“You can’t help getting older, but you don’t have to get old.” said George Burns who lived well into his nineties. Aging, unfortunately, is a part of life. How we age is now, readily becoming a fate we place in our own hands. On the predictions of Francis Bacon, Rene Descartes, and Benjamin Franklin, the science of anti-aging has become an art. Unfortunately less than 1% of MD’s and 1/2% of nurses have received training dealing with the special needs of older adults.
Instead of searching for the ever illusive “fountain of youth”, millions of Americans are slowing their own biological clocks with the proven methods of today’s latest research. While genetic make-up and the world’s environmental influences will still affect the aging process, never before have so many had the chance to fight father time and extend their life.
Aging used to be inevitable and while some degree of aging still is, the information found on these and the following pages, offers some insight to the many fantastic breakthroughs in the science of anti-aging.
Rising life expectancy means members of the huge baby boom generation who are nearing old age, can look forward to more golden years than their parents. With aging prevention is key. Start your own journey to a younger feeling and healthier you.
The Key to Anti-Aging: Telomeres
Robert Browning wrote, “Grow old with me, the best is yet to be” more than 100 years ago. At that time, it may have well been very true. Even twenty, or ten, years ago that still held true. As the dawn rises on a new millennium amazing new advances in science and technology are occurring along with a shift in public consciousness, make it possible to now control the aging process.
Over the recorded existence of man the average human life span has increased. This increase is owed to improvements in medical care, including the use of antibiotics, improvements in housing, education and sanitation. However, there appears to be a maximum, or fixed, end point. Recent research reports have indicated that the aging process itself could indeed be modified. Evidence for this comes from the isolation of “longevity genes”, as well as the effect on cell longevity by modification of the ends of the chromosomes (the telomeres), elimination of treacherous free radicals, glucose cross-linking of proteins, and the effect of hormones and protective enzymes.
Human cells have a limited life span. In a test tube a normal human cell will divide about 50 times and then dies of old age. This seems to put a ceiling on the human life span. The culprits are telomeres-minute units at the end of the DNA chain. Each time a cell divides it must duplicate its DNA. This process results in the shortening of the telomeres. After about 50 such replications the telomeres are gone, and the cell loses its ability to divide.
Howard Cooke of the Medical Research Council in Edinburgh, documented the first connection between aging and telomeres. He noticed that the telomeres in reproductive cells were longer than those in shorter-lived somatic cells (the kind found in muscle, skin and nerve tissue). He suggested that ever-shortening telomeres might determine a cells life-span. In other words, he proposed that the telomere length offered a clock for telling a cell’s longevity.
In a barrage of papers published over the last few years, researchers have shown that the telomerase gene can be activated in human cells, and that it does extend cell life. The initial development was a report in the August 15, 1997, issue of Science. A group headed by Nobel laureate Thomas Cech, of the University of Colorado at Boulder, and colleagues at Geron Corporation, had isolated the human gene for a catalytic protein called telomerase reverse transcriptase (hTRT).
hTRT is only present in immortal cells, whereas the gene for telomerase is pre-sent in all cells. hTRT serves to fuse the repeating sequences of DNA to the chromosomes, thereby lengthening the telomeres. Proof that introduction of the hTRT gene into mortal cells would cause them to produce active telomerase was offered in the December 1, 1997, issue of Nature Genetics by the Geron group, in a collaboration with researchers from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.
Telomerase is a rarely-expressed enzyme believed to play a key role in the regulation of cell life span, functioning as part of a molecular clock of cell aging. Its absence imparts mortality to some cells and its presence imparts replicative immortality to others.
“Reconstituting telomerase activity, especially in normal human cells, is a major milestone in telomerase biology that has widespread implications for the treatment of cancer and age-related diseases,” said Jerry Shay, Ph.D., professor of cell biology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.
“Since cell senescence contributes to age-related disorders and limits the efficacy of cell and gene therapies, the ability to extend the life span of normal cells would have broad therapeutic and commercial impact,” stated Ronald Eastman, Geron’s President and Chief Executive Officer.
While the effect this will have on the general public is still yet undetermined, according to Jerry Shay Ph.D., “Telomerase will allow us to take a person’s own cells, manipulate and rejuvenate them, and give them back to the same patient. The rejuvenated cells could help grow new skin for burn victims and cure diseases caused by the failure of aging cells to divide, such as macular degeneration.”
For the first time in history, control of the aging process lies in the hands of mankind. How we will respond to that challenge is still an open question. But one thing is certain, for the generations just being born, living to be 100 will be routine.
The Ultimate Spare Part: Stem Cells
In July 1997, a researcher from Johns Hopkins Medical Institute announced that he had human stem cells growing in a lab dish. That announcement, following close on the heels of Dolly (the cloned sheep), represents another step towards a brave new world of high-tech reproduction. The most exciting leap in this race is that while Dolly grew into a very normal looking sheep, the stem cells in professor John Gearhart’s petri dish, should be able to develop into any cell in the human body.
Umbilical cord blood stem cells are considered a medical breakthrough and have been in the news recently in terms of advancements in health, science, transplant medicine, women’s health and disease treatments such as Hodgkin’s disease, lymphoma and leukemia. Future applications and research are in areas of gene therapy and autoimmune diseases; rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, lupus and other immune system disorders.
Gearhart says, “We clearly had evidence for human stem cells. They’ve been able to differentiate into several tissue types in a dish.” Move over Dolly, stem cells are truly the ultimate spare part.
Sleep: one of the most important functions
“Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man, healthy, wealthy and wise,” states the nursery rhyme, but for many older Americans, “early to rise” may be a familiar, although troubling, part of their daily routine.
One of the most common complaints among the aging is that of sleep difficulty. In a study completed by the National Institute on Aging, of 9000 persons aged 65 years and older, over one half of the men and women reported at least one chronic sleep complaint. Typical sleep problems as we age include difficulty falling asleep, maintaining sleep, early morning awakening, and excessive daytime sleepiness.
Melatonin secretion is involved in physiologic sleep onset. We produce melatonin abundantly until puberty, and then it declines steadily into old age, thus causing the associated sleep deficiencies.
Chronic sleep loss, according to Dr. Eve Van Cauter, may speed the onset or increase the severity of age related conditions such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, and memory loss.
Several generalizations can be made regarding aging and sleep characteristics. Compared with younger persons, as we age we tend to achieve less total nighttime sleep. Nevertheless, it cannot be assumed that older people require less sleep. Overall, the sleep-wake cycle in the elderly is fragmented, thus causing them to have more nighttime arousal’s and awakenings. Although a mild deterioration in sleep quality may be a normal part of the aging process, complaints of significantly disrupted nighttime sleep, or impaired daytime functioning because of excessive sleepiness, must be addressed.
The Obesity Epidemic
Since 1991 the United States has seen a drastic increase in the number of obese citizens, according to a report in an issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association. The study’s author wrote, “the obesity epidemic has spread with the speed and dispersion characteristic of a communicable disease epidemic”.
A decade ago 1 in every 4 Americans was seriously overweight. Today it is 1 in 3, and climbing. Obesity is a disease that affects at least 70 million Americans; more than one-third of all adults and one in every five children. Many of today’s obese are elderly. As many as 3 million of Americans aged 65 and over have weight problems. Each year, obesity causes at least 300,000 deaths and costs the country more than $100 billion.
In today’s society the terms obesity and overweight are often interchanged in daily conversations, but they mean two different weight states. The term obesity refers to an excess of body fat sufficient to impair health, function or longevity. Obesity is most often defined as being 20% or more over your ideal body weight. Using this definition, obesity affects an estimated 70 million Americans. Obesity is a common condition, which can have profoundly negative health and social consequences, and is considered a serious disease that has been linked to shortened life expectancy. According to C. Everett Koop, former Surgeon General of the United States, obesity is the second leading cause of preventable death in America today.
Obesity is an independent risk factor or aggravating agent for more than 30 medical conditions including diabetes, bad knees, high blood pressure, hardening of the arteries, and increased blood cholesterol.
How to figure your B.M.I. Index
The following table of Body Mass Index (BMI) will help you determine your own BMI. BMI is calculated by taking a person’s weight in kg (kg=pounds/2.2) and dividing by the persons’s height in meters squared (meters=inches x 0.0254).
Find the row that most closely matches your weight in pounds. Read across the row until it crosses the column that most closely matches your height in feet and inches. If you find yourself in a cell that is dark red (BMI Greater or equal to 30 kg/m2), then you may be a candidate for weight reduction therapy. If the cell is pink (BMI greater or equal to 27 kg/m2 and less than 20 kg/m2) then you may be a candidate if you have other risk factors, as mentioned in the obesity article.
BMI 5’0″ 5’3″ 5’6″ 5’9″ 6’0″ 6’3″
140# 27 25 23 21 19 18
150# 29 27 24 22 20 19
160# 31 28 26 24 22 20
170# 33 30 28 25 23 21
180# 35 32 29 27 25 23
190# 37 34 31 28 26 24
200# 39 36 32 30 27 25
210# 41 37 34 31 29 26
220# 43 39 36 33 30 28
230# 45 41 37 34 31 29
240# 47 43 39 36 33 30
250# 49 44 40 37 34 31
How Fat Affects Us
* Lungs – In overweight people an increased body volume must be supplied with oxygen by lungs that have not correspondingly increased in size. In addition, the presences of thick pads of fat in the abdomen restricts breathing. Anesthetic risk in increased in overweight patients. Being overweight can be a special problem for asthmatics.
* Diabetes – Diabetes is more common in overweight patients than in patients of normal weight. In one group of studies, 70-80% of diabetics had a history of obesity. When an overweight diabetic loses weight, the diabetes often improves.
* Pregnancy – being overwight can be a factor in producing difficult and prolonged labor due to abnormal positioning of the fetus. This can cause fetel distress, which, in turn, may complicate labor and delivery. In addition, severely overweight women have more difficult pregnancies and an increased occurrence of maternal and infant deaths.
* Sugery – Surgical procedures are more difficult in overweight individuals due to the very bulk of the adipose tissues.
* Hernia – Certain types of hernias, involving displacement of the upper part of the stomach into the chest cavity, are more prevalent in overweight individuals than in those of normal weight.
* Joint-Disease – A vicious cycle is set up in overweight patients with arthiritis of the hip, knees, or feet, or in those who suffer from a ruptured intervertebral disc. Increased weight leads to greater wear and tear on these joints, which may become more irritated and painful. The increased discomfort forces the patient to become less and less active, thereby favoring further gain in weight.
* Adipose Tissue – Adipose (fat) tissue is composed of highly elastic cells that contain varying amounts of fatty deposits acquired via the bloodstream. Adipose tissue occurs throughout the body, covering vital organs and muscles. Overweight people have excessive fat deposits on virtually all soft organs and tissues. The number of fat cells present, and the amount of fat they contain, determines the degree of overweight.
* Blood Pressure – High blood pressure (hypertension) occurs more frequently in overweight people. Since hypertension can result in varying degrees of damage to the brain (stroke) and kidneys (degeneration), as well as the heart, it is essential that hypertensive overweight patients lose weight.
* Heart – Because the heart must supply nutrients to all tissues of the body, the greater the body mass, the greater the strain on the heart. Overweight people have a higher incidence of heart disease, the nations number oen killer.
* Atherosclerosis – Atherosclerosis is the deposit of fatty material on the lining of the arterial wall. It can result in the rupture of the blood vessel or in narrowing of these vessels, which may lead to stroke or heart attack. Studies show that there is a marked increase in the occurrence of atherosclerosis in overweight people.
* Gallbladder – a significantly higher incidence of gallbladder disease is observed in overweight patients than in those of normal weight. In one study, 88% of the patients operated on for gallstones were found to be overweight.
* The Omentum – the “pot bellied” appearance of many individuals is prmarily the result of fat accumulating within the abdominal cavity (omentum).
* Baby Fat – No type of fat, baby or otherwise, is cute. The fat cells produces by childhood weight-gain remain throughout life and can make it difficult to lose weight as an adult.
Nutrition For Life
As we approach the 21st century, there is even greater focus on the baby boom generation. Baby boomers are a key factor in the statistics that the elderly will comprise a much larger share of the population. According to Food Insight, in 1980 one in ten persons were age 65 or older. By 2030, the 65 and older number will be one in five. In the year 2011 the first “boomers” will reach age 65.
Most projections say the median age of death in the next century will climb to 84. Currently the median life span is 73 years. Due to the latest in anti-aging research, life spans are now being extended to ensure that the second 50 years are healthier, creating more quality and enjoyment
According to Ann W. Sorenson, Ph.D., health science administrator at the National Institute on Aging, “we don’t have a good handle on nutrient performance for older people.” Most experts agree that the dietary needs of people in their 50s or 60s are different from people in their 70s and 80s.
Irwin B. Rosenberg, M.D., stated “the challenge we face is to maintain a higher degree of physiologic performance throughout the life cycle so that the individuals in our society are more independent, more mobile, more able to take care of themselves.” Diet and nutrition are going to be very important aspects of health patterns in which there can be intervention.
Many chronic diseases that develop late in life can be linked to earlier poor eating habits. Insufficient exercise and calcium intake during adolescence and early adulthood significantly increase the risk of osteoporosis, which causes bones to be brittle, and crack or break. However, good diet in later years can lessen the effects of diseases such as osteoporosis, obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease, certain cancers, gastrointestinal problems and chronic under-nutrition.
Having a good diet in later years contributes to a higher quality of life, enabling older people to maintain their independence by continuing to perform basic daily activities such as bathing, dressing and eating. On the other hand poor nutrition increases the recovery time from illness, increases the possibility of institutionalization, and creates poor quality of life.
The American Dietetic Association states that, as you age, minerals are lost in your bones causing osteoporosis to develop. Bones break easily and take longer time to heal. It can develop in any man or woman. There are several ways to protect and strengthen your bones, for example walking makes bones strong, calcium intake needs to be high, along with getting enough vitamin D. An article in Newsweek stated that among those at greatest risk for vitamin D deficiencies are the elderly, alcoholics, and people living in sun-poor climates. Studies suggest that vitamin D may also protect against cancer. Typically as we age we tend to get less exposure to the sun, causing reduced capacity for synthesis of vitamin D, which is necessary for proper calcium absorption.
For a variety of reasons, according to Food Insight, the sense of taste and smell decline as we age. This is the result of disease, injury, drug treatments, as well as normal aging. Susan Schiffman, Ph.D. states that a reduction of overall quality of life is experienced, creating increased depression, stress, and poor nutrition. In extreme cases, older people can become anorexic.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration states, chewing problems are also associated with aging, causing people to lack certain foods in their diets. Gastrointestinal disturbances, such as constipation, diarrhea, and heartburn, are also attributed to poor nutrition. Supplements are suggested to keep your body functioning properly. Through appropriate lifestyle, the degenerative biological changes associated with old age can, in many cases, be arrested.
Poor nutrition worsens the impact of chronic disease, reduces resistance to infections, slows healing, and increases use of the healthcare system. Nutrient density can be increased by nutritional supplements. Traditionally, pills and painful shots were your options. Using the concept of oral absorption, through spray vitamins and nutraceuticals, today’s technology has created a revolutionary, convenient alternative to maintaining adequate levels of nutrients. Spray vitamins and nutraceuticals are up to 90 percent effective, allowing your body to obtain the necessary nutrients. Pills contain fillers and binders. Such as talcum powder, yeast, starch, sugar, wax and shellac. In comparison to sprays, pills are only 10 to 50 percent effective.
How are pills made?
Makers of pills, tablets, or caplets have standard size molds for the precise size of their pill. It does not matter what the active ingredients are because the manufacturer will add fillers, binders, waxes, and other excipients to take up the space. A filler does nothing more than take-up volume. Some common fillers are talcum powder, sugar, whey and yeast.
If a company claims it does not use any of these common fillers, then they surely use dehydrogenated animal fat. They have to use something to fill up the space within the mold. Also they must use wax or some kind of binders to make the components stick together when they squeeze everything to make the pill.
The molds must be sprayed with a releasing agent which is another form of wax or grease to allow the pill to drop out of the mold. Some tablets are coated with a shiny coating. This is normally shellac-the same as used on wood floors and boats! Time release capsules are made of a mixture of shellac, fillers and 200 proof alcohol. There is a little bit of active ingredient and fillers coated with the shellac/alcohol mixture. The percentage of alcohol controls the time the pill takes to dissolve in the stomach.
Normal tablets must meet U. S. Pharmacopeia (U.S.P.) standards. U.S.P. standards require that tablets must dissolve within 15 to 30 minutes once in your stomach. To test your tablets, place white vinegar in a dish or glass and drop in your pill. Check periodically. It should dissolve(disappear) within 15 to 30 minutes to meet U.S.P. standards. If it doesn’t, then you are paying a high price for fillers! You can keep this test up for 45 to 60 minutes, but if the pill is not dissolved by then, it can’t possibly generate any benefit to your body.
What are By-Products?
By-products are the second-hand substances derived from an original product. Brewer’s Yeast is a leftover in the making of beer, yeast is used to ferment the sugar. Many companies take these secondary products, put them in a white plastic bottle with some other ingredient like caffeine, and label them with sensational sounding names but what they really are is just waste products with little nutritional value. Sure, they list the percentages of each component they can find, but dirt is high in mineral contents too. Would you pay money for dirt? It’s hard to understand why some people will pay a high price for secondhand products.