Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Anti-Aging Truths and Myths

Everyone would like to grow to an old age yet still maintain their young feeling. Well, there is much we can do.

This information will help:

What causes aging?

1. Genetics – choosing your parents is most important. There are studies with the Sirt1 gene which regulates cell metabolism and increases lifespan.

With age, changes occur at the cellular molecular level that predispose us to disease and disability. Fifty percent of cancers occur after age 65; 80% after age 50.

The central nervous system is very complex. We don’t know much about neurological diseases and how to treat them. Alzheimer’s afflicts about four and a half million people; and could increase to 14 million by 2030. With most patients being female, is gender a risk factor? Well, women live longer than men and with 250 women for every 100 men over 85, which is when Alzheimer’s begins. It’s really age that’s the problem.

Unfortunately, a healthy body doesn’t prevent you from getting cancer, and maintaining a healthy brain doesn’t prevent you from having memory loss. However, tip the odds by avoiding lifestyle habits that we know are bad.

2. Environment – this factor can be changed, somewhat, by eating well, maintaining a healthy weight, being active and avoiding bad habits. Weight All studies show that a healthy weight leads to better health. The recommended daily calories intake is 2000 calories, yet some scientists are recommending 25% less. From animal studies, with a low weight, rats live 50% longer. When mice are genetically altered to get Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, arthritis, cancer, heart disease or diabetes — calorie restriction forestalls diseases. Is this true for humans? Certainly less food does lead to less damage to cells.

Truth: Parents may outlive their obese 10-year-old children with Type 2 diabetes.

Truth: Diabetics age faster and have more skin, heart and other organ damage than non-diabetics.

Myth: Fasting and colonics improve health and prolong life.


It’s hard to believe, with all the information available, that only 3 – 4% Americans follow the US Dietary Guidelines.

Truth: Food supplies anti-aging anti-oxidants.

Myth: Supplements supply the anti-oxidants you need.

Oxidants such as smoking, sun, pollution, poor eating habits and inactivity damage body cells and promote aging. Antioxidants slow down cell damage and the progression of degenerative diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s and improve organ, eye, skin, teeth and gum health.

Antioxidants in Foods

Vitamin A: liver, sweet potatoes, carrots, milk, egg yolks, fish, cheese.

Carotenoids (lycopene, beta carotene): dark, colored fruit and vegetables – prunes, cranberries, sweet potatoes, carrots, cantaloupe, squash, apricots, pumpkin, mangos, collard greens, spinach, kale.

Vitamin C: fruits and vegetables.

Vitamin E: vegetable oils, nuts, seeds (flax), whole grains, avocado, legumes, oily fish, eggs, dairy.

Selenium: brown rice, eggs, whole grains, meat, whole wheat bread, nuts, seeds, legumes, fish, garlic.

Polyphenols (resveratrol, flavonoids): tea, coffee, soy, legumes, fruit, dark chocolate, red wine.

Lutein: collard greens, spinach, kale, eggs, corn, citrus. Sulfides: broccoli, cabbage, bok choy, collards, garlic, onions, leeks, scallions.

Myth: we all have deficiencies, supplements are the solutions.


Research shows that in 2005, dietary supplement sales in the United States approached 21.3 billion dollars (source: Office of dietary supplements). Most serve no benefit.

Truth: Overdosing on supplements increases oxidation which leads to increased mortality.

More on Excess Supplementation:

Vitamin A: megadoses from supplements may be toxic.

Beta Carotene: excess increases cancer growth in lung cancer.

Vitamin E: Formerly prevented cardiovascular disease & cancer, recent studies failed to support these studies. It may help with prostrate cancer or skincare. Added to skin creams, may reduce damage by sun and limit cancer-causing cells. Excess of 400 IU per day may raise the risk of death slightly in older individuals with existing medical conditions.

Selenium: helps protect the body from cancers in animals, including skin cancer caused by sun exposure; preserves tissue elasticity and slows down the hardening of tissues associated with oxidation. Studies needed in humans.

More on Foods

Limit processed foods as oxidation occurs with processing. Trans fats are unhealthy as they lower good HDL and increase bad LDL. Present mostly in baked goods, pastries, packaged snacks, cookies, cakes, pies, crackers, margarine in stick form, fries, doughnuts, chips, popcorn, candy.

USDA recommends up to 13 servings (6 ½ cups) fruits and vegetables a day.

Antioxidant content is measured by the USDA. Eat foods containing at least 3,000 ORAC units a day: prunes, 6000; raisins 3000; berries 2500; kale 1800; strawberries 1300; spinach 1300, raspberries 1200.

Truth: Cranberries are quite special. They have antioxidant and antiadhesion (bacteria blocking) properties. The National Kidney Foundation® says 10 oz (300 ml) glass of cranberry juice cocktail a day may help prevent urinary tract infections; or 1 1/2 cups of fresh or frozen cranberries, 1/2 cup of cranberry sauce or 1 ounce of dried cranberries. Cranberry can help protect the brain from neurological damage (Rat study).

Myth: Cranberry or fruit or vegetable supplements provide the same benefits.

Pomegranates are also special. They contain antioxidants such as polyphenols, anthocyanins and tannins which increase blood flow, lower cholesterol and may help with Alzheimer’s and type 2 diabetes.

Omega 3 is an anti-inflammatory – eat fatty fish 2x/week: sardines, salmon, black cod and fortified eggs, walnuts, flaxseeds, canola oil to lower heart disease, prevent skin cancer. There is a Canola oil claim to reduce CHD.

Increase iron intake if you do not eat animal foods (contain heme iron which are well absorbed): liver, meat, sausages, dark meat of turkey; or plant foods (contain non-heme iron which is less well absorbed): whole grain and enriched cereals and pasta, dark green vegetables, dried fruits and legumes. Iron deficient anemia results in low energy and skin pallor.

Soy (isoflavones): lower cholesterol, lower heart disease and cancer, good for bone health, menopause, brain function and memory (also contains choline).

Myth: Soy supplements are best. The estrogenic effect can increase risk for breast cancer, thyroid function, allergies and reduced fertility. Not safe for children, elderly people and people with compromised immune systems.

Truth: Egg yolks contain choline – good for brain and memory; zeaxanthin – improves eye diseases.

Myth: Egg whites are better.

Vitamin D is needed for calcium absorption to keep bones strong. Studies look good for lowering risk for dementia, autoimmune diseases, type 1 diabetes and periodontal disease - all aging signs. Increase Vitamin D intake with 15 minutes sunshine/day and eating more salmon, tuna, and fortified milk, orange juice, yogurt, soy milk, rice drinks and cereals. Excess in supplements leads kidney stones and deterioration of muscle and bone mass. Fortunately the Vitamin D-rich foods are tasty and easy to incorporate in the diet.

Truth: If you do not eat well, take a multivitamin with no more than 150% RDA.

Myth: The more supplements the better.

Truth: Excess of one nutrient in a supplement can be bad for other nutrients in supplements: excess iron interferes with zinc; excess zinc interferes with calcium and copper abs. This problem does not exist with eating foods.

Probiotics (friendly bacteria) in yogurt, miso and soy beverages benefit people with irritable bowel syndrom, food allergies, antibiotics and lactose intolerance. Safety of supplements is not known.

Avocado: monounsaturated fats reduce level of bad LDL cholesterol. Vitamin E in avocado helps maintain healthy skin and prevents skin aging and menopausal hot flushes; potassium prevents fluid retention and high blood pressure.

Nuts & seeds: rich in potassium, magnesium, iron, zinc, copper and selenium. Good for skin, help prevent cancer, control cholesterol levels.

Cruciferous vegetables: broccoli, cabbage, collards - fewer lung, colon, breast, bladder and ovarian cancer.

Spinach: less ovarian cancer.

More fiber helps with weight loss.

Herbs and spices limit bacterial growth, reduce tumors and settle an upset stomach. Early studies show: Ginger boosts digestion - add to sorbet. Curcumin reduces inflammation and aids muscle repair after heavy exercise - stir in low-fat cottage cheese and sliced fruit. Curry lowers plaque deposits in brain, reduces Alzheimer's disease - dust over rice and beans, add to stews. Capsaicin in chilies trigger pain receptors in your mouth, signaling your brain to release feel-good endorphins - toss red pepper flakes or diced chili peppers into your salad or soup.


Water: 5 cups fluid/day for hydration of the skin, muscles, circulation, and all organs in the body - Institute of Medicine 2004 report.

Fluid sources: fruit juices, skim or low fat milk, broths, sparkling water, tea; soups, watermelon, pickles, oranges, lettuce, tomatoes.

Coffee: up to five cups a day may reduce heart disease, Parkinson's and Alzheimer's states a Norwegian study; benefits negated with more than five cups a day. Fewer suicides among coffee drinkers.

Tea: green, oolong and black: studies on animals and humans are not definite. May lower cancer risk and have cardio improvements; reduces stress. American Dietetic Association lists black and green teas as functional foods; increases defences against chronic diseases. Rooibos or Red Bush tea - studies look good. Hydration: 99% water.

Polyphenols: wine 5 oz = 170mg; dark chocolate: 1 ½ oz = 300mg; Green Tea: 1 cup = 400mg - prevent heart disease, cancer, Parkinson’s, arthritis, fights cavities.

Myth: Herbal teas are best. There are many health claims without studies. With diarrhea, vomiting and heart palpitations, stop taking your special tea.

Wine: protects against skin cancer (fish study). Good for Alzheimer’s (mice study). American Cancer Society: resveratrol in wine and certain foods may defend the body against lung, breast and thyroid cancers. Lowers LDL. Study: one drink of alcohol a day, mostly wine, lowers dementia - 85 percent slower rate than people who never drank alcohol.

Men: 4 – 7 glasses of red wine per week - 52% as likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer as those who do not drink red wine.

Truth: Recommendation: 2 drinks for men, 1 for women.

Truth: Too much alcohol increases risk for heart disease and cancer.

Myth: Resveratrol supplements are good.

Truth: Nutraceuticals not regulated by the F.D.A. Not recommended as unsure of quality control and quantitiy.

Niacin – raises HDL, lowers LDL. Causes liver damage, raise blood sugar levels – doctor’s supervision only.

Exercise: Fountain of youth = staying active. Blood flows to skin making skin glow- keeps the body in optimal shape — both physical and mental. Prevents diabetes, heart trouble; reduces arthritis pain, anxiety and depression; helps older people stay independent. Endurance activities - walking, swimming, or riding a bike - improve heart and circulatory system; Strengthening exercises build muscle tissue and reduce age-related muscle loss; Stretching exercises to keep the body limber and flexible; balance exercises reduce the chances of a fall.

Avoid Smoking: 3 x skin cancer. Beta-carotene supplements increased cancer in smokers.

Avoid Sun: Causes wrinkles: Free radicals speed up the aging process. Practice good sun protection. Researchers tested lotions containing retinol (vitamin A) on the skin of elderly patients. Wrinkles, roughness and aging severity reduced; skin can withstand injury and ulcer formation better.

Avoid smog, chemicals, drugs