January 21-27, 2011
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 24,000 physician and scientist members from 110 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.
Retirement Promotes Wellbeing
Previous studies have suggested a number of health benefits of retirement. Hugo Westerlund, from Stockholm University, and colleagues assessed the health effects of retirement using data collected in the GAZEL study, which followed workers at a French national gas and electricity company, for a 15-year period. The 11,246 men and 2,858 women included in the study retired at an average age of 54.8 years; all were retired by age 64 years. The team utilised annual health questionnaires during the study, as well as health surveys conducted seven years prior to, and seven years following, retirement. Throughout the study, the cumulative prevalence of respiratory disease, diabetes, coronary heart disease and stroke increased with age, with no change in the trajectory at the time of retirement. However, the team observed substantial reductions in the prevalence of both mental fatigue and physical fatigue, from one year before to one year after retirement. They also observed a marked reduction in depressive symptoms in the same timeframe. Positing that by leaving the demands of work, people may feel less concerned about limited energy, leading to lower ratings of fatigue, and that retirement may allow people more time to engage in stimulating and restorative activities, such as physical exercise, the researchers conclude that: “Retirement did not change the risk of major chronic diseases but was associated with a substantial reduction in mental and physical fatigue and depressive symptoms, particularly among people with chronic diseases.”
Dr Klatz observes: Swedish researchers report that retirement is associated with sharp reductions in mental and physical fatigue, as well as more modest reductions in depression. This finding supports the notion of enjoying enhanced health in one’s later years.
Beetroot Boost Brain Health
Beetroot is high in nitrates, which are converted by the digestive process into nitrite, a compound that helps to open up the blood vessels in the body, increasing blood flow and oxygen specifically to places that are lacking oxygen. Daniel Kim-Shapiro, from Wake Forest University, and colleagues have found that that drinking beetroot juice also increases perfusion, or blood flow, to the brain. The team enrolled 14 adults, ages 70 and older, for a four-day study. On the first day, subjects reported to the lab after a 10-hour fast, completed a health status report, and consumed either a high- or low-nitrate breakfast. The high-nitrate breakfast included 16 ounces of beetroot juice. They were sent home with lunch, dinner and snacks conforming to their assigned diets. The next day, following another 10-hour fast, the subjects returned to the lab, where they ate their assigned breakfasts. One hour after breakfast, an MRI recorded the blood flow in each subject’s brain. Blood tests before and after breakfast confirmed nitrite levels in the body. For the third and fourth days of the study, the researchers switched the diets and repeated the process for each subject. The MRIs showed that after eating a high-nitrate diet, the older adults had increased blood flow to the white matter of the frontal lobes – the areas of the brain commonly associated with degeneration that leads to dementia and other cognitive conditions. The researchers conclude that: “These results suggest that dietary nitrate may be useful in improving regional brain perfusion in older adults in critical brain areas known to be involved in executive functioning.”
Remarks Dr Goldman: Drinking beetroot juice increases blood flow to the brain, suggesting a potential functional role for the food to combat dementia. This is an intriguing discovery of a functional health role for a simple vegetable.
Tai Chi Lessens Arthritis Pain
Tai Chi is a Chinese wellness practice that has been previously associated with a variety of physical and mental health benefits. Leigh F. Callahan, from the University of North Carolina, and colleagues studied 354 men and women, ages 18 years and over, with any type of self-reported, doctor-diagnosed arthritis. Subjects were randomly assigned to two groups: the intervention group received the eight-week, twice-weekly Tai Chi course immediately, whereas the other group was a delayed control group (received the Tai Chi course after eight weeks). At the end of eight week study period, those men and women who had received the immediate intervention showed moderate improvements in pain, fatigue and stiffness. They also had an increased sense of wellbeing, as measured by the psychosocial variables, and they had improved reach or balance.
Comments Dr Klatz: Finding that arthritis suffers engaging in the Chinese wellness practice of Tai Chi experience reduced pain, fatigue and stiffness, as well as improve their balance and sense of well-being, these researchers offer an accessible approach to counter a debilitating disease.
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.