It’s another day at the office. Sue, a 58 year old postmenopausal female patient wants to know why she has mental fog and a thickening waist. Her skin is breaking out, hot flashes awaken her every night at 3 am leaving her tired and depressed for the day. “I never thought getting old was going to be so hard,” she says. She is no different than millions of Americans whose aging bodies are misshapen and minds are clouded. Autoimmune diseases, obesity, arthritis, cancer, heart disease, and dementia are on the rise. Aging is not meant to be this hard. How we treat our bodies is a key to aging well.
We have been taught to believe that the body degenerates with age. This may be the case, but Americans are ‘degenerating’ at warp speed with a growing number of symptoms we have normalized as connected with aging. These symptoms are not a normal part of healthy aging. In fact, telomere (1) research shows that even some adolescent children in America have the cell age of a 40-year-old. What is common in both young and chronologically older Americans who experience degenerative symptoms is an unhealthy lifestyle. Processed food and drink high in sugar and chemicals, regular alcohol intake (2) and a sedentary lifestyle are all ingredients for rapid aging. Combine this with the toxic environment abundant in pesticides, (3) hormone disruptors (4), and carcinogens (5) it’s a wonder we make it to 50.
I liken the human body to a ‘bio-machine’. It is made up of trillions of cells that communicate with one another. They require clean food to send clear messages and clean receptors to receive input that tells them what to do. These comprise the ‘systems’ that run the body. The abundant flora (6) that inhabits our gut runs the bio-machine like an intelligence factory. It generates neurotransmitters that support and maintain the brain and nervous system. It also metabolizes hormones to help them work properly and shields the bloodstream from big proteins that turn on the immune system and inflammatory mechanisms when incorrectly filtered by the intestine. What we put in our mouth has direct and long-term effects on these mechanisms. When out of sync and dysregulated, they wreak havoc on the body and the mind. Most of us have heard of the term, ‘leaky gut’. This basically means the gut leaks digested proteins into the bloodstream that are not supposed to be filtered due to a disrupted bacterial biome in the intestine. This disruption occurs with antibiotics, processed foods, food coloring, artificial sweeteners, synthetic medications, and also with stress and trauma. This results in a moderate amount of inflammation affecting not only the body but the brain. Leaky gut has been found to be the cause for autoimmune (7) and inflammatory disorders, food, and chemical sensitivities as well as a key causative mechanism in dementia (8) and even cancer (9). When the immune system attacks unwelcome proteins in the bloodstream continuously due to leaky gut (10), it becomes dysregulated like a misfiring machine, resulting in chronic inflammation and brain fog, some of the symptoms that my patient Sue presented with.
Fortunately, many poor lifestyle choices when corrected can reverse many of the diseases that destroy the quality of life of most Americans, eventually leading to their death.
As we age, our bodies become more sensitive. They crave balance, self-care, exercise, and last but not least, healthy organic food. Creating this kind of environment for our bodies requires us to engage conscious intention and make conscious healthy choices. When we do, a majority of chronic symptoms we have been told are degenerative can begin reversing within weeks. Certain types of detoxification regimens can clean hormone disruptors from our receptors, restoring cellular communication and function, as well as aid in the restoration of our gut biome. A well-balanced probiotic is an essential part of this restoration regimen. (Not all probiotics can do this. Only consult a health care provider experienced in this field). A plant based diet has been shown to increase oxygenation to tissues and including the heart within two weeks of starting it as shown by Dr. Esselstyn in his heart disease reversal study. (11)
The standard American diet (12) our society has normalized has proven to not work. It accelerates degeneration and destroys the quality of life of most Americans who partake in it. When my patients bring consciousness to their lifestyle choices and adopt those that have been scientifically proven to work, they are amazed as to how much better they feel. Their mental fog, emotional and mental symptoms, as well as skin disorders, begin to heal within weeks. Their bodies begin to reshape, shedding excess pounds. The happy results of my patient Sue’s lifestyle changes were no different. Within a week, her health transformed and 90 percent of her symptoms simply vanished. Through her own experience, she discovered that when she engaged her previous unhealthy choices, her symptoms returned.
Our country’s consciousness is not focused on health. It is focused instead on weight loss and quick fix diets that have been proven to only work for the short run, if at all. If we can learn from history, and adopt lifestyles that have been proven to work,(13) we can begin the process of applying conscious choices to how we live. Believe me, as an Internist, I was never taught that anything could reverse chronic illnesses. My 30 years of clinical observation, has proven this to be faulty logic.
Maybe it’s time we start applying what has already been shown to work (through scientific evidence) to our lifestyle choices rather than engaging ‘quick fix’ techniques for short term gain. After all, we all want to age with an abundance of energy, vitality, and good health. Maybe it’s time we transformed our thinking from degeneration to regeneration, and aligned consciousness to achieve this goal.
Our access to good health may actually be only a few conscious choices away.
©Aug 2017 Kalpana (Rose) M. Kumar M.D., CEO and Medical Director, The Ommani Center for Integrative Medicine, Pewaukee, WI. Website: www.ommanicenter.com Author of Becoming Real: Reclaiming Your Health in Midlife. 2011, 2014 Medial Press