We desire to look and feel younger. Anti-ageing is probably one of the oldest topics, and cultures from Egypt, China, and India, which have thousands of years of developments and contributions to anti-ageing therapies. Since the baby boomers are getting older, anti-ageing medicine have caught on like wild fire. News media, social media and magazines are full of anti-ageing advertisements and products. Are they really worth the trouble? Here I will reveal the centuries old Ayurvedic secrets of anti-aging and explore the latest science behind anti-aging therapies.

Cut your calories and live longer

One of the effective ways to prevent ageing is to restrict calories. Over the past several years, studies found that restricting calories slows ageing and increases longevity; however the reasons of this effect have remained unclear. Recent studies published in “Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News (GEN) of Dec 7, 2012” showed a novel mechanism by which low-carb, low-calorie diet, called a “ketogenic diet”, could delay the effects of aging.

Scientists at the Gladstone Institutes, led by senior investigator Eric Verdin, M.D., examined the role of the compound β-hydroxybutyrate (βOHB), a so-called “ketone body” that is produced during a prolonged low-calorie or ketogenic diet. While ketone bodies such as β-hydroxybutyrate can be toxic when present at very high concentrations in people with diseases such as type 1 diabetes, Dr. Verdin and colleagues found that at lower concentrations, β-hydroxybutyrate helps to protect cells from oxidative stress. β-hydroxybutyrate—the body’s major source of energy during exercise or fasting—blocks a class of enzymes that would otherwise promote oxidative stress, thus protecting cells from ageing. Oxidative stress occurs as cells use oxygen to produce energy, but this activity also releases potentially toxic free radicals. As cells ages, they become less effective in clearing these free radicals—leading to cell damage, oxidative stress, and the effects of ageing.

Dr. Verdin and his team found that βOHB might actually help to delay this process. In a series of laboratory experiments—first in human cells in a dish and then in tissues taken from mice—the team monitored the biochemical changes that occur when βOHB is administered during a chronic calorie-restricted diet. The researchers found that calorie restriction spurs βOHB production, which blocks the activity of a class of enzymes called histone deacetylases, or HDACs.

Normally HDACs keep Foxo3a and Mt2 genes switched off. But increased levels of βOHB block HDACs from doing so, which activates the two genes. Once activated, these genes kick-start a process that helps cells resist oxidative stress. This discovery not only identifies a novel signaling role for βOHB, but it could also represent a way to slow the detrimental effects of aging in all cells of the body.

“This breakthrough also greatly advances our understanding of the underlying mechanism behind HDACs, which had already been known to be involved in aging and neurological disease,” says Gladstone investigator Katerina Akassoglou, Ph.D., one of the paper’s co-authors. “The findings could be relevant for a wide range of neurological conditions such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, autism, and traumatic brain injury.”

“Identifying βOHB as a link between caloric restriction and protection from oxidative stress opens up a variety of new avenues to researchers for combating disease,” adds Tadahiro Shimazu, a Gladstone postdoctoral fellow and the paper’s lead author. “In the future, we will continue to explore the role of βOHB—especially how it affects the body’s other organs, such as the heart or brain—to confirm whether the compound’s protective effects can be applied throughout the body.”

Whenever holidays are upon us, we will likely overeat unnecessary amounts of foods and calories without realizing that these calories will not only make us fattier or heavier, but also and perhaps ultimately most worrisome, make us aged. We may ask the question “why extra body weight will age us?” Foods high in carbohydrate and high fat induce a state of accelerated cellular ageing. A new study from the Division of Endocrinology at New York State University shows that intake of a high carb/high fat meal promotes an extended state of oxidative stress and inflammation, which is worse in overweight and obese subjects.[2] Oxidative stress occurs when your body’s natural ability to scavenge reactive free radicals becomes impaired. This results in an accelerated state of damage at a cellular level. The central problem with oxidative stress is that it impairs insulin signaling which means that you tend to store carbs as fat. This is dangerous because obesity is associated with inflammation of tissues. A single high fat/high carb meal produced a prolonged state of inflammation and oxidative stress that is still on the increase 3 hours after eating in an obese person while normal subjects return to a normal state within 2 hours. That means if you are overweight you are going to be more toxic than person with normal weight.

A team of researchers from the US and Britain concluded that the more you weigh, the older their cells appear on a molecular level with obesity adding the equivalent of nearly nine years of age to a person’s body.[3] The researchers took blood samples so they could examine structures inside the white blood cells called telomeres. Telomeres are the caps at the ends of chromosomes which is the molecules that carry genes. Every time a cell divides, telomeres shorten. In the natural aging process, telomeres eventually get so short that cells can no longer divide, and they then die. As more and more cells reach the end of their telomeres and die, the inexorable process produces the effects of aging. The researchers found a direct relationship between body weight and telomere length, more body weight, shorter telomere. Lean women had significantly longer telomeres than heavy women.

Cut your calories, feel and look Younger

Calorie restriction is a dietary regimen that restricts calorie intake, where the baseline for the restriction varies and depends on the purposes of the subjects. Calorie restriction without malnutrition is one of the few dietary interventions shown to increase both median and maximum lifespan in a variety of species like yeast, fish, rodents and dogs.[4] Calorie restriction has shown health benefits on non-human primates, but the tests of its long-term effects on lifespan are still ongoing.[5] But will calorie restriction be harmful to our lives? In a recent study, The National Institutes of Health (NIH), one of the world’s foremost medical research centers, finds calorie restriction does not affect survival.[6] A diet, comprised of approximately 30% fewer calories but with the same nutrients of a standard diet, does not extend years of life or reduce age-related deaths in a 23-year study of rhesus monkeys. This was different from the study published in 2009 by NIH, where they found calories restriction of whole food have beneficial effects in longevity and disease prevention. In 2009 experiment food used was all natural, whereas in study published in 2012, scientists used purified foods. Even with purified foods they saw delay in disease like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease expressions and one of the most interesting was cancer prevention. I always promote food in its original form, the more we modify food, worse it gets. We simply are not smarter than mother-nature, which have millions years of experimental knowledge.

Low calorie diets are eating plans that contain 800 to 1,500 calories a day. In humans, calorie restriction with adequate nutrition protects against obesity, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, atherosclerosis and Alzheimer’s disease, which are leading causes of illness, disability, ageing and death.[7] A calorie restricted diet can lower inflammation, lower body temperature and lower insulin level; and can slow down the ageing process.

Many age-related disorders such as obesity, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, arthritis, atherosclerosis and Alzheimer’s disease are initiated by chronic inflammation, an evolutionary survival adaptation that protects us from infectious diseases. Calorie restriction reduces our core body temperature, which in turn delays aging and neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease. But higher body temperatures may accelerate ageing by increasing oxidative stress, and inflammation, causing cellular damage. High insulin levels induce oxidative stress and ageing, and also inhibit proteosome activity while stimulating the synthesis of polyunsaturated fatty acids. Proteosomes are large proteins that break down unneeded or damaged proteins. High levels of polyunsaturated fatty acids can be harmful because they are susceptible to oxidation, and oxidized fats cause cancer and may accelerate ageing. Low calorie diets normalize insulin levels, thereby delaying morbidity and mortality.

Ayurvedic and Naturopathic Medicine for Anti-ageing

A modern theory of ageing integrates theories which have been devised from 3 interconnected elements: the evolutionary theory of ageing, the oxidative damage theory of ageing, and the non-adaptive programmed ageing theory.[8] The evolutionary theory is that the force of natural selection decreases with age and has little influence on the effects of genes at ages where death is almost invariably due to extrinsic factors, which simply means that everyone will have to die. The damage theory means in many species, ageing is accompanied by an accumulation of oxidative damage to proteins, lipids and DNA caused by free radicals like superoxide and the hydroxyl radical produced partly as a byproduct of mitochondrial respiration in our cells. Finally, the programmed theory is the central to the present discussion of ageing, and is based on the genetics of how long and how efficient our cells can maintain optimum health. It concerns intrinsic factors like genes or telomere mentioned above.

What is anti-ageing therapy?

Anti-ageing therapy is a combination of different therapies used to slow and/or reverse human ageing and is one of the fastest growing segments of medicine today. The most commonly used anti-ageing therapy is calorie restriction, as mentioned previously, and has shown scientific promise in slowing aging process and extending lifespan in mammals. Interestingly, Ayurvedic traditions recommend eating less, as much as 1/3 less calories, than required daily. Also scientists agree that one of the most significant factors contributing to ageing is chronic inflammation. As we age, we tend to have a number of identifiable inflammatory diseases. The chronic inflammation damages the cells of our brains, heart, arterial walls, and other body structures. Thus heart disease, Alzheimer’s senility, Parkinson’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, prostatitis, stroke and cancer are just some of the “diseases of ageing” resulting from chronic inflammation. There are many food supplements and herbs which are recommended by Ayurvedic doctors for chronic inflammation, like ginger, turmeric, grapes, guggul, boswellia , ashwgandha etc.[9] In America, when we use the word longevity, we mean extending life, growing old gracefully, staying healthy as long as possible; which we often measure in numbers of years. But when the word longevity is used in Ayurveda, we mean something different—life extension is considered a side benefit of a very comprehensive approach to life itself. The word Ayurveda literally means the knowledge (veda) of life (ayus). It studies how to be fulfilled and reach full human potential, rather than simply adding a few good years.[10] [11] Ayurveda focuses on connecting the mind, body and self. The self here represents the field of consciousness from which, according to Ayurveda, everything comes. It is an understanding that our individual mind and body are reflections of the field of consciousness, and that the cause of disease or illness is when we lose our internal connections in consciousness. This loss is called pragya paradh, which means the “mistake of the intellect”—the intellect chooses to see itself as separated from the self or the consciousness from where we come. When we deal with anti-ageing and longevity in Ayurveda, we are considering techniques that will restore this memory of consciousness into every cell of the body. The resulting experience, much like an atom, a hurricane, or a solar system, is silent on the inside and incredibly powerful on the outside. For instance, stress, which triggers the production of degenerative stress-fighting hormones and free radicals, literally strips the silence or consciousness out of our cells. The goal in Ayurvedic longevity and Ayurveda in general is to replace stress with silence, and to live life to our full potential, in the eye of the hurricane—calm and powerful. Ayurvedic medicine has a full branch of therapies devoted to healthy living and anti-ageing which include nutrition, herbal supplements, exercises, yoga and breathing exercises. At Ayurvedic and Naturopathic Medical Clinic, we use cutting edge latest research along with wisdom of Ayurveda to achieve the goal of optimal health. We also prescribe natural hormonal replacement therapies in a sensible manner and monitor the hormones to optimize the body’s functions and cut down their side effects.

Simple way to cut your calories is to eat lots of vegetables and couple of fruits per day. Vegetables have very less calories and they are full of essential vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. For example, one pound of spinach has 104 calories, one pound of broccoli has 154 calories, one pound of carrots has 186 calories, one apple has 95 calories, and one orange has 85 calories. We can compare these to Hershey Chocolate bar of 200 calories or a 12 ounce soda of 140 calories, etc. I encourage folks to eat 7-8 servings of vegetables. One serving is when you cut your raw vegetables and put them in 8 ounce cup or cooked vegetables in ½ cup. Eat 2 – 3 fresh seasonal fruits with 1-2 handful of raw, unroasted and unsalted nuts and seeds; and use good oils like olive oil, coconut oil, probiotic ghee, sour cream. Limit consumption of oils, it should not be more than 1-2 tablespoons per day. Do not deep fry or even cook foods with oils. Instead, add oil on top of your vegetables. Limit animal proteins to couple times per week, favor fish and chicken over red meat. These healthy eating habits will help to cut your calories remarkably and you live longer and will achieve optimal potential, a perfect anti-ageing.