The ageless aging techniques are powerful allies for survival in the 21st Century. Continuing to practice them will help protect you from degenerative diseases and can have you looking and feeling great as the years pass. But we also need to look after ourselves in other ways.
Life at the millennium is not easy. We are exposed to aging influences every day of our lives.
dump the drugs
One of the major actions you can take to protect yourself from premature aging long-term is to stay away from drugs. Many drugs interfere with mineral absorption and undermine metabolic functions. Acid drugs bind calcium and other minerals like zinc and magnesium, making them unavailable for your body to use in its important enzymes which fuel energy and cell reproduction. Without first rate enzyme functions nobody can function optimally. Diuretics - `water pills' - given to eliminate water retention trigger the kidneys to excrete potassium and can lead to potassium deficiency. Although many doctors now give extra potassium with diuretic drugs, diuretics also increase the body's output of zinc, magnesium, and other minerals (something most doctors are still unaware of) so that deficiencies in these elements develop. Antibiotics disturb the balance of intestinal flora, creating disbiosis. The helpful bacteria needed for the production of certain important B-complex vitamins, vitamin K, and for protection against cancer, are destroyed along with the bad guy bacteria antibiotics are trying to kill off in the body. Most laxatives can also be very damaging to the system. Many contain mineral oils which bind fat soluble vitamins K, E, D, and A, leeching them from the tissues. Even when drugs are prescribed by your doctor, keep a close watch on what you are taking. It's a good idea to buy a book on drugs and their interactions so you keep well informed about anything it is suggested you take into your body.
In our modern industrialized world it is all too easy for our reproductive biochemistry to become distorted and youthful functioning to be undermined as a result. In the past 50 years male sperm count in the Western world has fallen by almost half. Meanwhile, women are experiencing the rise of a whole new - as yet largely unrecognized - phenomenon known as oestrogen dominance. Oestrogen dominance is where a woman's oestrogen levels far outweigh progesterone in her body making her prone to cancer, menstrual miseries and menopausal agonies.
There are two classes of major reproductive hormones in a woman's body - the oestrogens which are commonly lumped together and called `oestrogen', and progesterone. When these two are in good balance a woman's health thrives. She remains free of PMS and other menstrual troubles. She also remains fertile and able to hold a fetus to full term and menopause becomes a simple transition instead of a passage riddled with suffering. And she is protected from fibroids, endometriosis and osteoporosis. She is also likely to remain emotionally balanced and free of excessive anxiety or depression. When oestrogen and progesterone are not in balance a woman's body becomes oestrogen dominant and all of these things can come a cropper.
watch out for xenoestrogens
Oestrogen dominance in women and the drop in sperm count in men have come about for several reasons, the major one being the widespread use of oestrogen-based oral contraceptives and the exponential spread of chemicals in our environment. Called xenoestrogens - oestrogen mimics - they are taken up by the oestrogen receptor sites in our bodies to throw spanners in the works. They include the petrochemical derivatives we take in as herbicides and pesticides which have been sprayed on our foods, the plastic cups we drink our tea out of, as well as the oestrogens that come through in drinking water recycled from our rivers. Oestrogens from The Pill and HRT are excreted in a woman's urine. They can end up back in our water supply, as hormones are not removed by standard water purification treatments. To stay vital each of us needs to be aware of the potential dangers of the `sea of oestrogens' in which we are now living.
The proliferation of xenoestrogens in our environment needs to be stopped. It is making men less fertile and women more prone to breast and womb cancer, fibroid tumors, endometriosis, osteoporosis, and infertility, not to mention a long list of emotional and mental imbalances. Yet much of the medical profession as well as the general public still remains largely unaware of the effects these dangerous chemicals are exerting on our lives and the lives of animals. As a result oestrogens continue to be prescribed heavily as part of HRT - not only to the handful of women who around the time of menopause may need a little extra oestrogen temporarily - but to thousands of others whose lives would be far better off without it.
go for protection
You can help protect yourself from excess chemical oestrogens by not microwaving foods in plastic containers, by avoiding birth control pills and HRT, by not drinking from plastic cups, by ensuring that you eat foods grown without chemical fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides, and by including in your diet foods rich in phytosterols. These plant-based weak hormone-like compounds can help protect us by locking into oestrogen-receptor sites in the body and therefore preventing the much stronger xenoestrogens from gaining purchase in our bodies. Foods with good levels of phytosterols include yams, peas, papayas, bananas, cucumbers, raw nuts, bee pollen, sprouted seeds and grains (such as alfalfa sprouts) plus the herbs licorice root, red clover, sage, sarsaparilla and sassafras. Following a detox regime regularly a couple of times a year can also help detox the system and keep these poisonous chemicals from building up long-term.
watch for deficiencies
Much free radical damage and many of the problems associated with aging - from depression and insomnia to fatigue, poor eyesight or hearing, fragile bones, stiffness, and aches and pains - are the result of poor diet and the resulting nutritional deficiencies. Nutritional deficiencies are now widespread in the developed countries of the Western World. They have developed not because we don't have enough to eat but because we have so disturbed the healthy balance of minerals and other nutrients in natural foods thanks to chemically based agriculture and excessive food processing. A number of large-scale research projects show that someone living on the typical diet of convenience foods over the years becomes deficient in vitamins and minerals. As we get older the most common deficiencies are in potassium, zinc, chromium, iron, copper, calcium, magnesium, vitamin A, vitamin B1, vitamin B2, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, folic acid, and vitamin C as well as in protein and fiber. Fiber from fresh vegetables, grains, and pulses becomes particularly important as we get older. Unless the colon functions properly so that wastes are eliminated efficiently constipation becomes a problem so that the build up of toxicity in the body increases the rate at which aging occurs.
A national food survey carried out recently in Great Britain showed that the average person is "grossly deficient" in six out of eight vitamins and minerals. And the problem seems to be growing worse and worse as convenience food eaters get increasingly depleted in folic acid, zinc, vitamin B6, vitamin C and iron. The survey showed that the average person in Britain gets only 51% of the European recommended daily allowance of zinc, and only 71% for iron. Similarly 40% of the people studied received less than the recommended daily allowance for calcium. Nutritional deficiencies produce premature degeneration. Avoid them by avoiding processed foods as much as you can, using sea vegetables in your cooking and salads and adding more green super foods to your diet.
choose fats carefully
Most of the fats that we eat today have been severely tampered with. Instead of being in a chemical form which your body can make use of (the cis form) to build cell walls, make hormones, and make prostaglandins - all of which are essential to de-age the body, we are eating trans fatty acids. These `junk fats' found in margarine, golden vegetable oils, and all of the convenience foods that we devour - from ready made meals we pop into the microwave to mayonnaise, breads and spreads - can undermine health. Trans fatty acids make up a large proportion of the fats used in making biscuits, sweets, imitation cheeses, margarine, pastries, potato crisps, puddings, and nearly all the packaged and processed food products you find on supermarket shelves. Experts in fat metabolism now blame our ever-increasing consumption of trans fatty acids and our ever decreasing consumption of essential fatty acids in no small part for premature aging and the growth of degenerative diseases including heart-attacks and cancer. About the best oil you can use for salads and wok frying is extra virgin cold-pressed olive oil. It is monounsaturated and much more stable for wok frying foods and making salad dressings. Canola oil is also good but harder to find.
Another major reason why vitamin, mineral and protein deficiencies tend to occur as we get older is that poor eating over many years often results in a diminishment in a person's ability to digest and assimilate nutrients from their food. This is why for some even eating a good diet is not enough to supply the nutrients needed. Deficiencies in minerals, a low level of hydrochloric acid in the stomach (essential for the absorption of nutrients), or low levels of digestive enzymes are common causes of the poor assimilation that produce nutritional deficiencies. Food allergies and other allergies are also commonly linked with low levels of hydrochloric acid in the gut. This can be corrected gradually by eating a nutrient-rich/low-calorie diet of wholesome foods and by learning to manage daily stress well using a technique like autogenics. Many experts in natural medicine also suggest drinking the juice of half a lemon squeezed into water or taking a teaspoon of apple-cider vinegar in a glass of warm water, twenty to thirty minutes before meals to enhance digestion when hydrochloric acid is low. Useful, too, are good quality supplements of the major digestive enzymes such as bromelin extracted from pineapples, and papain from the papayas. Papain is soothing to the stomach and very gentle. It helps in protein digestion. Bromelin is an anti-inflammatory enzyme which reduces tissue irritation. The pancreas secretes other enzymes important to digestion such as the lipases, amylases, and proteases. For anyone who experiences problems with digestion a good natural combination of digestive enzymes can be a great adjunct to de-aging. One or two capsules with a main meal will usually do the trick. But make sure you choose only the best as there are many poor imitations on the market.
sleep a lot
Sleep is a great antioxidant and rejuvenator which few pay attention to. Even age researchers are only beginning to be aware of what a potent effect good sleep can have on de-aging the body. Sleep is every bit as essential as good quality food, regular exercise and a healthy environment in rejuvenating the body.
In recent years melatonin, the hormone secreted primarily by the pineal gland during the night hours in the absence of light, has been shown to play a major role in controlling the body's circadian rhythms and awareness of time. It has also drawn much attention from age researchers. Melatonin in supplement form can be used to great advantage wherever time awareness has been distorted, such as when crossing time zones or for people who suffer from insomnia. There are many indications that melatonin also offers powerful protection against the body's most destructive free radical - the hydroxyl radical. Sadly, melatonin has been taken off the market in Canada and Britain - amidst a great deal of hooha about it being "dangerous" because it is a natural hormone. Having looked in depth at the whole issue of melatonin I am convinced that used wisely and appropriately it is an extremely useful supplement and that there is nothing dangerous about it. Hopefully one day soon it will reappear. It is still widely available in the United States and most other countries.
new radical quencher
Meanwhile, when it comes to continual de-aging of the body, the improvement witnessed in people's lives through melatonin supplementation has made researchers ask an important question: Why would the body only secrete a substance like melatonin - a powerful free radical quencher - at night and not during the day? One of the world's experts on the antioxidant effects of melatonin, Dr Russel Reiter, believes that from a biological point of view the primary purpose of sleep may be to create a situation in which the free radicals which we generate during the day (when our exposure to free radical damage is the highest) can be mopped up at night. And it is during the hours of darkness that the body's natural melatonin levels rise. This could well be the reason why many hard-to-treat problems such as food allergies, multiple sclerosis, and ME, are often tremendously improved by getting a good night's sleep. Researchers investigating sleep have also discovered that when the body accumulates high levels of free radicals, a sense of sleepiness tends to set in. Whenever this happens it is a good idea to give in to it and have a nap. At night if you have difficulty sleeping consider using a natural botanical such as passiflora or valerian to help. Everyone's need for sleep is different and while it is true that many of us sleep less as we get older, regular restorative slumber is important for de-aging the body. Enjoy it.
Here is a simple check list you can return to to help you create an ongoing lifestyle to de-age your body.
21st century survival
Make Every Calorie Count: Gradually decrease the quantity of foods you eat while increasing the nutrients you are taking in. Choose your meals from real foods - the best nature has to offer: raw vegetables, whole grains, fresh fruits, pulses and seeds, prepared in simple ways to preserve their innate nutritional richness.
Avoid Processed Foods: Nix on junk fats, margarines, refined sugar and simple carbohydrates like most packaged breakfast cereals which tend to be depleted of essential minerals, trace elements and fiber.
Go Organic: Whenever possible buy (better yet grow) organic vegetables, grains, seeds, and nuts. Foods grown without chemical fertilizers help protect your body from pollution while they keep essential nutrients in good balance, on which continuing health depends.
Get Smart About Labels: Read labels carefully. Don't be misled by the word `natural' or `no preservatives'. Watch out for references to hydrogenated fats, aluminum, colorings and preservatives and leave foods containing them on the shelves.
Wash Non-Organic Foods Well: Use 1 tablespoon of baking soda(bicarbonate of soda) to a sink full of water. Soak for 3-5 minutes to help clear acid-pollutants from vegetables and fruits.
Drink Clean Water: Use a good water filter, buy purified water or the very best natural spring waters. Don't use tap water.
Eat Deep-Sea Fish: The fattier the better - sardines, mackerel, and wild (not farmed) salmon are full of healthy fatty acids. Stay away from cod, shellfish and most freshwater fish. They are more likely to be chemically polluted.
Avoid Aluminum Cooking: Pots and pans of aluminum can leach this metal into the foods cooked in them.
Don't Use Irradiated Foods: Their effects on the body are still largely unknown and highly questionable.
Add Superfoods To Your Diet: Make good use of foods and herbs that are rich in natural antioxidants and immune-enhancers which work synergistically to protect you. These include algae, spirulina, open-celled chlorella, Australian Dunaliella Salina, bladderwrack, Irish moss, dulse, alaria, kombu and nori as well as green cereal grasses and the power mushrooms reishi, maitake, shiitake, tremella and cordyceps.
Go For Greens: Increase your intake of cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and Brussels sprouts as well as wild green foods like nettles, dandelion and parsley. They are brimming with antioxidants.
Minimize Drugs: Use nothing either of prescription drugs or over-the-counter drugs that is not absolutely necessary, including hormone drugs. Also minimize recreational drugs such as alcohol, marijuana, nicotine and cocaine.
Practice UV Protection: Exposure to sunlight is a great ager especially now with the depletion of the ozone layer. Protect yourself.
Grow a Garden: Or at the very least sprout organic seeds and grains for salads. This gives you the freshest, chemical-free foods available. And you can sprout seeds even in a tiny kitchen in a city flat.
Cut Down on Meat: Not only is the breeding of livestock on a wide scale wasteful of the earth's resources, most meat and poultry sold comes from chemically raised animals given antibiotics and much has become polluted. If you eat meat make it organic. If you eat chicken and eggs, make them free-range.
Get Enough Sleep: Sleep is the body's great rejuvenator, it increases antioxidant activities to counter free radical dangers in the body, enhances the production of the anti-ageing pineal hormone melatonin and is essential to de-ageing your body.
To care for the body, to enable it to continue to de-age, it is essential that we treat life with respect and care - something which Mitsuo Koda stresses in all of his teaching. This begins with caring for oneself. Creating a lifestyle where your body and your spirit get what they need to thrive - exercise, kindness, rest, stimulation, the rewards of being taken seriously and nurtured. This is something that most of us have to learn how to do. We are always saying `Oh I can't take time to meditate or do autogenics,' or `How do I make time to take long walks or pursue a hobby I love when I have so many responsibilities to fulfill?' The answer is simple and absolutely true although it almost always takes a very long time and a lot of suffering for each of us to learn it for ourselves: Unless you take care of yourself first, making sure you eat well and honor your inner values in the way you live, you are incapable of caring for others properly. For me this has been - in many ways still is - the hardest lesson I have ever had to learn. Each of us behave unconsciously as we have been taught to behave. If our parents happened to desert us or did not care for us very well then we somehow take on their habits about ourselves and don't look after ourselves properly either. The only way to change this is through constant awareness and continued commitment to nurturing the life within us. This in turn develops our ability to nurture others and the earth.
life begins today
This is the first day of the rest of your life. It can be an exciting one no matter what your age now, what you want to change, and what dreams you want to bring into reality. Begin by making friends with the cornerstone practices of ageless aging. Use them regularly to make your life work better and enhance your capacity for joy. Finally explore what you love most and begin to do it - even if you can only manage an hour or two a week to start with.
The American expert in mythology Joseph Campbell used to urge his students at Sarah Lawrence College to follow your bliss, and participate joyously in the sorrows of the world. It is great advice when it comes to de-aging body and mind. By this Campbell did not mean going out of our way to have a good time or chasing rainbows. Far from it. He meant being in touch with whatever is your particular, individual passion and then pursuing it for its own sake, simply because it brings you joy. This can be gardening, or racing motor bikes, going back to university, traveling, listening to music, dancing or surfing the net.
The whole point about following ones bliss and honoring ones passions is that doing it leads step by step down a road towards personal authenticity as well as towards the kind of fulfillment that has nothing to do with external success or the approval of society. This too is like rediscovering the joy of childhood when for hours you could sit and perform a particular act or work with a particular skill as life unfolded moment by moment. When it comes to ongoing rejuvenation of body, mind and spirit, what can be better than that?