Some regard age as nothing but a number. But the realists of the world are keeping track of the growing number of less than desirable side effects of aging.
And this includes putting the brakes on certain compounds our bodies make – stuff we absolutely need. The internal machinery in all of us isn’t built to run full steam ahead for a lifetime. But all hope isn’t lost. There are ways to outsmart the inevitable production dips.
Coenzyme Q10 is a fat-soluble antioxidant made naturally by your cells. The highest concentration of CoQ10 is in the mitochondria, the energy-producing organelle in your cells.
You need ample CoQ10 to meet the energy needs of highly active organs like the brain, heart, liver, and kidneys. You also need it for its free radical scavenging abilities to fight cell damage caused by oxidative stress.
Your CoQ10 output starts to diminish naturally around age 30. Your ability to convert CoQ10 from inactive status into the active form ubiquinol also declines with age, especially after age 40. Low CoQ10 levels are common in individuals with heart disease and in those taking statin drugs as treatment for high cholesterol.
How do you recharge your CoQ10 battery?
- Eat CoQ10 rich foods – Foods high in CoQ10 include fatty fish, chicken, pork, beef, and organ meats. You can also find it in spinach, broccoli, lentils, pistachios, oranges, and strawberries.
- Take a CoQ10 supplement – Take CoQ10 at mealtime to enhance absorption.
2. Hydrochloric Acid
Every time you eat, chemical reactions signal your stomach to secrete stomach acid, also referred to as hydrochloric acid or simply HCL. The increased acid in the stomach helps to break down food and activates the enzyme pepsin to start protein digestion.
Adequate amounts of HCL help to prevent digestive trouble like acid reflux, heartburn, bloating, and stomach cramps after eating. The acidic environment in the stomach also acts as your first line of defense against foodborne pathogens, including the bacterium H. pylori, which causes stomach lining inflammation that triggers acid reflux. Another bonus of ideal stomach acidity is better absorption of some nutrients, such as vitamin B12, folic acid, calcium, and iron.
But HCL production can’t keep up with the demand meal after meal. According to Dr. Jonathon V. Wright, MD, and author of Why Stomach Acid is Good for You, by the time you reach age 40 your output of HCL has decreased by nearly 75% as compared to output in your pre-teen years.
So how do you keep a stomach in digesting mode in its preferred acidic happy place?
You can’t make the stomach produce more HCL by sheer will alone, but you can bring the acid level closer to optimal by taking a betaine hydrochloride supplement before meals. Betaine hydrochloride is an acidic form of betaine that has vitamin-like qualities. For best results, opt for a betaine supplement that also has the digestive enzyme pepsin in the formula .
3. Digestive Enzymes
Your digestive function doesn’t rely on HCL output alone. Stomach acid is only one part of the equation. You also need the help of digestive enzymes.
Secreted by the salivary glands, stomach, pancreas, and small intestine, digestive enzymes further break down foods so the body can absorb the basic chemical units (vitamins, minerals, amino acid, fatty acids, phytonutrients) it needs.
If food isn't broken up well enough, you miss out on the nutrients, and undigested food particles can pass through the intestinal tract. Putrefying food in the intestines causes unwanted digestive complaints.
And like HCL, your natural production of digestive enzymes declines as you get older. Like the rest of your body, the organs in the digestive system are deteriorating with age. Gradual wear and tear and episodes of damage over the years impairs proper organ function, including the ability to keep up with modern diets that are often low in the natural enzymes found in raw, unprocessed foods. That’s a lot of demand to put on your digestive organs.
To improve your digestive enzyme potential:
- Eat more raw foods – Take advantage of the natural enzymes in raw foods and lessen the burden on your GI tract. Cooking and processing destroy food’s natural enzymes.
- Make sure your stomach acid levels are up to stuff – Remember, HCL activates the protein-digesting enzyme pepsin.
- Take digestive enzymes – A digestive enzyme supplement taken at mealtime supplies enzymes lacking from food and helps to make up for your own production deficit.
If you follow health trends, you know that collagen is enjoying the spotlight, especially in terms of retaining a youthful appearance.
Collagen is a structural protein, the most abundant protein in the human body. Collagen makes the skin firm and elastic, builds healthy bones, keeps joints flexible, heals wounds, and gives strength to hair and nails.
We undergo a constant cycle of collagen creation and breakdown, but we do hit a point when the cycle is off balance. Collagen production lags while the breakdown continues to happen. We lose about 1% of our collagen each year after age 20!
By your mid-30s the drop in collagen is enough to be visible! Dull complexion, thinning skin, sagging, wrinkles.
Natural enzymatic means break down collagen on a regular basis but outside factors like free radicals, sun exposure, and pollution exacerbate collagen destruction.
Estrogen and testosterone hormones also contribute to collagen formation. While both women and men experience a decline in these hormones with age, men have an advantage – their loss of testosterone is a more gradual decline compared to the abrupt estrogen drop off that women experience during menopause. This hormonal link to collagen lets men retain their bone density and ward off skin wrinkling better than women. Sorry ladies!
So how do you get back into the collagen making game?
First, avoid the things that squash your collagen momentum:
- Smoking – Bad for all tissues and organs in the body, but smoking creates collagen destroying enzymes.
- Chronic stress – The stress hormone cortisol wreaks havoc on collagen production.
- Poor diet – Less than desirable diets lack the proper nutrients needed to make and protect collagen.
- Too much sun – UV radiation is a significant creator of free radicals, which create collagen destroying enzymes.
- Poor hydration – Collagen can help the skin retain moisture, but it needs a source to start with. Not drinking enough water deletes the reservoir.
Second, consider working in these tricks to recharge your collagen potential:
- Exercise regularly – Exercise stimulates the production of human growth hormone, which in turn stimulates collagen production in the muscles and tendons.
- Get restful beauty sleep – The more hours you get, the more time your body has to produce collagen and make repairs to damaged or stressed tissues.
- Omega-3 fatty acids in the diet – Fatty acids ensure that skin cells remain plump.
- Lycopene from red fruits and vegetables – Lycopene fights enzymes that destroy collagen.
- Vitamins A and C – They play a part in making collagen and the antioxidant properties protect existing collagen.
- Lean proteins – Protein-rich foods provide the amino acids involved in collagen synthesis.
- Bone broth – Nutrient rich bone broths contain a readymade source of collagen and gelatin.
5. Vitamin D
Your body makes its own vitamin D from exposure to sunlight. But changes in skin composition as we age affect your vitamin D making ability.
Within the outer layer of skin we have a substance called 7-dehyrdocholesterol (7-DHC) that is converted into the active form of vitamin D – vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol). The chain of events for the conversion is set off when the skin is exposed to the sun’s UVB rays. However, concentrations of 7-DHC decline with age, causing reduced response to sunlight. This means your vehicle for making vitamin D can be reduced by 50%.
This is bad news considering vitamin D deficiency is on the rise, especially among the elderly, a demographic that tends to get less sun exposure than younger generations.
You need vitamin D to aid calcium absorption for proper bone mineralization. Beyond the bones, vitamin D plays significant roles is immune and nervous system health.
So as your vitamin D production decreases, you’ll want to make sure to meet your vitamin D needs through the diet or from supplementation. Just be sure you get our vitamin D levels tested before you start taking vitamin D supplements, as taking too much can have serious consequences.
Glutathione is one of the body’s mater antioxidants, so it’s great that we can make it ourselves in the liver.
Antioxidants protect your cells from structural and functional damage caused by free radicals. This protection slows the aging process and supports immune function.
Not only is glutathione a great antioxidant on its own, it actually recharges other antioxidants – vitamins C and E – to keep them active longer. Glutathione also supports the liver’s detoxification functions.
In your 20s, production of glutathione starts dwindling and continues to decline until death. Expect production to decline about 10% with each passing decade.
Take into account the following to optimize glutathione production:
- Exercise regularly – Physical activity boosts glutathione levels.
- Eat sulfur-rich foods – Sulfur is needed for glutathione production. Sulfur-rich foods include garlic, onions, and cruciferous vegetables like cabbage, broccoli, and kale.
- Take glutathione supplements – Not all glutathione supplements are alike. Some don’t make it through the stomach intact. Choose a reduced glutathione supplement that has been enhanced for better intestinal absorption.
- Take NAC supplements – N-Acetyl Cysteine provides the body with one of the three amino acids glutathione is made from – cysteine. If you’re worried about how glutathione supplements are absorbed, you can provide your body with this well-absorbed precursor to glutathione.
Don’t let the natural production decline of these compounds slow you down. Start taking preventative action early to compensate for the unavoidable.