Read an Excerpt
Chapter 1: What is the Accelerated Metabolic Aging Process?
We are all going to age and die, because it is impossible to stop normal aging. But you have more control over aging than you might believe. In fact, you can improve your metabolism, look and feel younger, achieve your ideal body composition and delay the degenerative diseases of aging by simply avoiding the habits that accelerate the normal aging process.
Before reading the patient interviews' throughout this book, which explore the degenerative diseases of accelerated metabolic aging in further detail, you must understand what metabolic aging means and how certain habits accelerate this process. As you learn about the accelerated metabolic aging process, you will understand what you can do to heal your metabolism, which in turn will improve your quality of life and increase your longevity.
What Is Metabolism?
In popular terminology, metabolism is defined as the amount of energy a person's body burns. However, burning energy is only a small fraction of what your metabolism does. Metabolism is the combined effects of all the varied biochemical processes that continually occur in your body on a cellular level. These processes enable every individual component of your body to function, making it possible for you to think, digest food, move and perform all the functions of a living, breathing being. Some of these functions include: bone and tissue regeneration, elimination, fertility, functions of all internal organs, mood, vision, hormone production, heart pumping and talking.
Regeneration processes are divided into two categories: Those that build the body up and those that breakthe body down. Your body is made up of dynamic tissues such as nails and hair that your body constantly replaces. This breaking-down process is essential for clearing out the old cells and cellular material (enzymes, hormones, neurotransmitters) to make room for the new.
Aging and Hormones
Hormones are the chemical communicators within your body that direct the cellular building processes. Hormones, and the messages they send, are essential for breaking down old cells and making new cells. Likewise, healthy new cells are important for hormone production. When a particular hormone system breaks down, as with the loss of estrogen from the ovaries, it affects all the other processes in the entire physiological system because the systems of the body are interconnected. As your body loses cells and hormone levels decline, your body breaks down more than it builds up, and the end result is aging.
To explain, in simple terms, how cells age, I will focus on two types of cells: stem cells and committed cells. Stem cells have one purpose: to produce committed cells. Under the direction of various hormones, stem cells divide slowly over the course of your lifetime to make new stem cells.
Committed cells perform all the biochemical processes of your metabolism. These cells are short-lived; they are constantly being replaced by new committed cells.
With the normal wear and tear of time, your stem cells wear down and produce fewer and less-efficient committed cells. As your committed cells continue to decrease and become less efficient, your body breaks down more than it builds up. Because there are fewer and fewer committed cells available, and because more of them are less efficient, your metabolism (your body's ability to carry out chemical and other processes) goes into a decline.
If your stem cells continued to produce an adequate supply of perfect committed cells, your metabolism would not age and you would not age. Your vitality and health would never decline. But the decreased efficiency of your metabolism is the natural and inevitable result of cellular aging.
In summary, normal cellular aging is a cycle that goes like this: Stem cells make committed cells, committed cells make hormones, hormones direct the stem cells to make more committed cells, and so on. Normal cellular aging results as committed cells die but do not get replaced, or are replaced with less efficient committed cells. Because, ultimately, our bodies will be made up of both stem cells and committed cells that are imperfect or that have been damaged by a variety of factors (aging, free radicals, radiation, toxins, prolonged high insulin levels and so on), we will all age and die. There is no way to prevent normal cellular aging.
Accelerated Metabolic Aging
Due to various genetic differences, everyone is programmed to live a certain number of years. Achieving your individual maximum life expectancy requires that you maintain a healthy, functioning metabolism. However, when unhealthy eating and lifestyle habits interfere with hormone production, the metabolic system breaks down faster than normal. This premature breakdown is what I call "accelerated metabolic aging."
Naturally, if you are aging rapidly on the cellular level, you are going to look older and feel older much faster. Though you cannot change normal metabolic aging, you do have control over accelerated metabolic aging. In fact, it is possible to stop and even heal some of the damage done to your body by the accelerated metabolic aging process. Some nutrition and lifestyle habits that can accelerate this process are shown in the box below.
Nutrition and Lifestyle Habits That Accelerate Metabolic Aging
- Artifical sweeteners
- Excessive and/or unnecessary thyroid replacement therapy
- Lack of exercise
- Poor nutrition
- Prescription or over-the-counter drug use
- Stimulant and other recreational drugs