Jan. 27-Feb. 2, 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.
Vitamins, Healthy Fats Promote Mental Acuity
A diet rich in key vitamins and healthy fats may help older men and women to stay cognitively sharp, as well as reduce brain shrinkage associated with Alzheimer’s disease. Conversely, a junk-food diet (characterised by high trans-fat intake) predicts lower cognitive scores, as well as reduced total cerebral brain volume. G.L. Bowman, from Oregon Health and Science University, and colleagues completed a study that specifically measured a wide range of blood nutrient levels and correlated them to performance on mental acuity tests. The researchers enrolled 104 people, average age 87 years, none of whom experienced special risk factors for memory or mental acuity. The team tested 30 different nutrient biomarkers in their blood, and 42 participants also had MRI scans to measure their brain volume. The most favourable cognitive outcomes and brain size measurements were associated with two dietary patterns – high levels of marine fatty acids, and high levels of vitamins B, C, D and E. In contrast, consistently worse cognitive performance was associated with a higher intake of the type of trans fats found in baked and fried foods, margarine, fast food and other less-healthy dietary choices. The researchers conclude that: “Distinct nutrient biomarker patterns detected in plasma are interpretable and account for a significant degree of variance in both cognitive function and brain volume.”
Dr Klatz observes: A diet rich in key vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids helps to promote cognitive function, as well as reduce brain shrinkage associated with Alzheimer’s disease. This study adds to the growing body of evidence suggesting natural, non-drug approaches to combat aging-related cognitive decline.
Physical Activity Helps Counter Alzheimer’s
The presence of an APOE epsilon-4 allele is the most established genetic risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease. A higher percentage of individuals with Alzheimer’s having an epsilon-4 allele (compared to the general population); as well, in these carriers the age at dementia onset is earlier, and the rate of cognitive decline may be higher. Denise Head, from Washington University, and colleagues studied 201 men and women, ages 45 to 88 years, who tested cognitively normal at a single Alzheimer’s research centre. Among the 163 individuals imaged with a PET scan to measure amyloid deposits, 52 were APOE epsilon-4 carriers. Carriers had significantly higher mean binding potential on that imaging as expected, and sedentary individuals – regardless of carrier status – also showed higher binding potential and lower cerebrospinal beta-amyloid 42, compared to those who were more active. Carrier status and exercise level interacted significantly for amyloid imaging, though not on cerebrospinal fluid measures. Being less active was associated with more cortical amyloid binding potential in APOE epsilon-4 carriers but not in noncarriers. The study authors conclude that: “Collectively, these results suggest that cognitively normal sedentary APOE epsilon-4 -positive individuals may be at augmented risk for cerebral amyloid deposition.”
Remarks Dr Goldman: Finding that carriers of the apolipoprotein E (APOE) epsilon-4 genotype may slow the buildup of Alzheimer’s amyloid plaques in the brain by staying physically active, these researchers further the data suggesting a connection between physical fitness and brain fitness.
Kiwi Kicks the Common Cold
Among the most widespread illnesses in the world, the common cold is estimated to be responsible for US$20 billion per year in lost worker productivity. Denise C. Hunter, from The New Zealand Institute for Plant and Food Research, and colleagues enrolled 37 men and women, ages 65 years and older, who ate four gold kiwis each day for four weeks, then switched over to consume two bananas daily (or vice versa), with a four-week intervening washout period. During the kiwi phase, self-reported cold symptoms were less (compared to the banana phase), with sore throat symptoms reducing from 5.4 to 2 days and head congestion decreasing from 4.7 to 0.9 days. As well, the severity of head congestion during the kiwi phase. Observing that: “Gold kiwi significantly increased plasma vitamin C, [alpha]-tocopherol and lutein/zeaxanthin concentrations, and erythrocyte folate concentrations, and significantly reduced plasma lipid peroxidation,” the researchers submit that: “Consumption of gold kiwi enhanced the concentrations of several dietary plasma analytes, which may contribute to reduced duration and severity of selected [upper respiratory tract infection] symptoms, offering a novel tool for reducing the burden of [upper respiratory tract infection] in older individuals.”
Comments Dr Klatz: Reporting that consumption of gold kiwi helps to reduce the severity of the symptoms of the common cold, this team provides invaluable insight into the biological mechanisms by which vitamin-rich foods may alleviate infectious 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 Longevity Magazine™ e-Journal.