Six Changeable Factors of Unhealthy Aging and Chronic Disease
Research of the past twenty years has identified several important factors in premature aging and in the development of chronic diseases. These six major factors all are interrelated in the big picture of “dis-ease.”
1. Chronic Inflammation of the Intestinal Tract (Gut): The gut is now considered a major organ of immunity. 70% of lymphocytes (white blood cells) are produced by the intestinal tract. The GI tract has its own immune system and its own bacterial colonies that are essential for life. One function of the small intestine is to selectively prevent toxins and antigens from being absorbed. The small intestine, when damaged by parasites, pathological bacteria, food antigens, etc., will cause a break down in intestinal barrier function, and the result is not only abnormal intestinal permeability, but also an increase in pro inflammatory cells that induce systemic inflammation. This process contributes to the aging process and increases the rate of chronic disease progression. Chronic inflammation is a major player in the breakdown of the human body. Many nutritional supplements including L-glutamine, aloe, probiotics, zinc, and herbal extracts, have been found helpful in reducing bowel inflammation and sealing so-called leaky gut.
2. Glycation: Glycation is caused by a diet rich in refined sugars (glucose) in the blood and in tissues and cells that attach to proteins and alters the functions and structure of those proteins. Insulin resistance (a major cause of diabetes) and other defects in glucose metabolism add to this problem by causing oxidative stress and inflammation that damages cells and mitochondria (energy producers in cells). Refined sugars in the SAD (standard American diet) are the major player in poor glucose metabolism and insulin control. The average adult consumes more that 100 pounds of white sugar per year. It is no wonder that America spends in excess of $200 billion per year treating diabetes and its effects on the body.
3. Compromised Detoxification: We live in a toxic environment. Studies have found pesticides, chemicals, flame retardants, heavy metals, drugs, etc., in breast milk. Children become toxic from day one! Overuse of antibiotics, vaccines, GMO foods, fast foods, exposure to sick children in day care, family stress, all contribute to a child that not only is nutritionally compromised, but also whose detoxification and excretion pathways are also compromised. This can be a short term or long term process before chronic diseases manifest. An excellent example of this process is the suppression of inflammatory issues like serous otitis media (middle ear infections in children), or tonsillitis, or sinusitis in children that are chronically treated with various antibiotics over many years. For many of these children they then develop skin issues (exema, psoriasis,) respiratory issues (asthma,) food allergies (gluten and casein intolerance) and psychological, behavioral, and learning issues. If left untreated, they become chronically sick adults. In order to be healthy the body must constantly detox and excrete.
4. Infection: Infection caused by bacteria, viruses, parasites, mycoplasmas, fungal infections, etc., all contribute to the process of inflammation and immune dis-regulation.
5. Altered Mitochondrial Function: Mitochondria make up approximately 10% of our entire body weight. Besides providing energy for cells, they also have their own genetic information that is different from the DNA in chromosomes located in the nucleus of cells. Mitochondrial DNA is only inherited from the mother, which may account for more that 50% of ones genetic makeup and genetic susceptibility. Nuclear DNA is more resistant to oxidative damage than mitrochondrial DNA. This means that mitochrondrial DNA is more likely to be damaged by oxidative chemical reactions than nuclear DNA. This damage may translate into chronic fatigue, accelerated aging, fibromyalgia-like symptoms, and dementia-like disorders. Free radicals, lipid peroxides, infection, pro-inflammatory cells, poor liver function, nutritional deficiencies, stress, etc., all contribute to over-all energy reserve deficiencies. Exercise, nutritional supplementation and intervention, and caloric restriction have been proven to help mitochondria proliferation.
6. Defective Methylation and Homocysteine metabolism: Vitamin B12, folate, and vitamin B6 all play a role in the metabolism of a compound called homocysteine. This compound is an amino acid (building blocks of proteins) that is now considered a bio-marker for heart disease, stroke, cancer, and dementia among susceptible individuals. Homocysteine can be measured on a blood test.
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