on her new book The Kaufman Protocol: Why We Age and How to Stop It
Dr. Kaufmann began her academic career in the field of cellular biology, earning a Masters’ Degree from the University of Connecticut in Tropical Ecology and Plant Physiology. Turning to medicine, she received her Medical Degree at the University of Maryland and completed a residency and fellowship at Johns Hopkins in the field of pediatric anesthesiology. For the last five years, she has been the Chief of Pediatric Anesthesia at the Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital, a nationally recognized center of excellence. Most recently, she was recognized as “Best in Medicine” by the American Health Council.
Her avid interest in the science of anti-aging began many years ago as an intense hobby. Utilizing her knowledge in cell biology, human pharmacology and physiology, this hobby has now become a main focus. The project represents years of non-clinical research leading to the first ever, comprehensive theory of aging and protocols to curtail the aging process.
Truly Alive: What originally stimulated your interest in this subject?
Dr. Sandra Kaufmann: I am a very adventurous and athletic person, and in my mid 40’s I was in extremely good physical shape but knew that the future would not be kind. As well, my mother had never been in very good health, and watching her decline over time was painful. So, I set out on a quixotic quest to determine if I could decelerate my own physical and mental decline. It started out as a ridiculous idea to me, but it evolved into a realistic understanding of aging and a practical guide to decelerate it. It’s become a passion and a now a book!
TA: Please explain epigenetics to our readers.
Dr. K: Epigenetics, put simply, changes or alters the physical structure of DNA. It is a level of DNA control and packaging on TOP of the standard double helix chain. The chains of DNA are wrapped around protein complexes called histones creating a densely packaged cluster of DNA. In addition, chemical additions, usually methyl groups, are added and removed that serve as functional roadblocks to either allow a particular piece of DNA be used (expressed) or not. The foods that we eat and the environment that we live in can determine our patterns of methylation and can affect how well or how poorly we live.
TA: How does diet affect aging and which foods most affect the aging process?
Dr. K: Diet can affect aging in many ways. The most important categories fall into epigenetic remodeling, glucose accumulation, and being overweight. The epigenetics we touched on above, and a few of the foods that are considered positive in the epigenetic diet include Curcumin, Sulforaphane in broccoli, Ellagic acid in pomegranates and EGCG in green tea. Glucose, while necessary in small quantities, sticks to proteins, lipids and DNA around the body creating something called AGEs or advanced glycation end products. These complexes destroy the molecules they are stuck to, they cause collagen failure, and are very inflammatory. Carrying around excess adipose tissue requires the body to not only work harder, but is inflammatory as well. Thus, the more fat we have, the more inflamed we become over time.
TA: Are sugar alternatives better for us than regular table sugar?
Dr. K: There are various opinions on this subject and it’s hard to say. Natural molecules are better for you than man made options, and glucose is far better than fructose. The best option is just to limit sugar intake.
TA: You explain that DNA damage causes aging and disease. What causes DNA damage?
Dr. K: DNA damage comes from innumerable external insults and can also arise from internally generated problems. Externally, pollution, smoking, sun light and chemical agents can all cause DNA damage. Internally, free radicals originating in the mitochondria attack the DNA. There is also damage to the DNA that occurs simply from normal cellular functioning. The inability of the cell to function properly (secondary to this damage) can either cause the cell to die, become cancerous, or become senescent and release more inflammatory factors.
TA: Why is skin damage a model for understanding aging?
Dr. K: The skin is an organ that we can all see and understand. When we feel heat from the sun, we can feel the inflammatory response. When we start to age, we can see the wrinkles and the spots form. This makes us acutely aware of aging, and so we can also see improvements when we begin to improve the situation.
TA: Why does inflammation increase with age and lead to pain?
Dr. K: Inflammation can be our immune system getting out of control. In the acute sense, it is necessary and helps to clear out infection. In the long term, it causes our bodies to become systemically inflamed. This process activates enzymes such as the MMP’s that slowly dissolve our tissues and can cause pain and illness.
TA: Why is fat accumulation common in middle age adults (especially belly fat) and how does this cause inflammation?
Dr. K: Fat accumulates in the belly as we age for several reasons. The most interesting one is the fact that fat accumulation is controlled by the Sirtuin system. There are 7 Sirtuin systems in people, and they are extremely important in manipulating the aging process. As we become Sirtuin deficient, the body stores fat in the abdomen. This is reversible with agents that activate these Sirtuins.
TA: Please explain for our readers what “stem” cells are and what adult stem cells do.
Dr. K: Stem cells are mother cells. These cells have the capacity to divide and create whatever other cells are required. There are stem cells in almost every area of the body, without which we could never replace tissue, heal or grow. These cells live in very tightly controlled neighborhoods, or niches, and live most of your entire life (although they decrease with age). As stem cells age, their functional ability also deteriorates. Specifically, this regenerative power appears to decline with age, as injuries in older individuals heal more slowly than in childhood.
TA: Why should everyone (male and female) be on prenatal vitamins?
Dr. K: I believe that over the age of 40, most of us are micronutrient deficient. Depending on our dietary choices and other factors, we become deficient in a variable number of these nutrients. As well, we have the capacity to create as many cells every day in normal human activity that we might when a woman is in early pregnancy. And just as the fetus needs every possible nutrient in growing good cells, the rest of our cells do as well. In actuality the vitamins do not need to be prenatal, but a general vitamin for everyone can be very important. But every woman that has taken prenatal vitamins knows, the skin, hair and fingernails do much better while on the vitamins.
TA: Does exercise prevent aging?
Dr. K: Exercise cannot prevent aging all by itself, but it does a lot. It increases the length of telomeres by activating telomerase, acts as a positive epigenetic modulator, increases mitochondrial mitogenesis, and activates Sirtuins.
TA: What functions do collagen and elastin have?
Dr. K: Collagen and elastin are present in the dermal layer of the skin, responsible for the strength and flexibility of our outer protective layer. Over time and with inflammation from both the environment and that internally generated, both the collagen and elastin are slowly dissolved. This leads to the sagging skin we are familiar with in older people. This can be both prevented, and to a certain degree, reversed. Sun protection, both from sunscreen and oral agents that serve as free radical scavengers can help prevent the damage. Repair requires both external and oral treatment with collagen, hyaluronic acid and several other agents.
TA: In part 2 of the book, you recommend 15 agents for readers interested in curbing the aging process. Can you tell us about this?
Dr. K. After determining that our cells age in seven categories, I reviewed innumerable molecular agents that were touted as anti-aging. I rated all of the agents in each of the categories to determine a seven-digit Kaufmann Rating number for each agent. This sounds complicated, but it isn’t. The information just serves as a guide to help individuals create their own regimen based on their individual needs. The book contains 15 of the top agents, and there are a total of 30 on the website. I am constantly researching new agents, and then posting the information so everyone can reap the benefits. In no way do I think people should take all of them, but they need to pick out the ones that benefit them the most.
TA: What are your favorite agents?
Dr. K: I have several favorites, most of which are in what I call the PANACEA. This includes Pterostilbene, astaxanthin, Nicotinamide, Carnosine and Curcumin. I’m also a huge fan of metformin and chebulic acid or Haritaki, both of which help to control the glucose problem.
TA: The back of your book is jam packed with citations (references you used in your research). How many years of research went into the making of this book?
Dr. K: The book took me about 4 years to research and write. I didn’t, however, actually start the process with a book in mind, all I wanted was to curb my own aging. But in the course of my work, innumerable people began asking about what I was doing; I looked better, had tons of energy, my mind worked better, and I never got sick. So, after explaining the processes over and over, I decided to write it all down.
TA: On your website, you have some wonderful testimonials. Here is the link for readers’ convenience: https://www.kaufmannprotocol.com/testimonials
Dr. K: The testimonials on the website are actually outdated and need to be changed out. As more and more people have started the protocol, I have heard ever more unbelievable stories. In addition to arresting (and reversing to a degree) their aging processes, people have professed improvements in autoimmune diseases, vision, exercise capacity, diabetes, as well as incredible, overall health improvements.
TA: Is there anything else you would like our readers to know about?
Dr. K. I think the most important thing for people to know is that anti-aging is not a crazy idea. I’m not selling snake oil; in fact, I’m not selling anything. I’m just disseminating information that I think can help prevent disease and physical decline over time. I encourage folks to look at the website https://www.kaufmannprotocol.com, where I explain the seven tenets of aging, and I more clearly describe the rating system. There are three pre-made regimens on the site, which should serve most people pretty well. I can also be reached for questions on the website email. I am the only person to answer the deluge of questions, so sometimes it takes me a little time, but I personally answer all questions.