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.

Nov
11
2023

New Treatment against Advanced Bladder Cancer

At a Cancer congress in Madrid, Spain a new treatment against advanced bladder cancer was discussed at this year’s European Society for Medical Oncology Congress. The standard treatment for advanced bladder cancer is gemcitabine in combination with cisplatin or carboplatin. According to CNN the median survival with the standard chemotherapy is 16.1 months. In contrast, treatment with the new intravenous antibody drug enfortumab vedotin in combination with intravenous pembrolizumab resulted in longer survival. The combination yielded a survival of 31.5 months for advanced bladder cancer patients. This new immunotherapy method resulted in a 96% longer survival. The safety profile of the two approaches were similar. 55.9% of patients taking the combination immune therapy developed skin rashes or hyperglycemia, while 69.5% of those taking platinum chemotherapy developed this.

Other new findings about advanced bladder cancer treatment

Dr. Thomas Powles is a professor of urology cancer at the University of London and director of the Barts Cancer Centre in the United Kingdom. He said:” The problem with chemotherapy is although it works quite well initially, resistance occurs quickly, and the median survival for metastatic bladder cancer has been about a year. What this study showed is, we did a big, randomized Phase 3 study where we compared a new treatment — two new drugs — with standard chemotherapy,” Powles said. “And in this randomized trial, when you gave those two drugs together, you reduced the risk of death for this cancer by over 50%. So, you’ve doubled survival, with patients living twice as long, and we’ve got long-term durable remission.”

Erdafitinib study

A second study from the New England Journal of Medicine used erdafitinib in comparison to standard chemotherapy. Erdafitinib is a small molecule inhibitor of fibroblast growth factor receptor and is effective in the treatment of cancer. This study compared 136 patients on erdafitinib with 130 patients on chemotherapy. Patients treated with standard chemotherapy had a median overall survival of 7.8 months. This compares to 12.1 median survival for the erdafitinib group. Erdafitinib, a kinase inhibitor drug, is slowing the spread of cancer cells.

Side effects that led to death were less common with erdafitinib than with chemotherapy. Only 0.7% of erdafitinib patients had serious side effects versus 5.4% of chemotherapy patients.

Nivolumab study

Another clinical trial was recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Nivolumab is an immune checkpoint inhibitor that was originally developed for treatment of intractable melanoma. However, subsequently it was found to be active also against lung cancer, kidney cancer and bladder cancer. In the clinical study mentioned above 304 patients with intractable bladder cancer were treated with standard chemotherapy alone. They were compared to 304 patients on standard chemotherapy plus nivolumab.

The median complete response with the nivolumab-combination therapy was 37.1 months. In contrast, with gemcitabine–cisplatin alone it was only 13.2 months. Side effects of the two treatments were about similar. The authors concluded that treatment with the immune checkpoint inhibitor, nivolumab plus standard chemotherapy with gemcitabine–cisplatin resulted in better survivals than treatment with gemcitabine–cisplatin alone.

Discussion

Immunomodulation is one of the newest approaches to cancer treatment. But at the Hope 4 Cancer Clinic immunomodulation is only one aspect of a comprehensive approach to cancer treatment.They mention that they restore the microbiome in the gut. Great detail is spent to a full spectrum nutrition. Detoxification and non-toxic cancer therapies are employed. Oxygenation helps to restore the acid/base balance. Immunomodulation with the newer agents mentioned above helps as well to combat cancer. Low-dose laser photodynamic therapy with various light frequencies helps to destroy cancer cells as well. These lasers activate a variety of sensitizers, which are taken up by cancer cells and lead to their destruction. Finally, the cancer patients are taught how to achieve spiritual and emotional well-being. The Hope 4 Cancer Clinic demonstrates that treatment with immunomodulation is best combined with other treatment modalities to improve patient survival.

New Treatment against Advanced Bladder Cancer

New Treatment against Advanced Bladder Cancer

Conclusion

Physicians used three different immune therapies to treat advanced bladder cancer. Erdafitinib vedotin, a kinase inhibitor drug, in combination with intravenous pembrolizumab resulted in a survival of 31.5 months for advanced bladder cancer patients versus 16.1 months with standard chemotherapy. Another clinical trial showed that patients on standard chemotherapy had a median overall survival of only 7.8 months for advanced bladder cancer. This compares to 12.1 months median survival for the erdafitinib group. Finally, nivolumab, an immune checkpoint inhibitor was combined with standard chemotherapy. When end stage bladder cancer patients were treated with this combination, they survived 37.1 months. In comparison, the control group with chemotherapy alone (gemcitabine–cisplatin) survived only 13.2 months. There is definitely better survival of patients when immunomodulation is used. The hope is that future immunomodulators will have a stronger effect against cancer with less side effects.

Oct
07
2023

Sudden Cardiac Death in Athletes

This article is about sudden cardiac death in athletes. Dr. Robert A. Harrington and Dr. Manesh Patel reported from the European Society of Cardiology 2023 Congress in Amsterdam. Notably, this congress took place from August 25-28, 2023 with 30,000 participants.  Another key point is that one of the important topics was sudden cardiac death in athletes. In general, you normally assume that athletes are healthy, and their hearts would support their peak athletic activities. It is important to realize as Drs. Harrington and Patel reported that under certain circumstances athletes can suddenly die.

Bronny James, a high school basketball player was rescued from a cardiac arrest as this article shows.  Apparently, he has a congenital heart condition, which makes him more vulnerable to get an irregular heartbeat. It must be remembered that his can cause his heart to stop beating. Fortunately, he was revived at the Mount Sinai Hospital in New York. To clarify, there are a number of non-invasive procedures that interventional cardiologists use to correct abnormalities in a heart. Specifically, following such procedures the person’s heart is more stable.

Ventricular fibrillation

To explain, irregular heartbeats leading to ventricular fibrillation is one cause of death in athletes. Another key point, often there can be other underlying conditions that lead to this. Examples are a long QT interval on an ECG, a big thick heart (medical term: hypertrophic cardiomyopathy), and dilated aortas in tall people.

Success stories of reviving people and athletes with sudden cardiac death

In other words, over the years two methods showed success in rescuing athletes with sudden cardiac deaths. The first is CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation).   This keeps the blood flowing and delivers oxygen to the lung capillaries. Next the emergency medical team is called in who provide an automated external defibrillator to the chest. This can revive up to 100% cases of athletes with sudden cardiac deaths. The key is to do CPR right away and to have the emergency medical team use the automated external defibrillator (AED) right away.

Screening methods to prevent sudden cardiac death in athletes

With this in mind, the medical profession has started to do preventative tests of athletes. First, Italy is one of the countries that has persistently done standard screening. Physicians order ECG’s and echocardiograms. They can readily diagnose hypertrophic cardiomyopathy with these tests. Second, a new stethoscope can get sounds and some ECG signals at the same time. This helps to diagnose several abnormal cardiac conditions.

Third, another point is that there have to be enough people around a sports event who have experience in performing CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation). Certainly, the sooner you start CPR, the more successful is the outcome with respect to a full recovery. Next medical personnel with the AED equipment are necessary to bring the heart rhythm back to a sinus rhythm. When the patient’s heart beats normally again, the patient needs transportation to the nearest hospital for further monitoring and stabilization.

Commotio cordis

When there is a lower chest impact from a hockey puck, baseball or lacrosse ball the heart can suddenly come to a standstill. Physicians call this commotio cordis. These athletes need immediate CPR to keep them alive followed by timely administration of an automated external defibrillator. Often the heart beats normally after this. If immediate medical help is not available, these young athletes die and it becomes an upsetting newspaper story.

Sudden Cardiac Death in Athletes

Sudden Cardiac Death in Athletes

Conclusion

Dr. Harrington interviewed Dr. Manesh Patel, a cardiologist from Duke University regarding sudden cardiac death in athletes. A thump to the chest from a hockey puck or a baseball can cause the heart to stop beating. In order to save this athlete from dying bystanders have to start CPR right away. This helps to continue blood circulation and brings oxygen into the tissues. Next medical personnel apply electrode pads from an automated external defibrillator (AED) to the chest wall. One or two electric shocks are administered. This often revives the heart or converts irregular heart contractions to the normal sinus beats, and the athlete recovers. The emergency medical team transports the patient to the nearest hospital for observation and further treatments. CPR and AED in combination can save up to 100% of cases that would otherwise turn into sudden cardiac deaths.

Jul
30
2023

Learn about Longevity from the Blue Zones

People who live in blue zones often turn 100 or older, so we can learn about longevity from the blue zones. The 5 most often cited blue zones are in Okinawa, Japan; Sardinia, Italy; Nicoya, Costa Rica; Icaria, Greece; and Loma Linda, California, United States. But there are many more blue zones throughout the world. These zones contain the most centenarians, people who have reached the age of 100. It is thought that it is the people’s lifestyle that makes them live much longer than the rest of the world.

Lifestyle of centenarians

People are active, are bicycling, walking, swimming, constantly on the go and they are careful about what they eat. They stay slim, but are muscular. Their diet consists mostly of vegetables and salads, with very little meat. They may consume a small piece of beef on Sundays, but not during the rest of the week. Fish may be a part of their diet two or three times per week.

Diet characteristic of blue zones

Sandee LaMotte  published an article on March 4, 2023 at CNN, which describes the diet consumed in blue zones. People in blue zones are active, handle stress well, are close to friends, have a purpose in life and are often members of a social or religious group. They eat mostly a plant-based diet and they stop eating before they are full.

The food consists of complex carbohydrates. No processed foods are eaten. The American Heart Association says: “Complex carbohydrates, such as beans, peas, vegetables and whole grains provide vitamins, minerals and fiber that can go missing in processed and refined foods. In addition, they are digested more slowly, and the fiber helps you feel full longer.”

Origin of blue zone foods

The blue zone food has its roots in the African, Asian, Latino and Native American diets. Dan Buettner originally published an article about the blue zones in the National Geographic Magazine. Recently he published a collection of 100 blue zone recipes in book form.

The Mediterranean diet is very close to blue zone eating.

What blue zone meals contain

Buettner said: “The five pillars of every longevity diet, including the blue zone, are whole grains, vegetables in season, tubers, nuts and beans. In fact, I argue the cornerstone of a longevity diet is beans.” People in blue zones eat similar foods as those who eat a Mediterranean diet, but they do not eat as much fish as people on a Mediterranean diet. People on a blue zone diet don’t eat any milk products. On the other hand, goat and sheep’s milk cheeses such as feta and pecorino are part of the blue zone diet. In the blue zones the consumption of purple sweet potatoes, sesame seeds, fresh vegetables and fruit are the major staples.

More info about Blue Zone diet

All of the meals contain complex carbohydrates, micronutrients and a whole variety of fiber.

Perhaps the important difference to the Standard American diet is that in the blue zone there is a lack of beef, hamburgers, processed foods and highly processed carbohydrates like bread, pasta, sugar-sweetened beverages, salty snacks like potato chips, candies, cookies and processed meats (bacon, sausages or cold-cuts). People in blue zones eat very little bread and if they do, they eat sourdough bread, which does not raise the blood sugar level as the highly refined white bread.

Recapturing healthy foods

So, what foods are blue zone people really eating? Tofu, quinoa, mushrooms, lentils, beans, turnip greens, artichokes, asparagus, chickpeas and spinach are the main staples of their nutrition. They stay away from sugar, rarely eat meat (once or twice per week) and otherwise have a healthy lifestyle. Scientists think that longevity comes from the healthy lifestyle and diet, which centenarians practice. Several longevity genes get activated as explained in this publication. This translates into living long lives with very few illnesses and experiencing energy until the end of their lives.

Learn about Longevity from the Blue Zones

Learn about Longevity from the Blue Zones

Conclusion

We can learn a lot from observing what centenarians eat and do. Scientist have investigated the lifestyle of people living in blue zones in various parts of the world. These zones contain the most centenarians, people who have reached the age of 100. People in blue zones eat mostly vegetables and very little red meat. They avoid sugar and processed foods. But they are also very active, have a rich social life and allow themselves enough sleep. Scientists accumulated evidence that genetic longevity switches are activated by the life style of people living in blue zones.  It is the activation of these epigenetic switches that are responsible for the longevity of people in blue zones.

Jul
15
2023

Poor Health is Linked to Loneliness and Social Isolation

In June 2023 a new study showed that poor health has a link to loneliness and social isolation. It was also reviewed by CNN. There have been many studies in the past examining whether poor health shows an association to loneliness and social isolation. But this new study is different: it is a meta-analysis of 90 prospective studies with follow-up from 6 months to 25 years. The study included only persons age 18 years and older. There was a total of 2.2 million participants. The study specifically examined the links between loneliness, social isolation and early death.

The Meta-analysis

This new meta-analysis is significant, because with such a high number of participants the statistical strength is much better than with smaller studies. All of the 90 studies examined were prospective studies. The meta-analysis showed the difference between controls and various experimental groups suffering loneliness, social isolation and early death. The researchers identified independent risk factors of subsets among the 2.2 million subjects as discussed further below.

Loneliness

The definition of loneliness in the study was the subjective distress people feel when there is a discrepancy between the social relationships they have and what they want. If their is no fulfillment of the need for connection or intimacy in their relationships, this too can be a source of loneliness. There is increased isolation of Americans due to the increase in TV watching, spending more computer time and increase in cell phone use. This is loneliness by choice. But very few know that this can cause disease.

Social isolation

When people are under social isolation, they are under chronic stress, which translates into disease. In the statistics below it is apparent that cancer and cardiovascular mortality show a significant elevation from social isolation. In women with breast cancer there was a 51% increased mortality due to social isolation.

Findings of the study

Here are the findings form the metaanalysis. All the findings of patients suffering from loneliness and social isolation were in comparison to control groups without social deprivation.

  • There is a 32% all-cause mortality from loneliness and social isolation
  • Loneliness is responsible for a 14% increase in mortality compared to those who are not lonely
  • There is a 24% increased cancer mortality due to social isolation
  • Social isolation is responsible for a 34% increase of cardiovascular mortality
  • Socially isolated individuals with cardiovascular disease had a 28% increased all-cause mortality
  • Socially isolated women with breast cancer had a 51% increased all-cause mortality

Life style factors part of loneliness and social isolation

Turhan Canli, a professor of integrative neuroscience in the department of psychology at New York’s Stony Brook University had no involvement in the study. He said: ”People who feel socially isolated or lonely tend to have unhealthy habits, such as smoking, alcohol use, poor diet or little exercise. Having a small social network or little to no contact with the outside world can also make someone less likely to receive medical care if they don’t have anyone checking on them.”

Broadening social connections

We learnt how devastating loneliness and social isolation are for your health. It follows from this that the solution is to concentrate on broadening social connections as a preventative measure. Canli said: “Think of maintaining a social network like any other health-promoting activity: exercising regularly, eating well, looking after yourself.” Cultivate your social connections with a higher priority than in the past. Engage in new circles of like-minded people. Seek opportunities out like joining an exercise class or a discussion group.

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Conclusion

Loneliness and social isolation are a real entity that threatens all of our health. A meta-analysis of 90 prospective studies (6 months to 25 years of follow-up) including more than 2 million people showed the following. There is a 32% all-cause mortality from loneliness and social isolation. Cancer mortality is up 24% due to social isolation. Socially isolated individuals with cardiovascular disease had a 28% increased all-cause mortality. Socially isolated women with breast cancer had a 51% increased all-cause mortality. There were more findings than these. Overall, this stresses the importance to cultivate your social connections, which prevents social isolation and loneliness. You will stay healthier for longer and not die prematurely.

Jun
17
2023

Telomeres can Protect you from Premature Aging

Longer telomeres can protect you from premature aging, and shorter telomeres lead to premature death and various diseases. But recently new research showed that sometimes longer telomeres can be responsible for cancer and lower life expectancy. I will discuss this further below.

Some facts about telomeres

Telomeres are the caps on the chromosomes that do not contain genes, but are important for cell division. When cells divide, the DNA with all the genetic information about us replicates. With cell division each copy of our DNA ends up in a new cell, but the telomere gets shorter with every cell division. The enzyme telomerase is able to lengthen our telomeres. A healthy Mediterranean diet, regular exercise, not smoking cigarettes, sleeping 7 or 8 hours every night are all factors that stimulate elongation of our telomeres. When telomeres are short, they can no longer divide, but the cells turn into senescent cells. They no longer divide, but they stay metabolically active and are significant in the diseases of the aging. They cause osteoarthritis, hardening of the arteries and cancer.

Mice with hyper-long telomeres live much longer than control animals and they have lower LDL cholesterol levels.

Animal studies confirm that short telomeres mean shorter lifespan

There were animal studies that showed that telomeres shorten more slowly in long-lived birds and mammals.

A study looked at the telomere shortening rates of different animal species. They found that those species that had the fastest telomere shortening rate were also the ones with the shortest life span.

Shorter telomeres can also cause several chronic health conditions.

Telomerase helps to keep telomeres from shortening

An important ingredient in every body cell is the enzyme telomerase. It attaches to telomeres and adds DNA to telomeres thus elongating them. Many healthy lifestyles increase telomerase and help shortened telomeres to get longer again.

What preserves the length of your telomeres?

I have previously reviewed factors that elongate telomeres. Here is a summary of this information.

Telomere length enhancers

  1. Lifestyle changes can have positive effects on telomere length. Examples are smoking cessation, weight loss and stress reduction.
  2. Dietary changes: we know that fish oil (omega-3 fatty acids) supplements elongate telomeres as does a low-fat diet.
  3. Supplements like vitamin D3, antioxidants (vitamin C and E) and astragalus (TA-65) elongate telomeres as well.  The astragalus supplement, TA-65 showed a significant elongation of telomeres after 12 months while controls lost telomere length.
  4. Exercise: in a 24-week experiment of care workers regular aerobic exercise increased the telomeres by 67.3 base pairs.
  5. Bioidentical hormone replacement in aging people: when hormones are missing after andropause and menopause, the natural hormones need replacing, or the telomeres are shortening.
  6. High cortisol levels cause telomere shortening.
  7. Human growth hormone elongates telomeres via telomerase activation.
  8. The fasting mimicking diet (FMD) was shown to extend life and telomeres as well.

Conflicting research about longer telomeres

A publication in the New England Journal of Medicine dated May 4, 2023 showed that patients with a POT1 mutation had long telomeres.  This mutation caused cancers, brain tumors, B- and T-cell lymphomas and bone marrow cancers. The long telomeres facilitated cancer growth. Normally this type of mutation is rare and in patients without this mutation long telomeres would lead to longevity.

Dr. Joshua Berkowitz, the Medical Director of IV Boost UK, said that further research needs to focus on the following: “Identifying genetic and epigenetic factors that contribute to aging and longevity, understanding the role of the microbiome in aging and longevity, and investigating the role of senescent cells in aging and age-related diseases.”

Telomeres can Protect you from Premature Aging

Telomeres can Protect you from Premature Aging

Conclusion

Our telomeres are needed for cell division. When telomeres get shorter with age there is a consensus that this leads to a potentially dangerous situation. The cells turn into senescent cells. They no longer divide, but they stay metabolically active and are causing the diseases of the aging. These are osteoarthritis, hardening of the arteries, cancer and many more. On the other end of the spectrum with regular exercise, a Mediterranean diet and a normal weight, telomeres can get elongated, which for most people means a longer life expectancy. However, recent research showed that patients with a POT1 mutation are vulnerable to facilitating cancer growth and premature death. Fortunately, the POT1 mutation is rare. Future research will clarify what the safest way is to achieve longevity.

Apr
06
2023

Erythritol is Linked to Heart Attacks and Strokes

A recent publication found that erythritol is linked to heart attacks and strokes. The study from the Cleveland Clinic was published Jan. 19, 2023 in Nature. It showed that people with diabetes had a 2-fold risk of getting a heart attack or stroke. Researchers measured the highest concentration of erythritol in their blood versus a control group with no erythritol in it. The study further showed that erythritol causes platelets to form clots, which could break of and travel to the heart or brain vessels. This triggered a heart attack or stroke. Dr. Stanley Hazen, director of the Center for Cardiovascular Diagnostics and Prevention at the Cleveland Clinic Lerner Research Institute said: “We never expected this. We weren’t even looking for it.”

Erythritol is what causes heart attacks and strokes

What the research team was looking for was “find unknown chemicals or compounds in a person’s blood that might predict their risk for a heart attack, stroke or death in the next three years. “This is how erythritol was identified as a risk factor.

Erythritol is a sugar alcohol

Like sorbitol or xylitol, erythritol is a sugar alcohol, which occurs in many fruits and vegetables. Erythritol has less laxative effect than some of the other sugar alcohols. It tastes like sugar and adds bulk to any stevia-based sweeteners. These are the reasons why it became the preferred zero calorie sweetener of the industry. Also, in a mixture it diluted the pronounced sweet effect of stevia, but added the crystalline texture appearance like sugar to the sweetener. This is what the consumer expected of a sweetener.

The clinical trials showing there is a link between erythritol and heart attacks as well as strokes

One group of patient’s tests were 1,157 blood samples from people at risk for heart disease collected between 2004 and 2011. Another batch of blood samples came from over 2,100 people in the United States and an additional batch from 833 samples gathered by colleagues in Europe through 2018. 75% of the participants in all three populations had coronary disease or high blood pressure, and about 20% had diabetes. Over 50% were male and in their 60’s and 70’s.  All of those samples showed the following. Higher levels of erythritol showed a correlation to a greater risk of heart attack, stroke or death within three years.

Blood coagulation

Our blood has a delicate balance between coagulation from clotting factors and platelets on the one hand and fibrinolysis, which counters clotting, on the other hand. This ensures that we are not spontaneously bleeding and also not getting clots from hypercoagulation. The researchers found that it is this balance, which erythritol disturbs. Dr. Hazel said: “But what we’re seeing with erythritol is the platelets become super responsive: A mere 10% stimulant produces 90% to 100% of a clot formation”. This was the reason for the higher heart attack and stroke rates in the higher levels of erythritol in the blood.

Erythritol levels checked in healthy volunteers

The last part of the study involved tracking blood tests of erythritol in 8 healthy volunteers. They drank beverages containing 30 Grams of erythritol, which is the amount many Americans consume. According to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, which examines American nutrition each year 30 Grams is the average daily consumption of Americans. The researchers took blood tests of erythritol for the next 3 days including tests of clotting risks. Dr. Hazen said: “Thirty grams was enough to make blood levels of erythritol go up a thousandfold. It remained elevated above the threshold necessary to trigger and heighten clotting risk for the following two to three days.”

Reaction of the industry

Robert Rankin, the Calorie Control Council’s executive director, an industry association, wrote in an email: “The results of this study are contrary to decades of scientific research showing reduced-calorie sweeteners like erythritol are safe, as evidenced by global regulatory permissions for their use in foods and beverages.” But this seems to be a lame excuse. The platelet clotting effect of erythritol simply was not what the FDA expected or tested for. The same was true for other regulatory bodies when they released it as safe. I have drawn my own conclusion and thrown out all sweeteners I had in my possession that contained erythritol.

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Conclusion

Sometimes studies come out of the blue, which change our everyday practice. One of these studies is Dr. Stanley Hazen, director of the Center for Cardiovascular Diagnostics and Prevention at the Cleveland Clinic Lerner Research Institute. He showed that erythritol as an artificial sweetener is not harmless as previously thought of.  This included the FDA as a regulatory agency, which labeled erythritol as GRAS (=generally recognized as safe). Now new evidence of clinical studies showed that erythritol is responsible for a twofold risk of heart attacks, strokes or death in the next three years. Dr. Hazen included all kinds of controls and also fed healthy volunteers erythritol. No matter how he looked at it, the risk remained.

Erythritol causes clots, which cause heart attacks and strokes

In animal experiments he could also show that erythritol caused platelets to stick together and cause clot formation. These clots could travel into the heart and brain vessels and cause heart attacks and strokes. For any consumer it is the most sensible approach to NOT use any sweetener that contains erythritol. This involves reading product ingredients before you buy any sweetener. Assuming that products are harmless, when the label reads “Stevia” is a fallacy! In numerous products the ingredient list will show the word “erythritol”. Buyer beware!

Dec
31
2022

Certain Probiotics Are not as Harmless as Thought

Recently a medical publication stated that certain probiotics are not as harmless as thought. Researchers presented their findings at the American College of Chest Physicians 2022 Annual Meeting. 23,533 ICU admissions to a number of hospitals in Colorado over a 5-year period were the data base for this study. There was a clear relationship between taking probiotic powder and the fact that some of these gut bacteria make their way into the blood stream. This condition has the name of bacteremia. Although bacteremia is uncommon (only 0.37%), the mortality rate for those who developed probiotic-related bacteremia was 25.6%. This is about twofold greater than the 13.5% mortality rate of controls who did not take probiotics. The risk ratio was 2.23-fold higher for ICU patients who ingested probiotics versus those who did not. What killed the patients who took probiotics were the gut bacteria that entered into their blood stream.

Discussion of “certain probiotics are not as harmless as thought”

Physicians often recommend probiotics as tools to improve the gut bacterial flora. Unfortunately, there is a lack of research in this area. There is no hard evidence that probiotics are beneficial for irritable bowel syndrome or ulcerative colitis. There is also no hard evidence that a previously deranged bowel flora would transition into a healthy bowel flora. On the other hand, we also know that fermented vegetable products like kimchi or sauerkraut also have beneficial bacteria in them that can support your bowel flora. One of the problems is the concentration of probiotic supplements. They come in 80 billion, 100 billion and higher bacteria counts per capsule. It is possible that some of these bacteria find their way through cracks in the lining of the bowel into the blood stream.

Patients outside the ICU setting

ICU patients are vulnerable and often have immune deficiencies. It may be that in regular patients outside the ICU probiotics may not be that problematical. But nobody knows for sure as there are no studies available that support this. The practice of recommending probiotics over sauerkraut and kimchi is simply based on hearsay.

Risk assessment necessary

Once probiotic bacteria are in the blood, they can freely travel through the circulatory system into the rest of the body. This is how septicemia develops. This is a dangerous condition, which does not always respond to antibiotics. It is because of this why there is such a high mortality rate as I mentioned above.

As mentioned, there is a lack of good evidence for the beneficial effects of probiotics. However, there is a risk of bacteremia in ICU patients. This warrants a risk assessment whether or not we should supplement our food intake with probiotic supplements or not. Fermented vegetable products like kimchi or sauerkraut are not as highly concentrated as probiotic capsules. Nevertheless, they are useful supplements that you can mix into salads or use as a side dish to your main meal. Until the time that more evidence is available about probiotics it is best to not take probiotics. Replace it with kimchi and sauerkraut.

Fermented foods versus probiotics

Fermented foods like sauerkraut and kimchi can help the gut balance its bacteria. But there are other fermented foods that can help your gut: yoghurt and kefir, which is a fermented probiotic milk drink. Other fermented foods are tempeh, miso, kombucha and pickles. The good bacteria outnumber the bad bacteria when you consume fermented foods regularly. Kimchi does not only provide healthy gut digestion, but it also prevents the formation of toxins from unhealthy gut bacteria. These toxins can damage the kidneys. So, kimchi prevents kidney damage.

Sauerkraut and kimchi are fermented foods that have been consumed for hundreds of years. They provide nutrients, vitamins and minerals along with plenty of fiber and probiotic bacteria to support the gut. I consider kimchi and sauerkraut the better probiotic than probiotic pills, which likely are too concentrated.

Certain Probiotics Are not as Harmless as Thought

Certain Probiotics Are not as Harmless as Thought

Conclusion

Recently a publication reported about 23,533 ICU admissions to various hospitals in Colorado over a 5-year period. These patients took daily probiotics. There was a clear relationship between taking probiotic powder and the fact that some of these gut bacteria made their way into the blood stream. Unfortunately, there was a mortality risk of 25.6% for probiotic-related bacteremia. Controls not taking probiotics had a much lower mortality rate of 13.5%. The investigators concluded that a literature search failed to support beneficial effects of the probiotic powder. The evidence was rather weak and did not justify the risk of probiotic-bacteremia. In contrast, natural probiotics in the form of fermented foods like kimchi and sauerkraut have been around for centuries and are known to be safe. I see no reason why we should take a risk with probiotic pills when there are many alternative fermented foods.

Mar
30
2022

Adolescents’ Lifestyles Are Linked to Faster Aging in Adulthood

A longitudinal study found that adolescents’ lifestyles are linked to faster aging in adulthood. The study started with a baseline examination in a group of adolescents around the age of 15. 30 years later doctors examined the same individuals again. The researchers found that smokers, obese people and people with untreated emotional problems were aging faster than controls who did not have these problems. CNN discussed this study as well. A fourth condition, asthma was also included in the study. Indeed, adolescents who suffered from asthma in their mid-teens were not more biologically aged at age 45 when compared to controls who never had asthma. The authors concluded that treated asthma did not prematurely age a person. However, lifestyle habits like smoking, excessive weight and untreated mental illness contributed to accelerated aging.

Does having a healthy lifestyle lower your risk of developing medical conditions and diseases?

It must be remembered that anti-aging medicine is watching out for new treatments that can prolong life. However, this is not just one “breakthrough”, but rather a number of factors that in combination lead to longevity.

Resveratrol

Resveratrol, the supplement from red grape skin can stimulate your mitochondria metabolism. Exercise more and regularly as this will also stimulate your mitochondria to multiply similar to the effects of PQQ, a supplement. I take 500 mg of resveratrol concentrate once daily.

Exercise regularly

The first thing to remember is that regular exercise will prevent about 50% of chronic diseases (diabetes, heart failure, arthritis). Consequently, this prolongs life: Lack of exercise is a major cause of chronic diseases.

Replacing missing hormones with bioidentical hormones

When you enter menopause or andropause replace missing hormones with bioidentical hormones. This will add 10–15 years of good life. This information comes from the anti-aging medicine circles and European studies of women on bioidentical hormone replacement. Here is a more conservative opinion from a US review: Counseling Postmenopausal Women about Bioidentical Hormones: Ten Discussion Points for Practicing Physicians.

Abandon sugar, starchy foods

Starchy foods (potatoes, pasta, rice, pastries and bread) and processed food accelerate aging. Avoid these foods for a healthier heart – Harvard Health. Many studies have confirmed that a Mediterranean diet is anti-inflammatory and prevents premature aging.

Are you deficient in human growth hormone?

Find out whether you are deficient in human growth hormone or not by taking an IGF-1 blood test. Dr. Hertoghe, an endocrinologist from Belgium said at various anti-aging conferences that HGH by itself prolongs life by about 15 to 20 years or more. I am deficient in HGH and I am injecting HGH myself regularly. My anti-aging physician orders my IGF-1 level three to four times per year to monitor the right dosage of HGH replacement. But it is crucial that the physician supervise the patient. This involves  giving the patient only minimal amounts of HGH, which keeps IGF-1 levels in the high normal range. This is also re-emphasized in this review: Growth Hormone and Aging: Updated Review. When you overdose HGH, you lose all of the beneficial effects that HGH replacement brings.

Fasting mimicking diet (FMD)

Fasting for Longevity: 9 Questions for Dr. Valter D. Longo. When you consume only 500 to 600 calories daily for 5 days out of every month you are stimulating your telomeres (the caps on your chromosomes) to grow a little bit longer. Longer telomeres translate into longer life expectancy. In addition, your stem cells anywhere in your body also undergo stimulation. Here is more information: fasting mimicking diet for 5 days every month.

Lifestyle factors

It is best not to smoke. Keep your body mass index in the 21.0 to 22.0 range. Get enough sleep (7–8 hours every night). Use a form of relaxing exercise (yoga, self-hypnosis, meditation, Tai-Chi). This will keep the stress hormone cortisol under control; if it is constantly high from ongoing stress, it leads to premature deaths. The Science of STRESS – SLMA

Take key vitamins and minerals

When you take key vitamins and minerals every day you can add another 5 to 10 years of disease-free life to your life expectancy. Ray Schilling’s answer to Is taking vitamin supplements helpful or quackery?

All of these factors taken together help you to not age prematurely. A healthy lifestyle elongates your telomeres, which prolongs your life without diseases. It also prevents heart attacks and strokes, which again prolongs your life. And a healthy lifestyle prevents Alzheimer’s disease, so you can turn old and not have to worry about memory loss. I cannot overemphasize how important a healthy lifestyle is!

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Conclusion 

As summarized above, a recent study going on for about 30 years showed that premature biological aging occurs in adolescents who smoked, were obese or had untreated mental illness. On the other hand, treated asthmatics did not show this biological aging effect. I summarized what factors contribute to slowing down aging. It is a combination of proper diet, regular exercise, hormone replacement as you age and taking some supplements. One key to slower aging is to be aware of how important a healthy lifestyle is for you.

The section about having a healthy lifestyle was published previously here: Ray Schilling’s answer to What are the most exciting breakthroughs in longevity research?

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