December 11-17, 2009
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, distil these headlines and provide their commentary.
Mediterranean Diet May Combat Depression
Previous studies have established the benefits of the Mediterranean Diet in reducing inflammatory, vascular and metabolic processes. Almudena Sanchez-Villegas, from the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (Spain), and colleagues studied 10,094 initially healthy university graduates, collecting data regarding their dietary habits and following each participant for the onset of clinical depression. Diets were rated on adherence to the components of the Mediterranean diet, namely: high ratio of monounsaturated fatty acids (such as those found in olive oil) to saturated fatty acids (found in animal fats like butter and meat); moderate use of alcohol and dairy products; low consumption of meat; and high consumption of legumes, fruits, nuts, cereals, vegetables and fish. The researchers found that those who most closely followed the Mediterranean diet were more than 30 percent less likely to develop depression than those who least adhered to the diet. Stating that: “Our results suggest a potential protective role of the [Mediterranean Diet] with regard to the prevention of depressive disorders,” the team suggests that because the foods characteristic of the Mediterranean Diet may help to improve blood-vessel function, fight inflammation, reduce the risk of heart disease and repair oxygen-related cell damage, those effects may affect the risk of developing depression.
Dr. Klatz observes: Dietary choices are a powerful health and longevity factor. This study demonstrates that consuming a diet rich in vegetables, fruit and nuts, cereal, legumes and fish may reduce the odds of developing depression.
Retirees Who Still Work Enjoy Better Health
Retirees who transition from full-time work into a temporary or part-time job experience fewer major diseases and are able to function better day-to-day than people who stop working altogether. These findings remained significant, even after controlling for people’s physical and mental health before retirement. Mo Wang, from University of Maryland, and colleagues studied data from 12,189 participants in the national Health and Retirement Study, ages 51 to 61 years at the beginning of the study. Every two years for a six-year period, the study subjects were interviewed about their health, finances, employment history and work or retirement life. The team considered physician-diagnosed health problems, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, lung disease, heart disease, stroke and psychiatric problems, as well as data collected by a basic mental health questionnaire, finding that those retirees who continued to work in a bridge job experienced fewer major diseases and fewer functional limitations than those who fully retired. In addition, people whose post-retirement jobs were related to their previous careers reported better mental health than those who fully retired.
Remarks Dr. Goldman: This study of Americans found that those men and women who stay in their original occupational field fare best mentally, but this conclusion most certainly can be applied to retirees around the world. Staying mentally active is a key to enjoying prolonged vitality.
Strawberries Help Slash Cholesterol Levels
Previous studies have established that strawberry flavonoids are potent antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents that have been shown to reduce cardiovascular disease risk factors. Arpita Basu, from Oklahoma State University, and colleagues studied 16 women, each of whom exhibited markers of metabolic syndrome, including central obesity, hypertension and impaired glucose and insulin metabolism. Each study participant drank two cups of a beverage made from a freeze-dried strawberry powder, daily for 4 weeks. At the conclusion of the study period, total cholesterol dropped by 5 percent and LDL cholesterol levels were reduced by 6 percent. In addition, levels of malondialdehyde, a marker of oxidative stress, dropped by 14 percent. The team observes that: “Short-term supplementation of freeze-dried strawberries appeared to exert hypocholesterolemic effects and decrease lipid peroxidation in women with metabolic syndrome.”
Comments Dr. Klatz: This study found that freeze-dried strawberry powder improved cholesterol levels by 5 percent. It opens interesting potential for this fruit to become a valuable functional food for modulating cholesterol by dietary means.
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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