The evening before I was to submit my completed manuscript to my editor at Simon & Schuster, a headline from the UK's Financial Times caught my eye: "Scientists discover the secret of ageing!" it screamed in 24 point type. The article went on to explain how one of the biggest puzzles in biology - how and why living cells age - had been solved by an international team based at the U.K.'s Newcastle University.
Using a complex 'systems biology' approach, the researchers, in conjunction with scientists from the University of Ulm in Germany, embarked on a journey to discover why cells become senescent (grow old).
The research, published by the journal Molecular Systems Biology, shows that when an aging cell detects serious DNA damage, which may be the result of general wear and tear from daily living, it sends out internal signals.
These distress signals trigger the cell's mitochondria, the energy producing part of the cell, to make free radical molecules, which instruct the cell to either destroy itself or to stop dividing. The reason for this is to avoid the damaged DNA that results in cancer.
Many Perricone readers are familiar with my belief that the damaging diseases and cellular destruction associated with aging, begins with the mitochondria.
The mitochondria are tiny energy-generating units in the cell. They function as microscopic furnaces, converting food into fuel and are responsible for all energy production in the body. Although tiny, as the energy producing portion of the cell, the mitochondria play a huge role in the body. In fact, properly functioning mitochondria are vital in maintaining a healthy body and beautiful skin.
Unfortunately, the mitochondria are a constant site for free radical production and very susceptible to the damage that free radicals can cause. If we hope to preserve youthful function and prevent disease, it is critical to search for agents and antioxidants that will protect the mitochondria from free radical damage. We all know that fruits and vegetables contain the antioxidants we need to fight the inflammatory cascade generated by free radicals. So if we just increase our intake can we solve the problem?
Unfortunately, the answer is no. The majority of these antioxidants (while invaluable to other parts of the cell), cannot enter into the mitochondria.
Thus, the free radicals and their inflammatory cascade continue to damage the mitochondria causing energy production to stop and the cell to collapse and die.
Avocados to the rescue
Avocados are antioxidant powerhouses—but as you will discover, they have truly unique regenerative properties.
The special monounsaturated fats that they contain are extremely effective in combating free radical damage. However, according to a study by the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, the oil found in avocados can enter the mitochondria and fight the free radicals.
Remember this key fact; a young cell is characterized by its energy production. And as we know, energy production takes place in the mitochondria. Now, thanks to the avocado, we have the tools at hand to protect this critical portion of the cell and significantly reduce the negative signs of aging in all organ systems—including the skin. I enjoy a serving of avocado on a daily basis.
For a host of wonderful recipes visit www.avocado.org. One recipe I can personally vouch for is "Best Ever Guacamole." It is outstanding!
To learn more about other anti-aging foods and Dr. Perricone's customized anti-inflammatory diets, visit our anti-inflammatory diets page.