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Autonomic Dysfunction Series: Secret to Anti-Aging

The Secret to Anti-Aging -“Taking out the Trash”, “Rebuilding and Repairing” and Your Autonomic Nervous System

For the last 10 years, Michael Rothman MD has been treating patients for conditions related to autonomic dysfunction. Dysautonomia is a term used to describe a condition where your autonomic nervous system is dysfunctioning. Dysautonomia literally means dysfunctional autonomic nervous system. Every human being on Earth, at some point in time, will suffer from varying degrees of dysautonomia, yet this disorder is virtually unknown and unrecognized. We have an unseen or hidden epidemic of autonomic dysfunction and one way to combat this common, health-sapping condition is to bring awareness to this ubiquitous problem. For this reason, Michael Rothman MD will be releasing a series of blogs related to various manifestations of dysautonomia in hopes that patients suffering from these disorders will be armed with more information and follow a healthy path to get to the root cause of their chronic symptoms.

Your Autonomic Nervous System and Aging

Your autonomic nervous system (ANS) is responsible for maintaining your body’s overall metabolic balance. Think of the ANS like the command center in your body, which attempts to keep you within your optimal range of physiologic functioning by a series of actions. Your autonomic nervous system (ANS) is made up of two parts, your sympathetic nervous system (SNS) and your parasympathetic nervous system (PNS). Your SNS also referred to as your “fight or flight” response, stimulates in times of stress and during an emergency. Conversely, your PNS is responsible for initiating your rest, repair, and maintenance response. These two corresponding divisions of your autonomic nervous system are neither active, nor disabled at the same time. In fact, they are always at opposite stimuli.

As a whole, our society has become obsessed with looking and feeling forever young. Gone are the days where elders were held in high esteem and respected for their knowledge, experience and wisdom. On the contrary, youthfulness and external beauty are worshipped more than ever.  Consequently, we have seen a proliferation of anti-aging products on the market. It seems like every new manufacturer claims to bottle their latest version of the fountain of youth. Targeted marketing wants you to believe that this $300 cream, this medication, or cosmetic surgery will give you the results you are looking for. However, often enough, this information is actually designed to promote specific behavior and responses in the audience encouraging you to continue to spend your hard earned money with little or no results. To further illustrate this notion, you must understand that even if you were to comply with most of these suggestions, they are only temporary and superficial at best, and perhaps even harmful in the long term.

The truth is, if you are experiencing premature aging externally, it is because you are prematurely aging internally as well. Fortunately, the real anti-aging secret is actually no secret at all.

The Aging Process: Two sides

Let us compare skin aging to the deterioration of the paint on your car. Imagine you just bought a brand new car, the paint is smooth and beautiful, and unblemished, without any lumps or bumps or uneven areas of color.  However, over time, bird poop, road debris, scratches, extreme weather conditions, and general wear and tear begin to affect your paintjob. Eventually, the paint starts to thin down, while simultaneously accumulating all sorts of rubbish and if you do not repair your car’s exterior surface, it will look terrible.

At the same time, the inside of your car is also experiencing aging and deterioration. For example, your car mats while once brand new, with time, will experience fallen trash, little rocks, stones and sand from the ground, moisture damage from wet shoes, snow and spilled drinks. Additionally, your mats begin to wear in certain places from repetitive friction and rubbing from shoes and boots.  The internal mechanisms in your car are also experiencing the effects of time and usage, with worn parts and dirt and debris clogging up the gears and levers leading to decreased performance and safety issues. So there are two mechanisms at play when it comes to the aging of your car, a buildup of garbage that accumulates over time and wear and tear that slowly and inexorably weakens the very material your car is made of. The only way to keep your car “like new” is to remove the garbage on a regular basis (by cleaning the various surfaces) and repairing and replacing worn out parts.

Your Body is a Biomechanical Machine

As you and your body age, the same two mechanisms are responsible, a buildup of waste materials that clogs up your cells, tissues and organs and a wearing down of these same parts. Just like your car, if you do not treat yourself properly, you will experience the effects of premature aging inside and out.  Whereas your car requires maintenance and repair through some sort of external intervention (in other words, your car cannot repair itself), your body fortunately has a built in repair and maintenance mechanism. These life giving processes, which allow your body to rid it of garbage and rebuild and repair your cells, tissues and organs are under the influence and are influenced by your autonomic nervous system (ANS)

Two main processes contribute to the effects of age on your body and your skin. The first is that your body is unable to “take out the trash” that accumulates in your cells, tissues, and organs every day. Your sympathetic nervous system (SNS) is largely responsible for this “cleansing-like” activity. Your SNS (also known as the “fight or flight response”) is under the influence (and influenced by) hormones such as adrenaline and your thyroid hormones.

These stimulatory hormones literally “turn up the heat” and help your body incinerate unhealthy and unneeded material like cancer cells, damaged, aged cells and tissues, and other metabolic waste products. Your SNS should be most active during your daytime/waking hours. During these daylight hours, you should be in a state of activity that helps you remove waste products including helping your move your bowels.  However, if your sympathetic nervous system is in disarray and not working properly (or you fail to be active enough during the day), you start to accumulate garbage internally and externally.

Conversely, at night as you sleep your parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) is activated and your body should be in a “rest and repair” mode. The anti-inflammatory hormone cortisol which helps you rebuild and repair your body is most elevated when you have a good night’s sleep. Have you ever noticed that a bad night’s sleep (or staying up way too late) causes you to wake up feeling and looking old and haggard? This is a prime example why you need a good full 8 hours of deep, restorative sleep on a regular basis. Restorative sleep is not only essential to every cell, tissue and organ in your body, but also vital in facilitating a proper (circadian) rhythm.

The bottom line is that you need SNS activity during the day and PNS activity at night if you wish to feel and look healthy. If you have excessive (or poorly timed), parasympathetic tone, you are spending too much time rebuilding and repairing and do not have time or ability to take out the trash. On the other hand, if your sympathetic nervous system is working overtime, you will have trouble getting restorative sleep and your body will literally start to fall apart. Unfortunately, when you reach about the age of 50, both your SNS and your PNS start to weaken and it is harder for you to take out the trash and make needed repairs as easily.

How can you enhance your Autonomic Nervous System’s functioning?

In other words, how can you facilitate taking out the trash during the day and rebuilding and repairing at night?

Here are the keys to “taking out the trash”

1. Vigorous exercise and activity during the day
2. Exposure to unfiltered sunlight during the day
3. Consuming pro-oxidant foods and supplements during the day (for example, garlic, onions, selenium, carnitine, taurine, lipoic acid, carnosine)
4. Consuming foods and supplements that stimulate SNS activity during the day (for example, calcium, phosphorus, tyrosine and phenylalanine)

Here are the keys to “rebuilding and repairing”

1. Adequate amounts of restorative sleep at night
2. Exposure to pitch black darkness at night
3. Consuming anti-oxidant foods and supplements at night (for example, full spectrum vitamin E and co-enzyme q-10)
4. Consuming foods and supplements that stimulate PNS activity at night (for example, potassium and magnesium)

How can you Reduce Production of “Trash and Damage”?

You want to minimize any damaging factors in your life. Any activity, substance or habit that causes damage will also produce “trash”.

You must minimize (or eliminate) the following:
1. Sugar and sweets in your diet – even if they are “all natural”
2. Fried foods and vegetable oils (like canola oil, soy oil and corn oil)
3. Consumption of processed foods filled with pesticides, insecticides, colorings, preservatives, sugars and vegetable oils
4. Excessive use of alcohol, cigarettes and medications
5. Unnatural/unhealthy lifestyles like going to sleep too late or sleeping with your TV or lights on
6. Exposure to air pollution, molds, dust and dirt
7. Excessive stress (in all of its many, many forms)

I urge anyone who is looking for a holistic, natural treatment plan designed to reduce the effects of aging and get your autonomic system in balance to call me for a consultation in my Spring Lake, NJ office. I can recommend natural supplements that you can consume during the day to help you take out the trash, and at night to help you rest, restore and repair. In summary, addressing deleterious lifestyle habits and reducing your autonomic dysfunction will, have a wonderful effect on you, both immediately, and in the future so that you can look and feel healthy and attractive.

Are you looking for a natural anti-aging regimen? Come in for a consultation with Dr. Rothman by calling, 732-268-7663 and discover a natural approach to combating aging symptoms and improve your overall health.

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To learn more about Michael Rothman MD contact us today by giving us a call at (732) 268-7663, emailing us at [email protected] or by requesting an appointment online.

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