Tag Archives: antioxidant rich food

4 Substances That Slow The Aging Process

Animation of the structure of a section of DNA...

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Anti-aging is a large field in medicine.  Most of the diseases that human beings suffer from significantly increase as we age.  The theory is that if we can slow down the aging process we can live longer, more disease free lives.

Individual cells can live forever in the laboratory.  It’s been done.  This is a fascinating fact .  However, human beings are multicellular organisms and each cell does not live in isolation.  Further, cells that live forever in the laboratory live in ideal conditions.  They are not exposed to chemicals, hormones or undergo the same physical stresses that we do on a day to day basis.  But, the fact remains – a biological system, given the best possible scenario, can live forever.  So what if there were things we could do to slow the aging process?  We may not be able to live forever, but could we significantly increase our life spans?  The answer is yes.  There are several known substances that have a positive effect on the aging process that are available to everyone in supplement form.

Aging

Aging is a genetic process and a free radical induced process.  First, our genes are important.  It is helpful if Mom and Dad lived to be 100, but it is not essential.  Our DNA is stored in each cell in the nucleus.  Within this nucleus are the chromosomes that contain all of the DNA we were born with.  We get 23 chromosomes from each of our parents for a total of 46.  Every single cell in the body has an identical copy of these genes.  Each chromosome is shaped roughly like an X.  The ends of these chromosomes are called telomeres.  These telomeres are interesting in that they shrink as we age.  There are known substances that slow the shortening of these telomeres and therefore slow the aging process.

Free radical damage is also another way that people age.  Free radicals are potent molecules that bounce around in our bodies and break down our cells.  The theory is that the human body can only repair so much and this damage begins to accumulate over time causing us to age.  Now, it would make sense if we just avoided these free radicals wouldn’t it?  It would if we could.  Some of the most potent free radicals are nitrogen and oxygen which happen to make up 78% and 21% of the air we breath respectively.  Our diets are designed to help us fight this battle because we can consume antioxidants.  This class of nutrients fights free radical damage but it cannot win the war.  There are, however, compounds that are known to be powerful free radical scavengers and should be consumed on a more regular basis to slow the aging process.

Supplements That Slow Aging

Resveratrol

Resveratrol is a magnificent substance.  It is found in many things, but mainly in the skins of grapes.  It is also why red wine (in moderation) seems to have such great health benefits.  Resveratrol activates something called sirtuins.  Sirtuins are genes (known as SIRT1 though SIRT8) that function to repair breaks in our DNA strands that occur as we age.  These sirtuins also play a key role in maintaining the length of the telomeres discussed earlier.  Sirtuins also act to regulate inflammation in the body by inhibiting something called NF-KappaB.  This is a potent inflammatory enzyme that is responsible for many disease processes in human beings.  Resveratrol also decreases the production of adhesion molecules that attract inflammatory cells to our vessel walls and therefore inhibits atherosclerosis.  These adhesion molecules also promote the spread of cancer.  Taking resveratrol is easy but be sure when you buy a supplement it is of high quality and contains trans-resveratrol.  All other forms are useless to take.

Pterostilbene

This substance is very similar to resveratrol but it is found in blueberries.  It works with resveratrol in multiple complimentary mechanisms to limit NF-KappaB.  This is not available in supplement form, but you can certainly get it from eating as many blueberries as you’d like!

Quercetin

This magnificent substance protects against such diseases as asthma, inflammatory bowel disease and arthritis.  It has also been shown to help modulate blood sugar levels in diabetics and non-diabetics.  Blood sugar control is extremely important for longevity.  Quercetin acts by also inhibiting NF-KappaB.  This is also available in supplement form and is sometimes paired into one supplement with resveratrol.

Grape Seed Extract

This helps to regulate pro-inflammatory cytokine activity in fat cells.  It helps combat obesity and type II diabetes.  It also triggers genes for glucose uptake.  This assists cells in the absorption and removal of glucose from circulation.  This substance is very readily available in supplement form.

The research into longevity is quite interesting and there are many substances that can slow the aging process, not just the ones above.  Of course, you must also watch your diet and exercise to get all of the wonderful benefits that the above provide.  If you do those things and take these life lengthening substances you will live and longer and happier life.

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Feed Your Brain!

The brain is the most important organ in our body.  Without it we can not survive.  Most people are aware of this.  However, we also know that altered states of brain function are connected with disability and death.  Alzheimer’s Disease is a perfect example of this.  Alzheimer’s disease is a brain disorder named for German physician Alois Alzheimer, who first described it in 1906.  Is a progressive and fatal brain disease. As many as 5.3 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s destroys brain cells, causing memory loss and problems with thinking and behavior severe enough to affect work, lifelong hobbies or social life. Alzheimer’s gets worse over time, and it is fatal. Today it is the seventh-leading cause of death in the United States.

Because Alzheimer’s is considered progressive, the best treatment is to avoid getting it altogether.  There are several things you can do to protect yourself and reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

The best start is to eat well.  Eating a healthy diet is associated with lower rates of dementia and there are several foods that you should focus on.  Below is a great list that I found on the AARP website.  Enjoy!

1) Vegetables

The latest news from neuroscience confirms what Mom always said: Eat your vegetables! For all the interest in individual vitamins and supplement formulas, the best advice is to eat a variety of colorful, cruciferous, and leafy green vegetables.

A recent federally funded study of 13,388 nurses that has tracked their eating patterns for 10 years found that women who ate more cruciferous and leafy vegetables in their 60’s including broccoli, cauliflower, green lettuces and spinach, had a lower rate of decline on a battery of learning and memory tests. The more of these vegetables they ate, the better they performed.

A diet rich in fruits and vegetables has long been promoted for its heart-healthy and cancer-fighting potential, so it’s not surprising that such a diet is also good for your brain. Vegetables and fruits are packed with antioxidants and other essential vitamins and minerals, are low in fat, and are generally low in calories.

2) Antioxidants

Of all the dietary factors that are being investigated for possible roles in staving off mental decline with aging, antioxidants have received the most attention. Antioxidants, which include vitamins C, E, and beta carotene (a form of vitamin A), reduce oxidative damage to cells.

Oxidation, which can be thought of as the biological equivalent of rusting, seems to contribute to aging and cognitive decline.

Human studies of antioxidant use have yielded mixed results. This is partly because our diets are generally quite varied, and it’s very difficult to prove that health benefits are the result of any one dietary factor. Animal studies, on the other hand, have shown consistent benefits for diets rich in antioxidants.

For example, a series of studies in beagles found that an antioxidant-rich diet prevented or slowed age-related declines in various learning tasks. The animals that were fed the special diet had improved performance on both simple and complex cognitive tests.

In fact, aged dogs that could not perform one of the more difficult tests at all in the beginning of the study could do so after three years on the diet. “We actually resurrected function out of the aging brain,” says Carl Cotman, a member of the Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives who led the study. “That just blew us away.”

A series of studies out of Tufts University has shown that animals fed diets high in blueberries had improved short-term memory and balance. The ingredient that gives blueberries their color appears to endow them with potent antioxidant properties.

Fruits High In Antioxidants
Berries (Cherry, blackberry, strawberry, raspberry, crowberry, blueberry, bilberry/wild blueberry, black currant), pomegranate, grape, orange, plum, pineapple, kiwi fruit, grapefruit.

Vegetables High In Antioxidants
Kale, chili pepper, red cabbage, peppers, parsley, artichoke, Brussels sprouts, spinach, lemon, ginger, red beets.

3) Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3s are a particular type of polyunsaturated fats that are found in fatty fish. Scientific literature indicates that omega-3s are important to maintaining brain function in early development and throughout life, and may help protect the brain from aging.

Fatty acids seem to work in part by counteracting free radicals that cause oxidative damage to brain cells, and some research suggests they may help improve the efficiency of nerve signal transmission at synapses.

The best sources of omega-3s are mackerel, herring, sardines, tuna, anchovies, whitefish, and sablefish.

4) B Vitamins

B vitamins are of interest because of their effectiveness in lowering levels of homocysteine, a blood protein that is associated with increased risk for cardiovascular disease as well as Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia.

In particular, scientists are investigating whether folate, or folic acid, may have a role in preventing Alzheimer’s disease. Folate and other B vitamins are currently being evaluated in a clinical trial for people with Alzheimer’s.

5) Multivitamin Supplements

Most experts are comfortable recommending that older adults take a daily multivitamin as a supplement to a healthy diet. Claudia H. Kawas, M.D., neurologist and expert in aging from University of California, Irvine, and also a member of the Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives, says she is not at all opposed to multivitamins.

“I don’t think any of our diets are that good, and as people get older and are eating less, they may have diets that are lower in various nutrients,” Kawas explains. Still, the best advice, she says, “is to do what your mother told you to do: Eat all those healthy fruits and vegetables.”

These are simple ways to maintain and improve your brain health.  They will also reduce your risk of developing dementia.  Keep them in mind and you’ll be sharp as a tack well into old age!

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