Skip to main content

Why do we age and what can we do to slow it down?

Estimates indicate anywhere between 80-99% of skin and body ageing is extrinsic and UV related.  The rest is really about what we put INTO our bodies.  Both are absolutely within our control. Below is the impact.

Oxidative Stress.

Unlike some other ageing factors, Oxidative Stress is primarly caused by UV and is totally preventable.  It is also caused as a natural by product of cells metabolism of oxygen but it can generally be controlled by the body and antioxidants.  When the body is under environmental stress however, ROS is produced which are unpaired electrons and are highly reactive.  They are the major cause of disease and ageing. Lipid peroxidation also results from ROS damage to cell membranes, leading to premature aging, skin cancer and cell death.

Matrix Metalloproteinases (MMPs)

Matrix Metalloproteinases are enzymes that, control break down of proteins in the dermis. This includes collagenase that is responsible for breaking down the different types of collagen and elastin. For example, collagenase-1, or MMP-1, acts on collagens I, II, III, VII and X. MMPs are critical for the continual remodelling of connective tissue and wound healing.  As we age our production of collagen decreases but the activity of MMPs do not.

Advanced Glycation End-products (AGEs)

Collagen and elastin proteins are highly susceptible to an internal chemical reaction within the body called glycation. This reaction takes place between free amino groups in proteins and a sugar such as glucose and results in the formation of Advanced Glycation End-products that cause hardening of collagen and the loss of elasticity. When AGEs form in the skin, they activate a receptor site on the cell known as (R-AGE) that signals cellular processes related to inflammation and subsequent disease.   Keeping blood sugars down by diet and exercise can help control glycation.

Acid Load

Our bodies were just not designed to deal with the amount of acid that our modern diet brings.    Our kidneys can eliminate around half of the acid consumed per day in an average Western diet.  High acid affects PH and the enzymatic activity and the 7000 metabolic processes they control.  Enzymes are responsible for stimulating all cellular energy production, transport and nutrition.  Acid also leaches vital nitrogen from our muscles and calcium from our bones as this is the largest mineral source in our body.  If our blood PH level is out it must take minerals from our bones and teeth to neutralise it fast.  This leads to osteoporosis. Acidity decreases your body’s ability to absorb the vitamins and minerals from your food which means that the body is unable to dispose of waste efficiently, therefore keeping body in constantly toxic state.

Acid over load causes disease and inflammation, back and joint pain, headaches, high blood pressure and cholesterol, cardio vascular disease, chronic fatigue, nausea and confusion. There is even evidence that TIA proteins, some of the toxic substances associated with Alzheimer’s, multiply in a toxic acidic environment.  Cancer cells also flourish in the acid environment. Research in the British Journal of Radiology showed that cancerous apoptosis (cell death) is more likely to occur in an alkaline body.  Acid interferes with your ability to detoxify. Also an alkaline diet assists chemo as it requires a higher PH to work appropriately.  It disrupts your metabolism and it makes you more prone to fatigue and mood changes.  Acid opens up ion channels and increases sensitivity and pain.

Waking up consistently between 1-3am is a tell tale sign you are acidic and your liver and kidneys (detoxifying organs) are in need of help.  Our body is most acidic at night so it will keep you up if you do not alkalise it.  Acid affects us reaching a deep REM sleep. Eat no closer than 3 hours before going to bed. Taking magnesium 30 minutes before bed will help neutralise acid.  Melatonin supplements will also assist with sleep.   8 hours per day is needed for the body to repair.  Bicarb soda, chlorophyll or magnesium before bed will help alkalise the body.

Acid compromises our hormones including insulin and cortisol. Insulin gives us our energy but also oversees the brain centre that governs our emotional and mental faculties, as well as sleep function.  Derailing insulin makes it harder to burn fat and affects our emotional stability leading to depression or loss of libido and type 2 diabetes.   Cortisol goes into overdrive thus making sleep harder as the sleep cycle becomes confused. Too much cortisol also leads to depression and anxiety.  Our thyroid also slows it down, making us sluggish, cold and flat. It also interferes with hormones like oestrogen and testosterone by disrupting menstrual cycles.

You can test your body fluids using litmus paper strips (remember chemistry classes).   Saliva: before brushing, fill your mouth with saliva then swallow; repeat, then spit onto PH strip.  A healthy reading will be 6.8-7.4 for saliva. Urine 4-6 in the morning after your second wee: your second wee (because the body is eliminating waste) and 7-8 at night.  Anything under this indicates acid build up and can affect growth of microbes.  If testing during the day test two hours after eating.

So what can we do to slow all these processes down?

Apart from the obvious, and prefaced in the first line – stay out of then sun, we can also:

Eat – whilst the alkaline diet has mixed reviews the premise is still pretty healthy eating.  PRAL is the scientific meansurement of acid and alkaline foods.  It suggests to eat 80/20% alkaline foods to reduce inflammation and acid by eating more alkaline foods and good fats like avocado, coconut oil, raw nuts like almonds, hemp and chai, cacoa and salmon. When you eat good  fat you will burn fat.  If you want to fast, choose alkaline meals only. Fasting produces ketones which result from the degeneration of fatty acids.  Ketones burden the metabolism so you must balance with alkaline only food.  Eat Raw- Cooked fruit and vegies lower the level of minerals. Juicing and light steaming are also better alternatives.  Other highly alkaline foods are –baking soda, chlorella, lemons, lentils, limes, mineral water, nectarine, onion, pineapple, pumpkin seed, raspberry, sea vegies, seaweed, spinach, spirulina, sweet potato, tangerine, taro, vegie juice, water melon, apple cider vinegar, apples, artichokes, avocado, bell pepper, blackberry, brown rice vinegar, cabbage, cauliflower, cherry, egg yolks, eggplant, ginseng, green tea, raw honey, leeks, mushroom, nutritional yest, papaya, peach, pear, pickles, potato, radishes, sprouts,  alfalfa, banana, blueberry, celery, cucumber, currants, japonica rice, lettuce, oats, olive oils, quinoa, raisin, strawberry, tahini, wild rice.  Moderately alkaline- apples, apricots, asparagus, fresh green beans, broccoli, cantaloupe, carob, carrots, cashews, chestnuts, oranges, endive, garlic, ginger, grapefruit, herbal tea, herbs, honeydew, kale, kombucha, kiwi, mango, molasses, olive, parsnip, passionfruit, peas, pepper, rasberries, soy sauce, corn, turnip.

The most agreed upon healthy diet, is the Mediterranean diet which sees a reduction of 30-50% in cardio diseases and Alzheimers.  We should consume 2-3 pieces of fruit and 3-5 serves of veggies every day.

Avoid –  acidic foods such as high sodium processed foods that contain tons of salt which constricts blood vessels creating acidity. Avoid cold cut meats, processed cereals such as cornflakes, eggs.  Avoid milk and Calcium rich dairy products because they cause osteoporosis by increasing acid in your body!  Avoid peanuts, pasta, rice, bread and packaged grain products.  Avoid food colouring and preservatives. Avoid sugar and artificial sweeteners and cigarettes. Reduce Omega 6– found in baked goods, grains, meat and dairy.

Exercise – helps the kidneys secrete acid but over exercise can accumulate too much lactate and hydrogen ions as well as stress the body too far and stimulate the stress hormone cortisol.  So everything is balance. Trampoline – Assist your bodies detoxifying process by using a rebounder 10 minutes a day. This will lymphatically drain and pull out the toxins from your tissues and into the blood like a vacuum. Exercise 3-5 hrs per week reduces degenerative disease by up to 50%.

Drink – lots of water to assist with detoxifying and diluting the acid. It will also increase your energy levels. We lose 2.5 litres of water per day so recommendation is to drink 3-4 litres of water.  You can have lemon in warm water first thing in the morning.  But make sure you eat no more than 15 mins after drinking it as you are stimulating digestive system (you could add some ginger which is anti inflammatory). At night, drink 1 tsp of bi carb soda for alkalising effect. Avoid caffeinated drinks and alcohol.  Green drinks made from green vegies and grasses in powder form are loaded with chlorophyll.  Chlorophyll has a similar structure to our own blood and helps alkalise it.

Organic – Chose organic where possible as the food is generally grown in mineral dense soil which will increase the vitamin and minerals found in the vegetable. The ideal PH for soil is 6-7. Below that will reduce the calcium and magnesium content and higher than 7 can reduce iron, manganese, copper and zinc.

Stay calm –avoid chronic long term stress. Remember stress increases cortisol hormone but if your life style is continually stress full your body remains in inflamed state.

Vitamins – Increase Vit B to help the body repair as DNA reduces with age. Q10 and omega 3 to help manage cholesterol and inflammation.  Vit K2 maintains our bone health but reduces as we age.  Vitamin D levels have reduced due to sunscreens but we still need 15 minutes per day or a supplement. Vit C powder (half a teaspoon per in day in water before bed to alkalinise your body) or a teaspoon of bi carb soda in water before bed.  Supplements of magnesium, chlorophyll and citrate have been shown to also have significant alkalising effects.  Antioxidants- will scavenge for free radicals and inhibit oxidisation.

Increase NAD– there will another blog about NAD soon, but basically it increases DNA repair and extends life of cell, Reduces Oxidative Stress, Inflammation and Glycation and improves cognitive function. Best ways to increase are: Calorie restriction, Regular exercise, reducing UV and alcohol intake. Increasing NAD+ supplements and Vitamin B3 (niacin, nicotinamide, and nicotinamide riboside).

Test – C-reactive Protein (CRP), arachidonic acid (AA) which is the building block of pro-inflammatory eicosanoids and iseicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) can all be measured via blood tests.  The balance of the last two fatty acids in the blood will provide a good indication of inflammation levels which are causing a slow death in our cells.


Ingredients such as cholesterol, ceramides, linoleic acid, lauric acid, palmitic acid, and stearic acid are all found in the skins barrier and will help repair and reduce inflammation.  Hyaluronic acid, aloe vera and zinc sulphate will also help with inflammation. By keeping the barrier healthy it will be less susceptible to irritation and redness. Antioxidants such as niacinamide (B3) Glucosamine, Glycine, Omega 6, Peptides, L-ascorbic acid (Vit C), are our skins best defence against the free radicals that cause ROS (Reactive Oxygen Species).  Free radicals cause DNA damage as well as oxidation, glycation, and lysosomal damage.  The skins PH should be between 4-5.5 for good barrier protection. When skin is at right PH it can absorb antioxidants better as the acid mantle is balanced.  Washing with water too hot or cold can affect it, over exfoliating, harsh foaming cleansers (with ingredients like sodium laurel sulfate) can also affect it. Chemical exfoliants that have AHA or BHA can remove dead skin evenly and more gently.  This can also help skin in receiving the ingredients better.



Leave a Reply