Physical and emotional aging
The body has the remarkable ability to regenerate. In a very literal sense this means our body is constantly rebuilding itself. As we all know however, the body’s ability to rebuild and regenerate is finite. We all age and eventually die. Natural aging occurs as our body goes through mitosis. Mitosis is the process by which cells divide, creating a new cell to replace a dying or damaged one. Each time cells divide an extension at the chromosomes called the telomerase shortens each time mitosis occurs. Eventually the telomerase is reduced to such a minimal size that cells can no longer regenerate and we die. Although this is how our bodies were designed to age, there are other factors that accelerate telomerase reduction, leading to premature aging.
There are approximately 500 genes in every cell that can trigger an inflammatory response. Cells see any change to its microenvironment as a risk. Micro environmental changes can take place due to temperature changes, infection, physical trauma, toxicity or the imbalance of hormones or neurotransmitters caused by chronic stress. Habits or behaviors such as eating unhealthy, not sleeping enough hours, lack of physical activity or skipping meals also change the microenvironment.
As these changes take place, the cell activates specific genes that call upon the mobilization of millions of immune cells in an effort to mitigate and resolve the problem. In normal situations the inflammatory reaction is acute, meaning immune cells will eliminate the threat causing the micro environmental change; upon eliminating the threat inflammation ceases and all goes back to normal. Essentially, that’s what the healing process is all about. It takes place all the time with thousands of biochemical activities every moment of every day in an effort to maintain balance and homeostasis.
If however, the microenvironment doesn’t return to normal, inflammatory reactions continue, leading to chronic inflammation. Under these circumstances cells are in an environment of chaos, incapable of maintaining equilibrium and homeostasis. This creates the onset of early aging, which is manifested through how we metabolize food, lack of energy, autoimmune diseases, memory loss, insomnia and difficulty in handling the challenges of everyday life. Chronic inflammation also leads to damaged organs, the manifestations of which are often revealed on our skin. That is why we may be a certain age, but physically look much older.
Emotional aging is tied to our mind and brain. Naturally this is related to our thoughts. There have been great developments made in neuroscience and we now clearly understand that every thought we produce or every idea/concept we learn creates a molecule that is stored in our neurons. With the help of neurotransmitters and other brain made chemicals, anytime we repeat thoughts, those repeated thoughts are placed in a new neuron. This process creates a web of neurons that are able to fire off and create circuitry and networks that reinforce each other. The creation of neuron circuitry is an amazing and powerful tool used for learning and understanding complex subjects.
Harboring unreasonable or negative thoughts turns this wonderful learning and memory tool into an activation mechanism for strong emotions such as fear, contempt, resentment, jealousy, envy and other strong negative emotions. The onset of these emotions creates chemical changes that offset homeostasis, leading to a change in the cell’s microenvironment. The brain activates inflammation in an effort to resolve the problem. During this entire process the neocortex of the brain, which stores truth, objectivity and logic monitors our emotions to ensure they don’t take control. As part of this process, the neocortex brings reason and logic to the forefront of our minds with the purpose of reconciling and learning from stressful experiences. As we find a solution and reconcile what has happened the biochemistry of the brain and neurons are restored and we achieve homeostasis.
If left unchanged and strong emotions continue to dictate our state of mind, toxins are left behind, becoming a part of the brain. This leads to internal inflammation, lack of equilibrium and an imbalance in neurotransmitter and hormone production; it also damages various parts of the brain. The cerebral damage that takes place affects our ability to sleep, deal with normal stressful situations and eventually leads to emotional/mental problems such as depression or high levels of anxiety. Since the brain’s health is crucial to sustain and maintain regeneration, many systems and functions begin to fail. Internal chaos in the cells ensues, affecting organs and tissues. As a result our cells age quicker as telomerase reduction accelerates and areas in the hormonal, immune and digestive system weaken, leading to a domino effect of illness and disease in various parts of the body.
The largest variable in emotional health and well being is stress. Chronic stress is a paralyzing disease. It occurs when we experience a continuous stream of unreconciled stressful events. The residual impact of these events leave us stuck in strong emotions, activating the amygdala and basal ganglia – which are areas of the brain that are hyper focused on survival. When they are constantly activated the ability for the neocortex to bring truth and reason to the limbic section of our brain is blocked. That’s important to understand because the limbic section is where conscious thought resides.
The connection between the neocortex and the limbic section of the brain plays a valuable role in our ability to think creatively, reason and use wisdom from past experiences. A lack of interaction between the limbic and neocortex affects personal growth. Without this connection we are unable to see how difficult times can present opportunities for growth and learning.
For example, let’s say I’m newly married. During courtship, engagement and throughout the first 2 months of marriage my brain has registered and recorded memories that I cherish and appreciate. After a couple months of marriage however, I begin to see my wife’s flaws and weaknesses. Since this situation is new to me, my brain will activate the stress mechanism, creating a series of chemical changes that will open circuitries and connections to my conscious via the neocortex. These memories will remind me of the positive things I love about her and the reason I married her in the first place. In those same moments, memories of my own weaknesses are also communicated to me through the neocortex. All of these connections produce frequencies and are manifested by way of impressions that will invite me to stop being overcritical of my wife. As we follow these impressions we receive a deepened understanding of people and ourselves, providing us the ability to be more empathetic and compassionate with others. Following impressions also provide an elevated level of maturity that provides personal development and strengthens our relationships with others.
If however, we disregard these impressions and allow ourselves make decisions based on the emotions we initially feel when stressed, we’re unable to grow and develop. Common immature responses to difficult or new situations include: feeling victimized, being insecure, have a dependency on external circumstances in order to be happy, resentment, fear of trying, feeling inadequate and anger. Holding on to these kinds of feelings and emotions leads to an inability to reconcile stressful circumstances – wherever or whomever they may come from. Instead of learning from the situation, the circuitries and neurons in my brain will be used to create and reinforce false perceptions, creating a mental and emotional web of chronic stress.
In short, reconciling events puts our problems in the past and moves us toward maturity, leaving us with positive experiences that we can draw upon in the future. An inability to reconcile these events puts us in a position where we begin to tell ourselves lies and stories in order to reinforce false perceptions. Unfortunately this leads to perpetual problems in our future as we become stubborn and begin procrastinating things we need to do in order to learn and grow. Stress grows in our lives and we become paralyzed, creating anxiety and decreasing our physical health while accelerating the aging process due to the chaos created in our cell’s microenvironment.
When we live a balanced lifestyle, biochemicals such as neurotransmitters and hormones are produced in proportioned amounts and our body functions as it should. We can be 60 years old, yet emotionally and physically feel younger while having the ability to use wisdom and have the stamina needed to handle daily challenges. As connectivity between the neocortex and the limbic areas of our brain is strengthened, our ability to see opportunities in difficult moments increases.
On the other hand if we live a life full of chronic stress, telomerase reduction accelerates and gene expression is also affected. As we experience this chaos the immune system’s inflammatory response occurs and a number of biological changes take place that affect the entire genome system. These changes are manifested through early aging, lack of energy, feeling emotionally drained and the eventual onset of chronic disease. Disconnecting from people, feeling unhappy or creating an emotional dependence that hinges on what others think or say about us is also common. In these situations we also tend to compare ourselves to others based on what we believe their successes or failures are. In our minds our challenges are always the faults of others and we are unable to see how the majority of the problems are created by ourselves in our own minds.
As a final thought I’m reminded of an often quoted phrase, “As a man [or woman] thinketh, so is he.” Our thoughts give meaning to our lives and mold our character. Our happiness is directly correlated and entirely dependent on how and what we think. The perceptions we have are built throughout our brain via neuroconnections and the circuitry of ideas and thoughts that our brain automatically turns into habits. These habits and behaviors are always changing and adapt as we create networks of repeated thoughts.
For those of us that feel stuck in particular habits or ways of thinking, there is good news: our brain can in fact heal and the circuitries of our brain can be redesigned. Here are tips that can help us change.
Physical activity – physical activity benefits the brain due to growth factors that are created while we exercise. As we exercise the body produces increased amounts of a molecule known as BDNF. These important molecules help in the production of neurotransmitters and in neuron regeneration.
Sleeping 7 to 8 hours – when we’re stressed toxins are produced by the brain. All toxins in the body are removed when we sleep a full 7 to 8 hours. Children should sleep between 9 and 10 hours every night.
Eat nutritious foods – tissues in the brain need healthy fats, complex carbohydrates and a variety of micronutrients and macronutrients. Eat 5 times per day and avoid eating past 7:00 pm.
Drink water – water plays such an important part in so many bodily functions. We should drink 8 to 10 glasses of water each day. Each glass should be 8 oz, which is about half of the amount of water in most bottles of water.
You can redesign your neurocircutries and change your lifestyle as you improve how you manage and control stress. Phytotherapi has created a program with products and protocols to help you decrease stress levels and change your lifestyle. Thousands of people have seen positive results in their physical, mental and emotional health when following these the program.