AGE IN REVERSE
Lifestyle and nutrition strategies that can help you slow the hands of time
IF YOU TOLD ME I COULD LOOK 19 AGAIN, I’d pass. You see, at 19, I “looked 50” according to my niece, Cecelia (see my photos, below, at 19 on the left and today, at 47, on the far right). I understand what she saw—the health issues I had at 19 are more commonly seen in 50-year-olds. At 19, I suffered from an eating disorder that eventually led to life-threatening autoimmune and liver problems. At 24, I finally took charge of my health by drastically changing my diet and taking supplements. Today, I look more vital (who cares about “younger”?) with each passing year.
There is a growing area of research called epigenetics, which deals with matters of genetic expression. It turns out that our genes are not our destiny, and that even a genetic predisposition to disease is not our fate. Rather, how our genes are expressed impacts quality and length of life—and nutrition and lifestyle can have an incred- ible influence on that expression.
Ron Rosedale, MD, author of The Rosedale Diet, explains it this way: “Miscommunication between cells causes all disease. Diabetes, for example, is a miscommunication of [the hormones] insulin and leptin. We are not our genes, but rather the ‘music’ our genes play. Your breakfast choice alone can change 8,000 genes. Genes can play the music of either diabetes or of long life.” So how do we help our genes make beautiful music? Hormonal imbalances are often caused by consuming excess sugar and processed foods, as well as by a lack of good fats in the diet. Low-fat diets and trans fats can wreak havoc on hormonal function. But just as fast as a poor diet wreaks havoc, eating the right way can have a stunning, nearly immediate impact on hormonal balance. I have seen my clients experience incredible reversals in health problems linked to hormonal imbalance after removing sugar from their diets and increasing healthy dietary fat (e.g., from grass-fed animal products) —for example, their periods normalize, fibroids shrink, fertility increases, and hot flashes stop suddenly. The greatest threat to longevity and health may be stress—the effects of which can be controlled by our own choices, and mitigated nutritionally, to a certain extent. And of course, lifestyle choices such as not smoking and exercising can have dramatic impacts on health, and thus how much life we get out of our years. Sleep (or a lack of it) also affects gene expression. Too little sleep interferes with the release of human growth hormone (hGH), a hormone found in higher levels in young people. This can have a domino