Do our bodies start to die when we reach the age of 30? The question is frightening and the answer even more so. Dr. Michael Roizen addresses this and other health issues during the course of his recent interview with Jason Hartman for the Longevity Show. Roizen founded the website RealAge.com and has written numerous best-selling health related books, the latest of which is titled “This is Your Do-Over.”

Real Age vs. Calendar Age

It’s no surprise that some people look younger and some older than the age the calendar claims. While this can partially be traced to the peculiarities of genetics, Roizen reveals that there are actually 151 behaviors that affect the rate of human aging. A handful of the most important are not surprising:

* Finding and pursuing a purpose (passion) in life
* Relationships with friends
* Stress management

The good news is that there are specific behaviors to change and actions you can take to slow the aging process, actually even reverse it to a certain extent.

Do We Start to Die at 30?

Thirty seems younger than ever. Can it be possible that this age is the ultimate state of physical health and that it’s all a slow (or fast) slide downhill from that point? Roizen says that, yes, if you don’t take any remedial steps to counteract nature, natural gene degradation caused by modern diet and lifestyle results in a 5% deterioration each decade we live past thirty.

The big idea to keep in mind here is that this rate of deterioration occurs only if you do nothing about it. The reason we begin to notice a health decline is described by the concept of “frailty.” According to Roizen, frailty is characterized by a decrease in ATP production by mitochondria. The result is energy reduction as the years roll past. You engage in fewer physical activities, and the deterioration is in full swing. Our bodies are meant to stay in motion.

It’s true. Increasingly sedentary jobs might eventually be the death of us all.

What Causes Frailty?

Have you ever heard that sugar is bad? Well, it is, says Dr. Roizen. And the trouble is not necessarily contained in the stuff itself, but rather consuming too much in too short a period of time. Generally speaking, eating or drinking an excessive amount of sugar results in damage to the mitochondria known as free radicals. The presence of free radicals makes it difficult or impossible for the body to generate new cells. Without new cells, we die.

The Trouble with Sugar

As previously mentioned, the trouble with sugar is not that it exists. The trouble is that the Standard American Diet (SAD) is so loaded with the stuff that our bodies can’t hope to ever process it all properly. The first step to take to improve your real age is stop eating so much sugar all at once! Roizen’s guidelines suggest that eating more than 4 grams of sugar within one hour is bingeing when it comes to body chemistry.

How hard is it to binge on sugar? Not very. Eating almost any processed food will put you over the limit. And heaven forbid you knock back a soft drink. One single 20 oz bottle of Mountain Dew contains 77 grams of sugar. By our math, the only way to safely drink something like this would be to imbibe no more than a single ounce every hour over the course of almost an entire day.

How many people do you know that swig their sodas like this?

The Friendly and Unfriendly Fire of Inflammation

Inflammation is a good thing – until it gets out of control. Then we’ve got problems. Jason questions Dr. Roizen about the causes of inflammation and what we can do to protect our bodies from the ravaging effects of it when it misfires.

The first step in understanding inflammation is to realize that it’s the body’s natural response to injury, infection, and a host of other wayward processes that could threaten our health if left unaddressed. Luckily, the immune system (when operating properly) realizes something needs to be done. It turns its attention towards the offensive intruder and goes to work at repelling the invader.

But when an immune system goes wildly out-of-control, look out! A haywire immune system causes it to go beyond simply getting rid of the infection, etc., and attacks the integrity of the body itself. Rheumatoid arthritis is a good example of one possible result. Help your immune system to remain stable by avoiding sugar, saturated, and trans fats.

The Science of Supplementation

Another term for free radical damage is oxidation and, once again, it’s your diet, stupid! Most of us don’t get proper nutrition from the SAD. Even with the best intentions it’s hard to put together proper foods that insure prime health. That’s where supplements come in. Roizen commiserates with Jason at the lack of a single magic pill that would provide all needed dietary supplementation in one fell swoop. What we’re left with is piecing together a hodge-podge of pills that each address a particular shortcoming.

Roizen rattles off a list that includes multi-vitamins, D3, D2, calcium, magnesium, DHA omega 3, aspirin, omega 7, CO Q10, probiotics…and the list goes on.

The bottom line is that proper supplementation requires study, focus, and discipline. And the preceding list only applies to people without additional diseases or conditions. Throw in diabetes, heart problems, cancer, or you-name-it, and a complicated supplementation system gets even more so.

But is it worth it to look younger than you are? Each of us will have to make our own decision on the relationship between our real age and calendar age (Featured Image by Flickr | david_shankbone).

More from Jason Hartman:

LS 27 – The Patient Survival Guide

Rise of the Diet Cults

The Longevity Show Team

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