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I lift weights.  I run. I cycle. I practice intermittent fasting.  I do yoga. I even meditate for 18 minutes every single day (more on this soon).  I try to only eat organic, real food with no toxic preservatives or artificial flavors or colors.  Water is pretty much the only thing I drink. I avoid sugar that is not naturally occuring at all costs.  Yet, until very recently, I have been damaging my health, potentially quite seriously, on a daily basis. I simply missed something.  I failed to consider the commonly applied toxic beauty chemicals I was rubbing all over my face and body on a daily basis.

In fairness to myself, it’s incredibly challenging to navigate through all this stuff.  Who has the time to figure out what’s healthy or harmful in a world in which we are surrounded by harmful things, including the very air we breath?  We implicitly trust our government and business leaders and it’s just easiest to do whatever everybody else is doing. Afterall, who wants to be a weirdo?   

It first dawned on me that I might have overlooked something while showering.  As I lathered up my head of thinning hair, I just happened to glance down at my bottle of shampoo and read the label on the back.  What immediately struck me was the sheer volume of ingredients. The list was about 2.5 inches long of small print. “Wow,” I thought, “some of this can’t possibly be good.”  The ingredients included: Sodium lauryl sulfate, sodium chloride, Tetrasodium edta, methylparaben, propylene glycol, Yellow #5, phenoxyethanol, and Red #33. “Holy sh%t!” I thought, “That sounds awful!”  I recognized some of these terms from the post titled “Your Plastic Water Bottles and Food Containers are Killing You.”  “I’m rubbing this excrement all over my head for a few minutes every single day!?  This warrants further exploration,” I decided. So, I looked at the back of my body wash to inspect the ingredients.  I used what I thought was a high quality, name brand body wash. The exact same thing applied with respect to its ingredients which include:  Sodium laureth sulfate, PEG-7 glyceryl cocoate, PEG-200 hydrogenated glyceryl palmate, sodium hydroxide, phenoxyethanol, methylparaben, ethylparaben.  Again, I uttered to myself, “Damn, I rub these chemicals all over my body on a daily basis!”

Many of you are thinking, “John, there are giant, federal organizations with billion dollar budgets that exist for the sole purpose of protecting us, so why should I bother researching or reading about what simply ‘might’ be harmful?”  You’re right, there are multiple agencies with enormous budgets. Furthermore, you’re thinking on this matter likely reflects the thinking of 99% of the rest of the country. We have left this task to our governmental and business leaders.  After all, don’t they have our best interests in mind? They wouldn’t hurt us for profit? Would they? If there were studies indicating a commonly used ingredient is harmful, it would undoubtedly be front page news and outlawed? Or at least given a label indicating it is potentially harmful?  Right???

As we learned in a previous post, “Sleep More; Live Longer” the skin actually absorbs light.  Do you think it also absorbs chemicals you rub all over it?  Well, it turns out, you betcha, it sure does! The CDC states clearly that toxic chemicals are absorbed through the skin.1   In fact, several medicines today are delivered via the skin in the form of transdermal patches.  I used a nicotine patch many years ago. Some women use a birth control patch. Some guys wear testosterone patches.  It’s a great way to deliver medicine. It is, unfortunately, an equally effective way of delivering toxic chemicals that can give you cancer, ADHD, brain damage, and yes, even slowly kill you.

I can hear some of you thinking, “Oh John, you’re so silly!  There you go again, peddling fear porn. You’re such an exaggerator!  There’s nothing wrong with my body wash, or shampoo, or sunscreen!” Well, the fact of the matter is that there are many studies indicating that countless chemicals commonly used in personal care products are incredibly toxic and remain perfectly legal.  I know many of you lack the time to inform yourself about this stuff. Well, you’re in luck. You don’t have to research these matters because I’ll do it for you. Read on…

Historically Dangerous Chemicals

Here’s the trick.  There has never been a study that definitively proves smoking causes cancer.  So, you see, a given industry just has to spend a few million dollars a year to confuse people, buy some “scientific” studies, and “donate” money to friendly politicians.  They can easily afford to do this for decades to maintain a cash cow. Nicolas Pineault reveals in The Non-Tinfoil Guide to EMFs that it took between 50 and 99 years from when the first health warning signs appeared before government moved to ban the sale of asbestos, lead in gasoline, trans fats, and PCE in tap water.2  Why does it take so long for government to act?  Money? Power? Influence? Advertising? It’s still perfectly legal to buy cigarettes.  At least now, it comes with a warning. The same warning label should, and will, I strongly suspect, apply to chemicals in household personal care products in the future.  Most of us are unaware of the carcinogenic chemicals that are lurking in these products. We’re just too busy to keep up with these things. We are trained to think, “How could anything truly harmful be in there?  Oh, the government would never allow that!” Or would it? Make no mistake, harmful chemicals are not only in many products you likely use, but also rubbing these carcinogenic, toxic chemicals on your skin is no different than ingesting them.  They end up in your bloodstream. They become part of you.

There are a ton of products that I could cover that contain chemicals that we absorb through our skin.  In this post, I am only going to cover a few products I, and I assume many of you, use on a daily basis.  Be patient. I will, no doubt, cover more products, in some cases individually (deodorant), in the near future.

Shampoo

Sure enough, just as I suspected, some of the chemicals listed on the label of my shampoo are seriously problematic.  Shampoos often contain parabens, which are widely used preservatives that prevent the growth of bacteria, mold and yeast. Parabens are endocrine disruptors that possess estrogen-mimicking properties that are associated with increased risk of breast cancer.3  My shampoo also contained synthetic colors.  Synthetic colors are suspected to be a human carcinogen, a skin irritant and are linked to ADHD in children.4  The European Classification and Labeling considers it a human carcinogen and the European Union has banned it.5

Body Wash/Soaps

Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and/or sodium laureth sulfate (SLES) can be found in more than 90 percent of personal care and cleaning products including my former body wash. SLS’s are known to be skin, lung, and eye irritants.  A major concern about SLS is its potential to interact and combine with other chemicals to form nitrosamines, a carcinogen.6  These combinations can lead to a host of other issues like kidney and respiratory damage.  

Moisturizer

Phthalates are a group of chemicals used in hundreds of products to increase the flexibility and softness of plastics.  We covered phthalates, along with BPA, when we discussed drinking and eating out of plastic containers. They are known to be endocrine disruptors and have been linked to increased risk of breast cancer, early breast development in girls, and reproductive birth defects in males and females.7  You can have your BPA and phthalates levels tested, but it’s not cheap.

Cologne/Perfume

The most important thing to know about fragrances is that if you can smell it, you ingested it.  You may as well have drunk it. “Oh, but it was just for a second?” That second may be all it takes to begin a chain of biochemical events that will kill you in 40 years.  Think about the devastating effects of a single asbestos fiber lodged in one’s lung.

Fragrances are further alarming because the term was created to protect a company’s “secret formula.” But as the consumer you could be putting on a concoction of chemicals that are hazardous to your health. According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), fragrance mixes have been associated with allergies, dermatitis, respiratory distress and potential effects on the reproductive system.8  Aside from perfume and cologne, fragrances can be found in many additional products such as conditioner, shampoo, body wash and moisturizers.

Sunscreen

Sunscreen chemicals absorb ultraviolet light, keeping you from getting sunburned. These chemicals are often endocrine disruptors and are believed to be easily absorbed into the bloodstream. They may also cause cellular damage and cancer in the body. Common names are benzophenone, PABA, avobenzone, homosalate and methoxycinnamate.9  Parents around the world slather gobs of popular sunscreens all over there kids’ faces and bodies all summer long.  They have no idea the risks they are rubbing all over their kids! It’s really not their fault. They trust their family practice doctor who told them to do it.  Their dermatologist not only said the same thing, but stressed that daily sunscreen is essential. But did anyone think to consult an endocrinologist? He/she would likely say, “God no, don’t put that stuff on your kids or yourself!  But here are a few equally effective, much safer alternatives.”

Sunscreen chemicals are so toxic, Hawaii recently outlawed some of the chemicals often found in sunscreen.  They did it, however, not to protect humans, but to protect the coral reef. According to Slate Magazine,

“since research now suggests that oxybenzone and octinoxate, which show up in almost all major sunscreens, are harmful to the marine ecosystem, we seem to have a moral dilemma on our sunscreen-coated hands: ruin your skin, or ruin the environment. In a 2015 study, oxybenzone and octinoxate were found to contribute to coral bleaching (the scourge that has more or less destroyed the Great Barrier Reef), slow new coral growth, and disrupt marine life.  Now Hawaii, seemingly unwilling to go down the same path as the Great Barrier Reef, has become the first state to ban the sale of sunscreen containing the coral-killing chemicals. The legislation, which still awaits the governor’s signature, won’t come into effect until 2021, giving sunscreen producers plenty of time to switch over to a safer formula. Hawaii’s ban leaves producers with two options: continue offering chemical sunscreens without oxybenzone and octinoxate or switch over to natural, mineral-based sunblocks.9  

If these chemicals decimate coral reefs, what do you think they do to the human body?  I believe nothing good, though it may not affect us for a few decades, at which point we will be incapable of determining a source of our health issue.

Conclusion

Many of you concluded I was fear mongering in the first paragraph or two of this article.  How do you feel now? Is my title an exaggeration? It seems demonstrably true that there are known carcinogens and toxic chemicals in our shampoo, soap, body wash, moisturizers, fragrances, and sunscreen.  The CDC informs us that we do, in fact, absorb chemicals through our skin. So, tell me, if we use these products containing these chemicals daily, how are you not rubbing deadly chemicals all over your face and body?

Most importantly, the changes you can make to protect yourself from these insidious chemicals is really simple.  Familiarize yourself with EWG’s Skin Deep.  EWG empowers people with information to protect themselves and their families from potentially dangerous chemicals.  It will make this stuff super easy for you. As you’ll learn from EWG, all these popular products that are loaded with chemicals and constantly being aggressively marketed to us have alternatives.  When I began exploring this topic, my first thought was getting a safe, healthy, effective alternative will cost a fortune and be nearly impossible to find. The fact is, there are a ton of healthy alternative options that in some cases are even cheaper and more effective than their toxic counterparts.  They just aren’t marketed as effectively because, we, the consumers, are uninformed and do not demand the gargantuan corporations sell us products without these chemicals.

I won’t tell you exactly what brand and product I’m using to replace the aforementioned dangerous products, but I will give you a good idea and steer you in the right direction.  I’ve chosen not to name specific products whenever possible because I got accused of being a deceptive advertiser over my whey protein post. I earn zero dollars from this site. In fact, it costs me money to maintain and operate.  I do it because I enjoy it.

I use argan oil for both my shampoo and nightly moisturizer.  I only recently started using moisturizer during this quest. I no longer wear cologne.  I am hoping my natural pheromones are powerful enough to attract the ideal mate. They haven’t helped me much thus far, but I believe I may now be vibrating at a much, much higher frequency, so time will tell.  For sunscreen, I look for products with zinc oxide. For body wash I inadvertently purchased a product designed for children. It works. I get clean. But forget what I am doing. Maybe you can figure out a better plan at EWG.  Here are some sample screen shots to guide you.    

I believe my policy regarding chemicals is the prudent one:  “If a chemical that has been proven to be toxic or carcinogenic at any dose could have long term negative effects,  why take a chance?” One thing is certain; the more pollution you ingest, whether you breath it, drink it, eat it, or rub it on your skin, the shorter your telomeres will be.  As such, I choose to avoid these types of demonstrably harmful, commonly applied toxic beauty chemicals whenever I can. I hope you now do too.

Citations:

1  SKIN EXPOSURES & EFFECTS. (2012, April 30). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/skin/

2 Pineault, N. (2017). The non-tinfoil guide to EMFs: How to fix our stupid use of technology. Charleston, SC: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.

3  Cunningham, V. (2014, January 23). 10 Toxic Beauty Ingredients To Avoid. Retrieved from https://www.huffingtonpost.com/vanessa-cunningham/dangerous-beauty-products_b_4168587.html

4  Cunningham, V. (2014, January 23). 10 Toxic Beauty Ingredients To Avoid. Retrieved from https://www.huffingtonpost.com/vanessa-cunningham/dangerous-beauty-products_b_4168587.html

5 Cunningham, V. (2014, January 23). 10 Toxic Beauty Ingredients To Avoid. Retrieved from https://www.huffingtonpost.com/vanessa-cunningham/dangerous-beauty-products_b_4168587.html

6  Cunningham, V. (2014, January 23). 10 Toxic Beauty Ingredients To Avoid. Retrieved from https://www.huffingtonpost.com/vanessa-cunningham/dangerous-beauty-products_b_4168587.html

7  Cunningham, V. (2014, January 23). 10 Toxic Beauty Ingredients To Avoid. Retrieved from https://www.huffingtonpost.com/vanessa-cunningham/dangerous-beauty-products_b_4168587.html

8  FRAGRANCE. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ingredient/702512/FRAGRANCE/#

9  Withers, R. (2018, May 07). Hawaii Bans Coral-Killing Chemicals Because Sunscreen Producers Won’t. Retrieved from https://slate.com/technology/2018/05/hawaii-bans-coral-killing-chemicals-because-sunscreen-producers-wont.html

The post Commonly Applied Toxic Beauty Chemicals appeared first on ReversingMyAge.com.

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Regular readers know that I set up ReversingMyAge.com as a vehicle by which to chronicle the events associated with my year long quest to reverse my biological age by lengthening my telomeres.  My eagerly anticipated second telomere test results finally arrived from Telomere Diagnostics.  As I walked into my apartment, I tossed the unopened package on my living room coffee table and began to cook a meal.  My handling of the latest test results stands in stark contrast to my reaction upon receiving the initial, baseline, test results.  Some of you may remember reading,

“I finally received the results of the TeloYears genetic test that I have been so eagerly awaiting.  I held the package in my hands thinking, ‘This is what it’s all about.’ My heart began to pound. I could feel my blood pressure rising.  My hands trembled as as I tore open the envelope and opened the pamphlet to see:”1

Telomeres Test Result

I was biologically 35 years old, despite chronologically being 40.  I was not pleased with the results because, while I was younger, it would make accomplishing my practically impossible mission even more difficult.  It is exponentially easier for an eighty year old man to lengthen his telomeres than a five year old child.

“God Damn it, Son of a Bitch, Mother …!” I thought to myself at the time.2

When I open the results this time there would be no nervousness, no trembling hands, no heart pounding, and no profane outbursts.  Two eight to fifteen minute daily sessions of meditation have fundamentally changed me. I have wrestled control of both my head and my emotions.  With regards to my new test results; what will be, will be. I was totally relaxed. As I cooked my healthy meal, I contemplated what I would write to you, my faithful readers, regardless of whether the news was positive, or possibly, though hopefully not, negative.

Furious Debate

A furious debate rages among biogerontologists and other scientists about the importance of telomeres.  One camp claims that telomeres are everything; the very key to aging. Solving telomere shortening or stimulating telomerase, the enzyme which causes telomeres to lengthen, will result in people living indefinitely, so some believe.  Many of these scientists are feverishly studying telomeres all over the world; some in a university setting, but far more work in the private sector for pharmaceutical and biotech companies that are working to develop drugs or gene therapies.

One such biogerontologist, a semi celebrity and main character in the movie The Immortalists, is ultramarathon running Dr. Bill Andrews.  He thinks it is all about the telomeres, and has been quoted saying, “Aging can be controlled and stopped, a statement solidly grounded in good science, which makes it both verifiable and demonstrable.”3   He’s also written, “The end result, a cure for aging, is inevitable.”4  I agree with Dr. Andrews, but critics are quick to point out that he is currently both selling a supplement called Tam-818 and offering gene therapy that is extraordinarily expensive.  

Elizabeth Parrish, CEO of Bioviva, is another celebrity in the field who focuses on telomeres.  She used her company’s gene therapy to successfully lengthen her telomeres by the equivalent of 20 years, thus legitimately reversing her age.  According to Parrish, “the gene therapy has enhanced the lifespan of the telomere by a whopping 20 years. This was after she received two experimental- one containing muscle mass and the other with longevity gene- therapies back in 2015 (then 44 years of age).”5  Gene therapy to combat aging is currently available in overseas markets, but be forewarned; prices START at about a quarter of a million dollars and go as high as you can imagine.  The results are inconsistent and the therapies are potentially dangerous.

The opposition says telomeres don’t matter at all.  They’re just something interesting to look at, but don’t have a heck of a lot to do with life expectancy.  This camp, much to my dismay, makes some compelling arguments. Some friends and readers of this blog who disagree with the nature of my endeavor, some of whom have PhDs, enjoy taunting me by sending links to articles that indicate telomeres aren’t important.  Or, in some cases, that long telomeres are bad. This camp, most of whom I suspect have very short telomeres, argues that having long telomeres, or taking drugs, or doing things to make them long, is a good way to get cancer. They have a point. One article cited the following study which argues, “Results regarding telomere length and cancer risk are conflicting. We tested the hypothesis that long telomeres are associated with increased risk of any cancer and specific cancer types in genetic and observational analyses.  Genetic determinants of long telomeres are associated with increased cancer risk, particularly melanoma and lung cancer. This genetic predisposition to enhanced telomere maintenance may represent a survival advantage for precancerous cells, allowing for multiple cell divisions leading to cancer development.”6  My response, in that case, was there is a problem with the study that doesn’t apply to my circumstances.  While the study indicates that longer telomeres are associated with certain types of cancer, one cannot equate an individual with naturally long telomeres with those of the person who eats organic, exercises like a mad man, and avoids all kinds of pollution, whether it be drunk, breathed, eaten, or rubbed into one’s skin.  There are a lot of really, really smart people out there with an agenda and/or biases. Don’t let them fool you. The implications of this argument is that being healthy will give you cancer. Hmm, that’s not only suspect, it’s simply not true.

Aubrey de Grey, arguably the leader of the “Conquer Aging” movement, is so opposed to telomeres that part of his SENS movement actually seeks to figure out a way to turn OFF, not on, the enzyme telomerase.  He thinks that’s the way to beat cancer. Maybe he’s right. By lengthening my telomeres, I am certainly increasing the number of potential cell divisions.  According to Cancer.gov,   “Normally, human cells grow and divide to form new cells as the body needs them. When cells grow old or become damaged, they die, and new cells take their place.  When cancer develops, however, this orderly process breaks down. As cells become more and more abnormal, old or damaged cells survive when they should die, and new cells form when they are not needed.”7  By lengthening my telomeres, I may be enabling cells that should have died to live on, thus raising my risk of developing cancer.  Cancer cells are immortal.  They just keep dividing. As such, their telomeres must also keep growing.  Do you see the connection between aging, telomeres, and cancer?

Much has happened since I began this quest, not only to me and with respect to what I have learned, but also within the scientific community as it relates to aging.  Breathtaking news emerges weekly. The pace at which the scientific community is advancing in this great age of emerging artificial intelligence and super computers is nothing short of mind blowing.  My own thoughts and positions as they relate to aging remain in a constant state of evolution. I intend to continue to focus on my telomeres for the duration of this quest. Yet, while I began this quest thinking the key to aging is all about the telomeres, I no longer feel that way.  I continue to believe telomeres are important and lengthening them is, legitimately, reversing one’s biological age. As discussed above, we have a limited number of cell divisions. The less healthy cell divisions we have, the less time we have. Longer telomeres = more cell divisions = more healthy time among the living.  I am more confident than ever that not only is legitimate biological age reversal possible, but that we will also soon have the option to live significantly longer (and healthier) in the not so distant future. I just don’t think it will play out quite the same way I originally thought.

My Results

I finally finished my delicious, healthy meal and casually opened the package from Teloyears.  Because I had experience with the matter, I knew exactly where to open the pamphlet to get to the heart of the matter; my new (hopefully younger) biological age.  I saw the relevant information and immediately shrieked, “No! This can’t be right! There must be some mistake!” I began to sweat. My heart began pounding like a 90 lb jackhammer.  I could feel my blood pressure rising as I anxiously read my results.

I looked to the sky and bellowed, “God Damn it, Son of a Bitch, Mother …!”

No amount of meditation could have helped me with this one.  During the course of my life, I have experienced many, many epic failures.  I’ve grown quite accustomed to them. I am in a very good place psychologically in that respect, as failures no longer incapacitate me like they used to.  I now see them as a necessary part of a process. Yet, in this particular instance, I had given 110% of myself to an endeavor and not only had I failed to reverse my biological age, I had dramatically accelerated my aging and shortened my telomeres significantly, by an astounding three years in six months.  I started biologically at 35 years old and a mere six months later, I was now 38. This was, arguably, the most spectacular failure of my life!

I called a good friend to share the news.  As I began telling him what happened, he began to chuckle.  I plowed forward with my explanation until he could no longer control his uproarious laughter.  When he finally got a hold of himself, he managed to say between eruptions, “This is so great! This may be the funniest thing I ever heard in my life!  I’m going to start taking bets on how biologically old you’ll be in six months. You aged 3 years in six months. In five years you will be 70! Ahhhh, haahahahahahahaha!”

My “friend”, totally unconcerned with my feelings went on to breathlessly state the obvious, “You would have been way better off  had you kept drinking beer and Monster, not exercising, and eating McDonalds and Taco Bell!”

He continued, “Think of all the time you wasted reading all those dumb books and watching those idiotic documentaries.  Let’s go out drinking! You’ll feel better!” I took my friend’s criticism before growling into the phone, “I’m just getting started!  I’ll bet you I still manage to reverse my biological age!” and hung up.

While the discovery of my new, older, biological age and my friend’s comments stung, they genuinely have not discouraged me.  In fact, after I calmed down, I realized this, like all my other failures, is probably a good thing. It’s simply part of the process.  The results of my second telomere test poses all sorts of new, interesting questions to contemplate:

  1. Is there a lag between my efforts and when it is reflected in telomere length?  The Dean Ornish study lasted five years. It also took Elizabeth Parrish’s telomeres two years to grow the equivalent of 20 years.
  2. If I was sleep deprived when I drew my blood, would that make a difference?
  3. What if I was sick?
  4. Do telomeres possess the ability to lengthen as fast as they shorten?

On a positive note, I’ve demonstrated that telomeres not only respond, but respond relatively quickly to various stimuli.  I have discovered that one can significantly shorten one’s telomeres in a very short period of time. Nowhere have I found a single study, source of data, or even anecdotal evidence duplicating my incredibly awful results.  No record of anyone shortening their telomeres so much, so fast exists. Nevertheless, I am not devastated by my results because I am demonstrably younger in just about every single other biomarker of aging: Resting Heart Rate, HRV, Blood Pressure, Cholesterol, Lean Muscle Mass, Strength, Body Fat, Body Temperature Regulation, Aerobic Capacity, Balance, and even Cognitively.

Possible Explanations Why My Telomeres Shrunk

Rocky Balboa displayed incredible wisdom when he famously said, “It’s not how hard you can hit, but how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.”  Now that I’ve picked myself up off the floor, the first thing to do is to attempt to figure out WHY, precisely, my telomeres shortened so much, so fast.  As the test date approached, I began to anticipate this possibility. I have endured a tremendous amount of stress on my mind and body. Perhaps this physical and mental stress had a lot to do with my telomere shortening.

"It ain't about how hard you hit" - Rocky Balboa Motivational Speech - 60s - YouTube

I also must consider what was different before I began this quest.  One such difference is that in addition to drinking beer, I also drank about three Monster energy drinks daily.  I often drank the Ultra Black variety, which is loaded with 100% of RDA of Vitamin B-12 in each can. The “Monster Energy Blend” includes: Taurine, Panax Ginseng Extract, L-Carnitine, Caffeine, Guarana Extract, and Glucuronolactone and Inositol.  When I received my baseline blood test results, I distinctly remember my doctor asking what I am taking to elevate my B-12 levels so much. I couldn’t figure it out until after the fact. It was, I believe, the Monster.

Another possible explanation is a lack of caffeine, which I was getting plenty of prior to beginning this quest.  I estimate I consumed 400 mg of caffeine a day via energy drinks. I am unwilling at this juncture to begin drinking coffee or supplementing with caffeine because it also raises blood pressure.  I may revisit this in the future.

New Plan

Despite this setback, I don’t plan on changing much about my protocol.  I’m going to continue focusing on ultrarunning and other ultra endurance activities for the duration, primarily because of the study which determined the average Ultrarunner has an average telomere length of someone 16 years younger.8  I will be running my next, the Mohican 100, in mid June.  I believe ultra endurance training is the best and fastest way to significantly lengthen my telomeres.  I will also begin supplementing with B-12.

If all else fails after my third telomere test results, I will deploy the nuclear option.  My friend who bet me I would be over 35 biologically (determined by telomere length) doesn’t realize I have an ace up my sleeve.  During the course of my independent research, I believe I may have stumbled upon some “forbidden knowledge.” The nuclear option is called the “nuclear option” because deploying it runs the risk of giving myself cancer.  No, I won’t tell you what it is just yet, but if I use it, I will document it and share all the specific details.  

I truly still believe I will successfully reverse my biological age.  Of all the various types of exercises, diet modifications, supplements, and therapies I am utilizing in my efforts, I already know what the most powerful component is: unwavering tenacity.  I intend to wear down my telomeres. I will keep getting knocked down, only to quickly scramble to my feet so I may keep bombarding my telomeres with therapies that logically, should work. Eventually, I predict, my exhausted telomeres will scream, “Mercy!  Ok, enough already! We give up! We will begin to lengthen!”

Regular readers are familiar with the concept of hormesis.  While thus far my quest must be viewed as an epic failure, couldn’t the concept of hormesis be applied to my telomere’s initial response to my efforts?  In order to build muscle, mustn’t we first tear them up and break them down? Only then will they grow bigger and stronger. Perhaps the same applies to my telomeres.  As such, I wouldn’t bet against me or my telomeres just yet…

Citations:

1  Loehr, J. (2018, March 14). How Old are you Really? Retrieved from https://www.reversingmyage.com/blog/how-old-are-you-really/

2  Loehr, J. (2018, March 14). How Old are you Really? Retrieved from https://www.reversingmyage.com/blog/how-old-are-you-really/

3  A BREAKTHROUGH IN  LIFESPANRESEARCH. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.sierrasci.com/

4  A BREAKTHROUGH IN  LIFESPANRESEARCH. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.sierrasci.com/

5  Harris, J. (2018, February 13). Forever Young: Bioviva Unveils First Anti-Aging Gene Therapy. Retrieved from https://sanvada.com/2018/02/13/forever-young-bioviva-unveils-first-anti-aging-gene-therapy/

6  Rode, L., Nordestgaard, B. G., & Bojesen, S. E. (2016, October). Long telomeres and cancer risk among 95 568 individuals from the general population. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27498151

7  What Is Cancer? (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/understanding/what-is-cancer

8  Denham, J., Nelson, C. P., O’Brien, B. J., Nankervis, S. A., Denniff, M., Harvey, J. T., . . . Charchar, F. J. (2013). Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3729964/

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I lift weights.  I run. I cycle. I practice intermittent fasting.  I do yoga. I even meditate for 18 minutes every single day (more on this soon).  I try to only eat organic, real food with no toxic preservatives or artificial flavors or colors.  Water is pretty much the only thing I drink. I avoid sugar that is not naturally occuring at all costs.  Yet, until very recently, I have been damaging my health, potentially quite seriously, on a daily basis. I simply missed something.  

In fairness to myself, it’s incredibly challenging to navigate through all this stuff.  Who has the time to figure out what’s healthy or harmful in a world in which we are surrounded by harmful things, including the very air we breath?  We implicitly trust our government and business leaders and it’s just easiest to do whatever everybody else is doing. Afterall, who wants to be a weirdo?   

It first dawned on me that I might have overlooked something while showering.  As I lathered up my head of thinning hair, I just happened to glance down at my bottle of shampoo and read the label on the back.  What immediately struck me was the sheer volume of ingredients. The list was about 2.5 inches long of small print. “Wow,” I thought, “some of this can’t possibly be good.”  The ingredients included: Sodium lauryl sulfate, sodium chloride, Tetrasodium edta, methylparaben, propylene glycol, Yellow #5, phenoxyethanol, and Red #33. “Holy sh%t!” I thought, “That sounds awful!”  I recognized some of these terms from the post titled “Your Plastic Water Bottles and Food Containers are Killing You.”  “I’m rubbing this excrement all over my head for a few minutes every single day!?  This warrants further exploration,” I decided. So, I looked at the back of my body wash to inspect the ingredients.  I used what I thought was a high quality, name brand body wash. The exact same thing applied with respect to its ingredients which include:  Sodium laureth sulfate, PEG-7 glyceryl cocoate, PEG-200 hydrogenated glyceryl palmate, sodium hydroxide, phenoxyethanol, methylparaben, ethylparaben.  Again, I uttered to myself, “Damn, I rub these chemicals all over my body on a daily basis!”

Many of you are thinking, “John, there are giant, federal organizations with billion dollar budgets that exist for the sole purpose of protecting us, so why should I bother researching or reading about what simply ‘might’ be harmful?”  You’re right, there are multiple agencies with enormous budgets. Furthermore, you’re thinking on this matter likely reflects the thinking of 99% of the rest of the country. We have left this task to our governmental and business leaders.  After all, don’t they have our best interests in mind? They wouldn’t hurt us for profit? Would they? If there were studies indicating a commonly used ingredient is harmful, it would undoubtedly be front page news and outlawed? Or at least given a label indicating it is potentially harmful?  Right???

As we learned in a previous post, “Sleep More; Live Longer” the skin actually absorbs light.  Do you think it also absorbs chemicals you rub all over it?  Well, it turns out, you betcha, it sure does! The CDC states clearly that toxic chemicals are absorbed through the skin.1   In fact, several medicines today are delivered via the skin in the form of transdermal patches.  I used a nicotine patch many years ago. Some women use a birth control patch. Some guys wear testosterone patches.  It’s a great way to deliver medicine. It is, unfortunately, an equally effective way of delivering toxic chemicals that can give you cancer, ADHD, brain damage, and yes, even slowly kill you.

I can hear some of you thinking, “Oh John, you’re so silly!  There you go again, peddling fear porn. You’re such an exaggerator!  There’s nothing wrong with my body wash, or shampoo, or sunscreen!” Well, the fact of the matter is that there are many studies indicating that countless chemicals commonly used in personal care products are incredibly toxic and remain perfectly legal.  I know many of you lack the time to inform yourself about this stuff. Well, you’re in luck. You don’t have to research these matters because I’ll do it for you. Read on…

Historically Dangerous Chemicals

Here’s the trick.  There has never been a study that definitively proves smoking causes cancer.  So, you see, a given industry just has to spend a few million dollars a year to confuse people, buy some “scientific” studies, and “donate” money to friendly politicians.  They can easily afford to do this for decades to maintain a cash cow. Nicolas Pineault reveals in The Non-Tinfoil Guide to EMFs that it took between 50 and 99 years from when the first health warning signs appeared before government moved to ban the sale of asbestos, lead in gasoline, trans fats, and PCE in tap water.2  Why does it take so long for government to act?  Money? Power? Influence? Advertising? It’s still perfectly legal to buy cigarettes.  At least now, it comes with a warning. The same warning label should, and will, I strongly suspect, apply to chemicals in household personal care products in the future.  Most of us are unaware of the carcinogenic chemicals that are lurking in these products. We’re just too busy to keep up with these things. We are trained to think, “How could anything truly harmful be in there?  Oh, the government would never allow that!” Or would it? Make no mistake, harmful chemicals are not only in many products you likely use, but also rubbing these carcinogenic, toxic chemicals on your skin is no different than ingesting them.  They end up in your bloodstream. They become part of you.

There are a ton of products that I could cover that contain chemicals that we absorb through our skin.  In this post, I am only going to cover a few products I, and I assume many of you, use on a daily basis.  Be patient. I will, no doubt, cover more products, in some cases individually (deodorant), in the near future.

Shampoo

Sure enough, just as I suspected, some of the chemicals listed on the label of my shampoo are seriously problematic.  Shampoos often contain parabens, which are widely used preservatives that prevent the growth of bacteria, mold and yeast. Parabens are endocrine disruptors that possess estrogen-mimicking properties that are associated with increased risk of breast cancer.3  My shampoo also contained synthetic colors.  Synthetic colors are suspected to be a human carcinogen, a skin irritant and are linked to ADHD in children.4  The European Classification and Labeling considers it a human carcinogen and the European Union has banned it.5

Body Wash/Soaps

Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and/or sodium laureth sulfate (SLES) can be found in more than 90 percent of personal care and cleaning products including my former body wash. SLS’s are known to be skin, lung, and eye irritants.  A major concern about SLS is its potential to interact and combine with other chemicals to form nitrosamines, a carcinogen.6  These combinations can lead to a host of other issues like kidney and respiratory damage.  

Moisturizer

Phthalates are a group of chemicals used in hundreds of products to increase the flexibility and softness of plastics.  We covered phthalates, along with BPA, when we discussed drinking and eating out of plastic containers. They are known to be endocrine disruptors and have been linked to increased risk of breast cancer, early breast development in girls, and reproductive birth defects in males and females.7  You can have your BPA and phthalates levels tested, but it’s not cheap.

Cologne/Perfume

The most important thing to know about fragrances is that if you can smell it, you ingested it.  You may as well have drunk it. “Oh, but it was just for a second?” That second may be all it takes to begin a chain of biochemical events that will kill you in 40 years.  Think about the devastating effects of a single asbestos fiber lodged in one’s lung.

Fragrances are further alarming because the term was created to protect a company’s “secret formula.” But as the consumer you could be putting on a concoction of chemicals that are hazardous to your health. According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), fragrance mixes have been associated with allergies, dermatitis, respiratory distress and potential effects on the reproductive system.8  Aside from perfume and cologne, fragrances can be found in many additional products such as conditioner, shampoo, body wash and moisturizers.

Sunscreen

Sunscreen chemicals absorb ultraviolet light, keeping you from getting sunburned. These chemicals are often endocrine disruptors and are believed to be easily absorbed into the bloodstream. They may also cause cellular damage and cancer in the body. Common names are benzophenone, PABA, avobenzone, homosalate and methoxycinnamate.9  Parents around the world slather gobs of popular sunscreens all over there kids’ faces and bodies all summer long.  They have no idea the risks they are rubbing all over their kids! It’s really not their fault. They trust their family practice doctor who told them to do it.  Their dermatologist not only said the same thing, but stressed that daily sunscreen is essential. But did anyone think to consult an endocrinologist? He/she would likely say, “God no, don’t put that stuff on your kids or yourself!  But here are a few equally effective, much safer alternatives.”

Sunscreen chemicals are so toxic, Hawaii recently outlawed some of the chemicals often found in sunscreen.  They did it, however, not to protect humans, but to protect the coral reef. According to Slate Magazine,

“since research now suggests that oxybenzone and octinoxate, which show up in almost all major sunscreens, are harmful to the marine ecosystem, we seem to have a moral dilemma on our sunscreen-coated hands: ruin your skin, or ruin the environment. In a 2015 study, oxybenzone and octinoxate were found to contribute to coral bleaching (the scourge that has more or less destroyed the Great Barrier Reef), slow new coral growth, and disrupt marine life.  Now Hawaii, seemingly unwilling to go down the same path as the Great Barrier Reef, has become the first state to ban the sale of sunscreen containing the coral-killing chemicals. The legislation, which still awaits the governor’s signature, won’t come into effect until 2021, giving sunscreen producers plenty of time to switch over to a safer formula. Hawaii’s ban leaves producers with two options: continue offering chemical sunscreens without oxybenzone and octinoxate or switch over to natural, mineral-based sunblocks.9  

If these chemicals decimate coral reefs, what do you think they do to the human body?  I believe nothing good, though it may not affect us for a few decades, at which point we will be incapable of determining a source of our health issue.

Conclusion

Many of you concluded I was fear mongering in the first paragraph or two of this article.  How do you feel now? Is my title an exaggeration? It seems demonstrably true that there are known carcinogens and toxic chemicals in our shampoo, soap, body wash, moisturizers, fragrances, and sunscreen.  The CDC informs us that we do, in fact, absorb chemicals through our skin. So, tell me, if we use these products containing these chemicals daily, how are you not rubbing deadly chemicals all over your face and body?

Most importantly, the changes you can make to protect yourself from these insidious chemicals is really simple.  Familiarize yourself with EWG’s Skin Deep.  EWG empowers people with information to protect themselves and their families from potentially dangerous chemicals.  It will make this stuff super easy for you. As you’ll learn from EWG, all these popular products that are loaded with chemicals and constantly being aggressively marketed to us have alternatives.  When I began exploring this topic, my first thought was getting a safe, healthy, effective alternative will cost a fortune and be nearly impossible to find. The fact is, there are a ton of healthy alternative options that in some cases are even cheaper and more effective than their toxic counterparts.  They just aren’t marketed as effectively because, we, the consumers, are uninformed and do not demand the gargantuan corporations sell us products without these chemicals.

I won’t tell you exactly what brand and product I’m using to replace the aforementioned dangerous products, but I will give you a good idea and steer you in the right direction.  I’ve chosen not to name specific products whenever possible because I got accused of being a deceptive advertiser over my whey protein post. I earn zero dollars from this site. In fact, it costs me money to maintain and operate.  I do it because I enjoy it.

I use argan oil for both my shampoo and nightly moisturizer.  I only recently started using moisturizer during this quest. I no longer wear cologne.  I am hoping my natural pheromones are powerful enough to attract the ideal mate. They haven’t helped me much thus far, but I believe I may now be vibrating at a much, much higher frequency, so time will tell.  For sunscreen, I look for products with zinc oxide. For body wash I inadvertently purchased a product designed for children. It works. I get clean. But forget what I am doing. Maybe you can figure out a better plan at EWG.  Here are some sample screen shots to guide you.    

I believe my policy regarding chemicals is the prudent one:  “If a chemical that has been proven to be toxic or carcinogenic at any dose could have long term negative effects,  why take a chance?” One thing is certain; the more pollution you ingest, whether you breath it, drink it, eat it, or rub it on your skin, the shorter your telomeres will be.  As such, I choose to avoid these types of demonstrably harmful chemicals whenever I can. I hope you now do too.

Citations:

1  SKIN EXPOSURES & EFFECTS. (2012, April 30). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/skin/

2 Pineault, N. (2017). The non-tinfoil guide to EMFs: How to fix our stupid use of technology. Charleston, SC: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.

3  Cunningham, V. (2014, January 23). 10 Toxic Beauty Ingredients To Avoid. Retrieved from https://www.huffingtonpost.com/vanessa-cunningham/dangerous-beauty-products_b_4168587.html

4  Cunningham, V. (2014, January 23). 10 Toxic Beauty Ingredients To Avoid. Retrieved from https://www.huffingtonpost.com/vanessa-cunningham/dangerous-beauty-products_b_4168587.html

5 Cunningham, V. (2014, January 23). 10 Toxic Beauty Ingredients To Avoid. Retrieved from https://www.huffingtonpost.com/vanessa-cunningham/dangerous-beauty-products_b_4168587.html

6  Cunningham, V. (2014, January 23). 10 Toxic Beauty Ingredients To Avoid. Retrieved from https://www.huffingtonpost.com/vanessa-cunningham/dangerous-beauty-products_b_4168587.html

7  Cunningham, V. (2014, January 23). 10 Toxic Beauty Ingredients To Avoid. Retrieved from https://www.huffingtonpost.com/vanessa-cunningham/dangerous-beauty-products_b_4168587.html

8  FRAGRANCE. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ingredient/702512/FRAGRANCE/#

9  Withers, R. (2018, May 07). Hawaii Bans Coral-Killing Chemicals Because Sunscreen Producers Won’t. Retrieved from https://slate.com/technology/2018/05/hawaii-bans-coral-killing-chemicals-because-sunscreen-producers-wont.html

The post Stop Rubbing Deadly Chemicals All Over Your Face and Body appeared first on ReversingMyAge.com.

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ReversingMyAge.com is a great source of unusual and often fascinating material ideal for first date conversations.  Running, cycling, and lifting weights are fantastic subjects to discuss and intermittent fasting along with high intensity interval training are especially hot topics.   Do not, however, under any circumstances whatsoever, discuss this particular post.  Make no mistake, if you tell your first date that you tape your mouth shut before bed every night, there will definitely not be a second.  I recently learned this the hard way.

I am convinced oxygen is one of a few key components necessary for good health and longevity.  The fact of the matter is that blue zones (geographic areas with especially longevous people) are often at high altitude.  This means the oxygen content in the air they breathe is less, not greater. How counterintuitive? Up until very recently, I always thought the more oxygen, the better.  I even looked into purchasing an oxygen concentrator and considered trying to buy a used or build my own hyperbaric oxygen chamber, which have a wide variety of reported health benefits. Hyperbaric chambers are supposedly beneficial for a number of conditions including: wound healing, athletic performance, autism, cancer, anemia, carbon monoxide poisoning, and others. They are often used in hospitals to help burn victims heal. They work. It seems, however, the opposite is also good for you. We seem to have stumbled upon yet another paradox.

So, you think taking a deep breath of oxygen rich air will give your muscles, tissues, and brain a burst of needed energy?  Wrong. Not so at all. In fact, ironically, you’d be better off holding your breath. Taking a deep voluntary breath does not increase oxygenation to any tissue in your body.  Put an oximeter on a finger. If you’re healthy it will read somewhere between 96 and 99%. That means 96 to 99% of hemoglobin molecules are bound to oxygen.1  Your cells are already saturated with oxygen.  The trick is to figure out how to release the oxygen bound up in your red blood cells.  If you are breathing deeply and/or overbreathing (mouth breathing) all the time, especially when not exercising, you are not increasing the oxygenation of your blood or tissue further, but you are decreasing the amount of CO2 in your blood through exhalation.  Just as increased CO2 causes vasodilation, decreased CO2 causes vasoconstriction.2  This is bad.

About three months ago my gums began bleeding, pretty much all the time.  I started growing concerned because if I literally sucked in and spit at any time, there would always be traces of blood in my red spit.  I began using my water pick nightly in an effort to toughen up my gums. Despite weeks of using it, I just ended up with a mouthful of blood every night.  Then I decided I must have given myself scurvy due to KETO and Intermittent Fasting. So, I began taking vitamin C powder even on fast days and swishing it around in my mouth.  Then I changed my fasting schedule. Nothing seemed to help.

In addition to bloody gums, I often woke up with a very sore throat.   So, I bought a humidifier. It didn’t help either. This was getting serious, but I dreaded the thought of going to the dentist who would indubitably diagnose me with serious gum disease that required some procedure that just so happens to cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars.  I further dreaded explaining to the dentist how my bloody gums fit into the context of my quest for age reversal. I envisioned getting hauled away in a straight jacket, never to be seen again.

Then while training for my ultramarathon, I listened to the book The Oxygen Advantage by Patrick McKeown and discovered a potential solution to my problem.  The author made me realize I am a mouth breather. This is very bad because when breathing through the nose, the air is warmed and cleaned by both the hair (cilia) that lines the path through which it passes, and the extreme length that pathway follows on its journey from the nose to the lungs.  That is why noses are for breathing and mouths are for eating. I have been inadvertently damaging my health, handicapping myself, both physically and mentally, and been exposing myself to a number of serious chronic conditions for my entire life. I look back and think about my participation in sports and realize that I was working so much harder than I should have been because I was a mouth breather.  I also think about all the brain fog and moodiness I suffered from over the years. If only I had known of my affliction and how easy it is to correct!

If you’re beathing through your mouth while you sleep at night, as I was, it’s a really big deal.  Unfortunately, mouth breathing while sleeping is a tough habit to break. You’re unconscious, so you can’t control your autonomic actions.  I have a solution that may seem extreme, but is, no doubt, effective. Surgical tape! That’s right; each and every night I now put a strip of two inch wide surgical tape over my mouth.  I’m not talking loosely either. I mean I’m really taping my mouth shut so no air can enter or exit my mouth. Consequently, I now have no choice but to breathe through my nose while I’m sleeping.  I don’t use the “best” tape. I use the most effective, meaning the stuff that won’t come off. It sometimes leaves a faint residue and it can be slightly painful to remove.

Yes, I agree, taping your mouth shut at night is not normal.  It is, ostensibly, abso-friggin-lutely crazy. Yet, when you take the time to really contemplate the matter, it’s really not.  Nasal breathing is the normal, healthy way to breathe. Furthermore, what’s truly crazy is what has become “normal” today: obesity, diabetes, ADHD, fatigue, brain fog, heart disease, stroke, and dementia. The normal adult today is fat, weak, unconditioned, and sick. “Normal” isn’t normal anymore. These are all chronic conditions that I believe are, for the most part, preventable. Taping your mouth at night is a remarkably simple, yet extremely powerful tool that if you’re a mouth breather, has the potential to change your life and reduce your chances of becoming afflicted by one of the aforementioned conditions.  

Hard to believe, right?  That’s what I thought at first, but the health benefits and improvement in sleep quality are undeniable.  Mouth tapers report better focus, memory, and concentration, while simultaneously anxiety is greatly reduced as are incidents of cavities.3  According to a Breathe Right survey or 1001 Americans, 61% of people mouth breathe by default.4  Mouth breathing elevates blood pressure and heart rate, worsens asthma and allergies, and deprives the heart, brain, and other organs of optimal oxygenation.5

Benefits of Mouth Taping
  1. Forces Nasal Breathing – Applying tape to your mouth at night is an easy and inexpensive way to ensure that your mouth stays closed and respiration must, therefore, occur only through your nose.
  2. Prevents Overbreathing – If you sleep with an open mouth your breathing will automatically exceed your body’s needs and you will hyperventilate, which upsets the oxygen/carbon dioxide balance and causes oxygen deficiency.6  This is why my O2 saturation levels were so low early on in my quest.  It further explains why even as I got healthy and fit, my O2 saturation levels were alarmingly low upon waking (I kept an O2 Saturation device on my bed).
  3. Gives a deep sleep – Restless sleep is common amongst nightly mouth breathers.  Nasal breathing lowers heart rate and Adrenaline and improves blood oxygen levels. Snoring and sleep apnea can respond to mouth taping.
  4. Reduce attention deficit and hyperactivity – Mouth breathing because of nasal obstruction is likely to cause sleep disorders, and by day, it may give rise to symptoms similar to those of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).  In these ways, it has been suggested that breathing through the mouth instead of the nose can adversely affect brain function.7  
  5. Reduces Asthma and Allergies – The nose warms, filters and moisturizes air. Mouth breathing sends cold dry air to the back of the throat and lungs. Nasal passages secrete excess mucus trying to alleviate the dryness, causing congestion in the nose and creating more allergies and mouth breathing – a vicious cycle.8
  6. Improved Dental Health and Better Breath – Mouth breathing dries your mouth, harming the oral Microbiome affecting the entire digestive tract. A dry mouth can lead to cavities as teeth are robbed of their protective coating of saliva and oral pH is altered. Bad breath can result from increased bacteria in the mouth.9
  7. Reduced Anxiety – Mouth breathing can activate the fight or flight response. Learn to stop mouth breathing during the day too. This is a basic health improvement tool that can change your life.  Overbreathing can make you sick. It’s not hyperventilation like a panic attack, but the more you watch your breathing and slow it down, the less anxious you’ll feel, day or night.10
  8. Increased Nitric Oxide –  We produce 25% of our Nitric Oxide in the sinuses but only when we breathe through the nose.  Breathe through your mouth and you will be short on nitric oxide.Nitric Oxide is key to athletic endurance and strength, regulation of blood pressure, arterial inflammation, and sleep quality.  Nitric oxide enhances memory and learning, reduces inflammation, improves sleep quality, increases endurance and strength, and improves immune function.11
My Mouth Taping Experience

As I stared myself in the face in my bathroom mirror, I said to myself, “Ok, this is it.  Tonight you will sleep with your mouth taped shut for the first time.” I applied the tape and couldn’t help but notice how ridiculous I looked.  I also noticed that almost immediately after covering my mouth, I was struggling for air. This was probably largely psychological. I felt kinda like a freak and thought to myself as I lay down in bed, “Now, I’ve finally gone too far.  This is absolutely ridiculous.” I soon began to really struggle to breath. It was a little scary, but not terrifying, as I knew I could always just tear the tape off. As I tried to fall asleep, I pondered, “Will I wake up if I am lacking oxygen?”  Eventually, I must have drifted off to sleep. Much to my dismay, I woke up without a taped mouth. I must have panicked and ripped it off it during the night.

By the second night, however, I suffered through the first few uncomfortable minutes and soon found that my nose became totally clear.  Breathing through my nose, miraculously, was easy. Now that I have been doing this for awhile, one of the amazing things I’ve noticed is that if my nose is stuffed when I get into bed at night, it clears up within a minute or two and I begin to breathe easily.  Ironically, it’s actually quite calming once you get used to it. Just like with inclined bed therapy, sleeping with my mouth taped shut is now “normal” to me, and surprisingly, preferable.

Conclusion

First and foremost, figure out if you’re a mouth breather.  In a way, it could be a blessing because your quality of life and ability to perform mentally and physically is likely about to improve dramatically if you utilize this simple technique.  Don’t wear tape if you’ve been drinking heavily, are nauseous, or take sleeping pills, and as always, consult your doctor before trying this.

As I grew up, I often found myself wanting to fit in and do what everyone else was doing, just like any other kid (and many, if not most, adults).  If for some reason my parents did not want me to do whatever it is I sought permission or money to do, my father would often ask, “Are you an intelligent, critically thinking human being, or are you a sheep, blindly following the herd.”  He would then invariably begin bleating, “Bahh, bbaahhhh, bbbaaaahhhhhhhhh.” Decades later, I realize he was right more often than not. He taught me to think critically and independently. As such, I’m not afraid to try seemingly strange methods if there is evidence the therapy supports my objectives, no matter how unconventional they may seem.  

I am certain mouth breathing has immediate detrimental health effects.  I strongly suspect mouth breathing has totally devastating long term health effects.  Consequently, taping my mouth before bed has become part of my nightly routine. I no longer suffer from very sore throats upon waking.  My gums no longer bleed. I sleep deeper and wake up less often and feel more refreshed upon rising. I have better breath and am more calm.  I am now exponentially less likely to develop high blood pressure and/or heart rate, asthma and allergies, diabetes, adhd, and, I suspect, cancer and dementia.  Yeah, I tape my mouth shut every night. There’s a 60% chance you should too. So tell me; now who’s the crazy one?

Citations:

1  D. (2012, February 07). The Fallacy of “Deep Breathing.” Retrieved from https://yogaforums.com/t/the-fallacy-of-deep-breathing/8384

2  D. (2012, February 07). The Fallacy of “Deep Breathing.” Retrieved from https://yogaforums.com/t/the-fallacy-of-deep-breathing/8384

3  How to Mouth Tape for Better Sleep. (2018, February 21). Retrieved from https://askthedentist.com/mouth-tape-better-sleep/

4  GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare. (2015, March 04). New Survey Takes A Peek Into Americans’ Bedrooms To Reveal What’s Keeping People Awake: Mouth Breathing. Retrieved from https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/new-survey-takes-a-peek-into-americans-bedrooms-to-reveal-whats-keeping-people-awake-mouth-breathing-300044836.html

5  How to Mouth Tape for Better Sleep. (2018, February 21). Retrieved from https://askthedentist.com/mouth-tape-better-sleep/

6  Olsson, A. (n.d.). The Sleep Tape. Retrieved from https://www.consciousbreathing.com/product/sleep-tape/

7  Sano, M., Sano, S., Oka, N., Yoshino, K., & Kato, T. (2013, December 04). Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4047298/

8  5 Reasons I Tape My Mouth at Night. (2017, July 15). Retrieved from https://www.ondietandhealth.com/why-tape-my-mouth-at-night/

9  5 Reasons I Tape My Mouth at Night. (2017, July 15). Retrieved from https://www.ondietandhealth.com/why-tape-my-mouth-at-night/

10  5 Reasons I Tape My Mouth at Night. (2017, July 15). Retrieved from https://www.ondietandhealth.com/why-tape-my-mouth-at-night/

11  Nahman, H. (2017, May 17). Can Mouth Taping Grant You Better Sleep, Better Health, Better Everything? Retrieved from https://www.manrepeller.com/2017/05/what-is-mouth-taping.html

The post Taping My Mouth Shut Before Bed: Not As Crazy as Seems appeared first on ReversingMyAge.com.

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I first heard of “earthing” or “grounding” about 10 years ago while watching a television news program devoted to a convention with the latest and greatest healthcare products.  I vividly recall watching a journalist interview the representatives of a company that sold earthing products. What they were selling amounted to bed sheets with interwoven metal fibers that were attached to a wire that was routed out a fake bedroom window and attached to a grounding rod that was hammered into a box filled with grass covered topsoil to simulate a yard.  It ranked among the most ridiculous things I had ever seen. The salespeople raved that grounding, or connecting ones body to the earth, offered a seemingly endless list of amazing health benefits. I thought to myself, “Seriously??? There’s just no way anyone would spend their hard earned money on this. Not even a stupid idiot could be tricked into buying this hocus pocus.”  And yet, they had this large, elaborate display at a big convention that must have cost a small fortune. People must be buying these products. My faith in humanity plummeted yet another giant notch. I distinctly remember this experience because I proceeded to call a friend and said, “Ok, we are officially living in the movie Idiocracy.” I proceeded to explain “earthing” and argued that it was time to prepare for doomsday because if hordes of dummies were actually buying this ridiculous product, all hope for mankind was lost.  The end must be near.

It would be disingenuous to claim I lack an open mind because I now sleep on an earthing sheet each and every night.

Though I hadn’t given the therapy a moment’s thought in a decade, since I began this quest to reverse my biological age by lengthening my telomeres, the concept of earthing kept coming up.  At first, I remember thinking, “Oh yeah, I know what this is. That absurd product only a total moron could get tricked into buying.” I tuned out whatever I was reading and the author immediately lost credibility in my estimation.  Then it came up again. And again. And again. Finally, I decided if multiple respected authorities on a given subject keep recommending earthing, maybe there is something to it after all. I decided it was time for me to begin my own research into this matter.  

After conducting some preliminary internet research, I watched the documentary “The Grounded.”  It was reasonably good and informative, but I still wasn’t sold.  Then I listened to the audiobook, “Earthing: The Most Important Health Discovery Ever” by Clint Ober, Martin Zucker, and Stephen Sinatra.  This was an extremely thorough and informative book that covered earthing from every imaginable angle. The book successfully convinced me that it was worth giving it a shot.  

Earthing Theory

You are probably really, really skeptical about earthing, just as I was.  So please allow me to attempt to explain how it works. I’ll try not to get too technical.

Electricity, believe it or not, is largely responsible for what makes our bodies work.  Muscle contractions, heart beats, brain waves, and nerve signals are all bodily functions that rely on electrical signals.  A buildup of charged energy, or static electricity, causes slowing or even “freezing” of these systems and a buildup of positive energy charge is most common and can result in excess “free radicals.”1  Free radicals cause oxidative stress.  This is bad. Really bad. One way in which we accumulate these positively charged ions is by exposure to external electrical energy.  Just like our skin absorbs light in the morning, our skin and body are also naturally absorb electrical charges.  Most of us carry cell phones all day long, sometimes holding them to our heads, work and/or play on computers daily, are constantly in the presence of Wi-Fi, microwaves, radio waves, and all kinds of electromagnetic waves.  Exposure to electrical energy is pervasive and practically inescapable in our modern society.

We’ve all touched a metal object and received a shock, especially during winter months.  This happens because our body built up a positive charge that was discharged through the metal.  Essentially, the shock is evidence that we suddenly grounded ourself.2

Today we absorb more positive ions than ever in human history because the society we created, and lifestyles most of us have chosen, involves relentless exposure to electrical energy.  The Earth, on the other hand, carries an enormous negative charge. It can serve as an endless supply of antioxidant and free-radical-busting electrons.3  According to Dr. Mercola, “Your body is finely tuned to ‘work’ with the Earth in the sense that there’s a constant flow of energy between your body and the Earth. When you put your feet on the ground, you absorb large amounts of negative electrons through the soles of your feet. The effect is sufficient to maintain your body at the same negatively charged electrical potential as the Earth. This simple process is called ‘grounding’ or ‘earthing,’ and its effect is one of the most potent antioxidants we know of.”4

Natural Earthing

Have you ever spent a week hanging out on a beach, spending your days mostly barefoot?  How did you feel? Pretty damn good, I bet! You may have noticed a greater sense of calm, improved physical and psychological relaxation, and an overall decrease in tension.  Now, some of this is no doubt related to just being on vacation, not having to get up at any particular time, having no responsibilities, and just being relaxed without much of a care in the world.  But maybe it was also because you spent so much time grounded.

Like when we vacation at a beach, we used to spend a great deal of time in direct contact with the earth.  We walked barefoot, slept on the ground and bathed in the river. This direct earth connection allowed any built up electrical charge to be grounded into the earth naturally and slowly.  Today, however, we are always wearing shoes made of synthetic materials which disconnect us from the earth’s natural “electrical” force.5  It was normal to be regularly grounded most of human history until quite recently.  When are we grounded today? I literally go several months a year without naturally grounding myself even once.  Though mainstream science and medicine may not have figured it out yet, make no mistake, there are likely very serious consequences resulting from this change in lifestyle.

Benefits of Earthing

Chronic diseases and conditions are increasing at a staggering rate.  This is an uncontested fact. Many people live with daily pain and constant stress, anxiety, depression, and fatigue.  Doctors often resort to prescribing medications to treat the symptom, not the cause. Oftentimes these medications alleviate the symptoms of one problem and create two more.   Maybe much of the increase in chronic conditions is merely the result of us living disconnected from the earth, while simultaneously being bombarded with electrical energy.

Earthing reduces free radical damage (oxidative damage), stress, inflammation and pain.  It is a lot like taking vitamin C or eating superfoods rich in antioxidants.  Antioxidant supplements and foods reduce inflammation, reduce the effects of aging, reduce chronic pain, increase speed of healing and tissue recovery.  The same principles apply with earthing.

Reduces Inflammation  

We’ve discussed the notion of inflammation and “inflammaging” repeatedly at ReversingMyAge.com.  Earthing has been proven to alleviate inflammation.  The influx of free electrons from the earth’s surface helps to neutralize free radicals and reduce both acute and chronic inflammation.  According to Melissa Lind at Organic Daily Post, “The use of an earthing mat has been shown by thermal imaging to reduce an electrical charge within a body to near zero.  This in turn, decreases inflammatory processes which show up as “heat” on a thermal image.”6

The reason that we want to eat plenty of high-antioxidant foods is the same reason we want to practice earthing. Antioxidant electrons in your body help ensure that damage from free radicals doesn’t get out of control and lead to high levels of inflammation and faster aging, just like anti-inflammatory foods.  The electrons from the earth can resolve chronic inflammation by serving as natural antioxidants. If you seek certain foods or consume any supplements for their antioxidant properties, you should also consider earthing or grounding.

According to a study published in 2012, “Reduction in inflammation as a result of earthing has been documented with infrared medical imaging [28] and with measurements of blood chemistry and white blood cell counts [21]. The logical explanation for the anti-inflammatory effects is that grounding the body allows negatively charged antioxidant electrons from the Earth to enter the body and neutralize positively charged free radicals at sites of inflammation [28].”7

Helps Reduce Stress Hormones and Improve Sleep

Chronic stress will age you faster than anything and kill your quality of life.  But fortunately, it has repeatedly been proven that time spent in nature can really help reverse certain feelings of stress and anxiety.   A 2007 study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine demonstrated that connecting the human body to the earth during sleep “normalizes the daily cortisol rhythm and improves sleep patterns. This is because of the effects that stress hormones have on your natural circadian rhythm, energy and ability to sleep soundly.”8  Poor sleep is often a symptom of high stress hormones like cortisol. By lowering our reaction to stressful events in our lives, we can fall and stay asleep more easily.  Sleep, as we know, is crucial for healing our body at the most fundamental level.

Can Help Increase Energy

Many people have found that earthing or grounding improves their energy. This can be one side effect of getting better sleep but also be due to improvements in hormones and lower levels of inflammation.  Several studies point to the fact that higher cortisol levels rob the body of energy. Physiological stress and cortisol have a close relationship: Stress impacts cortisol, and cortisol can further increase stress responses.  It’s a vicious circle. This cycle can lead to fatigue and sleep problems, even cravings for low-nutrient foods, sugar and excess calories that further lead to low energy levels.9

Improved Circulation

Experts on earthing and grounding believe that this practice can help improve circulation, which means you’re better able to distribute nutrients throughout your body and also carry waste and toxins out.10   When you are grounded, your circulation improves, aiding in the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the tissues in your body, including better blood flow to your face, thereby reducing the appearance of wrinkles.

Conclusion

One interesting fact I have learned in my quest to reverse my age is that therapies that work really well, even if they have been proven to work, may not be so obvious or all that well publicized.  Why? Well, there are several potential reasons. One is that when someone has a competitive advantage, he or she usually wants to hold onto that competitive advantage. This is especially true in the world of professional and olympic super athletes where fractions of a second can make all the difference between becoming a champion and finishing dead last.  These special athletes will go to great lengths to protect any and all competitive advantages they have.

Also, bear in mind that when a method for age reversal, healing, or increased athletic performance is not potentially highly profitable for any group of people or individuals, it will never be marketed or adequately studied.  In fact, if it threatens any mainstream, profitable methods of accomplishing similar things, expect the new therapy to be actively suppressed. Can you blame people for wanting to protect their golden geese? Just a few days ago, Goldman Sachs asked in a biotech research report: “Is curing patients a sustainable business model?”  This is a troubling, yet realistic, fact of life.  The sooner you recognize it, the better off you’ll be.

You almost certainly did not know this, but the US Cycling Team on the Tour de France practices earthing.  Yes, that’s right, the US Cycling Team, which has access to the very best tools for athletic performance, and a practically limitless amount of money to spend, regularly practices earthing on the tour.  I can’t help but wonder what other sports/athletes practice earthing which you will never hear about. Watch the video below if you’d like to learn more about the US Cycling’s Team use of earthing technology during the Tour de France.

Grounding/Earthing Technology used in the Tour de France - YouTube

So, how am I practicing earthing?  I bought a half sheet that I keep on my bed at all times.  This sheet has silver strands running through it that all connect to a cord.  I keep the cord plugged into the ground of an electrical outlet next to my bed.  I’ve been doing it since I began practicing Inclined Bed Therapy, about a month ago.  I haven’t taken any specific measurements. While I lack the tools to definitively prove it, I genuinely believe earthing is making a difference in my life.

I decided to adopt this strategy primarily because the effects of earthing are measurable and have been definitively proven.  The best part about earthing or grounding is that it’s super simple, relatively cheap (it can also be done for free), takes no time, and can be done anywhere, at any time. It requires nothing but your bare body and willingness to try something that might seem “a bit out there.”  As my regular readers know, that’s never stopped me and I hope it doesn’t stop you either.

Citations:

1  Are you grounded? The benefits of earthing and earthing mats. (2017, May 25). Retrieved April 16, 2018, from https://organicdailypost.com/earthing-mats/

2  Babcock, J. (2018, January 06). Earthing: 5 Ways It Can Help You Fight Disease. Retrieved April 16, 2018, from https://draxe.com/earthing/

3  Grounding or Earthing: How Your Body Generates Electricity. (n.d.). Retrieved April 16, 2018, from https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2014/03/01/body-electricity-grounding.aspx

4  Grounding or Earthing: How Your Body Generates Electricity. (n.d.). Retrieved April 16, 2018, from https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2014/03/01/body-electricity-grounding.aspx

5  Babcock, J. (2018, January 06). Earthing: 5 Ways It Can Help You Fight Disease. Retrieved April 16, 2018, from https://draxe.com/earthing/

6 Are you grounded? The benefits of earthing and earthing mats. (2017, May 25). Retrieved April 16, 2018, from https://organicdailypost.com/earthing-mats/

7  Chevalier, G., Sinatra, S. T., Oschman, J. L., Sokal, K., & Sokal, P. (2012). Retrieved April 16, 2018, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3265077/

8  Oschman, J. L. (2007, November). Can electrons act as antioxidants? A review and commentary. Retrieved April 16, 2018, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18047442

9  Babcock, J. (2018, January 06). Earthing: 5 Ways It Can Help You Fight Disease. Retrieved April 16, 2018, from https://draxe.com/earthing/

10  Babcock, J. (2018, January 06). Earthing: 5 Ways It Can Help You Fight Disease. Retrieved April 16, 2018, from https://draxe.com/earthing/

The post On Earthing: Changing My Mind appeared first on ReversingMyAge.com.

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“I’m training for a 100 mile ultramarathon,” I told my date, a first, at a lively restaurant with a great atmosphere in lower Manhattan called El Vez.

“Wow, that’s incredible!” she replied.   “I’ve competed in a few marathons and have just begun training again after recovering from an injury, but I can’t even conceive of trying to run an ultra.  How many marathons have you completed?”

“None,” I admitted.  “In fact, I’ve never even run a half marathon or a 5K for that matter.  On December 7th (about a month before this conversation), I ran my first mile since high school which was over 20 years ago.  It was brutal!”

“Seriously?  And you think you will be able to complete an ultra?  When? Three years from now?”

“No.  March.  I may try to complete a fifty miler as a warmup in February.  You don’t seem to think I’ll be able to do it.”

“That’s insane.  There’s just no way that’s even possible.  Don’t even bother trying. You’ll never finish and will probably seriously injure yourself just trying.”

This conversation was playing through my head as I struggled to fall asleep at a Hilton in Knoxville, Tennessee, the night before I was to begin running my first ultramarathon.  I thought to myself, “Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea. I am not confident I can get through it. Is the pain, suffering, and injuries I’m no doubt about to endure really worth it?  I don’t even know if this will affect my telomeres at all.”

You are likely wondering why a 41 year old guy fixated upon reversing his biological age would spend the time and effort competing in, and training for, an ultramarathon.  Allow me to explain. I suspect my explanation may be of great interest and it will all begin to make sense. You may even wind up with an urge to give ultrarunning a shot.

“[A]n ultrarunner’s mind is what matters more than anything. Racing ultras requires absolute confidence tempered with intense humility.” (Scott Jurek, “Eat & Run” 2012) The Darkside of Ultrarunning

I hate running.  I’ve never liked it one bit.  It is arguably the absolute worst form of self abuse imaginable.  Don’t misunderstand me; I love sports and exercise, just hate running for the sake of running.  It always seemed rather pointless to me. Why run when there are so many other more fun and interesting forms of cardiovascular exercise?  Cycling, tennis, racquetball, swimming, rowing; anything but running! It is terrible on the joints and it’s dangerous. Yes, it is truly dangerous.  I’ve heard of countless men and women dying on the side of a road after suffering heart attacks because of jogging. Furthermore, some studies estimate that 90% of runners will miss training time in a given year due to injury.1  The amount of cortisol and oxidants that get generated on a run is staggering.  Considering this as well as the effects running has on the endocrine system, a compelling argument can be made that running actually accelerates aging.  

If running is dangerous and unhealthy, ultra running is certain death and destruction.  This group of lunatics have crossed the line from exercise for the sake of health, fitness, and enjoyment to an obsession with driving themselves to accomplishing the nearly impossible.  For them, training injured and pushing forward in a state of constant, agonizing pain is just part of the challenge and the price they are willing to pay for a small slice of glory. That glory is objectified in the form of a belt buckle awarded to 100 mile finishers commemorating their accomplishment.

It’s virtually impossible to train seriously for ultramarathons and not negatively affect your endocrine system.  Under normal circumstances, if you’re eating well, getting enough sleep, and exercising like a normal person, your hormones will work to self regulate and maintain a near optimal balance. Ultra runners often throw that balance seriously out of whack by overtraining.

Cortisol is an anti-inflammatory and a catabolic hormone that breaks down cells.  It is the “get up and go” hormone that is released upon waking. Too much training releases too much cortisol, which breaks down too many muscle proteins.  The ultra runner is continually dumping cortisol into their bloodstream, not for a mere hour or two, but for 10 and 20 and 30 hours at a clip. The hormonal effects on the body are devastating.  It’s not just cortisol that is affected, too much training also decreases levels of testosterone. Testosterone, found in both men and women, increases muscle mass and decreases recovery time. But while intense workouts can increase testosterone levels, too much training can drive them down.2  

Chronic overtraining shortens telomeres and decreases life expectancy.  It’s an accepted fact. For ultra runners, it is super easy to overtrain.  In fact, it’s hard not to in order to prepare to conquer the amazing distances they face.  Most “experts” seem to universally agree that ultrarunning is extreme, unhealthy, and just generally “bad,” primarily because of how common overtraining syndrome is in the sport, but also because of injuries, endocrine system issues, and wear and tear on joints from “overuse”.  

The Paradox

If ultra running is so bad for one’s health, how does one explain how the average ultra runner has telomeres the average length of someone an incredible Sixteen Years younger?  We seem to have a perplexing paradox.

I first came across ultra running’s association with extremely long telomeres in Dr. Blackwell and Dr. Epel’s book “The Telomere Effect.”  Here is a link to the actual study.  If one’s telomeres are the average length of the average person sixteen years younger, one is, biologically speaking, 16 years younger.  I remember being stunned as I read that. The fact also confused me because another part of the book seemed to argue against ultra running as it explained the experience of a woman who had significantly shorter telomeres as a result of over training for the Grand Slam of Ultrarunning.  Becoming a Grand Slammer, a feat only a handful of people rise to each year, involves the completion of three of four of the most prestigious and challenging ultramarathons in a single year, including the famous Western States Endurance Run. “What gives?” I pondered, “Either ultrarunning is or isn’t good for one’s telomeres.  Which is it?”

I also found it both strange and disappointing that this astonishing fact about ultra runners’ telomeres was covered in a single paragraph.  As soon as I read it, I had about 50 follow up questions. Most importantly, “Why are ultra runners’ telomeres so long?”  Here we have an activity that seems to reverse one’s biological age by an astonishing 37% and a mere stinking single paragraph is devoted to this mind blowing fact?!  Scientists around the world should be studying this to determine effective methods of managing and conquering aging. Entire books could and should be written about this fact!  Why isn’t it igniting more imaginations as it has mine? What should be front page news is instead categorically ignored. Why? Because there is no money in it! Yet, if the same results from this free activity could be delivered in a fantastically profitable pill, it would be front page news in every corner of the world and the pill would be worth hundreds of billions of dollars.

My curiosity and interest in telomeres forced me to begin looking further into this matter.  I decided if the mainstream scientists, medical professionals, and other experts weren’t going to examine this, I would.  That’s when I vowed to attempt to complete an ultra marathon during my year long quest. Even if I failed to successfully complete one, I’d learn a great deal about ultra running.  I also wouldn’t be too upset if I failed because I’d be in really good company.

As I continued devouring books and began training to run 100 miles, I discovered that my interest in the association between ultrarunning and very long telomeres was not unique.  In fact, a leading mind and celebrity in the field of biogerontology also seems to share my point of view. Dr. Bill Andrews, CEO of Sierra Sciences, reportedly runs an ultramarathon a month.  He is one of the main characters in the documentary about defeating aging called the “The Immortalists”. You can see the movie trailer below:

The Immortalists Official Trailer (2014) - Documentary HD - YouTube

Initially, the more I read about, studied, and actually ran, the less the fact about ultra runners’ telomeres made sense to me.  I was utterly baffled. One evening, after running 40 miles that day, a giant cyst had formed behind my right knee. I was in agony and could hardly walk.  “This can’t possibly be healthy,” I thought to myself. “There must be some mistake with the study I keep thinking about.” But I pressed on and eventually concluded that overtraining is very unhealthy and will unquestionably shorten one’s telomeres.  I further concluded that the average ultra runner probably should have short telomeres not only because of the overtraining, but also because of all the oxidative and endocrine system damage. And yet, we have this paradoxical fact. Their telomeres are longer than average, not just by a little bit, but significantly longer.  That means they will live longer/healthier lives. Well then, how can anyone say it is unhealthy? Is what is “healthy” what will lead you to live the longest functional life? Or is it something else?

It seems to me, ironically, if one is  “ultra” careful to avoid not only overtraining, which is very easy to do, but also injury, which is also extremely common, ultra running is arguably the very “healthiest” activity one can engage in.  There is no other known activity, supplement, therapy, or drug that will lengthen telomeres as much. Consequently, and inexplicably, despite the shin splints, excruciating pain, giant bursting blisters, cramps, diarrhea, puking, ravenous hunger, dehydration, strained tendons and ligaments, baker’s cysts, runner’s knees, and occasional hallucination,  it is, nevertheless, unquestionably, healthy. What other group of people have telomeres so long? None, that I am aware of. This could be the key to firing the first shot in the battle to conquer aging! More resources should be devoted to studying this phenomenon.

I believe ultra running must be linked with a recurring theme at ReversingMyAge.com;  hormesis.  Hormesis is a phenomenon of dose response relationship in which something that produces a harmful biological effect at moderate to high doses may produce beneficial effects at low doses.  When one lifts weights, muscles suffer micro tears. If one gives one’s muscles time to properly heal, they will slowly grow stronger as one continues to increase the dose of the stress (weights/reps).  The same principle applies to ultra running. Don’t run 100 miles your first day out, but gradually increases the stress (distance/pace) and eventually running 100 miles won’t be unfathomable. Sooner or later one’s mind and body will grow accustomed to the stress.  

I have an easy, accessible solution to the overtraining issue that plagues the sport.  Heart Rate Variability (HRV). I take an HRV reading each and every morning to start my day.  It tells me EXACTLY how my central nervous system is doing and what the likelihood of overtraining is.  It tells me when it is safe to raise my intensity and put the hammer down, and it tells me when I should lay off.  It even tells me when I should do nothing but yoga or breathing exercises. HRV is a magnificent tool because it objectively measures everything affecting one’s autonomic central nervous system and gives users a window into areas that would otherwise remain hidden from view.

One of the primary motivating factors in my decision to run an ultra was that aside from calorie restriction, I believe ultra running may well be among the most compelling, proven, ways to reverse one’s biological age.  This begs the question, why does ultrarunning lengthen telomeres? I really don’t know. It may not for everyone. The potential explanations are practically limitless. Though, if adequately analyzed, researchers are capable of figuring it out and pinpointing the main mechanisms involved.  Nevertheless, I am using it as one of many tools to lengthen my own.

Conclusion

Ultrarunning really is the perfect metaphor for life itself.  It’s got everything; pain and suffering, joy and glory, darkness and light, fear and confidence, and relationships with which to get through the hard times and celebrate the good.  Just as in life, one must suffer in order to experience a great reward. Without the low lows, there can be no high highs. Completing an ultra was really, really difficult; likely the hardest thing I ever did in my life.  That is precisely what makes the experience so personally valuable. Many fail to see the connection. I now believe if I can suffer through an ultra, I can get through just about anything.

According to Outside Online, “a record 36,000 people participated in [ultra-distance events] in the U.S. last year.  Given a U.S. population of 313,914,040, that means that those who participated in an ultra-distance event were 0.0115% (rounded up) of the total population.”3  As such, it is an incredibly small group of people.  They are, though, very friendly as a group and equally easily accessible.  I issue a call on scientists and aging researchers to begin studying this special group of people to determine, precisely, why their telomeres are so long.  Ultrarunning is simply not a young person’s sport and it is not uncommon to see a 70 year old blazing through a 100 mile race. It is high time we begin learning something from these special septuagenarians.

So, you’re all wondering.   Did I manage to finish the 100 miles and did I do it fast enough to earn a belt buckle?  I sure did and just by the skin of my teeth because I made the cut off time by 9 minutes.  It took me 29 grueling hours 51 minutes and 19 seconds to complete. It felt more like a month.  Here is a link to my official time.  As you can see I was the dead last male runner.  I may have walked quickly for large portions of the race, but I finished it, resulting in one of the most satisfying experiences of my life.  I genuinely mean that. Will I do it again? Had you asked me that during the race, I would have quickly replied with a decisive, “No,” and proceeded to try to run away from you in an effort to choke off the conversation.  However, if you ask me that now, my response is an equally decisive, “Hell Yes!” I plan to try to tackle my next one sometime this summer. Hopefully my body will have recovered by then and my telomeres will have grown much longer.    

Citations:

1  Reynolds, G. (2016, February 10). Why We Get Running Injuries (and How to Prevent Them). Retrieved March 25, 2018, from https://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2016/02/10/why-we-get-running-injuries-and-how-to-prevent-them/

2 The Role Of Hormones In Running. (2014, May 15). Retrieved March 25, 2018, from http://running.competitor.com/2014/05/training/the-role-of-hormones-in-running_57112

3  Lessons from the Ultra(Running) Fail of Tim Ferriss. (2016, July 09). Retrieved March 25, 2018, from http://www.zhangschmidt.com/2013/04/lessons-from-the-ultrarunning-fail-of-tim-ferriss/

The post Ultra Running: Telomere Augmentor or Destroyer? appeared first on ReversingMyAge.com.

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Reversing My Age by John Loehr - 3M ago

This one is kinda out there, even for me.  Nevertheless, I figured I’d give it a shot because the logic behind it is compelling, it is free, and takes zero time.  Inclined bed therapy is sleeping with the head of one’s bed raised five or six inches giving the bed a 5 degree incline.  At first glance, it seems pretty wacky. Nevertheless, allow me to explain the theory, potential benefits, and compelling logic behind the therapy.  

In addition to seeming nutty, I further admit, there’s not much data to back it up.  Well, there’s not really any at all. Yet, remember, guiding principle #2 of this endeavor, which states, “The only thing I know about aging and the human body is that I don’t know much of anything at all.  In my view, neither do the so-called experts. I can, however, use common sense and experience to draw conclusions that will lead me down a path towards effective methodologies.”1   As such, Inclined Bed Therapy seems like the perfect N=1 therapy to use myself as a guinea pig.  You’re wondering, “BBBBut John! There are no studies! Why waste your time?” Generally speaking, if there is no money to be made on a given therapy, there will be no money available to spend to study it.  It’s a matter of simple economics. So, just because something hasn’t been studied at great length and there isn’t a ton of data based upon extensive expensive, double blind, placebo controlled studies, doesn’t mean that it’s not effective.  It means no person or group can profit tremendously.

Why do we sleep on flat beds?  The only reason as far as I can see is because that’s all we’ve ever done and that’s what everyone else does.  There is no real reason or logic behind why humans sleep on a flat surface. Would it surprise you to learn beds found in the tombs of ancient Egyptian royalty were almost always at a 5 degree incline.2  Explaining why my bed is at a 5 degree incline may prove difficult the next time I have a guest, but it will be worth it if it works, even just a little.  I’m happy to try anything that is free, takes none of my time, and has no potential risk to harm me.

Egyptian royalty slept on inclined beds. Inclined Bed Therapy Theory

I stumbled upon this intriguing therapy while perusing Dr. Mercola’s website.  According to Dr. Mercola,

“In plants, the interplay between gravity and varying density of fluids is what causes the sap to circulate up and down in a perpetual loop. The same mechanism appears to apply to human biology as well, which is the basis for inclined bed therapy.  Sleeping on an incline affects intracranial pressure. Research by a medical anthropologist showed people with migraines were able to eliminate their migraines within a short period of time by sleeping with their heads raised.”3

I had never heard of Inclined Bed Therapy before very recently.  There is widespread anecdotal evidence it has cured chronic migraines, which upon further reflection, seems logically possible.  Shouldn’t this be common knowledge, considering millions of people suffer regularly from migraines?

The negative health impacts associated with sitting for extended periods of time is becoming common knowledge.  Many have appropriately said, “sitting is the new smoking.” I encourage people to stop letting their employers sit them to death.  NASA scientists have demonstrated that excessive sitting causes many of the same problems that astronauts experience in space due to the reduced force of gravity on the human body.  The deficiency in gravity from sitting can cause physical degeneration of the spine, muscles, and connective tissue, as well as obesity and early death.4  When you think about it, gravity inclined sleeping, logically, has numerous potential benefits on body structure.  The slight incline is enough to restore the force of gravity on the body, straightening out the spine, as well as strengthening the muscles, fascia, ligaments, and tendons.5   Most people, however, are not aware that sleeping on a flat surface has the same negative impacts as sitting or weightlessness in outer space. And we do it for about 8 hours a night every day; a full ⅓ of our lives.  Why not let gravity work its magic on our bodies as we sleep?

Potential Benefits

Dr. Mercola writes that Inclined Bed Therapy,

“may improve your blood circulation, metabolism, respiratory, neurological and immune function.  Inclined bed therapy may also ease symptoms associated with Alzheimer’s, diabetes, glaucoma, migraines, multiple sclerosis, sleep apnea, acid reflux, edema, varicose veins and more.”6  

I don’t suffer from any of the diseases mentioned, other than possibly sleep apnea, but if it has a chance to improve circulation, metabolism,  respiratory, neurological, and immune function, I am in. If it improves one of the aforementioned, even just a little bit, it is worth such a small effort.   

Sleep apnea has become quite common, but most of it is undiagnosed.  This is troubling because it is a major risk factor for many diseases due to lack of oxygen during sleep.  How many other chronic diseases of old age are linked to obstructive sleep apnea? According to a study completed in March of 2016,

“We evaluated 100 patients with OSA (84 men and 16 women) with a mean age of 50.05 years (range 19–75 years). The prevalence of comorbidities were hypertension (39%), obesity (34%), depression (19%), gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) (18%), diabetes mellitus (15%), hypercholesterolemia (10%), asthma (4%), and no comorbidities (33%).”7

Isn’t that astonishing?  If we, as a people, attack this one very common condition, the rates of many of the other chronic diseases associated with it would fall precipitously.  imagine how much we would save on health care costs! Merely sleeping on an incline helps to open the airway, alleviating snoring and restoring oxygen to the brain.8

Believe it or not, but Andrew Fletcher at Inclinedbetherapy.com claims the therapy has helped people with spinal cord injuries gain function and sensation below the injury site.  If this interests you, check out the video below:

Inclined Bed Therapy I.B.T. Andrew K Fletcher - YouTube

Another benefit of inclined bed therapy is improved circulation of blood and lymph, simply by gravity.  When you sleep, your brain detoxifies itself through the glymphatic system. Adding a five degree incline to your sleeping surface can help the glymphatic system drain “downhill” to the gut to be excreted.  This can help detoxify heavy metals, pathogens, and other harmful substances from the brain.10

Conclusion

I bought a four pack of 6 inch risers at Amazon.com for $12.99.  You can just use books or wood or bricks if you prefer. There are many free smartphone apps that can measure the incline of your bed.

I’ve been practicing inclined bed therapy for about two weeks.  In the beginning I found myself awakening in the middle of the night startled and thinking to myself, “What the hell is going on?  Why am I lying at such an odd angle?” I also found myself drifting to the bottom of the bed. This therapy will definitely not work with silk sheets!  But, like most things, our minds and bodies adjust and we get used to the change. Now, an inclined bed is already what I am accustomed to and what is normal to me.  I no longer have any desire to sleep on a flat bed. When I recently spent the night visiting my parents, I was concerned about increased sustained blood pressure on my brain and face.  I’d be lying if I didn’t admit the thought crossed my mind that one of my eyeballs might pop out because my head was no longer accustomed to the pressures endured by flat sleepers.

I really don’t know if inclined bed therapy works.  I do know the premise behind it is compelling. I also know it is among the very easiest therapies to employ because it is free, takes no time or effort, and I reap the benefits while sleeping.  I’ll try just about anything that has the potential to improve sleep quality because I recognize the importance of sleep as it relates to telomere length. Speaking of which, I am excited to share next weeks sleep related therapy.  Stay tuned!

Citations:

1  Reversing Aging. (n.d.). Retrieved March 11, 2018, from http://www.reversingmyage.com/

2  Inclined Bed Therapy. (2017, September 19). Retrieved March 11, 2018, from http://www.sophiahi.com/inclined-bed-therapy/

3  How to Use Inclined Bed Therapy For Diabetes, Acid Reflux and More. (n.d.). Retrieved March 11, 2018, from https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2018/02/15/inclined-bed-therapy.aspx

4  Inclined Bed Therapy. (2017, September 19). Retrieved March 11, 2018, from http://www.sophiahi.com/inclined-bed-therapy/

5  Inclined Bed Therapy. (2017, September 19). Retrieved March 11, 2018, from http://www.sophiahi.com/inclined-bed-therapy/

6  How to Use Inclined Bed Therapy For Diabetes, Acid Reflux and More. (n.d.). Retrieved March 11, 2018, from https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2018/02/15/inclined-bed-therapy.aspx

7  Pinto, J. A., Ribeiro, D. K., Cavallini, A. F., Duarte, C., & Freitas, G. S. (2016, April). Retrieved March 11, 2018, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4835326/

8  Inclined Bed Therapy. (2017, September 19). Retrieved March 11, 2018, from http://www.sophiahi.com/inclined-bed-therapy/

9  Home. (n.d.). Retrieved March 11, 2018, from http://inclinedbedtherapy.com/

10  (2017, September 19). Retrieved March 11, 2018, from http://www.sophiahi.com/inclined-bed-therapy/

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Reversing My Age by John Loehr - 3M ago

Some of the worst disasters in human history are attributable to sleep deprivation: the 1979 nuclear accident at Three Mile Island, the 1986 nuclear meltdown at Chernobyl, the 1989 devastating Exxon Valdez oil spill, and two recent railroad disasters.1   Sleep loss is a menace to public safety because drowsiness slows reaction time just as much as driving drunk.2  Yet, dying a horrible death in a horrific accident or causing an ecological disaster is not the main reason I think we need to get more sleep.  Rather, getting enough sleep is absolutely critical so we may live longer, healthier, happier lives, and perhaps most importantly, lengthen our telomeres.

Artificial lighting is a relatively recent discovery in the history of mankind.  For most of our existence, the sun was the primary source of light.  As such, people generally spent their evenings in darkness before drifting off to sleep.  Now artificial light gives us the option to stay up all night and be entertained by screens from our TVs, phones, and computers.  We are, however, paying an insidious price for this luxury.  Artificial light throws the body’s natural biological clock, the circadian rhythm, out of whack.  Sleep suffers.  Hormones don’t function as they were designed.  Even worse, research shows that it may contribute to the causation of cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.1

Sleep must be near the very top of the list of any age reversal strategy.  If you’re going to adopt a single one of the lifestyle changes I am instituting in my quest to lengthen my telomeres, make it sleep.  It is among the easiest methods to employ, it doesn’t cost anything, and will likely have the most profound effects.  Of all the things I am currently doing to reverse my age (aromatherapy, yoga, cold training, hyperthermia training, meditation, high intensity interval training, keto, intermittent fasting, not drinking or smoking, cycling, running, stronglifts, and many more to come) sleep may be the most critical.  You don’t have time?  I say you don’t have time NOT to begin getting adequate, high quality sleep every single night.  You can pay for it now or you can pay for it later, but you will pay for it one way or another.  Making the investment now is the obvious decision with by far and away the greatest rate of return on investment.  This is not controversial.  Medical experts unanimously agree that sleep is a critical aspect of good health. Sleep is so important that the next two therapies I incorporate into my routine will be directly related to the subject.  I am excited to share them with you.

How Much Sleep?
Collectively, we aren’t getting nearly enough sleep.  Why? Artificial light.  TV.  Netflix.  Unlimited viewing choices.  Social media.  The internet.  Longer working days and weeks.   Never feeling that we can get it all done.  Whenever we feel pressed for time, it’s sleep that suffers.  But wait!  Isn’t all this technology supposed to free up time so that we can rest and do whatever we want and have tons of free time to do important things like sleep?  Then why do we feel like we have less time than ever?  I really don’t know.  Regardless, we must make sleep a priority or it will indubitably catch up with us, likely resulting in serious illness.  The effects of sleep deprivation are cumulative, so the sooner we start doing something about it, the better.

Many experts will say you need 8 hours of sleep a night.  Others will say seven to nine hours is ideal.  Yet others will say it depends upon how old you are.  I say you need as much as you need.  I also say it changes, sometimes dramatically, from day to day, month to month, and year to year.  After completing a marathon, you will need a lot more sleep than you might on a typical day, possibly for the next several days.  After such rigorous exercise, your body is damaged and needs significantly more sleep to repair itself.  The same could be said for someone who taxes themselves mentally.  Mental exhaustion can be as exhausting  as physical exhaustion, and as such, may require even more rest to fully and properly recover.

I strongly suggest sleeping until you naturally wake up feeling refreshed, not just on weekends, but every day.  We shouldn’t need alarm clocks to wake us up.  It is unnatural.  If you need 11 hours, you should sleep 11 hours.  The problem is, most of us have jobs and need to be there at a specific time.  My solution is to go to bed super early; two hours before you normally would.  As a night person, it’s just hard for me to go to bed early.  Nevertheless, I am forcing a change by learning to make the morning my personal time instead of the night.

Pre-Sleep Routine
I have begun going to bed by 10pm Monday through Thursday.  My reasons for this, which you will soon discover, are manifold.  My TV also doesn’t get turned on Monday through Thursday.  In fact, I unplug it at bedtime Sunday night.  When I use my computer or phone after dark I have an app on both that filters out the blue light.   I even wear blue blocker glasses after 8 pm when exposed to artificial light at home.

On a typical night, after returning from the gym from either a session of Stronglifts or Yoga, I try to make sure I am in an ice cold shower by 8pm.  I emerge from showers feeling refreshed, albeit with bright red, numb skin.  I finish my night with 15 minutes of meditation (more on that soon), followed by some writing or website work.  Time permitting, I read before sleep.  By 10pm I always expect myself to be in bed with the lights off.  This continues to be a difficult transition for me.

What Type of Sleep Environment?
We should strive to keep our sleep environment clean, clutter free, quite cool, very quiet, and totally dark.  If for some reason, you can’t make your bedroom very quiet, I suggest using either earplugs or white noise.  There are a bunch of white noise and/or calming sounds free apps available for download.  You can also purchase comfortable sleeping masks if you are unable to make your room totally dark.   I, however, have eliminated ALL sources of  light, beginning with the use of heavy blackout curtains.  The total elimination of light includes various power lights on my printer, smoke detector lights, any lights on my phone as well as those from my air purifier and humidifier.  I cover them with electrical tape.  Those lights will indeed affect you.  This is a fact.  I know, you’re thinking, “So what if there’s a light in my room?  I can’t see it because my eyes are closed.”  Guess what?  Even if you can’t see the light, it still affects you.  How?  Believe it or not, but your skin has sensors that absorb the light.

As discussed in a previous post, you should have a relatively high quality air purifier in your bedroom.  If there’s one place you need it, it is where you sleep because you spend a full third of your life in your bedroom.  I also use aromatherapy and a humidifier too.  That’s not absolutely necessary, but each has beneficial aspects and has the potential to improve your overall sleep quality.  I will be adding two more exciting supplementary methods to improve the benefits of sleep in the coming weeks.

This may sound extreme, but I encourage you to turn off your WiFi router and flip the breaker to your bedroom each night before you go to sleep to reduce electromagnetic radiation (yes, it really is radiation).  Just like I think it is important to use an air purifier in a room you spend eight or more hours a night in, I also think it is worthwhile to reduce electrosmog as much as possible in a room you spend so much time in.  There isn’t a lot of data on this, but the data that does exist, is not good.  The fact is, WiFi, smart meters, and 4/5G haven’t been around long enough to adequately study, and definitively know, the long term effects these technologies have on the human body.  I am betting that the effects will be universally negative, possibly even catastrophically negative.  I suggest reducing your exposure as much as possible.  Sleep is a good time to do that without making a massive sacrifice and feeling like a weirdo or outcast.  While I do turn off WiFi before bed, I do not yet flip the breaker to my bedroom.  This is because I need power for my humidifier, air purifier, cell phone, aromatherapy diffuser, and something else on which I will blog about in the coming weeks.  I keep everything requiring power as far away from my body, especially my head, as possible.  There will be future post/s exclusively about EMF and RF radiation.

Tracking – Why Bother?
I use a fitbit to track my sleep data.  There are many, many alternative options.  Some, like my fitbit, track several types of activities and will give you all kinds of data, while others are for sleep exclusively.  The fitbit, while not the optimum sleep monitoring tool, is adequate for my purposes.  Tracking your sleep is important because it will likely provide you with information that may not be so obvious otherwise.  It will also easily enable to you to track trends and find associations.

It is a slow process, but I am figuring out a lot of things because of all the data I am accumulating.  I will get better and better at refining age reversal techniques because I have so much data to look at.  When I see my resting heart rate and/or heart rate variability take a dip or rise inexplicably, I can look at data charts and form conclusions based on associations.  I often see correlations clearly.  They are sometimes glaring, like length and quality of sleep’s association with length of time I can hold my breath, or HRV and overtraining, or alcohol consumption and resting heart rate and heart rate variability.  This is especially important because I believe different people respond differently to different stimuli, supplements, hormones, stresses, and therapies.  I am trying to optimize my responses.  In the process, I believe I will be able to help you optimize yours.  But if we have no data, we won’t really know much of anything.  Everything would be a guess; mere conjecture.  Without data,  it may take months before we realize our guess might be wrong.  The data gives us hard facts with which we can sink our teeth.

Proven Effects of Sleep Deprivation
Anyone read Darkness at Noon?  The novel serves as a great reminder that the Soviets used sleep deprivation as a means of torture.  If they kept you awake long enough, you’d soon be begging for death.  The society we have created has resulted in us willingly doing this to ourselves, walking around half the time like zombies.  And for what?

Lack of sleep has somehow erroneously became associated with hard work, discipline, strength, toughness, and virility.  This is grossly inaccurate.  We should work together to change that perspective so that lack of sleep becomes associated with, more accurately, stupidity, brain fog, lack of energy, lack of education, inability to perform sexually, low testosterone, cancer, and just generally looking awful.  Chronic sleep loss puts you at risk for very serious health issues including heart disease, heart attack, heart failure, irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes, and cancer.

WebMd states, “Sleep specialists say that sleep-deprived men and women report lower libidos and less interest in sex.  Depleted energy, sleepiness, and increased tension may be largely to blame.”3  Remember ReversingMyAge.com guiding principle #4?  It simply states “Everything matters.”  A corollary to that principle should be that everything matters because everything is connected.  I do mean EVERYTHING!  What and when you eat, drink, how you exercise, and how often and at what intensity, what you think, and feel, and breathe, and hear, and see, and most pertinently, how much and when you sleep.  It all matters and it’s all connected.  You can’t sleep?  You have anxiety?  You are depressed?  Of course you are!  There’s a good chance it is because you aren’t getting enough sleep at the right time and it is causing your hormones to be totally imbalanced and out of whack.  Sleep loss often aggravates the symptoms of depression, and depression can make it more difficult to fall asleep.  In a 2007 study of 10,000 people, those with insomnia were five times as likely to develop depression as those without.4  On the positive side, treating sleep problems can help depression and its symptoms, and vice versa.

Circadian Rhythms and Hormones
I’ve spent a little time writing about hormones as they relate to aging.  I’m coming to believe that most things are directly tied to one’s hormones:  weight gain, weight loss, anxiety, depression, hunger, stress, libido, muscle mass, chronic disease, strength of immune system, speed of aging, etc.  When do you think your body replenishes its hormones, most especially testosterone and human growth hormone.  At night, when you are sleeping!

Most of us go to bed long after sundown, though mankind has been conditioned to go to sleep as darkness falls and rise with the sun for the last 15,000 years.  We are bombarded by light sources of all types, most conspicuously, artificial home lighting, our TV, computer, and phone screens.  This disrupts our natural circadian rhythms and has been shown to have disastrous consequences.  If you are messing with your circadian rhythm, as I was, this is what you can expect: a loss of muscle mass, increased body fat, lethargy, incomplete recovery from exercise, overtraining, loss of performance, increased likelihood of infections, loss of libido/sexual performance, infertility, joint aches, gut problems, anxiety, cognitive problems, and more.5

When we wake up in the morning, light stimulates our eyes and skin sensors, sending messages to our brain that it is time to begin releasing cortisol. Cortisol, a stress hormone, makes us alert and ready for action.  It is a vital hormone and necessary to produce it upon waking, but too much of it at the wrong time will wreak havoc on one’s body and accelerate the aging process.  In addition to producing it upon waking, we also produce it when we are stressed, as we would if a hungry lion were chasing us.  We absolutely need it the few times hungry lions may chase us in order to increase our chances for survival.  We do not, however, want tons of cortisol constantly coursing through our veins because of the daily stresses of modern life. That will kill you as surely as that lion would if it managed to wrap its jaws around your neck.  Lack of sleep has the same effect on cortisol levels.

As darkness falls, cortisol levels drop and the body begins to release melatonin.  Ideally, melatonin causes the release of human growth hormone which in turn triggers the release of other growth hormones, such as testosterone and estrogen.6  Unfortunately, our light saturated society keeps our cortisol levels elevated when they should be dropping off.  Furthermore, this artificial light inhibits the release of melatonin which inhibits the release of human growth hormone and testosterone.  Are you beginning to see the big picture how everything is interconnected?

Growth hormone is produced while we sleep.  Its levels peak between 10 pm and 2 am.  This is when our body repairs itself.  If we aren’t sleeping during these hours, then we aren’t producing growth hormone.  In order to effectively repair our bodies, growth hormone must be present at levels high enough to perform the necessary overhaul.  No growth hormone = no bodily repairs.  Inadequate levels of HGH = inadequate levels of bodily repair.  If you’re not getting enough sleep, you’re not producing enough growth hormone to maintain your body and mind.

Cancer and Sleep
Lack of sleep and disrupted circadian rhythms are proven killers.  Though it may be surprising or counterintuitive, it can even cause cancer.  Seriously.  That’s how important obtaining good quality sleep is during the appropriate hours.  A study published in February of 2018 concluded,

“The reduction of melatonin secretion after exposure to blue light emitted from smartphone’s screen has been reported to be associated with the negative impact of smartphone use at night on sleep. We have shown that both the blue light and RF-EMFs generated by mobile phones are linked to the disruption of the circadian rhythm in people who use their phones at night. Therefore, if women with hereditary breast cancer predispositions use their smartphones, tablets and laptops at night, disrupted circadian rhythms (suppression of melatonin caused by exposure to blue light emitted from the digital screens), amplifies the risk of breast cancer. It can be concluded that women who carry mutated BRCA1 or BRCA2, or women with family history of breast cancer should avoid using their smartphones, tablets and laptops at night. Using sunglasses with amber lenses, or smartphone applications which decrease the users’ exposure to blue light before sleep, at least to some extent, can decrease the risk of circadian rhythm disruption and breast cancer.”7

Let’s forget reversing our age for a moment.  Cancer is serious stuff and it can strike anyone at any age.  You.  A loved one.  Male or female.  Young or old.  This is fact.  I’m not exaggerating.  Let’s reduce this risk by simply going to bed at a reasonable hour and getting enough sleep.


Sleep Like a Baby
Sleep is absolutely critical to good health and long telomeres.  Get as much as you need.  Make it a priority.  Seriously.  It might not be so obvious, but seemingly unrelated health problems like diabetes, anxiety, depression, low testosterone, low libido, chronic fatigue and heart disease could be caused by disrupted circadian rhythms and/or lack of good quality sleep.  Make an effort to get to bed by 10pm most nights.  Limit the use of artificial light and exposure to screens such as computers, phones, and televisions.  If you must use them after dark, use a blue light filter.  Let’s not forget that it’s not just about getting enough sleep, but getting it at the right time because of hormonal considerations.  Sleep well.  Your life depends upon it.

Citations:
1   Impact of Sleep Loss. (n.d.). Retrieved March 02, 2018, from https://www.vitalsleep.com/impact-of-sleep-loss.html
2  Impact of Sleep Loss. (n.d.). Retrieved March 02, 2018, from https://www.vitalsleep.com/impact-of-sleep-loss.html
3  10 Things to Hate About Sleep Loss. (n.d.). Retrieved March 02, 2018, from https://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/features/10-results-sleep-loss#1
4   Publishing, H. H. (n.d.). Blue light has a dark side. Retrieved March 02, 2018, from https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/blue-light-has-a-dark-side
5  Brandon, L. (2016, February 09). You Just Can’t Cheat Nature! – Circadian Rhythms and Your Hormones. Retrieved March 02, 2018, from https://chekinstitute.com/blog/you-just-cant-cheat-nature-circadian-rhythms-and-your-hormones/
6  Brandon, L. (2016, February 09). You Just Can’t Cheat Nature! – Circadian Rhythms and Your Hormones. Retrieved March 02, 2018, from https://chekinstitute.com/blog/you-just-cant-cheat-nature-circadian-rhythms-and-your-hormones/
7 Mortazavi, S. A., & Mortazavi, S. M. (2018, February). Women with hereditary breast cancer predispositions should avoid using their smartphones, tablets, and laptops at night. Retrieved March 02, 2018, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29456806

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I’ve been asked, “So, you’re really trying to reverse your age?  Really, John?  Isn’t that kind of silly?  It’s something a 12 year old boy might fantasize about, but not a grown man.”  I pity those who share this sentiment, certainly the overwhelming majority of people, for their lack of imagination and relevant subject knowledge.  In some instances, I give it my best shot to educate the person attempting to humiliate me.  In others, I don’t even bother, for I know I would be wasting my time and precious breath.  I do not let these small minded skeptics deter me.  You shouldn’t either.This is important.  We’ve been conditioned to think a certain way for a lifetime.  We are constantly bombarded with direct and indirect advertising via television, internet, radio, and print.  It is inescapable.  It all has one thing in common.  Generally speaking, it seeks to maintain the status quo.  Interest groups lobby government to get advantageous laws passed and use their wealth and influence to control the flow of information; essentially, successful interest groups control reality as it pertains to their domain.  Why do you think so many billionaires are purchasing newspapers and other media outlets?  “Health” is frequently no longer about true health; rather, it is about money.  The sooner we recognize these facts and accept them, the better off we will be.  This knowledge will enable us to live healthier, happier, longer lives.  We cannot rely on “experts” to guide us because their message is likely tainted or grossly biased.  Most, if not all, are trying to sell you something, whether they admit it or not.  The drug companies are trying to sell you drugs.  The doctors need to keep patients.  The factory food companies will scream how healthy all their products are and they will hire “experts” to convince you it’s true.  You will never know who is on whose payroll.  Both “science” and “medicine” are for sale.  We are truly on our own.  We must take personal responsibility, arm ourselves with knowledge, and become our own health and longevity advocates.

(Re)Introduction to Telomeres
Regular readers know that telomeres are caps at the end of each strand of DNA that protect our chromosomes.  Without these protective caps coating our chromosomes, our DNA would become damaged.  Our cells are constantly dividing.  Telomeres get a little shorter, with each cell division.  Longer telomeres = more cell divisions left in your life.  More cell divisions left in your life = longer and healthier life.  As you all know, I am trying to prove we are each capable of substantially lengthening our telomeres in as little as a year.  Thus, while I concede that on the surface of it, my statement that I am reversing my biological age may seem preposterous, it is both very real and a scientifically accurate statement.  Nor am I alone.  Legions of scientists are working feverishly to develop drugs and therapies to revitalize telomeres.  They are succeeding.Several studies have demonstrated that various therapies have resulted in telomere lengthening.  Some of these methods include caloric restriction, meditation, daily multivitamin consumption, and healthy lifestyle changes, among many other techniques.  If one’s telomeres have gotten longer, one is, legitimately, younger at the cellular level.  We can not only reverse our age, but we can also accelerate it.  There are several proven ways telomeres have inadvertently been shortened, including not getting enough sleep, over-training, social isolation, smoking, drinking excessive amounts of alcohol, and many other known and unknown ways.
Inspiration
In the Dean Ornish Study, a bunch of older men made major lifestyle changes including diet, exercise, and meditation.  Over the course of five years, these men significantly lengthened their telomeres by an astonishing 10 percent.  The study also noted that the more people changed their behavior by adhering to the recommended lifestyle regimen, the greater their improvements in telomere length.   That’s incredible, isn’t it?  After reading about that study, the wheels in my mind began to grind a little faster.  The more I thought about the Dean Ornish Study, and the more self directed research I performed, the more convinced I became that not only could I duplicate the results of the study, I could exceed them and do it faster.  I figured that I would do EVERYTHING that has been shown to lengthen telomeres, even if only a little bit.  Moreover, I would even do things that I just THOUGHT might have a good chance of affecting telomeres and telomerase (the enzyme that causes telomeres to grow longer) activity.  I would essentially throw the kitchen sink at the problem of aging.  So, I set out on a mission to lengthen my telomeres as much as possible that would last for one year.  If successful, which remains to be seen, I will have reversed my biological age.  I will, cellularly, be younger.
Longevity Escape Velocity
If I can significantly lengthen my telomeres, you can too.  I aim to reduce my biological age to 31, ten years less than what my chronological age will be. That would be the equivalent of taking an 80 year old and making him or her 60 at the cellular level.  That age reversed 80 year old might really have a chance of attaining longevity escape velocity, the concept in which one could potentially live for a thousand years because scientific advances outpace cellular degradation.  There are amazing things happening right now.  So amazing that even if you are currently quite elderly, if you do the necessary things to reverse your cellular age, there’s a legitimate chance you will be around for a very long time.  Just a few days ago I read,“Elizabeth Parris, the CEO of Bioviva USA Inc, has become the very first human being to successfully, from a biological standpoint, reverse the  age of her white blood cells, thanks to her own company’s experimental therapies. Bioviva utilizes intramural and extramural peer-reviewed research to create therapies for age-related diseases (Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, cancer, heart-disease), and now, they have reversed 20 years of ‘telomere shortening’ in a human for the first time.”1Gene therapies are available in overseas markets RIGHT NOW.  Expect to pay megabucks for it.  I’ve heard unofficial price tag ranges of between $250,000 and $5 million.  $250,000 for an extra healthy 20 years is an incredible bargain!  From a purely mathematical perspective, this is not a difficult decision.  Are you as flabbergasted as I am that this is possible right now? I can’t even imagine what will be happening 20 years from now.  No doubt the therapies will get better and better and prices will fall substantially.  I am thrilled to be working on the most fascinating puzzle imaginable at such an exciting time! 

What’s Beyond Telomeres
Let’s forget our telomeres for a moment.  If I’ve learned anything since embarking upon this mission, it is that there are so many incredible things happening in the vast field of biogerontology right now. Nanotech, Stem Cells, Gene Therapy, Bioengineering, Neuroscience, Pharma, and Biotech; there are amazing things happening now in each individual field.  It’s not once a year or even once every few months that I come across a headline that makes my jaw drop open in awe as I think to myself, “No Way.  There’s just no way that’s happening.  This is absolutely incredible!”  The fact is, science fiction is becoming reality before our very eyes.

One reason I have learned so much about life extension and the current developments in biogerontology is because I’ve read over 50 books related to the subject in under six months, and of equal importance, I have been posting links to headline news stories about advances in age reversal science every few days.  I never have any difficulty finding at least five headlines to post that are applicable to our area of interest.  In fact, I have more difficulty cutting down the list of links to good stories.  Reading these news articles has been incredibly eye opening and educational.  It has also been inspiring and exciting.  I am convinced, longevity escape velocity is upon us and I hope to fire one of the first legitimate shots.  Some of these fantastic headlines include:

Is an Anti-Aging Pill on the Horizon?

Forever Young: Bioviva Unveils First Anti-Aging Gene Therapy

Marketed Antianxiety Drug Reverses Brain Deficits Caused by Alcohol

The men who want to live forever

The “Father of Artificial Intelligence” Says Singularity Is 30 Years Away

The ambitious quest to cure aging like a disease

Goodbye Organ Donation – Scientists Generated Healthy Lung Tissue From Man’s Own Stem Cells

Researchers use nanorobots to kill tumors in mice

Why Pig Organs Could Be the Future of Transplants

Cancer ‘vaccine’ eliminates tumors in mice

Researchers use gene therapy that lengthens telomeres to cure pulmonary fibrosis in mice

Humans Could Soon Become Immortal, But The Cost May Be Horrifying. Would You Do It?

HOW TO STOP AGING: NAKED MOLE RATS DO NOT GET OLD AND COULD HOLD CLUES FOR EXTENDING HUMAN LIFE

New Clinical Study May Be the World’s First Cure for Alzheimer’s Disease

Stage-3 myeloma cancer completely ELIMINATED with a turmeric supplement – British Medical Journal

Google’s co-founders and other Silicon Valley billionaires are trying to live forever

Conclusion
We are certainly living through exciting times!  I will have no difficulty adding a new therapy, or vitamin, supplement, herb, or drug to my regimen each week for the next seven months.  In fact, it will be quite easy.  This is a testament to the incredible array of new therapies being developed and old ones finally getting studied.  I get positively giddy when I think about the upcoming therapies I will deploy.  Some of them you’ll be familiar with, while others will be totally foreign, and possibly shocking, to you.  I can’t wait to share them with you!  There are literally countless things we can do to reverse our cellular age.  Perhaps you should start adopting a few yourself.  They needn’t be the most difficult, extreme, expensive, or time consuming.  Just start making a difference now.  Your 80 year old self will thank you.  If you are already 80 years old, as I have no doubt there are some octogenarians reading this, it is not too late to get started.  Your 100 year old self will thank you as you receive the next generation of age reversal treatments 20 years from now.

Even if I fail to successfully lengthen my telomeres, it really doesn’t matter.  I will have wisely spent, not wasted, a year of my life learning some incredible things, immersing myself in a field that interests me, become incredibly “healthy” and fit, and accomplished some amazing things that I previously would have considered impossible.  So, even if I “fail”, I will have succeeded.  I really can’t lose.  My passion for aging and life extension cannot be extinguished and continues to grow with each passing day.  There are so many new and exciting things happening in the field that there will always be new treatments to explore.

I will measure my telomeres again on April 1st.  Before the end of that month, I expect us all to know if my efforts have been fruitful.  In the meantime, if you’re reading this, then you are a bonafide pioneer in a growing movement.  Go forth and spread the word that biological age reversal is real and happening right now.

Citations:
1  Scientists Reverse The Age of White Blood Cells In A Female Human Being – They’re Now 20 Years Younger. (2018, February 14). Retrieved February 22, 2018, from http://www.collective-evolution.com/2018/02/19/scientists-reverse-the-age-of-white-blood-cells-in-a-female-human-being-theyre-now-20-years-younger/

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I can now hold my breath for 3 minutes and 30 seconds.  You’re probably thinking, “Big deal.  What good does that do?  And what does holding your breath have to do with telomeres?”  Allow me to explain.I first became acquainted with breath work while learning the Wim Hof Method (WHM).  Previously, I never gave holding my breath a moments thought.  If someone had mentioned it to me, I would have scoffed, “Why on earth would anyone want to do that?”  I had, however, seen people wearing masks designed to restrict breathing and also heard about hypoxia (oxygen deficient) tents in which some athletes sleep in an effort to mimic high altitude conditions.  I thought users of those tools must either be brain damaged idiots, or well on their way as a result of depriving their brains of oxygen.

A big part of the WHM revolves around breathwork.  Wim has his students breathe deeply for forty repetitions while sitting on the floor.  After the last complete exhalation students hold their breath for as long as possible.  Initially I struggled, but soon found myself making progress and actually enjoying it.  Regular readers know that the WHM also involves doing breathwork during freezing cold showers.  I lost consciousness during one of those sessions.

I no longer follow the WHM, but the foundation the course provided will stay with me for a lifetime and it provided a framework for methods I continue to practice with even more focus and diligence.  I now take organized yoga classes a few times a week and do breathwork several times a week.  While I continue to take ice cold showers, I no longer perform breathwork during them.  Wim may disagree with me, but I am unconvinced that merging breathwork with cold therapy magnifies the effect of either.  That is, I do not believe there is a synergistic effect gained from performing them simultaneously.

Mammalian Dive Reflex
Those of us interested in reversing our age just love to hear about biohacking.  The mammalian dive reflex is arguably one such biohack that makes it tempting to do breathwork in the water.  This reflex is an evolutionary adaptation that allows us to dive underwater for extended periods of time.  Facial contact with water activates the dive reflex, resulting in a decrease in heart rate, the diversion of blood from the extremities, the movement of blood into the lungs and other vital organs (blood shift), and splenic contractions which aid in the blood shift at greater depths and pressures.1  The dive reflex is so powerful that in 2012, German Freediver Tom Sietas managed to hold his breath underwater for a staggering 22 minutes and 22 seconds.  He earned this record by hyperventilating on pure oxygen for 30 minutes just prior to holding his record setting breathhold.2As intriguing as breathwork in the water is, it’s something I have not yet explored because it is simply way too dangerous to do on my own.  In the summer, when I have access to a pool and if I am training with someone, it may be something I revisit.  Even with a training partner, it is still seems kind of dangerous.
What I Do Differently
Since I stopped doing the WHM, I have begun to do my own form of breathwork. [Warning!  Be aware that some people pass out when they hold their breath.]  Surprisingly, our first inclination while performing breath holds is the need to exhale (dispel carbon dioxide), not inhale (take in oxygen).  So, one of the tricks I use to extend the length of my breath hold is to inhale and hold as much air/oxygen as I possibly can when I begin the set.  Towards the end of the set, I exhale small amounts of “air” in little puffs.  When you exhale, you not only expel carbon dioxide, you also lose a little oxygen.  That’s why I try to exhale as slowly as possible.  When I practiced the WHM, I did my breathwork while sitting in a half lotus position.  Now, I just sit quietly, totally relaxed, in a comfortable chair.I have also begun to use a breathwork tool to increase my lung capacity.  No, not the stupid looking masks that make wearers look like Bane from Batman you may have seen people running with.  The tool I utilize looks like a mouthguard with a regulator at the end of it.  It restricts airflow making it harder to both inhale and exhale.  I inhale as much as I possibly can, pause, and then inhale even a little more, hold it as long as is comfortable, and work hard to exhale as much as I possibly can.  Exhaling until there is literally nothing left in my lungs is truly hard work.  In addition to a lung capacity workout, it is a genuine abs routine.  I typically do sets of 10 while driving, which occasionally elicits funny looks from other drivers.  I have found this tool demonstrably helpful with respect to how long I can hold my breath.  You can find breathwork tools if you search on Amazon or Google for “breathwork” or “breath training”. 

Experts Condemn Breath Holding
Some “experts” would say that what I’m doing is harmful.  They think that restricting oxygen is always bad.  Critics of breath holding believe it causes one’s internal biochemistry to get out of whack.  They say holding your breath disturbs your natural biochemistry; instead of being more alkaline, the body becomes more acidic and more prone to disease.3  I concur that an acidic body is more prone to disease.  Nevertheless, I find the conclusion that breathwork causes an acidic environment rather strange.  I certainly hold my breath far more often than most people.  I also happen to frequently measure my PH.  In fact, I just interrupted writing this blog to measure it and my PH is perfectly balanced between an acidic and alkaline state at 7.5.  “Experts” can say all sorts of things that often seem compelling.  Do your own research and experiments.  Accept nothing as a given.

Some say the quality of a person’s breathing is closely linked with their emotional state.  I tend to agree.  A study in the “Indian Journal of Psychiatry” showed that 56 percent of children who have breath-holding spells react with temper tantrums, some to the extent of head banging and people who hold their breath tend to be angry, irritable and annoyed.4  This sounds like me before I began this mission to reverse my age!  I accept the study’s conclusion that holding breath throughout the day is bad, yet the study makes a glaring error.  It equates unconscious breath holding with conscious breath holding.  Unconsciously, chronically, holding one’s breath is likely very harmful.  I used to be guilty of it myself.  Don’t laugh too hard at me because there is a good chance you too inadvertently hold your breath, especially when you are stressed or deep in thought.  Ironically, I would never have realized how often I hold my breath during if I had not been introduced to breathwork in the first place.

Consciously holding one’s breath, meditating, and yoga make one very aware of one’s breathing patterns.  I encourage you to start taking note.  You may find yourself sitting in your chair at work holding your breath totally unconsciously and become startled when you realize you haven’t taken a breath in awhile.  You may become further surprised, as I was, that you do this all the time.  Breathe!

Breathing expels toxins from your body.  Some authorities say holding your breath keeps toxins inside, allowing ample time for them to disperse and accumulate in your body.  They also argue that lack of oxygen has been shown to be a main problem among people with cancer and other serious illnesses because toxins rob your body of energy and make you look and feel ill.5  This I agree with.  Again, however, this is a matter of differentiation between conscious breathwork and unconscious breath holding.

Why Bother?
Breathwork takes a considerable amount of time, can be really uncomfortable, and is potentially not only dangerous, but deadly.  So why the heck would I do it?While some experts deride breath holders, others claim it is an activity that confers many benefits upon its practitioners.  Some of the claimed benefits include: vasodilation, improved circulation, increase in red blood cells, improved memory and cognitive function, proliferates anti-aging stem cells, and induces cancer protection.  When doing breathwork,“Your muscles relax. When you breathe deeply and you are relaxed, fresh oxygen pours into every cell in the body. This increases the functionality of every system in the body. You will also notice improved mental concentration and physical stamina.  As your muscles let go of tension, your blood vessels dilate and your blood pressure drops.  Deep breathing triggers the release of endorphins, which improves feelings of well-being and provides pain-relief.  Good breathing habits help the lymphatic system function properly, which encourages the release of harmful toxins.”6

This is an incredible list of potential benefits.  I find the fact that breathwork floods one’s cells with oxygen, making them function efficiently at optimal levels, one of the most compelling reason to perform breathwork.  All the other benefits are bonuses.  I also happen to have definitive experience with breathworks ability to oxygenate cells.  Those of you who have been reading since the beginning may recall that I was initially quite concerned about my O2 saturation readings.  Some of my early readings were 88, 90, and 93.  My O2 saturation numbers are now regularly 97 or 99 and occasionally hit 99.

Many people erroneously believe any CO2 is toxic to humans.  Contrary to popular belief, a limited amount of carbon dioxide confers many benefits upon the human body.  It brings more blood to your brain and heart (vasodilation), allows more air to enter your lungs (bronchodilation), and calms your nervous system, reducing depression, anxiety, and even the symptoms of epilepsy.7  Sure, we couldn’t survive if all we could breathe is carbon dioxide.  We need oxygen to survive, but even too much oxygen can be toxic.  Allowing some CO2 to build up inside our bodies is not a bad thing.  Quite the contrary.

Ancient yogis reportedly enjoyed a reputation for having incredibly strong, “unbreakable” bones because of bone mineralization caused by carbon dioxide and increased CO2 stimulates the mitochondria in your cells to multiply.8  Having more mitochondria is like getting a new engine with more horsepower.

Limited exposure to carbon dioxide reduces inflammation throughout the entire body.  This is critical!  This is yet another really compelling reason to perform breathwork.  I firmly believe in the concept of “inflammaging” and data has begun to accumulate confirming this theory.  “Inflammaging” is chronic inflammation throughout the body that accelerates aging and may be the root cause of several diseases.  I consume many vitamins and supplements in massive doses simply in an effort to reduce inflammation.  It is arguably why I recover so quickly from grueling workouts.  Faster recovery is the holy grail for any competitive fitness athlete.  While it is often not associated with aging, it should form the cornerstone for any anti aging protocols.

Conclusion
Breathwork may be the most overlooked telomere lengthening therapy of all.  There is zero data or information linking the two.  Nevertheless, just because nobody has associated breathwork with telomerase activation yet, doesn’t mean it doesn’t work.  In my view, lack of oxygen in the blood and inflammation are two concepts strongly associated with aging.  Breathwork counteracts both, and as such, stands a good chance to activate telomerase.  I am thrilled to be focusing on it and making such progress.  I will continue training to improve my personal record.I find the arguments against breathwork uncompelling.  Most of the information I found equated chronic unconscious breath holding, which I agree is bad, with the type of intentional, focused breathwork I perform as part of my training protocol.  They are neither the same, nor even remotely similar.The long list of possible benefits associated with breathwork is impressive.  Some are measurable and I have witnessed my own body make dramatic improvements with respect to O2 saturation levels.  Furthermore, let’s not forget Wim Hof has done some spectacular things with his disciples including controlling their immune systems and being instrumental in helping people suffering from rheumatoid arthritis and Parkinson’s find relief.  Just because science can’t yet explain something, doesnt mean it doesn’t work.

I leave you with the words of Wim Hof: “Breathe M@ther F*#ker!”

Citations:
1  The Mammalian Diving Reflex. (n.d.). Retrieved February 11, 2018, from http://www.freedive-earth.com/blog/mammalian-diving-reflex
2  Beresini, E. (2017, December 20). How Long Can Humans Hold Their Breath? Retrieved February 11, 2018, from https://www.outsideonline.com/1784106/how-long-can-humans-hold-their-breath
3-5  Negative Effects of Holding Your Breath. (n.d.). Retrieved February 12, 2018, from https://www.leaf.tv/articles/negative-effects-of-holding-your-breath/
6 W., E. (2016, May 18). 5 Benefits of Deep Breathing Exercises. Retrieved February 12, 2018, from https://livingthenourishedlife.com/5-ways-youll-benefit-from-daily-deep/
7  M. (n.d.). Retrieved February 12, 2018, from http://nirvana.fitness/co2-health-effects-uses-and-benefits-01-10-2015.html
8  Christopher, L. T. (2016, June 24). Is Holding Your Breath Good for You? – Forbidden Realms – Medium. Retrieved February 13, 2018, from https://medium.com/forbidden-realms/is-holding-your-breath-good-for-you-392795759b7c

The post Breathwork as a Potential Telomerase Activator appeared first on ReversingMyAge.com.

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