Proactive Aging

October 5, 2011 Written by JP    [Font too small?]

Circumstances and genetics undoubtedly affect many of the changes associated with growing older. But, there are countless ways to interfere with the so-called “normal” aging process. Here are several practical steps you can take to kick start this type of anti-aging momentum.

A new study in the journal Menopause reports that supplementing with a natural, soy derivative known as S-equol (10 – 30 mg/day) can safely reduce the appearance of facial wrinkles in postmenopausal women. Researchers in Paris, France recently revealed that seniors who learn new skills such as contemporary dance can improve “flexible attention” – a form of cognitive processing that typically declines with age. In Canada, a new trial confirms prior evidence showing that the mind-body practice of Tai Chi improves “balance, gait and fear of falling” in adults over the age of 65. Aspirin is commonly prescribed to middle-aged patients in the hope of preventing cardiovascular events. Unfortunately, emerging evidence from the Netherlands and UK explains that frequent aspirin use may also be associated with a higher risk of early and “wet” age-related macular degeneration or AMD.

Select supplements, including a beverage containing a mixture of B-vitamins and herbal extracts (cat’s claw, grape extract, green tea and quercetin), exhibited significant anti-inflammatory activity and ameliorated a number of mental and physical complaints in a group of active seniors. According to the August 2011 edition of the Journal of Medicinal Food, a low dosage of rosemary, the culinary herb, is capable of boosting “speed of memory” in men and women with an average age of 75. However, it’s interesting to note that higher dosages of the herb (up to 6,000 mg/day) had a deleterious affect on cognitive functioning. More is not always better. Many elderly patients supplement with Vitamin D, but still find that their blood tests indicate low serum 25 (OH)D levels. A possible solution to this vexing problem comes courtesy of scientists at Tufts University. A current experiment conducted at their Human Nutrition Research Center of Aging demonstrated that diets rich in monounsaturated fats (avocados, nuts, olive oil) assist elderly bodies in establishing optimal Vitamin D status. Interestingly, diets rich in polyunsaturated fats (fish, flaxseeds, walnuts) reduced the effectiveness of D3 supplements in this same study population. The type of research in today’s column is being published in the medical literature on a regular basis. By visiting this site and others like it, you can take steps to age in a more proactive manner and increase the likelihood of growing older more gracefully and healthfully.

Note: Please check out the “Comments & Updates” section of this blog – at the bottom of the page. You can find the latest research about this topic there!

To learn more about the studies referenced in today’s column, please click on the following links:

Study 1 – The Effects of Natural S-Equol Supplementation on Skin Aging (link)

Study 2 – Practice of Contemporary Dance Improves Cognitive Flexibility (link)

Study 3 – The Effect of Supervised Tai Chi Intervention Compared to (link)

Study 4 – Associations Between Aspirin Use and Aging Macula Disorder (link)

Study 5 – A Multi-Nutrient Supplement Reduced Markers of Inflammation (link)

Study 6 – Short-Term Study on the Effects of Rosemary on Cognitive Function (link)

Study 7 – Type of Dietary Fat Is Associated with the 25-Hydroxyvitamin D3 (link)

Some Nutritional Supplements Can Decrease Age-Related Inflammation

Source: Nutrition Journal 2011, 10:90 (link)

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Posted in Alternative Therapies, Nutrition, Nutritional Supplements

11 Comments & Updates to “Proactive Aging”

  1. JP Says:

    Update: A reason to season with rosemary …

    Nutr Hosp. 2014 Nov 1;30(5):1084-91.

    Impact of cooked functional meat enriched with omega-3 fatty acids and rosemary extract on inflammatory and oxidative status; a randomised, double-blind, crossover study.

    BACKGROUND & AIM: n-3 fatty acid intake has been associated with inflammatory benefits in cardiovascular disease (CVD). Functionalising meat may be of great interest. The aim of the present study was to assess the effect of functional meat containing n-3 and rosemary extract on inflammatory and oxidative status markers in subjects with risk for CVD.

    METHODS AND RESULTS: A randomised, double-blind, cross-over study was undertaken to compare the effects on the above markers of consuming functional or control meat products. 43 volunteers with at least two lipid profile variables showing risk for CVD were randomly assigned to receive functional meat (FM) or control meat (CM) over 12-weeks with a 4-week wash-out interval before crossover. Functional effects were assessed by examining lipid profile, CRP, PAI-1, TNF-alpha, IL-6, fibrinogen (inflammatory markers), and TBARS, FRAP and 8-iso-PGF2 (oxidative status markers). 33 subjects (24 women) aged 50.7±8.8 years completed the study. In FM treatment, PAI-1, fibrinogen and 8-iso-PGF2 decreased significantly after 12 weeks, while FRAP significantly increased. In contrast, in CM treatment, a significant increase was seen in PAI-1, while FRAP significantly declined. Significant differences were also seen between the FM and CM treatments after 12 weeks in terms of the change observed in PAI-1, FRAP and 8-iso-PGF2 values. No significant differences were seen in anthropometric variables nor were adverse effects reported.

    CONCLUSION: The consumption of FM containing n-3 and rosemary extract improved oxidative and inflammatory status of people with at least two lipid profile variables showing risk for CVD. The inclusion of such functional meat in a balanced diet might be a healthy lifestyle option.

    Be well!


  2. JP Says:

    Update 04/20/15:

    Am J Clin Nutr April 2015

    Brain atrophy in cognitively impaired elderly: the importance of long-chain ω-3 fatty acids and B vitamin status in a randomized controlled trial

    Background: Increased brain atrophy rates are common in older people with cognitive impairment, particularly in those who eventually convert to Alzheimer disease. Plasma concentrations of omega-3 (ω-3) fatty acids and homocysteine are associated with the development of brain atrophy and dementia.

    Objective: We investigated whether plasma ω-3 fatty acid concentrations (eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid) modify the treatment effect of homocysteine-lowering B vitamins on brain atrophy rates in a placebo-controlled trial (VITACOG).

    Design: This retrospective analysis included 168 elderly people (≥70 y) with mild cognitive impairment, randomly assigned either to placebo (n = 83) or to daily high-dose B vitamin supplementation (folic acid, 0.8 mg; vitamin B-6, 20 mg; vitamin B-12, 0.5 mg) (n = 85). The subjects underwent cranial magnetic resonance imaging scans at baseline and 2 y later. The effect of the intervention was analyzed according to tertiles of baseline ω-3 fatty acid concentrations.

    Results: There was a significant interaction (P = 0.024) between B vitamin treatment and plasma combined ω-3 fatty acids (eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid) on brain atrophy rates. In subjects with high baseline ω-3 fatty acids (>590 μmol/L), B vitamin treatment slowed the mean atrophy rate by 40.0% compared with placebo (P = 0.023). B vitamin treatment had no significant effect on the rate of atrophy among subjects with low baseline ω-3 fatty acids (<390 μmol/L). High baseline ω-3 fatty acids were associated with a slower rate of brain atrophy in the B vitamin group but not in the placebo group.

    Conclusions: The beneficial effect of B vitamin treatment on brain atrophy was observed only in subjects with high plasma ω-3 fatty acids. It is also suggested that the beneficial effect of ω-3 fatty acids on brain atrophy may be confined to subjects with good B vitamin status. The results highlight the importance of identifying subgroups likely to benefit in clinical trials.

    Be well!


  3. JP Says:

    Updated 1/7/16:

    Am J Clin Nutr. 2015 Oct;102(4):897-904.

    Dietary inflammatory index and telomere length in subjects with a high cardiovascular disease risk from the PREDIMED-NAVARRA study: cross-sectional and longitudinal analyses over 5 y.

    BACKGROUND: Dietary factors can affect telomere length (TL), a biomarker of aging, through oxidation and inflammation-related mechanisms. A Dietary Inflammatory Index (DII) could help to understand the effect of the inflammatory potential of the diet on telomere shortening.

    OBJECTIVE: This study aimed to determine the association of the DII with TL and to examine whether diet-associated inflammation could modify the telomere attrition rate after a 5-y follow-up of a Mediterranean dietary intervention.

    DESIGN: This was a prospective study of 520 participants at high cardiovascular disease risk (mean ± SD age: 67.0 ± 6.0 y, 45% males) from the PREDIMED-NAVARRA (PREvención con DIeta MEDiterránea-NAVARRA) trial. Leukocyte TL was measured by quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction at baseline and after 5 y of follow-up. The DII was calculated from self-reported data by using a validated 137-item food-frequency questionnaire.

    RESULTS: Longer telomeres at baseline were found in participants who had a more anti-inflammatory diet (lowest DII score) (P-trend = 0.012). Longitudinal analyses further showed that a greater anti-inflammatory potential of the diet (i.e., a decrease in the DII) could significantly slow down the rate of telomere shortening. Moreover, the multivariable-adjusted OR for short telomeres (z score ≤20th percentile) was 1.80 (95% CI: 1.03, 3.17) in a comparison between the highest (proinflammatory) and the lowest (anti-inflammatory) DII tertiles. Similarly, a greater DII (greatest proinflammatory values) after a 5-y follow-up was associated with almost a 2-fold higher risk of accelerated telomere attrition compared with the highest decrease in DII (greatest anti-inflammatory values) during this period (P-trend = 0.025).

    CONCLUSIONS: This study showed both cross-sectional and longitudinal associations between the inflammatory potential of the diet and telomere shortening in subjects with a high cardiovascular disease risk. Our findings are consistent with, but do not show, a beneficial effect of adherence to an anti-inflammatory diet on aging and health by slowing down telomere shortening. These results suggest that diet might play a key role as a determinant of TL through proinflammatory or anti-inflammatory mechanisms.

    Be well!


  4. JP Says:

    Updated 2/6/16:

    Front Aging Neurosci. 2016 Jan 14;7:254.

    Effects of Long-Term Mindfulness Meditation on Brain’s White Matter Microstructure and its Aging.

    Although research on the effects of mindfulness meditation (MM) is increasing, still very little has been done to address its influence on the white matter (WM) of the brain. We hypothesized that the practice of MM might affect the WM microstructure adjacent to five brain regions of interest associated with mindfulness. Diffusion tensor imaging was employed on samples of meditators and non-meditators (n = 64) in order to investigate the effects of MM on group difference and aging. Tract-Based Spatial Statistics was used to estimate the fractional anisotrophy of the WM connected to the thalamus, insula, amygdala, hippocampus, and anterior cingulate cortex. The subsequent generalized linear model analysis revealed group differences and a group-by-age interaction in all five selected regions. These data provide preliminary indications that the practice of MM might result in WM connectivity change and might provide evidence on its ability to help diminish age-related WM degeneration in key regions which participate in processes of mindfulness.

    Be well!


  5. JP Says:

    Updated 02/26/16:

    Sultan Qaboos Univ Med J. 2016 Feb;16(1):e47-53.

    Effectiveness of a Combined Dance and Relaxation Intervention on Reducing Anxiety and Depression and Improving Quality of Life among the Cognitively Impaired Elderly.

    OBJECTIVES: Cognitive impairment is a common problem among the elderly and is believed to be a precursor to dementia. This study aimed to explore the effectiveness of a combined dance and relaxation intervention as compared to relaxation alone in reducing anxiety and depression levels and improving quality of life (QOL) and cognitive function among the cognitively impaired elderly.

    METHODS: This quasi-experimental study was conducted between May and December 2013 in Peninsular Malaysia. Subjects from four government residential homes for older adults aged ≥60 years with mild to moderate cognitive function as assessed by the Mini-Mental State Examination were included in the study. Subjects were divided into an intervention group and a control group; the former participated in a combined poco-poco dance and relaxation intervention whilst the latter participated in relaxation exercises only. Both groups participated in two sessions per week for six weeks. Anxiety and depression were self-assessed using the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale and QOL was self-assessed using the Quality of Life in Alzheimer’s Disease questionnaire.

    RESULTS: A total of 84 elderly subjects were included in the study; 44 were in the intervention group and 40 were in the control group. When compared to control subjects, those in the intervention group showed significantly decreased anxiety (P <0.001) and depression (P <0.001) levels as well as improved QOL (P <0.001) and cognitive impairment (P <0.001).

    CONCLUSION: Dance as a form of participation-based physical exercise was found to reduce anxiety and depression levels and improve QOL and cognitive function among the studied sample of cognitively impaired elderly subjects in Malaysia.

    Be well!


  6. JP Says:

    Updated 06/02/16:

    Res Sports Med. 2016 Jun 1:1-14.

    Effects of wheelchair Tai Chi on physical and mental health among elderly with disability.

    A 12-week Wheelchair Tai Chi 10 Form (WTC10) intervention was conducted among elderly with disability to examine the effect of this WTC10 intervention on selected physical and mental health variables. Thirteen (age 87.23 ± 6.71) in the WTC10 intervention group and 15 (age 89.73 ± 6.31) in the control group completed the study. Independent t-tests and paired t-tests were employed to examine the differences between groups and within groups, respectively, at pretest and post-test. The WTC10 intervention group showed significant improvements in systolic and diastolic blood pressure, shoulder external rotation, left trunk rotation and total trunk rotation after the intervention. A 12-week WTC10 intervention had positive effects on blood pressure, range of motion at the shoulder and trunk, physical activity, and mental health among the elderly with disability. WTC10 is a feasible and safe exercise for the elderly with disability.

    Be well!


  7. JP Says:

    Updated 06/11/16:

    J Nutr. 2016 Jun 8.

    Coffee Consumption Is Positively Associated with Longer Leukocyte Telomere Length in the Nurses’ Health Study

    Background: Coffee is an important source of antioxidants, and consumption of this beverage is associated with many health conditions and a lower mortality risk. However, no study, to our knowledge, has examined whether varying coffee or caffeine consumption levels are associated with telomere length, a biomarker of aging whose shortening can be accelerated by oxidative stress.

    Objective: We performed a large comprehensive study on how coffee consumption is associated with telomere length.

    Methods: We used data from the Nurses’ Health Study (NHS), a prospective cohort study of female nurses that began in 1976. We examined the cross-sectional association between coffee consumption and telomere length in 4780 women from the NHS. Coffee consumption information was obtained from validated food-frequency questionnaires (FFQs), and relative telomere length was measured in peripheral blood leukocytes by the quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction. Unconditional logistic regression was used to obtain ORs when the telomere length outcome was dichotomized at the median. Linear regression was used for tests of trend with coffee consumption and telomere length as continuous variables.

    Results: Higher total coffee consumption was significantly associated with longer telomeres after potential confounding adjustment. Compared with non-coffee drinkers, multivariable ORs for those drinking 2 to <3 and ≥3 cups of coffee/d were, respectively, 1.29 (95% CI: 0.99, 1.68) and 1.36 (95% CI: 1.04, 1.78) (P-trend = 0.02). We found a significant linear association between caffeine consumption from all dietary sources and telomere length (P-trend = 0.02) after adjusting for potential confounders, but not after additionally adjusting for total coffee consumption (P-trend = 0.37).

    Conclusions: We found that higher coffee consumption is associated with longer telomeres among female nurses. Future studies are needed to better understand the influence of coffee consumption on telomeres, which may uncover new knowledge of how coffee consumption affects health and longevity.

    Be well!


  8. JP Says:

    Updated 11/22/16:

    J Sci Med Sport. 2016 Oct 27.

    Thai Yoga improves physical function and well-being in older adults: A randomised controlled trial.

    OBJECTIVES: Compare two 12-week low-intensity exercise regimens on components of physical function and quality of life in community-dwelling healthy yet sedentary adults aged over 60.

    DESIGN: This study used a randomised, multi-arm, controlled trial design.

    METHODS: Thirty-nine sedentary participants (29 women), aged 67.7±6.7 years were randomly allocated to either a 12-week Thai Yoga (TY) or Tai Chi (TC) for 90min twice per week, or telephone counselling Control (C). A Senior Fitness Test (chair-stand, arm-curl, sit-&-reach, back-scratch, 8-foot up-&-go and 6-min walk) and Short-Form 36 Health Survey, Centre for Epidemiological Studies of Depression, Physical Activity Scale for the Elderly and the Physical Activity Enjoyment Scale were assessed at baseline, six, 12 weeks, and three months after the completion of the regimen.

    RESULTS: After 12 weeks, chair-stand (mean difference, 2.69; 95% CI, 0.97-4.41; P<0.001), arm-curl (2.23; 95% CI, 0.06-4.52; P=0.009), sit-&-reach (1.25; 95% CI, 0.03-2.53; P=0.013), back-scratch (2.00; 95% CI, 0.44-3.56; P=0.005), 8-foot up-&-go (-0.43; 95% CI, -0.85 to 0.01; P=0.013), 6-min walk (57.5; 95% CI, 20.93-94.07; P<0.001), vitality (13.27; 95% CI, 2.88-23.66; P=0.050) and enjoyment (7.96; 95% CI, 3.70-12.23; P=0.001) significantly improved in TY compared to C, however no change was observed in TC compared to C. TY improved in chair-stand (2.31; 95% CI, 0.59-4.03; P=0.007), sit-&-reach (1.38; 95% CI, 0.10-2.66; P=0.007), 6-min walk (32.31; 95% CI, -4.26-68.88; P=0.015), vitality (12.88; 95% CI, 2.50-23.27; P=0.040) and enjoyment (5.65; 95% CI, 1.39-9.92; P=0.010) compared to TC after 12 weeks.

    CONCLUSIONS: The findings suggest that older adults can make significant improvements in their health and well-being by engaging in low intensity Thai Yoga exercise.

    Be well!


  9. JP Says:

    Updated 02/17/17:

    Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2017;2017:7928981.

    Impact of Yoga and Meditation on Cellular Aging in Apparently Healthy Individuals: A Prospective, Open-Label Single-Arm Exploratory Study.

    This study was designed to explore the impact of Yoga and Meditation based lifestyle intervention (YMLI) on cellular aging in apparently healthy individuals. During this 12-week prospective, open-label, single arm exploratory study, 96 apparently healthy individuals were enrolled to receive YMLI. The primary endpoints were assessment of the change in levels of cardinal biomarkers of cellular aging in blood from baseline to week 12, which included DNA damage marker 8-hydroxy-2′-deoxyguanosine (8-OH2dG), oxidative stress markers reactive oxygen species (ROS), and total antioxidant capacity (TAC), and telomere attrition markers telomere length and telomerase activity. The secondary endpoints were assessment of metabotrophic blood biomarkers associated with cellular aging, which included cortisol, β-endorphin, IL-6, BDNF, and sirtuin-1. After 12 weeks of YMLI, there were significant improvements in both the cardinal biomarkers of cellular aging and the metabotrophic biomarkers influencing cellular aging compared to baseline values. The mean levels of 8-OH2dG, ROS, cortisol, and IL-6 were significantly lower and mean levels of TAC, telomerase activity, β-endorphin, BDNF, and sirtuin-1 were significantly increased (all values p < 0.05) post-YMLI. The mean level of telomere length was increased but the finding was not significant (p = 0.069). YMLI significantly reduced the rate of cellular aging in apparently healthy population. Be well! JP

  10. JP Says:

    Updated 03/06/17:

    J Nutr Health Aging. 2017;21(3):233-240.

    Consumption of Nuts and Seeds and Telomere Length in 5,582 Men and Women of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey

    OBJECTIVES: Consumption of nuts and seeds is associated favorably with all-cause mortality. Nuts and seeds could reduce disease and prolong life by influencing telomeres. Telomere length is a good indicator of the senescence of cells. The purpose of the present study was to determine the relationship between nuts and seeds intake and leukocyte telomere length, a biomarker of biologic aging.

    DESIGN: Cross-sectional.

    SETTING AND PARTICIPANTS: A total of 5,582 randomly selected men and women from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), 1999-2002, were studied.

    MEASUREMENTS: DNA was obtained via blood samples. Telomere length was assessed using the quantitative polymerase chain reaction method. A validated, multi-pass, 24-h recall dietary assessment, administered by NHANES, was employed to quantify consumption of nuts and seeds.

    RESULTS: Nuts and seeds intake was positively and linearly associated with telomere length. For each 1-percent of total energy derived from nuts and seeds, telomere length was 5 base pairs longer (F=8.6, P=0.0065). Given the age-related rate of telomere shortening was 15.4 base pairs per year (F=581.1, P<0.0001), adults of the same age had more than 1.5 years of reduced cell aging if they consumed 5% of their total energy from nuts and seeds.

    CONCLUSIONS: Consumption of nuts and seeds accounts for meaningful decreases in biologic aging and cell senescence. The findings reinforce the recommendations of the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which encourage the consumption of nuts and seeds as part of a healthy diet.

    Be well!


  11. JP Says:

    Updated 2/2/18:

    J Food Drug Anal. 2018 Jan;26(1):309-317.

    Efficacy of protein rich pearl powder on antioxidant status in a randomized placebo-controlled trial.

    Pearl is one of the well-known traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) prescribed for treating various skin and bone related disorders due to its abundant proteins and mineral contents. The present investigation focused on antioxidation and life span prolonging effects from different extracts of pearl powder. During in vitro studies, various oxidative indices were evaluated, along with lifespan-prolonging effect were checked using wild-type Caenorhabditis elegans. For the clinical trial, 20 healthy middle-aged subjects were recruited and separated into 2 groups as experimental and placebo group, who received 3 g of pearl powder/d (n = 10) and 3 g of placebo/d (n = 10) for 8 weeks, respectively. During the initial, 2nd, 4th, 6th, 8th and 10th weeks the blood samples were collected for biochemical analysis. The protein extract of pearl powder recorded maximum (p < 0.05) antioxidant activity (20-68%) as well as efficiently prolonged the life span of C. elegans by 18.87%. Pearl powder supplemented subjects showed a substantial increase (p < 0.05) in total antioxidant capacity from 0.45 to 0.69 mM, total thiols from 0.23 to 0.29 mM, Glutathione content from 5.89 to 9.19 μM, enzymic antioxidant activity (SOD-1248 to 1308; Gpx-30 to 32; GR-2.4 to 2.9) as well as considerably suppressed the lipid peroxidation products from 4.95 to 3.27 μM. The outcome of both in-vitro and in-vivo antioxidant activity inferred that protein extract of pearl powder was a potent antioxidant and thereby prolonged the lifespan of C. elegans. Hence, pearl powder could be recommended for treating various age-related degenerative disorders. Be well! JP

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