The Human Body

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Aging, of course, is not an illness, but as you grow older your body does become more prone and vulnerable to disease. Our cells have the wonderful capability of renewing themselves by dividing, but it seems our genes dictate that any one cell can only divide so many times before it effectively dies, estimates vary from between 30 to 50 times.

Once a cell dies, new cells have to be made to replace them, and this is a process that demonstrably slows with age, and when the body no longer can keep up and replace those cells that have died with new, fresh ones, the result is aging.

Growing older is inevitable. However, we can try to slow the aging process and prolong our lives by taking measures to promote continuous cell division.

Studies have also shown that cells that have stopped dividing, in “dying,” change form and release damaging proteins that harm bodily tissues which further contributes to the aging process. Many researchers also maintain that it is our chosen lifestyles, with pollutants and junk foods, that now accelerate aging, rather than our genetic makeup or other factors.

Additionally, current research indicates that aging may also be caused by free radicals, atoms or groups of atoms, that are extremely unstable and highly reactive. If they are present in excessive amounts, they begin to attack the body on the cellular level. Free radicals attack the cells’ protective membranes and genetic material causing cellular damage and malfunction. To make matters worse, the immune system may then attack the damages cells as if they were foreign invaders.

Because the free radicals (which are oxygen based) are so chemically reactive, they exist for only one-millionth of a second each, which have made them hard to study directly. But there are millions of them, and even with such a sort life span they can do considerable damage to our cells.

Antioxidants is the answer. They are a natural compound that help protect the body from the effects of harmful free radicals. The body is capable of producing free radical scavengers (antioxidants) that neutralize the free radicals. However, as the body’s capability to generate these weapons falls short—especially in the face of ever increasing pollution in our environment which produces ever increasing amounts of free radicals in our bodies, we need to replenish them from outside sources in the form of supplements.

Perhaps if we give the body a few centuries to adapt to our new—and sadly, still increasing—levels of pollution, it could come up with a free radical solution on its own, but for now, since we cannot afford to wait for that to happen, we need to resort to outside help.

The antioxidants work by binding and neutralizing the free radicals allowing the body to expel them as harmless garbage.

Although many antioxidants can be obtained from food sources such as sprouted grains and fresh fruits and vegetables, it is difficult to get enough of them from these sources to hold back the free radicals that are constantly being generated in our polluted environment. But we can minimize free radical damage by taking supplements of key nutrients. A high intake of antioxidant nutrients appears to be especially protective against cancer.

Of course, it goes without saying that if you take care to keep the body healthy in general by eating correctly, by exercising, and by avoiding poisons such as tobacco, alcohol, etc. it will be in much better shape to do its part in overcoming the free radical scourge. Junk food is probably the free radicals’ best friend.

A significant number of problems faced by people over sixty may also be attributable to nutritional deficiencies. Many elderly people have malabsorption problems in which the nutrients in food are not properly digested and absorbed by the gastrointestinal tact. In addition, as we age, our bodies do not assimilate nutrients as well as it used to do. And at the same time as the body ages, its systems slow down and become less efficient, so the correct nutrients are more important than ever for the support, repair, and regeneration of cells.

Vitamin B12 can be a particular problem. A lack of vitamin B12 can lead to neurological symptoms ranging from tingling sensations and coordination problems to memory loss and disorientation. Symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency can easily be misinterpreted as senility. Many older people become deficient in vitamin B12 because they do not produce adequate amounts of stomach acid to digest food properly. This in turn creates a perfect environment for the overgrowth of certain bacteria that steal whatever vitamin B12 is extracted from the digestive tract.

It is very important to realize that you can have vitality and a zest for living at any age. You should not assume that pain and illness are inevitable parts of aging. You can feel better at sixty than you did at thirty by making healthy changes in diet and life style. Adding the right supplements should give you the added power needed to boost immunity and prevent or cure most disorders—not to mention making you able to work or play longer than people much younger than you are. Looking youthful for your age is an added bonus. But remember: it takes years for these problems to develop, so it usually takes some time to resolve them as well.

Studies have shown that no matter how old you are—whether in your sixties, seventies, eighties, or even nineties—you can rebuild muscle. Science has also found that brain cells do not die as we age if we keep our minds active: hobbies, reading, and acquired new skills exercise the brain and help prevent memory loss.

There are no silver bullets or magic potions to cure aging, only the simple fact that if you give your body the correct fuel, it will perform for you and ward off illness.


Denham Harman, M.D., Ph.D., of the University of Nebraska, is considered the father of the free radical theory of aging and he has postulated that many of the degenerative disorders that we associate with aging, including cancer and hardening of the arteries, are not inevitable results of the passage of time, but rather the result of the breakdown of nucleic acids, proteins, and cell structures caused by the presence of free radicals. He states that the phenomenon we refer to as aging is in fact nothing more than the ever-increasing accumulation of changes caused by, or contributed to, the presence of oxygen-based free radicals.

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reported that up to 30 percent of people over the age of sixty-five are unable to absorb vitamin B12 and folic acid properly because they do not produce enough hydrochloric acid and/or they suffer from an overgrowth of bacteria in the intestinal tract.

Dink plenty of water, at least 8 glasses of high quality water daily. The American Journal of Public Health identified dehydration as one of the most frequent causes of hospitalization among people over sixty-five.

Prescription for Nutritional Healing by Phyllis A. Balch, CNC, and James F. Balch, M.D.

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