January 13-19, 2012
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.
Antioxidant-Rich Foods Ward Off Stroke
An imbalance between the production of cell-damaging free radicals and the body’s ability to neutralize them, oxidative stress leads to inflammation, blood vessel damage and stiffening. Previously, a number of studies have demonstrated that antioxidants such as vitamins C and E, carotenoids and flavonoids can inhibit oxidative stress and inflammation by scavenging the free radicals. As well, antioxidants may also help improve endothelial function and reduce blood clotting, blood pressure and inflammation – factors that raise stroke risk. Susanne Rautiainen, from Karolinska Institutet in Sweden, and colleagues utilized data collected in the Swedish Mammography Cohort, identifying women ages 49 to 83 years, 31,035 of whom were free of heart disease and 5,680 women with a history of heart disease in two counties. Tracking the cardiovascular disease-free women for an average 11.5 years and the women with cardiovascular disease for 9.6 years, the team identified 1,322 strokes among cardiovascular disease-free women and 1,007 strokes among women with a history of cardiovascular disease. The researchers then factored in the dietary intake of antioxidants via data collected by food intake surveys, and calculating each participants’ total antioxidant capacity (TAC) – a measurement of the free radical reducing capacity of all antioxidants in the diet. The subjects were then categorized according to their TAC levels — five groups without a history of cardiovascular disease and four with previous cardiovascular disease. For women with no history of cardiovascular disease who had the highest TAC, fruits and vegetables contributed about 50% of TAC. Other contributors were whole grains (18%), tea (16%) and chocolate (5%). Higher TAC was related to lower stroke rates in women without cardiovascular disease. Women without cardiovascular disease with the highest levels of dietary TAC had a statistically significant 17% lower risk of total stroke compared to those in the lowest quintile. Among women with history of cardiovascular disease, those in the highest three quartiles of dietary TAC had a statistically significant 46 to 57% lower risk of hemorrhagic stroke compared with those in the lowest quartile. The study authors conclude that: “These findings suggest that dietary [total antioxidant capacity] is inversely associated with total stroke among [cardiovascular disease]-free women and hemorrhagic stroke among women with [cardiovascular disease] history.”
Dr Klatz observes: Furthering the data that demonstrates the cardiovascular benefits of a diet emphasizing vegetables, fruits, and whole grains, this team adds evidence that antioxidant-rich foods help to reduce stroke risk in women.
Exercise Encourages Healthy Diet
While a healthy diet and the right amount of exercise are considered to be key players in treating and preventing obesity, Harvard University researchers reveal that an increase in physical activity is linked to an improvement in diet quality. Miguel Alonso Alonso and colleagues analyzed data from epidemiological studies, finding that tendencies towards a healthy diet and the right amount of physical exercise often come hand in hand. Furthermore, an increase in physical activity is usually linked to a parallel improvement in diet quality. Exercise also brings benefits such as an increase in sensitivity to physiological signs of fullness. This not only means that appetite can be controlled better but it also modifies hedonic responses to food stimuli. Therefore, benefits can be classified as those that occur in the short term (of metabolic predominance) and those that are seen in the long term (of behavioral predominance). Commenting that: “By enhancing the resources that facilitate ‘top-down’ inhibitory control, increased physical activity may help compensate and suppress the hedonic drive to over-eat,” the study authors submit that: “Understanding how physical activity and eating behaviours interact on a neurocognitive level may help to maintain a healthy lifestyle in an obesogenic environment.”
Remarks Dr Goldman: Reporting that an increase in physical activity is linked to an improvement in diet quality, these researchers reveal an important bi-directional relationship between exercise and healthy eating.
Fish as Brain Booster
Baked or broiled (but not fried) fish may help to lower the risk of dementia. Cyrus Raji, from the University of Pittsburgh, and colleagues assessed 260 men and women, mean age 71 years, when they enrolled in the Cardiovascular Health Study between 1989 and 1990. At that time, they filled out questionnaires on dietary intake; 163 reported eating fish at least weekly, and some did so as often as four times a week. All subjects had an MRI 10 years later to assess brain volume, and then had follow-up cognitive testing between 2002 and 2003. The researchers found that patients who ate fish at least once a week had greater volume in the frontal lobes and the temporal lobes, including the hippocampus and the posterior cingulate gyrus – the brain areas responsible for memory and learning, which are severely affected in Alzheimer’s disease. Five years after the MRI, the team found that 30.8% of patients who had low fish intake had developed mild cognitive impairment or dementia, compared with just 3.2% of those who had the highest fish intake and the greatest preservation of brain volume. As well, the researchers observed that 47% of patients with brain atrophy who didn’t eat fish had abnormal cognition five years later, compared with 28% of those who ate more fish and had more gray matter volume. In further analyses, the team revealed that mean scores for working memory – a function severely impaired in Alzheimer’s disease – were significantly higher among those who ate fish weekly.
Comments Dr Klatz: By helping to preserve brain volume, eating fish at least once a week may help to lower the risk of developing cognitive impairment. This finding further advances the notion that certain foods exert a neuroprotective effect.
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 Longevity Magazine™ e-Journal.