How Your Body Stays Young

How Your Body Stays Young

January 11, 2012 Diana Herrington

Do you know that your body is 15 ½ years old? You probably have had more birthdays than that – I certainly have.

“According to recent research, that’s the average age of your body – your muscles and guts, anyway. You might think that you have been around since the day you were born, but most of your body is a lot younger,” says Gaia Vince at New Scientist magazine.

The reason the average age is 15 ½ years is because every day 432 billion cells die and are replaced with new cells. That is a lot of cells.

Last week for instance, I cut myself while chopping vegetables; that cut healed completely which means millions of cells were replaced. It doesn’t stop there though: all over my body, old cells are dying and are being replaced. It’s happening in your body too.

Your gums, your red blood, cell your skin – almost everything. This regeneration is happening right now, as you are reading this.

Fascinating Facts About the Regenerating Body:

• Cells in our digestive system, from the stomach to the large bowel, are replaced every 5 minutes.
• Gums are replaced every two weeks.
• A new liver every five months.
• New covering of skin every four weeks.
• Our red blood cells live 120 days.
• Our heart is replaced every six to nine months.
• Your liver is capable of renewing and repairing from as little as 25 percent of its tissue.
• New studies are indicating that even brain cells may regenerate.

This is the miracle of the human body: the miracle of regeneration. The body looks the same in the mirror every day, but this is only because we can’t see the tiny parts being replaced.

That process makes me highly optimistic that you could have a better functioning body next year if you want, with less pain and more energy… if you take the right steps.

Is Your Body Degenerating Or Regenerating?

We know that in a fashion we are creating a new body by slowly getting new cells every day. The question is whether our new cells will be a healthier or less healthy.

The quality of the new cells is dependent on the raw material, the food that was available when the replacement cells were being formed. If you feed the body the proper food and nutrition, the new cells being formed can actually be stronger and healthier then the old cells ever were.

This is called regeneration. If you feed the body poorly, the result will be cells of an inferior quality. This is degeneration.

There are limits to this of course. Reasearchers estimate that 30 percent of our health is determined by genetics. You can do a LOT with 70 percent though and even the expression of genetics has been shown to be moderated by the environment.

The Big 5 Degenerators (These steal our health):

1. Processed foods are dead food with calories but almost no nutrients! All processed food is deficient in enzymes that are necessary for digestion. It fills your body, especially your liver, with chemicals that are used to create a long shelf life for the products. Research by a team at the London University College suggests that a diet high in processed food increases the risk of depression.
2. Sugar is known as the “white death” for many reasons. It depresses the immune system. Just one teaspoon of sugar depresses the immune system for two hours. It depletes calcium. And we wonder why there is so much osteoporosis! Sugar overworks the pancreas creating a roller coaster effect. Sugar does not contain any vitamins or minerals, just lots of fat-building calories.
3. Alcohol is toxic to the liver, depletes B vitamins, depresses the nervous system, and inhibits the role of the bone marrow’s job of regenerating blood cells. Nerve connections between brain cells are affected by alcohol which inhibits communication signals, slowing down mental processing. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) says: “Two studies compared brain shrinkage in alcoholic men and women and reported that male and female alcoholics both showed significantly greater brain shrinkage than control subjects. Studies also showed that both men and women have similar learning and memory problems as a result of heavy drinking.” You can have fun and be silly without alcohol. I do.
4. Caffeine (highly addictive) puts stress on the adrenal glands, negatively affecting the nervous system, causing emotional fatigue. As a diuretic it dehydrates the body and depletes calcium, magnesium, and phosphorous. In some people it can increase blood pressure. Caffeine is not just in coffee! One can of Coke has approximately 35 mg of caffeine. Other soda pops have from 35 to 50 mg of caffeine, and they are full of sugar too.
5. Rancid fats and oils (deep fried foods, baked goods) create free radicals which injure cell membranes, enzymes and DNA. They stress the digestive system and the liver and raise blood cholesterol. Fats and oils also contain 120 calories per tablespoon.

Now you know what doesn’t work to create a healthy body. Feed your cells high quality food so that regeneration occurs.

Here’s a short list of items that supply the necessary environment for high quality regeneration. They cost less than most degenerators and some won’t cost you a penny.

The Big 5 Regenerators (Good Guys):

1. Fresh vegetables are filled with vitamins and minerals and are good source of phytochemicals that protect the body from disease and aging. They keep the body alkaline. Eat LOTS. They are the “heavyweights” in regeneration.
2. Fresh fruits are filled with vitamins and minerals, and are a good source of phytochemicals.
3. Whole grains (brown rice, oats, buckwheat, barley, millet, quinoa) are a great source of vitamins, minerals, good fiber and contain some protein.
4. Drink lots of pure water as it is needed for digestion, circulation of body fluids and joint lubrication.
5. Exercise. Nourishing friendships. Being in nature. Sleep. They are important in regeneration too and each one is a subject on its own.

The best thing about regeneration is that you don’t have to think about what your body is doing. All you have to do is set up the proper conditions and your body will take care of everything else.

A healthy body has the ability to heal itself of all (or almost all) problems if properly nourished. Thinking and worrying about it does not enhance the process, it actually can slow it down. You might as well be a carefree teenager just like your 15 ½-year-old body!

Final Factors in Staying Young:

Once the body has the basic raw materials for proper regeneration the next step is how we use that body.
Equally important is how we use the mind that “drives” the body.

The body was not meant to sit idle. Neither was our mind. If you are not moving the body regularly, it will become toxic and acidic. Some health professionals say you should not sit for more than one hour without getting up and moving around. I personally like to move around outside so I can also get the sunshine and fresh air.

It also helps to have purpose in one’s life. Listen to 70 plus Jane Fonda talking on TED about what she calls Life’s Third Act. Rather than accepting that after 40 or 50 you decline into decrepitude, she sees aging as a rebirth. At Real Food for Life we certainly agree. Or you can listen to my interview with Mimi Kirk, also 70 plus, who was voted the sexiest vegetarian over 50.

Most of this article was taken from a chapter in the e-book Eating Green, Clean and Lean.


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