Stopping the Disease of Aging

August 12, 2017

Dr. Northrup said, “I firmly believe that growing older is inevitable, aging is optional.” and we tend to agree. Today we’re sharing what lifestyle habits support healthy cell function and what lifestyle habits work against it.

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DAR: Welcome to Dishing Up Nutrition. I am Darlene Kvist, Certified Nutritionist Specialist, Licensed Nutritionist and host of Dishing Up Nutrition.

MARCIE: I am Marcie Vaske, also a licensed nutritionist and today’s show is brought to you by Nutritional Weight & Wellness.

DAR: We have an interesting topic to discuss with you this morning called, Stopping the Disease of Aging. Have any of you listeners, ever thought that aging would be considered a disease? It is by many scientists and researchers. To be honest of you, when I thought of this topic for Dishing Up Nutrition two months ago, it made logical sense to me, however when I started to research and put together notes for the show for our discussion today, frankly it wasn’t as clear as I believed it would be a couple of months ago. After taking a day to research and read articles, I have learned a lot. As we all know, there aren’t always perfect answers in life, so as you come along with us today in our discussion, perhaps, you will think outside of the box. I believe we often need to think outside of the box to find the answers to some of life’s most important questions. And that’s something we do a lot, we think outside the box when we are working with clients.

MARCIE:  Oh, we do. Everyday. Every time you sit down with someone new, you have to constantly thinking, what is this, what could be creating this problem for you?

DAR: There aren’t just a lot of “follow the protocol” people.

MARCIE: No there really isn’t. I don’t think any of them are. But that’s really a great point – thinking outside that box – because there we really do find some new answers. There’s a quote from Dr. Christiane Northrup, author of the Wisdom of Menopause, which is a great book, full of so much good information, and so many other well-respected books. Dr. Northrup said, “I firmly believe that growing older is inevitable, aging is optional. In fact, our brains and bodies rejuvenate and continue to create new neurotransmitters and cells every single day.”

DAR:  We’re going to throw a little science at you this morning, more than what we usually do. There was an article published, December 15, 2016 in Scientific American titled, “Aging is Reversible – At Least in Human Cells and Live Mice.” This article discusses how new research suggests that it is possible to slow or even reverse aging, at least in mice, by undoing changes in gene activity, that’s how we reverse that. My question to this point is, “How do we undo changes in gene activity?” This is your part Marcie.

MARCIE: Let’s ponder that, how do we change that. They say that by tweaking genes that turn adult cells back into embryonic-like cells – now that’s kind of a cool thing, changing our old cells into new cells – the researchers at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies reversed the aging of both mouse and human cells in an in vitro setting or in a test tube, which extended the life of a mouse with an accelerated aging condition.

DAR: That’s kind of interesting isn’t it? Many researchers believe aging is due largely to what they call, epigenetic changes. These changes make our genes more or less active.

MARCIE: That’s a big word, Epigenetic changes” I think you must have been to a conference lately where you’re coming up with all these new information for us. That reading and research. Let me spell epigenetic – E P I G E N E T I C – so now we know how to spell it, but what does it mean?My understanding about epigenetics is that when we say epigenetic, we are referring to all things in life that control our genes.

DAR: Yes,I agree, but it’s even a bit more scientific. I don’t know if people realize that we have over 20,000 genes that provide instructions, they tell things, to very complex molecules in our body and in our brain, which then tell our various biological actions to carry out our life functions. That’s fairly complicated. Epigenetics is everywhere – what foods you eat, what you drink, how you exercise, when you sleep, where you live, who you interact with, how much you eat, or what you read, these are all examples. All of these lifestyle habits can cause chemical modifications that affect your genes or my genes, turning them on or off over time. That’s really kind of complex. So, as scientists have struggled with the concept that aging is just another disease such as diabetes, heart disease or cancer, how then can we develop and practice these lifestyle habits to live the longest and not accelerating our own disease of aging?

MARCIE: That is a big question.

DAR: Well I think there are a few of us that think that way. I know I do.

MARCIE: I know I do.

DAR: Good! You’re going to be around here until your 125!

MARCIE: Oh, how wonderful. My kids will love me even more. So there is a scientist out of Cambridge University, his name is Aubrey de Gray and he believes we need to reframe aging as a pathologic process that needs to be treated as a disease much like cancer or diabetes. I don’t think a lot of people think of aging as diabetes or cancer, right?

DAR: No, I don’t think so. Again, it seems to me that the question we should be asking is, “Is aging a natural process that just needs to be accepted as unavoidable or is it a disease that can be treated and prevented?” As a person who believes in prevention, we talk prevention all the time, it seems to me that prevention is actually a win-win practice in this discussion of aging. Let’s look at an easy lifestyle habits that affects many aspects of our lives, including that disease of aging.

MARCIE: What should we start with? I think one of the really important things to start with that is just easy habit is making sure you have adequate levels of vitamin D. it is so critical as a prevention of a variety of diseases not just of aging. If we are “outside” people, meaning spending time outside in the sun, you might be thinking you’re getting enough vitamin D but that’s only if you’re not wearing tons of sunscreen. We have clients that come in and say “Oh, it’s summertime, I don’t need to do my vitamin D.” and then I’ll ask “Well, do you wear sunscreen?” “Well of course I wear sunscreen.” “Well then maybe you’re not getting quite as much as you need.” The other thing is too is that we’re really becoming more “inside” people too. We work longer hours, we have events that are inside and even kids. Kids are spending less and less time outdoors. I’m always saying to my kids “Go outside! What are you doing?”  

DAR: I know when we were growing up, at least when I was growing up, that’s what we did. We were outside playing.

MARCIE: Totally! There wasn’t an option number one and number two, why wouldn’t you? Run around. So really, with our kids spending more time inside as well they are often deficient in this vitamin D.

DAR: Very often deficient. So then you have to ask yourselves, how does vitamin D actually prevent disease? Many, many different ways. Researchers have found vitamin D receptors in all of our cells throughout our bodies. So we have this cell and then you think of the receptors and I think we have to go to break don’t we? I saw that sign.

MARCIE: We’ll come back to this vitamin D right after break, but you’re listening to Dishing Up Nutrition, brought to you by Nutritional Weight & Wellness. Today Dar and I are discussing the Disease of Aging.


DAR: Welcome back to Dishing Up Nutrition. September is just around the corner, the State Fair will be over and the kids will be back in school, so it’s a good time to do a little self-care for yourself and get back to healthy eating. Through the month of August, you can save $80 on the cost of our 12-week Nutrition 4 Weight Loss Program. That’s down to $319, you will receive 12 amazing classes and two one-hour personal nutritional consultations with an experienced certified nutritionist, like Marcie. That’s a lot of self-care for a low cost. And it’s fun! You learn so many things. Call our office at 651.699.3438 and do it this month, because you get to save $80 and then you’ve made the commitment. You can’t say, “Ohh, I can’t go. It’s Tuesday night, I can’t go.” You’ll have decided and you’re going.

MARCIE: And it will change your life.

So! We were talking about vitamin D before the break so why don’t you dig back into that research for us and see what we’ve got?

DAR: So, what I was talking about before was that most people the researchers have found that vitamin D receptors in all of our cells throughout our body and our brain. And I think most women realize that vitamin D is essential for the absorption of calcium, which helps to develop strong and dense bones. It is a known fact that more women die each year from a broken bone than those from breast cancer and uterine cancer combined. That’s shocking. So, maintaining strong bones is critical to long life. For most people, taking a vitamin D3 supplement is an easy prevention habit to practice.

MARCIE: It really is. It’s one tiny little gel cap.

DAR: Before you do that, we encourage people to have a vitamin D test yearly to make sure you’re taking enough vitamin D to help maintain healthy bones and healthy cells. And for some people it’s 1,000, some people it’s 2,000, some people it’s 4,000. I’ve had several people who have to take 10,000 to get up into kind of a low normal range. It’s really surprising.

MARCIE: It is really surprising how many people are low in vitamin D. Let’s talk a little bit more about how this vitamin D can help us. I want to share a research article from Creighton University about vitamin D and cancer. This is important so everyone listen. A study funded by the National Institute of Health found a 30% reduction in cancer of those taking a vitamin D supplement. This four year study included 2,300 healthy older women in rural Nebraska. Half of the group took 2,000 IUs of vitamin D3 and 1,500 mg of calcium and the other half of the group were given placebos. Sugar pill or something. Cancer occurred at a 30% lower incidence in the group who supplemented with vitamin D than in the control group. So what am I saying – bottom line, supplementing with 2,000 to 4,000 IUs of vitamin D3 is a lifestyle habit that easily fits into a good prevention plan that we’re talking about today.

DAR: Earlier in the show, we talked about how epigenetics is everywhere – what foods we eat, what we drink, where we live, who we interact with, what we weigh and so much more. All of these lifestyle factors affect our genes. Insufficient vitamin D levels can actually influence how hungry you are and how much you eat. When you don’t have enough vitamin D, you may feel hungry all the time. We have clients that come in and say that. Vitamin D interfere with how well your appetite hormone works, so what’s that hormone? It’s leptin, the appetite hormone, needs sufficient vitamin D to work, so then you are satisfied and no longer hungry after a normal-sized meal.

MARCIE: On top of messing with our appetite and our weight, vitamin D impacts our mood and memory. Research studies have found the lower your vitamin D level, the more likely you are to feel sad and unhappy, rather than happy and optimistic about life. How will you know if you are deficient in vitamin D? A simple blood test will tell you. We at Nutritional Weight & Wellness recommend maintaining levels between 50-80 to be ideal.

DAR: Maybe a little higher. But, not lower.

MARCIE: Not lower for sure. So, again, having adequate levels of vitamin D is an easy lifestyle habit you can practice as part of your anti-aging plan.

DAR: Because vitamin D affects every cell in your body, a deficiency of vitamin D will have a negative impact on your lungs, your heart, your kidneys, your immune function, and your memory. Isn’t that interesting? Many studies have linked a deficiency of vitamin D with memory problems in older men and women. And as an older person, I really value my memory and that’s really critical. And I think other older people think that way too, they’re really concerned about their memory. So research has found that older adults with low levels of vitamin D are at twice the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Scary. Taking a vitamin D supplement literally impacts every cell in our bodies and brains. We keep saying, it’s such an easy preventive lifestyle habit to practice, yet so many people, so many clients we see, don’t take it seriously.

MARCIE: They really don’t. So many people want to take their vitamin D but they can’t become compliant enough in it. I hope after this discussion today that people are popping their supplements.

DAR: It’s so interesting like you said before that usually it’s a little tiny gel capsule that’s so easy to take and so important for every cell in your body and brain.

MARCIE: So if you want to feel good and have a good memory, let’s take some vitamin D. With that, we’re going to our second break. You are listening to Dishing Up Nutrition brought to you by Nutritional Weight & Wellness, a company providing life-changing nutrition counseling and life-changing nutrition education. If you are running out of ideas about what to cook for dinner, stop into one of our seven offices and grab our Weight and Wellness Cookbook and Nutrition Guide. This month you will save 15% on a cookbook that you will use daily, it’s a great resource. The recipes are easy to follow with a limited number of ingredients… it’s fast, simple and delicious recipes.


DAR: Welcome back to Dishing Up Nutrition. I am Darlene Kvist, licensed nutritionist and I am here with Marcie Vaske also a licensed nutritionist and today we are discussing the disease of aging. Want to learn how to make an easy, refreshing drink? We talked about what you drink affects your epigenetics. I simply put fresh mint leaves in a quart of water and let it steep overnight in the refrigerator. The next day, l have a tasty mint-infused water, so simple. My friend brought me the fresh mint leaves from her garden, so not only is my drink delicious and healthy…it’s also free. And it’s so easy.

MARCIE: It is! “I’m tired of water, what should I do with my water?” Some mint, even a little cucumber in there. Anything.

Well let’s get back to our discussion of stopping the aging disease. We were talking about vitamin D before we went on break, as a great prevention. So, now we’re going to ask you listeners “Are you taking a vitamin D supplement or have you had your levels tested?” It would seem that a lack of sufficient vitamin D might be one of those epigenetic changes, which make our genes more of less active. As these changes accumulate, our minds might slow down, our bodies become more weak and fragile and we become more vulnerable to diseases, the diabetes, cancer we were talking about. The simple lifestyle habit of having sufficient vitamin D may reverse some of these changes resulting in fewer diseases, who doesn’t want that, plus if you’re going to live that long who doesn’t want to be healthy and have a good mind.

DAR: So, Aubrey de Grey, we talked about him before, he’s the Chief Science Officer for SENS Research Foundation. They conduct and do research about regenerative medicine. So this is what he said “It was always known that the body accumulates damage. The way to cure aging is to find ways to repair that damage. I think of it as preventive medicine for age-related conditions.” Kind of like we’re on the same page.

MARCIE:  You may be wondering, “How does the body accumulate damage and how can we prevent damage?” Moreover, if you know you are practicing a lifestyle habit that is causing damage to you, you may be thinking, “How can I stop?” “How can I make that change?” Let’s take a look at some of the lifestyle habits that damage your cells and age you.

First of all I think we’d all agree that smoking is an aging agent.

DAR: I think one of things you said on this, just as you were saying made me think that I think a lot of people know they are practicing some lifestyle habit that is causing damage to their cells. But they don’t want to think about it.

MARCIE: Nope. And so we just keep doing it and you’ll be fine. Until you’re not. That’s what I always say to them.

DAR: As nutritionists, we would list eating several fast food meals weekly as an aging agent.

MARCIE: For sure. Just think of all that trans-fat in your system. Most researchers would also think about putting on the list drinking more than one or two alcohol beverages a week, not a night, as an aging agent. Research from the American Cancer Institute found women who actually drank two alcoholic drinks a night increased their breast cancer risk by 50%. Just two glasses of wine nightly increases the risk of breast cancer by 50%! Know this, this is a lifestyle habit you could stop, do you have one? Is this one for you? Do you need help stopping?

DAR: We actually work with a lot of women that when we first see them for that initial consultation, they are drinking quite a bit of wine.

MARCIE: Oh I know, they might even say that they want to drink more, and more, and more.

DAR: And I think they don’t even realize the damage that they are doing to their body and brain and their cells.

MARCIE: For sure. They’re just seeing the outward effect of maybe some weight gain when really it’s at your cellular level.

DAR: It’s so interesting. Once we help people get re-balanced, suddenly they don’t even care if they get wine.

MARCIE: I know! I tell them this, I said “If you just eat during the day, you aren’t going to want to drink so much at night.”

DAR: Yes, that’s what it is much of the time. People not taking time to eat during the day.

MARCIE: And then they get home and life is crazy.

DAR: So again, as listeners, I think you need to think “Are there some lifestyle habits that I’m practicing that I know is doing damage to my cells?” And it’s increasing that disease of aging.

MARCIE: So everyone get honest with yourselves as we go through our list.

DAR: You know, a common lifestyle habit that is an immense problem for over 100 million Americans and wreaks havoc on our health, our happiness, our relationships is lack of sleep. What many of you, our listeners, may not realize is that lack of sleep on a regular basis, I think if it happens one night a week or so it’s not a big deal, is associated with long-term health problems including diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, depression, anxiety, a poor immune function and accelerated aging.

MARCIE: Knowing all of that is going to help everybody sleep way better tonight. Another health problem associated with lack of sleep is weight gain and obesity. Many people don’t put that together either. One might think, if you sleep less you should burn more calories and lose weight. We’re here to tell you again, it doesn’t work that way. Many, many studies have linked insufficient sleep to weight gain and obesity.

DAR: You have to ask yourself, why is getting eight hours of sleep most nights so important? While you sleep, your body secretes hormones that help to control your appetite, support your metabolism and balance your glucose and insulin production. Here is what happens, lack of sleep increases insulin secretion after you eat. If you didn’t sleep all night, maybe you slept four, five hours, but the next day, everything you ate suddenly you had more insulin. It’s silly but that’s what happens biochemically. This excess insulin promotes fat storage. We teach that in our Weight & Wellness classes and all of our classes, and then that results in weight gain. Which means, you could be eating perfectly to lose weight but if you’re sleep- deprived, the excess insulin puts every fork of food you are eating into fat storage. It’s true!

MARCIE: You might want to fix that sleep habit, so that the fork you put in your mouth isn’t turning into fat.

DAR: I think we have a lot of people, especially in our Nutrition 4 Weight Loss, they have very, very slow metabolisms and they say “I’m eating perfectly.” And they are.

MARCIE: But they’re not losing weight. And then I say “Are you sleeping?”

DAR: And they say “Well … no.”

MARCIE: Exactly, we still have to turn that corner. Let me ask you a question. Have you ever been a caregiver for someone…not getting enough sleep and suddenly you realize you gained 10 pounds in a month?! My guess is the weight gain wasn’t from overeating or eating poorly, but rather from consistently not getting enough sleep night after night. Parents who have a colicky baby, or even two babies like I had, often gain several pounds, because typically both mom and dad are sleep-deprived from being up all night long taking care of those babies.

DAR: So anytime you’re doing activities that are interfering with your sleep you probably have the potential to gain weight easily.

MARCIE: You are listening to Dishing Up Nutrition, Next week be sure to tune in to hear Brenna and Kate as they discuss How Breast Cancer is Linked to Alcohol Consumption and Sugar.


DAR:  Welcome back to Dishing Up Nutrition. This past week, Carolyn Hudson, a Nutritional Weight & Wellness licensed dietician, was interviewed on the KARE 11, 4pm News about How to Avoid Hidden Sugars in a Typical BBQ, picnic Meal. It may surprise you that 1 cup of canned baked beans has 18 teaspoons of hidden sugar. Who would ever guess that? I invite you to go to our website,, click on “PODCAST”, then go to “In The News” and watch Carolyn share more common picnic foods you may want to avoid. Potato salad might be another one.

So we were talking about sleep and we were talking more research. I hope people are not tired of research today. So researchers also found, and we talk this one in many of our classes, our Weight & Wellness Classes, but here it is, lack of sleep may lead to Type 2 diabetes. In one study, the sleep of healthy young men was cut back from eight hours to only four hours per night for two weeks and their glucose numbers rose significantly putting them into a pre-diabetic classification.

MARCIE: That is just amazing. Two weeks! And they were young mean, it wasn’t even in the typical age range you’d be seeing high glucose levels. And chronic sleep problems have been linked to feeling sad, feeling angry, more stressed, and just mental exhaustion, you don’t want to think anymore. If you have depression, anxiety or a mood disorder, you need your sleep, because our brain detoxes while we sleep.

DAR: Poor sleep and lack of sleep are associated with a lower life expectancy. Sadly, sleeping five hours or less per night increases your risk of an early death by 15%. Lack of sleep increases your risk of the disease of aging, as well.

MARCIE: I think my lack of sleep when my twins were babies shaved a few years off my life. However, there’s prevention so hopefully I’m reversing that aging. We understand from all of the research that lack of sleep is damaging to your body and brain in many ways. It just may be a major factor in the disease of aging that we’re talking about today.

DAR: How do you change this lifestyle habit of not getting adequate sleep, which is damaging your cells, I think we’ve convinced you.

MARCIE: First of all, you need to believe the research so we need to wrap our heads around that and not allow old habits to interfere with your sleep.

DAR: So, Marcie, what are some of your old habits?

MARCIE: Yeah, what are some of your old habits? Are you making posts on Facebook instead of going to sleep, watching your favorite show after the kids are in bed, it’s your time right? Your time should be spent with your eyeballs closed. Or are you doing laundry instead of going to sleep? We’ve heard that before and then I always look at them and say “Why are you up at midnight doing laundry? Go to bed!” Or meeting with friends for wine and some laughs rather than going to sleep? You’re staying up too late having that wine. How do you make sleep a priority?

DAR: What are those lifestyle habits that you might have? What do you need to change? So, again, I have listeners out there that are saying “I don’t have of these poor lifestyle habits.” And maybe you don’t but you just can’t sleep. We have a bunch of ideas for you. Here’s one. Take 400-800 mg of Magnesium Glycinate at bedtime, which works for many people, but again not everyone. Magnesium Glycinate promotes relaxation and helps you sleep through the night.

MARCIE: At Nutritional Weight & Wellness, you, our listeners, know we say, Food Matters, so naturally food also matters when it comes to sleep. It’s so important to have a snack before bed to balance your blood sugar.

DAR: You know Marcie, we hear all the time that people who have been chronic dieters have been told “Don’t eat before you go to bed!” but that’s such wrong advice. And what are we saying?

MARCIE: We’re always saying to have that bedtime snack so it balances your blood sugar through the night. So if you’re waking up, that could be your blood sugar waking you up.

DAR: One of the things I do that I like is with blueberries, which I know are great antioxidants. So I have fresh blueberries about ½ cup and a couple tablespoons of heavy cream. To be honest with you I don’t always eat all of it, but my dog loves the rest of it.

MARCIE: So you’re both anti-aging. I really like to have half of a banana with 2 T. of peanut butter or some almond butter. Love that. Or for other people, you could do something like ½ of a sweet potato with 2 T. of butter on it. Warmed up, yum! I would also put cinnamon on that. So many of these snacks will balance and they’ll help you stay asleep throughout the night.

DAR: And they’ll help you lose weight.

MARCIE: And you lose weight and you ate just before you went to bed.  

DAR: If you are having trouble falling asleep, I frequently recommend one to five mg of melatonin in a sublingual form, that’s a form you put under your tongue because it gets absorbed better and faster. Here’s another interesting thing that I learned, melatonin has been demonstrated in animal studies to prevent premature aging and increases the average life span. There’s been a lot of research on melatonin and how beneficial it is for people.

MARCIE: Getting sufficient sleep is so crucial in helping you avoid chronic diseases and the disease of aging, we suggest many possible solutions when working with clients.

For example, women are often deficient in the hormone progesterone, which can result in them feeling wired and unable to sleep, so a small amount of natural progesterone cream calms them down and helps these women sleep better.

DAR: You know you mentioned Dr. Northrup at the beginning of the show. This is one of her recommendations in Wisdom of Menopause.  

MARCIE: And it does work, we see it all the time with our clients, don’t we Dar?

Other people need neurotransmitter support so when we’re talking about that it’s that 5HTP or maybe some GABA. Generally it’s quite successful in finding a solution to our clients’ sleep problems. Not getting enough sleep regularly is an aging agent and we recognize the seriousness of not having enough sleep, so we want to help you get your 7½ to 8 hours of sleep most nights.

DAR: So I guess this is another one of those, I believe the research, I need something to do it. So, whether aging is a disease or not, I believe we have to ask ourselves, “What lifestyle habits do I have that support healthy cell function and what lifestyle habits do I need to change?”

As we always say, “Change your nutrition to change your life.” So, as we are at the closing?

MARCIE: Our goal at Nutritional Weight and Wellness is to help each and every person experience better health through eating real food. It’s a simple, yet powerful message. Eating real food is life-changing.

DAR: Thank you Marcie. Love working with you!

MARCIE: Yes, it’s fun! 

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