• SEPTEMBER 2016
Why do some people look 40 when
they’re 60—and vice versa? The things that
age us the most may surprise you
BY VERA TWEED
t’s no secret that some people age faster than others. But surprisingly, perhaps,
the process can begin to accelerate quite early in life. An international team of
researchers studied 954 people born within months of each other in Dunnedin,
New Zealand, and found that by age 38, biological ages ranged from under 30 to
What is biological age? It’s the changes in the way our body functions on the
inside, which can be detected even before outward signs of aging become obvious.
Eighteen health markers were measured in the study, including blood sugar, cardiovascular ﬁtness, blood-vessel function, performance of lungs and other organs, dental
health, and length of telomeres—protective caps at the ends of chromosomes that
have been found to shorten with age.
“As we get older, our risk grows for all kinds of diﬀerent diseases,” says study
coauthor Dan Belsky, PhD, an assistant professor of geriatrics in Duke University’s
Center for Aging in Durham, N.C. “To prevent multiple diseases simultaneously,
aging itself has to be the target,” he adds. “Otherwise, it’s a game of whack-a-mole.”
There’s no doubt that genes inﬂuence how we age. If your parents lived well into
their 90s or beyond, in good health, you have a natural advantage—to some degree.
Studies of twins show that only about 20 percent of aging can be attributed to genes,
and the rest depends upon how we live life. What we eat, how physically active
we are, and levels of stress all play a role, but there’s an underlying process that’s
The Aging Gas Pedal
“The thing that ages us the fastest is a
process called glycation,” says Prudence
Hall, MD, a Venice, Calif.-based pioneer in
I started taking collagen about 13 years ago for vanity reasons. But I can’t help but wonder if
regenerative medicine whose advice has
collagen is also one of the main reasons I’ve been free of joint pain and back pain and all kinds of
been sought by leading natural health
other “creaky” pains that folks my age get all the time—I’ll be 70 on my next birthday.
advocates, including Suzanne Sommers
Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body, making up approximately 30 percent of our
and Dr. Oz. Glycation (pronounced
whole-body protein content. But nature plays a little trick on us by slowing down production of
“gly-KAY-shun”) occurs with high levels
collagen as we get older. When you don’t have enough collagen, your muscles and skin start to
of blood sugar. The sugar binds with
sag. Cartilage starts to thin out and becomes weaker. The skin thins and becomes wrinkled. Your
proteins and damages cells throughout
bones can lose density. In fact, decreased amounts of collagen in the bones are an underlying
the human body.
cause of bone problems.
“It kind of candy coats the cells,”
There are actually more than 16 types of collagen in the human body, but three of them—
says Hall, so that each cell looks much
simply called type 1, type 2, and type 3—are predominant. These three types of collagen are conlike a candy-coated apple; “It causes a
centrated in different places in the body. Types 1 and 3 are in the skin, as well as the tendons and
rigidity, so the cell isn’t able to function
bones. Type 2 is mainly in cartilage, one reason it has come to be known as “good for the joints.”
as it normally would.” The process
Once collagen is extracted from its sources (such as grass-fed beef hides), it’s processed in
promotes wrinkles and classic ageeither of two ways. One way produces gelatin (basically cooked collagen), and one way—slightly
related ailments—achiness, lack of
different—produces what’s known as collagen hydrolysate, or hydrolyzed
energy, mental decline, heart
collagen. Hydrolyzed collagen is collagen in which the protein molecules
problems—which are diﬃcult
have been broken down into smaller and smaller “pieces”—usable
to resolve with a symptomsmall-chain peptides and amino acids, units much easier for the body
Did you know?
ﬁx type of approach:
to assimilate and use. This is the form you will find in high-quality
Drinking a 20-ounce soda daily
collagen supplements. Follow label directions for use.
makes you 4.6 years older,
analogy. But glycation
—Jonny Bowden, PhD, CNS
according to University of California
itself can be reduced.
San Francisco researchers. They
Do You Need More Collagen?
The Sugar Fix
There are speciﬁc
things you can
do, says Hall,
at bay and
slow down the
and both are major
culprits that contribute to
heart disease, diabetes, joint issues,
and neurological conditions. The
same strategies reduce these two
examined the soda habits and
DNA of 5,309 people
between the ages of
20 and 65.
v Cut out sugar. This means avoiding
both obvious sources of sugar such
as desserts, sodas, and processed
foods, as well as white starchy foods,
such as pastas, white breads, and
reﬁned cereals, which are rapidly
converted into blood sugar.
• SEPTEMBER 2016
Editor’s Product Picks:
v Control protein. Eating too
much protein contributes to glycation,
says Hall. For most people, she
recommends a moderate amount
of protein, such as one-quarter of a
plate. Or, use the Dietary Reference
Intakes in government guidelines as
a guide: 0.36 grams of protein per
pound of body weight. Multiply your
weight by 0.36, or use the calculator at
interactiveDRI/. Anyone lifting heavy
weights or doing a lot of endurance
exercise, such as running long distances,
needs up to 50 percent more protein.
Use a variety of plant sources, such
as beans and plant-based protein
powders without added sugar, as well
as animal protein.
Type 1 & 3
v Eat lots of plant foods. These
include beans, nuts, seeds, quinoa,
and a variety of vegetables, including
unlimited greens and high-ﬁber fruits
such as berries, apples, pears, cherries,
and grapefruit. With fruit, says Hall,
“This is a new trend.” Although fruit
contains sugar, the ﬁber in these
fruits blunts the sugar response. Plus,
they’re chock-full of antioxidants and
other beneﬁcial nutrients.
v Decrease stress. “Stress raises blood
sugar and glycation, and is implicated
in almost every disease—including
dementia, heart disease, and many
cancers—so dealing with stress is
really important,” says Hall. Elevated
blood sugar is an internal type of
stress, so controlling it is a start. In
addition, manage stressful situations
in life, get enough sleep, and avoid
FRUIT BUSTS STROKE RISK
Eating high-fiber fruit daily lowers stroke risk by
32 percent, according to studies that looked at more
than 760,000 people. Good options include:
v Get enough sleep. “Sleep is when
the body detoxiﬁes itself,” says Hall.
“During the day we’re on a routine
that’s determined by our own will,
but at night, the wisdom of the body
steps in and does massive clean-up of
the day, when the liver processes the
toxins and the kidneys detoxify the
urine and the blood.” Insuﬃcient sleep
allows toxins to accumulate, makes it
impossible for a body to function at its
best, and speeds up the aging clock.
v Be smart about exercise. Cardio-
vascular, resistance, ﬂexibility, and
balance exercises are all necessary for
healthy aging. However, cautions Hall,
never forego sleep to get exercise,
as it will raise stress and be counterproductive. If your schedule is really
tight, work in some short breaks for
physical activity during the day—but
don’t get up sleep-deprived to hit
Starch—in refined white bread or pasta, seemingly healthy foods such
as rice cakes, or in whole grains or starchy vegetables—acts like sugar
after being eaten and, in excess, contributes to glycation, inflammation,
weight gain, and accelerated aging. A survey of 1,200 American adults
found that nearly one in three is somewhat confused about which
foods are starchy. Misconceptions included beliefs that peanut
butter, avocados, eggplant, and artichokes are starchy foods.
“Get starch under control,” recommends certified clinical nutritionist James LaValle, RPh, author of Cracking the
Metabolic Code. Some of the most common sources are
grains and corn, processed foods, and fries and chips.
In addition to choosing fewer starchy foods, LaValle
recommends Phase 2, a supplement shown in studies to
reduce absorption of starch. A patented extract of white
beans, Phase 2 doesn’t produce gas or other side effects.
An effective amount is 1,000 mg, taken before each meal,
three times daily.
• SEPTEMBER 2016
SKIP THE FRIES
Potatoes are our top
vegetable crop, and over half
are turned into frozen fries,
chips, and other processed
products with added fat or
other unhealthy additives.
While potatoes can be a
healthy food, too much
contributes to starch
the gym or go for a run. For aerobic
exercise, she recommends doing
this for a total of 5 minutes: 20
seconds at the highest intensity you
can safely do, alternating with 20
seconds of rest. “That kind of interval
bursting is more eﬀective than
running for 3 miles,” says Hall.
SUPPLEMENTS FOR HEALTHY AGING
For basic nutritional support and energy production: Take a good quality multivitamin; 100 mg
daily or more of CoQ10, as natural levels start decreasing after age 30; and 500–1,000 mcg of
vitamin B12 in the methylcobalamin form, as age-related digestive changes reduce its absorption.
Plant-based or other protein powders, without sugar, are a healthy source of protein.
To reduce glycation: Hall recommends daily supplements of 200–400 mcg chromium, 500 mg
acetyl l-carnitine, 400 mg alpha lipoic acid, and 1,000 mg berberine HCl (if you’re prediabetic).
For better sleep: 1–5 mg melatonin. If you feel hung over in the morning, use a lower dose
v Nurture good digestion. Gluten
and dairy are the most common
foods that many people can’t tolerate,
but eggs, soy, and others can also be
problematic and trigger inﬂammation. Identify and avoid any foods
you can’t tolerate, and try probiotic
supplements to help balance gut
bacteria, and enzymes to improve
or take it earlier in the evening, right after dinner.
To counteract stress: Theanine, an amino acid in tea, can help relax you during the day
without causing drowsiness and, if taken in the evening, improves restful sleep. Magnesium,
in pills or powder dissolved in water, calms, relaxes, and reduces inflammation.
To reduce inflammation: 1,000–2,000 mg EPA/DHA in fish oil or from plant-based EPA and DHA.
For better digestion: Probiotics and digestive enzymes, per product directions.
v Beware of estrogen depletion.
In women, says Hall, “Low estrogen
states cause higher levels of blood
sugar.” The trigger may be menopause
or birth control pills. It can be
corrected with natural, bioidentical
hormone balancing managed by a
knowledgeable practitioner. To ﬁnd
one, visit functionalmedicine.org or
Hang On to Muscle
After age 30, muscle starts to shrink in inactive
people at the rate of 3–5 percent per decade, and
the proportion of fat increases, making a human
body look and function “older.” Two or three
workouts per week, using weights to train all the
major muscle groups, can preserve and increase
the proportion of muscle, preserving and improving strength, body composition (which improves
sugar metabolism), and a younger look and feel.
SUPPLEMENT SHOPPING LIST
Biosint Carnitines has 500
mg of the nutrient
Essential Formulas Reg’Activ
Cardio Wellness boasts a
unique and well-researched
probiotic (Lactobacillus fermentum ME-3) that supports
heart and overall health.
Natural Factors Whole Earth
& Sea Women’s 50+ and
Men’s 50+ Multivitamin &
Mineral formulas are made
with raw ingredients from
the company’s farm.
AgeLoss First Day Healthy
contains all the essentials
for healthy aging, including
CoQ10 and enzymes.
NOW Foods Chewable
L-Theanine has 100 mg of
the amino acid per tablet. The
chewable form gets into your
Contributing editor Vera Tweed has been researching and writing about supplements, holistic nutrition, fitness, and other aspects of healthy living since 1997. She is the author
of several books, including Hormone Harmony: How to Balance Insulin, Cortisol, Thyroid, Estrogen, Progesterone and Testosterone to Live Your Best Life.
• SEPTEMBER 2016
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