Healthy aging & cell nutrition: A Q&A with Integrative Nutritionist Kaytee Boyd
To celebrate healthy aging month, we caught up with Kaytee Boyd – an inspirational Integrative Nutritionist with over 25 years experience in the health industry.
While we’re firmly against “anti-aging”, we’re all about getting the most out of life for as long as possible. To achieve this, it’s important to understand what’s involved in healthy aging. To celebrate healthy aging month, we caught up with MitoQ ambassador Kaytee Boyd – an Integrative Nutritionist with over 25 years of experience in the health industry. Keep reading to learn about how health and aging are interconnected, how aging is linked to your cells, what foods are always on Kaytee’s shopping list, + more!
MitoQ: What does ‘healthy aging’ mean to you?
Kaytee: Humanity has been striving to live forever, and life expectancy dramatically increased over the past century, jumping from 49 in 1900 to 79 in modern times. Even though life expectancy has increased, health expectancy is decreasing. Historically, the major factors contributing to the decline in healthy aging have been: lack of appropriate exercise, food quality, smoking, alcohol and/or drugs, stress, and environmental factors such as air and water pollution and use of chemicals in the home.
Healthy aging to me means being able to do EVERYTHING I want and am doing now and in each future decade of this precious life, without fatigue, mental or physical impairment. Getting old isn’t for sissies, that's for sure - so I am acutely aware of the effects of lifestyle, diet and mental health on the aging process and what we can do to make it as seamless as possible.
I am lucky to have great examples of people I have met that have taken the time to educate themselves on health and wellbeing so that they can enjoy their life as MUCH as possible as they are aging. Obviously, you can’t control everything, but you do the best that you can.
What does that look like? Eating well, adequate sleep, exercise with the long-term in mind and on a regular basis. Having a fabulously fun, full and rich life - take for example the blue zones around the world where centenarians live… social people, they eat healthy food, they have community and purpose. AND they move often. We have to keep moving as humans. Like they say, use it or lose it. Both mentally and physically.
MitoQ: What would you say are the top factors that can influence healthy aging?
Kaytee: Absolutely your state of mind and how you deal with stress (mindset). A 2012 study, published in the journal PLoS ONE found that individuals with the most job stress had the shortest telomeres - telomeres are bits of our genetic code that sit at the end of each chromosome, like the plastic ends of a shoelace that protect it from fraying. Every time a cell divides, our telomeres get shorter.
When those telomeres become too short, cells can die or become damaged. Shortened telomeres have been linked to cardiovascular disease, Parkinson's, cancer and type 2 diabetes. Interestingly those who did not experience work exhaustion had longer telomeres.
In research, those who aged well and lived longer had many commonalities:
- Those who exercised lived longer. Even just 15 minutes daily seems to have made a difference, 3 hours of aerobic activity per week. That could be broken up throughout the day, and longer or more intense was not always better.
- Social activities also seemed to be a positive factor in longevity.
- A sense of purpose or contribution in our community.
- Eating “enough” but not overeating, eating adequate protein and low sugar!
- Low inflammation!!! Inflammation ruins the skin and damages cellular function.
- Mitochondrial function is paramount!!
- A high nutrient-dense whole foods diet.
- Also, many scientists support the idea that aging is mainly due to the progressive appearance of hormone deficiencies aggravated by nutritional deficiencies and a poor lifestyle.
MitoQ: How does aging affect cells?
Kaytee: We are understanding more and more why we age. Some theories claim that aging is caused by injuries from ultraviolet light over time, wear and tear on the body, stress, lack of nutrients or byproducts of metabolism. Other theories view aging as a predetermined process controlled by genes.
No single process can explain all the changes of aging. Aging is a complex process that varies as to how it affects different people and even different organs. Most gerontologists (people who study aging) feel that aging is due to the interaction of many lifelong influences. These influences include heredity, environment, culture, diet, exercise and leisure, past illnesses, and many other factors.
Unlike the changes of adolescence, which are predictable within a few years, each person ages at a unique rate. Some systems begin aging as early as age 30. Other aging processes are not common until much later in life. Although some changes always occur with aging, they occur at different rates and to different extents. There is no way to predict exactly how you will age.
The human body replaces its own cells regularly. ... About 330 billion cells are replaced daily, ~ about 1 percent of all our cells (mind blowing!!). In 80 to 100 days, 30 trillion will have replenished—the equivalent of a new you.
All of our cells require stimulation for activity and healthy growth. Depriving our cells’ stimulation, like hearing or visual loss, seems to speed up aging. Those who continue to be active – mentally, socially, physically, sexually and spiritually – not only maintain substantial quality of life, but also tend to age slower in other key areas. Aging has no single factor to target, rather the sum of many factors – some damaging, some protective. Researchers have been manipulating that process for decades, and a better understanding of the factors and pathways involved in aging is a continuous field of wonderment and excitement.
MitoQ: What do you do to take care of your cells?
- Hydration is key. I start drinking water early in the day and always between meals.
- High water content vegetables and colored nutrients from organic produce - those key nutrients are what help feed your whole entire system and help you have the best building blocks for healthy cell function. I try and add them to each main meal I have. FASTING IS REALLY IMPORTANT for taking care of your cells!!! Extended fasts as well as time-restricted feeding windows are incredibly important. If this is a new area for you, I highly recommend reading Valter Longo’s publications.
- We walk on the beach in bare feet with our dogs most days, even in winter. Earthing is incredibly important for our cellular function - particularly for the amount of EMF (electromagnetic field) exposure we are exposed to on a daily basis.
- Exercise - I realize some have a love/hate relationship with this word, it's a fundamental instinct to avoid physical activity when it's neither necessary nor rewarding!! A quick Google search “what to do if you don’t like exercise” can be enlightening with ideas. My favorite exercise is surfing and mountain biking - they are both things that make me feel alive and usually bring a huge smile to my face.
MitoQ: What nutrition do cells need?
Kaytee: For maximum cellular health, we need the building blocks of carbohydrates, proteins, fats, water and vitamins as well as minerals which make up the six essential nutrient groups for the human body. The energy required to blink the eyes, to breathe, to keep the heart beating, to think, to read, digest food, to lift a finger, to walk, even to sleep and to dream—each one depends on an intricately choreographed interplay of chemistry involving these essential nutrients. We are literally a walking miracle of finely orchestrated metabolic processes every microsecond!!! I can hardly believe it, even now.
Just one example of what we need is magnesium - involved in over 700 metabolic enzymatic pathways. Magnesium is particularly important in helping the activation of T-cells (a type of white blood cell) whose action is to help with cancer surveillance and assist in reducing sickness from viral infections. It also has a key function in the production of ATP (energy). Virtually everyone isn’t getting enough magnesium.
MitoQ: What do you typically eat in a day to feel healthy and energized?
Kaytee: Protein and fats keep me in a high-energy state. Things like quality eggs and avocado for breakfast, with fried mushroom and onion. I’m a huge fan of cutting kumara into sandwich thickness slices and throwing it in a sandwich press and using it like “toast”.
Lunches and dinners are the same, adequate protein to feel satisfied for hours afterward and high energy with mental clarity. Typically, I eat a lot for my size, ~ 150-200 g protein per meal with large salad/vegetables and kumara, buckwheat or quinoa based. Sometimes wild or purple rice or soaked beans that are finished in the pressure cooker. There is always a generous amount of olive oil drizzled over top.
Don’t forget about dark chili chocolate!!!
My healthy vices:
- Dark chili chocolate (YUM!)
- Coffee, but I am trying to drink more dandelion coffee instead because it’s not great for me. Unfortunately, I don’t metabolize coffee well… but I am an addict, and need an intervention!!
MitoQ: What foods are always on your shopping list?
- Brussels sprouts
- Bok choy
- Seasonal fruit
- Pomegranate juice (pressed, 100% pure)
- Tomato paste
- Natto and/or miso paste
- Dried herbs and spices
- Oh heck yes!! Chilli chocolate
- Berries (blueberries, blackberries, raspberries)
- Hemp seeds
- Steel cut oats
- Dried beans/legumes
- Organic eggs
- Organic/free-range chicken and beef/lamb
From my garden (or we fish/forage/visit markets for what we don’t have growing):
- Lemons / limes
- Sorrell, rocket and coriander and radishes when the insects don't get to them first
- Rosemary - this is a key ingredient for me to try and incorporate daily
MitoQ: How does MitoQ fit into your lifestyle?
Kaytee: It’s really simple. The bottle lives by the bedside. Each night I take a bottle of water to bed and, when I wake up, I take two of the MitoQ curcumin and have at least 500 ml of water. Having a busy lifestyle and remembering to drink water is not my strong suit so this really helps set me up for a good start to the day. It is an absolute must for me in my life.
MitoQ live: why athletes need antioxidants
That’s a wrap! The MitoQ cycling tour of New Zealand is complete