One hundred and seventy million Americans are obese and in danger of premature aging. Thirty million are “skinny fat,” not outwardly big but inwardly nutrition deficient and also aging prematurely. The authors of this book, both staunch vegans for decades, were among the prematurely aged “skinny fat” population. After witnessing some of the most challenging symptoms of this accelerated decline, Marilyn Diamond, author of the New York Times bestseller Fit for Life, and Dr. Donald Schnell transformed their health through a radical lifestyle change to reverse aging that most people over 40 will find easy and intuitive.
Young for Life begins with the premise that as a day-to-day choice, you’re either building yourself up or tearing yourself down. In science, building up is known as anabolism, and tearing down is known as catabolism. The knowledge of how to support anabolism, while avoiding excessive catabolism is the secret to life-long vitality, sexuality, and youthfulness through the use of three key life-changing practices:
• A focus on an abundance of the right molecules of nutrition for anabolism to combat genetic aging.
• Convenience exercise—6-second techniques of muscle contraction that are the foundation of shaping sexy muscle anytime, anywhere.
• Disease-prevention—fighting nutrient deficiency with micronutrient supplements.
The following is an exclusive Life Extension® interview with Young for Life authors Marilyn Diamond and Dr. Donald “Rock” Schnell.
LE: You have an entire chapter titled: Solar Eclipse – Our Vitamin D Deficiency. Life Extension has long touted the benefits of this vitamin and you make the case that the mass deficiencies seen in Americans are due to an egregious campaign by Big Pharma and Big Government to silence its benefits.
DS: For nearly 30 years, a collective group of individuals from the dermatology associations, governmental regulatory agencies, and the media have been on a campaign to prevent healthy and safe sun exposure. What they want you to ignore is a historical fact. We’ve had a positive relationship with the sun for as long as humanity has been on the planet. What you’re not told is that scores of respectable researchers, epidemiologists, and dermatologists have published studies that show that sunlight is good for your health.
LE: All of these warnings have lead to a worldwide epidemic of vitamin D deficiency and to a real-world body count of victims, correct?
DS: Let’s put this into perspective. A study published in June 2008 in the Archives of Internal Medicine showed that men with low vitamin D levels suffer over twice as many heart attacks (2.22 times more).1 Now let’s look at what this means in actual body counts.
Each year, about 133,958 Americans die from coronary artery disease–related heart attacks. And each year, tens of millions of dollars are being spent to advertise that cholesterol-lowering drugs reduce heart attacks by 39 to 60%. How many more lives could be saved by vitamin D, and without wasting all those advertising dollars?
Combined, all forms of heart disease kill over 724,600 Americans each year. These lethal forms of heart disease include cardiomyopathy, valvular insufficiency, congestive heart failure, arrhythmia, coronary thrombosis (blood clot in coronary artery), and coronary atherosclerosis (narrowing or blockage of coronary arteries). According to that Archives of Internal Medicine study, there is significant reason to believe that vitamin D could help protect against most of these forms of cardiac-induced death, with the fortuitous side benefit of an increase in libido.1
LE: You list vitamin E as a lifesaver as well.
DS:Richard A. Passwater, PhD, has been one of America’s leading nutrition-focused biochemists since 1959. He is credited with legitimizing megavitamin therapy through 46 books on nutrition, including the bestseller Super–Nutrition: Megavitamin Revolution. Dr. Passwater’s research on cardiovascular health and vitamin E was published in 1971, when he was the first to inform the public of research on antioxidants and free radicals. In 1976, Passwater published more of his research, this time showing that long-term users of vitamin E had less than half the heart disease risk of typical Americans of the same sex and age who did not use the vitamin.
Unfortunately, government and medical experts failed to give a fair hearing to these studies. Instead, the public remained uninformed or unwilling to abandon the anti-saturated-fat and anti-cholesterol chorus in favor of vitamin E supplementation.
LE:You open the first chapter of your book with this question: How can malnutrition run rampant in the richest nation on earth? Another way of putting this could be: How are so many obese people, clearly with enough calories available, still deficient in key nutrients?
DS: In this country, food is plentiful, but most of it is processed, artificial, laden with cellular and neurotoxic chemicals, dyes, preservatives, and additives; it is irradiated, fractionated, microwaved, sprayed with pesticides, fungicides, and herbicides; it is stored for long periods or shipped in hot weather; it is contaminated and genetically modified.
Technically, Americans are not starving to death. In fact, we are eating more than enough calories, but we are getting far too few real nutrients. Like a bird attempting to fly with one wing—we’re limping along with symptoms of nutrient deficiencies that we’ve been conditioned to expect and accept. If you want more energy, but it seems to be slipping away, you’re likely deficient in nutrients. The “headache” or “sense of malaise” that keeps you from performing at your peak can be traced directly to your diet.
LE: When did this problem with our food supply start?
DS: Over hundreds of millennia, humans existed on natural foods. These can be defined as foods that are growing and alive, or were recently alive, in nature, in the rain and under the sun—all plant foods, meat, eggs, and fish. We ate our food within minutes or hours of gathering it, because there was little opportunity for storage. Even when we no longer hunted and gathered, we still planted our foods in nature’s laboratory of the earth, or found them in the rivers, pastures, and meadows where we lived. We could see food’s authenticity. This “stuff of life” was what we recognized as food through the generations, until less than a century ago.
Until that time, there was little possibility of the mass manufacturing, packaging, labeling, warehousing, shipping, and advertising that completely drive what we eat today. In 1940, a very small percentage of our purchased food was processed. Today, that figure is over 90%! Processed foods—even when labeled as health foods—are not foods; they are modern artifacts, a glut of fake foods masquerading as whole, natural foods, consumed in a society that has been conditioned to accept that industry is the modern mom in the kitchen.
LE: The ingestion of nutrient-sparse, pseudo-foods causes what you call Nutrient Deficiency Disorder, which you say is clearly one side of the coin responsible for the decline in the health of Americans. The other is what you call Sedentary Death Syndrome. Can you explain this condition?
DS: Sedentary Death Syndrome, or SeDS, is the term developed by more than 200 leading physiologists to bring attention to the growing epidemic of physical inactivity and poor nutrition, and their relationship to chronic, preventable diseases. It is estimated that 60% of all Americans are currently at risk for premature disability or death due to poor nutrition and a sedentary lifestyle. What’s most alarming is that some of them are children.
Approximately 2.5 million Americans will die prematurely in the next ten years due to Sedentary Death Syndrome; that’s greater than the number of deaths related to alcohol, guns, motor vehicles, illicit drug use, and sexual behavior combined. These researchers call Sedentary Death Syndrome the second-largest threat to public health and expect it to add as much as $3 trillion to health care costs over the next ten years, far more than the tax cuts being proposed today.
LE:In your book, you point to some pretty compelling studies that relate exercise to longer life span.
DS: In 2008, British researchers conducted tests on 2,400 sets of twins to measure the length of the telomeres in their DNA, a good indicator of the age-potential of DNA.2 With each cell replication, scientists can see that under normal conditions, telomeres tend to shorten, and as they shorten, the ability of the cell to replicate declines until cell replication is no longer possible. This is one of the major breakthroughs in science today. If we can see that telomeres shorten under certain conditions, we can also determine what we need to do to lengthen them. Never before in the history of humanity have we had this kind of understanding about how to control our longevity.
LE: On this note, you refer to sarcopenia as the epidemic behind the epidemic. Can you explain that?
DS: Sarcopenia is a condition of accelerated muscle wasting that leads to the diseases of premature aging. Identified by the Centers for Disease Control in 1999, this condition was first considered to be a geriatric disease that became severe in one’s seventies. However, today muscle wasting can begin even in your twenties or even earlier. As you age, your body naturally loses muscle mass to the tune of about 1 percent a year after age 30; but when you are sedentary and ignore the need for regular muscle contraction to stimulate muscle growth, muscle wasting accelerates, and it can start much earlier in life.
Your very life depends on a healthy ratio of more toned muscle to less fat on your body. Once this healthy ratio is inverted, when you have much more fat than muscle, you expose yourself to the entire chain of the modern killer diseases, including obesity, diabetes, heart attack, stroke, and cancer.
LE: What are the two deadly side effects of muscle wasting?
DS:Muscle wasting has two deadly side effects. First, with less muscle, your metabolism slows down. As your metabolism slows, you burn fewer calories and have less energy. Trapped in the inactivity that leads to Sedentary Death Syndrome, you gain fat weight, which is inactive flabbytissue. The remedy is a lifestyle that easily and quickly builds active, toned muscle tissue, which burns calories even as you rest. Second, the less muscle you have, the less sugar is burned from your blood. Thus, muscle wasting not only prevents fat burning, but also leads to a higher risk of diabetes and heart and kidney disease.
LE: So many lethal problems stem from high blood sugar, but you talk specifically about how increased blood sugar poses problems for our nerves and neurons. How so?
DS:You’ve heard of diabetic neuropathy—the nerve damage from high blood sugar that can ultimately lead to amputation and death. Did you know that the nerves in your brain and spinal cord are also under siege when your blood sugar is too high? When they are destroyed, and where they are destroyed, the muscles are lost. An early example of this common symptom of nerve damage is the loss of eyesight and hearing. But the greater point we’re making is that a lifestyle that causes excess sugar in the blood affects your nerves and ages you prematurely.
LE:Readers will be interested to know that in addition to wreaking havoc on the body through stress, cortisol also effects sarcopenia, right?
DS:Cortisol plays a major role in sarcopenia. It’s the primary catabolic hormone that signals the destruction of your youthful lean muscle tissue, while telling your body to store fat. To fight cortisol, you need to perform anabolic exercises like those in our dynamic Isotonics Routine and eat nutrient-rich anabolic foods before and immediately after exercising.
Often when you’re irritable, grouchy, overstressed, or aggressive, cortisol is in control of you. If you wake up in a bad mood, your body could be flooded with cortisol. You don’t even know it, but an anabolic food such as plain, unsweetened yogurt will quickly reduce cortisol production. Sugar will also do this, temporarily, for 20 to 30 minutes, but at a serious cost. Sugar suppresses glucagon, your valuable fat-burning hormone.
LE: You mention the importance of many micronutrients, and specifically five other key nutrients to maintain one’s youth. Your thoughts on vitamin C are particularly compelling.
DS: Every time you consume vitamin C, somewhere in your body you stop aging. Somewhere you stimulate repair. Somewhere you bring about detoxification. Somewhere you eradicate infection and prevent free radical damage. Somewhere your skin will clear up. You may see fewer wrinkles on your face. According to an article in the August 2002 issue of Biological Psychiatry, you’ll have more sex and less depression,3 and you’ll ward off serious disease. And all this is just scratching the surface, because vitamin C is a miraculous healing nutrient.
What is vitamin C? In our opinion, it should not be classified as a vitamin at all. It stands alone in your body as a unique micronutrient, and it acts like an enzyme in its ability to stimulate a multitude of beneficial biological processes, when it contains the appropriate mineral cofactors. Vitamin C can save your life.
LE: How are collagen and vitamin C linked?
DS: Because a vitamin C deficiency results in poor-quality collagen, suboptimal or minimal amounts of vitamin C over prolonged periods during childhood and early adulthood may be a factor that influences the high incidence of later-life problems such as arthritis and joint diseases, broken hips, heart and vascular diseases that cause sudden death, and the strokes that bring on senility.
Collagen is intimately connected with the entire aging process. Studies show that as you age, you need larger amounts of vitamin C to maintain and repair collagen damage from stressors in the environment such as pollution, ultraviolet light, CAT scans and other radiation, oxidative stress from free radical formation, and the harmful effects of the protein- and fat-deficient high-carbohydrate and high-sugar diet.
LE:Thank you for all of this information, even though it is literally the tip of the iceberg of what’s available in the book.
If you have any questions on the scientific content of this article, please call a Life Extension® Health Advisor at 1-866-864-3027.
Marilyn Diamond gained her claim to fame as the author of Fit for Life, one of the best-selling books of all time. In 1986, Fit for Life made the Top 25 Bestselling Books in History list. Marilyn’s other books include Fit for Life II, Recipes for Life, Fitonics, A New Way of Eating, and The American Vegetarian Cookbook. Marilyn is a Founder’s Day Graduate of New York University and a member of the French National Honor Society.
Dr. Donald Schnell holds a Bachelor of Education from Arizona State University, a Masters in Computer Science from Nova University, and a doctorate in Clinical Hypnotherapy (D.CH) with certification in Medical Hypnotherapy in the State of California. Dr. Schnell is the Founder of Prema Yoga—the Yoga of the Power of Love. He is a certified Reality Therapist, Fire-walking Instructor, and Nimmo therapist.
To order Young for Life, call 1-800-544-4440.
- Dobnig H, Pilz S, Scharnagl H, et al. Independent association of low serum 25-hydroxyvitamin d and 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin d levels with all-cause and cardiovascular mortality. Arch Intern Med. 2008 Jun 23;168(12):1340-9.
- Cherkas LF, Hunkin JL, Kato BS, et al. The association between physical activity in leisure time and leukocyte telomere length. Arch Intern Med. 2008 Jan 28;168(2):154-8.
- Brody S. High-dose ascorbic acid increases intercourse frequency and improves mood: a randomized controlled clinical trial. Biol Psychiatry. 2002 Aug 15;52(4):371-4.