Degeneration

The Body’s Structure and Function
Degeneration is unavoidable as we each get older. It is our body’s way of wearing down after so many years of activity, injuries and everyday living. It affects every part of the body from bones losing calcium, joints becoming stiffer and less flexible, and the cartilage in joints begin to rub together and erode.
Degeneration also happens in the spine. When this happens, the spinal cord becomes curved and the vertebra compresses together and become compact. The spine is made up of small bones called vertebrae. And between each of these bones are a gel-like cushion called disks. The Degeneration happens when those same disks gradually lose fluid and become thinner. The vertebrae will also lose some of their mineral content, making each bone thinner. When this happens, the very function of the spine starts to change and deteriorate. When the spinal joints aren’t moving properly they start to get inflamed and send stress signals (nociception) to the brain. This leads to the brain releasing the stress hormones involved in chronic stress. With an increased release of stress hormones it drives the physiology of the body toward a state of alarm. If these levels remain elevated, it causes fatigue, increased illness, and even early death.
It is like a domino effect. As the body’s structure goes through degeneration then the functions of each part of the body gets disrupted. With degeneration, the strength and endurance of the body also changes.
As a few examples, Osteoporosis is a common problem with degeneration. The bones break more easily and the compression in the spine causes pain and reduced mobility. Joint problems occur and are also very common. This is when arthritis happens and causes stiffness and pain in the joints. Muscles are also weakened to cause fatigue, weakness, and reduced activity tolerance.

What Causes Degenerative Diseases to Speed Up?
The modern lifestyle! Yes, degeneration is unavoidable but it is what we eat and what we do that could either speed up the process or slow it down. It is all in our everyday choices.
There are several aspects of our current lifestyle that contribute to this, but it is the consumption of food toxins that is the greatest threat to our bodies. In Paul & Shou-Ching Jaminet’s book ‘The Perfect Health Diet’ they mention the danger of toxins.
“It implies that the first bit eaten of any toxin has a low toxicity. Each additional bit is slightly more toxic than the bit before. At high doses, the toxicity of each bit continues to increase, so that the toxin is increasingly poisonous.”
Just as with degeneration, sickness in the body doesn’t happen all at once. It takes years of putting toxins in the body that speed up the process of degeneration to our body’s structure, our function, and even the degeneration of our brain, which is known as neurodegeneration.
These are four of the most dangerous toxins that are to blame.
-Cereal grains (especially refined flour)
-Omega-6 industrial seed oils (corn, cottonseed, safflower, and soybean)
-Sugar (especially high-fructose corn syrup that we see in many processed foods)
-Processed soy (which includes soy milk, soy protein, soy flour, etc.)

Degeneration in the Brain (Neurodegeneration)
The day you were born was the day that your brain had the most neurons (brain cells), and ever since then each of us has been losing those neurons. Some amount of neurodegeneration is unavoidable. However, these following causes are more likely to kill your brain cells at a much faster rate. These are blood sugar problems, hypoxia (which is reduced oxygen by poor circulation), systemic inflammation (autoimmunity, leaky gut, chronic infections, and food toxins), and traumatic brain injury.

Fix your Brain
Avoid food toxins – Just as we talked about earlier, these are cereal grains, omega-6 industrial seed oils, sugar, and processed soy.
Improve fatty acid balance – DHA has been shown to enhance the brain function while reducing inflammation and neurodegeneration. Oily fish such as salmon and sardines are rich in DHA, a type of omega-3 acid that’s important for brain performance and memory.
Stay mentally active – Neurons need constant stimulation. So instead of sitting in front of the TV, try doing crossword puzzles or other games that stimulates the brain to solve problems and test your knowledge.
Increase blood flow to the brain – Exercise is the best way to do this. Stress management is also important.
Get enough sleep – Not getting enough sleep can sabotage brain health in just about every conceivable way.

Sources:
9 steps to perfect health – #1: Don’t Eat Toxins (2011) by: Dr. Chris Kresser www.chriskresser.com
How to prevent spending the last 10 years of your life… (2011) by: Dr. Chris Kresser www.chriskresser.com
Feeling Forgetful? Top 10 Foods to Improve Your Memory by: Lisa Guy www.mindbodygreen.com
Low Carb Diets Preserve Vision by: Dr. David Perlmutter www.drperlmutter.com
The Wellness & Prevention Paradigm by: Dr. James L. Chestnut