September 17-23, 2010
By Dr Robert Goldman
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 optimise the human aging process. Dr Robert Goldman, M.D., Ph.D., D.O., FAASP, A4M Chairman, and Dr Ronald Klatz, M.D., D.O., A4M President, physician co-founders of the anti-aging medical movement, distil these headlines and provide their commentary.
Meditation Promotes Attention Span
Buddhist meditation techniques not only confer peace of mind but can improve sharpen attention skills and the ability to focus. Katherine MacLean, from the University of California/Davis, and colleagues arranged for 30 men and women, average age 49 years, each of whom were familiar with meditative techniques, to go on a three-month long meditation retreat, at which each was taught concentrate techniques and performed various tests of focus skills; as well, they attended group meditation sessions and engaged in individual meditative practice. Another group of 30 people familiar with meditation went on a similar retreat but did not receive specialised training, thus acting as the controls. At three time points during the retreat period, the participants took a computerised test that assessed visual attention span and the capacity to discern distinctive pattern changes. The researchers found that as the meditation training progressed, the subjects who received specialised training were more skilled at the computerised testing, suggesting that attention skills became sustained better. The team reports that the improvements in concentration lasted five months after the retreat concluded.
Dr. Klatz observes: People who engage in Buddhist meditation enjoy sharpened attention skills and ability to focus, suggesting a potential for the use of the technique among the general population.
Walnuts May Ward Off Dementia
Walnuts are rich in compounds including vitamin E, ellagic acid, flavonoids and melatonin, all of which confer antioxidant properties. Abha Chauhan, from the New York State Institute for Basic Research in Developmental Disabilities, and colleagues studied the effect of dietary supplementation of walnuts on the memory, anxiety and learning skills in a mouse model of Alzheimer’s Disease. The team fed walnuts to the mice, and observed that mental skills were preserved. In contrast, the Alzheimer-model mice that were not fed the nuts suffered a dramatic loss in learning, memory and physical and emotional control. Positing that walnuts helped to destroy harmful free radical chemicals that are implicated in dementia, the researchers conclude that: “Our results suggest that dietary supplementation of walnuts may have beneficial effect in reducing the risk, delaying the onset or slowing the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.”
Remarks Dr. Goldman: In reporting that mental skills are preserved with a diet that includes walnuts, these researchers identify a potential new nutritional intervention to reduce the risks of dementia.
Cherry Juice Helps Alleviate Insomnia
It is estimated that more than 40 million Americans experience persistent problems with achieving restful sleep. Wilfred R. Pigeon, from the University of Rochester Medical Center, and colleagues studied the sleep habits of 15 older adults with chronic insomnia, but otherwise healthy. Each participant drank a tart cherry juice beverage in the morning and evening for two weeks, and then a comparable matched juice drink (containing no tart cherry juice) for another two-week period. The team observed significant reductions in reported insomnia severity, and the subjects saved about 17 minutes of wake time after going to sleep, on average, when drinking cherry juice daily, compared to when they were drinking the juice drink. The researchers suspect tart cherries’ natural benefits could be due in part to their relatively high content of melatonin – a natural antioxidant in cherries with established ability to help moderate the body’s sleep-wake cycle. Produced naturally by the body in small amounts, melatonin plays a role in inducing sleepiness at night and wakefulness during the day. Not only is melatonin linked to sleep, but research suggests melatonin can be a powerful antioxidant, helping reduce age-related inflammation and fighting free radicals in the body.
Comments Dr. Klatz: The finding that drinking tart cherry juice daily may help reduce the severity of insomnia and time spent awake after going to sleep is intriguing and suggests a functional health role for this beverage.
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.
Visit the A4M’s World Health Network website, at www.worldhealth.net, to learn more about the A4M and its educational endeavours and to sign up for your free subscription to the Longevity Magazine™ e-Journal.