5 Ways to Get Old…Fast.

Via on Mar 14, 2013

Waylon Lewis tired sturman

Many baby boomers spend much of their time and money trying to stay healthy, reverse the imminent signs of aging, and rid themselves of pain.

In my practice, the ones that seem to be paying the biggest price in their 40s, 50s and 60s are the ones who admit to a lifestyle of abuse in their teens and 20s.

In this article I want to describe how a reckless youth, eating carelessly, sleeping as little or as much as possible, drinking and smoking “whatever”—and the enduring stress of high school, college, making ends meet and then raising a family—will directly impact your health and quality of life in your 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s and—if you’re lucky—in your 90s.

barbie old

If you are in your teens and reading this, or if you are a parent of a teenager or young adult who may be pushing the limits, please read carefully. As millions of baby boomers will tell you, “you blink once and you are in your 40s and blink twice and you’re pushing 60s and the health issues seem to appear out of nowhere!”

obama hair dye black gray

obama aging

Many patients have told me, “I wish I knew the long-term effects of my crazy youth—I wish someone would have warned me.”

If you are young and reading this: This is your official warning!

It’s not all bad. Keep reading to learn how you can ease the seemingly inevitable consequences of aging.

1.    Poor Sleep Habits

It is so common for teenagers and young adults to get into the habit of getting to bed very late and waking up sometime in the late morning. The problem with this: staying up late is a stress for the body.

Cortisol, which is the body’s major stress hormone, naturally declines in the early evening in an attempt to prepare the body for sleep. Late nights force the cortisol to surge and, according to one study, cortisol will reactively surge the next night as well (1).

Perhaps the most common cause of insomnia is cortisol levels staying high in the evening. With each successive late night, cortisol levels rise and make it more difficult to get to bed early. So the body becomes conditioned to staying up late. But there are real risks!

Man_Passed_Out_On_CouchThe Risks of Imbalanced Sleep

With each late night, the cortisol rises, making it harder to get to sleep on time the next night.

In a recent study reported in the journal Sleep, the sleeping patterns of more than 10,000 people between the ages of 35-55 were measured over a five year period. Both the quality and the amount of hours of sleep per day were measured against cognitive function.

According to the results, when people get six to eight hours of sleep per night they seem to maintain good cognitive function and age normally.

When people get less than six or more than eight hours of sleep per night, there is an apparent accelerated decline in cognitive function. The cognitive decline in this study due to either too little or too much sleep was the equivalent of four to seven years of aging beyond the norm (2).

In addition, studies have shown that either too much sleep (greater than eight hours) or too little sleep (less than six hours) will cause the following:

  • Increase risk of cardiovascular disease(3)
  • Increase risk of premature death and aging(4)
  • Cognitive decline(1)
  • Weight Gain (5)
  • Excess snacking (6)
  • Hormone imbalance (7)
  • Increased risk of diabetes (8)
  • Increased risk of psychiatric disorders (9)

The Cortisol Surge

The problem with poor sleep habits is that they all alter the natural rhythms of cortisol. If you wake up exhausted due to a poor night sleep, your body will have to produce extra cortisol to endure the day, turning the day’s usual tasks like school, work, finances and family, into stressors.

Excess cortisol can cause the following (9):

  • Suppressed immunity
  • Hypertension
  • High blood sugar (hyperglycemia)
  • Insulin resistance
  • Carbohydrate cravings
  • Metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes
  • Fat deposits on the face, neck, and belly
  • Reduced libido
  • Bone loss

Developing Healthy Sleeping Habits

Developing healthy sleep habits is not just about how much you sleep, but also when you get that sleep.

Staying in sync with nature’s cycles is the best rule of thumb when establishing healthy habits. Going to sleep within a few hours of the sun going down, and waking up at dawn or shortly before, is much more rejuvenating for the body and mind than getting the same amount of sleep later at night, and therefore out of sync with the natural cycles.

Make sleeping the right amount at the right time a healthy habit that you just don’t compromise on.

2.    Alcohol: Did you know it’s a Carcinogen?

The fun associated with alcohol may not be worth the health risks.

Party_People_Clinking_BeersIn 2002, the World Health Organization had this to say about alcohol:  “Alcohol was estimated to cause, worldwide, 20–30 percent of esophageal cancer, liver disease, epilepsy, motor vehicle accidents, and homicide and other intentional injuries.”

Alcohol is linked with other types of cancer, too. In its 2000 Report on carcinogens, the US Department of Health and Human Services listed alcohol as a known human carcinogen that can cause cancers of the mouth, pharynx, larynx and esophagus.

Alcohol can also have extensive and far-reaching effects on the brain, including contributing to memory lapses and cognitive impairment.

In addition, untreated alcoholism has been estimated to reduce life expectancy by as much as 15 years.

While evidence suggests that drinking in moderation may confer modest cardiovascular benefits, make no mistake—generally speaking, alcohol is toxic to living cells.(10)

While it is common in our culture to have a casual attitude towards alcohol consumption, consider whether it is really worth these health implications.

3.    What about Junk Food?

I think we all know that “junk foods” are bad for us. Most processed foods are made to last on the shelf for many months, which implies the addition of processed oils and/or preservatives. This renders them very challenging to digest. Ultimately, your liver is asked to figure out how to break down these indigestible fats.

Think about it for a second.

Cow’s milk straight from the cow will go bad after seven days in the fridge.

Bread straight out of the oven will go bad in a day or two.

Today, you can find milk that lasts a month in the fridge and breads can last weeks on the counter—no refrigeration needed!

All packaged foods have cooked and processed oils which are just impossible for the body to digest. These oils build up in your liver slowly year after year. Over time, your natural detox pathways, digestive and liver function start to break down.

Imagine if you never cleansed the grease buildup off your stove. The liver, which is in charge of breaking down fats, just cannot keep up with the digestion of these processed oils, and gets congested.

Here’s what can happen in the early stages of aging due to a congested liver:

Fat-soluble toxins that should be broken down in the liver are re-directed into the blood, where they can store in the body’s fat, skin, joints and brain.

The buildup of thick congested bile and indigestible fats causes the buildup of bad cholesterol in the blood stream, where it damages the arteries.

Poor liver function causes insufficient bile production, which is required to neutralize acids from the stomach. No bile = no digestion of hard to digest foods like wheat and dairy and soon, gas, bloating, belly fat, indigestion, heart burn and food intolerances and allergies ensue.

Surprisingly, the liver may play the most important role in regulating blood sugar.

4.    Hidden Sugars

Look for the hidden sugars!

A recent CDC report stated that one-third of the American people are pre-diabetic and 90 percent of them do not know it. As you may have guessed, pre-diabetes is the precursor to diabetes, and studies have shown that high blood sugar, even within the so-called “normal range,” has been shown to increase the risk of dying of a heart attack or stroke by 40 percent, as well as chronic diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s, kidney disease, and neuropathy (12).

Think about the amount of sugar you ingest daily:

Sodas, juices, sports drinks, beer, wine and even store bought milk are loaded with sugar.

Breads, pastas, potato chips and popcorn are loaded with sugar.

All sweeteners—even honey and agave—are loaded with sugar.

Dried fruit, fruits, energy bars and yogurt are loaded with sugar.

So what if my sugars are a little high!?

Let me explain why you absolutely do not want this to happen. By the way, just eating the standard American Diet—not just the classic junk foods—will cause these effects.

Excess sugar in the blood causes the muscles to resist the uptake of sugar and you get tired and stiff.

Excess sugar in the blood converts directly into belly, hip and body fat.

Excess sugar quickly converts to bad cholesterol, which is linked to heart disease.

Excess sugar surges to the brain and is linked to Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Excess sugar glycates, which means the sugars stick to proteins in the blood, causing heart disease, poor circulation, cancers, diabetes, cognitive issues, inflammation and chronic disease.

Experts believe this is going to happen to all adults in America in the next 10 years.

5.    Frequent Recreational Marijuana

Medical marijuana—and now recreational marijuana—is quickly becoming a reality in more and more states. While there is plenty of sound scientific evidence to back up the medicinal use of marijuana for things like pain, anxiety and increasing appetite in those with chronic disease, frequent recreational use is a concern for many reasons.

Perhaps the major concern is the decline in cognitive function for adolescent-onset cannabis users, which has been scientifically demonstrated by the National Institute of Health and the National Institute of Drug Abuse.

According to one study:

Persistent cannabis use was associated with neuropsychological decline broadly across domains of functioning, even after controlling for years of education. Informants also reported noticing more cognitive problems for persistent cannabis users. Impairment was concentrated among adolescent-onset cannabis users, with more persistent use associated with greater Cannabis_Leafdecline. Further, cessation of cannabis use did not fully restore neuropsychological functioning among adolescent-onset cannabis users. Findings are suggestive of a neurotoxic effect of cannabis on the adolescent brain and highlight the importance of prevention and policy efforts targeting adolescents (13).

Marijuana is such a big issue that I devoting an upcoming newsletter solely to this topic. So tune in!

Bottom line: The American diet is bad, there is too much stress, lack of exercise and if that is stacked on top a body that played, drank and pushed too hard through the teens, 20s and 30s, the odds are these health issues will pack a more powerful and less reversible punch!

The Good News: If you take responsibility for your health and don’t push the limits too far while you are young, these issues can be completely reversible and preventable. Truly, your health and your future is in your hands! If you are an adult that played hard when you were young, please visit our library to learn how to restore health and vitality.

You have been warned.

~

References:

1. Sleep. 1997 Oct;20(10):865-70

2. Sleep. 2011 May

3. Sleep. 2009 Mar 1;32(3):295-301

4. Sleep. 2010 May 1;33(5):585-92

5. Lancet. 1999 Oct 23;354(9188):1435-9

6. Am J Clin Nutr. 2009 Jan;89(1):126-33.

7. Lancet. 1999 Oct 23;354(9188):1435-9

8. Diabetes. 2010 Sep;59(9):2126-33

9.  Gen Hosp Psychiatry. 1997 Jul;19(4):245-50

10. Life Ext Mag. 2011. Sept. Reducing the Risks of High Cortisol

11. Excerpted from: Life Ext Mag. 2005. Nov. A Little Known fact: Alcohol is a Carcinogen

12. Challem, Berkson, Smith. Syndrome X. Wiley Press.2000.

13. 2. http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2012/08/22/1206820109.abstract

 

~

Relephant:

How to Stay Young & Hot Forever: Advice from a 96-Year-Old Grandma.

Ayurveda: Health Pros & Cons of Marijuana.

 

Like elephant health & wellness on Facebook.

 

Ed: Kate Bartolotta

About Dr. John Douillard

John Douillard, DC, has published over 400 health videos and articles that are available on his website. He has written six books, produced numerous health DVDs and CDs, and has formulated his own line of organic health care products. He is the former Director of Player Development for the New Jersey Nets NBA team. He currently directs the LifeSpa Ayurvedic Retreat Center in Boulder, CO, where he lives with his wife and six children.

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28 Responses to “5 Ways to Get Old…Fast.”

  1. CerealBox says:

    You need to restudy some of your "facts"

    • doyso says:

      As much as people of today mock the 'hippies,' they are solely responsible for the acceleration of health awareness which is predominant today and growing…thus, it would seem this doctor's information is flawed excepting in the cases where people backslid into mainstream self-care behavior.

  2. Boodiba says:

    Looks like it's too late for me! Oh well. Next time :)

  3. Gazelleyogi says:

    Cited sources! Thank you. Great article.

  4. Definitely believe that which you said. Your favourite justification seemed to be on the internet the easiest thing to take into account of. I say to you, I certainly get annoyed while people think about concerns that they just don’t know about. You controlled to hit the nail upon the highest as neatly as defined out the whole thing without having side-effects , other people can take a signal. Will probably be again to get more. Thank you

  5. Magnificent web site. Lots of useful info here. I’m sending it to some buddies ans also sharing in delicious. And certainly, thanks to your sweat!

  6. Nicole says:

    fruits are loaded with sugar but it's NOT processed. Plus fruits are packed with other vitamins and nutrients which the body recognizes as aids in breaking down the entire fruit for the body's nutrition. I will never see fruits as a bad thing and will continue with my whole fruit smoothies every morning.

  7. Kev Ollier says:

    One to share for sure. I wished I'd read it 30 years ago! :) http://kevollier.com/

  8. Ziggy3339@gmail.com says:

    1. What about sugar substitute safety?
    2. I'm a baby boomer who smoked (and preferred) marijuana when I was young. My brain is spectacular. That said, I didn't get high every day, and the quality high. Remember, not all marijuana was the same quality & often it was mixed with other things. I've yet to see real evidence of bad effects in real life. I'm no longer smoking it since 1984 when I moved to a more conservative area of the country. Thinking the real truth still is to be told.
    3. Alcohol contains sugar, no? Could that be the link? I rarely drink alcohol either but only because of the taste.
    4. Appreciate the sleep advice. Everyone is different. I like to go start my bedtime "ritual" about 7:PM. It feels great in the AM!
    Shower, nightgown, settle in, something fin on iPad & I'm good to drift.

  9. rachael says:

    Fruit sugar is not the same as refined sugar. Again another piece of incorrect information from this "dr"

  10. So, pot is bad for you again? come on.

  11. sarah says:

    what about sun exposure??

  12. Samantha says:

    I find it really interesting that you chose to address marijuana, but not cigarettes. And what about sun exposure?

  13. Emily says:

    Going to sleep a little bit after sundown and waking up before dawn…as a college student trying to make it it in this world. Probably not.

  14. Emily says:

    Obama looks 10 years older because of the stress and lack of sleep his position as President has brought on him, not because of his actions as a teenager.

  15. Nathan says:

    Pot may have made you old in the blink of an eye, but that is not the case with everyone. It depends on what your dreams and aspirations are, and whether pot helps or hinders your goals. Being a lazy glutton makes you old fast, not pot. If you can only come up with 5 ways to get old fast, sounds like you were high when you wrote this. Not a mention of mental stress or exercise which we can control.

  16. mick says:

    If you want to make an article for people in their 40s, 50s, and 60s, fine, but naming a generation specifically in the first paragraph was annoying, because zero percent of Baby Boomers are in their 40s now. Generation X is now mid-30s to 40s and very very early 50s. Nobody ever remembers us, and it's getting tiresome.

  17. Grace says:

    Number 5 – According to ONE study. No mention of the hundreds possibly thousands that refer to stress or smoking cigarettes. Your focus is bizarre at best.

  18. orbofthenight says:

    A food fear-mongering article on my favorite site? Please say it ain't so! I don't even have the energy to point out all of the blatant misinformation. Your article has ruled out pretty much every food known to man. "Let's all spend our one chance at life agonizing over the sugar in fruit. I will only eat green vegetables from my garden and meat from the cows I slaughter at home." Thanks for this classist waste of my time.

  19. Wendy G says:

    Ok, I'm going to hit this from another angle. What is the image of the gray haired Barbie supposed to say? That aging is bad? People, we are all going to age. It is a natural process. Granted, we may be able to do some things to help us slow down the process but when I see an image of a woman with gray hair and a few, tiny wrinkles, I hope I'm not supposed to be frightened. As a matter of fact, I just stopped coloring my hair (toxic, thank you) and I LOVE my new gray hair. So, let's be more careful when choosing images that are meant to scare us and show distaste. Thanks.

  20. steve says:

    Pot (a natural substance no-one ever died from) is bad but the massive quantity of pharmaceuticals Americans consume each year – ALL with side effects don't even rate a mention! Oh, article written by a Doctor, who makes a living pushing (legal) drugs, now I get it.

    No mention of all the pesticides, herbicides, hormones & drugs pumped into our food either.

  21. tantra therapist says:

    i'm 58 and have been a constant toker since high school. i am in such great health, i never see a doctor. have not had a cold or flu in 17 years.

  22. mobilemag3 says:

    I was surprised to see marijuana listed here, there are many worse things that are far more damaging and common to a youth than marijauana. Look at cigarettes, or how about crystal meth? Anyway, as soon as we start to look at marijuana as a medicine and not a recreational drug, it's potential or perceived harm on us shifts dramatically. A child of 11-13 years old should not be taking any medicines without supervision for any reason, recreational or medicinal. This paragraph "Perhaps the major concern is the decline in cognitive function for adolescent-onset cannabis users, which has been scientifically demonstrated by the National Institute of Health and the National Institute of Drug Abuse." should just be thrown out the door. Any "research" run by an organization with employees who are affiliated with or were affiliated with at one time pharmaceutical companies that create synthetic "medicine" that is killing millions of people should not be creditable.

  23. Debbie says:

    Yes, fruit is a good source of vit, minerals and fiber, however too much of a good thing can cause health problems , including pre diabetes. High glycemic fruits such as grapes, watermelon not as healthy as low glycemic index fruits such as a variety of berries. Check out books by Dr Mark Dwyer and healthy eating practices….this is only one area to improving health. Check it out….The blood sugar solution eating has made a huge difference for my husband and me…no longer pre diabetic and no more fatty livers. It is about moderation in life in all that we do and eat. One of the things about research and scientic data is that information changes over time due to continued research and scientific discovery, so everyone calm down and use informed reason in all we do….simple.

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