Reversal of Aging Is Here. How Far Can It Go?
By Deepak Chopra, MD and Shai Efrati, MD
The ability to reverse aging is now in everyone’s hands, although they might not realize it. Aging is reversed anytime you experience the following:
Healing from an illness or wound. Healing restores the body to a state before the setback occurred.
Returning to the markers of youth: Youth is marked by energy, vitality, freedom of motion, normal blood pressure, physical strength, and other markers that can be restored at any time of life. Going to the gym, meditating to reduce your blood pressure, keeping up your support system of family and friends, and undertaking creative projects that bring you joy are just a few ways to reverse the tendencies of aging.
Having a positive mindset. We act out our beliefs, and when people believed that life after 65 should be spent in a rocking chair out of sight from younger people, that mindset made old age a penance. For several decades, however, the “new old age” has revolutionized our mindset, and people see old age as vigorous, creative, productive, and a source of contentment.
Positive lifestyle choices: The advice to do what is good for you is often hard to follow, human nature being what it is. But no one by now has failed to hear about the need for:
A whole foods diet, preferably organic
The avoidance of drugs, tobacco, alcohol and other toxins
Good sleep every night
Moderate physical activity
Meditation and yoga
It can be hard to maintain motivation about doing what is good for us, but at least we know. Moreover, recent medical developments have given top priority to just a few essential measures that bring benefits throughout a lifetime. Top priority goes to good, sound sleep every night, reducing stress, and maintaining a healthy microbiome, the community of micro-organisms, particularly in the intestines, whose beneficial effects extend everywhere in the body.
We’ve given a sketch of the road already traveled. Anyone can access abundant information online about each topic. Yet these topics also bring us face to face with a wall, not a physical one but a wall of outworn concepts. The current paradigm of aging has several weaknesses.
· It is largely risk-based
· It is built up from bits and pieces of knowledge
· There is no agreed upon definition of aging itself
· Lifelong vigilance is required, which is nearly impossible
· Motivation is largely based on fear of aging, disease, and death. Fear is a poor motivator over the long run.
· Anti-aging based on drugs or hormones like human growth factor has side effects and is potentially very hazardous.
These flaws are enough to create the need for a new paradigm. In this article we will set aside the paradigm of timeless, eternal consciousness, which has existed for thousands of years throughout India and China. Such a paradigm uses immortality as the benchmark. There are enormous issues at stake, including the meaning of life and the illusion of death. We will set aside this paradigm, not because it doesn’t apply to reversal of aging, but because it is still alien to the vast majority of modern Western people.
Equally intriguing is the reversal of aging that applies to our cells. Biological aging is the sum of two factors:
● Physiological aging‑-The way the body’s different organs are functioning.
● Cellular aging, which leads to how our genes express themselves over time.
You can’t have genes other than the ones you were born with, but the activity of your genes, known as gene expression, changes all the time. Two identical twins are born with the same set of genes, yet as they go through life, each twin has unique experiences. Our genes eavesdrop on every experience we have and respond accordingly. Therefore, at age 70 two identical twins might be no more similar in terms of aging than two unidentical siblings, or even two strangers.
Improving gene expression is now a tantalizing frontier in meditation research, which has the potential to link Eastern and Western paradigms of aging. Here we ae concerned with an exciting possibility from science alone, which holds promise for opening the next frontier in the reversal of aging.
Aging would be slowed down or reversed at the cellular level if cells could regenerate themselves as efficiently as they did when we were children. Over time, this ability to regenerate declines. The most common bottleneck faced by the “normal aging” population is related to blood vessel potency and blood/oxygen supply. Just like the pipes in our houses, that develop certain blockages and corrosion over time, the atherosclerosis process results in the narrowing of our blood vessels. As a result, oxygen supply to specific tissues and organs is deprived. Deprivation of oxygen limits the cells from generating the energy needed for their full performance and inhibits the tissue’s ability to perform its regenerative and repairing duties.
This problem has been apparent for some time. But now it can be solved using new protocols of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT). By using the newly investigated protocols of HBOT, the amount of oxygen delivered through the blood vessels can be increased 17-fold, so that sufficient oxygen can bypass the occluded/narrowed blood vessels.
The most potent trigger for induction of the regenerative process in the body is hypoxia i.e. lack of oxygen. While sensing hypoxia the body, at the cellular level, realizes that a damage might have occurred and as a result it triggers a cascade of events that includes stem cells proliferation (replication) and migration of stem cells to the injured site. These stem cells have the flexibility to differentiate and replace the damaged tissue. Along with the aging process the amount and potency of stem cells declines and this becomes the second common bottleneck after blood vessel occlusion.
To overcome the “stem cells related bottleneck” there’s a need for a potent stimulus that will make them replicate and repair damaged organs as needed. This is where “relativity” comes into play. As Albert Einstein had figured out many years ago, everything in this world is relative. So, we have discovered a way where we can “trick the body” into stem cell proliferation. We achieve this by adopting our recently developed unique HBOT protocol of increasing the oxygen level in the body to very high levels and then drastically reducing it back to the body’s normal level. By generating these HBOT fluctuations in a repeated manner, the body is being tricked into thinking that there is hypoxic hazardous condition prevalent, and this stimulus causes it to initiate its full regenerative capacity including among others, of stem cells proliferation and the generation of new blood vessels to bypass the “old” non-functioning ones.
Moreover, repair mechanisms are also induced at the cellular level, and these culminate in telomere elongation (the protective “bumpers” of the DNA) and the reduction in aged non-functioning cells, the so-called senescent cells. This phenomenon of using high oxygen level fluctuation in the body to induce the regenerative process that occurs during imagined hypoxia, is called “The Hyperoxic-Hypoxic Paradox.” It should be emphasized that the newly investigated HBOT protocols cannot be delivered by hyperbaric “mono-place” chambers which are the oxygen capsules or tubes utilized by some.
In recent years there is growing scientific evidence that the adoption of these new and unique HBOT protocols, can repair certain damaged brain tissue when utilized correctly even years after an acute insult has occurred, such as stroke or traumatic brain injury. Using advanced brain imaging, it is possible to predict who may benefit from such treatment and in what way.
An ongoing research program, done in Israel, on the so called “normal aging” population, has taken the concept a major step forward and has demonstrated that expected normal brain functionality decline can be reversed using these new HBOT protocols culminating in improved cognitive and physical performance functions. Moreover, the beneficial reverse aging effects at the cellular level were also demonstrated for the first time in humans: telomeres were elongated and the amount of senescent cells was reduced.
Prior to this groundbreaking research lifestyle changes, intense exercise, and meditation showed an ability to slow the shortening of telomere length and the accumulation of senescent cells. However, the HBOT study not only stopped the shortening of telomeres but also found that telomeres increased by more than 20 percent in length in less than 3 months. (Note: Studies at the Chopra Center for Wellbeing involving researchers from leading universities showed a similarly significant increase in telomerase from meditation.) In addition, for the first time in humans, it was demonstrated that the amount of senescent cells was reduced by as much as 37 percent.
This innovative research proves that it is indeed feasible to reverse the aging process and not only slow down the expected decline. As a result, this research has opened the door and motivated scientists to develop additional ways to reverse aging at the cellular levels.
Humans are the only species in nature that continue to live a significant amount of time beyond their reproductive period and there is an evolutionary good reason for that. The “life experience and knowledge” gathered along life can be of significant value for the young generation. When we are young, we have potent biology and physical functionality, however our overall performance is being limited by the lack of life experience and knowledge. Conversely as we become older the limiting factor for overall performance switches and the life experience and knowledge is compromised by the decline of our biological and physical capacity.
As part of our specie revolution, our best scientific brains and efforts are now being realigned and focused to enhance our biologic performance as we age. Being told that you are “normal for your age” is no longer acceptable.
As science progresses, those who choose to invest the time, energy, and resources to enhance their biological performance will continue to be relevant and crucial for our society and will benefit hugely from a vastly improved healthspan, the total years spent with a high quality of life, wellness, and well-being.
DEEPAK CHOPRA™ MD, FACP, founder of The Chopra Foundation, a non-profit entity for research on well-being and humanitarianism, and Chopra Global, a whole health company at the intersection of science and spirituality, is a world-renowned pioneer in integrative medicine and personal transformation. Chopra is a Clinical Professor of Family Medicine and Public Health at the University of California, San Diego and serves as a senior scientist with Gallup Organization. He is the author of over 90 books translated into over forty-three languages, including numerous New York Times bestsellers. His 90th book and national bestseller, Metahuman: Unleashing Your Infinite Potential (Harmony Books), unlocks the secrets to moving beyond our present limitations to access a field of infinite possibilities. For the last thirty years, Chopra has been at the forefront of the meditation revolution and his latest book, Total Meditation (Harmony Books) will help to achieve new dimensions of stress-free living and joyful living. TIME magazine has described Dr. Chopra as “one of the top 100 heroes and icons of the century.” www.deepakchopra.com
Shai Efrati, MD, The director of the world leading Sagol Center for Hyperbaric Medicine and Research at Shamir Medical Center. His research focuses on novel aspects of hyperbaric medicine and brain rehabilitation. Dr Efrati is a professor at the Sackler School of Medicine and the Sagol School of Neuroscience in Tel Aviv University. Dr. Efrati Chair of Aviv’s Medical Advisory Board. Dr Efrati contributes a wealth of experience to Aviv Clinics’ work. www.aviv-clinics.com