Apr
02
2016

Women Win Turning Older

Supercentenarians may teach us something about the question “Why do women win turning older”? Supercentenarians are people who are 110 years or older. Presently there are 53 of them distributed over the world, 51 are females and two are males. According to Ben Dulken and Anne Brunet this is not by chance: in other mammal species females often live longer than their male counterparts. They theorize that stem cells live longer under the influence of estrogen and this may be the explanation for the difference. They wanted to answer the burning question: “Is life expectancy linked to gender and stem cells”?

Observations regarding why women win turning older

Ben Dulken and Anne Brunet describe that several pieces of evidence are important to note.

Human eunuchs live longer than average males

Castrated males, called eunuchs, live on average 14 years longer than the average male.

Treatment of male mice with estrogen caused longevity

Experiments with male mice treated with estrogen increased their lifespan compared to untreated male controls.

Estrogen receptors on some stem cells in women

Neural stem cells (NSCs) and hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) have estrogen receptors in females. This leads to extra stimuli during pregnancy, but also during the menstrual cycle in women or the estrus cycle in female mammals.

Faster wound healing in women may be from extra X-chromosome

It gets more complicated: There are non-estrogen regulated stem cell niches in the liver, skin and subcutaneous tissue (important for wound healing and resident muscle stem cells, called satellite cells (SCs). For some reason liver regeneration and wound healing, but also healing of muscle injuries in women and female mammals occurs at a faster pace. Scientists still do not have an answer for this. Theories are that perhaps women with their two X-chromosomes are at an advantage in comparison to males (only one X-chromosome) with respect to certain wound repair mechanisms.

Longevity and self-repair capacity may be related

There is the question whether longevity and self-repair capacity would be related, either through stem cell populations (NSCs, HSCs, SCs), other repair mechanisms or tissue proliferation.

Telomere length in older persons longer in females than in males

There are gender differences in aging patterns of stem cells. For instance studies in dizygotic twins showed that telomere length of blood cells in the female twin was much longer than in the male twin. Genetic factors appear to be the dominant factor to explain this phenomenon rather than hormones. But again this was favoring the female.

Comparison between muscles in older men and younger men

A study in males showed that there is an accumulation of damaged DNA in SC’s of muscle tissue with older age that leads to muscle senescence. In older men there is a delayed response to a specific exercise stimulus with regard to the satellite cell division (SC) when compared to the response in young men.

Women’s telomeres in stem cells grow longer

In females estrogen stimulates telomere growth of stem cells (NSCs and HSCs), which prevents premature stem cell exhaustion.

Effects of diet and exercise on life expectancy

The Potsdam study analyzed 4 healthy behaviors in 23,153 German participants aged 35 to 65 years over 7.8 years. They looked for the development of cancer, heart attacks, strokes and cancer as end points. The 4 healthy behaviors were: to be a lifelong non-smoker , having a body mass index lower than 30, performing 3.5 h/week or more of physical activity, and adhering to healthy dietary principles (high intake of fruits, vegetables, whole-grain bread and low meat consumption).

Those who had adopted all 4 healthy lifestyles reduced the development of serious disease by up to 80%. Dr. David Katz delivered a keynote address at the 22nd Annual World Congress on Anti-Aging Medicine in Las Vegas Dec. 10-14, 2014 entitled “Integrative Medicine: A Bridge Over Healthcare’s Troubled Waters”. He mentioned the Potsdam study. And he mentioned what the new logic of a healthy lifestyle is: a healthy lifestyle causes healthy telomeres of somatic cells and of stem cells; this causes health until a ripe old age.

Life Expectancy Linked To Gender And Stem Cells

Life Expectancy Linked To Gender And Stem Cells

Conclusion why women win turning older

It seems that women and female mammals are more protected by nature than males. The previously called ”weak sex” is in fact a lot stronger! This may be the reason that among supercentenarians there are only a few males remaining. But we don’t know how many males take the lifestyle factors of the Potsdam study serious. Males who want to age gracefully have to pay more attention to healthy lifestyles. This leads to longer telomeres and this allows for stem cell and somatic cell renewal. There are still many unanswered questions, but life expectancy is definitely related to how well we preserve stem cells throughout our body. This in turn depends very much on our lifestyle patterns.

Mar
12
2016

Fiber, An Essential Food Ingredient

The Standard American Diet will not provide enough fiber, an essential food ingredient. The fiber intake in the US population is between 12.5 grams and 16.8 grams on average, which is way below the recommendations of the Institute of Medicine as listed below.

Depending on age and gender the Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine, National Academies has recommended the following guidelines for adequate daily fiber intake in grams per person.

Institute of Medicine fiber recommendations (gram per person per day)

Males: age 9-13: 21 grams; age14 to 50: 38 grams; age 51 and higher: 30 grams

Females: age 9-18: 25 grams; age 19-50: 21 grams; age 51 and higher: 21 grams

Children: age 1-3: 19 grams; age 4-8: 25 grams

Brief history regarding fiber

Sir Dr. Denis Burkitt, the famous English surgeon, examined bowel movements (stools) of African tribes in comparison to his English countrymen and came to the conclusion in the 1940’s that the Western world needed to remedy constipation problems and cancer of the colon problems by eating more fiber.

He is still right: fiber is mainly treating the constipation (not preventing the cancer), but the chemicals that are also in the vegetables contain a multitude of natural anti-carcinogenic substances, which provide the powerful preventative action against colon cancer and many other cancers. Lycopene, not known at the time of Sir Dr. Burkitt is one of these and is found in tomatoes and tomato products.

Old historic observation by Dr. Burkitt still relevant today

Sir Dr. Burkitt’s observation that high bulk foods (like vegetables and green leaves) prevent cancer is as valid today as it was in the mid 1900’s. In the meantime it has become evident that fiber also lowers cholesterol and helps prevent heart attacks and strokes as well.

What are some of the problems with fiber intake?

Here is a typical day for a Standard American diet:

1. The average breakfast with two toasts, an egg and sausage. This contains 0.7 grams of fiber. The coffee or tea or juice that is consumed contains no fiber.

2. For lunch you may eat a hamburger in a bun and a helping of French fries. There are 2 grams of fiber in the bun and 3.9 grams of fiber in the French fries, a total of 5.9 grams. Alternatively you may want to eat a pepperoni medium pizza: 0 grams of fiber!

The Standard American diet goes on

3. Dinner may consist of one baked potato (3.4 Grams of fiber), beef steak (0 grams of fiber, no matter whether it is an 8 oz. or 10 oz. steak) and mixed vegetables (1 cup, which contains 5 grams of fiber). For dessert you may have a bowl of ice cream (1 gram of fiber). If you eat in a restaurant you also get a bun with butter (0 grams of fiber) plus a small garden salad (0.9 grams of fiber).

4. Snacks during the morning: medium oat bran muffin: 5 grams of fiber

5. Afternoon snack: cinnamon roll: 1 gram of fiber.

Fiber total of the day for Standard American diet

Grand total of the day for Standard American diet: 22.9 grams of fiber. It depends whether or not you consumed the mixed vegetables and the bran muffin. If you did not eat the mixed vegetables and the bran muffin, you may only have consumed 12.9 grams of fiber. If you had pizza for lunch, you only got 7 grams of fiber that day.

Sources of fiber from foods

You can see from these few examples that processed foods tend to have a lot less fiber than vegetables and fruit. Particularly pastas and bread are devoid of fiber, but very rich in calories. So, if we were serious about wanting to increase our fiber content in the food we eat, we need to ensure enough intake of fruit and vegetables that contain fiber. There are many useful websites that list the fiber content per food item: if you look for the fiber content of a medium sized apple using this website, you find that it contains 4 grams of fiber.

This would be a much better snack than an ice cream with no or very little fiber. Here are more fiber suggestions.

How can we increase fiber intake?

We need to think about the whole nutritional equation, how many calories are in food, how much sugar, how much fat and protein. If we want to increase the amount of fiber we take in, we definitely have to watch the sugar content of the food item in question.

For instance ¼ cup of raisins has 2 grams of fiber in it, but also 29 grams of sugar, translating into 130 calories. Conversely, ½ cup of raspberries contains 4.6 grams of fiber and has only 20 calories. This choice is definitely a winner compared to raisins.

Use the Internet to learn about the fiber content of the various foods while you keep an eye on sugar content and calories as well. The idea is to maximize the fiber content in your food intake by cutting out fiber empty foods and adding fiber rich foods as much as possible.

Example of a fiber rich day

1. Breakfast: Omelet with green onions, mushrooms and spinach. Garnish this with ½ avocado and two tablespoons of salsa. The spinach/onion omelet with mushrooms has 3 grams of fiber. ½ avocado provides 5 grams of fiber; the salsa adds 0.6 grams of fiber. Breakfast total: 8.6 grams of fiber.

2. Lunch: Greek salad with turkey breast (4 grams of fiber). Add a snack of one handful (1.5 oz.) of walnuts as desert: 3 grams of fiber. Lunch total: 7 grams of fiber.

The fiber rich day goes on

3. Dinner: Small salad, salmon with broccoli and 1 grilled tomato. Fruit salad for desert. Salad: 0.9 grams of fiber; salmon: 0 grams of fiber; ¾ cup of cooked broccoli: 7 grams of fiber; grilled tomato: 0.6 grams of fiber; fruit salad: 3 grams of fiber. Dinner total: 11.5 grams of fiber.

4. Snacks throughout the day: 1 pear in the morning: 4 grams of fiber; 1 apple in the afternoon: 4 grams of fiber; 1 handful of walnuts: 3 grams of fiber. Snacks total fiber: 11 grams of fiber.

Total of fiber for the fiber rich day: 38.1 grams of fiber.

Fiber math

This is where it is getting interesting. Depending on whether you are a woman aged above or below 50 years or a man aged above or below 50 years, you have different fiber intake requirements as mentioned above. With the fiber rich diet you have exceeded your daily goal easily whether you are a man or a woman above or below 50. You won the race easily. Fiber intake does not mean that you eat fibrous food that tastes like sawdust! This diet example shows you delicious and nutritious food.

Measuring fiber content of food

But with the American Standard diet you barely reached the goal if you ate your mixed vegetables and the bran muffin and you are a woman above or below the age of 50. 22.9 grams of fiber is not enough for a child between the ages of 4 and 8 and it is definitely not enough for a man above or below the age of 50.

Watching what we are eating based on fiber content

This type of math just shows you how deficient our modern Western type food intake is. And if you look at the aspect of it being delicious or even nutritious it leaves a lot to be desired! This is what Sir Dr. Denis Burkitt found when he compared the food intake of civilized English citizens with tribes in the African jungle. He recognized last century that England’s fiber deprived diet compared to the fiber rich diet in Africa was responsible for the much higher colon cancer rates in England. It is only now that we are recognizing the enormity of his investigations.

Cardiovascular significance of high fiber

Apart from reducing colon cancer incidence fiber has also gained recognition for prevention against heart attacks and strokes. It turns out that the enterohepatic pathway is interfered with through the intake of fiber. Cholesterol from bile is bound to fiber in the gut and transported to the sewer instead of being taken up through the enterohepatic pathway, which includes the portal vein system and the liver. The end result is that triglycerides and LDL cholesterol fall, while HDL cholesterol (the good cholesterol) is raised, and hardening of the arteries slows down significantly. The patient lives longer, heart attack and stroke rates go down, and there is less disability.

Supplement fiber, if you are not getting enough in food

There is good news. Psyllium husk, Metamucil and any other fiber supplement can help you to reach and surpass your daily fiber goal. There is no danger of overdosing as any surplus simply comes out in your stool. You will notice as you increase your fiber intake that your stool volumes go up. Sir Dr. Burkitt actually weighed the stool of patients in Africa and in England: African tribes had voluminous stools, while people in English had much smaller stool volumes. This is how Sir Dr. Burkitt detected the importance of fiber intake.

Example of how to fit fiber into your dietary schedule

Let’s assume you are a male aged 45 years and your diet is a bit better than the average Standard American diet with a daily intake of 25 grams of fiber. Your daily goal is 38 grams of fiber, so you are 13 grams short. You can solve this problem. Get a fiber supplement from the health food store where 1 teaspoon contains about 5 grams of fiber. Be careful: fiber is very thirsty and uses up a lot of water. If you use psyllium husk powder, make sure to add about 1 cup of water to 1 ½ teaspoons of the psyllium husk powder or another similar product. Once you added enough water and stirred well you can drink it down.

Always drink enough fluids to get the fiber down

Between fiber gulps drink some more water to dilute any fiber stuck in your esophagus as it goes down into your stomach. Enough fluid intake is crucial, as the fiber binds fluid in your digestive tract. Repeat this procedure (1 ½ teaspoons of psyllium husk powder with lots of water) at lunchtime. You have now added 15 grams of fiber (2×7.5 grams) to your daily 25 grams of fiber. This brings you to a total of 40 grams of fiber, well above your goal of 38 grams. If you plan to use a fiber supplement it is recommendable that you start with small amounts of fiber. Start  maybe with just one teaspoon per day and increase the amount gradually.

The best is to switch your diet to the fiber rich diet

Your alternative would be to switch your diet to the fibre rich diet described above. Your basic intake was 38.1 grams, just enough to reach your goal. If you want to play it even safer, you may want to add another handful of walnuts (3 grams of fiber) or ¾ teaspoonful of psyllium husk powder with water to bring your total fiber intake to above 41 grams.

With the introduction of the various fiber products that you can buy at the health food store, it is now much easier to manage your total fiber intake.

 

Fiber, An Essential Food Ingredient

Fiber, An Essential Food Ingredient

Conclusion

In the past few years we heard from cardiologists that heart attacks, strokes and high blood pressure could all be helped by much higher fiber intakes. But the public in general has not listened very well to this message. Gastroenterologists also have been urging people to eat more fiber for colon cancer prevention, but many other cancers are also diminished by regular fiber intake. Breast cancer is one of these cancers responding to extra fiber intake. The bottom line is that we all need to pay attention to what we eat. We need to learn how little fiber there is in many foods. The tables can be found online. It may come as a surprise to you that a healthy bowl of tossed salad has only very little fiber. The total fiber content in our food may not add up to what we need (see table above). Simply supplement with psyllium husk powder or another fiber supplement. Do not forget to drink plenty of liquids. This is not only help for those who experience constipation. It is powerful prevention of heart attacks, strokes and many cancers.

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