If you own a car that you really like, you treat it with extra care. You know that your car is subject to “wear and tear.” A brand new car loses about 10% of its value the moment you drive it off the lot, about 20% during the first year of use, and 40% of its original value within 5 years. It is a “depreciating asset” which generally continues to lose value over time. The value decreases faster if you put more miles on the car, because everyone knows that those miles are increasing the wear and tear on the car.
You bought the car to use it, so you are not going to stop driving the car or driving up the mileage. So the next best thing you do is to keep the car well maintained, well serviced, and obviously do your best to avoid traffic accidents which can quickly destroy car value, even if repaired, because they go on your car’s permanent record. You clean off corrosive elements like road salt from your car, because rust happens faster if you don’t. With all the care, your car may last you many years past the point where other owners have traded in their car and bought a new one.
There are parts of your car which may not be worth the cost of fixing. Your car’s transmission is a very complex component of your car, and particularly subject to wear and tear. Often when a transmission goes, it’s time for a new car because the repair cost is too high to be worthwhile. The transmission takes the power of the engine and transmits it through the car frame to the wheels. Without the transmission, the car is going nowhere, no matter how powerful the engine. With care, proper use, and regular maintenance, that transmission will probably last for as long as you own your car — it is made to last a long time. It doesn’t last forever, but you don’t need it to, because you will eventually want a new car.
Limited edition collector vehicle
But what if you believed that the car you just bought would have to last your lifetime, and you could never buy another? Now you would really work hard to preserve that car. You’d give it all the care it needed to minimize wear and tear and keep in as good a shape as you could for as long as you could.
Well, like it or not, your body is the only one you get. You can’t buy another when yours wears out. You can’t trade yours in for another, even though you may see some models out there that you would prefer. You must treat your body well, minimizing wear and tear, maximizing service and maintenance, and avoiding injury where you can. If you take your body for granted, that will cost you down the road.
Of course, you aren’t going to stop living normally to coddle your body: wear and tear is simply going to happen. You can be careful to avoid serious injuries, because your body’s repair mechanisms have their limits. But there are many degenerative diseases that we associate with getting older, which are unnecessary wear and tear. One debilitating condition, which about 540 million people in the world currently suffer, is back pain. As much as 84% of people suffer back pain at least occasionally, and of those, 10% become disabled by it. While this condition might not shorten their lives, it certainly makes everyday life hard for them. When vertebrae discs degenerate, the body is largely unable to repair them. With advancing age, repair is even more difficult.
Back in shape
Your back is like your car’s transmission — without it you are going nowhere. Also like the transmission, your spine is quite complex. If just one intervertebral disc is in trouble, you have back problems: sometimes this appears as pain, mobility issues, or it may cause disruption in normal brain communication with your organs. Those discs are filled with a gelatinous substance, called the nucleus pulposus (NP), which keeps the discs separated so they don’t grind together and can provide easy bending of the spinal column in everyday activities. If this material wears thin, you may not have symptoms until one day, perhaps doing a very simple activity, back pain strikes. You may not get an early warning from your back, but if you haven’t taken care of it, you may suddenly find it has a problem.
Moving joints are susceptible to wear and tear. Many people develop knee pain, because the knee joints have to bear a lot of weight. If that gets bad enough, the natural cushioning goes away and they get bone-on-bone rubbing. Cartilage between bones does not get much blood supply, and thus does not grow back readily if worn away. The spinal cushioning has the same problem. When properly nourished, existing cartilage or NP cells hold up well under normal stress and can remain for a lifetime. So why do so many people have joint and spinal problems?
Since back pain and dysfunction is such a prevalent health issue, much research has been done on ways to slow or prevent disc degeneration. One defense against degeneration is exercise. Does it make sense that increasing the wear and tear on joints would slow degeneration? It does when you realize that cartilage and NP cells are living cells that need nourishment and respond to their environment. When you exercise, you speed nutrients and oxygen into all your cells and waste products away from them; although the blood supply in joints is low, this still holds true for them as well. So long as the exercise does not do damage, it’s a gain. This was investigated in a study published in Scientific Reports, where researchers from the Institute for Physical Activity and Nutrition in Victoria, Australia conducted experiments with runners versus non-exercisers to see how running and fast walking affected vertebral quality. They discovered that lumbar intervertebral disc tissue quality (hydration and proteoglycan content) of the runners was between 9% – 11% better than the non-exercisers, and as much as 15% better in other spinal regions. But they also discovered a plateau, where more or faster running made no further improvement in disc quality. They concluded that the best exercise window was fast walking or slow running (2 m/s, which is about 4.4 MPH), while avoiding high-impact tasks, and that static positions (standing) and low intensity walking made no gains in disc quality.
Don’t rust away
While these improvements are well worth the effort, they are not enough. In a study published in Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity, researchers first explained that a major reason for intervertebral disc degeneration (IVDD) is the accumulation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) in the NP cells, damaging them and causing endoplasmic reticulum stress (ERS), leading to nucleus pulposus cell death. Then they noted a naturally-occurring antioxidant which alleviates ROS oxidation in NP cells and significantly delays intervertebral disc degeneration. You may know that ROS is a major stress on any cell it encounters, because the ROS is hungry for electrons, reacting with molecules nearby. Its reaction is often compared to rusting, where oxygen changes the chemical composition of iron, making it useless. Antioxidants are valuable in the body as they give up their electrons instead of other molecules, making the ROS molecules stable and harmless and preventing the “rust”. When the ROS accumulate in the NP cells, they eventually alter them to such an extend that the body has no choice but to kill the damaged cells.
The antioxidant that the researchers found so helpful in countering the ROS was SFN, or sulforaphane. SFN is found in the brassicaceae, or cruciferous, family of plants: broccoli, cauliflower, kale, cabbage, bok choi, Brussels sprouts, arugula, and radishes for instance. They also noted that SFN has anti-inflammation, anti-cancer, anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and even anti-diabetes properties.
ROS can come from food, but it also is a by-product of cell metabolism. So if you are alive and moving, you are creating ROS in your body. Antioxidants are your body’s defense against ROS, so long as it has enough of them on hand to counteract the ROS when produced. The researchers noted that nuclear factor E2-related factor 2 (Nrf-2) is a molecular switch for sensing oxidative stress and controlling antioxidant response, and in their studies, they saw that SFN was activating the Nrf-2 pathway.
Did the ingestion of cruciferous vegetables stop the disc degeneration? Not entirely, but the slow-down was plenty to provide disc stability for a full lifetime. And that is the key to longevity: to keep your body so well maintained that you live a full and active life instead of the advanced degeneration that we see as aging.
Here we saw two pillars of health in action: food and exercise. We strengthen with exercise, but we require good nutrition to support that activity, or the ROS it helps create will do damage to our cells, such as the cushioning cells in our spines and joints. Without that support, someday the simple exertion of bending down to pick up something could be a train wreck.
Friend or foe?
Food can be your friend, or your enemy. It can be a source for ROS if you eat inflammatory foods. And it can provide great antioxidant support if you eat good nutrient-dense foods unaltered by human intervention, since cooking and processing are great ways to introduce oxidative stress through our food into our bodies.
So, not only eat your vegetables, but include plenty of the cruciferous, raw vegetables in your diet. Then go out and enjoy your vehicle, your body, knowing it is well maintained and ready to serve you. Make food your medicine, not your enemy. Your back and your whole body will be better off.
Dr. Nemec’s Review
The research proves such important concepts in health and life. Food and exercise go hand-in-hand in keeping you whole in body, mind and emotion.
All cells in the body, including the cells of the intervertebral discs and the cartilage in the knees and hips, plus every other joint in the body require nutrition to maintain health. And they are made up of cells, which means cells can be healthy and live a long time, or cells can be inflammatory and die prematurely.
So how do you keep healthy cells?
A very simple formula: get the good in; get the bad out on a rapid timeframe.
What is the good?
It’s what the cell requires. Vitamins, minerals antioxidants phytochemicals and most importantly, and least understood, are enzymes — the vital catalysts of cellular reaction that are only present in raw uncooked food and biophotons — the light energy in food that is still alive, never heat treated, and still able to grow. This is what every cell in your body requires. This must be in your diet daily, otherwise the cells and the body start to break down prematurely due to deficiencies, the buildup of oxidative molecules ROS, and the lack of enzymes and biophotons in diets that are cooked instead of raw and living.
How do you get the bad out?
With circulation of blood. And what causes that to occur at a higher rate? Your heart pumping more blood more quickly. So the more you exercise, the more you increase nutrients into the cells and waste products out of the cells. It’s as simple as that.
This is why you must eat well and move well. One without the other will always produce a problem eventually.
Now let’s go into specifics.
The research published by the Journal of Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity stated that sulforaphane (SFN) found in the brassicaceae, or cruciferous, family of plants — broccoli, cauliflower, kale, cabbage, bok choi, Brussels sprouts, arugula, and radishes — have extremely high antioxidant levels along with phytochemicals that neutralize the reactive, oxidative stress at the cellular level, and in this study it was specifically done for the intravertebral discs. They also noted that SFN has anti-inflammation, anti-cancer, anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and even anti-diabetes properties.
The beauty of eating food the way it was intended to be eaten.
When you eat raw and living sulforaphane, not only are you getting a tremendous amount of antioxidants to put out the fire of the ROS pro-oxidants, but you are also putting in vital phytonutrients that counter cancer, bacteria, viruses and balance blood sugar — all this with simple, uncooked food that you were designed to eat.
The research said that this group of foods SIGNIFICANTLY reduced disc degeneration. One of the major byproducts of reactive and oxidative stress is advanced glycation end products or AGEs.
A quote from the researcher:
“it can be found that AGEs make the tissue structure of the IVD disordered or even disappear, while SFN can maintain the tissue structure of the IVD.”
What the researcher is saying is the normal wear and tear in the intravertebral disc is caused by ROS producing AGEs. These in turn cause chaos and disorder in the disc cells and even cause them to disappear, meaning they died prematurely and no longer are visible. But the tremendous results of adding the cruciferous vegetables high in SFN completely prevented this disorder, cell death, and disc degeneration.
We have not even touched the tip of the iceberg yet in the power of living, raw food combined with exercise.
This is just one study, showing not only did the food prevent cellular degeneration, it also prevented cellular mutation and cancer cell formation with continual added benefits — preventing viral, bacterial infections and balancing blood sugar.
Can you imagine all of this with just food, and getting it to the cells with proper exercise?
Now you are starting to understand what we have known and taught at Revolution New Medicine for the last 40 years. We call it the Seven Basic Steps to Total Health, and two of those steps that are vital are diet and exercise.
Let your food be your medicine to keep every cell in your body living at the highest level for the longest time, and let your exercise circulate your medicine so you get it into the cells fast and remove the waste products from the cells just as fast.
This is such a key and longevity. So your pharmacy is the produce section in your grocery store. And remember there are no shortcuts with health. There are no quick fixes, no silver bullets: it’s made one step at a time, one bite at a time, so build healthy habits for life and you will live a long, healthy and functional life.
Here are the ways we can help you in your health journey:
- Outpatient Comprehensive Teaching and Treatment Program-has the most benefit of teaching, treatment, live classes and personalized coaching. This program has the most contact with Dr. Nemec with 3- 6 month programs that can be turned into a regular checking and support program for life. This is our core program that has helped so many restore their health and maintain that restoration for years.
- Inpatient Comprehensive Teaching and Treatment Program-is our four-week intensive inpatient program for those that are not in driving distance, usually over 4 hour drive. This is the program that is an intensive jumpstart with treatment, teaching, live classes and coaching designed for all our international patients along with those in the US that do not live in Illinois. This program is very effective especially when combined with our new membership program support.
- Stay at Home Program-is offered to continental US patients who cannot come to Total Health Institute but still want a more personal, customized plan to restore their health. This program also includes our Learn Membership Program.
- Membership Program is our newest program offered for those that want to work on their health at a high level and want access to the teaching at Total Health Institute along with the Forums: both Dr. Nemec’s posts and other members posting. And also, to have the chance to get personalized questions answered on the conference calls which are all archived in case you miss the call. The Membership Program has 3 levels to choose from: Learn, Overcome and Master. The difference is at the Overcome and Master levels you received one on one calls with Dr. Nemec personalizing your program for your areas of focus.