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Animal Health Notebook
Tan crossbred cow Alan Newport
Diverse diet, exercise, and low carbohydrate intake is good for people and cattle.

Thoughts and mechanics of aging, part IV

There’s plenty of evidence now that we are what we eat, and the same for our livestock.

One of the biggest increasers in research and knowledge concerning hormones is the somewhat new study of eicosanoids, or cellular hormones. They serve as the major communicators from cell to cell. Food intake and ingredients have major effects on these systems, which in turn have major effects on aging (both speeding it up or slowing it down). Short-circuiting of eicosanoids speeds up aging. Eicosanoids are likely involved in feedback systems concerning diet modifications by our cattle and by us.

More than 40 years ago I located and pioneered a rural vet practice in an area where there were a bunch of 70-, 80- and often 90-year-old people who were still active and working on a daily basis. Within a few years I got in a habit of studying their lifestyles and occasionally was invited to eat with them. Most were debt free, made a garden using compost from their barns (cattle, chicken and hog manure), and every day did physical work that was not “back-breaking.” They raised most of what they ate. Coffee, sugar and whiskey were the exceptions, but some made their own whiskey. Many still had their teeth. Several had been raised on limestone basins and rivers and creek bottoms.

All the work and most of the aging study of the past century indicates that proper calorie restriction without starvation and malnutrition is by far the No. 1 contributor to long life, when you take out accidents and murder.

In cattle this is or should be accomplished by boom and bust grazing management that results in huge plant diversity and highly functional water, mineral, energy and biological cycles in the rhizosphere, or the top portion of the soil. Occasionally we need to introduce minerals to the pasture, mostly calcium and magnesium if they are lacking. Salt is most likely needed and a few trace minerals are often beneficial. We also look at phosphorus and potassium. You can look through my previous blogs on Beef Producer for previous thoughts on supplementation.

The swings in nutrition are really important. Long-lived cattle do well because they are adaptive, fit their environment, are content, and are never required or forced into major weight swings. Quality soil that is well mineralized and healthy biologically and well covered with diverse plant life yields adapted cattle that are highly productive, healthy and long-lived. The same principles work for people when you add quality meat and fat and reduce the processed carbohydrates and sugars. Fiber, both soluble and insoluble, is important for health and processing reduces fiber.

Major eating factors that result in four major pillars of fast and premature aging are:

  1. Excess insulin production.
  2. Excess blood glucose.
  3. Excess free-radical production.
  4. Excess cortisol production or intake.

These pillars of aging take off the telomeres of our DNA and shorten our lives. The same principles apply to all animals. We have a whole lot in common with the entirety of animals. Accidental death and wars can also take us out prematurely.

Presently the Okinawans have about 10 times as many people that are 90-plus years of age per 100,000 population as America does. A good percentage of these “old” people work every day and are bright and productive. Here’s how they eat:

  • Large amounts of red meat and fish.
  • A very limited amount of rice, corn, wheat and soybeans.
  • Lots of unprocessed vegetables.
  • A few fruits.
  • Highly mineralized soil.
  • Very little vegetable oils.
  • 50% less total calories than Americans.

Forage-derived protein (beef) from highly mineralized soil with huge plant diversity likely yields several hundred factors that are anti-aging. It needs to be consumed daily. Remember that much of this has been documented by respected labs and scientists.

Producing health that lasts a long time requires quality protein and fat and minerals and trace minerals, plus a few fruits and veggies and some salt. I recommend adding a little fish oil and some vitamin C and a few minerals and trace minerals. It does not kill us to accomplish some physical work every day. Stay away from fights and debt and train wrecks. You can stay healthy for a long time if you’ll pay attention.

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