Everyone knows that a weak immune system means you’re going to catch a cold more often. But did you know that all those little infections can make you age much faster? There’s a reason for this – and the good news is that you can avoid those nasty colds and age much slower with the right combination of nutrients.
These aren’t your typical cold nutrients, though. There’s more to it than just taking vitamin C, vitamin D, and EpiCor. If you suffer from constant colds, you need nutrients to treat an entirely different problem.
Infections happen. You can’t avoid them.
Every day your body is bombarded by bacteria, viruses, and other bugs looking for a host.
Of course, the stronger your immune system is, the better you’re going to fight off each of those infections. But what happens when your immune system doesn’t work as well as it should?
Brittany was experiencing this when she came to me. The first thing she told me was “I’m getting sick all the time. I’m always getting a cold. I feel so run down and tired. What should I do?”
Well, I couldn’t just tell her to take a pill and call me in the morning. I had to ask more questions. It turned out she was suffering from multiple food allergies, serious digestive issues, pain in her abdomen, and many other symptoms. These weren’t the symptoms of a simple cold. She was having many other problems that were compromising her immune system. It’s likely she had leaky gut, a gallbladder infection, and a fatty liver.
I can’t tell you how often something like this happens. People complain about the colds they’re getting, but that’s only the tip of the iceberg. Everyone gets a cold periodically. We get run down from stress, not sleeping well, and other short-term issues. That’s normal and doesn’t indicate a serious problem.
But if you’re getting sick a lot, then it’s time to look a little deeper. If Brittany didn’t address her underlying issues, she would have noticed that she was aging much faster. Fortunately, we’ve been able to address many of her troubles. She’s starting to feel better and she still looks and feels young and vibrant. However, not everyone is so fortunate. Why?
The Aging Connection – Why Colds Could Indicate a Bigger Problem
Regular colds are a sign that your body isn’t fighting infection well. It’s easy to think only about your immune system and begin to take nutrients to boost your immunity. This can certainly help. But it’s not going to solve the underlying problem. So what is that underlying problem?
I’ve told you in the past that the key to slowing down the aging process is to keep your telomeres long. Telomeres are the end caps of your chromosomes. They act as protective stabilizers for your chromosomes. In effect, they keep your chromosomes from coming unwound – much like the cap on your shoelaces.
When you’re young, your telomeres are long. But each time your cells divide, it shortens your telomeres just a slight bit. The more your cells divide, the more your body ages. So the key to keeping young is to keep your telomeres long.
But it’s not just aging....
New research has shown that telomeres play a major role in your body’s ability to resistance infection.
Reducing Illness by 30%
In this new study, researchers wanted to know if telomere length had any effect on a person’s ability to fight the cold virus. So they measured the telomere length in the white blood cells of 152 healthy adults (aged 18-55). Then they quarantined the participants, putting them in private rooms. Once they were by themselves, the researchers gave them intranasal drops containing a common cold virus. Then they monitored the participants for infection and the development of illness.
They found that 69% of the participants came down with an infection. And 22% came down with a “clinical illness” (something other than a cold). Once they compared the illness results to each participant’s telomeres, they found something profound. The shorter their telomeres, the greater their chance of infection. This was true even when they controlled for demographics, harboring pre-challenge immunity to the specific virus, contraceptive use, season, and body mass index.
Turns out, the longer telomeres protected the individual from illness. Those with the longest telomeres had an infection rate that was about 30% less than those with the shortest telomeres.
So What Causes Telomeres to Shorten?
The main reason telomeres shorten is oxidative damage. Any time your body develops an imbalance between the production of free radicals and the supply of antioxidants to counteract those free radicals, you develop oxidative stress. If you don’t correct the imbalance, this oxidative stress will eventually damage the cells and tissues in your body – shortening your telomeres.
The two main causes of oxidative stress and oxidative damage are rancid vegetable oils and excess iron. We get a lot of rancid vegetable and marine oil in our diet from sources like fried foods, processed foods (including meats), and poor quality fish oil capsules. While avoiding these foods will certainly go a long way toward keeping your telomeres long, there’s more you can do.
Nutrients That Keep Your Telomeres Long
As you can see, it’s clear why vitamin C and other antioxidants are so important in preventing and fighting cold infections. Antioxidants keep free radicals under control and help prevent oxidative damage. But there’s a lot more you can do for your body to keep your telomeres long.
It all starts with SOD, or superoxide dismutase. This is your body’s premier enzyme for protecting against unwanted oxidative damage. The higher your SOD levels are, the better your body protects your telomeres and keeps them longer.
So how can you increase your SOD levels? The best place to start is with ozone. Ozone therapy is a doctor-administered treatment that floods your body with O3. You know O2 is oxygen. Ozone has an extra atom of oxygen attached to it. And this third atom of oxygen is highly reactive in your bloodstream. This hyper-reactivity makes it very effective at killing viruses and bad bacteria. But ozone therapy is also a fantastic way to increase your SOD levels. You can find a doctor trained in ozone by following this link.
Nutrients to Take at Home
Beyond ozone therapy, there are nutrients you can take at home that will help increase SOD levels. One of my favorite SOD boosters is melatonin. You know melatonin as one of the most popular sleep aids on the market. It’s safe and it works. But a new study says that melatonin improves oxidative stress markers in elderly type-2 diabetics. The researchers found that simply taking 5 mg daily reduced damaging markers. Furthermore, the melatonin increased superoxide dismutase (SOD) activity. Of course, you can take much more than 5 mg of melatonin each night before bed. The more you take (up to 120 mg nightly), the better your SOD levels.
The second nutrient you need to take to slow the aging process might surprise you. It’s manganese. This often-overlooked nutrient is needed for activating SOD. SOD thrives on manganese. So make sure you’re getting at least five mg per day. That’s the amount you’ll find in many good multivitamins.
The “King of Medicines” Can Preserve Your Telomeres
In Tibet, there’s an ancient fruit that goes by many names, including chebulic myrobalan, Terminalia chebula, and Haritaki. But the Tibetans named it the “King of Medicines.” That’s because they prized it as a virtual panacea in Indian Ayurvetic Medicine for its powers in healing. It can lower inflammation, restore health, and stimulate tissue growth.
Researchers have found that Haritaki contains rejuvenating tannin flavonoids that have increased human cell longevity in culture by 40%. What’s more, it did so by maintaining telomere length. This is one fruit that you should include in your diet regularly. Unfortunately, it’s hard to find here in the U.S., so it’s easier to take it in an extract.
How to Rebuild Your Telomeres
Boosting SOD levels isn’t all you need to do to protect your telomeres. And oxygen, melatonin, and manganese aren’t the only nutrients you need to take. Research has shown that certain nutrients can stimulate the enzyme telomerase to rebuild telomeres, reversing the damage that caused them to shorten.
For instance, research done on several different astragalus root extracts, found that 250 mg of the extract can increase the activity of telomerase. Other research has shown that 50 mg of broccoli seed extract, and 200 mg of N-Acetyl-L-cysteine (NAC) offer the same benefit.
Also, being sure your body is sufficient in B vitamins, fat-soluble vitamins (such as vitamins A, D, E, and K), magnesium, and zinc can help support healthier telomeres. Many of these are available in high-quality multivitamins. And others can be found individually or in formulas designed to protect your telomeres.
As an added bonus, all of these nutrients can help clear up other health problems, including issues with your heart, brain, liver, kidneys, etc. These nutrients will go a long way toward healing your body and you’ll notice you don’t get colds as often. That’s one of the best signs that your body is getting healthier and you’re slowing down the aging process.
Sheldon Cohen, PhD; Denise Janicki-Deverts, PhD; Ronald B. Turner, MD; Margaretha L. Casselbrant, PhD, MD; Ha-Sheng Li-Korotky, PhD, MD; Elissa S. Epel, PhD; William J. Doyle, PhD, JAMA. 2013;309(7):699-705. doi:10.1001/jama.2013.613.
Na M, Bae K, Kang SS, Min BS, Yoo JK, et al. Cytoprotective effect on oxidative stress and inhibitory effect on cellular aging of Terminalia chebula fruit. Phytother Res 2004; 18: 737-741.