July 7, 2012
We've all had it happen. We're sitting on the couch, watching a movie, and we suddenly realize that our favorite Hollywood personality is suddenly looking old.
Wrinkled skin, receding hairline, chunky face, crinkled eyes, puckered lips – the works.
How on earth did that aging happen, and more importantly, how did it happen so fast?
Then suddenly, it hits you. You're not immune either. The last few times you looked in the mirror you notice a few extra creases around your eyes, a certain dryness to the tiny wrinkles around your mouth, and a definite sagging in your chest and waistline.
The scary fact is this: something out there is causing you to age faster, and putting you at risk to look far less than graceful as you age.
So what is this aging enemy, and what can you do about it?
You're about to find out.
Before we begin, please allow me to clarify one important thing: although there are certainly side benefits, the solutions I present below are not specifically for you to “live longer” or “not get Alzheimer's” as you age. While these goals are important and relevant, they're not today's topic.
Instead this article focuses with laser-like precision on the exact steps that will keep you looking sexy as hell when you age.
OK, here we go.
Let's begin with the villain that is responsible for the way that you look when you age.
This villain is the single greatest cause of making you look bad as you age (and incidentally, age-related diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, arthritis, cancer, diminished mental performance, chronic fatigue, and loss of muscle).
The villain takes over your body when you are:
- Eating sugar…
- Exposed to environmental pollutants, chemicals and toxins…
- Have a weakened immune system due to a compromised gut…
- Excessively exposed to ultraviolet light…
- Experience rapid hormonal changes such as loss of testosterone or surges in estrogen…
- Stressed out and low on sleep…
You may have already guessed what the villain is.
As you may know, inflammation is good – to a certain extent. It serves as protection against invaders and traumatic damage. To take a simple scenario of how inflammation can be good, suppose a dog bites you on your arm.
After that bite occurs, the inflammatory response begins. First, coagulation factors promote clotting in order to stop bleeding and prevent germs from spreading from the wound site on your arm to the rest of your body. Next, phagocytes surge out of the bloodstream and into the affected tissue to swallow and destroy pathogens, at the same time engulfing bacteria and secreting cytokines, which are messenger proteins that send out a call for more emergency responders, such as interleukin (IL-6), tumor necrosis factor, and C-Reactive Protein (CRP), all of which can mark bacteria for destruction. The phagocytes also generate reactive oxygen species (AKA “free radicals”), which are extremely unstable compounds that can chew up bacteria (as well as damaged human tissue).
If you've been bitten by a dog on your arm and need to protect the rest of your body and heal that wound as fast as possible, then this kind of inflammatory response is fantastic.
But this same inflammation response can kick in even when there’s no invader.
Take, for example, atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries. When fatty deposits build up on the walls of your arteries, one type of phagocyte (called a macrophage) identifies those growing lesions as potentially troublesome, and infiltrates them with inflammation, which causes swelling and destabilization of those deposits. The lesions can then break open, which results in the formation of a blood clot that can clog blood vessels and cause heart attacks. This is why getting a test of CRP (an emergency responder associated with inflammation) can indicate your heart attack risk.
And there are other examples of bad inflammation.
Take Alzheimer’s for instance, in which the areas of the human brain clogged with plaques are full of inflammatory cells and cytokines.
Or diabetes, in which inflammation and insulin resistance are positively correlated, and the same type of drugs that help to restore insulin sensitivity also reduce inflammatory factors like IL-6 and CRP.
Inflammatory activity even breaks down skeletal muscle, leading to the loss of lean muscle mass (and incidentally, being fat makes this problem worse, since excess fat cells can churn out more inflammation).
You don't have to have atherosclerosis, Alzheimers, diabetes or dogs chasing you around the neighborhood to have a problem with inflammation. Chronic, long-term inflammation can simply simmer in the background, over years and decades, as very small amounts of damage accumulate.
And yes, inflammation can even affect your skin and gives you wrinkles. If you look a skin under a microscope, skin that shows no clinical signs of aging shows no inflammation. While the inflammatory events I described above are designed to help neutralize or inhibit potentially harmful microorganisms, the free radicals produced by the inflammation can also lead to the break down of collagen and the structure of your skin – resulting in fine lines, skin thinning, decreased quality of wound repair, and an increased susceptibility to skin wounds that fail to heal.
When these problems occurs due to chronic inflammation from internal factors, like an inflammatory diet, this type of skin aging is termed intrinsic aging, and looks like this:
The scenario above could be created through eating too much sugar, too many high glycemic index carbohydrates, stress, lack of sleep, processed foods, chemical or toxin exposure, low protein intake, low fat intake, low vegetable intake, not drinking enough water and too much exercise.
You can easily produce the same type of inflammatory response from an external stimulus, such as spending way too much time in tanning booths or under the hot sun. In this case, chronic low level inflammation is established as a way to shield the skin against UV rays, and the inflammatory response results in production of enzymes called metalloproteinases (which break down the skin matrix) cause the skin to sag and wrinkle.
At the same time, the normal production of collagen is inhibited while elastin is stimulated – which causes skin to rapidly age. This type of externally stimulated aging mechanism is shown below:
This scenario could be creating by exposure to environmental pollutants, excessive sun exposure, tanning booths, or swimming in heavily chlorinated water.
Now that you know what causes aging, you probably have a hunch about why people are aging faster.
The primary reasons include:
- Processed foods
- Low fat intake
- Inadequate protein
- High stress lifestyle
- Lack of sleep
- Chemicals in personal hygiene products and household cleaning supplies
So what can you do about it? Here are my top 5 natural anti aging tips – with my goal to make these extremely practical and immediately implementable for you.
1) Use anti-inflammatory spices and use them regularly.
Spices are chock full of natural anti-inflammatory compounds. My two favorites are turmeric and cayenne. I like these two because you can put them on just about anything – and for me, that's typically my lunchtime salad and any dinner that suits, including beef, chicken or fish. Buy them, put them on the counter, and if you just can't stand the taste, then use a potent curcumin extract capsule like Phenocane (just take 4-8 capsules per day).
2) Eat an anti-inflammatory diet.
This is one of the easiest ways to reverse the aging process in inflamed skin, and basically involves consuming 1) lots of brightly colored vegetables, such as red, orange and yellow peppers, kale, spinach, cabbage and broccoli; 2) lots of monunsaturated and omega-3 rich fats, such as fish and fish oil, olive oil, walnuts and pumpkin seeds; and 3) avoiding sugars and refined carbohydrates such as wheat and grains. You can literally notice changes in your skin appearance after just a few days on an anti-inflammatory diet.
3) Supplement with 100-200mg per day of alpha-lipoic acid.
Alpha lipoic acid is one of the most powerful anti-aging, antioxidants, anti-inflammatories available. It is both fat- and water-soluble, which means that it works in both the fatty cell plasma membrane and the aqueous interior of the cell to protect DNA, inhibits activation of transcription factor NF-κB (thus reducing cellular inflammation), controls AP-1 (which helps to remodel collagen), and inhibits a major cause of wrinkled skin, glycosylation (the abnormal attachment of sugar to protein). I recommend a highly absorbable liquid form, and I personally take two servings of NutraRev per day.
4) Get adequate protein.
In the skin, collagen and elastin are the primary components of the dermis – the layer right beneath the epidermis – and they provide the support structure of your skin. You must consume adequate protein and be in a state of nitrogen balance in order to form proper amounts of collagen and elastin.
In the episode “How Much Protein Do I Need?”, you learn that the current US recommended dietary allowance (RDA) is 0.36 grams of protein per pound of body weight per day (0.8g/kg), and was designed for most people to be in nitrogen balance – without protein deficits or protein excess. If you're physically active and lift weights (which I highly recommend for anti-aging) studies such as this one suggests that even for very active individuals, there really isn’t much additional benefit of exceeding 0.55 grams per pound of protein (1.2g/kg) if you want to maintain nitrogen balance. If you’re trying to exceed nitrogen balance for the purpose of putting on muscle, this study indicates that you don’t need to eat more than 25% above that 0.54 g/lb, which would be 0.55×1.25, which is 0.68 g/lb, or 1.5g/kg.
What all these numbers ultimately mean is that for healthy collagen and elastin formation you should eat about 0.55-0.7 grams of protein per pound of body weight. This is as simple as having a couple whole eggs with breakfast, a side of chicken or sardines with lunch, a handful of almonds as a mid-afternoon snack, and a serving of beef with dinner.
5) Keep chemicals off your skin.
We really geek out on this stuff in the BenGreenfieldFitness Inner Circle, but these are some of the better body care products out there when it comes to minimal ingredients:
- Kion Skin Serum (I personally developed and use this)
- “Alba” oil free facial moisturizer
- Aloe Vera 100% gel
- Baby oil
- Coconut oil (cold pressed only)
- Corn huskers lotion
- Curel fragrance free lotion
- Fiji organic virgin coconut oil
- Kiss my face oil free moisturizer
- Mineral oil
- Neutrogena oil free lotion
- Zia oil-free body lotion
- Oil-free base
- Bare Escentuals
- Max Factor Pancake
- Raw Minerals
Face Soaps/Make-Up Removers:
- Arbonne Botanical Based Skin Care
- Witch Hazel
- Neutrogena Oil Free Cream Cleanser
- Aubrey Organics
- Fiji Organic Virgin Coconut Oil
- Life Extension
- Magik Botanicals Oil Free
- Mastey Products
- Nature's Gate Alovera
- Baking Soda
- Watch this video below (straight from the BenGreenfieldFitness Inner Circle) to make your own sunscreen.
- And also click here to watch this video to learn when you need to wear sunscreen
If you enjoyed these tips, or you like cutting-edge health advice like this, you should also tune in to this 20 minute audio interview with Future Of Health Now founder Erai Beckman, which includes some very good natural anti aging tips video presentations by top experts. During our discussion, Erai tells you about:
–How to beat stress in 35 seconds or less…
–One of the top natural anti-inflammatories known to science…
-Which Vitamin is the most important, and why you're probably not getting enough of it…
–And much more…
After you listen, be sure to get free access to all the Future Of Health Now videos by clicking here.
Questions, comments or feedback about these natural anti aging tips? Leave them below! And, by the way, I'm hoping I didn't offend any Alec Baldwin fans with my lead-in photo, but if I did, I should mention that he just recorded an excellent nutrition podcast with Dr. Robert Lustig.