Mar
16
2024

New Blood Test for Alzheimer’s Disease

A recent study explained that a new blood test for Alzheimer’s disease is very reliable. Specifically, it determined with 96% accuracy elevated levels of beta amyloid. It also accurately identified tau protein, another Alzheimer’s marker, with 97%. The original research study was published at JAMA Neurology.

Significance of tau protein and beta amyloid for Alzheimer’s diagnosis

Both beta amyloid and tau protein play an important role in the functioning of nerve cells in the central nervous system. But people who develop Alzheimer’s disease experience a lot of beta amyloid deposits in their brains. In addition, there is an overproduction of tau protein as well with insoluble filaments that accumulate as neurofibrillary tangles.

Conventional ways to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease

Alzheimer’s disease conventionally is diagnosed by a PET scan. However, this involves some radiation exposure and costs over $5,000. Next a spinal tap allows the physician to send a sample of cerebrospinal fluid to the lab for analysis. This test gives detailed information, but people are often reluctant to get this invasive test. These tests are expensive and not covered by insurance.

The preventive neurologist Dr. Richard Isaacson is the director of research at the Institute for Neurodegenerative Diseases in Florida. He was not involved in the study. Dr. Isaacson said: “Having a blood test like this can also help democratize access for people and just make it easier for our health care system to more proactively manage the tsunami of dementia risk that our society is facing. This is the key to unlock the door into the field of Alzheimer’s prevention and preventive neurology.”

Home test

The Alzheimer’s disease test was introduced in the US in May of 2022 under the name “AD-Detect™ Test” by Quest. Again, this test is not covered by insurance. The cost is about 399.00 USD plus a 13.00 USD physician service fee.

Research background of the home test

Researchers performed a clinical trial that correlated the blood test, phosphorylated tau (p-tau), with PET scanning of the brain. The blood test was also correlated with lumbar punctures and analysis of cerebrospinal fluid tests. A total of 786 participants (504 females and 282 males) were tested 3 times over 5.22 years. The researchers found that phosphorylated tau (p-tau) was a specific blood biomarker to detect Alzheimer’s disease. It was very sensitive and accurate in terms of correlation with PET scans and cerebrospinal fluid tests. The investigators concluded that the Alzheimer blood test is a practical solution for diagnosing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease early. It will also be a good tool to monitor, whether any future Alzheimer’s drug is effective in controlling the disease process.

Discussion regarding the new blood test for Alzheimer’s disease

For years there was no easy way for physicians to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease. The alternatives were to order the expensive PET scan or the invasive lumbar puncture for a cerebrospinal fluid test. Now with the new blood test for Alzheimer’s disease the physician can screen for Alzheimer’s based on clinical suspicion. The blood test can also tell whether any lifestyle changes have slowed down the clinical course or not. Another important aspect is that this test allows an earlier diagnosis of dementia.

Difficult to interpret tests and test results in other forms of dementia

About 20% of the study participants had blood test results, which were not clear. In a case like this the doctor would order further testing with imaging or a spinal tap to diagnose the condition accurately. Other forms of dementia like vascular dementia or Lewy body dementia were negative with this Alzheimer’s test, which added to the specificity of the test. Also, this test picks up Alzheimer’s about 10 years before symptom onset, so it is an early diagnostic test.

New Blood Test for Alzheimer’s Disease

New Blood Test for Alzheimer’s Disease

Conclusion

One of the clinical tests for Alzheimer’s disease is to test for recent memory loss. But with the new phosphorylated tau (p-tau) blood test physicians can now objectively diagnose Alzheimer’s much earlier, even when the person has no symptoms yet. Researchers validated the test in 786 participants (504 females and 282 males). They were tested 3 times over 5.22 years. Researchers also did PET scans and spinal tabs for analysis of cerebrospinal fluid in the same participants to validate the blood test. There was a 96% accuracy for elevated levels of beta amyloid. It also accurately identified tau protein, another Alzheimer’s marker with 97%. There is now a reliable Alzheimer’s blood test, which helps the physician in the management of patients with Alzheimer’s disease.

Mar
02
2024

Living with the Aging Process

The following article describes living with the aging process. Older adults undergo the process of aging between the ages of 50 and 80. This is a complex process affecting various systems parallel. There are hormone factors that are particularly prominent in women during menopause. Joints are affected by degenerative changes, which can lead to total knee and hip replacements. The aging process was described in an article by Monica Jimenez at Tufts University.

What is aging?

Aging is the loss of function over time. The body is much more complex than a car, so there are more possible points of failure.  Christopher Wiley is a scientist on the Basic Biology of Aging Team who studies the role of nutrition and metabolism in aging at a cellular level at Tufts University. He said:” The fact that life works is amazing”. He went on to say: “The body tries to maintain itself and restore homeostasis(self-healing) even in the face of all this stress and all this damage. We have these really sophisticated programs for dealing with these points of failure.”

Aging goes on relentlessly

He explains the aging process this way: “It can start with something as simple as a broken molecule, one little thing that goes wrong in one cell, and then it’s like the butterfly effect,” Wiley said. “The tissue starts struggling, and then the organ, and then your entire body.”

Dr. Wiley warns about those who say physicians could make people “immortal”. “There’s definitely a misconception out there that we’re trying to make people immortal. But there is never going to be an immortality vaccine,” Wiley said. “There’s never going to be one thing that defeats all of aging. There’s always going to be another point of failure.”

Slowing down biological aging

The emphasis of research about aging is not to add chronological years. It is on biological aging and on how well our cells and tissues are functioning. Dr. Sarah Booth is the director of the Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging (HNRCA) at Tufts. She said: “Lengthening the time in which we can continue to move around, care for ourselves, and participate in social life and activities, is a worthier goal than extending years of suffering.” Many people become disabled in their last years of life, then they die. “Healthspan” is a new term for our years of freedom from disability, Booth noted.

Factors that prolong healthy aging

  1. Telomere length: One of the factors of longevity is our telomere length. Telomeres are the protective caps at the end of each chromosome. When they wear down, it leads to mistakes in the DNA copies of genetic information. There are supplements and herbs that can elongate telomeres. Exercise and the fasting mimicking diet also make telomeres longer. Older adults in good shape have longer telomeres, which stabilizes the DNA in their cells.
  2. Healthy diet: Researchers have determined that several diets are healthier than others. The Mediterranean diet is anti-inflammatory, so is the DASH diet, which was developed for people with high blood pressure. The HNRCA of Tufts is one of six organizations that got research grants recently to investigate life-prolonging diets. The amount was for $8.5 million.

Exercise and lifestyle factors

  1. Regular exercise: Over the years a lot of research accumulated data that shows regular exercise makes people biologically younger. Heart vessels have less atheromatous deposits and the brain stays younger as well. One study reported that 30 minutes of exercise daily prevents dementia.
  2. Other lifestyle factors: other factors are whether or not you are smoking (it goes without saying that you must quit). In addition, genetics (longevity gene), the environment (polluted or not), stress levels and socioeconomic class all play a factor in how fast we age. These latter points are difficult to tease apart, but they influence us globally. Target organs for aging are: the brain, heart, eyes, and bones, along with cancer, obesity, and more.

Hormone replacement 

  1. Bioidentical hormone replacement: One factor about delaying aging significantly was not mentioned in the review article by Monica Jimenez. But I am including it, because bioidentical hormone replacement is important for women who undergo menopause in their 50’s. I also mention it because men enter andropause in their 60’s. BiEst estrogen and progesterone cream make a big difference for the symptoms of menopausal women. Similarly, men experience a lot of relief with testosterone injections twice a week, when blood testosterone levels are low. If they have a lack of erections (erectile dysfunction) they may in addition need to take the “happy pill”. Sildenafil or tadalafil can treat erectile dysfunction by giving a good erection to a menopausal male. Hormone replacement can add as much as 10 healthy years to your life.

Discussion

Dr. Booth said: “We’re looking at the same question through different lenses with different tools, technologies, and perspectives. Progress in aging research is only going to be achieved by bringing together different disciplines addressing the same problem.”

Christopher Wiley added: “The biggest change I’ve seen in the past ten years is that we really are finding new, different ways of actually intervening somewhere that could potentially extend the healthy years of life, and prevent people from getting age-related diseases.” He mentioned that scientists are gradually reducing the suffering associated with aging: “What aging research is really trying to do is compress the morbidity and make it as small as possible – to alleviate suffering,” Wiley said. “I think that’s a much more humanitarian goal, and I think we’re having a lot of success with those efforts.”

Living with the Aging Process

Living with the Aging Process

Conclusion

Aging is a slow process that starts the moment we are born. But between the age of 50 and 80 we age faster. I mentioned 5 specific areas that can slow down the aging process. If somebody smokes, he/she must stop smoking. Cigarette and tobacco smoking  the biggest aging factor. The protective caps at the end of each chromosome go by the name of telomeres. When they shorten prematurely, mistakes occur in the DNA copies of genetic information. This leads to premature aging.

What keeps you younger for longer

The good news is that exercise, the fasting mimicking diet and several supplements can elongate telomeres. A healthy diet like the Mediterranean diet and regular exercise keeps the arteries open preventing heart attacks and strokes. Bioidentical hormone replacement helps to rebalance your hormones, which is important for normal cell function. In anti-aging circles they talk about life prolongation of about 10 years for hormone replacement alone. It comes down to not simply extend your lifespan, but to extend your years of healthy living without disability.

Incoming search terms:

Aug
27
2022

Ultra-Processed Food and Dementia

Researchers are more and more concerned about an association between ultra-processed food and dementia. A new study found that when you consume more than 20% of you daily food intake as processed food, you can start developing cognitive decline. Eating just 2 cookies per day, which have about 100 calories, will lead to cognitive decline.

What is processed food?

Foods such as instant noodles, hot dogs and ice cream are not healthy. There is too much salt, sugar and unhealthy fat in them that undermine your health. If you consider breakfast granola as “healthy”, you’d better take a look at the ingredients: sugar is one of them! Frozen meals, sugary drinks, take-out pizzas, deep-fried chicken and French fries also belong to unhealthy foods. Unless you buy fresh ingredients and make your own Mediterranean-style meals, you will struggle staying healthy. Processed foods lead to weight gain, which is difficult to shed unless you give up processed food.

Processed food often contains flavorings, colorings or other additives. White bread and bakery products, fried snacks, crackers, cookies, ice cream, candy, cream cheese and processed cheese, soda and frozen meals fall into this category.

Conference in San Diego

At the 2022 Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in San Diego researchers revealed the results of a Brazilian study. 10,000 Brazilians were followed with dietary habits and intermittent cognitive tests for up to 10 years. In the beginning none of the participants had a cognitive deficit. The average age at the time of the beginning of the study was 51 years. When you eat more than 20 % ultra-processed food of your total calorie intake every day, cognitive decline is showing up on the cognitive tests. Specifically, patients who consumed more than 20% calories from ultra-processed food developed 28% faster decline in cognitive tests. They also developed 25% faster decline in executive functioning.

Comment from a co author

Co Author Dr. Claudia Suemoto, an assistant professor in the division of geriatrics at the University of São Paulo Medical School stated: “In Brazil, ultra-processed foods make up 25% to 30% of total calorie intake. We have McDonald’s, Burger King and we eat a lot of chocolate and white bread. It’s not very different, unfortunately, from many other Western countries”. She went on to say: “58% of the calories consumed by United States citizens, 56.8% of the calories consumed by British citizens, and 48% of the calories consumed by Canadians come from ultra-processed foods”. She expressed her concern that these statistics show that many more seniors than now will develop Alzheimer’s disease. In the Brazilian study researchers followed their subjects for up to 10 years. After decades of exposure to ultra-processed food the numbers of people with cognitive deficits and Alzheimer’s disease will be much higher.

Other means to prevent cognitive decline

A study showed that regular aerobic exercises (running, treadmill, walking) or stretching, balancing and range of motion exercises both prevented cognitive decline. The best is to build some form of exercise into your daily routine. This is particularly important for people who have desk jobs.

What are healthy foods to eat?

We need to eat more vegetables, fruit and cut out sugar, omit too many starchy foods, salt and unhealthy fats. So, how does that work? In the following I am giving examples of a healthy breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Breakfast

Start the day with fresh fruit, a bowl of rolled oats with milk or a milk alternative. Add a few almonds or chopped nuts or ground flaxseed. You could add raspberries, blackberries, strawberries or blueberries.

If you want a breakfast with egg, try an omelet with eggs or egg white with mushrooms, onions and chopped greens! No, it does not always have to be kale! Enjoy arugula or spinach. Add some salsa on the side.

For those who hate to prepare breakfast, take it easy: put 1/2 a banana, a cup of berries, 1 tablespoon almond butter and 3/4 cup of low-fat yoghurt into the blender. Blend at high speed. This takes less than 2 minutes. Enjoy! It does not get much easier than that.

Lunch

Assemble some mixed salad greens, 1 sliced tomato, 1 cup of sliced cucumber, half a sliced avocado and 1/2 shredded carrot on a plate or in a bowl. Add 2 slices of cheese or 2 tablespoons of crumbled feta cheese. Add one boiled and sliced egg or alternatively 4 slices of chicken breast. Make a dressing of 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar. You can prepare this easy lunch the evening before and take it to work.

If you want a warm lunch, cook a simple Italian-style vegetable soup. Sprinkle it with a tablespoon of grated parmigiano cheese and serve it with a slice of whole-grain bread. A vegetable chili is a good choice for a colder day. Have some fresh fruit for dessert.

Dinner

Make vegetables the main event. Do not have a huge steak with an afterthought of vegetables, but build a tasty meal around vegetables with a protein of your choice: lean meats, such as chicken breast, enjoy fish or other seafood or experiment with other protein sources, such as tofu. The latter works well in an Asian-style vegetable stir-fry. And otherwise: breaded and deep-fried chicken or battered fish are not healthy choices, even if you prepare the meal at home! Forget the breading and dip the meat into a tasty marinade instead! If you want to have a quick dessert, make a colorful fruit salad with a dollop of yoghurt on top. For all those who drool over a decadent dessert in a restaurant, go ahead and order that Tiramisu and share it with others of your party. But it should be an exception rather than a regular treat.

Ultra-Processed Food and Dementia

Ultra-Processed Food and Dementia

Conclusion

Researchers are more and more concerned about an association between ultra-processed food and dementia. A new study found that when you consume more than 20% of you daily food intake as processed food, you start developing cognitive decline. Eating just 2 cookies per day, which have about 100 calories, will lead to cognitive decline. It is fairly easy to cut out junk foods from your diet and to adopt healthy eating ha its.

Meal suggestions

Start the day with fresh fruit, a bowl of rolled oats with milk or milk alternative. Add a few almonds or chopped nuts or ground flaxseed. You could add raspberries, blackberries, strawberries blueberries. I sweeten everything with stevia extract and avoid sugar completely. For lunch you could have mixed salad greens with 2 slices of cheese or 2 tablespoons of crumbled feta cheese. Add one boiled and sliced egg or alternatively 4 slices of chicken breast. For dinner make vegetables the main event. Do not have a huge steak with an afterthought of vegetables, but build a tasty meal around vegetables with a protein of your choice: lean meats, such as chicken breast, enjoy fish or other seafood or experiment with other protein sources, such as tofu.

Final remark

You see, it is fairly easy to avoid ultra-processed foods that lead to cognitive decline. It involves a critical look at your current eating habits and very likely some cleaning-out of less than desirable foods from your pantry.

Aug
21
2021

When Stress Becomes Abnormal

Recently CNN published an article that dealt about when stress becomes abnormal.

We all have experienced stress. It makes our heart beat faster and our breathing speeds up as well. But when the stressful situation is over, stress usually subsides also. Some people though have so much stress in their lives that they never completely recover from any stressful situation. They develop chronic stress, which can lead to physical illnesses or mental disease. I have previously written about “stress drives our lives”. In the following I am reprinting the next 5 paragraphs.

Heart attacks and strokes when stress becomes abnormal

In a 2015 Lancet study 603,838 men and women who worked long hours were followed for an average time of about 8 years with respect to heart disease or strokes. All of the subjects were free of heart attacks and strokes when they entered into the study. There was a total of 13% more heart attacks in those who worked extra hours in comparison to those who worked 40 hours per week or less. With respect to strokes there were 33% more strokes in those who worked long hours. Researchers noted a dose-response curve for strokes in groups with various workloads. Compared to standard working hours there were 10% additional strokes for 41-48 working hours, 27% for 49-54 working hours and 33% for 55 or more working hours per week.

Stress drives some of us to substance abuse

In order to cope with stress many of us “treat” daily stress with alcohol. It makes you feel good subjectively, but it can raise your blood pressure causing heart attacks and strokes down the road. A low dose of alcohol may be healthy, but medium and high doses are detrimental to your health.

Next, many people still smoke, although scientists have proven long time ago that it is bad for your health. It can cause heart attacks, various cancers and circulatory problems leading to leg amputations.

Overeating is another common problem. Comfort food relieves stress, but it causes us to put on extra pounds. As you know it is easier to put weight on than to take it off. Being overweight or being obese has its own problems: arthritis in the hips and knees makes walking more difficult. The metabolic syndrome sets in, which is a characteristic metabolic change causing diabetes, high blood pressure, heart attacks, strokes and certain cancers. The more weight you carry, the less likely you are to exercise. This can lead to further deterioration of your health.

Diabetes can occur when stress becomes abnormal

Stress causes too much cortisol secretion from the adrenal glands. This raises blood sugar, and when chronic can cause diabetes. In addition, unhealthy eating habits in an attempt to cope with stress can cause weight gain. Insulin resistance causes high blood sugars and diabetes.

Korean immigrant study

In a 2012 California study 148 adult Korean immigrants were examined. They all had elevated blood sugars confirming the diagnosis of type 2 diabetes. They had an elevated waist/hip ratio.

A high percentage of the study subjects had risk factors for type 2 diabetes. This included being overweight or obese and having high blood glucose readings. 66% of them said that they were feeling stressed, 51% reported feeling anxious, 38% said they were feeling restless, 30% felt nervous and 3% said they were feeling hopeless. It is easy to see the connection between stress and disease!

Australian study showed that anxiety can cause diabetes

An Australian long-term follow-up study computed risk factors for developing type 2 diabetes. Stress was a major contributor to diabetes.

A 30-day episode of any anxiety disorder had a 1.53-fold risk to cause diabetes. A depressive disorder had a 1.37-fold risk to cause diabetes and posttraumatic stress disorder had a risk of 1.42-fold to cause diabetes.

Infertility may develop when stress becomes abnormal

Stress changes hormones in women causing ovulation problems and infertility. 1 in 8 couples in America have problems getting pregnant. Physicians identified stress as at least one of  the contributing factors. But in men stress can also reduce sperm count and semen quality as this study describes.

Alzheimer’s disease and stress

2010 study from Gothenburg University, Sweden examined 1462 woman aged 38-60 and followed them for 35 years.

Psychologists assessed the stress score in 1968,1974 and 1980. 161 females developed dementia (105 Alzheimer’s disease, 40 vascular dementia and 16 other dementias). The risk of dementia was higher in those women who had frequent/constant stress in the past. Women who had stress on one, two or three examinations suffered from higher dementia rates later in life. Researchers compared this to a group of women who did not have any significant stress. Specifically, dementia rates were 10% higher after one stressful episode, 73% higher after two stressful episodes and 151% higher after three stressful episodes.

Hormone system affected by stress

I have written an article before about how stress affects our hormone system.

I am reprinting excerpts from this here (the next 4 paragraphs).

Dr. Andrew Heyman gave a talk about how stress affects our hormone system. He presented his talk at the 24th Annual World Congress on Anti-Aging Medicine (Dec. 9-11, 2016) in Las Vegas that I attended. It was entitled “Understanding the Stress, Thyroid, Hormone Connections & Prioritizing Systems”.

Dr. Heyman emphasized in particular that there is a triad of hormonal connections that is important to remember: the thyroid hormones, the stress hormones (adrenal glands) and the pancreas (insulin production). It seems like we need a balance of these hormones for optimal energy production and circulation. Under stress our sugar metabolism can markedly derail, we develop obesity and fatigue. But when balanced, we experience vitality and wellbeing.

Metabolic activation pathways

Dr. Heyman projected a slide that showed the metabolic activation pathways. Likewise, he stated that a number of different factors could influence the hormone system:

  • Diet: trans fats, sugar, too many carbs, food allergies.
  • Drugs: drug-induced nutrient depletion (over-the-counter drugs, prescription drugs).
  • Physical exercise: frequency and type matters.
  • Environmental exposure: chemicals, pesticides, herbicides, heavy metals, plastics, molds, and pollens.
  • Stress: physical stress, psychogenic stress.
  • Genetics: methylene-tetra-hydro-folate reductase enzyme deficiency (MTHFR mutation), APOE genes, lack of vitamin D
  • Disease: past or present conditions, active disease or syndromes.

Target areas within your system

The target areas in your system are the

  • Pancreas, where blood sugar can rise because of insulin resistance. In particular, too much insulin production causes inflammation, hormone disbalances, kidney damage, and hardening of the arteries through plaque formation.
  • Thyroid gland, which depends on TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) for activation. Autoantibodies can also affect it negatively.
  • Brain: decrease in serotonin resulting in anxiety, depression and food cravings; decreased melatonin causing sleep disturbances; increased ghrelin and decreased leptin secretion leading to overeating and obesity.

Other target areas of stress

  • Liver/kidneys: both of these organs are important for detoxification; the liver produces thyroid binding globulin, which when increased can lower the free thyroid hormones.
  • Immune system (gut, lymph glands): the Peyer’s patches in the gut mucosa produce a large portion of the immune cells; lymph glands, the bone marrow and the spleen supply the rest. A leaky gut syndrome can affect the whole body, in addition causing inflammation and autoimmune reactions.
  • Hypothalamus/pituitary/adrenal glands: this is the main axis of the stress reaction. A brain under stress activates the hypothalamus. It sends a cascade of activating hormones via the pituitary gland and likewise activates the adrenal glands. Finally, this leads to cortisol overproduction, and release of epinephrine and norepinephrine from the center of the adrenal glands. High blood pressure, anxiety, heart palpitations, arrhythmias and more can finally develop from this.

Treatment suggestions to cope with stress

There are thyroid supplements that can support the function of the thyroid gland. Similarly, there are several supplements to support the adrenal glands.
Chromium, vitamin D, magnesium, alpha-lipoic acid, fish oil and others are useful to support the pancreas. Relaxation methods like self-hypnosis, meditation, yoga, Tai-Chi and others are very useful to counter stress. If you can change your job to evade stress, take the opportunity and find another job with less stress. See a health professional and discuss what you can do to become more stress-resistant. If you are overweight or obese, see a dietitian to help you lose weight. Aerobic exercises like running for 30 minutes on a treadmill can help reduce stress. Various relaxation methods mentioned earlier also can counter stress. They help you to block out worrying about the past and the future, but instead focus on what is positive in the present.

When Stress Becomes Abnormal

When Stress Becomes Abnormal

Conclusion

I have described what stress can do to your body. It can give you heart attacks and strokes. Stress in some people can lead to substance abuse. It can cause diabetes, infertility and even Alzheimer’s disease. I described how thyroid hormones, insulin and brain hormones are interconnected and suffer with stress. Other factors can make the effects of stress worse or better as I discussed in detail. Treatment of stress-induced conditions requires a combination of preventative steps and medical therapies. Ignoring stress is not an option as this could lead to premature death. Managing stress, as mentioned before, and keeping it to a minimum is the answer.

Jan
09
2021

Melatonin Is More Than a Sleeping Aid

Notably, the January 2021 issue of the Life Extension magazine informs you that melatonin is more than a sleeping aid. It contains an interview between Dr. Roman Rozencwaig and a Life Extension (LE) magazine reporter. It must be remembered that Dr. Rozencwaig dedicated much of his career to the healing effects of melatonin. Another keypoint is that in 1987 Dr. Rozencwaig published a paper together with two other researchers. Specifically, it showed that melatonin production by the pineal gland declines in older age. Markedly, they stated that this is the reason why people age and why diseases of aging develop. Another key point is that Dr. Rozencwaig also stated that taking oral melatonin can promote a healthier life.

Melatonin deficiency causing aging and various illnesses

With the aging process the pineal gland calcifies and melatonin production is steadily declining. Surely, along with this is a deterioration of the circadian hormone rhythm. Meanwhile, the neuroendocrine system in the brain gets disorganized. Accordingly, this causes various diseases to occur. To emphasize, Dr. Rozencwaig says that a proper balance between melatonin and neurotransmitters is what we need to maintain health and longevity. As a result, a daily intake of melatonin supports healthy aging and longevity.

The many clinical effects of melatonin

Oral melatonin tablets help you to fall asleep easier, particularly the population that is older than 60 years.

But besides that, melatonin has many other clinical effects.

  • Melatonin improves immunity, which improves resistance against infections. It helps also in cancer prevention
  • Melatonin maintains the circadian hormone rhythm by synchronizing pituitary and hypothalamic hormone production
  • It protects the brain and may prevent Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis, autism, and others
  • Melatonin modulates anti-inflammatory cytokinins in different diseases

Dr. Rozencwaig mentioned that melatonin slows down the aging process. There are multiple intertwining reasons for this. 

Melatonin’s actions against the aging process 

  • Melatonin regulates gene expression. This means that some signs and symptoms of aging can be reversed through genetic switches
  • Because melatonin regulates the immune response, the body is more protected against viral, bacterial and parasitic infections
  • Melatonin helps to overcome chronic inflammation that produces cytokines
  • Melatonin is also liver-protective through stimulation of an enzyme (AMPK). This enzyme regulates cellular metabolism.
  • There are other processes that melatonin is involved in: energy metabolism by protection and restoration of mitochondria.
  • Melatonin protects against osteoporosis by balancing and regulating bone formation versus bone loss.

More actions of melatonin

  • An important function of melatonin is the stimulation of antioxidant enzymes like glutathione peroxidase and superoxide dismutase (SOD)
  • Melatonin regulates sirtuins, which are proteins that maintain cellular health. They protect you from obesity, type 2 diabetes, cancer, heart attacks and strokes, dementia and more
  • As already mentioned, melatonin is a neuroprotective agent and may prevent Alzheimer’s and dementia
  • Melatonin stimulates apoptosis of cancer cells.
  • Oral health and melatonin are related. Melatonin suppresses herpes infections and periodontal disease. Melatonin prevents oral cancers to a certain degree. In addition, dental implants survive better when melatonin is present in saliva.

Prevention of cognitive decline

Dr. Rozencwaig mentioned that melatonin stops much of the cognitive decline of aging. To achieve this the following processes take place.

  1. Melatonin improves the sleeping pattern and increases the amount of REM sleep.
  2. During sleep melatonin removes toxic amyloid and tau proteins. We know that with Alzheimer’s disease these are the proteins that accumulate in the brain.
  3. Melatonin improves myelination of white matter in the brain. This prevents brain atrophy of old age.
  4. The brain is metabolically very active and produces toxic free radicals. But melatonin is a strong antioxidant dealing with free radicals. Melatonin can cross the blood brain barrier and stimulates enzyme production to eliminate toxic reactive oxygen species.
  5. Chronic inflammation also increases with age, but melatonin deals with this condition in the brain.
  6. Here are 3 subtypes of melatonin receptors. The body integrates the multitude of actions of melatonin with the help of these receptors.
Melatonin Is More Than a Sleeping Aid

Melatonin Is More Than a Sleeping Aid

Conclusion

Melatonin is a powerful antioxidant that has many other useful protective qualities as explained. The body integrates various functions like anti-aging, anti-free radical activity, neuroprotection in the brain and more. Melatonin even synchronizes pituitary and hypothalamic hormone production. This helps to integrate the effect of melatonin, which benefits the body in many ways. Melatonin prevents Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis, autism, obesity, type 2 diabetes, cancer, heart attacks, strokes and dementia. Melatonin production deteriorates from the age of about 60 onwards. It is important to supplement with melatonin at nighttime from that age on. Usually, you only need small amounts of melatonin, between 1mg and 3 mg at bedtime. This prevents most of the serious diseases of old age, stimulates your immune system and lets you age gracefully.

Incoming search terms:

Oct
10
2020

Medical Myths about Aging

Medical myths about aging are easy to debunk. Many people believe that it is inevitable that they become disabled as they age, their lives become unbearable, without passion, boring and full of pain. Some aspects of your health may decline with age, none of the myths discussed below is inevitably happening in everyone. Studies showed that a positive outlook on aging and life in general will help you to live longer and stay healthier.  Here I discuss 7 common myths about aging.

Myth 1: Everyone will experience physical deterioration

It is common for people to experience reduced muscle strength, increased blood pressure, excessive fat accumulation and osteoporosis. A study with 148 older patients showed that an expectation of reduced fitness in older age actually resulted in less physical activity when older age arrived.

But you can maintain good cardiovascular function and good muscle strength with a regular exercise program.  This study showed that men and women can reduce mortality by exercising regularly, even in older age.

Myth 2: Older adults cannot exercise

There are several reasons why older people stop exercising or are afraid to start exercising. People use the excuse of their arthritis getting worse from exercise. But studies showed the opposite: joint function improves and joint pains are getting better with exercise. Your muscles get stronger and you are less likely to fall. Your heart and lungs are improving their functions and your mentation improves. Exercise increases the HDL cholesterol, which reduces the risk for heart attacks and strokes.

Myth 3: As we age, we need less sleep

For many years there was the notion that older people need less sleep. What was not known then was that people above the age of 60 have no appreciable secretion of melatonin from the pineal gland. But when they replace their melatonin deficiency by taking a nighttime dose of 3 mg at bedtime, they will sleep better and longer. They may need a second dose of melatonin in the middle of the night. We need 7 to 8 hours of sleep at night for our diurnal hormone rhythm.

This will also slow down our aging clock.

Myth 4: Your brain slows as you age

Dementia is common when you get older. 13.9% have it at age 71 and older. 37.4% have dementia over the age of 90. But the majority, namely 86.1% in the 71+ age group and 62.6% above the age of 90 do not have dementia. A Mayo Clinic study showed that when the person engaged in artistic activities in midlife or later in life the risk for mild cognitive impairment (MCI) development was reduced by 73%, involvement in crafts reduced it by 45% and engagement in social activities by 55%. In a surprise finding the use of a computer late in life was associated with a 53% reduction in MCI development. These are very significant observations.

Physical activity reduces risk for dementia

Apart from stimulating your brain, physical activities also significantly reduce the risk for dementia. A synopsis of 11 such studies showed that dementia is reduced by 30% when physical activity is started in midlife and the person is aging compared to non-exercisers.

Myth 5: Osteoporosis occurs only in women

There is a serious misunderstanding about osteoporosis. Several factors work together that can cause osteoporosis. Women in menopause are more likely to develop it due to the missing ovarian hormones estrogen and progesterone. These hormones work together and stimulate vitamin D induced calcium deposition into bone as well as decreasing bone resorption.

Vitamin K2 also deposits calcium into the bone. In postmenopausal women who take bioidentical hormone replacement, vitamin D and K2 the bone density remains strong. Unfortunately, the opposite is true in postmenopausal women who take synthetic hormones. Synthetic hormones have side chains that do not fit the natural hormone receptors of a woman. This is why osteoporosis persist. And, yes, men get osteoporosis, but typically 10 years later. Typically, they get into andropause where testosterone production declines 10 years later.

Myth 6: People stop sex as they age

With age men can develop erectile dysfunction (ED) and women vaginal dryness, both of which can interfere with having sex. A large study showed that only 0.4% of men in the age group 18-29 had ED. In the age group of 60-69 there were 11.5% who suffered from ED. What this means though is that 88.5% of men age 60-69 did not suffer from ED. Fortunately for those who have ED drugs like Cialis and Viagra can correct their problem and they can have regular sex. What a change from 25 years ago when none of these drugs were available (approval of Viagra by FDA in 1998 and of Cialis in 2003).

Bioidentical hormone replacement beyond menopause and andropause preserves your normal sex drive as well. There are additional benefits of bioidentical hormones. They have positive effects on the heart, brain, bones and the muscle mass.

Myth 7: It is too late to stop smoking now

One of the myths that many older smokers like to say is that it would be too late to stop smoking. They think the damage to heart and lungs is permanent and quitting now is too late. Fact is that quitting smoking immediately improves your blood circulation and gives you more oxygen. In just 1 year the risk of getting a heart attack is cut into half. In 10 years, the risk of a heart attack or stroke is the same as that of non-smokers. There is a reduction of getting lung cancer by half.

Medical Myths About Aging

Medical Myths about Aging

Conclusion

There are all kinds of medical myths about aging. We may think that physical deterioration is inevitable. Or we believe that older people cannot exercise. And we cannot help it, but our brain slows down as we get older. And there is the question whether we need less sleep as we age. Osteoporosis is a disease of women, is it not? These older couples, they don’t have sex any more, do they? And is it too late to stop smoking now that I am 65 years old? All of these myths exist, but there is a need to debunk them.

The truth behind the medical myths about aging

I explained in detail what the medical truths are behind these questions. Many of these myths have developed in the past. But with regular exercise, balanced nutrition (Mediterranean diet) and a positive attitude much of these old myths can be overcome. Bioidentical hormone replacement when hormones are missing is another powerful tool. Yes, we all age. But we are still living and can enjoy life as long as it lasts.

Oct
03
2020

Fibrotic Eye Disease Responds to Nicotinamide (Vitamin B3)

A new study from Mt. Sinai Hospital showed that fibrotic eye disease responds to nicotinamide (vitamin B3). In general, during wound healing there can be aggressive cell transformations.  This can cause scarring, retinal detachment and finally loss of vision and even blindness. Notably, the following pieces of evidence support the notion that vitamin B3 (nicotinamide) helps to make eye diseases better.

Lab experiments made in Petri dishes

Specifically, researchers performed experiments in Petri dishes with human adult cells. After adding nicotinamide, they found the following.

  • There were no harmful cell transformations
  • Membrane formation in conjunction with scar formation was reversed
  • There is a slow-down regarding the development of eye diseases that lead to loss of vision and blindness

Vitamin B3 was first detected as a cure to Pellagra

Pellagra, the vitamin B3 deficiency was first described by the Spanish physician, Don Gaspar Casal in 1763. Typically, pellagra presents with dermatitis, diarrhea and dementia. If left untreated it will lead to death. The skin showed inflammation, particularly in areas where there was exposure to the sun or to friction. Affected skin may be darker. Pellagra occurs mainly in the developing world, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa.

Experiments with vitamin B3 on mice curing eye disease

In a mouse model researcher showed that vitamin B3 could largely prevent the development of glaucoma in aging mice. According to these researchers 93% of the mice with the higher dose of vitamin B3 did not develop glaucoma. Vitamin B3 (the precursor of nicotinamide) is important for the production of NAD+ and the phosphorylated form NADP, which are cofactors in the energy producing metabolism of mitochondria.  

Experiments on rabbits showing a cure with nicotinamide

In a 1985 publication rabbits were subjected to a vitamin B3 inhibitor, namely 6-aminonicotinamide. This is an antimetabolite of nicotinamide. It was given by intraabdominal injection. The rabbits developed diarrhea, ascending paresis/paralysis and death. They also developed vascular lesions in the eyes, particularly the iris with an acute inflammation of the iris, which physicians call iritis. The ocular lesions could be prevented by administering nicotinamide. The researchers concluded that vitamin B3 deficiency was responsible for the eye lesions.

Clinical trials show a response of glaucoma to vitamin B3

In a clinical trial physicians compared 34 primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG) patients with a control group of 30 age- and sex-matched controls. The researchers measured plasma nicotinamide concentration in both groups. The POAG patients had on average 33% lower nicotinamide plasma levels than the control group. They concluded that glaucoma seems to be associated with lower plasma nicotinamide levels. The research team suggested that these findings need to be confirmed in a larger series of glaucoma patients. They also suggested that vitamin B3 therapy could become one of the treatment modalities.

Fibrotic Eye Disease Responds to Nicotinamide (Vitamin B3)

Fibrotic Eye Disease Responds to Nicotinamide (Vitamin B3)

Conclusion

We know vitamin B3 deficiency mainly as pellagra. It occurs mainly in the developing world, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. But newer experiments in vitro, in mice and in rabbits showed that vitamin B3 deficiency can also cause eye disease. Other studies showed that fibrotic eye disease responds to nicotinamide (vitamin B3). In addition, a clinical trial in humans showed that glaucoma can develop as a result of a 33% lack of plasma nicotinamide (vitamin B3) level. Regular supplementation in those who are prone to vitamin B3 deficiency may be curative for eye disease.

Aug
08
2020

Poor Diets Threaten Americans and Cause Diseases

A new Federal Nutrition Research Advisory Group stated that poor diets threaten Americans and cause diseases. More than 500,000 people in the US are dying every year because of poor nutrition. 46% of adults have unhealthy diets; but children have even more, namely 56%. In 1979 the US healthcare cost was 6.9% of the gross domestic product. Compare this to 2018 when the US healthcare cost was 17.7% of the gross domestic product.

The Federal Nutrition Research Advisory Group states: “Poor diets lead to a harsh cycle of lower academic achievement in school, lost productivity at work, increased chronic disease risk, increased out-of-pocket health costs, and poverty for the most vulnerable Americans.”

You can improve your diet quality 

When you start cutting out junk food and other processed foods, the quality of your food intake is improving. Eat more vegetables, and fruit. Eat wild salmon, which provides omega-3 fatty acids. Do not consume vegetable oils like soybean oil, canola oil, safflower oil, corn oil and grapeseed oil. They all contain omega-6 fatty acids. Omega-6 fatty acids are essential fatty acids and they convert mainly into energy. But the problem is that our western diet contains too many omega-6 fatty acids. Omega-6 fatty acids can convert into arachidonic acid, which causes inflammation. This in turn can cause heart attacks and strokes on the one hand and arthritis on the other. Use cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil instead for cooking and on salads.

How does poor quality food affect your health?

Researchers are aware of trans fats causing Alzheimer’s disease, heart attacks and strokes for a long time. They increase the bad LDL cholesterol, decrease the good HDL cholesterol. Rancid oils contain free radicals that oxidize LDL cholesterol and attack the lining of your arteries through small dense LDL cholesterol. The FDA has started to initiate steps in 2015 to make the use of trans-fats in the food industry illegal. Completion of this in the US occurs in early 2020.

Japanese trans-fat study (Alzheimer’s disease)

This Japanese study followed 1,628 Japanese community residents (men and women) for about 10 years. Researchers used the typical trans fatty acid, elaidic acid to monitor the accumulation of trans fats in patients. This is possible with a simple blood test, which serves as a marker for industrial trans fats. 377 participants developed dementia (247 Alzheimer’s disease and 102 vascular dementia). Based on the blood elaidic acid levels earlier in the study individuals with higher trans-fat levels were more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease as the study progressed. Patients whose trans-fat blood levels were in the higher range were 50% to 75% more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.

Diseases caused by poor lifestyle habits

It is important to review the diseases that shorten life expectancy due to having poor lifestyle habits. Note that it is not only your dietary habits that determine this, but in addition, several lifestyle factors.

Cardiovascular disease

Smoking, lack of regular exercise and poor eating habits result in being overweight or developing obesity. All of these are risks with LDL cholesterol elevation and HDL cholesterol lowering that leads to heart attacks and strokes. Here is a study that shows how life is shortened after a heart attack. It is clear from this how important it is to give up all of the poor lifestyle habits to avoid this from happening.

Cancer

90% of lung cancers are the result of cigarette smoking. Heavy drinking can contribute and also lead to cancer of the liver, esophageal cancer, cancer of mouth and throat and cancer of the breasts in women. In addition, consuming too much alcohol causes cancer of the colon and rectum in both sexes.

Diabetes

There are a variety of risk factors causing diabetes. Obesity, a lack of exercise, a bad diet with too much carbohydrates and the aging process are what contributes to the development of type 2 diabetes.

We see again that it is largely lifestyle issues that drive the onset of this disease. People who have developed diabetes need to control their blood sugar very closely to avoid complications of diabetes. This includes making healthier choices.

Otherwise complications of diabetes are diabetic nephropathy, blindness from macular degeneration of the cornea, heart attacks, stroke and diabetic neuropathy. In addition, vascular complications also include artery occlusions in the lower extremities with frequent foot or below knee amputations.

Chronic diseases

Often chronic diseases develop when there is generalized development of inflammation. COPD, chronic kidney disease and arthritis are examples of such conditions. In addition, Alzheimer’s disease, arthritis, asthma, Crohn’s disease, cystic fibrosis and diabetes belong into this category. All of these chronic diseases have in common that cytokines produce inflammation in the body. This keeps the chronic disease going and makes it more difficult to cure. When the person with a chronic disease makes poor lifestyle choices, the inflammation just becomes more chronic.

Smoking is one of the factors that makes chronic inflammation more chronic. Having a body mass index above 25.0 (being overweight) and above 30.0 (obesity) also creates more inflammation in the body. Excessive alcohol intake damages body cells and releases free radicals. These in turn cause inflammation and make the chronic disease more difficult to treat. An unhealthy diet tends to raise the bad LDL cholesterol, introduces pesticides and other chemicals into your system and adds to chronic inflammation. Finally, a lack of exercise is not contributing to a healthy circulation and lowers the protective HDL cholesterol, paving the way for heart attacks and strokes.

Poor Diets Threaten Americans and Cause Diseases

Poor Diets Threaten Americans and Cause Diseases

Conclusion

A new Federal Nutrition Research Advisory Group has been formed, which noted that many Americans follow very poor diets. 46% of adults in the US have unhealthy diets; but children have even more poor diets, namely 56%. This is of concern, because in time this causes a variety of diseases discussed here. Instead of just treating the symptoms of these diseases, it is important to improve the diet people are on, which prevents the development of these diseases. A well-balanced diet not only prevents diseases, it also leads to longevity and healthy aging without Alzheimer’s disease. Take care of what you eat, and be sure it is healthy!

Part of this text was published before here.

Aug
01
2020

Eating Fish Protects the Brain from Air Pollution

Research on white women aged 70 years or older found that eating fish protects the brain from air pollution. Dr. Ka He from the Columbia University of New York published the new study on July 15, 2020 in the online issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

1,315 women who did not have dementia at the start of the study enrolled in it. Researchers measured the air pollution of the areas where the women lived. They also measured their omega-3 fatty acid blood levels. They found that women from polluted areas who ate the lowest amounts of fish and had the lowest amounts of omega-3 fatty acids in their blood, had the highest amount of brain shrinkage.

Methods of determining brain shrinkage, omega-3 fatty acids and pollution

The amount of brain shrinkage was determined with MRI scans of the brain. The amount of white brain matter was measured, particularly the size of the memory-sensitive hippocampus. Blood omega-3 fatty acid content was determined in red blood cells. Pollution was determined by the fine particulate matter in air pollution at the address where the patient lived. Every woman in the study received a diet questionnaire regarding fish consumption. From this information the researchers determined the average fish consumption per week. This included broiled and baked fish, non-fried shellfish, canned tuna, tuna casserole and tuna salad. Deep fried fish was not part of the list, because other studies showed that deep-frying damages omega-3 fatty acids.

More details regarding the study

The researchers adjusted the study according to age, smoking status, and other factors that could affect brain shrinkage. Women with the highest intake of omega-3 fatty acids had the highest volume of white matter in their brains as MRI scans showed. Specifically, the researchers noted the following findings:

  • Women with the highest omega-3 fatty acid level had 410 cubic cm white matter
  • Women with the lowest omega-3 fatty acid level had 403 cubic cm white matter
  • Each quartile increase in air pollution caused shrinkage of white matter by 11.52 cubic cm in those women with low omega-3 fatty acid consumption
  • In women with higher omega-3 fatty acid levels each quartile increase in air pollution caused shrinkage of white matter by only 0.12 cubic cm
  • Women with the highest omega-3 fatty acid intake had the highest volume of the hippocampus

Comments by the lead author of the study

Dr. Ka He stated: “Our findings suggest that higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids in the blood from fish consumption may preserve brain volume as women age and possibly protect against the potential toxic effects of air pollution.” But Dr. Ka He cautioned: “It’s important to note that our study only found an association between brain volume and eating fish. It does not prove that eating fish preserves brain volume. And since separate studies have found some species of fish may contain environmental toxins, it’s important to talk to a doctor about what types of fish to eat before adding more fish to your diet.”

Limitations of study

The study was involving older white women. This means that the results cannot be generalized to Afro Americans, Hispanics or Asians. The researchers examined exposure to pollution only later in life, not in early life or midlife. Hopefully future studies will examine what happens with lifelong exposure to pollution.

How to limit mercury exposure when eating fish

Omega-3 fatty acids are abundantly present in fish. It has plaque-reducing properties and also reduces the risk for abnormal heart beats. Overall this means less cardiovascular disease. The American Heart Association recommends a 3.5 oz. serving of fatty fish (salmon, mackerel, lake trout, herring or sardines) twice per week.

Mercury and other pollutants

Pollution of the air, soil and rivers is causing accumulation of mercury and other heavy metals in ocean water.

This affects fish that live in the ocean. There is a pecking order of predators with the larger fish feeding on the smaller fish. The bigger the predator fish, the more mercury and other pollutants they accumulate. According to this link the safest seafood is wild salmon, pollock and oysters.

High mercury content of predator fish

Tuna is too high in mercury, so is swordfish, and shark is even worse. I only consume fish from freshwater lakes or rivers, as well as salmon, oysters and shrimp. This way I get the lowest exposure to mercury. Why is mercury bad for you? It is a neurotoxin. It can harm your brain, heart, kidneys, lungs and the immune system. Specific symptoms can include loss of peripheral vision and lack of coordination with balancing problems. There may be impairment of speech and hearing. The key is to avoid mercury exposure.

Smaller fish low in mercury

The first line of defense is to stick to the smaller fish. They are they prey of the large predator fish. The following fish/mussels belong into the low mercury group (alphabetical order): anchovies, catfish, clam, crab, crawfish, flounder, haddock, herring, mackerel, mullet, oyster, perch, pollock, salmon, sardines, scallops, shrimp, sole, squid, trout and whitefish.

Molecularly distilled omega-3 fatty acid supplements

You may want to supplement your omega-3 fatty acid intake by fish oil capsules. It is important that you choose the more expensive higher potency products. A molecular distillation process that removes mercury, PCB and other heavy metals creates these higher potency products. This way you only get the enriched omega-3 fatty acids in pure form. EPA and DHA in one capsule should be in the 900 mg to 1000 mg range, not less. I take 2 capsules twice per day as a daily supplement. This helps you to balance the omega-6 to omega-3 ratio, which cuts down any inflammatory process (from too many omega-6 fatty acids) in you.

Eating Fish Protects the Brain from Air Pollution

Eating Fish Protects the Brain from Air Pollution

Conclusion

A new study from the Columbia University of New York has shown that women older than 70 can preserve the white matter of their brains by consumption of fish. This included the hippocampus which is crucial for memory. The researchers measured the recent exposure of these women to pollution. They noted that the women who were exposed to the highest amounts of pollution had the best protection of the white matter of their brains by the highest consumption of omega-3 fatty acids from fish. Omega-3 fatty acids are also important to prevent heart attacks and strokes. Omega-6 fatty acids can cause inflammation, but when enough omega-3 fatty acids are part of the nutrition, the omega-6/omega-3 fatty acid ratio switches towards anti-inflammation and health.

How to consume omega-3 fatty acids safely

Omega-3 fatty acids are in fish and seafood. Unfortunately, mercury is contaminating these foods. But when you stick to the smaller fish and use molecularly distilled omega-3 supplements you can largely avoid this problem.

Parts of this text has been published before here.

Jul
18
2020

Key Factors for Centenarians

A study from Washington State University (WSU) showed some of the key factors for centenarians to survive. The publication of the study goes back to June 17, 2020. In general, it was common knowledge that genetics plays a role in 25% to 35% of centenarians for their survival. That is to say, the remainder is the result of lifestyle factors. It is important to realize that the environmental factors play a significant role in the survival of centenarians, said Rajan Bhardwaj, a second-year WSU medical student. He and his research team determined what allowed centenarians to reach an age of 100 or above. Briefly, they identified the following factors that were necessary.

Three factors identified by the Washington State University study

  • walkability of the neighbourhood, which encourages regular exercising
  • belonging to the higher socioeconomic class
  • a high percentage of working population in the neighborhood (a mixed population) was also important

In the discussion the authors of the WSU study said that “blue zones” of centenarians had been mentioned before in the literature. To clarify, these are areas in the world where more than the average of centenarians live. Dan Buettner used the term “blue zones” in a National Geographic article about where centenarians were located.

The blue zones

He wrote a book about the location of the 5 blue zones. Notably, they are located in Sardinia (Italy), the islands of Okinawa and a group of Seven Day Adventists in Loma Linda. California. In addition, the Nicoya Peninsula of Costa Rica, and the island of Icaria, Greece complete the 5 blue zones. Specifically, Dan Buettner described the following characteristics of the lifestyle of centenarians.

  • They engage in regular physical activity
  • Mostly eating a plant-based diet including legumes
  • Calorie intake is moderate
  • Moderate intake of alcohol, mostly wine
  • Having a purpose in life
  • Engaged in family life
  • Having an active spiritual life
  • Reducing stress
  • Engaged in social life

Other attributes of centenarians

Dr. Thierry Hertoghe gave a presentation in Las Vegas on Dec. 14, 2019 where he stated that centenarians are positive thinkers. This was at the 27th Annual World Congress on Anti-Aging Medicine. In particular, the topic of his talk was “Positive Psychological Attitudes of Centenarians “. Dr. Hertoghe is an endocrinologist in Belgium. He took an interest in people above the age of 100. These people, he felt, are special people with a very optimistic outlook on life. Dr. Hertoghe went on to say that centenarians have a will to live. Indeed, they adapt to changes; they have a sense of purpose, and they stay active.

More positive attributes of centenarians

Other psychological features, by the same token, show that they have a positive mood and they avoid stress and anxiety. Another key point is that they have self-determination. It must be remembered also that they are very sociable, have close family ties, love their relationships and often have a strong religious faith. In addition, there is a connection between their basic values, beliefs and spirituality. Truly, centenarians insist on their freedom and they have a feeling of youth. For one thing, centenarians have their own centenarian spirit where they can feel young or old.

In the following I am reviewing some of the details that Dr. Hertoghe gave.

The will to live

For one thing, it takes courage to grow old, and all centenarians have this. They say “Life is worth living”. Essentially, they have a certain resiliency in a world that has an obsession about youth. Despite negative experiences they had to overcome they do not give up and they enjoy life as much as they can. A Finnish study examined 400 individuals aged 75-90 and followed them for 10 years. Group 1 who wished to live less than 5 years had a mortality rate of 68%. Group 2 wished to live for 5-10 years. They had a mortality of 45.6%. The last group, group 3 wanted to live more than 10 years. Surprisingly, their mortality was only 33.3%. Be careful what you wish for!

Adaptability

In other words, this describes the capacity to overcome adversity and your ability to adjust. In a study of 7400 Chinese centenarians’ resilience to changes was measured with psychometric psychological tests. The majority of subjects did not qualify for being resilient. However, 9% of male centenarians and 6% of female centenarians had the resiliency where they qualified for high adaptability. This high resilience group had a 2%-4% lower mortality risk. They had a 36%-55% higher probability of not developing cognitive impairment. That is to say, they rated themselves to be in good health and having a “good life” satisfaction. These resilient centenarians had a 7%-12% higher probability of not developing a physical disability. In essence, these high resilient centenarians had no short-term health decline.

Remaining active

If a centenarian remains active and moves about several hours per day, the body functions are preserved. Anna Mary Robertson Moses who was known by her nickname “Grandma Moses” took up painting at age 78. She died at age 101 in 1961.

Positive emotions

One study of 54 Ashkenazi Jewish older adults (aged 98-107) compared those with positive emotions to those with negative emotions. The researchers noted that a positive attitude about life allowed centenarians to live longer.

A study involving 2282 Mexican Americans aged 65 to 99 showed that positive affect scores were a predictor for the following. Subjects with a high positive affect had a 52% lower probability of becoming physically disabled. They were 36% less likely than the negative controls to lose their walking speed. In addition, they were 47% less likely to die during the two-year observation period than their negative controls.

Nurses’ Health Study and Veterans Affairs Normative Aging Study

Two studies, the Nurses’ Health Study (NHS) and men from the Veterans Affairs Normative Aging Study measured optimism. The researchers found that those with the highest optimism scores had a 1.5-fold higher probability in women and 1.7-fold in men to survive to age 85. This was compared to a control with the lowest optimism scores. Dr. Hertoghe provided 19 more studies that showed the effects of positive emotions regarding long term survival. For brevity reasons I will not dwell on them here.

What is the centenarian spirit?

When people are older than 100 years, they often have a mix of humor and eccentricity; they express emotions openly and they are happy people. They accept the death of spouses, siblings and significant others.

By the way, humor has a strong predictive survivor value. In a study that researchers conducted over 15 years, there was a clear positive effect of humor regarding mortality. A sense of humor reduced the all-cause mortality by 48% in males. In women humor lowered mortality regarding cardiovascular disease by 73%. Humor reduced death due to infections in women by 83%. Men had a non-significant reduction of all‐cause mortality by 12% and a significant lower mortality due to infections by 74%. Dr. Hertoghe cited three more publications that showed the power of humor in reducing disease and disability.

The fasting mimicking diet helps you to reach a longer life

clinical trial with 100 subjects was undertaken by Dr. Longo and his research team. He measured markers after 3 cycles of a fasting mimicking diet for 5 days every month. They found that the FMD reduced aging markers, improved diabetes and reduced susceptibility for cancer and cardiovascular disease. In another publication Dr. Longo and co-authors describe how autoimmune diseases can be improved by the use the fasting mimicking diet for 5 days every month.

Another publication by Dr. Longo describes that “age-related disorders including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancers and neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and stroke” can be prevented by fasting mimicking diet for 5 days every month.

Even cancer prevention and cancer treatment can be helped by the fasting mimicking diet.  The FMD makes chemotherapy more tolerable.

Key Factors for Centenarians

Key Factors for Centenarians

Conclusion

As we reviewed the factors that lead to longevity, we learnt that engaging in regular moderate exercise is one of the key factors. But belonging to the higher socioeconomic class and living in a mixed neighborhood with people from all walks of life is also important. We also reviewed the blue zones according to Dan Buettner. Mostly eating a plant-based diet including legumes with moderate calorie restriction prolongs your life. Add to this moderate intake of alcohol, mostly wine, and having a purpose in life. Augment this further with being engaged in family life, having an active spiritual life and reducing your stress level.

Living longer is a matter of fulfilling these longevity factors

With all of this you are on your way to become a centenarian. A review by Dr. Hertoghe in a lecture given at an Anti-Aging Conference in Las Vegas in 2019 added more criteria centenarians have. He provided references regarding the will to live, being adaptable, remaining active and harboring positive emotions. The more of these factors you can adopt, the longer you will live. At the same time, you will avoid getting diseases like heart attacks, strokes or cancer, which leads to a longer and healthier life.

The above text contains parts of this blog. The part about the fasting mimicking diet was published here before.