Jul. 29-Aug 4, 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.

Gardening Cultivates Good Health
Community gardens are neighbourhood spaces that are accessible to people across the lifespan – regardless of age, race, socioeconomic status or educational background. Jill Litt, from the University of Colorado School of Public Health, found that community gardeners cultivate relationships with their neighbours, are more involved in civic activities, stay longer in their neighbourhoods, eat better and view their health more positively. In fact, 20 minutes of gardening a day translated to statistically higher ratings of health. Moreover, people who garden found their neighbourhoods to be safer, cleaner and more beautiful, regardless of educational and income status. These differences were rooted in the cultural, social and ecological connections created within the garden setting. The co-benefits of gardens stem from their ability to support healthy eating and active living. More than 50 percent of gardeners meet national guidelines for fruit and vegetable intake compared to 25 percrent of non-gardeners. Gardeners report they get 12 hours a week of moderate to vigorous physical activity, which is about 30 percent more exercise than non-gardeners get. Observing that: “The physical and social qualities of garden participation awaken the senses and stimulate a range of responses that influence interpersonal processes (learning, affirming, expressive experiences) and social relationships that are supportive of positive health-related behaviours and overall health,” the researchers submit that: “Community gardens have therapeutic qualities that contribute to a more holistic sense of health and wellbeing.”

Dr Klatz observes: “Because community gardeners engage in positive relationships with their neighbours, are more involved in civic activities, stay longer in their neighbourhoods, eat better and view their health more positively, the hobby promotes positive gains in emotional wellness and longevity.”

Fibre Fights Fat
Visceral fat, the fat deep in the belly surrounding vital organs, can be dangerous to overall health. Kristen Hairston, from Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in North Carolina, and colleagues urge that the way to reduce visceral fat is simple: eat more soluble fibre from vegetables, fruit and beans, and engage in moderate activity. The team completed a longitudinal study involving 1,114 men and women, in which they examined whether lifestyle factors, such as diet and frequency of exercise, were associated with a five-year change in abdominal fat, with CT scans (to measure fat) administered at the study’s start and at the conclusion. The researchers found that for every 10-gram increase in soluble fibre eaten per day, visceral fat was reduced by 3.7 percent over five years. When factored with the observation that increased moderate activity resulted in a 7.4-percent decrease in the rate of visceral fat accumulation over the same time period, the team reports that: “Soluble fibre intake and increased physical activity were related to decreased [visceral adipose tissue] accumulation over five years.”

Remarks Dr Goldman: Reporting that every 10-gram increase in soluble fiber eaten per day reduces visceral fat by 3.7 percent over five years, these researchers reaffirm a simple and accessible dietary habit that is effective in combating obesity.

Successful Retirement Relies on Planning
Retirement is often viewed as a time to relax, travel, participate in leisurely activities and spend time with family. However, for many older adults, chronic health problems and poor planning often hinder the enjoyment of retirement. Angela Curl, from the University of Missouri, has found that planning for changes in routine and lifestyle, and especially to address health problems that may occur later in life, can promote better retirement for married couples. Examining the effects of retirement on self-rated health and cardiac health among couples, the researchers found that women rated their health worse during the first few years of retirement, but their ratings improved in the long run; whereas husbands continued to rate their health worse the longer they were retired. Husbands reported improved health when their wives retired. Retirement also reduced the risk of cardiac health problems in men, but had no effect on cardiac health in women. To ease the switch from full-time employment into retirement, the team recommends a gradual transition to working less and maintaining some level of engagement in the workforce.

Comments Dr Klatz: Planning for changes in lifestyle and health improves your odds of a healthy and happy retirement, especially given that longevity continues to climb steadily – necessitating proper preparations to enjoy our extra years.

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 endeavors and to sign-up for your free subscription to Longevity Magazine™ e-Journal.

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