Part Four: Current and Future Anti-Aging Treatments
As previously noted, many anti-oxidants are essential nutrients. Natural anti-oxidants, like vitamin C and E, work synergistically. Anti-oxidants may be more effective if obtained from a diet rich in fruits and vegetables. Nutritionists recommend eating 6 or more daily servings of anti-oxidant rich fruits and vegetables. Everyone agrees the use of antioxidant supplements for anti-aging may be helpful, but there is no agreement on what the most effective supplement dosages should be.
Anti-aging medicine acknowledges that stress of all kinds causes aging but has not yet developed individualized treatment for this. There are countless sources of internal and external stress and individual stress levels vary greatly. One overlooked cause of internal stress is improper hydration. Water is essential in for the correct operation of many internal functions. Too little or too much water causes age producing stress. When one is old (80+) thirst perception declines and dehydration can easily set in. Other overlooked sources of stress are antioxidants themselves. High doses (or doses above certain yet unspecified amounts) of supplemental anti-oxidants are a known cause of stress.
To be helpful, antioxidant supplements must prevent other types of stress more than the stress they themselves create. Knowing the correct supplement dosages that can do this is an essential part of anti-aging treatment. A healthy young person in his twenties, who is properly nourished, will have less internal stress that an older individual in his sixties. For a young individual, lower amounts of antioxidants may be safer than higher amounts. A older person, whose many internal homeostatic mechanisms are less able to deal with internal stress, may benefit more from higher amounts of antioxidants. Theoretically an anti-oxidant based course of anti-ageing treatment will slow the rate at which cellular damage occurs. Cells will become “sick” more slowly. Over time, as fewer sick cells are replaced at a slower rate, the number of cells retaining longer telomere chains will be higher. You can then reasonably expect this to result in an increase in life expectancy. For now the recommended but imprecise approach to decrease the rate at which cellular damage occurs is to increase your per day intake of anti-oxidant rich fruits and vegetables, to slightly increase your intake of antioxidants, and to take various vitamins and small amounts of anti-aging supplements on a daily basis. One study has shown taking a good multivitamin supplement is associated with longer telomere length.
Ideally anti-aging treatment should to be fine tuned for each individual. The key here would be to measure and minimize the cumulative effects of different kinds of stress on an individual basis. Easily measurable practical bio-markers for various types of stress do not yet exist or are not being used. When they are used it will be easy to customize individual antioxidant dosages so that everyone have “optimum” levels throughout their life. “Optimum” levels would maintain a safe reserve of protective antioxidants in the body.
Next I will briefly discuss the most popular nutrients associated with anti-aging. The most popular of the anti-oxidants, vitamins, and nutrients often associated with good health and anti-aging include: beta-carotene (vitamin A), vitamin C, vitamin E, various Flavonoids,Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, Co-enzyme Q10, Lycopene, Selenium.
There are dozens of supplements that are known to effectively treat specific symptoms of old age. A few of the better known supplements include: DMAE, Acetyl-l-carnitine, L-carnosine, Alpha Lipoic Acid, DHEA, L-arginine, and melatonin
Good food contains some of the anti-oxidants previously mentioned. A few other popular foods associated with anti-aging include: Green Tea, turmeric, and red wine.
All of the above have unique biological properties and, in my opinion, are “good” for you if taken in small or moderate amounts. Some (ex. vitamin C) may also be “good” for you in larger amounts. Various studies on each of these may conflict with each other. You need to carefully research each substance on your own but researchers have already found several nutrients to be associated with longer than average telomere lengths. These include: Green Tea, Omega-3, Vitamins A, C, D, and E.
Vitamin E has been associated with telomere lengthening anti-aging properties.
Green tea contains many antioxidants, including vitamin C, E and flavenoids.Flavenoids form a large antioxidant class (including catechins and quercetin) that has many anticarcinogenic, antihypercholesterolemic, antibacterial, (helps prevent dental caries), and anti-inflammatory properties. The leaves of the tea plant are rich in polyphenols. The consumption of 3 cups or more of green tea daily has been associated with longer than average telomere length.
The Omega-3s are essential long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids that are anti-inflammatory and help prevent heart disease, stroke, memory loss, depression, arthritis, cataract, cancer. Omega-3s slow down the shortening of telomeres; i.e. they may protect against aging on a cellular level.
Vitamin C is an abundant internal water soluble antioxidant that protects cellular components against free-radical formation caused by pollution and cigarette smoke. Many studies have associated high vitamin C intakes with lower rates of cancer of the mouth, larynx and esophagus. Vitamin C has shown promise in treating premature aging and possibly aging itself.
Due to limitations on the number of links I can incorporate into this article I could not provide more reference links supporting the preceding paragraphs. If interested please email me at the email address shown at the end of this article and I will forward them to you.
The sooner you start some sort of anti-aging treatment the better but it is never too late to start. All real treatments will help you maintain a longer than average average telomere chain length.
The goal of the programmed death theory of aging is to address the root causes of aging. This goal includes attempts to slow or reverse the telomere shortening process. Two such treatments are: TA 65 and human genetic engineering.
TA 65 is a telomerase activating product produced and marketed by Sierra Sciences. The key ingredient in TA 65 is Astragalus, a plant extract known to have telomerase activation properties. The product may work but I do not recommend it for several reasons. TA 65 is too expensive for the average person. A number of expensive health spas incorporate TA 65 in their programs. Again these are financially beyond the reach of the average person. The marketing tactics of Sierra Sciences have been questioned by many and there are law suits pending against TA 65.
The big issue I have with TA 65 is one of scientific honesty. The company genetically engineered mice that allowed telomerase to be switched off and on at an early age. TA 65 was able to switch telomerase back on in these mice and allowed them to live normal lives. http://www.nature.com/news/2010/101128/full/news.2010.635.html
Using this to show how effective TA65 treatment is, is dishonest. This is not how telomerase normally works and there was no real extension of the lifespan beyond what it would have been without the genetic modification. In normal mice the effects of TA65 were temporary and little or no life extension was seen. http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2011/04/11/anti-aging-pill-new-study-on-ta-65-sparks-controversy.html
Human genetic engineering is the real answer to fighting and defeating aging. It can directly address the root causes of aging. Advances in this area (ex. CRISPR) allow DNA base pairs to be inserted or deleted at specific place in our DNA. This means the human genome can now be precisely edited as needed. The lifespan of old mice has been modestly increased using telomerase gene therapy. In humans gene modification therapy has frequently been used for various medical problems. On September 15, 2015, Elizabeth Parrish was the first human to undergo anti-aging gene therapy. Anti-aging treatments will rapidly advance as our knowledge of the specifics of the human genome grows.
Current general social-political attitudes seem to be favoring the further development of anti-aging research. There are no international recognized political programs to stop aging or extend life but since 2012 a few pro-immortality political parties have sprung up. Their aim is to support anti-aging and life extension research, and to help provide access to advances in these areas to everyone. Among the numerous organizations supporting anti-aging research, the SENS (Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence) organization has come up with an anti-aging research plan. They want to develop anti-aging therapies to repair most forms of cellular damage. SENS, is a charitable organization. Any anti-aging advances resulting from funding it provides will become readily available public knowledge. In addition to the normal scientific research there is the $1,000,00 Palo Alto Longevity Prize that is being offered to anyone who can come up with an effective anti-aging treatment.
As of 2015, all known anti-aging treatments are only partially effective. Depending on when one starts a comprehensive anti-aging program, one can probably extend one’s life by 10 to 25 years. Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health estimated that an anti-aging lifestyle can add 24.6 more productive years to one’s lifespan. Anti-aging knowledge increases at a rate of about 10 times every 10 years. This probably means that for many of us there is more than enough time to reap the anticipated benefits in anti-aging research. One day soon, aging, like many other diseases, will be cured. While we wait for those anti-aging technological singularities to occur the name of the game is to ensure we stay healthy long enough repeat their benefits.