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The boomers are aging and they don’t like it. After creating the youth culture and the societal obsession with it, we found that we were not going to stay young forever. This shocking news spurred us to action. Plastic surgery, fitness trends, abs machines, the Life Extension Foundation, growth hormone injections, testosterone creams, etc: Science and industry united to provide the most gluttonous people on the earth with an extension of their life spans. Or freeze your body (or head if you can’t afford the whole body) and we will clone you after a cure for death has been discovered. Boomers will not “go gentle into that good night,” and if we have to go, we are taking it with us (evidently the whole planet).
Of course we are not the first people obsessed with reversing the aging process. Ancient Egyptian and Taoist (Chinese) texts offer herbal, medicinal, and magical approaches to anti-aging and longevity, some including special exercises and meditative practices. For fun, try the “inner smile.” Close your eyes and generate a genuine smile. Now imagine that sensation gradually circulating throughout your entire body, with special focus on any areas with health problems. There is definitely something going on there.
Someone once said that we “dig our own graves with a fork.” This is obviously valid to anyone who has studied nutrition. Diets high in refined carbohydrates clearly lead to insulin-resistance, the path to obesity and diabetes (and now also linked to Alzheimer’s disease). The more we eat the more energy the body expends and the more free radicals we produce. In fact 90% of the free radicals produced in our bodies are a byproduct of the utilization of food: the more calories we consume the more free radicals we produce.
These high-glycemic foods also cause elevated cortisol levels which eventually leads to depleted DHEA and Growth Hormone levels, all part of the aging process.
When your stomach is empty, enzymes are circulating through your bloodstream hunting down invasive allergens, bacteria, parasites and other villains that compromise our immune systems. When we eat cooked food (canned meats being the worst, then overcooked and other canned goods) all enzymes are rallied to the stomach to breakdown that dead, denatured food. The immune system is now rendered partially defenseless.
Raw foods have their own enzymes, sufficient for their own digestion and do not deplete us the way cooked foods do. In fact sprouted foods, and fermented foods containing lactic acid (like kefir, miso and sauerkraut), all provide the body with extra enzymes over and above what they require to be digested. As well, these foods encourage the thriving of friendly bacteria in the gut, and help to rebuild the pancreas so that we can produce more of our own enzymes. While a diet that is exclusively raw foods can be problematic in excess, this high enzyme potential is the reason that such diets can be very healing for many ailments.
The only proven life-extension of mammals is based on the CRON (Calorie Restricted Optimal Nutrition) diet. That is, if you cut the diet of rats in half, from a young age, you can double their lifespan. This approach conflicts with the health view in the sports and fitness field where once eats small meals 5 to 6 times per day in order to keep the metabolism running high and thus keeping us lean. However, when you run an engine fast and hot it burns out quicker. So you can look lean and trim for the short run, but in the long run there will be a price to pay.
Observing the humans who practice this diet does not make one anxious to try it. They tend to look emaciated and not all that healthy. A natural health professional once suggested “it is better to eat pizza with friend than brown rice alone.” And at this point we have to ask whether we want quantity of life or quality of life. The Chinese fellow who recently turned 104 (and is thinking about giving up smoking) claimed that his longevity was due to 70 years of celibacy. The response of my male friends was: what’s the point? We want a long life to enjoy the pleasures of life. Simply living a long time because we are afraid of dying is neither healthy nor satisfying.
For an overview of the best balanced dietary approach check out “The Anti-Aging Zone” by Barry Sears. Basically the approach is avoidance of all sugars, breads and flour products (even whole wheat) as these items function in the body in a way almost identical to white sugar. This is a relatively high protein diet with a moderate amount of good fats (olive oil, fish) and lots of raw and lightly cooked vegetables and low glycemic fruits (mostly berries). Fasting for one day a week (only fresh vegetable juices and water) is one of the best ways to naturally elevate Growth Hormone levels.
Growth hormone products are big now, and are often just a marketing scam. But they don’t have to be. There are many well-studied substances that naturally elevate growth hormone levels, and when that occurs we are rolling back the biological clock to a more youthful level. This balances out the sex hormones, improves mental function and immune health, reduces excess body fat, improves sex drive etc, etc.
However, the claims made by most natural products are based on the clinical studies that used synthetic, pure growth hormone. And no one talked about the negative effects found at the end of the studies when people’s knuckles started growing and organs began to be enlarged. This is because when we take a hormone end-product the body has no option but to use it up: thus pure testosterone creates an unnaturally muscular body that could be not be obtained any other way, but also has side effects. When we use precursors for hormones the body only builds as much of the hormone as it can comfortably use.
The problem with a lot of the growth hormone products is that they don’t have clinically significant amounts of the required nutrients to do much. Your first indication that a growth hormone product is dubious is if it is in capsules and only requires a few caps per day. Most good products are in powder form since the amino acids involved require 2 to 6 grams to be effective (and most capsules only contain half a gram).
Glutamine has been shown to raise growth hormone levels up to 400% at only 2 grams on an empty stomach, first thing in the morning or last thing at night. Glutamine has other health benefits including repairing muscle, balancing blood sugar levels and raising glutathione levels (part of your immune system).
L-Glycine has been shown to cause a 300% increase in growth hormone at slightly over 6 grams taken at bedtime. As well, Glycine also promotes energy and tissue healing, and is necessary for a healthy nervous system and prostate.
L-Arginine has some good studies at 5 plus grams per day before bed, usually in combination with Ornithine and Lysine. The Lysine is added because high Arginine intake can trigger cold sore and herpes outbreaks in those prone to them or carrying the virus. Since Arginine depletes Lysine the addition of this amino acid should forbid a breakout of these ailments, but if you have such a condition you may want to try the other two amino acids first. Arginine at 3 grams per day for 2 weeks improved sexual performance in men with impotence, because it is also a precursor to nitric oxide, which is important to initiating and maintaining an erection.
One encapsulated product that seems to be quite effective is ZMA from SNAC inc. This product is a specifically compounded mix of certain forms of zinc, magnesium and B-6. It has been well tested on athletes showing a dramatic improvement in sleep patterns and recovery time as well as increased testosterone levels. Recently the link between deep or slow wave sleep (non-dreaming) and increased growth hormone secretion has been discovered. Compounds such as ZMA, which increase slow wave sleep, represent a whole new class of growth hormone stimulating agents. ZMA requires only 3 capsules and is taken on an empty stomach before bed.
Personally, I am placing my bets on transmigration of the soul (no particular religious affiliation required) as being both cheaper and likely more effective than having my head frozen. If you find each of these concepts to be ridiculous, I suggest adhering to the wisdom offered up by Canadian rock band “Trooper”: we’re here for a good time, not a long time.