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What REALLY Causes the Negative Effects of Aging?

by Dr. Amanda Chay |

What really causes the negative effects of aging?

Each trip around the sun means our numerical age increases, whether we like it or not.

Does this mean we have to surrender to looking old and not feeling youthful and full of energy? Heck no!

We have a choice in what the passage of time means for the way we look and the way we feel. Aging gracefully with optimal health is a choice that can start well before we’re “old”.

To really understand how we can choose to look and feel our best as we move through time, first it’s necessary to ask this question:

What exactly is aging and what causes negative effects associated with aging?

Once we understand this, we can incorporate daily practices into our lives that counter aging and promote radiant well-being.


What is aging?

Aging is a natural process that is accelerated by oxidative damage to our cells.  Oxidative damage occurs with poor diets, increased stress, excess alcohol, smoking or drugs, and excessive sun exposure.  While we can’t stop the aging process, we can take steps to reduce oxidative damage to our cells and therefore age more gracefully.  The easiest and most effective way to do this is to decrease cortisol and inflammation in our body and enhance detoxification pathways (ie. support your liver’s ability to excrete environmental toxins).

In other words, the negative effects of aging are primarily caused by cortisol (the stress hormone) and inflammation in the body.


What is the connection between cortisol, inflammation and cellular damage associated with aging?

Chronic inflammation is a cause of many diseases because it causes damage to tissues and cells.  It does this by increasing reactive oxygen species and decreases our body’s antioxidant capacity.  One of the major causes of chronic inflammation in North America is chronic stress.

Our body produces the hormone cortisol anytime we encounter a stressful experience.  Cortisol also plays a large role in regulating the inflammation in our body. For example, when we see a bear in the woods our cortisol spikes and actually reduces inflammation in the body.  When we have a stressful job, take on too many tasks, or have a family member who is sick we are constantly producing cortisol and our bodies essentially forget how to regulate inflammation, leading to an overall increase in inflammation.


Practices to Decrease the Negative Effects of Aging

Since cortisol and inflammation are the two major culprits responsible for cellular damage in aging, we can integrate into our lifestyle practices that reduce the stress response, and therefore reduce the impact that cortisol and inflammation have on the body.

Healthy daily anti-aging practices include:

  • Primarily plant-based diet - Meat, eggs, and dairy can still be consumed if you’d like, but moderation is best
  • Daily meditation
  • Yoga
  • Cardio 20-30 minutes per day
  • Supplements
    • Fish oil
    • Adrenal support
    • Liver support
    • Mitochondrial support
  • Decrease screen time
  • Optimize time-management
  • Slow down and be present
  • Spend time doing things you love
  • Good quality sleep

There is no time like the present!

No matter your current age, you can start implementing these healthy anti-aging lifestyle practices now to see and feel the full benefits they have for the way you look, how your body moves, and the way you feel.

Creating habits out of these practices early in your thirties and forties will set in place the foundation for long term health and radiant youthfulness for decades to come.

Ultimately, you do have control over how you look and feel, and it all starts with the simple choices you make on a daily basis.