by Josh Mitteldorf, Ph.D., and Dorion Sagan
(Flatiron Books, Paperback, June 13, 2017)
Everything we think we know about aging is wrong.
According to a popular theory of the 1970s and 80s, aging was supposedly caused by an accumulation of oxidation. Our energy metabolism produces a kind of toxic waste called ROS, reactive oxygen species, which attacks delicate biomolecules. The solution to this problem was supposed to be antioxidant vitamins. In Finland, a huge clinical trial was arranged, with 30,000 participants taking anti-oxidant vitamins to see if it would stave off cancer and heart disease. After just four years, the trial was called off for ethical reasons when early results showed that people taking the antioxidants were more likely to get sick and more likely to die than those on placebo!
Paraquat is a poison which is sprayed onto weeds, burning them on contact. It is the opposite of an anti-oxidant, a powerful pro-oxidant. When worms are fed a small amount of paraquat, they actually live half again as long as worms without paraquat!
These were unexpected results. We used to think that aging was a kind of deterioration, an accumulation of damage. How can we make sense of the fact that adding to the damage – pouring gasoline on the fire – can actually make a positive contribution to life and health?
The first step in understanding is to give the phenomenon a name. When harming an animal leads to overcompensation, greater health, and longer life, it’s called hormesis.
What the heck is hormesis?
No wonder we’re confused! The scientists we count on for information are in the midst of a sea change, so they are giving us mixed messages about what aging is, why it happens, where it comes from.
25 years ago, the first reports came in that lifespan could be dramatically extended by simple interventions. Life was extended by reducing the animals’ rations. Restricting food to the brink of starvation, scientists were able to make mice live half again as long. In other labs, genetic scientists produced a worm that lived twice as long just by crippling a single gene. Elsewhere, dogs were tested for the adverse long-term effects of low-dose poisons, and the researchers were surprised to discover that the poisoned dogs actually lived longer!
Of course, you can harm an animal to the point that it dies. But small amounts of harm sometimes have a paradoxical effect – the animal lives longer!
Nietzsche said, “What doesn’t kill me makes me stronger.”
Science of Aging – a Revolution in Slow Motion
New experimental results like these are pouring in at an accelerating rate. Aging is easily modulated, and often it is not by helping the animal but by harming it. The message is right before our eyes, written in neon lights: The body is not trying to live as long as it possibly can. The body is dying early just when life is easy and all is going well. The body is holding some longevity in reserve to extend lifespan during hardship, perhaps to compensate for all those other individuals who are dying of starvation.
This is a new reality and it is in stark contrast to the way scientists have been accustomed to thinking. Scientists are rational, and they will adapt their theories to a new experimental reality. But scientists are also human. They are attached to their old theories and attached to the funding that comes with being in the mainstream of scientific thought. The truth is that most scientists have been dragging their feet, trying to understand these radically new results within their old, familiar theories. In truth, these experiments fundamentally contradict the old theories, but most scientists are still trying to bend and twist the old theories to accommodate these experiments.
Most upset are the evolutionary scientists. The foundation of their thinking is “survival of the fittest”. But aging is the opposite of fitness. Programmed death is the opposite of survival. Experiments are telling us that there are genes for aging, and not only that, these genes are very old. We share some of the same aging genes with the worms! That means that half a billion years of evolution has preserved the genes that destroy our fitness, genes that kill us on a schedule. It is enough to send an evolutionary scientist into a state of denial. Evolutionary scientists insist that things cannot be as they appear, and what look like aging genes are really fertility genes in disguise. Or perhaps they have some other function that remains to be discovered. We must search harder, examine the genes more closely…
If it quacks like a duck…
Mitteldorf is a theorist who has been in the front lines of a scientific revolution these 20 years. From the start, he has said, “if it looks like an aging gene, it probably is an aging gene.” Through computer modeling of evolution and ecology, he has demonstrated ways in which natural selection might indeed prefer aging genes – not for the sake of the individual, of course, but for ecological balance.
Mitteldorf is also a science writer for the people, with a popular blog and a health advice page. Now he has teamed up with the golden pen of Dorion Sagan to create a book that reports from the midst of a scientific debate as it is happening, before it becomes consensus.
Big implications for health
But this is more than an academic revolution for evolutionary science. The way we think about aging has a big impact on the way we take care of our own health, and the way we pursue the medical research.
Theories have consequences. This misconception about aging has set anti-aging medicine and medical research in general on an unproductive path, a path that cannot succeed.
We’ve been trying to find out what goes wrong with the body and get the body back on track. But the body is already on track, doing what it is designed to do, and that is to slowly destroy itself with age.
The magic bullet will be epigenetics
Epigenetics is the study of how genes are turned on and off in the body. We have the same genes throughout our lifetimes, but different genes are activated at different times.
Children grow because the genes for growth are turned on. Teenagers become sexual because the genes for sex hormones are turned on. In just the same way, old bodies embark on a path of self-destruction, all part of the same genetic program. The way to cure aging is to reprogram the body’s epigenetic signals. Speak to the body in the language of biochemistry, and say the word “youth”.
Today there are tens of billions of research dollars for new cancer drugs and cholesterol-lowering medicines, but maybe 1/100th as much for anti-aging medicine. We’re trying to cure one disease at a time. We should be trying to prevent all diseases at once.
When we understand the epigenetic basis of aging, we will be able to re-balance the hormones in old people to make them look more like the hormone profiles of young people. Aging will stop. It may even be possible to turn back the clock.
Cracking the Aging Code (Flatiron Press) by is a book that will take you the distance. From theory to practice, from the latest medical research to practical advice for a long and healthy life, the book is packed with fresh new thinking that flies in the face of the old science. This is a book for independent minds.
About the authors:
Theoretical biologist Josh Mitteldorf has a PhD from UPenn. He runs the website AgingAdvice.org, and writes a weekly column for ScienceBlog.com. Mitteldorf has had visiting research and teaching positions at various universities including MIT, Harvard, and Berkeley.
Dorion Sagan is a celebrated writer, ecological philosopher, and author or coauthor of over twenty-four books, which have been translated into over a dozen languages. His work has appeared in Natural History, Smithsonian, Wired, and The New York Times, among other publications.
Acupuncture, yoga and deep tissue massages are just some of the traditional wellness activities and treatments that come to mind when dreaming of a relaxing holiday, and practices becoming ever more important in the fast paced, tech-filled lives we lead. Not a destination to stick to the norm however, Arizona, the birthplace of hot stone massages and home to the strongest healing energy on the planet, has a number of cutting edge and unusual wellness therapies to satisfy even the most serious shaman. From yoga with goats, exercises for the brain and a retreat dedicated totally to rejuvenation, Arizona is a haven for holiday health. Here are Arizona’s most unique and unusual wellness experiences to rejuvenate the body and the soul…
For animal lovers…Goat Yoga
Yoga, an ancient practice aimed to improve flexibility, energy levels and muscle strength has been taken to whole new caprine heights with the introduction of Goat Yoga, which sees yogis and goats pose together to relax and de-stress. During the guided yoga classes, run by Mesa-based Sarah Williams, the gentle animals roam around as participants get into downward dog (or perhaps downward goat) with the goats then carefully placed on the guests whilst holding poses, to ease stress and reap the benefits of being around calming animals. Participants have reported that the unique yoga class clears the mind and offers a chance to release endorphins from exercise, whilst increasing oxytocin from pet therapy. In the summer months goat yoga raves and pyjama parties are also on offer.
Arizona Goat Yoga offer classes from $12 (approx. £9) for an hour long class (with additional time afterwards to mingle with the goats). http://goatyoga.com
For good vibrations…Sedona’s Vortexes
Travellers come from all across the globe to experience the vortex energy centers of Sedona, an area which has become a spiritual mecca and haven for healers and spiritual guides owing to this powerful energy emitted by the famous red rocks. The vortex energy is said to connect with the inner self of any person within half a mile of each vortex, and depending on their sensitivity to the energy can heal past emotional wounds, bring positivity to the self and help people embrace a loving and open way of life. There are four main spiritual vortexes in Sedona, at Bell Rock, Boynton Canyon, Airport Mesa and Cathedral Rock.
Pink Jeep Tours Sedona offer a ‘Touch the Earth Vortex Tour’, a 2.5 open-air jeep tour which takes in Mystic Vista, Vultee Arch Road and Airport Mesa, and views of Cathedral Rock and Boynton Canyon, whilst guests learn about the history, science and metaphysical beliefs around the famous vortex sites, with the chance to experience the healing energy for themselves. The tour costs $105 (£81) per adult, and $95 (£73) per child (ages 1.5 to 12 years).
For golfers…Golf Ball Massage
Designed especially for those who need to limber up before or unwind after 18 holes, the Four Seasons Resort in Scottsdale offers the golfers massage, a therapeutic treatment which involves stretching techniques to knead tight muscles and ease golf related stiffness, and warm golf balls rolled along the neck muscles and either side of the spine to relieve tension and soothe the key muscles used in a golf swing.
The massage costs from $165 (£127) for 50 minutes and $230 (£177) for 80 minutes. www.fourseasons.com/scottsdale
Set within the four Sacred Mountains that define Dinetah, the traditional Navajo Native American homeland, Restival Arizona works closely with the community leaders of the Navajo tribe, to put on a festival retreat, which aims to combine the ancient cultures and traditions of the region connecting people to the land, with health and wellness practices for both the mind and the body. From drumming, dancing, resting, creating art, mask making, astronomy, full moon and harvest ceremonies, practicing yoga and meditation, sweat lodges, gong baths and body treatments, the festival is designed to help people switch off from the digital madness of our modern era. Festival-goers camp in beautiful eco-luxury bell tents under the vast desert skies, and can feast on delicious organic local produce and elixirs over the five days
Prices start from £1,200 per person to take part in the festival retreat and includes five nights’ accommodation on an all-inclusive basis, shared experiences, all organic meals, water, elixirs, tea and bullet coffee, airport pickups and experiences (excludes flights, some additional bespoke experiences and alcoholic drinks). For more information and enquiries, visit www.restival.global
For jet lag…Zero-Gravity Nap Pods
Jet lag can be a real nuisance when travelling abroad and frustrating when you want to hit the ground running on arriving in a far flung destination. The Fairmont Scottsdale Princess have found a solution to this annoyance with zero-gravity nap pods for stress relieving ‘adult naps’, that are said to reduce jet-lag in just a half hour session. Nappers can select from an offering of aromatic essential oils, which are placed on key pulse points to enhance the slumber.
The Fairmont Scottsdale Princess offers Therapeutic Adult “Naps” from $49 at their Health Spa Retreat.
For more than a massage…Naga
At Miraval Resort & Spa near Tucson, guests can play an active role in their massage, with Naga. A Naga Thai massage sees the therapist support themselves from hanging silks, entwining and suspending themselves to support the guest through stretches and various Eastern and Western healing techniques to increase blood flow, energy, body awareness and postural alignments.
A Naga experiences at Miraval Resort & Spa costs $215 (approx. £165) for 50 minutes and $275 (approx. £211) for an 80 minute treatment. www.miravalresorts.com/spa/energy-oriental/
by Lynda D’Amico
We are not human beings in search of a spiritual path here on earth. We are spiritual beings immersed in a human experience.
If you feel as if there’s something missing in your life, you are not alone. Living in a culture that places so much emphasis on external things such as material gain, independence, entertainment and productivity, we are encouraged to abandon our inner self—the place where love resides. Those external accomplishments may temporarily boost our ego or bring a shot of happiness, but they won’t give us what we need to feel loved and fulfilled in life.
It’s easy to understand why so many of us feel such a disconnect from the deeper parts of our being. If you feel as if you have lost a part of yourself, it’s time to take a step back and reevaluate your life. Start by asking yourself some questions: Is life working for me? Does it reflect how I envision it? Am I feeling passionate, inspired? If the answers to these questions are “no,” it’s time for a change.
Losing Your Connectedness Hurts
We pay a steep price for focusing most of our time and attention on external goals: We lose sense of what’s truly important—the relationship we have with ourselves, our partners, family, friends, pets, nature and Spirit—the very things that help make us feel whole. This leaves us feeling separate from everyone and everything, ultimately leaving us lonely, restless and lost. Initially, we might not even realize what we’ve sacrificed and how lightly we live, skimming across the surface instead of diving into the rich engagement we long for.
As people continue to succumb to the pressure to earn more, buy more and look younger, some begin to sense that something is missing. Others may not awaken until an unexpected crisis shocks them into clarity. The fact that so many are feeling disconnected explains why we’re seeing such an insurgence of self-directed practices such as yoga, meditation, journaling or spending time in nature as we all seek clarity.
Everything Is Interconnected
One of the many benefits brought out by these practices is a quieting of the mind, leading to increased self-awareness. As you learn to observe without judgment, you may become aware of two selves: the one chattering away with ever-changing thoughts; the other, an unwavering deeper self.
Many spiritual practices such as the Vedic tradition teach that we are part of, and woven together in, one energy field or consciousness. Many physicists also believe that a field of energy exists in all things, connecting everything. This has been seen in what they call the holographic universe, where they have observed a complete pattern of the whole within the smallest stream of light.
In indigenous cultures, rituals play a dominant role in strengthening the bonds between individuals and the spiritual world. The vision quest, a Native American practice, helps young men transition into manhood by connecting them to the Great Spirit so they can gain insight into their higher purpose. Because our culture is lacking in such traditions, make it a priority to schedule time for introspection and for practices that help you nurture your inner self and connect to an infinite source of love.
Practice Our Nine Guides for Living
Below are . Practicing them faithfully will help you connect more with your deeper self, as well as remind you that your life is shaped by the thoughts and emotions you choose. To help put these guides into practice, use the exercises suggested, or have fun creating your own!
1. Self-Awareness — Develop the practice of observing your thoughts, emotions and actions without judgment. Doing this will help you gain insight into how you perceive and respond to life. When we become more self-aware, we create the opportunity to make adjustments that improve the way we relate to ourselves and others.
2. Inner Guide — Your inner guide (aka intuition) is a valuable resource. Learn to trust its voice—however it comes to you. If something feels wrong, it probably is. Give yourself quiet time every day to create the space for your inner voice to be heard.
3. Accountability — You are the author of your life: It’s what you do with what you’ve been given that counts. Write down and reflect upon where you may not be taking full responsibility in your life. Consider that you always have a choice, whether it’s having the power to change outside circumstances or your perception about them.
4. Acceptance — Life is unpredictable, filled with surprises and unexpected turns. Change is the normal state of life. Instead of resisting something you can’t alter, try surrendering to it. Sitting by a stream and observing nature can help remind us that everything is constantly moving, adjusting and transforming to accommodate the next phase of growth.
5. Gratitude — Make a conscious effort to feel grateful. It will help you develop the habit of looking at the bright side, leading to a life filled with more joy. One way to embrace this practice is to start a gratitude journal. Or, for families, each member can write down what they’re grateful for on pieces of paper, which are then collected in a jar. At week’s end, the family comes together to share what they’ve written.
6. Intention — Setting an internal intention for the day sends a message to your subconscious about how you want to be. Do you want to be less overwhelmed, centered, or patient? Give your intention more power by setting it in the morning and writing it down. Then place the note in different locations throughout your home or office to remind yourself throughout the day.
7. Forgiveness — Holding on to anger only leads to stale, pent-up energy. Releasing that anger is not only freeing but, ultimately, invigorating. Start with yourself. Is there something you need to forgive yourself for? Write a letter granting you permission to forgive yourself. Read it. Two weeks later, pick it up again or even mail it to yourself. When you reread it, do you feel different? Were you able to fully forgive yourself? Is there anyone else you need to forgive?
8. Letting Go — When you release what no longer serves you, you create space for new good things to come into your life. Make a list of what you want to let go of. Explore what the attachments are…. Is it fear? Guilt? When you’re ready to let go, create a ceremony where you take your list and burn it. You can do this alone or with others, so everyone shares in the experience.
9. Manifestation — Creation emanates from within. Pay close attention to your thoughts. What story are you telling yourself about who you are and what your life is all about? Your thoughts are like seeds. The emotions created by those thoughts are the fertilizer. Together they create the outer world of form. Master your mind, master your life.
Growing takes a lot of courage, patience, determination and kindness to yourself. To welcome more peace and joy into your life, we hope you do more of what’s essential to your well-being and let go of what’s not. You’re worth creating the space in order to reconnect with and deepen the relationship with your authentic self and expansive love. This is your journey. Enjoy it!
About the Author
Lynda D’Amico is an artist and healer. She is also co-founder of InnerGuide, a personal-development company that creates planning guides for success. Using self-directed coaching strategies, its tools help you deepen self-awareness, increase productivity and live with a greater sense of purpose. To learn more, visit www.inner-guide.com.
The holidays are almost upon us and you know what that means- incessant holiday music, extended shopping hours, super sales and endless social obligations. From Halloween to New Year’s Day it can be a joyous season filled with delicious food, festive cocktails and reconnecting with family and friends. It can also be a season that triggers extreme stress and anxiety.
Stress triggers are as diverse as those afflicted- seeing family members, catching up with high school friends, completing the shopping list, traveling to family, or completing those home DIY projects. Stress could ruin your holidays, however with a few tips and some help, the holidays can turn into the most wonderful time of the year.
When stress is at its peak, it’s hard to stop and regroup. Try to prevent stress and depression in the first place, especially if the holidays have taken an emotional toll on you in the past. Here are five tips that can help you get through the season:
1. Be realistic. The holidays don’t have to be perfect or just like last year. As families change and grow, traditions and rituals often change as well. Choose a few to hold on to, and be open to creating new ones. For example, if your adult children can’t come to your house, find new ways to celebrate together, such as sharing pictures, emails or videos.
2. Set aside differences. Try to accept family members and friends as they are, even if they don’t live up to all of your expectations. Set aside grievances until a more appropriate time for discussion. Chances are they’re feeling the effects of holiday stress too.
3. Stick to a budget. Before you go gift and food shopping, decide how much money you can afford to spend. Then stick to your budget. Don’t try to buy happiness with an avalanche of gifts.
Try these alternatives:
- Donate to a charity in someone’s name.
- Give homemade gifts.
- Start a family gift exchange.
4. Don’t abandon healthy habits. Don’t let the holidays become a free-for-all. Overindulgence only adds to your stress and guilt.
Try these suggestions:
- Have a healthy snack before holiday parties so that you don’t go overboard on sweets, cheese or drinks.
- Get plenty of sleep.
- Incorporate regular physical activity into each day.
5. Seek natural remedies to manage stress symptoms. Despite your best efforts, you may find yourself feeling persistently anxious, there are natural remedies such as CBD that can help relieve heightened levels of stress. A randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled trial in 15 humans demonstrated that CBD (cannabidiol) reduced measured anxiety. 1 Elevate CBD is one of the few companies in the field that offer several consumer options including gum, lozenges, dissolvable strips, dab and oil to meet your lifestyle and dosing needs.
So bring on the holidays, the shopping, the cooking and the family. Elevate CBD has your remedy.
1. Witkin JM, Tzavara ET, Nomikos GG. A role for cannabinoid CB1 receptors in mood and anxiety disorders. Behav Pharmacol. 2005 Sep;16(5-6):315-31.
For more information:
Elevate™ manufactures a diverse line of CBD products in the USA, following current Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMP), in a Food & Drug Administration (FDA)-registered facility. The brand is managed by Axcentria Pharmaceuticals. We use only the highest quality CBD oil, extracted using a chemical-free CO2 process to minimize environmental impact. For more information on Elevate™ , visit http://www.ElevateCBD.com