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While it is not news that restricting caloric intake prolongs life in many species — ranging from yeast to higher primates — what hasn’t been known is why this is so. But a study published by Harvard Medical School researchers in the journal Cell may have uncovered the molecular reason for what scientists have long observed.
Two genes present in mammal cells apparently serve as monitors and guardians of cell longevity, protecting cells in times of stress — such as in times of caloric restriction — from aging-related conditions. The genes (SIRT3 and SIRT4) belong to a class called sirtuins, which seem to impact cell health and thus longevity.
Another key finding from this research is the important role mitochondria play in the cell’s health. These cellular organs are responsible for transferring energy within the cell so it can carry on its various functions. When mitochondria become unstable, the cell begins to lose its grip on life. The two newly discovered genes seem to help mitochondria keep their vitality when they are triggered by another gene, called NAMPT. NAMPT is stimulated when calories are restricted, releasing a substance called NAD, which in turn stimulates the sirtuins to supply the mitochondria with more energy. Exactly how that happens is still unknown, and would be the subject of further study.
Researchers pointed out that exercise produces a very similar effect on mitochondria.
The importance of mitochondria to cell survival can’t be understated. In fact, a cell can survive even the death of its own nucleus, and other energy sources, so long as the mitochondria remain intact and keep functioning.
“Mitochondria are the guardians of cell survival,” says David Sinclair, M.D., associate professor of pathology at Harvard Medical School and senior author of the study. “If we can keep boosting levels of NAD in the mitochondria … then for a period of time the cell really needs nothing else.”
Who among us doesn’t want to live a long life? The desire to survive is built into us. As animals, we react instinctively to protect ourselves in the face of danger. As organisms our bodies marshal natural defenses to fight off disease and heal injury. As social beings, we fondly hope to observe the new generations as they are born and grow. We all contemplate the seemingly mysterious differences among individuals — why do some people succumb to age-related syndromes while in their sixties and others live to be well over 100? We ponder the even more mysterious events imputed to be “fate,” when otherwise healthy people die from injuries or environmental affronts to the body.
Marrying thousands of years of wisdom from the East with the latest scientific advances from the West, Secrets of Longevity provides time-tested and well-researched advice for achieving a long, healthy, and happy life.
To extend your life and improve its quality, you do no need to be in good health already. In other works, do not fret about the past. What you do from this moment on is what matters. The good news is that you can positively affect your health and longevity right now.
The causes of aging-related ills range from genetically pre-programmed cell death to destruction by environmental toxins to plaque and fibers that clog up the highways within our bodies. We all possess genes that are triggered as a result of how we live our life and the environment we are exposed to. Longevity is a matter of whether we express our good or bad genetic predisposition during our lifetime.
Unfortunately, Western society doesn’t make it easy to increase our longevity potential. Our youth-driven culture and our neglect of the aged promote a wholesale denial of the realities of aging. The marketplace is full of products and devices promising to make us look and feel younger. In addition, conventional Western medicine focuses on treatment and replacement therapy, prescribing expensive drugs, removing a failed organ and transplanting a new one, or replenishing a depleted hormone. Very little emphasis has been placed on preventing disease and maintaining a vigorous state of health day to day.
In contrast, prevention and wellness have always been at the heart of Eastern medicine. Eastern doctors have long viewed disease as a symptom of life being out of balance. Therefore, the medicine they practice seeks to enhance and optimize health through diet, lifestyle, and emotional well-being. The Eastern paradigm also employs a variety of natural therapies such as acupuncture, herbal therapy, bodywork, tai chi, yoga, and meditation to treat the mind, body, and spirit. This approach empowers each individual in his or her pursuit of health and wellness.
Another important aspect of longevity is healing. At some point, due to factors beyond your control, you may have become sick. How you handle illness will have significant bearing on your longevity. Therefore, I recommend that you build a team of knowledgeable professionals dedicated to furthering your health and wellness. Seek out physicians who are willing to integrate complementary medical traditions such as acupuncture and herb remedies and who will take the time to educate you, answer your questions, and guide you in the pursuit of your longevity goals.
What You Eat: Diet and Nutrition
“I have heard that in the days of old, everyone lived one hundred years without showing the usual signs of aging. In our time, however, people age prematurely, living only fifty years. Is this due to our environment or is it because people have lost the Way?” asked the Yellow Emperor.
Qibo, his court physician, replied, “In the past, people practiced the Way. They understood the principle of the balance of yin and yang. Thus they formulated practices such as meditation to help maintain harmony with the universe. They ate balanced diets at regular times, arose and retired at regular hours, avoided overburdening their bodies and minds, and refrained from overindulgences of all kinds. They maintained well-being in body and mind, thus it is not surprising that they lived over one hundred years.”
“These days, people have changed their ways. They drink wine like water, indulge in excessive eating and other destructive behavior, drain their essence, and deplete their energy. Seeking emotional excitement and momentary pleasures, people disregard the natural rhythm and order of the universe. They fail to regulate their lifestyle and diet, they sleep improperly. They do not know the secrets of conserving energy and vitality. So it is not surprising that they look old at fifty and die soon after.”
— The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Medicine
This conversation between the Yellow Emperor, the first ruler of China, and his court physician took place some 4,700 years ago and is just as relevant today. As modern science has proven, the quality and quantity of the food you consume will have a lasting impact on longevity.
After examining the diets of approximately a hundred centenarians, I analyzed the data and correlated it with current anti-aging research. Not surprising, the diets and the studies dovetailed with the court physician’s observations. The majority of centenarians lived by modest means, undereating was the norm among them, and some, due to their circumstances more often than intent, practiced fasting for periods of time.
What the centenarians consumed, for the most part, was a variety of legumes, whole grains, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds. Heavy carnivores were the exception—most ate a semivegetarian diet. These sound nutritional practices have been confirmed by Western science to contribute to health and longevity in a variety of ways.
Living to be 100 is not the product of an expensive supplement, brutal daily regimen, plastic surgery, or anything out of the average person’s reach. A few simple changes in the most basic areas of our lives — diet, environment, activity and relationships — can help us reap great rewards.
Eat Less, Live Longer
After analyzing the diets of about a hundred centenarians, I found that the majority lived in modest circumstances. They ate less than the average amount, and some fasted at times because they were poor and simply had no food. Most centenarians surveyed around the world follow the “three-quarters” rule: they stop eating when they are three-quarters full. Studies have shown a reduction in caloric intake can increase life expectancy in animals — why not humans?
Tea Party Benefits All Guests
Celebrity testimonials are all well and good, but none of them can top this: Tea is the beverage most commonly enjoyed by centenarians around the world. The free radical-inhibiting property of tea is more potent than that of vitamin E, and tea is a proven preventative and treatment for atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). The polyphenols in tea, especially the catechins, are powerful antioxidants that help ward off diabetes and cancer.
Ginger Gives You Snap
Best known in the West for its anti-nausea properties, ginger has probably been in the longest continuous use of any botanical remedy in the world. The Chinese use it frequently in cooking seafood, since it acts as a detoxifier to prevent seafood poisoning. Besides its popular application for digestive distress, ginger has been found to contain geraniol, which may be a potent cancer fighter. It also possesses anti-inflammatory properties that help relieve pain, prevent blood clots, and inhibit the onset of migraine headaches. Since ancient times, Chinese physicians have regularly consumed ginger tea to keep their vitality fired up.
Anti-Aging Pearl Powder
The medicinal use of crushed and powdered natural pearl goes back 2,000 years in Chinese medicine. Prized by Chinese royalty for its purported anti-aging properties, pearl powder is traditionally used in herbal remedies and in ointments and massaged into the skin to prevent premature skin aging, clear surface inflammation and acne, improve vision, and calm the mind and spirit. Rich in minerals that benefit the skin, natural pearl has much more to offer than its beauty as an adornment.
Excerpted from Secrets of Longevity: Hundreds of Ways to Live to Be 100 by Dr. Maoshing Ni (2006m Chronicle Books: www.chroniclebooks.com). Reprinted with permission.
Let me provide a couple of articles related to weight management using acupuncture and herbs.
Thank you for your interest.
I am going to tell you a secret. All diets will work if they lower your caloric intake and you STICK TO IT! It’s pure physics: Our weight is determined by the amount of energy that we take in, and the amount of energy we expend.
So why is obesity now a national epidemic?
The problem is that it is against our nature to limit calories. We instinctively eat more than we need to. This is a “gift” passed down from our hunter-gatherer ancestors from a time when there wasn't a drive-thru window on every corner. We also tend to eat in excess due to our modern lifestyles, chronic stress, and other psychological “triggers”.
Going to Extremes
People will go to drastic measures to lose weight. Fad diets ask you to eat an unnatural and unhealthy diet, such as a meal plan of cabbage soup or pineapples or rice or no-carbs, They may work in the short term because of the low caloric intake, but there is absolutely no way you can keep it up. Your body and mind will rebel and take revenge for putting it on such a restrictive regime, rather than providing whole foods and a “whole diet” with proper nutrients. Instinctively, your body will crave foods and gorge, filling up, terrified of and preparing for the next starvation, packing on fat for stored energy.
Eating an unnatural and highly restrictive diet can cause yo-yo dieting and drastic ups and downs in body weight. Improper diet practices can also cause malnutrition, organ damage, slow metabolic rate and imbalances within the body.
Wouldn’t it be great to decrease the amount of food that you take in, and increase the amount of energy you expend? It’s entirely possible, thanks to acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). Acupuncture and TCM address both the physiological and psychological aspects of weight loss. A comprehensive therapy for weight issues rooted in TCM promotes better digestion, smooths emotions, reduces appetite, improves metabolism, and eliminates food cravings.
Weight loss according to Traditional Chinese Medicine
According to TCM, the root of excess weight is an imbalance within the body caused by malfunctioning of the spleen and liver organ systems.
In five-element theory, the spleen is responsible for the proper functioning of the digestive system, ensuring that the food we eat is transformed into Qi — the vital substance of life. Disharmony of the spleen will have symptoms such as fatigue, slow metabolism, water retention, loose stool, and feeling of heaviness.
The liver’s job is to keep the flow of your body’s Qi and blood (as well as your emotions) running smoothly. Our modern, fast-paced lifestyle and chronic stress can negatively impact the liver’s ability to function properly and smoothly, which, in turn, can cause the spleen and the whole digestive system to function poorly and decrease your metabolism. Liver disharmony can also cause some of the “triggers” that lead to cravings and compulsive eating.
Backed by Research
A growing body of research supports the use of acupuncture and Asian medicine in weight loss:
- A 2003 study published in The Journal of Medical Acupuncture found that participants receiving acupuncture lost more than three times more weight than the control group.
- In a study conducted by the University of Adelaide in Australia in 1998, 95 percent of the participants receiving electro-stimulation on acupuncture points reported appetite suppression. The results showed that the acupuncture group was more likely to experience a reduced appetite and to lose weight than the control group.
The Acupuncture Weight Loss Treatment
From a TCM perspective, the acupuncture points, foods and herbs that are chosen to assist with weight loss directly influence the Qi of the spleen and liver systems to treat the root imbalances that are causing the weight gain.
From a Western perspective, acupuncture and TCM have been shown to have an effect on the function of the nervous system, endocrine system, digestive system, food cravings, and metabolism. All of which can help to energize the body, maximize the absorption of nutrients, regulate elimination, control overeating, suppress the appetite, and reduce anxiety.
Acupuncture Points for Weight Loss
The beauty of acupuncture is that each treatment is catered to the needs of the individual patient. Acupuncture points on the body will be chosen for overall well being with the objective of increasing circulation of the blood and Qi (stimulating the metabolism) and calming the nervous system.
In addition to treating the root of the imbalance within the body, different acupuncture points may be chosen for each treatment as different symptoms arise. For instance, if you are experiencing a desire to overeat related to premenstrual syndrome (PMS) one week, then that can be addressed at that week’s appointment.
Generally treatments are scheduled once or twice a week for 8 to 12 weeks or until the goal weight has been reached. The treatments include a combination of auricular (ear) and body acupuncture, ear tacks or pellets to leave on in-between treatments, herbs and supplements, abdominal massage, breathing exercises, and food and lifestyle recommendations.
Acupuncture points on the ears have been found to be particularly effective for weight loss. The human ear has been described as a micro-system of the body in an inverted fetal position; it contains points relating to all major organs and body parts.
Auricular points for weight loss are stimulated with small tacks during treatment. Then seed-sized beads or magnets are taped to the points to enhance the effectiveness of the points at home. The beads will generally stay in place for 3 days to a week and can be gently massaged for 10-second intervals if cravings occur.
Here are some of the most commonly used auricular points:
- Shenmen: Important point for calming the mind and reducing stress
- Small Intestine: Reinforces spleen, promotes digestion.
- Mouth: Calming point used for smoking, over eating and hyperactive talking.
- Hunger Point: Used to relieve hunger and control compulsive eating
- Endocrine point: Moves liver Qi and aids in the function of the metabolism
A Total Health Program
Most patients report a marked decline in appetite and cravings with acupuncture alone but herbs, healing foods, and exercises can definitely enhance the efficacy of the treatments.
Herbs and Healing Foods: The herbs and foods that are chosen during a weight loss treatment are for promoting healthy digestion, energizing the body, augmenting Qi, and improve elimination of water, toxins, and waste products. Foods that are bitter, sour and acrid to taste are especially good for weight loss, while sweet, salty and greasy foods should be reduced.
Abdominal massage/exercise: Points on the abdomen improve digestion, absorption of food and peristalsis of the intestines. The abdominal points can be stimulated with massage or by belly breathing, where the abdomen is consciously moving in and out with each breath. Deep breathing with visualization can also strengthen will power and be used as a tool to curb hunger and cravings.
Acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine are powerful tools for healthy weight loss, by itself or as a supportive treatment in conjunction with other weight management programs.
In the struggle to eat less and expend more energy, you may find that acupuncture is just what was needed to overcome cravings, boost energy, enhance your metabolism, and increase your willpower to succeed
Acupuncture has been used to treat seasonal allergies for centuries with great success. According to traditional medicine, treatment is directed toward clearing the nasal passages, supporting the immune system and strengthening the systems of the body to prevent allergic reactions from recurring.
What Are Seasonal Allergies?
Commonly called hay fever or allergic rhinitis, a seasonal allergy is an allergic reaction to a trigger that is typically only present for part of the year, such as spring or fall. Pollens that are spread by the wind are usually the main cause of seasonal allergies. People who are allergic to pollens are also often sensitive to dust mites, animal dander, and molds.
Spring is traditionally the main season when allergies blossom because of new growth on trees and weeds. Fall, which ushers in a whole different set of blooming plants, as well as leaf mold, is a close second. Airborne mold spores can be found almost year round, along with other common allergens such as dust, dust mites, and animal dander.
About 26 million Americans endure chronic seasonal allergies, while the number of people with milder symptoms may be as high as 40 million, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.
Seasonal allergies are caused by the body's hypersensitivity to substances in the environment. Symptoms primarily involve the membrane lining the nose, causing allergic rhinitis, or the membrane lining the eyelids and covering the whites of the eyes, causing allergic conjunctivitis.
While there are many Western medications to treat the symptoms of seasonal allergies, these treatments can cause unwanted side effects, such as drowsiness and immune system suppression as well as an over-reliance on medications. These side effects have motivated many people to search for alternative approaches like acupuncture and Oriental medicine to manage their allergies.
How Acupuncture Treatments Provide Relief from Allergies
According to Oriental Medicine, allergic rhinitis is related to Wind and a deficiency of the Protective Wei Qi. Wei Qi is the Qi, or energy, that flows at the surface of the body as a protective sheath and is responsible for resistance to colds and other respiratory infections. People with a deficiency of Wei Qi catch colds easily and are more susceptible to allergens.
When treating with acupuncture, underlying imbalances within the body are addressed and a treatment plan is developed to relieve the acute symptoms of allergic rhinitis while also treating the root problems that are contributing to the body's reaction to allergens. Treatments often include dietary modification, the use of specifically chosen herbal formulas, and acupuncture.
Seasonal acupuncture treatments just four times a year also serve to tonify the inner organ systems and can correct minor annoyances before they become serious problems. If you experience seasonal allergies, now is the time to schedule an appointment. Call for a consultation today!
Foods for Seasonal Allergies
Ginger: Ginger is a natural antihistamine and decongestant. It may provide some relief from allergy symptoms by dilating constricted bronchial tubes.
Apples: Some foods contain the flavonoid quercetin that can cross-react with tree pollen. Quercetin can reduce allergic reactions by having an antihistamine effect. It also decreases inflammation. Quercetin occurs naturally in certain foods, such as apples (with the skin on), berries, red grapes, red onions, capers, and black tea.
Carrots: Carotenoids are a family of plant pigments that include beta-carotene. A lack of carotenoids in the diet is thought to promote inflammation in your airways. Good sources of carotenoids include apricots, carrots, pumpkin, sweet potato, spinach, kale, butternut squash, and collard greens.
Omega-3: Omega-3 essential fatty acids can counter the formation of chemicals that cause inflammation of the air passages. Good natural sources include flaxseed oil and salmon.
Yogurt: Food sensitivities seem to be connected with seasonal allergies. In a study conducted at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, patients who were fed 18 to 24 ounces of yogurt a day experienced a decline in their environmental allergic symptoms by 90 percent.
Fiber: A healthy and active colon can decrease food sensitivity, which, in turn, can lighten the burden on your immune system and may reduce the impact of seasonal allergies. For maximum colon health, increase the fiber in your diet.
Treatment of Neurological Disorders with Acupuncture
By: Acufinder Staff Writer
A neurological disorder refers to a problem with the nervous system, which is a complex, sophisticated system that regulates and coordinates the body’s activities. Nerve pain can arise from trauma, inflammation, stroke, disease, infection, nerve degeneration, exposure to toxic chemicals, and nutrient deficiencies.
Nerve pain is usually a sharp shooting pain or a constant burning sensation. Typically occurring in the same location with each episode, it can often be traced along the nerve pathway. Sometimes weakness or impaired function in the affected area occurs and the skin may be either overly sensitive or numb.
Some common neurological disorders acupuncture treats include:
Peripheral Neuropathy - damage to the peripheral nervous system, which transmits information from the brain and spinal cord to every other part of the body. Neuropathy caused by diabetes often affects the feet.
Trigeminal Neuralgia - facial pain, sometimes called Tic Douloureux, affects the trigeminal nerve which is responsible for impulses of touch, pain, pressure and temperature sent to the brain from the face, jaw, and gums.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome - also known as median nerve entrapment, it occurs when swelling or irritation of the nerve or tendons in the carpal tunnel results in pressure on the median nerve.
Headaches - Headaches that can be treated with acupuncture include migraines, tension headaches, headaches occurring around the menstrual cycle, sinus headaches and stress-related headaches.
Acupuncture and Oriental medicine have been found effective as a conjunctive therapy for neurological disorders and in treating pain and inflammation. Find an acupuncturist near you to learn more about how acupuncture and Oriental medicine can be integrated into your neurological health plan!