Coz Being Ageless Is Priceless

Posts tagged ‘oxidative stress’

Telomeres: What Is It And Does It Influence Aging?

Static thumb frame of Animation of the structu...

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Besides looking at the mirror, another objective way of telling how fast a person is aging is through telomere testing. Before anything else, what are telomeres? Telomeres are sections of DNA at the end of each chromosome that serves as a cap to your genetic material. Every time a cell replicates, its telomere will become shorter. Shorter telomeres imply a shorter life span for the cell.

What effect does telomere length have on my health and wellness? Age adjusted telomere length is the best method to date to assess biological age using structural analysis of chromosomal change in the telomere. Serial evaluation of telomere length is an indicator of how rapidly one ages relative to a normal population. Therapies directed at slowing the loss of telomere length may slow aging and age-related diseases.

Does diet have any effect on telomere length and repair? An inflammatory diet, or one that increases oxidative stress will shorten telomeres faster. This would include refined carbohydrates, fast foods, processed foods, sodas, artificial sweeteners, trans fats and saturated fats. A diet with large amount and variety of antioxidants that improve oxidative defense and reduces oxidative stress will slow telomere shortening. Consumption of 10 servings of fresh and relatively uncooked fruits and vegetables , mixed fiber, monounsaturated fats, omega-3 fatty acids, cold water fish and high quality vegetable proteins can prevent premature shortening. In addition, caloric restriction is advised combined with an exercise program. Fasting for 12 hours each night at least 4 days per week may also be protective.

What lifestyle modifications are likely to be helpful? One should achieve ideal body weight and body composition with low body fat (less than 22% for women and less than 16% for men). Decreasing visceral fat is very important. Regular aerobic and resistance exercise for at least one hour per day, sleeping for at least 8 hours per night, stress reduction, discontinuation of all tobacco products and bioidentical hormone therapy may decrease the rate of telomere loss.

How do you measure telomere length? The Patient Telomere Score is calculated based on white blood cells (T-lymphocytes). This is the average compared to telomere length on lymphocytes from a sample of the American population in the same age range. The higher the telomere score, the “younger” the cells. A Telomere Score that is above the average line is desirable.

What can I do to reduce my rate of telomere loss? Shorter telomeres have been associated with metabolic abnormalities, obesity, and several degenerative diseases including cancer, dementia, and cardiovascular disease. In vitro studies have shown that telomeres are highly susceptible to oxidative stress, which will shorten telomere length and enhance cellular aging. Minimizing associated risk factors that are linked to shortened telomere activity is recommended and include:

Reduce oxidative stress

Correct micronutrient deficiencies, especially vitamin D

Change sedentary lifestyle, increase physical activity

Avoid weight gain or obesity

Correct insulin resistance

Love and Other Drugs

Anne Hathaway at the 81st Academy Awards

Image via Wikipedia

Just saw the movie called “Love and other drugs”. I wasn’t expecting a good story line but it turned out to be a great one. Lots of interesting points in the movie. Among these includes a lesson in what happens to people with Parkinson’s disease or Parkinsonism. Basic info on Parkinson’s disease. It is a progressive neuro-degenerative disorder that affects motor skills, cognition and the autonomic nervous system as well. It is characterized by depletion of a neurotransmitter called dopamine in the substancia nigra part of the brain. Initial symptoms include bradykinesia, rigidity and tremors. The simplistic approach to treatment is to prevent further depletion of dopamine (and diminish motor symptoms) using medications such as Sinemet or MAO inhibitors. What are the possible causes of PD? An obvious cause involves repeated head trauma such as seen in boxers (Muhammad Ali and Manny Pacquiao’s boxing coach). In the medical literature, there’s idiopathic PD, meaning the causes are unknown. Of course, other possible causes are not explored and these include the presence of heavy metal toxicity (mercury, arsenic, lead, aluminum), excitotoxins (chemicals such as pesticides or MSG which excite neurons to death) and oxidative stress. Anyway, I’m surprised that the movie even mentioned chelation therapy, which is the accepted form of treatment for heavy metal toxicity. Chelation therapy involves the administration of chelating agents such as EDTA, which attach to heavy metals and are then excreted through the kidneys primarily.

One other interesting point is when Anne Hathaway went to accompany seniors across the border to Canada to purchase their prescription medications. Sad but true. We’re spending more on the same medications that are sold elsewhere for less. And then another one is when Hank Azaria, who plays the doctor, confides to Jake Gyllenhaal, the erstwhile drug rep, that his job isn’t as fulfilling anymore because of HMO’s, paperwork and worry about medical malpractice lawyers just waiting to prey on him.

Anyway, the most important lesson in the movie I believe is unconditional love. We should love one another just because……

Balance Bars……

Fire and Ice

Image by ecstaticist via Flickr

That’s one of my favorite Olympic sports. I remember as a kid trying to balance myself on our “pader”, which is the Tagalog word for wall or a tall fence made of cement basically. It is a delicate balancing act. One wrong step and you’re off to the ground (just like Humpty Dumpy). Anyway, it’s the same balancing act that goes on with our hormones. Factors such as nutritional deficiencies (lack of selenium prevents conversion of T4 to T3), heavy metal toxicity (mercury attacks some hormones), or oxidative stress (excessive free radical formation could affect every cell in the body including our endocrine glands) could influence hormonal balance. Hormones by the way, are chemical messengers (secreted by endocrine glands in our body) that act on different target organs. Our hormonal/endocrine system is intimately connected to the nervous and immune systems (which secrete neurotransmitters and cytokines, respectively). These three systems work together bringing optimal communication among every cell in the body. There is such a strong connection among these systems that it’s difficult to treat one system without messing with the others. That’s the reason why we need to be careful about what we take in (whether it’s food, drugs, supplements, water, and yes, even our thoughts) because it affects everything. We cannot isolate one part of the body from the rest of it. In fact, I’m reminded of one Biblical verse which says that, “If one part suffers, every part suffers with it.” Just thought I’d mention that. Hope everybody’s having a great week!

Rhythm is the Answer

Overview of biological circadian clock in huma...

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There is a rhythm in life. You see it everywhere in nature. Moon cycles, seasonal changes, circadian rhythms, migratory patterns, growth spurts, planting/harvesting times, etc. There is nothing static in nature. Everything is in a constant flux. The only thing that’s static is death. At least, that’s what we know for now. If there are rhythmic patterns in our bodies, doesn’t it make sense to give hormones (if a person’s symptomatic, deficient or has sub-optimal numbers) in a rhythmic pattern as well? This idea was actually brought forth by a person named TS Wiley. She’s trained as an anthropologist and unfortunately (or fortunately?) is not an MD. Otherwise, a lot of doctors, especially in the anti-aging community would have jumped onto the bandwagon of prescribing bioidentical hormones in a rhythmic manner. That is, changing the dose every so often, to mimic nature. Doctors, just like every one else, are creatures of habit. Nobody wants to mess with the status quo. A German philosopher named Arthur Schopenhauer put it succinctly, “All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.” Anyway, hormonal imbalance is just one of the causes of accelerated, symptomatic aging. Other factors such as nutritional deficiencies, chronic inflammatory processes, toxicities, oxidative stress and mitochondrial dysfunction need to be addressed as well if a person wants to age well.

Is Aging a Disease?

This is the topic at a conference on aging held in London last week called “Turning Back The Clock.” The topic I think is more than a decade too late. The American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine has been advocating anti-aging therapeutics for more than a decade now. I guess it’s better late than never, huh? Anyway, if you read the article further, the experts recommend taking a different approach to this biological process, one that recommends it as a condition that can be manipulated, treated and delayed. It further recommends the search for drugs that treat multiple illnesses at the same time. Sounds good, huh. Honestly though, this approach of just looking for drugs to “treat” aging won’t yield optimal results. We need to look at the basic issues that contribute to aging and address those. Factors such as nutritional deficiencies, oxidative stress, mitochondrial dysfunction, chronic inflammation, toxicity and hormonal imbalances are among the basic things that need to be addressed. Treating the root causes of disease rather than just treating symptoms yield far better results. As far as what armaments to use in the “fight against aging”, we need to look at nutrition, nutraceuticals, natural hormones, gene therapy, homeopathy, detoxification treatments and other modalities along with pharmaceutical agents. A holistic approach to aging is the way to go.

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