Longevity News & Review
By Dr. Robert Goldman
For The Bali Times
Longevity News and Review provides readers with the latest information in breakthroughs pertaining to the extension of the healthy human lifespan. These news summaries are compiled by the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine (A4M; www.worldhealth.net), a non-profit medical society composed of 22,000 physician and scientist members from 105 nations, united in a mission to advance biomedical technologies to detect, prevent and treat aging related disease and to promote research into methods to retard and optimize the human aging process. Dr. Ronald Klatz, M.D., D.O., A4M President, and Dr. Robert Goldman, M.D., Ph.D., D.O., FAASP, A4M Chairman, physician co-founders of the anti-aging medical movement, distill these headlines and provide their commentary.
‘Heart Healthy’ Diet Promotes Cognitive Function in Age
A study by Heidi Wengreen, from Utah State University, and colleagues studied the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet, which is often recommended by physicians to people with high blood pressure or pre-hypertension, because high blood pressure is considered a risk factor for Alzheimer’s and dementia. The team collected data via surveys of dietary habits and assessments of cognitive skills, of 3,831 study subjects, ages 65+. The team also established a DASH diet adherence score, reflecting one’s consumption levels of nine food-group/nutrient components and broken into quintiles. The researchers found that higher DASH scores were associated with higher scores for cognitive functioning at the beginning of the study and over time. Those in the highest quintile scored 1.42 points higher at baseline and 1.81 points higher after 11 years on tests of mental function, as compared to those in the lowest quintile. Comment the researchers: “Our results suggest that including whole grains, vegetables, low-fat dairy foods and nuts in one’s diet may offer benefits for cognition in late life.”
Dr. Klatz observes: While one cannot do anything to alter genetics or family history, this study is the latest to suggest that there are lifestyle choices we can make, to keep our brains healthy with age, and to lower our risks of age-related memory decline.
Ongoing, Moderate Physical Activity Protective Against Aging-Related Cognitive Losses
A number of studies have found that older adults who are physically active may experience slower rates of cognitive decline. Less is known about the impact of changes in physical activity levels on rate of cognitive decline. Deborah E. Barnes, from University of California-San Francisco, and colleagues, studied changes in levels of both physical activity and cognitive function over seven years in 3,075 men and women, ages 70-79 years, enrolled in the Health, Aging and Body Composition Study. The team assessed physical activity (self-reported number of minutes walked per week), at the beginning of the study and after two, four, and seven years of follow-up. Participants were classified at each time point as sedentary (0 minutes per week), low (less than 150 minutes per week) or high (150 minutes per week or more). Changes over time were classified as consistently sedentary, maintaining (low or high), decreasing, or increasing/fluctuating. Cognitive function was assessed using a standardized mental function test. The researchers found that 21 percent of study participants were consistently sedentary, 12 percent maintained their activity levels, 26 percent had declining levels and 41 percent had increasing or fluctuating levels. After adjustment for age, sex, race, education, study site, diabetes, hypertension, smoking, alcohol consumption and baseline mental function test score, they found that the mean rate of decline in mental function test scores was greatest among those who were consistently sedentary (0.62 points/year), less in those with declining activity levels (0.54 points/year) and the least (0.40 points/year) in those who maintained their activity levels. The researchers observe that: “We found that older adults who were sedentary throughout the study had the lowest levels of cognitive function at the beginning and experienced the fastest rate of cognitive decline. Cognitive decline also was faster in those whose physical activity levels consistently declined during the study period.”
Remarks Dr. Goldman: The number of people with Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia continues to rise, and is reaching epidemic levels in the very oldest segments of the global population. The financial, social and personal costs of this trend are skyrocketing into a major public health burden. This study is important because it suggest that sedentary elders who began new aerobic exercise programs experienced improvements in cognitive function, especially the ability to process complex information quickly. As a result, physicians should encourage all sedentary patients to engage in a supervised, medically appropriate program of regular physical activity. As well, those who are currently active should be encouraged to maintain or increase their activity levels.
Early-Life Experience Linked to Chronic Diseases Later in Life
Children reared in unfavourable socioeconomic circumstances show increased susceptibility to the chronic diseases of aging when they reach the fifth and sixth decades of life. One mechanistic hypothesis for this phenomenon suggests that social adversity in early life programs biological systems in a manner that persists across decades and thereby accentuates vulnerability to disease. Gregory E. Miller, from University of British Columbia (Canada), and colleagues performed genome-wide profiling in 103 healthy adults, ages 25-40 years. Study participants were either low or high in early-life socioeconomic circumstances related to income, education and occupation during the first five years of life. But the two groups were similar in socioeconomic status (SES) at the time the genome assessment was performed and also had similar lifestyle practices like smoking and drinking habits. Among the study subjects with low early-life socioeconomic circumstances, there was evidence that genes involved with inflammation were selectively “switched-on” at some point. Researchers believe this is because the cells of low-SES individuals were not effectively responding cortisol, the hormone that is responsible for controlling inflammation. Observe the researchers: “We’ve identified some ‘biologic residue’ of people’s early-life experience that sticks with them into adulthood. It seems to be the case that if people are raised in a low socioeconomic family, their immune cells are constantly vigilant for threats from the environment. This is likely to have consequences for their risk for late-life chronic diseases.”
Comments Dr. Klatz: This study is among the first to identify a biological basis for the somewhat novel notion that people’s early-life experiences are retained well into adulthood and may render them more susceptible to many of the chronic diseases of aging, Challenges one faces in early years may indeed establish biological processes of response patterns that, while serving as coping functions during acute threats to well-being, over the long term may tip the allostatic load on the body, ultimately contributing to the chronic diseases of aging.
Anti-aging medicine is the fastest-growing medical specialty throughout the world and is founded on the application of advanced scientific and medical technologies for the early detection, prevention, treatment and reversal of age-related dysfunction, disorders, and diseases. It is a healthcare model promoting innovative science and research to prolong the healthy lifespan in humans. As such, anti-aging medicine is based on solid scientific principles of responsible medical care that are consistent with those applied in other preventive health specialties. The goal of anti-aging medicine is not to merely prolong the total years of an individual’s life, but to ensure that those years are enjoyed in a productive and vital fashion.
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