Active Longevity: The Role of Cellular Nutrition

by Inga Yandell

Exploring the role of genetics and gut flora in active longevity represents a new frontier in health ‘cellular nutrition’. Scientists are discovering the interdependent relationship of our inner ecosystem with nature to understand the underlying catalysts of disease and age-related decline—placing fresh emphasis on conservation as a component of our health and survival. A clear example of this would be ocean nutrients: minerals, calcium, and essential fats harvested from the sea, all have clear value to our cellular health but contaminated waters polluting harvests with toxins we then consume, can damage our DNA (telomeres) and encourage inflammation—hallmarks of decline and disease. Thus ocean conservation becomes an act of human preservation.

Diving into this topic with a pioneer in plant-based nutrition, our interview with Udo Erasmus (founder of focuses on active longevity and ocean conservation, ‘nature-nutrient correlations’, lessons on human nature from Tony Robbins, and a SEXY new book creating global health for people and the planet.

How has your vision for health and the role of nutrition evolved?

What I’ve done in nutrition began from being poisoned by pesticide in 1980, for which there is no effective medical intervention. This pushed me to try to find and figure out how to get my health back. Since the body is made from light, oxygen, water, and food, that is where your physical cures most likely come from.

I began with oils, the most neglected, confused and difficult area of nutrition. Oils are the most sensitive food molecules. Light, oxygen and heat damage the essential fatty acids, and especially the omega 3, that oils contain. Oils should therefore be treated with more care than any other nutrient, but we treat them with less care than any other nutrients in our industrial processing and food preparation. Fried oils fry health. Fried foods fry health. More health problems come from damaged oils than any other part of nutrition. More health benefits accrue from oils made with health in mind than any other part of nutrition.

Then I moved on to the second most neglected area of physical health, which is digestion. I work to optimize digestion by using probiotics, digestive enzymes, and plant-based whole foods with prebiotic fiber.

Finally on to greens, our most nutritious and most neglected foods, and I have several other natural products still under wraps.

But times have changed. Physical health is not enough. My interest in health has expanded and become broader and more inclusive. Everything affects health. To be truly healthy, we have to give everything its due.

We have many problems that cannot be fixed with food, because we are not just physical in our nature.

Have the sourcing and ingredients changed with increased environmental issues such as pollution, depletion of natural resources and climate change?

Of course, it’s changed. The more we shit in our nest, the more we nest in our shit. All our problems are symptoms. Behind them are common denominators. If we work them all the way back, we discover that WE, human beings, are the only problem here. This is bad news and good news. It’s bad news, because we have to take our selves, individually, to task. It’s good news, because we CAN do that. We always live right here, in our state of being. We can practice becoming more fully present in all of our being and in our world. Our state of being creates our personal reality, and the state of the world is the collective, pooled sum of all 8 billion people’s states of being.

In spite of the fact that our world is deteriorating, we can each, by making deliberate choices, earn or create a better quality of life.

Fresh, organic, whole food, raw as much as possible, mostly plant-based nutrition seems to be the direction to pursue in physical health.

Could ocean exploration offer similar promise as the Amazon in untapped nutrients?

While the oceans are a largely unexplored liquid jungle, they are rapidly becoming the dirtiest places on earth. There’s evidence that fish are now the dirtiest meat on the planet. Everything goes downhill, and all persistent pollutants eventually end up in our oceans. The solution to our self-created dilemmas is not to exploit yet another part of nature. It is to embrace the internal wholeness that’s deeper than our reactive minds and moods. Most reliably, people change through in-sight. We don’t need to do more. We need to do less. Sit still, breathe, and enjoy our presence more. With life, we already have more than everything we need.

There is a greater focus on cellular nutrition of late especially as it relates to ageing and performance. Can you expand on the potential of plants to support optimal cellular health, a few examples or exciting developments into the science?

Everything related to physical health, performance, and aging happens within our cells. More precisely, energy runs them all. It drives interactions between molecules in accordance with genetic possibilities and limitations. These in turn translate into cell, tissue, organ, system, body, group, and ecosystem behavior/functions. Natural molecules interact naturally to bring about the natural state of health. Life did not make a genetic program to manage molecules that never existed in nature. That is why unnatural molecules cause problems. What kinds of problems? They cause inflammation, pain, and symptoms that, prolonged, doctors diagnose as diseases with specific names.

Living aligned with nature is the cure. Research is now clear that fresh, whole, raw when possible, organic, mostly plant-based nutrition is the ticket to best health and longest life.

It makes sense that herbs and spices with 4 billion years of natural development can provide more remedies and fewer side effects than a pharmaceutical industry that’s been around only a few hundred years. Living aligned with nature is the reason why, at 75 (yup, this year I began the fourth quarter of my first century), I have no pains in my body except briefly when I bang into something.

I understand you have a new book coming out, one with a rather catchy if not controversial title. What is the origin behind the title and premise of the book?

The book is called: ‘TOTAL SEXY HEALTH: The 8 Key Parts Designed By Nature’. I began to think about it when I was 6 years old, so it took me 69 years to get it done. It’s about health, nature and human nature, and how we can all live lit up from with in on this drop-dead gorgeous planet, in harmony with others, with everyone’s basic needs met. That possibility is built into our nature. We came into the world loaded with it.

My working title was ‘total global health’. A co-worker suggested calling it ‘total sexy health’, and I protested. “I can’t write a book on total sexy health! I don’t know anything about sexy.” Then I started thinking, and concluded that I know a lot about sexy. We all do. In common use, sexy is anything that touches our heart and/or makes us take notice in a positive way. Sexy is whatever lights us up, energizes us, or makes us show up vibrant, full on, present, sparkling, confident, radiant, and really attractive.

Everybody wants to be sexy. But few know that health is the foundation of sexy. And, health is more than just food and fitness. Total health involves 8 different parts of nature and human nature, each of which carries part of our sexy. Each part needs attention. Aligned with all, we are totally healthy and totally sexy, which is our natural state. When we get out of line with a part, we lose its contribution to health and to sexy. We get that part of our health and our sexy back when we realign that part with its nature.

One more thought: Everybody uses ‘sexy’ to sell us stuff that is not sexy at all. It’s about time that someone uses sexy to sell us on the built-in, natural magnificence we already own! I get to do that. It’s an honor and a privilege.

Watch Udo’s video introduction of the book and the meaning behind its title.

You are also involved with Tony Robbins as a guest speaker at his events. How did this role present itself?

My son Tai, a fitness trainer who designs targeted nutrition programs that A-list actors use to prepare for upcoming roles, as well as high end athletes and other highly motivated individuals, set up the meeting. Tony had heard about my work on the benefits of using oils made with health in mind, and invited me to speak to his Platinum Partners group in 2002. He taped the talk, uses it in his Life Mastery program, and invited me in to update the information a couple of years ago. I also do live Q/A via Skype with his Life Mastery participants after they’ve watched the video. It’s a ton of fun.

What are some of the key points you teach at his events?

I teach on oils and health at these events. Frankly, I’ve learned a lot more from him than he’s learned from me. I took all his courses between 2002 and 2006 and they helped me substantially, especially in the mental area of human nature, to set the stage for my present focus on how to enjoy TOTAL SEXY HEALTH, and also how to get it back when we’ve lost it.

What nutritional values do you share with the master coach?

This is not a conversation I’ve had with Tony. He takes and recommends Udo’s Oil. In fact, Since 2002, Tony has been my most effective promoter of Udo’s Choice. I have heard, but cannot confirm, that he eats mostly plant-based whole foods as do I. The research is clear that this is the way to have the best health and longest life. I eat a lot of my foods raw or soaked, and sometimes sprouted. The older I get, more I like fresh whole raw organic plant-based foods. I take a vitamin B12 supplement. I also use a lot of different herbs and spices.

Tony has incredible energy and unbelievable schedule, has he shared any of his longevity philosophies or practices with you (are Udo’s products part of this routine)?

He has not, but I can share with you, from my own experience, several factors that contribute to high energy level. Essential fatty acids, especially omega-3 increase energy levels. Fresh, charged and electrolyzed alkaline water can raise energy. Iodine may help. Eating a diet rich in plant-based whole foods and Magnesium. Detoxing can also help to restore vitality.

Equally important, having a passion for or being inspired by what we do increases energy, because we’re not wasting energy doubting what we’re here for and what we’re doing. Being in touch with the energy that is our life (usually by doing some kind of stillness/awareness practice) raises energy levels. Loving and positive intent also raises energy level. Getting the sleep we need and exercising to improve the efficiency of our cellular energy-freeing mechanisms also increase our energy and the lightness with which we live our lives. I describe some of these in more detail in my book.

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Inga Yandell
Explorer and photo-journalist, passionate about nature, culture and travel. Combining science and conservation with investigative journalism to provide educational resources and a platform for science exploration.
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