Dr. Matt Ehrlich
Aging is a Treatable Disease
There is a paradigm shift underway, that I’d like you to be part of. In the Vail Method we speak of aging well, and strategies for reducing the incidence of chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes and cancer. We approach this through exercise and a plant-based diet, among other things.
But what are these diseases, as well as arthritis, loss of hearing, and a host of other maladies, than manifestations of aging? Each of us, based on our genetic makeup, will ultimately succumb to one of these diseases.
For many of us, we will battle more than one of them in our lifetimes.
The challenge is to get at the root cause, aging. That’s the disease to conquer. Modern medicine does not consider aging to be a disease, just an unavoidable consequence of the passing of time.
The cutting-edge research around the world is getting at the underlying cause of it all, aging. We need to classify aging as a disease and conquer that.
As we age, our DNA gets damaged, our chromosomal telomeres get shorter, our stem cells age, our immune system gets overwhelmed and lets abnormal cancer cells grow, and a bad type of “zombie” or senescent cell refuses to die and releases harmful chemical mediators that injury our body.
An excellent book to read is “Lifespan: Why We Age and Why We Don’t Have To,” by David Sinclair, PhD. He does a beautiful job of explaining this, including his research with longevity genes known as sirtuins. These are enzymes which work to turn our genes on and off, control reproduction, and repair DNA and stave off the chronic diseases we suffer from with age. Sirtuins require a molecule called NAD, or nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide. In research animals, raising levels of NAD allows increased longevity and healthier lives. Many people are taking supplements that increase their NAD levels with the hope that the same will be true for humans.
But, bringing this around full circle to the Vail Method. Guess what also increases NAD levels? Exercise! It also delays the shortening of telomeres.
Going forward we will explore different strategies in current research to improve longevity and healthspan, and supplements and medications that help. We’ll also review the stem cell work going on here in Vail.
Happy New Year!
To your health!
Matt Ehrlich, M.D.