The fountain of life, unicorn blood, and intervention of the gods. Humans have always been fascinated with living forever, and for good reason! Life is as short as it is beautiful. “We can stay fully functional into our nineties, hundreds and beyond. One of the primary ways to achieve this is to exploit our body’s innate ability to regenerate itself at the cellular and organ levels.” says Valter Longo, PhD, director of the Longevity Institute at the University of Southern California.
I’ll take his word for it– Longo was just named one of TIME’s 50 most influential people in health care for his research on Fasting Mimicking Diets (FMD) as a way to improve health and prevent disease. There are many ways to work with our bodies on a cellular level to encourage happy, well aging. Our Western diet and lifestyle has us stuck in bad habits that keep these natural healing mechanisms dormant. Lucky for us, the switch is easy to activate the healing power within us all. Here are the top four science backed tips to hack your biological age.
1. Develop a Positive Self Perception of Aging<br>
Disappointed? Most anti-aging advice involves exotic Ayurvedic herbs or impressive new exercise routine. That comes next, sit tight! According to a study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, older individuals with a more positive view of aging lived an average of 7.5 years longer than those with a less positive self-view. This remained true even after age, gender, socioeconomic status, loneliness and health were taken into account. Use a gratitude journal to change your inner dialogue, appreciate the age you are; and all the vibrant years to come.<br><br>
2. Practice Yoga and Meditation<br>
In a study published in Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity, yoga and meditation lifestyle intervention was assigned to 96 healthy individuals. The participants’ blood cells were assessed. Specifically, cellular biomarkers in the blood that control DNA repair, oxidative stress and antioxidant capacity, cortisol and endorphins at the start and end of 12 weeks. When the 12 weeks were completed, those who participated in yoga and meditation had significant improvements in all biomarkers of cellular aging compared to their beginning measurements. So roll out that yoga mat, turn on a YouTube video on guided meditation, and inhale with ease, as you increase your years and finding inner peace at the same time!
3. Add Reishi Mushroom to Your Morning Coffee or Tea<br>
Also known as lingzhi in China, which translates to “spiritual potency” and “an essence of immortality,” this pharmaceutical mushroom has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine and Japanese healing for centuries. Polysaccharides found in reishi mushroom have been proven to affect a broad range of bio-activities in the body, including: anti-inflammatory, hypoglycemic, antiulcer, antitumorigenic, and immunostimulating effects. And this ancient secret is just hitting the mainstream health market in America. Be careful where you purchase! A new study published in Nature reported 74% of reishi products do not contain the polysaccharides and triterpenes of reishi, which is where all the vital wellness benefits come from. I recommend Real Mushrooms Reishi Extract. You can order it on Amazon, as this brand passed the test mentioned above in Nature, with all its key properties intact.<br><br>
4. Try a Fasting Mimicking Diet<br>
A study conducted by the Longevity Institute at the University of Southern California found that restricting calories five days out of the month for a consecutive three months resulted in reduced body weight, total body fat; lowered blood pressure, and decreased insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1). Participants ate regularly 25 days of the month, but for five days, restricted their calories to between 750-1,100 per day. Sugars and protein were highly limited on fasting days. “If we created a group of people that followed all the recommendations… we are going to get closer and closer to this 110 average lifespan – for that group.” says Valter Longo, PhD, longevity scientist and author of The Longevity Diet.
There are many versions of a Fasting Mimicking Diet, including intermittent fasting, calorie restrictive diets, and more. The best type of fasting diet is the one that works with your lifestyle.<br><br>
Our bodies have the mechanisms waiting for us to activate them through healthy living habits, and science has laid out the answers. No unicorn blood required.
I choose to be mostly vegan from a strictly environmental and humane perspective. The health benefits are there, and there's plenty of science to back it up. Cooked meat contains carcinogens and AGE's that damage cells. The amount of water, land and resources it takes to produce one hamburger patty. For instance, it takes 460 gallons of water to produce a quarter pound of beef. Cattle land is absolutely decimated by over grazing. And, my personal kicker, cows are freaking cute and super sensitive creatures. Enough said.
Full disclosure - I enjoy eggs and cheese from time to time. I even eat chicken and fish once or twice a month! I am a flexatarian, eating mostly vegan and trying my best to ensure when my body is truly craving meat to give it what it needs.
Upon researching why, exactly, I am craving meat (besides the fact that our ancestors partook and therefore there is a deeply ingrained reason), I came across a fact I'd forgotten - when eating a vegan diet, you must ensure to be ingesting all nine essential amino acids. Essential amino acids are the building blocks of cells that our body does not make on their own and therefore must be consumed by external sources. My brain flashes to breatharians, and disclaimer, I do think the human body can do truly amazing things with the power of mana, the Hawaiian word for life force power.
Meat, eggs and cheese naturally have these essential amino acids in just one serving. If you don't partake, it's a very simple fix to be observant of what you consume to ensure you're getting the full spectrum of amino acids for healthy, ageless skin, sustained energy, and muscle building capacity.
Here's my recommendation for vegans and complete proteins:
1. Quinoa - a naturally occuring complete protein with all 9 essential amino acids
2. Sunwarrior Protein Powder - you can buy the "Natural" flavored one which has Ana-approved ingedients with nothing sketchy or harmful to health! Another complete protein source.
3. Tempeh - I prefer this to tofu as it's fermented, with more fiber and a nutty flavor, keeping you more satisfied and your gut healthy.
4. Ezekiel bread - unlike most breads, the combination of whole grains and legumes makes Ezekiel bread a complete protein with all nine essential amino acids.
5. Spirulina - an algae that can be bought in powder form and added to smoothies or yummy lattes with an alternative mylk and some maple syrup. (Check the ingredients of your alternative mylk - almost all of them are laden with nasty ingredients like natural flavors and binding agents.) The best way is to make your own oat mylk!
6. Rice and beans or beans and spinach. Combining these two yummy combinations creates a complete amino acid profile ensured to leave you feeling satisfied. Add in a fried plantain to get your South American flavor!
In conclusion, I have a hunkering the reason I crave meat a few times a month could be my partiality to fruits and nuts and forgetting to add in beans, rice, quinoa, and other complete protein sources. I'll check back in in a month or two and give you all a report!
When searching for scientific studies to back my intuitive observations for the purpose of this article, I was surprised to find the myriad of studies performed linking degeneration of the human brain causing postural deficiencies in older adults. However, there are hundreds of studies documenting the age-mitigating effects of yoga on the brain and cells. My observation is this: we walk through this life with certain postural holdings, patterns, and behaviors. These are intimately linked with our personality, our successes and griefs, the stories we tell, the emotions and thoughts we own. There’s even a legitimate branch of psychology focused on this: bioenergetics.
A regular yoga asana practice works with not only the body and breath, but something deeper - our deeply held patterns of posture, which absolutely, invariably influence the aging process.
I’ve been teaching yoga for only three years, and can honestly tell you in that time I’ve aged backwards. However, this is highly susceptible to change as I have not been practicing for a significant length of time. Instead, for the past almost three decades (I began teaching at 27), I’ve lived a hard life full of karmic debt and lessons. Yoga has been a true light and solace to my life that has allowed me space and direction to release not only emotional karmic patterns, but physical musculoskeletal structures passed down to me by my own family lineage.
Take a look at my parents and you’ll see some very kind humans. We haven’t always gotten along - not by a long shot. One thing we did always share was a certain hunched-over look. Our shoulders hang forward, as do our heads. Our hearts are sunken in as if trying to protect themselves as our bellies protrude and knees lock. Nature or nurture, that I couldn’t tell you. Probably both? With a solid practice of yoga (mostly) around 5 times per week for a few years, I have seen my own posture changing along with my personality.
The wrinkles on my face and neck disappear when I am holding the right yogic posture. Yes, I said it! Not only am I able to take more full breaths, feel more at ease, happier, more confident and relaxed all at the same time, but I also notice the fine lines around my jowls disappear when I centrigate my shoulders into their joints and engage my waist into my midline. I believe postural holding patterns carry with them karmic stories of entire family lines going back generations.
Introducing a consistent yoga practice into your own life may have you changing the expression of your own ancestral karma. I have seen it in students and my own life. As we age, we begin to look more and more like our parents - and dare I say - act like them, too. But our life, and the way we express it, is our choice. This is something I am uncovering through my incredible passion for yoga asana and the other seven limbs of the yogic path.
See you on the beach, yogis.