According to Dr. Robert Buckingham, it is possible to live a meaningful and relevant life well into your 90’s, maybe longer. But first you must gain control over the inflammation that is likely hard at work in your body breaking down normal cell function. If living longer and better sounds like a good thing to you, read on as Jason Hartman talks with Dr. Buckingham on episode #38 of The Longevity Show.
As a practitioner of clinical medicine for the past 36 years, Buckingham says he was always intrigued with the common mechanisms between illness. This passion to study the underlying causes that break down our bodies returned him to his roots of writing and research on the topic of the biochemical processes of aging and disease. He eventually focused on the functioning of capillary cells and how they regulate permeability to and from the blood and organs.
The ultimate result of all this was his book, Hazing Aging, which lays out exactly what a person should do to keep illness away and turn back the clock. When you get right down to it, it’s all about inflammation. As a member of the human race who has experienced aging firsthand, Dr. Buckingham offers the insight and advice needed to age joyfully and gracefully.
That sounds good to us!
A Primer on Chronic Inflammation
Inflammation isn’t all bad. In fact, we would be living pretty short lives if we didn’t have it, and would likely succumb to the first injury or pathogen that crossed our path. But there can be too much of a good thing.
Inflammation is a protective response that involves immune cells, blood vessels, and molecular mediators. The purpose of inflammation is to eliminate the initial cause of cell injury, clear out necrotic cells and tissues damaged from the the original insult and the inflammatory process, and to initiate tissue repair. The classical signs of acute inflammation are pain, heat, redness, swelling, and loss of function.
The Inflammatory Link to Aging
Perhaps contrary to popular belief, inflammation can occur anywhere in the body, from skin to deep organ tissue. It can be acute, as mentioned in the previous section, or chronic. The part of the process that concerns Dr. Buckingham, and became the focus of his study, is how inflammation causes the outer membrane of capillary cells to become thinner and more permeable. Buckingham refers to this as the cells “running hot.”
These hot cells, due to their high level of permeability, allow all sorts of things to get in, both good and bad. In this case, inflammatory cells penetrate the membrane and create havoc in the form of free radicals that result in yucky stuff like cancer, arthritis, heart disease, diabetes, etc. Too many inflammatory cells inside capillary cells lie at the root of a host of conditions that wear out body out before its time.
Cooling the Cells Down
It stands to reason that if cells that are running too hot cause us to prematurely age, we need to figure out how to cool them down, right? Dr. Buckingham agrees. Reverse inflammation and you achieve cooler cells with less outer membrane permeability, cells able to resist penetration by inflammatory cells except in cases where they are truly needed.
It makes sense that the aging process is characterized by cells that run hotter.
Keeping Score With Fatigue and Pain
So what, exactly, are the symptoms of advancing age? Dr. Buckingham believes you can boil it down to the simple concepts of fatigue and pain. We feel both of these in increasing amounts as we get older. Toss in brain fog if you want. Once the program of cooling your cells is in place (as prescribed in Hazing Aging), you can judge your progress by a lessening of fatigue and pain.
There is no simple blood, or any other kind of test, to measure the cell cooling progress. It’s up to each person to be aware of their own general sense of well-being.
The Prescription for Longer Life
If you were hoping for Buckingham to rip aside the curtain and reveal the long lost secret to eternal life that has been purposely hidden from you all these years, get ready for disappointment. The Big 4 changes you need to make are not sexy at all, but they work!
Exercise: Bet you knew this one would show somewhere. There’s just no way around it. Move it or lose it, as the old saying goes.
Diet: Buckingham’s approach is not complicated. Make it your goal to avoid simple sugars and saturated trans fats. The modern day hyper-processed food we eat has a lot to do with the chronic inflammation we all feel.
Get Good Sleep: According to the good doctor, we should be getting seven hours of continuous sleep. Know many people who can make that claim? Neither do we. It’s important, people! Very, very important.
Stress Reduction: Last but not least among the Big 4 prescriptions for reducing inflammation is to reduce the number and severity of stressors in your life. Too much stress often means too little sleep, a bad diet, and no exercise. Stress is a fact of our hyperactive modern lives. If you want to live to enjoy a healthy old age, figure out how to mitigate it!
The Bottom Line
What is the best time to begin Buckingham’s anti-aging routine? Obviously, the sooner the better, but the doctor is quick to point out that it is never too late, even if you’re 80-years-old with your rear end parked in a wheelchair. As long as you’re still breathing, it’s not too late to affect positive health changes in the form of reduced inflammation.
For more information about ordering Dr. Buckingham’s book, visit his website at http://www.drbuckingham-hazingaging.com/book/. (Image: Flickr | Tatiana12)
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The Longevity Show Team