January 5, 2011
Today The Dr. Oz Show was titled ‘Deepak Chopra’s Secrets to Reverse Aging’. Deepak Chopra is considered a guru of alternative health. He has been credited with building a bridge between the ancient practices of India, and modern American medicine. He came to the U.S. for his medical training, and became disillusioned by the method that looked at the human body as a physical machine. He feels that the mind, body, brain, and environment, are an integrated process. He believes our thoughts affect our health. He thinks we have enormous potential to rewire our brain, which can assist in recovery.
He believes we have the power to not only slow down aging, but to reverse the biological markers of aging. He says genes are fluid, and believes we have the ability to reprogram them. The most important ailment genes that can be controlled are the ones that cause heart disease, cardiovascular disease of any kind, inflammation, and certain types of cancer – these genes are influenced by the way you think, the way you behave, the way you relate to other people, whether you exercise, get good sleep, and how you manage stress. Deepak said stress affects everything – it leads to addictive behavior, cancer, infections, heart disease, etc.
Deepak then shared his tips for reversing aging:
Relaxing Breathing - Deepak said his relaxing breathing routine is a great way to manage stress. First, you put your thumb on your right nostril, and breathe in through left nostril. Then, put the middle two fingers on your left nostril, and breath out through the right nostril. He recommends you do this for 5-10 minutes per day. He says this breathing technique balances your parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous system. It forces them to dance with each other, instead of one dominating. When the sympathetic system dominates, you have a stress response.
Diet - 1) Favor fresh foods. Avoid packaged foods, as they are dead. They have no life energy in them. Life energy comes from the sun. The closer your diet is to direct contact with the energy that creates life on our planet, the better. 2) Consume the “6 Tastes of Life”. He says we need a balance of the six tastes of life, as well as the seven colors of the rainbow (which I assume are red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, and brown? black?). This is how we ingest the information of the universe into our biology. The six tastes of life are: sweet, sour, salt, pungent, bitter, and astringent. Sweet, sour, and salt all lower metabolism, so he says we should minimize these. Deepak said unfortunately, our society dominates in these (think burger, fries, and ketchup). He said we do need a little bit, because otherwise we will feel unsatisfied. It is best to get sweet from sources like sweet potato. Sour tastes are very important, because they are high in phytochemicals, which are antioxidants, anti-carcinogens, and anti-inflammatories. Examples are yogurt, citrus fruits, berries, and cherries. We need a little salt to keep our blood pressure in the normal rate. Seaweed is a great source of salt. Pungent foods are anti-inflammatory, and speed up metabolism, making them good for weight loss. Examples are radishes, ginger, cinnamon, mustard, and horseradish. Bitter foods also speed up metabolism, and are anti-inflammatory. These are anything yellow or green, such as spinach, bell pepper, or broccoli. Astringent foods pucker and dry the mouth a little. They speed up metabolism as well. Examples are mushrooms, lentils, figs, green tea, and to a lesser extent, black tea. The combination of pungent, bitter, and astringent is ideal if you want to lose weight.
Restful Sleep - One of the best barometers of how healthy you are, is how well you sleep. He feels sleep is under-emphasized. Too many people have drug sleep which isn’t restful, or alcohol sleep. Getting 6-8 hours of sleep at the optimal time, (between 10p and 6a), is ideal because this is when our sleep-wake cycles lock in with the rhythms of the universe, which are called circadian rhythms. That is the best time to get rest. Deepak said to try to eat a light meal between 7 – 7:30p, or ideally before sunset, then take a 30 minute walk after, and get to bed by 10 – 10:30p. Also, download your thoughts in a journal. This is a great way to clear your mind and eliminate stress before bed.
Nutritional Compliments - Deepak does not like the term ”supplements”, because it implies that you take a pill instead of getting proper nutrition from real food sources. Rather, we should be taking certain pills that compliment that diet. The four nutritional compliments he recommends are: 1) If you are over 40, take an aspirin a day. It is a great anti-inflammatory. 2) Take two generic multi-vitamins. 3) Take 2,000 mg of fish oil, for the Omega-3 fatty acids. 4) Take a vitamin D3 with a little bit of magnesium & calcium.
Deepak’s secret for weight loss is meditation. Mindless eating, portion control, and lack of will power are the three biggest barriers to weight loss. He thinks with the right knowledge, you can lose weight. It requires desire, intention, and expanding awareness of what is really going on in your body. Deepak said there are only two reasons people put food in their body: 1) they are physically hungry, 2) they are emotionally hungry. If you put food in to satisfy emotional hunger, you will gain weight. When your stomach is empty, it is about the size of your closed fist. He said if you fill your two palms with food and eat that, you will fill up about 2/3 of your stomach – which will leave you feeling optimal and energetic. He recommended that during the day you ask yourself “how hungry am I?”, and grade it. Eat when you’re hungry, stop when you feel great.
Deepak said meditation helps with weight loss, because it is self-regulating. Everything is in a dynamic state of non-change, in the midst of change. Your body is dynamic, but is unaffected by what’s happening outside. Stress causes the belly to grow, because the steroids released in chronic stress are attracted to augmento fat (the big belly fat). In meditation, it’s the counter-balancing forces that lower the amount of steroids released.
Deepak then guided the audience through the following meditation: “Put your feet firmly on the ground so you don’t cross them, open your hands and lay them on your lap so they are receptive, close your eyes, put your attention on your heart, and just for a few seconds experience gratitude by thinking of all your blessings – count your blessings. We all have reasons to be grateful. Now keeping your attention on your heart, ask yourself a few questions – Who am I? (Don’t try to figure out the answer. Just ask the question, and let your heart respond.) What do I want? What’s my purpose? What makes me happy? Now let go of all that, and just observe the sensations in your body. Be aware of all the sensations in your body, just simple awareness. Now from there, stop doing that, and put your attention on your heart again. Now with a little focus, and a little attention, try to sense your heart beat either as a sound, or a sensation. Then relax into your body. If you want you can yawn, or move, or stretch. Now gently open your eyes.
The purpose of sitting in a relaxed posture, opening your hands, putting your attention on your heart, and experiencing gratitude and love, is that during this time neurons in your limbic brain (emotional brain) start to fire. There is a saying in neuroscience – “Neurons that fire together, wire together”. So you are actually hard-wiring your limbic brain for emotional fulfillment. It’s called neurogenesis (the generation of neurons), and synaptogenesis (the formation of synapses). This has been scientifically proven thru functional MRI scans. The purpose of bringing awareness to those questions, is that it activates your prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain that is responsible for cognition and thought. So you are rewiring the synapses there, as well. When I asked you to scan your body and feel your sensations, that action stimulates a part of the brain called the somatosensory cortex - where we monitor our experience. So you are rewiring that, making it more coherent. Then I asked you to put all your attention on your heart beat. The more you do that, the more significantly your blood pressure will drop.”
Now here’s the Cliffs Notes version: practice relaxing breathing, eat mostly fresh foods in the six taste groups and seven colors of the rainbow, get six to eight hours of sleep between the hours of 10p – 6a, take your vitamins and compliments, and meditate. Sounds easy enough. Doing it is another story.