor for elastin and collagen production in blood vessels, tendons, ligaments, and skin. Vitamin C helps reduce oxidative damage in the body, which plays an important role in aging. Applying it topically has shown to improve skin elasticity and hydration.
Magnesium : A deficiency in magnesium has been correlated with accelerated aging of human endothelial cells and fibroblasts (cells that help make collagen and repair the skin). Magnesium helps with cell regeneration and repair, an important component of anti-aging.
B Vitamins : B vitamins have shown some benefit with skin aging, specifically with age spots and hyperpigmentation. Deficiencies in B vitamins can cause dry skin, acne, and wrinkles.
NAC : N-acetyl-cysteine is a go-to nutrient for anti-aging, as it helps replenish glutathione levels in the body. Glutathione is considered the master antioxidant. By supporting the antioxidant pathway, it can help reduce aging at the cellular level.
Glutathione : Glutathione helps reduce oxidative damage to brain cells associated with aging. Its detoxification action improves the health of cells helping to slow the process of cell aging. Glutathione helps protect the skin from damage that can cause wrinkles and has shown to improve skin elasticity.
MSM : MSM helps reduce inflammation which is associated with cellular damage and can cause premature aging. It has shown to reduce visual signs of aging such as wrinkles. MSM plays a role in collagen production and works well when taken alongside vitamin C.
Carnitine : Acetyl-l-carnitine has shown to protect cells in the body from age-related degeneration. Research demonstrates its effects on the brain, where it improves memory, cognition, and mood. Carnitine supports the function of our mitochondria which often declines throughout the aging process.
Lifestyle Modifications and Anti-Aging
Here is a list of things you can start doing today to help with your new anti-aging regiment.
#1. Don’t smoke, or quit smoking. The chemicals used in making both cigarettes and smoking alternatives such as vaping damages our cellular DNA, and accelerates the aging process.
#2. Intermittent fasting can help turn on longevity genes. This doesn’t mean skipping meals, or under-eating, but it does include time restricted eating (typically a 8-10 hour eating window) which gives our body time to repair and regenerate instead of using its energy to consistently digest and breakdown food. Make sure to talk with your Naturopathic Doctor first before starting intermittent fasting.
#3. The food we eat and use to fuel our bodies is crucial. A diet rich in healthy fats, anti-oxidants, can help activate our longevity genes, battled oxidative stress and inflammation, and slow down the aging process. This also goes to say that minimizing/avoiding processed foods and refined sugar can also help us achieve the extended vibrant health we seek.
#4. Prioritize a good night’s sleep. Sleep is the time for which our body takes to restore and repair itself. Lacking quantity and quality sleep can severely impact the rate at which we age. If sleep is something you’re struggling with, our team of Naturopathic Doctors can help figure out the root cause, so that you can wake feeling rested and refreshed.
Although we can’t prevent aging altogether, there are lots of tools we have to slow down the aging process. Have you considered adding in IV therapy as part of your anti-aging tool box? We encourage you to book a free consultation with one of our Toronto Naturopathic Doctors at Higher Health to how IV therapy may be beneficial for you.