Archive for Anti aging truths
Total-body skeletal muscle mass
The “age related” loss of lean muscle mass, sarcopenia, is considered by some researchers as a hallmark of aging. Loss of muscle mass leads to increasing difficulty controlling serum glucose; increased serum glucose leads to increased glcosylated proteins (irreversible changes to a protein from glucose attaching to the protein) ultimately leads to cell death and then organ death. A reliable method to assess skeletal muscle mass is still not available. Electroimpedence devices has shown some efficacy but have not gained much acceptance. A new technology that could increase the use of this marker could have a major impact on long term health. However, as with any test result, the physician ordering the test would have to know what steps to take to effect the sarcopenia…
AJCN — Abstracts: Kim et al. 76 (2): 378
Androgen deficiency and replacement on prostate zonal volumes
This is an interesting article that should make many of those in the “if hormonal levels are lower as we get older, we must replace them to youthful levels for anti-aging” group think twice.
In this study, androgen levels (i.e. testosterone) had no effect on the size of the prostate as patients got older. Thus, using testosterone replacement therapy to maintain a healthy prostate may not be backed by the research.
Synergy : Clinical Endocrinology 54 (4), 437-445
Interesting question and would likely generate a wide range of answers depending upon where in the life cycle you are. But an even more important question would be, what would you be willing to DO for 2.2 more years of life?
This answer requires action and not wealth. Quitting smoking (or never starting). Exercising. Eating a diet without processed foods. Cutting back on stress. All changes that you can (and should) make that have a solid foundation of research for increasing longevity.
But many times it is not merely about quantity of life. Quality becomes a much more important factor when it comes to life. Who wants to live to 90 but spend 5 years infirm in a bed on oxygen, your life little more than existing?
No one would opt for this end to his or her life, although I could argue that lifestyle is a conscious choice done during life that will lead to this end of life, essentially meaning that you DID choose this course. But what if the choice was much easier than actually exercising?
Before we get into the longevity-inducing intervention highlighted here, I need to make something clear.
Pharmaceutical interventions are typically one-cause / one cure approaches. That means that we use a statin to lower your risk of having a heart attack and hope for the best (which, as you are all aware of by now, this “best” is a 1% lower risk of having a heart attack with statin use). And you can’t pile up 20 drugs to give you a 20% lower risk of having a heart attack. Drugs just aren’t cumulative like that.
Lifestyle, on the other hand, IS cumulative. Exercise CAN work with eating more whole grains, fruits and vegetables to dramatically lower your risk of a heart attack or death. This is where the power of lifestyle comes in.
So, with this in mind, this particular study looked at how much of a difference healthy fats in the blood made on longevity in this large group of study participants.
To raise your blood levels of the healthy fats like omega-3 fatty acids, you can eat raw nuts, wild caught fish, use olive oil and more seeds. Supplementation with fish oils is a good idea to augment what you get from your diet.
Here’s what the researchers found:
- Higher omega 3-PUFA led to a 27% lower risk of death from all causes.
- Specifically, EPA was 17% lower, 20% lower for DHA.
- The greatest protection was on heart deaths.
- Overall, those with the highest levels lived an average of 2.22 more years after age 65 years.
Given that good quality fish oils in our office run about $15 / month, 2.2 years would cost you $390. Pretty economical, if you ask me…
So, would you pay $390 for 2.2 more years of life?
Extended longevity in mice lacking insulin receptor in adipose tissue
This study looked at mice that did not have insulin receptors in adipose cells and found an 18% increase in longevity. This strongly supports previous research in mammals that suggest caloric restriction without nutrient depletion (which would result in lowered insulin levels). With more evidence arising in regards to the harmful effects of elevated insulin I am even more firmly of the belief that refined carbs are the number one factor destroying the health of Western society.
Energy Imbalance and Prostate Cancer
This is an interesting concept with prostate cancer, and does seem to fit with other observations. This review article found associations with excess (above expenditure) caloric intake and risk of prostate cancer as well as with more advanced cases of prostate cancer. This fits with a few other concepts. First, caloric restriction w/o nutrient restriction has consistently shown life span extension in mammals, and cancer risk reduction across the board may very well be a factor in the longevity. Second, IGF-1, a hormone that has been related to risk of prostate cancer, is increased via insulin and insulin levels would generally increase with higher caloric intakes. You could add a low caloric diet to treatment for prostate cancer.
Nutrition.org — Abstracts: Platz 132 (11): 3471S -
Use It or Lose It – Activity May Be the Best Treatment for Aging
This is truly a wonderful editorial that reviews and briefly debunks some of the more common anti-aging therapies and supports the concepts of good old fashioned activity and healthy living as the best approach to longevity. Truly a must read.
The Baby Boomer generation changed everything and demanded everything. Now, as they age, this group would seem determined to live life to its fullest and maintain their health. They’re buying more supplements than any generation before them. They are exercising more. They stay consistent with their routine medical screenings.
Because of all of this, everyone has the impression that they are healthier. But are they?
With this generation beginning to enter the Medicare system, this question is of critical importance.
Certainly the Baby Boomer generation has seen some amazing advances in medicine. There are more powerful diagnostic tools available to find what ails them. There are more medications available now than ever before. This generation, however, also seems to adopt “preventative” medications as a birthright. If a Baby Boomer’s primary care doctor finds high cholesterol and Lipitor is going to save them, he or she is going to take it.
But it’s not working.
This particular study looks at the rates of chronic disease in the Baby Boomer generation and compared it to the previous generation. High blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and rates of obesity are all higher.
Given the focus of this blog, you would, of course, expect me to say that it is because of the dietary choices this generation is making. And you’d be right.
It’s because of the dietary choices this generation is making.
Artificial sweetener use is rampant. Excessive portion sizes are the norm. The type of exercise they are doing is not consistent with our hunter gatherer genetics. And they are exposing themselves to more environmental chemicals than ever before.
Did I already mention that this group is now hitting Medicare? If you think Medicare has problems NOW, just wait and see as this generation goes onto Medicare over the next 2 generations or so. Combine this with Obamacare and the problem will fix itself once the country implodes financially and medicine as we know it goes away.
If you are a Baby Boomer, do you disagree with the findings of this study? If so, based on what?
Chronic disease is taking too many too soon. On top are 2 particular diseases. A simple approach can show you how to prevent diabetes and avoid heart disease.
Everyone wants to live as long as they can with the greatest health they can. Longevity is the goal, but without health it may not seem worth it. Technology has a good way of keeping you alive long after it was your time to go. That’s not exactly on my wish list for my lifestyle as I age.
So how can we age gracefully and do our best to avoid chronic disease? The research has consistently pointed to calorie restriction without nutrient restriction to maintain an ideal body weight and stave off disease. This usually means that your 1200 calories per day comes from broccoli and not from a Big Mac Value Meal.
But not everyone wants to live life in a restricted calorie fashion. Actually, to be honest, few do. And society certainly does not support this lifestyle with the near elimination of the “small” size in the fast food industry (really–does it make us feel better to order the “medium” sized value meal? Do we somehow feel cheated if we were to only buy a “small” value meal??).
Luckily, there has been research looking at how effective modifications to the calorie restricted lifestyle are. One of the ones that seems to rise to the top is alternate day calorie restriction. The name describes it well, but basically you would restricted your calories to about 50% of normal every other day. During the non-restricted days there are no calorie restrictions, although the quality of the foods you eat should remain high.
This particular study looked at two different variations of alternate day calorie restriction and compared the outcomes. Both variations used an alternate day calorie restriction (as mentioned, this is typically 50% of your normal caloric intake), but on the off days, one variation used a high fat diet (45% of calories) while the other used a low fat diet (25% of calories). The diet lasted for 2 months and had some pretty surprising results:
- Weight dropped 4.8% in the high fat diet and 4.2% in the low fat group.
- Fat mass decreased almost 12 lbs in the high fat and just over 9 lbs in the low fat group.
- LDL cholesterol and triglyceride dropped 18% and 13.7% (high fat) and 24.8% and 14.3% (low fat).
- Here’s the real info: fat free mass remained unchanged-basically all weight lost was fat (Tweet this).
Overall, in a mere 2 months, 12 pounds of pure fat was lost and LDL cholesterol tanked almost 25% in the low fat group. The results from both groups were strong, but the low fat group seemed to have better results when it came to lowering the heart disease markers. These are powerful results for such a simple intervention.
Of all the diets that have come and gone, this is one approach that has never really been publicized, and yet the results are strong and the ability to continue the diet as a permanent lifestyle is very realistic.
Based on this study, would you be willing to cut your calories every other day for 2 momths to lose 12 pounds of fat?
It’s as accepted as apple pie and baseball. You get your annual medical check up to stay healthy. This way you can catch bad stuff before it gets worse, right?
Wrong? How can that be wrong??
The same way hormone replacement therapy, statins, 8 glasses of water per day, antibiotics for every sniffle and aspirin to prevent heart attacks were wrong. They all sounded good until we decided to look beyond opinion and do some research.
This particular study is another review by my favorite group, the Cochrane Collaboration. They looked at the research to see if the preventative medical check up led to a reduction in the number of deaths or in the overall sickness of the patients getting screened. What they did NOT look at was changes in surrogate health markers like cholesterol, blood pressure and HbA1c. This is yet more proof that using surrogate end markers in medicine has created a house of cards that does very little for our health and much benefit to the pharmaceutical companies. For a better understanding of the surrogate end marker debate, please refer back to a previous post written that covers this important topic that can be read here.
The study had some pretty disturbing findings for those getting a medical check up:
- There was no change in overall risk of death, dying of heart disease or dying from cancer (Tweet this).
- No beneficial effects morbidity, hospitalisation, disability, worry, additional physician visits, or absence from work.
- On reviewed study found a 20% increase in the total number of new diagnoses per participant and an increased number of people with self reported chronic conditions.
- Two trials found an increased use of blood pressure medications.
So basically, more patients were medicated and diagnosed with something, but it didn’t really change anything.
Isn’t this so incredibly representative of our current “health care” system? We aren’t trying to make people healthy, we are trying to determine if they are sick enough to be given a medication.
If anything, these medical check ups should be an opportunity for you to see how well you are living for the genes you’ve been given. Cholesterol too high? Make the right changes to lower your cholesterol. Statins should not even be on the menu.
Blood pressure too high? Same thing. Blood sugar and weight up? You get the idea.
With this information from this study in mind, should insurance no longer pay for your regular medical check ups?
Caloric Restriction and Incidence of Breast Cancer
Knowing that caloric restriction without nutrient restriction is the only “anti-aging” approach that consistently extends life span in mammals, the results of this study should not surprise anyone. However, I will not exactly advocate anorexia followed by pregnancy to lower your risk of breast cancer (which is what this study evaluated), but a whopping 76% reduction is breast cancer risk is incredible. Most likely the lowered risk is tied in with insulin signaling somewhere.
JAMA — Abstracts: Michels and Ekbom 291 (10): 1226 -