The Fountain of Youth May Be Found in This Anti-Aging Modality
As the saying goes, you’re only as young as you feel. Especially for our culture, which is obsessed with staying, or appearing younger than what the biological clock reads. From commercials featuring millennials seeking wrinkle-erasing injections, to the variety of diets, exercise fads, healthy food trends, and more, the reality is that most people face the prospect of aging with a sense of trepidation, if not outright dread.
But what if there were already anti-aging drugs and therapies in existence that could reverse one’s biological age? What if we could, in reality, drink from the fountain of youth?
Much of the human body has the innate ability to regenerate, from hair follicles, nails, skin, bones, red blood cells, as well as organs such as the liver. There’s even proof that our brain cells have an elastic capacity otherwise known as neuroplasticity, which allows for a restructuring of neural pathways and cellular activity.
But does our body’s natural ability to rejuvenate extend to those cells which have a hand in longevity, and in aging in the healthiest fashion? According to research, the answer that is emerging is yes, with a degree of medical intervention, our bodies can reverse many of the signs and diseases associated with aging.
How We Measure Age; It’s All in the Cells
The age we list on our drivers’ license is only one kind of age — our chronological years which can differ greatly from our biological years, depending upon lifestyle, genetics, and our very DNA structure. Current research points to our DNA as being central to our aging, and potential anti-aging process. Telomeres, the nucleotides that live at the end of chromosomes, are in charge of how quickly cells age and eventually die. Known as “epigenetic testing,” sometimes referred to as our own personal body barcode, these chromosomal benchmarks are one of the most on the spot indicators of a person’s biological age.
Scientists know that our chronological and biological ages don’t always match up; we can often appear and feel older, or younger, than what our birth certificate says. Genetic researchers have isolated 150 genes considered to be more closely connected to aging and health concerns including osteoporosis and dementia. Referred to as the “healthy age gene score,” researchers have found that higher scores paralleled overall good health and strong cognitive abilities, as opposed to those diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, who scored much lower on the healthy age gene score spectrum.
The Future of Anti-Aging: Rejuvenation Science
The desire to live longer has long been a fascination and focus of what is referred to as “lifespan extension” science, dedicated to helping humans live longer and more importantly, free from diseases normally associated with aging. Momentum has gained in clinical research and financial interest from leading biotech companies including Google’s Calico, which in 2018 announced a $1 billion dollar investment in age-related research.
One of the most promising age-reversal protocols utilizes anti-cancer and transplant anti-rejection drugs to heighten older patients’ immune systems, as well as a reduction in contracting bronchitis. The research has studied the impact of this drug cocktail on extending the lifespan of yeast, worms, and mice. The current research is focused on the central benefit of the drug — enhancing the immune support system that is so often diminished as we age.
In 2015, research showed that the blood proteins in younger mice had a dramatic impact on the aging process of older mice. As recent as January 2019, a group of researchers studied the impact of treating those suffering from the lung disease Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF), with a new kind of protocol, employing a cocktail made from a leukemia drug and a supplement that eliminated the damaged, or dying cells. Healthy cells were allowed to prosper, reversing the cell’s aging process and extending the participants’ lifespans.
Other promising research includes the use of metformin, an FDA-approved diabetes drug, which is showing to have an impact on what are considered to be age-related issues: inflammation, a lowered immune system, a diminished ability to regenerate newer, healthier cells, and more. Now being tested in humans, a set of interesting results are unfolding that look at the relationship between this newfound anti-aging pill, exercise, and aging adults.
The Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation, Colorado State University, and the University of Illinois recently collaborated in a controlled study of otherwise healthy, pre-Type 2, but non-diabetic adults in a supervised exercise and metformin program. The results will keep most of us returning to the gym; on a cellular level, the volunteers who exercised and took the placebo had higher rates of mitochondria activity, the cellular activity central to healthy aging and longer living. Those taking the pill actually showed much lower levels of mitochondrial respiration, as well as insulin sensitivity. Does this study show that medical intervention is only part of the anti-aging story?
If We Could Turn Back Time, Should We?
Could this emerging and well-funded field of medical research really make that much difference, compared to eating a healthy diet, getting regular exercise, or avoiding harmful lifestyle habits? Are we on the verge of a new era in aging, when living longer is as simple as taking a pill like we take vitamin supplements?
Or is our culture’s obsession with defying mortality just another “quick fix” approach? While the goal of most anti-aging research is to assist humans in living longer, healthier, and disease-free lives, are we on the brink of creating more overpopulation with detrimental environmental and societal impacts? Is our obsession with the fountain of youth taking the divine’s life plan into our own hands and laboratories?
Perhaps. Only time will tell.
Can Earthing Repair Free Radical Damage, Improve Sleep, Increase Energy?
In all likelihood, you’ve tried Earthing (also known as grounding) whether you knew it or not. You know, you were strolling down the beach or sitting in your backyard, and you decided it was time for the shoes to come off. Sinking your toes into that warm grass or sand feels so good, doesn’t it? Turns out there’s a reason for that, and it’s more than just a moment of peace. It’s also a booster for your health!
You have the basic idea of Earthing, but getting into the specifics, it’s defined as the practice of obtaining the healing properties of the Earth through the simple act of touching it. You might be a little skeptical, but the good news is, there are medical practitioners who back it up, such Laura Koniver, M.D., of Summerville, S.C.
To understand the health benefits, Dr. Koniver says, we must also understand free radicals. You’ve probably heard of them as something to protect our bodies against, and you’re on the money. Free radicals are highly reactive atoms, molecules or ions that have unpaired electrons. Free radicals are “intimately connected to inflammation,” and inflammation is linked to cancer, heart disease, immune dysfunction, aging and cognitive decline. Dr. Koniver explains, “Using your body in any way, shape or form can create inflammation, so even during something healthy like yoga, where we’re stretching and creating microscopic tears to the muscles, we’re still building up free radicals.”
It’s pretty unavoidable, but it’s also just what happens living on our earth. It’s natural and normal, but it’s also something to actively combating, as free radicals do damage to our bodies. The most common and talked-about method is through antioxidants that neutralize the damage. However, Koniver maintains that Earthing is the best practice, and that consuming antioxidants is “definitely a drop in the bucket compared to what Earthing can do.”
The science behind Earthing is simple. According to Dr. Koniver, the free radicals that we build up throughout the day are positively charged, and the surface of the Earth is negatively charged.
“It’s a symbiotic thing,” adds Dr. Koniver. She argues that if we can get our vitamin D from the sun and our oxygen from the trees, we too can get healing electrons from the ground. In Dr. Koniver’s words, “We are meant to build up free radicals and inflammation by the way we live our lives, and the Earth is our docking base.”
A list of Earthing Health Benefits:
- Reducing inflammation by defusing excess positive electrons
- Reducing chronic pain
- Improving sleep
- Increasing energy
- Lowering stress and promoting calmness by reducing stress hormones
- Normalizing biological rhythms including circadian rhythm
- Improving blood pressure and blood flow
- Relieving muscle tension and headache
- Lessens menstrual and female hormone symptoms
- Speeds healing- used in some places to prevent bedsores
- Can eliminate jet lag
- Protecting the body from EMFs
- Shortens recovery time from injury or athletic activity
- Reducing or eliminating snoring
- Helping support adrenal health
- Weight loss
Getting started on Earthing is an extremely easy thing, as well. It’s free. It can be practiced almost anywhere. The instructions are simple. You just have to take off your shoes, to make sure you have exposure to the ground itself. You can wear socks if you want, as well. Koniver assures that you will still get the electron transfer necessary for the benefits.
This transfer, according to Koniver, can also be made through any point of the body, as long as that body part is making direct contact with the ground. So you can always take a nap in a sunny field, writing it off as a health benefit! How awesome is that?
Again, Earthing can be practiced almost anywhere, but Dr. Koniver points out that some places are better than others. “To me, if healthy grass is growing outside over a layer of soil, it’s connected to the crust of the Earth, and that’s all it needs to be,” says Koniver. Beaches are on the top of the list, as the moisture from the ground acts as a conductor, but grass, sand, rock, dirt, soil, all give health benefits as well.
Even concrete that’s been laid over the crust of the Earth can do the trick, though it’s not optimal. “Concrete acts as a semi-conductor,” says Koniver, “so if you live in a city with no real access to nature, you can map out a little patch and kick off your shoes.”
More good news about Earthing is that there is absolutely no such thing as overindulgence. Your body can benefit from just a few minutes, though 10 a day is the sweet spot as the minimum, according to Konniver. She truly believes you should work as much barefoot walking into your day as possible, whether it’s walking barefoot to get the mail or taking a quick stroll around your block.
In conclusion, it’s important to note that there are no current studies that definitively prove that Earthing has a major impact on human life. Some critics call it a placebo effect and nothing more. However, getting out in nature, grabbing a little sun, and moving your body a bit more during your day cannot be a bad thing for you. So there is nothing to fear if you want to give the practice a try. After all, all you have to do is kick off your shoes and sink your toes into earthy goodness. Ahhhh!