Jun. 29, 2012-Jul. 3, 2012
By Dr Robert Goldman and Dr Ronald Klatz
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.
Secrets of Brain Health
Is brain aging avoidable? Lars Nyberg, from Umea University (Sweden), and colleagues report that it is what you do in old age that matters more when it comes to maintaining a youthful brain, not what you did earlier in life. For example, the team suggests that education won’t save your brain – PhDs are as likely as high-school dropouts to experience memory loss with old age. Don’t count on your job either. Those with a complex or demanding career may enjoy a limited advantage, but those benefits quickly dwindle after retirement. Instead, the researchers submit that engagement is the secret to success: those who are socially, mentally and physically stimulated reliably show better cognitive performance with a brain that appears younger than its years. Submitting that: “we discuss a complementary concept, that of brain maintenance (or relative lack of brain pathology), and argue that it constitutes the primary determinant of successful memory aging, the study authors encourage for: “interventions [that] may be designed to promote maintenance of brain structure and function in late life.”
Dr Klatz observes: Swedish researchers submit that social, mental, and physical engagement help to preserve cognitive performance in aging, thereby reaffirming the merits of an anti-aging approach to brain health.
Light Weights an Effective Way to Build Muscle
Whereas convention submits that training with heavy weights — which can be lifted only six to 12 times before fatigue — is the best avenue to muscle growth, McMaster University (Canada) researchers submit data suggesting otherwise. Cam Mitchell and colleagues completed a series of experiments were conducted on healthy, young male volunteers to measure how their leg muscles reacted to different forms of resistance training over a period of 10 weeks. The researchers first determined the maximum weight each subject could lift one time in a knee extension. Each subject was assigned to a different training program for each leg. In all, three different programs were used in combinations that required the volunteers to complete sets of as many repetitions as possible with their assigned loads – typically eight to 12 times per set at the heaviest weights and 25-30 times at the lowest weights. The three programmss used in the combinations were: one set at 80% of the maximum load; three sets at 80% of the maximum; three sets at 30% of the maximum. After 10 weeks of training, three times per week, the heavy and light groups that lifted three sets saw significant gains in muscle volume—as measured by MRI—with no difference among the groups. Still, the group that used heavier weights for three sets developed a bit more strength. The group that trained for a single set showed approximately half the increase in muscle size seen in both the heavy and light groups. The lead author commented that: “We found that loads that were quite heavy and comparatively light were equally effective at inducing muscle growth and promoting strength,” submitting that the key to muscle gain is working to the point of fatigue.
Remarks Dr Goldman: In revealing that lifting less weight more times is just as effective at building muscle as training with heavy weights, these scientists suggest a viable approach to managing age-related muscle loss.
Pistachios Promote GI Health
The gut microbiota, or the microbial environment in the gastrointestinal tract, provides important functions for the human body. A number of studies have suggested that modifying microbiota to favor a beneficial composition may help to support intestinal health, as well as overall health. Foods with prebiotic properties may enhance the growth of beneficial bacteria in the digestive tract. Pistachio nuts appear to have prebiotic characteristics; they contain non-digestible food components such as dietary fiber, which remain in the gut and serve as food for naturally occurring bacteria. They also contain phytochemicals that have the potential to modify microbiota composition. Volker Mai, from the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (Florida, US), and colleagues enrolled 16 healthy individuals, randomly assigning each to eat an American-style, pre-planned diet that included either 0 ounces, 1.5 ounces or 3 ounces of pistachios or almonds per day. Each participant’s diet was calorie-controlled to ensure they neither gained nor lost weight during the intervention. Multiple stool samples were collected throughout the study and analyzed for bacterial community composition. The researchers also quantified the amounts of Lactic Acid Bacteria and Bifidobacteria in the stool, two groups of live microorganisms that reside in the digestive tract and help break down food substances. After controlling for age, dietary factors and other relevant variables, the researchers observed that after 19 days, people who ate up to 3 ounces of pistachios (about 147 nuts or 2 servings) per day had increased changes in levels of various gut bacteria. As well, the subjects who ate pistachios showed an increase in potentially beneficial butyrate-producing bacteria. Butyrate has been shown to be a preferred energy source for colonic epithelial cells and is thought to play an important role in maintaining colonic health in humans. Commenting that: “Fibers and incompletely digested foods, including nuts, that reach the proximal colon provide compounds required for maintaining a diverse microbiota” the study’s lead author submits that: “this study is a promising sign that increasing consumption of nuts, specifically pistachios, provides a novel means to modify the number of the gut’s ‘healthy’ microbiota, with potential health benefits.”
Comments Dr Klatz: Pistachio consumption may positively impact bacterial profile of the digestive tract. This discovery may lead to a functional health application for this widely available nut.
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.
Filed under: Longevity News & Review