Jun
22
2024

Metabolism Can Vary in People

Weight loss is easier for some than others, because metabolism can vary in people. In the following I will outline this in more detail. A biochemist recently published an article in “the conversation”, which is the basis for my review.

Everybody has their own metabolism

It is important to realize that everything that our body comes in contact with influences our physical characteristics like our blood pressure and our energy. Together all the biological characteristics have the name phenotype. The most important factor that influences our phenotype is our metabolism. It matters what you do like eating, whether you are taking medication, smoking, or exercising. This all influences your metabolism. On a molecular level it starts when your digestive system breaks nutrients down into each component: carbohydrates, fats and protein. When your digestive juices break down these food components, electrons are released from chemical bonds. These are transferred to the mitochondria, the energy packages in all of our cells. It is important to note that we do not all have the same metabolism as our neighbour. There are different types of metabolism.

Metabolism of an elite athlete

Elite athletes are not born that way. They have to practice hard physically for many hours a day and do that over several years. Their bodies adapt to the regular training by creating extra mitochondria in every cell of their body. Their body also learns how to burn fat, carbs and amino acids into chemical energy effectively. The elite athlete has superior energy production.

Metabolism of a Covid-19 patient

At the other end of the spectrum is the metabolism of a Covid-19 patient. Researchers found by examining patients who got sick from Covid-19 that their fat metabolism was impaired. This inability to burn fat persists in long Covid patients. The fatigue from long Covid is due to a dysfunction of the mitochondria. The mitochondria are not producing enough energy.

The in-between metabolism of blood donors

Travis Nemkov is an assistant research professor at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. His team investigated blood from 13,000 blood donors. They found that the metabolism of blood donors placed between the metabolism of elite athletes and that of Covid-19 patients. They also found a lot of variation of a metabolite by the name of kynurenine, which is due to a breakdown of the amino acid tryptophan. The researchers found that blood from donors with higher kynurenine levels was unable to restore blood levels of blood recipients. In addition, they found that kynurenine levels were higher in older donors and also in patients with obesity (higher BMI’s). Kynurenine was also a strong predictor for Covid-19 severity.

Weight loss problems when the metabolism is slow

We all know people who have a problem shedding their weight compared to others who loose weight with only a few days of food restriction. “People might have fast, slow, or average metabolism, regardless of their body size and composition,” says Dr. Chih-Hao Lee, professor of genetics and complex diseases at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health. This Harvard University website explains this in detail. How do we speed up a naturally slow metabolism?  We can exercise a bit more, and watch the quality of our food intake. This means cutting out added sugar, too much fat, too many carbohydrates and processed foods. The Harvard website says: “Studies have found green tea contains a compound called epigallocatechin gallate, which may increase the calories and fat you burn. “By making these small changes mentioned you can rev up your metabolism.

Hormones and body weight

Our metabolism and body weight depend on a number of hormones: leptin, insulin, estrogens, androgens and growth hormone play a crucial role in weight control. Additional hormones, such as the thyroid hormones are involved in maintaining our weight in a healthy range. Researchers have noticed that patients with hypothyroidism gain weight and burn less calories in their mitochondria. On the other hand, patients with hyperthyroidism stimulate their metabolism, lose weight and burn more calories. The exact mechanism of how thyroid hormones interact with the other hormones is unknown.

Metabolism Can Vary in People

Metabolism Can Vary in People

Conclusion

I came across a review about metabolism and weight control, written by a biochemist. He pointed out that different people have different metabolisms. Examples he gave were the metabolism of elite athletes and the metabolism of Covid-19 patients, who are at the low end. His team investigated the metabolism of 13,000 people who were blood donors. He called them people with an in-between metabolism.

How to speed up naturally slow metabolism

How do we speed up a naturally slow metabolism?  We can exercise a bit more, and watch the quality of our food intake. This means cutting out added sugar, too much fat, too many carbohydrates and processed foods. Your physician can also tell you whether your thyroid hormones and your human growth hormone are adequate. Other hormones that regulate your metabolism are leptin, insulin, estrogens and androgens. When you look at the factors that are responsible for your metabolism, the genetic factors come first. Your hormone status, eating pattern and exercise status come second. But by making small changes to the factors mentioned you can rev up your metabolism significantly.

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Jun
10
2024

About Aging and a Prolonged Life

The topic “about aging and a prolonged life” is always popular with people. CNN recently discussed this topic with the Nobel prize winner and molecular biologist, Professor Venki Ramakrishnan. He shared the 2009 Nobel Prize in Chemistry with Thomas A. Steitz and Ada Yonath for research on the structure and function of ribosomes. Ribosomes are sub particles in the cell responsible for making proteins. In the following I will summarize this interview.

What is aging?

150 years ago, people lived only about to 40 years. Today we can live up to 84 years in most countries. It is because medicine has learnt a lot about the reasons why diseases occur and how they can be cured. Physicians have a number of antibiotics available for those who suffer infections. Heart bypass surgeries and stents can prolong a person’s life when there is hardening of the coronary arteries.

Aging processes

The following aging processes occur all our lives:

  • DNA breaks happen in our cells, but repair mechanisms are in place that deal with this. With older age repair mechanisms are more sluggish.
  • Faulty proteins form inside cells, however, we have mechanisms to take care of that.
  • Chemical damage to molecules in our cells accumulates. The cells can only partially eliminate these.
  • Hormone disbalances occur during menopause and andropause. But anti-aging physicians can correct this by doing hormone tests and ordering bioidentical hormone supplements.
  • There are limits of what anti-aging medicine can do: osteoarthritis affects our joints; our muscles are aging and with it our heart muscle. Degenerative neurological diseases like multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease and dementia occur frequently as we get older with no effective therapies.
  • The immune system weakens with age. To a certain extend vitamin D3 and other supplements can strengthen it, but only to a certain extent.

Systems working together in our body

Dr. Ramakrishnan said that our bodies work like cities. In it are various systems that need to work together to keep us alive. If a major system fails, we die. Some of the essential organ systems are the heart, the brain, kidneys, our gut, the lungs, the bone marrow and all our hormone glands. If one of these organs breaks down, we are in trouble. If an organ donor is not available, we perish. But even when everything is working together well, we are limited reaching a maximal lifespan of about 120 years. This has to do with limits of our cell metabolism and the aging processes mentioned above. Science has not found a way to prolong our maximal lifespan and likely will not find one soon. But there are various lifestyles that can prolong life as I mentioned here before.

Genetic effect on our lifespan

CNN asked Dr. Ramakrishnan what genetic effects there are that would transmit longevity from a parent who lived until 95 or older to a child’s lifespan. He answered the following:There is a correlation between the ages of parents and their children, but it’s not perfect. A study of 2,700 Danish twins showed that heritability — how much of our longevity is due to our genes — only accounted for about 25% of lifespan. Still, researchers have found that mutation in just a single gene can double the lifespan of a certain type of worm. Clearly there’s a genetic component, but the effects and implications are complex.”

Relationship between cancer and aging

The same genes are involved for the growth of the body at a young age, and the older person who comes down with cancer. In old age the same genes can cause cancer and dementia. Dr. Ramakrishnan said: “Our risk of cancer increases with age because we accumulate defects in our DNA and genome, which sometimes cause gene malfunctions that lead to cancer. But many of our cellular repair systems that seem to be designed to avoid cancer early in life also cause aging later.”

Apoptosis (programmed cell death) and senescent cells

The body has two mechanisms in place that counter the danger of developing cancer cells. Dr. Ramakrishnan explained: “For example, cells can sense breaks in our DNA that might allow chromosomes to join in an abnormal way, which could lead to cancer. To prevent that joining, a cell will either kill itself or enter a state called senescence, where it can no longer divide. From the perspective of an organism like us, which has trillions of cells, this makes sense. Even if millions of cells are destroyed this way, these actions protect the whole organism. But the buildup of senescent cells is one of the ways we age.”

Lifestyle changes that help you live longer

Dr. Ramakrishnan said that our grandmothers knew what a healthy lifestyle was. The following is a list of what science now confirms adds years to your life:

  • Don’t be gluttonous. Eating a variety of healthy foods in moderation can prevent the health risks of obesity.
  • Get exercise: this helps us regenerate new mitochondria, which are the powerhouses of our cells providing energy.
  • Avoid stress, which creates hormonal effects that change our metabolism and can accelerate aging.
More life prolonging points:
  • Get enough sleep. This allows our bodies to do molecular-level repair.
  • One of the newer findings is Dr. Longo’s fasting mimicking diet. Do a semi-fast once a month for 5 days with 500 to 600 calories per day. This helps you to shed 0.5 to 0.7 units of body mass index. It also stimulates your immune cells, your stem cells and elongates your telomeres. Long telomeres make you live longer.
  • Replacing missing hormones with the help of an anti-aging physician will add about 10 years to your life. I mentioned this earlier.

A few more points about longevity research

Dr. Ramakrishnan said: “Already the top 10% of income earners in both the US and the UK live more than a decade longer than the bottom 10%. If you look at health span — the number of years of healthy life — that disparity is even greater. Poorer people are living shorter, less healthy lives.” He said further about the concept of “immortality”: “I think this quest for immortality is a mirage. One hundred and fifty years ago, you could expect to live until about 40. Today, life expectancy is about 80, which, as author Steven Johnson has said, is almost like adding a whole extra life. But we’re still obsessed about dying. I think if we lived to be 150, we’d be fretting about why we’re not living to 200 or 300. It’s never-ending.”

About Aging and a Prolonged Life

About Aging and a Prolonged Life

Conclusion

CNN discussed the quest for longevity with Nobel prize winning Dr. Ramakrishnan. He pointed out that the aging process is due to a number of factors that work together. There are DNA breaks, faulty proteins, chemical damage to molecules, hormone disbalances and degenerative changes. We need to watch that we do not overeat, get regular exercise and eat a variety of healthy foods. In addition, we need to avoid stress, get enough sleep and replace missing hormones with bioidentical hormones. A newer boost to your health is the fasting-mimicking diet (FMD) from Dr. Valter Longo that helps you keep your weight in the lower body mass index range. Dr. Longo showed in animal experiments and with humans that the FMD elongates telomeres, which directly prolongs life.

Apply what helps your longevity

While it is far-fetched to believe that we now have a ticket to live for 120 years or longer, it is more important to know that we can do our part to spend our golden years in health and wellness.

May
25
2024

Cancer in younger Adults is due to Accelerated Aging

Recent research showed that cancer in younger adults is due to accelerated aging. Researchers presented a paper at the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Annual Meeting 2024. They discussed in detail how cancer presents in aging tissues.

Details of the study

Researchers examined the UK Biobank databases of 148,724 individuals aged 37 to 54 years. 9 biomarkers from blood of these patients served to calculate the biological age of these patients. The following were the blood tests: albumin, alkaline phosphatase, creatine, C-reactive protein, glucose, mean corpuscular volume, red cell distribution width, white blood cell count, and lymphocyte proportion. I will discuss below how they calculated the biological age from these factors. In most patients there was a discrepancy between the chronological age and the biological age.

The researchers also checked the cancer registries to check how many cancer patients were found before age 55. Nearly 3200 cancers were found. Patients born between 1950 and 1954 were compared to patients born in or after 1965. Surprisingly the younger patients (born in or after 1965) had 17% higher accelerated aging. This made this group more prone to develop early cancers.

Significance of accelerated aging regarding cancer frequency

The researchers also found that increases in accelerated aging were associated with a significant risk of early-onset lung cancer, early-onset gastrointestinal cancer, and early-onset uterine cancer. Individuals who had the highest amount of faster aging were compared to people who had the smallest amount of faster aging. The faster aging group had twice the risk of early-onset lung cancer, more than 60% higher risk of gastrointestinal tumors, and more than 80% higher risk of uterine cancer.

Calculating the biological age 

The following is a list of items to calculate the biological age (taken from this CNN source):

  • albumin: a protein made by the liver that declines with age
  • creatinine: a waste product in blood produced by protein digestion and the breakdown of muscle tissue; a measure of kidney function. Lower levels correlate with better longevity.
  • glucose: With age, blood sugar stays higher for longer after meals.
  • c-reactive protein: made by the liver in response to inflammation; relatively higher levels correspond to faster aging
  • lymphocyte percent: The concentration of these white blood cells related to immune function tends to decrease with age.

More items to calculate biological age:

  • mean cell volume: a measure of the average size of red blood cells, which increases with age
  • red cell distribution width: the difference between the size of a person’s smallest and largest red blood cells, which tends to increase with age
  • alkaline phosphatase: an enzyme produced mainly by the liver and bones that tends to increase with age
  • white blood cell counts: Numbers of white cells in the high end of the normal range in the blood may correspond with greater aging.

Using these criteria, a research group developed the algorithm PhenoAge. This is how the biological age was calculated.

What factors lower the biological age?

There are 8 essential components that determine your biological age: diet, physical activity, avoiding nicotine exposure, sleep health, lower body mass index (BMI), cholesterol, blood sugar, and blood pressure. This link states that when you optimize this list of 8 essential components your biological age will be 6 years less than your chronological age. It will make you resistant to several diseases including cancer.

Your telomere length is important to reduce your biological age

Researchers know for some time that telomere length determines the biological age. Telomere length determines how old we get. It also can predict whether we get illnesses like cancer and cardiovascular diseases as we age. In addition, it determines whether you get the blessing of longevity or not. Researchers showed that two lifestyle habits, namely a Mediterranean diet and regular exercise, preserve our telomeres to give us a younger biological age.

Effect of Junk foods on our biological age

Too many people eat unhealthy foods like processed meats, French fries, hamburgers and other processed foods. How does this affect your lifespan? When we consume unhealthy foods and beverages, like sugar-sweetened beverages and highly processed foods, we gain weight. Obesity and other chronic conditions are the results that put us at a higher risk regarding at least 13 types of cancer. Included in this are endometrial (uterine) cancer, breast cancer in postmenopausal women, and colorectal cancer.

How can we counter the devastating effect of highly processed foods?

We need to buy whole foods that were not processed. Buy fresh vegetables, fruit, nuts, organic chicken, fish like wild salmon.  Cook your own meals. This link describes anti-aging foods that help you to enjoy a longer life with less diseases. Other studies showed in the past that this type of food preserves your telomeres, prevents many cancers and prevents heart attacks and strokes.

Discussion

The study in the beginning of this review showed a higher cancer frequency in younger patients. This is a new concerning trend. But the study failed to show the reason behind this. In my opinion it is the fact that younger people nowadays have poorer lifestyles than in the past. They consume junk foods and larger amounts of alcohol regularly. This behavior pattern causes shortening of telomeres, lowering of the biological age and the emergence of diseases mentioned above. We need more research into the causes of telomere shortening in younger patients. Also, why do they experience accelerated aging with an increase in the biological age? The research paper shown in the beginning of this review was done on a British population.

There is a need for other studies

A similar study with a more diverse population including a record of their eating habits would be welcome. Apart from measuring the biological age, measuring the telomere length would also be useful. In addition, a control group of younger people who consume healthy foods would help as a contrast. This control group likely would have a lower biological age and longer telomeres than the experimental group.

Cancer in younger Adults is due to Accelerated Aging

Cancer in younger Adults is due to Accelerated Aging

Conclusion

In the beginning of this review, I described a study about younger patients. They had an accelerated biological age with a higher rate of various cancers. I showed that other researchers examined telomere length and the longer it was the less cancer the patients got. I mentioned that eating junk foods, processed meats and consuming sugary drinks was bad for your health. This accelerates your biological age and shortens your telomeres. As this study was based on a British cohort, we need new research that concentrates on a more diversified population. Apart from measuring the biological age, measuring the telomere length would also be useful. In addition, a control group of younger people who consume healthy foods would help as a contrast. This control group likely would have a lower biological age and longer telomeres than the experimental group.

May
13
2024

Reduction of Alcohol Intake Is Associated with Less Heart Attacks and Strokes

Recently Korean researchers showed that a reduction of alcohol intake is associated with less heart attacks and strokes. This was published on March 28, 2024. The researchers followed 21,011 participants who were heavy drinkers. The baseline examination took place 2005-2008 and a follow-up exam was between 2009 and 2012. Definition of heavy drinking was as follows:

  • For men: 4 drinks (56 g) per day or more than 14 drinks (196 g) per week.
  • For females: more than 3 drinks (42 g) per day or more than 7 drinks (98 g) per week.

Reduced alcohol intake resulted in a 23% reduced risk of heart attacks or strokes, which was a significant finding. Patients benefited most from alcohol reduction regarding angina and ischemic strokes. This study was also reviewed in Medscape:

Other studies showing benefits of less alcohol intake

A 2018 study in Plos Medicine examined a US population of 99,654 adults (68.7% female).

At the time of the enrolment, they were 55–74 years old. The overall time of follow-up was 8.9 years. Scientists looked at the various risks of cancer development or deaths from cardiovascular disease as a function of the amount of average alcoholic drinks consumed. The results were as follows:

  • Never drinkers: 1.09-fold risk of cancer or death.
  • Infrequent drinkers: 1.08-fold risk of cancer or death.
  • Heavy drinkers: 1.10-fold risk of cancer or death.
  • Very heavy drinkers: 1.21-fold risk of cancer or death.

Heart attack risk and cancer risk from alcohol consumption are different

In addition, with respect to cardiovascular risk it followed a J-curve. This means that light alcohol use reduced the probability of death from a heart attack or stroke, but with moderate or heavy alcohol use the risk of death increased. In contrast, with respect to cancer there was a linear curve, which means that no dose of alcohol was safe for cancer development. The more alcohol you consumed, the higher the risk of cancer development was. Another study also showed that only moderate alcohol consumption benefited people in preventing heart attacks and strokes.

Chinese study

In 2021 a joint US/Chinese study examined the effects of alcohol consumption on cancer, deaths from cardiovascular disease and mortality in general. 83,732 adult Chinese participants were free of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and cancer in the beginning of the study. The researchers categorized participants based on self-reported alcohol consumption into 6 groups.

  1. 0 g alcohol/week (non-drinkers).
  2. 1-25 g alcohol/week.
  3. 26-150 g alcohol/week.
  4. 151-350 g alcohol/week.
  5. 351-750 g alcohol/week.
  6.  > 750 g alcohol/wk.

Results of the US/Chinese study

After 10 years of follow-up there were 6411 cases of CVD, 2947 cancers and 6646 deaths. After 10 years of observation researchers calculated the risk for cancer, CVD and mortality as follows. The risk groups are the same as mentioned above.

The lowest risk was group 2 with 1-25 g alcohol per week, which was set as 1.0. In comparison to these non-drinkers had a risk of 1.38-fold.

  1.     1.38-fold risk
  2.     1.0
  3.     1.15-fold
  4.     1.22-fold
  5.     1.33-fold
  6.     1.57-fold

The peculiar finding in this study was that non-drinkers had a risk of developing cancer, heart attacks or strokes like heavier drinkers. The risk curve has the name of a J-curve, which means the risk goes first down (like group 2, the 1-25 g alcohol/week group). Subsequently the risk curve goes up in a linear fashion. When people smoke and drink the risk is higher than the risks of people who only drink alcohol.

Reduction of Alcohol Intake Is Associated with Less Heart Attacks and Strokes

Reduction of Alcohol Intake Is Associated with Less Heart Attacks and Strokes

Conclusion

The fact that alcohol is a cell poison has been public knowledge for some time. I reviewed three studies that showed that less alcohol consumption saves lives. It does so by causing less cancer, heart attacks and strokes. The peculiar finding was that the group consuming 1-25 g alcohol/week had the best health statistic. This group had the lowest risk of causing cancers or cardiovascular disease (CVD). In comparison non-drinkers had a 1.38-fold risk to cause cancer or CVD. Those participants who were smoking as well had risks much higher than people consuming alcohol alone. If you want to live longer and stay healthy don’t smoke and drink not more than 1-25 g alcohol/week. This translates into 1.6 to 1.8 alcoholic drinks per week.

Apr
13
2024

Eating the right Food Determines your Health

CNN had an interview with Dr. Leana Wen about the fact that eating the right food determines your health. Dr. Wen is a wellness expert, an emergency physician and adjunct associate professor at George Washington University.

How much does the quality of food we eat influence our health?

There are detailed studies that showed the following effects of healthy food on our lives.

  • If you eat a diet consisting of more vegetables, fruits, whole grains and nuts, the following will happen. You could exceed the age of controls eating unhealthy food by 10 to 13 years.

Specifically, a woman starting such a diet at age 20 would add 10 years to her life, when starting at age 60 she could add 8 years to her life. For men starting this diet at age 20 would allow him to gain 13 years, when starting at age 60 he would add 9 years to his life.

Additional healthy food studies

  • A 2023 Nature study found that men can add 10.8 years, women 10.4 years by switching their diets. This switch was from unhealthy diets to a longevity diet with more whole grains. In addition, the healthy diet contained more nuts and fruits and less sugar-sweetened beverages and processed meats.
  • Another 2023 study from the Jama network followed over 100,000 people for more than 30 years. There was an association between adopting healthy eating patterns and a reduction in early mortality. People on a healthy diet reduced their risk of early death by 20%! The study also noticed that people who ate more whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts and legumes had fewer other diseases. They were less likely to die from cancer, cardiovascular illness and respiratory and neurodegenerative disease. These were important findings. 

What kinds of food make you live longer?

Dr. Wen stated clearly that it is only minimally processed, whole food that allows a person to live longer. The highly processed foods like processed meats, sausages, cakes and cookies are a “no go”. They are the ones that cost lives from heart attacks, strokes and cancer. On the other hand, leafy green vegetables, fresh fruits and whole grains associate with significantly reduced mortality. Fish contains omega-3 fatty acids, which reduce heart disease and dementia. It is also a good source of protein. So, stay away from hot dogs and chicken nuggets, instead enjoy salmon fillet or roasted chicken.

Foods that you need less of

Avoid sugar sweetened sodas and energy drinks, as they elevate cholesterol levels and cause heart attacks. Next, stay away from ultra-processed foods like chips and candies. In one study with more than 11,000 participants people who ate a lot of ultra-processed foods had a 31% higher risk of mortality.

With what do you replace junk food?

Here are a couple of examples. Somebody who used to drink a lot of sodas can replace them with water, sparkling water, flavored water or lemon juice, sweetened with stevia. Instead of snacking on ultraprocessed foods like chips, candies or pretzels eat nuts instead. Look at the list of ingredients before you buy anything in the grocery store. If there is a long list of ingredients including chemicals, this is ultraprocessed food. Replace it with minimally processed foods with only a few items on the ingredient list.

Other advice for health and longevity

  1. If possible, eat three meals a day (breakfast, lunch and dinner). Stop eating 2 hours before bedtime to allow your guts to digest the food you previously ate. This avoids heart burn and interference with your sleep.
  2. Exercise regularly. Studies showed that 150 minutes of vigorous exercise per week reduced mortality by 23%.
  3. Take care of stress in your life. Cherish your social life and socialize; it is important for longevity. See your doctor regularly to take care of any medical problems you may have.
  4. Watch your sleep habits. Many studies have shown that adults need 7 to 8 hours of sleep. Sleep restores your hormone glands, gets them ready for the next day, but it is also important for longevity.
  5. Keep your body mass index (BMI) between 21.0 and 24.0. Personally, I keep my BMI between 21.0 and 22.0. Any extra pounds of fat merely lead to elevated cholesterol and triglycerides. Eventually this leads to heart attacks and strokes, but also to diabetes.
Eating the right Food Determines your Health

Eating the right Food Determines your Health

Conclusion

A recent article in CNN described that eating the right food determines your health. One study said that you should eat a diet consisting of more vegetables, fruits, whole grains and nuts. Doing this increases your life expectation by 10 to 13 years compared to controls who ate unhealthy food. It is only minimally processed, whole food that allows a person to live longer. You must eliminate ultraprocessed food. This means you should not consume sausages, fries, chips, pretzels and other overprocessed foods. Instead, eat leafy green vegetables, fresh fruits and whole grains that associate with significantly reduced mortality. Yes, eating the right food determines your health.

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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.

Feb
04
2024

Beef and Dairy May Cause Cancer and MS

New cancer research suggests that chronic virus particles in beef and dairy may cause cancer and MS (multiple sclerosis). The Medical journal Medscape.com had a review article that summarized this line of research.

Papillomaviruses and cervical cancer

Harald zur Hausen, M.D., D.Sc., a German virologist, detected that papillomavirus causes cervical cancer. He was given the Nobel prize in Medicine in 2008 for “his discovery of human papillomaviruses causing cervical cancer”. In the meantime, we know that there are two strains, namely HPV-16 and HPV-18 that are carcinogenic. We also learnt that papillomavirus causes oropharyngeal cancer, anal cancer, penile cancer and vulvar cancer. Since then, HPV vaccines are commonly in use for cancer prevention.

Evidence for causation of colorectal cancer

Professor Harald zur Hausen and his wife, Professor Ethel-Michele de Villiers, continued work on looking for viral particles in many other cancers. This led them to state that colorectal cancer was due to a latent viral infection. He determined that, when women were breastfeeding their infants for prolonged periods of time (about 1 year), they transmitted oligosaccharides with the breast milk to their offspring, which gave lifelong prevention against colorectal cancer to their children. He also showed that colon cancer patients had round particles in their intestinal mucous membranes, which consisted of single-stranded DNA rings.

Persistent viruses

The researchers said that they came from viruses and they named them bovine meat and milk factors (BMMF). In the same areas in the intestine, they detected acid radicals from oxidative stress typical for chronic inflammation. They postulated that infants who are weaned from breast milk prematurely, and started on cow milk formulas ingest BMMF. This infects the lining of the gut where a chronic subclinical BMMF infection gets established. Decades later the patient comes down with colorectal cancer. They established that children who are breast fed for 1 year do not get BMMF particles in the lining of their guts or colorectal cancer. They also don’t get MS in adult life.

Criticism of two regulatory agencies in Germany

The above results of professor zur Hausen and his wife were published in February of 2019. This led to a lot of press releases questioning these results. In Germany the consumption of beef and milk products is popular. The DKFZ (Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum) felt that an “all-clear signal” was necessary. The Bundesinstitut für Risikobewertung (BfR) stands for the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment, situated in Berlin. It is a substructure of the German government responsible for food safety. The second agency is the Max Rubner Institute (MRI) in Karlsruhe, also known as Federal Research Institute of Nutrition and Food. Both agencies started to investigate the facts of Prof. zur Hausen’s research. At the end of November 2022 the BfR and MRI made a joint statement. They stated the following:

  • BMMF were not new viral agents, but variations of already known DNA sequences.
  • BMMF commonly occurred in a variety of animal- and plant-based foods.
  • BMMF were not capable of infecting human cells.
  • It was true that consumption of red and processed meat correlates with the incidence of intestinal tumors.
  • However, consumption of dairy products are linked to a reduced risk of intestinal tumors.
  • There is no evidence that breast cancer would be associated with the consumption of beef or dairy.
  • They stated that milk products and beef are valuable supplementary diet components for infants due to their micronutrients. They further stated that dairy and beef products are safe for people of all ages.

Evidence for causation of multiple sclerosis

Professor zur Hausen and his wife, Professor Ethel-Michele de Villiers both worked at the German Cancer Research Center in Heidelberg. They pursued research about MS. MS is usually attributed to IgG1 and IgG3 autoantibodies that destroy Schwann cells. The Hausen research team found the following perplexing facts:

  • MS was associated with the consumption of dairy products and beef products.
  • They isolated ring-shaped DNA molecules (BMMF) from dairy and cattle blood.
  • Epstein Barr virus (EBV) also plays a role in initiating MS. MS patients have higher antibody titers against EBV.
  • One research paper noticed that MS patients in Antarctica secreted EBV in their saliva in the winter month. However, vitamin D3 stopped the viral excretion. This is very interesting as vitamin D is an important immune response stimulator.

More evidence:

  • They isolated BMMF particles from lesions of MS patients.
  • They noticed the old fact that MS is more common further away from the equator. Vitamin D production from sun exposure reduced cases of MS.
  • Prolonged breast feeding up to one year prevents life threatening rotaviruses and noroviruses in the newborn. The reason is exposure to oligosaccharides in breast milk. The mother starts producing breast milk in the middle of her pregnancy. It protects mother from tumors (including breast cancer), from MS later in life as well as type 2 diabetes.
  • The researchers formulated the hypothesis that both EBV and BMMF are responsible in patients to form MS lesions in the brain when vitamin D levels are low. A good dose of vitamin D3 every day may be helping to keep EBV and BMMF in a dormant phase.

Discussion

At this point there is no consensus why an increased consumption of beef and processed meat causes more colorectal cancer. The question is whether BMMF particles cause colorectal cancer or whether meat consumption experiences metabolization into carcinogenic substances? Either way it would be desirable to cut down on your red meat consumption.

With respect to MS, we know that autoantibodies are destroying the Schwann cells. But the question is why the immune system produces autoantibodies. Could it be that persistent EBV viruses switch the immune system from a normal to an autoantibody mode? Would BMMF be an additional factor?

Beef and Dairy May Cause Cancer and MS

Beef and Dairy May Cause Cancer and MS

Conclusion

Professor zur Hausen, a virologist from Germany and his wife Professor Ethel-Michele de Villiers researched persistent viruses. Professor zur Hausen detected the connection of papilloma viruses to cervical cancer. He received the Nobel prize in medicine 2008. They proposed the theory that newborns in their first year of life have an immature immune system. If they are fed cow’s milk and/or beef during the first year they accumulate bovine meat and milk factors (BMMF), which can subsequently lead to colon cancer or to MS as an adult. Two top German institutes banded together to criticize Prof. zur Hausen’s research.

Criticism of Professor zur Hausen’s research

The Bundesinstitut für Risikobewertung (BfR) stands for the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment, situated in Berlin. It is a substructure of the German government responsible for food safety. The second agency is the Max Rubner Institute (MRI) in Karlsruhe, also known as Federal Research Institute of Nutrition and Food. These research institutes concluded that not all of the findings of Professor zur Hausen were valid. I listed 7 of their concerns. On the other hand, they agreed that it was true that consumption of red and processed meat correlated with the incidence of intestinal tumors. Time will tell which parts of the research ultimately will be valid and which are not.

Jan
07
2024

Backup your New Year’s Resolutions by looking at short-term Consequences

In the New Year it pays to backup your New Year’s resolutions by looking at short-term consequences. An article in “the conversation” explains how you can keep yourself motivated to stick to healthy habits. The alternative would be to fall back into unhealthy habits, which lead to various disease conditions. Traditional thinking centered around keeping long-term outlooks in front of your mind when tempted by the smell of doughnuts. In these cases, you think that the long-term consequences of eating doughnuts or consuming sugary drinks result in diabetes and obesity. But the smell or taste of unhealthy foods can be so overpowering that the long-term consequences of potential diseases is forgotten. This is the point when your New Years resolution may fade away in favor of falling back to unhealthy eating habits.

Think short-term to resist temptation

The new approach is to replace the thinking of long-term outlooks by short-term outlooks. The authors cited an example of 4000 participants in 7 separate studies. When the short-term consequences of anxiety and a sugar and caffeine crash were explained for caffeine containing sugary drinks, 25% of participants were able to abstain from the energy drinks in comparison to those who were informed about long-term consequences.

Another experiment

A similar experiment involved the consumption of sugar in the form of cookies. One group of participants read about the short-term effects of eating sugar. A second group read about the long-term effects of eating sugar. A third group did not get any information about the effect of sugar. There was also a “reward system” for all the participants: they had to decide between receiving a tote bag or eating cookies. Those who had read about the short-term effects of sugar were 30% less likely to choose cookies than the ones who read about the long-term effects. The ones who read the short-term effects were 45% less likely to choose the cookies than the ones who read nothing about the effects of sugar.

Verbalizing short-term consequences

Here are some thoughts that help to verbalize short-term consequences:

  • For alcohol: excessive drinking can lead to poor sleep and hangovers.
  • Fast food can make you feel bloated or give you indigestion.
  • Sugar and starchy meals: make you bloated and give you an acidy stomach, also will lead to rapid weight gain.
  • Focus on the good taste of apples and carrots. People will eat more of it and get the health benefits without mentioning it.

You can keep your goals easier when you combine them with small rewards here and there. When you have achieved one thing, you could watch your favorite TV show. Another reward could be a brief visit to the gym that makes you feel more fit. Or go and buy yourself a new pair of shorts for the gym. The authors of this article provide evidence from studies that showed that several mini rewards distributed throughout the day are more effective than big rewards at the end of the day.

Measurements of weight fluctuations

I found that body composition scales are very useful to monitor your diet intake. Here is an example how I use this device. My weights, fat% and body mass index for a number of days is listed below. The first line shows the baseline measured in the morning. On Saturday lunchtime I was invited to a Christmas family dinner. I ate more than I should have had. You can see the results on the Sunday readings: weight up, fat up and BMI up. I watched my calorie intake throughout Sunday.

Weekday              Weight (KG)                 Fat %        Body mass index

Saturday:                   63.6                           13.2                  21.7

Sunday:                     64.0                           14.2                  21.9

Monday:                    63.4                           14.3                  21.7

It took another two days (Wednesday) before the fat percentage was down to 12.9.

There is another powerful tool, Dr. Valter Longo’s fasting mimicking diet. I reported about this under this link. Briefly, once a month I eat only 500 to 600 calories daily for 5 days. This helps me to lose my body mass index from 21.8 down to 21.1 or 21.2. After that I can eat a normal diet until the next month when I do the fasting mimicking diet again. It is an easy way to keep my body mass index in the 21.0 to 22.0 range. My wife and I prepare our own 500 to 600 calorie diet with natural food.(No, you do not get much, but it can taste good!) We do not buy Dr. Longo’s expensive diet boxes.

Backup your New Year’s Resolutions by looking at short-term Consequences

Backup your New Year’s Resolutions by looking at short-term Consequences

Conclusion

Focusing on short-term goals and consequences increases the percentage of success for those who have New Year’s resolutions. You can use this for many different approaches: eating less sugar, losing weight, getting regular exercise, reducing your alcohol intake, cutting out fast food and increasing your healthy vegetable and fruit intake. I also added a description of what I do with the help of body composition scales to control my weight and body mass index. I also use Dr. Longo’s fasting mimicking diet once per month for 5-days. Since December 2017 (for 6 years) I practiced this. I find it extremely useful to maintain my body mass index in the 21.0 to 22.0 range. Medicine knows that it is important to keep your body mass index below 25.0. This will prevent heart disease, type 2 diabetes and cancer. It also helps to look forward to a healthy New Year.

Dec
23
2023

Any Form of Exercise is good

Here are a few items that can prolong life; among them any form of exercise is good. This article concentrates on the exercise part in relation to longevity. A recent publication described how regular exercise prolongs your long-term survival. According to a study released on occasion of the American Heart Association’s Scientific Session 2023 there are 8 major factors that prolong life: healthy diet, physical activity, nicotine exposure, sleep health, BMI, cholesterol, blood sugar, and blood pressure.  Among this group of factors regular physical activity plays a major role to prolong your life. Researcher who studied various people found that those who neglected their physical health had a chronological age of 53, but their average biological age was 57. On the other hand, a group of fit people who engaged in regular physical exercise had a chronological age of 41 years, but a biological age of 36.

Clinical trials showing that any form of exercise is good

JAMA Internal Medicine study by Dr. del Pozo Cruz 

This study examined what the optimal amount of physical activity per week is to reduce mortality compared to an inactive population. 500,705 eligible US adults were observed for about 10 years. The abbreviations that the authors used in the study were as follows:

MPA: moderate aerobic physical activity

VPA: vigorous aerobic physical activity

MSA: muscle-strengthening activity

Results of mortality reduction with various amounts of physical activity

  • The best group engaged in more than 0 to 75 minutes of MPA combined with more than 150 minutes of VPA and 2 or more MSA sessions per week. Their mortality rate was 50% lower than an inactive comparison group.
  • The optimal combination for reduction of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and cancer mortality risk was as follows: more than 150 to 225 minutes of MPA, more than 0 to 75 minutes of VPA, and 2 or more MSA sessions per week. This reduced combined mortality of CVD and cancer by 70%.
  • The researchers stated that the adjusted mortality rates represented 50% lower mortality rate for all-cause and cancer mortality. The mortality rate for CVD mortality was 3-fold lower than for inactive controls.

Smallest amount of exercise that reduces mortality

In a study published in the European Heart Journal the authors asked how little exercise per week was enough to reduce mortality from heart disease. They found that it takes at least 15–20 min/week of vigorous physical activity (VPA) to reduce mortality from heart attacks by 16–40%. If you increased the exercise level by 50–57 min/week the mortality rates reduced even further.

Are physically active jobs healthy?

Recent research showed that people who work in physically demanding jobs are more likely to develop early cognitive impairment. This is the pre-stage of Alzheimer’s disease. 15.5 % of people who worked in high levels of occupational physical activity developed dementia. This compared to 9% risk for people whose work involved a low level of physical activity, not too much and not too little. The finding confirms the notion that there is a need for balance of physical exercise. Several publications stressed what is optimal in terms of exercise: vigorous (75 to 300 minutes per week) and moderate physical activity (150 to 600 minutes per week). People who expose themselves to these amounts of exercise live the longest and stay healthy.

Discussion

The studies discussed here showed that the right amount of exercise can reduce mortality from heart disease and cancer. However, exercise is not the only factor that can do this. It is important to combine regular exercise with a healthy diet. Your diet should consist of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, lean proteins and limit saturated and trans-fat, added sugars, and sodium. In addition, you need enough sleep, maintain a healthy weight, manage your stress, and don’t smoke.

Any Form of Exercise is good

Any Form of Exercise is good

Conclusion

In this review I touched on the importance of regular exercise to reduce mortality from heart disease and cancer. Vigorous (75 to 300 minutes per week) and moderate physical activity (150 to 600 minutes per week) reduce mortality from heart attacks by 16% to 40%. But physical exercise is only one factor of mortality reduction. If you want the full benefit from other factors, you must quit smoking, eat a Mediterranean type diet with fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products and lean proteins. Also you should limit saturated and trans-fat, added sugars, and sodium. In addition, you need enough sleep, maintain a healthy weight and manage your stress. Once you adopted this lifestyle, you live longer and you will get less diseases.

Dec
09
2023

Too much Ultraprocessed Food Makes you sick

A Lancet study published on Nov. 13, 2023 found that too much ultraprocessed food makes you sick. Researchers noted that ultraprocessed animal products and sweetened beverages were linked to an increased cancer risk as well as other diseases such as strokes or diabetes.

In Europe more than half of the food intake consists of ultraprocessed food. In the US a 2019 study found that 71% of the food supply is ultraprocessed.

Details of the study

The details of the study were summarized in a CNN report. Researchers of the study collected nutritional data from 266,666 men and women (60% were women) from 7 European countries between 1992 and 2000. The researchers followed the participants for 11 years. During that time they observed the participants for the development of chronic diseases and cancer. During the observation time 21,917 primary cancers, 10,939 cardiovascular events, and 11,322 type 2 diabetes cases developed. On entry into the study participants were questioned about their food intake in the past 12 months. This was matched with the NOVA classification system. It became clear that not all ultraprocessed foods were detrimental to the health of the participants. Animal products and sugar-sweetened drinks and foods caused chronic diseases in the participants of the study. However, ultra-processed breads, cereals or alternative plant-based products were neutral in terms of health risks.

Main findings of the study: too much ultraprocessed food makes you sick

The main findings of the study were that ingesting mostly ultraprocessed food leads to a 9% increase of heart attacks, strokes, diabetes and cancer. This is in comparison to controls who ate very little ultraprocessed food. However, when you reduce your intake of ultraprocessed food your risk of developing these diseases reduces. The key is to eat more fruit and vegetables and concentrate on eating minimally processed food.

Other studies with similar findings

In 2022 the British Medical Journal published two studies that documented a higher colorectal cancer rate and cardiovascular disease rate when subjects were eating larger amounts of ultraprocessed foods (UPF). Specifically, when men had exposure to a high percentage of UPF in their diet they developed 29% more colorectal cancer after 28 years of observation in comparison to men who ate a low percentage of UPF. A related study that went on for 14 years showed a 32% higher risk for death from cardiovascular disease for men who ate a high UPF diet in comparison to men on a low UPF diet.

French study 2019

A French study in 2019 followed 44, 551 French adults 45 years or older for 7.1 years. A 10% increase of consumption of ultraprocessed food caused a 14% higher risk of all-cause mortality. The authors stated that 80% of all premature deaths from noncommunicable disease are due to cardiovascular disease (CVD), respiratory disease, cancer, and diabetes. The authors discussed in detail the problems with overconsumption of ultraprocessed food.

Some of the contents of ultraprocessed food

Ultraprocessed food contains:

  • High salt content, and high sodium intake has been associated with cardiovascular deaths and increased stomach cancer risk.
  • Excessive amounts of added sugar. There is an association between added sugar consumption and an increased risk of mortality from cardiovascular disease.
  • Ultraprocessed foods contain very little fiber. More dietary fiber in one’s diet has an association with lower death rates.
  • Studies have estimated that reducing saturated and trans fats, salt, and added sugar in the diet prevent cardiovascular deaths.
  • High temperature food processing produces acrylamide. Acrylamide is a known carcinogen.
  • Consumption of processed meat products causes a higher risk of colorectal cancer and stomach cancer.
More ingredients of ultraprocessed food
  • Artificial sweeteners can alter microbiota and can cause the onset of type 2 diabetes and metabolic diseases.
  • With bisphenol A coating in food packaging endocrine disruptors enter the food. Bisphenol A causes endocrine cancers and metabolic diseases, such as diabetes and obesity.
  • The food industry uses additives frequently in their formulations. Some studies raised concerns about the health consequences of food additives. For instance, the food industry uses titanium dioxide widely. There is an association of titanium dioxide and increased risk of chronic intestinal inflammation and carcinogenesis.

It is easy to see that when we expose our bodies to a mix of these ingredients this can cause cardiovascular diseases, cancers and diabetes. The final outcome is that this leads to premature deaths.

Too much Ultraprocessed Food Makes you sick

Too much Ultraprocessed Food Makes you sick

Conclusion

Too much ultraprocessed food (UPF) makes you sick. This is the conclusion of a large study, which the Lancet published on Nov. 13, 2023. Researchers followed 266,666 men and women (60% women) for 11 years. The main findings of the study were that ingesting mostly ultraprocessed food leads to a 9% increase of heart attacks, strokes, diabetes and cancer. This is in comparison to controls who ate very little ultraprocessed food. Other studies going back to 2019 and 2022 showed very similar findings.

Other studies

A French study from 2019 noted that a 10% increase of consumption of ultraprocessed food caused a 14% higher risk of all-cause mortality. Several studies in 2022 showed that men who had an exposure to a high percentage of UPF in their diet developed 29% more colorectal cancer after 28 years of observation in comparison to men who ate a low percentage of UPF. A related study that went on for 14 years showed a 32% higher risk for death from cardiovascular disease for men who ate a high UPF diet in comparison to men on a low UPF diet. It follows from this data that a simple diet consisting of vegetables, fruit, nuts and lean meat (chicken turkey, fish) with minimal amounts of UPF protects you from premature death.