January 26, 2010
Guest Post & Giveaway: The Most Effective Ways to Live Longer by Jonny Bowden, Ph.D., C.N.S.
Are you worried about cholesterol? Don’t be!
I’m going to tell you a secret-- something that the smartest, most cutting edge health professionals all know and have been talking about amongst themselves for a very long time. This information isn’t widely known or accepted yet, but it will be—at which point we will all be shaking our heads looking back on this period in medical history and saying “What were we thinking?”
Get ready to be shocked.
High cholesterol doesn’t cause heart disease.
Yes, you read that right, and before you recover completely, consider this: Fully half the people with heart disease have “normal” cholesterol and fully half the people with elevated cholesterol are healthy as a horse.
Yet talk to people about living longer and living free from heart disease (or any of the other conditions that rob us of life and vitality) and you’ll invariably hear someone say, “Yup, gotta do something about my cholesterol”.
Why are we so darn worried about cholesterol when it has practically nothing to do with living long and living well?
Well, for one thing it’s easy to measure. For another, lowering it is an extraordinarily profitable business. Zocor and Lipitor, two cholesterol-lowering drugs, remain in the top ten of every Forbes list of best-selling drugs, and bring in over 20 billion a year for their makers. And for a third, the idea that high cholesterol causes heart disease is so embedded in our national consciousness that to dislodge it- even with the considerable amount of emerging scientific evidence that the cholesterol hypothesis is simply wrong- would be a massive undertaking. Heck, we’re still buying “low-fat” cookies and margarine based on information that’s been out of date for 10 years.
So- if not cholesterol-- what should we be paying attention to if we want to live longer and live healthier?
I’ve identified four major processes that age the body and rob us of vitality. These four processes are so insidious and so systemic that I’ve named them “The Four Horsemen of Aging”. They are:
Those four processes will kill you. Cholesterol won’t.
Inflammation is a silent killer, a contributor to every major degenerative disease from Alzheimers to diabetes, from heart disease to cancer. It comes in two flavors- chronic and acute. Acute inflammation is the one we’re all familiar with- it’s what you feel when you stub your toe, get a toothache, pull a muscle or have an allergy attack.
But chronic inflammtion is the killer and it flies beneath the radar. It’s your body’s response to small but continuous insults like exposure to toxins, bad diet, stress, cigarettes and the like, and it causes damage to your vascular system. In fact the body uses cholesterol to try to patch up that damage—so blaming cholesterol for the damage is like blaming a St. Bernard for an avalanche!
We can do a great deal to fight inflammation by eating anti-inflammatory foods (fruits and vegetables abound with natural anti-inflammatories like quercetin and other flavonoids) and by taking anti-inflammatory supplements (top of the list: fish oil!)
Oxidation is another process that ages us. Oxidation is what you see when apple slices left in the air turn brown; that happens inside our bodies every day, the result of attacks on our cells and DNA by rogue molecules called free radicals. Diets high in antioxidants go a long way towards fixing the damage.
Glycation is what happens when excess sugar in the bloodstream “gums up the works”. Sugar gloms on to protein in the blood, making it too sticky to pass through small capillaries. It’s one reason why diabetics often have amputations in the extremities like toes and feet and problems in areas like the eyes and the kidneys which are served by small, narrow blood vessels. High blood sugar is far more damaging to the body and to life than cholesterol. And it’s relatively easy to “fix”.
Finally, stress is one of the biggest killers on the planet, and, like sugar, far more of a danger to us than cholesterol ever was. Stress hormones age (and shrink) an important area of the brain called the hippocampus which is involved in memory and thinking. Stress can excacerbate nearly any disease, not to mention that it can slow (or even prevent) recovery. And stress actually makes you fat- the major stress hormone, cortisol, causes the body to store weight around the middle.
In the “Blue Zones”- areas around the globe where people routinely live to 100 in extraordinary health with all their faculties intact- no one worries about their cholesterol or their saturated fat intake. They don’t have to. Their lives have built in stress-reducers like extended families and community events; they eat natural whole food diets filled with antioxidants and anti-inflmmatories. And their sugar intake is naturally low, so they don’t have to worry about it gumming up the works and destroying their health.
Aging may be inevitable, but unhealthy aging is not. If you know what to do you truly can have an extraordinary life well into your 9th and 10th decade, filled with vitality, joy and purpose.
Best of all, it’s not all that hard to do.
The payoff is worth it.
Just ask the people in the Blue Zones.
Jonny Bowden, PhD, CNS, a board-certified nutrition specialist with a master’s degree in psychology, is a nationally known expert on weight loss, nutrition, and health. A popular speaker and a former personal trainer with six national certifications in exercise, he was the acclaimed “Weight Loss Coach” on iVillage for twelve years, and is now a regular contributor to AOL, a columnist for Better Nutrition and Clean Eating magazines and a member of the Editorial Advisory Board of Men’s Health. He’s also the nutritionist for the popular website, www.eatdrinkordie.com, where his entertaining videos on food and nutrition can be seen daily.
His books have been acclaimed by a virtual who’s who in the field of nutritional medicine, garnering endorsements by Christiane Northrup, MD, Mehmet Oz, MD, Barry Sears, PhD. (who calls him “one of the best”), Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD (who calls him “the personal health coach I would want in my corner no matter what”), and many others. His book, “Living Low Carb: Controlled Carbohydrate Eating for Long-Term Weight Loss” has more than 100,000 copies in print. He is also the author of the Amazon best-seller, “The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth: The Surprising Truth About What to Eat” as well as “The Healthiest Meals on Earth” and “The Most Effective Natural Cures on Earth” and “The 150 Most Effective Ways to Boost Your Energy”.
He has been featured in The New York Times, The New York Post, Chicago Sun Times, Chicago Tribune, Time, GQ, Cosmopolitan, Oxygen, Remedy, Family Circle, Self, Fitness, Allure, Essence, Men’s Health, Pilates Style, Prevention, Woman’s World, In Style, Fitness, Natural Health and Shape and has appeared on Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, ABC, NBC and CBS as an expert on nutrition, weight loss, and health..
Dr. Bowden is a member of the American Society for Nutrition and the American College of Nutrition and is adjunct faculty for Clayton College of Natural Health. He lives in the Topanga Canyon area of Southern California with his three dogs, Woodstock, Emily and Lucy.
His DVD “The Truth About Weight Loss” as well as his popular motivational CDs, programs and free newsletter can be found at www.jonnybowden.com.
The Most Effective Ways to Live Longer by Jonny Bowden, Ph.D., C.N.S.
Fair Winds Press
Visit Jonny's website.
One of my readers will receive a copy of this book
Open to residents of the US and Canada
The book will be mailed out by the publisher
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