Longevity, Jing, and the Reproductive Clock

An advanced Chinese medicine practitioner will try to suss out where you’re leaking your Jing and try to patch the cracks in order to protect your vitality and prevent premature aging. Jing is often translated as “essence” and is an inherited substance that was gifted to you by your parents and declines as you age. There is an association with what we think of Jing and our DNA in modern medicine. Jing is also closely related to our reproductive abilities. We protect and replenish Jing to improve oocyte and sperm quality. Therefore, if you’re interested in protecting your fertility as your age, take interest in protecting your Jing.  

Jing is the most difficult substance for our body to replace, so protecting it is important for healthy aging. It was once believed that you’re born with the DNA that you have, and there is nothing you can really do about it. We now know, through the study of epigenetics, that our genes are dynamic and modifiable by lifestyle choices and environmental factors. Just as we are able to influence a more positive genetic expression in our body, we are able to protect and utilize our Jing more efficiently. 

For you info junkies and bio hackers out there, testing yourtelomeresmay give you a clue about the current state of your Jing. Telomeres are the little caps at the end of your chromosomes that keep them from unraveling. In short, the longer your telomeres, the better protection you have from cellular damage and cellular aging. Research suggests that short telomere length is associated with poor egg quality, sub fertile sperm, and poor IVF outcomes. Testing could be an interesting way to find out your “real age”, but could also be an unnecessary form of stress depending on your personality. If you are someone who finds yourself empowered by information, then it could be worth it. However, in my opinion, testing isn’t necessary because it turns out--the steps to protect and replenish your Jing, and keep your telomeres intact--are essentially the same.

What can we do? 

It should come as no surprise to you that the basics are important, we can’t underestimate the benefits of clean air, water, nutrient dense food and adequate sleep. If you want to step up your game, you and your Chinese Medicine practitioner can help protect your Jing by increasing your resilience to stress and lowering your inflammation

 

Re-route your stress and anxiety

I hate to have to bring it up again, but chronic stress or worry will drain our resources and shorten our lifespanIn a recent blog postI have mentioned that stress can increase inflammation, lower our immune system, and contribute to heart disease. When it comes to aging, studies have observed that chronic stress can decrease telomerase, an enzyme that counteracts the shrinking process of your telomeres. Additionally, any perceived stress releases glucocorticoids into your bloodstream, which are known to shorten our telomere length. 

While stress may seem unavoidable, it’s negative effects don’t have to be. If you have the feeling stress is stealing your Jing and shortening your reproductive clock the following tools have been shown to be helpful: 

Acupuncture

Acupuncture can help regulate and promote feel good neurotransmitters such as serotonin, GABA, and dopamine, creating a better sense of safety and ease in our brain and body. Our tiny needles stimulate the vagus nerve, promoting parasympathetic nervous system activation, thus turning on your relaxation response. Once you’re in this acupuncture-induced-bliss-state, you’ll be shocked that you’ve been functioning in the other paradigm for so long. 

Guided meditation

One study showed that Loving Kindness Meditationpractice was associated with longer telomere length in women. There are many ways to access guided meditation thanks to the wealth of mediation apps out there. My personal favorite, Insight Timer, has loving kindness meditations ranging from 5 minutes to 1 hour. 

Herbal Adaptogens

One of the coolest classes of herbal medicine is that of adaptogens. Adaptogens help your body to adaptto chronic stress by normalizing your cortisol output and increasing your stress resistance. Herbs in this category include Ginseng, Ashwagandha, Astragalus, and Licorice to name a few. Your acupuncturist could create a custom blend for your individual needs. 

Reduce inflammation

Another surefire way to drain Jing is uncontrolled inflammation. Chronic inflammatory conditions are a constant pull on the body’s resources, so getting your inflammation under control will help to preserve your Jing and telomere length. While there are many ways to limit our inflammatory response, our dietary habits really ‘take the cake’ for being first and foremost in importance. 

Actually, my apologies, you can’t take the cake (at least not all the time) because eliminating or reducing sugar and processed foods is an important first step, but here are some other things you can do.  

Food Allergy  

Food allergies and intolerances can be a major source inflammation in your body. In Dr. Michael Ruscio’s new book Healthy Gut, Healthy You he states “the most important dietary change you can make is to avoid foods that you are allergic to or intolerant of”. Figuring out what these are can be an arduous task, but worth itif you suspect certain foods may be causing turmoil in your digestive track. We have testing options that can help you get closer to figuring it out, but the best way is still an elimination diet. Read more about following an elimination diet here.

Polyphenols

If you’re a patient with us at Double Happiness health, you’ve probably already been encouraged to adopt an anti-inflammatory diet. This is a diet that takes planning and intention to eat a wide array of vegetables, fruits (especially berries), nuts and spices. Polyphenols are abundant in these food categories, and contain antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds that are also rich in fertility friendly nutrients. Good news, matcha and dark chocolate also fall into this category.Top Foods With Polyphenols

Omega 3s

I think of Omega-3s as the cooling lubricant of our body. The best source is fresh-water fish. Flax, hemp and chia seeds are also high in Omega-3s which is why you see them taking over our health food stores. Consider taking a supplement if fish or flax are not regularly in your diet. 

Chronic infections

Chronic infections can be very tricky, silent sources of chronic inflammation. This may include gum disease, viral, parasitic or sexually transmitted infections and autoimmune conditions. This

is where regular check-ups with your PCP and dentist come in handy. You may want to ask your general practitioner to measure your CRP and ESR(markers of inflammation) the next time you do a blood workup. There is an emerging field of biological dentistry that pays close attention to the gut-gum connection, you can read more about the difference here.

 

 

Resources and further information: 

 Anderson , Katherine Alexander. “Telomeres and Fertility: How to Turn Back the Reproductive Clock .” Integrative Fertility Symposium, Vancouver, BC. 2018

Epel, E. S., et al. “Accelerated Telomere Shortening in Response to Life Stress.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, vol. 101, no. 49, Jan. 2004, pp. 17312–17315., doi:10.1073/pnas.0407162101. 

Gottfried, Sara. Younger: the Breakthrough Programme to Reset Our Genes and Reverse Ageing. Vermilion, 2017. 

Hoge, Elizabeth A., et al. “Loving-Kindness Meditation Practice Associated with Longer Telomeres in Women.” Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, vol. 32, 2013, pp. 159–163., doi:10.1016/j.bbi.2013.04.005. 

Keefe, David L., and Lin Liu. “Telomeres and Reproductive Aging.” Reproduction, Fertility and Development, vol. 21, no. 1, 2009, p. 10., doi:10.1071/rd08229. 

Ruscio, Michael. Healthy Gut, Healthy You: the Personalized Plan to Transform Your Health from the inside Out. Ruscio Institute, 2018. 

Teeguarden, Ron. “Replenishing and Restoring Jing.” All About Acupuncture, 1 July 2014, www.acupuncturetoday.com/mpacms/at/article.php?id=32900. 

Zhang, Hua, and Rong Tsao. “Dietary Polyphenols, Oxidative Stress and Antioxidant and Anti-Inflammatory Effects.” Current Opinion in Food Science, vol. 8, 2016, pp. 33–42., doi:10.1016/j.cofs.2016.02.002. 

Zivkovic, Angela M., et al. “Dietary Omega-3 Fatty Acids Aid in the Modulation of Inflammation and Metabolic Health.” California Agriculture, vol. 65, no. 3, 2011, pp. 106–111., doi:10.3733/ca.v065n03p106.