In my perpetual search for optimal health, I recently stumbled on the book, Cracking the Aging Code, by Josh Mitteldorf, a theoretical biologist, and Dorion Sagan, an ecological philosopher and theorist. This enlightening book, while focusing a great deal on theories of aging, has a wealth of health information of interest to anyone interested in wellness and anti-aging. This information is especially pertinent for those of us with an autoimmune disorder.
I was happy to hear that some stress benefits us in that it revs up the immune system, amping up the production of cytokines that help with healing. The authors point out that even low doses of radiation can increase longevity. Fasting, calorie restriction, and intermittent fasting also benefit the immune system and promote longevity. It seems that people who have easy lives, plenty of food, and little stress don't live as long as those of us who have periods of stress, exercise often (or at least keep moving), and eat less than we'd like to.
The authors aren't big on antioxidants since they explain that free radicals serve a purpose and keep the immune system working the same way that illness does. Still, while they'd likely frown on the number of antioxidants I take, they stress the importance of having optimal levels of vitamin D and magnesium. They also recommend taking curcumin and aged garlic along with daily aspirin and 1 mg of melatonin at night. Bottom line: antioxidants have benefits but can be harmful if taken in excess.
Autoimmune diseases are described as Type II errors of the immune system, which are more insidious than the Type I errors in which we fail to recognize and attack infectious agents. Type II errors are behind the inflammation that is linked to every disease of old age, which explains why the incidence of autoimmune disease rises with age. The authors advocate using the immunomodulator herbs previously discussed in blogs here, which include reishi mushroom (Chinese Lingh Zhi, genus Gandoderma), and black cumin seed (charnushka or kalonji or Nigella sativa). Astragalus root, beta-glucans (which also lower lipid levels), and organic aloe juice are also effective immunomodulators. Immunomodulators work by strengthening and balancing the weak immune system characteristic of autoimmune diseases.
Other interesting topics pertinent to any anti-aging discussion include: the importance of sex; hazardous chemicals; the future of stem cells; increasing telomere length via the telomerase enzyme; and the importance of social connections. The key point when it comes to aging (or not) is that in numerous experiments, the skinniest mice who spent the most time running on treadmills lived the longest.
Book: Cracking the Aging Code
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