Genes and the Ageing Process

How do your genes affect aging? A recent study by researchers at the National Institutes of Health wanted to find out just how bacteria in health and disease controlled ageing. To do this, they fed antibiotics to fruit flies and then monitored their gene activity, including those that control ageing, throughout their life.

The newborn male flies were raised on antibiotics preventing bacteria growth. These results were surprising. The lives of the fruit flies were extended and many of the gene activity was changed. They found out that only about 30% of the genes may be involved in the ageing process. The other genes reflected the body’s response to bacteria. Traditional thinking was that a larger number of genes are involved in ageing.

They were amazed that the flies ended up living approximately six days longer. In humans, this would be comparable to an extra 20 years of life. They concluded that the rate from which the activity of the genes changing was slower than normal in the flies that were given the antibiotics. They found no clear trend for why this happened but, at various ages, the antibiotics did help the flies survive infection or starvation longer than normal.

A list of common genes that involve ageing have been developed by scientists in the last few decades. But now, learning that only about 30% are in fact thought to control ageing, they hope to determine just which genes are linked to the ageing process.

To view the original scientific studies click below:
Common features of aging fail to occur inDrosophilaraised without a bacterial microbiome

Pollutants Can Speed Up Aging Prematurely

Exposure to pollutants, such as UV rays, industrial chemicals and hazards, cigarette smoke, and ozone can lead to production of free radicals in our bodies. Free radicals can interact with biomolecules, such as DNA or a protein causing damage that keeps them from working properly. This will damage a persons DNA and tissues and if not repaired can increase the speed at which a person ages. This is collaborated by a study from Eric E Kelley, a West Virginia Univ. researcher and the Univ. of Minnesota.

The research used genetically-modified mice missing a crucial DNA-repair protein in their hematopoietic stem cells. These are immune cells that are immature and eventually develop into white blood cells. Because the mice were missing this protein they were not able to repair any damaged DNA that accrued in immune cells.

This aged the mice at a faster rate where a 5-month old mouse was similar to a mouse that was 2-years old. The mice displayed age-related issues like osteoporosis, hearing loss, visual impairment, renal dysfunction and hypertension prematurely due to it being unable to repair its DNA. For comparison, a 2-year old mouse is about the same as a human that is 70-80 years old.

The study showed that cell aging markers and cell damage and oxidation were greater in the genetically-modified mice in comparison to a wild mouse. In addition, the kidney, liver and other organs also showed damaged cells, therefore, displaying that the damage is not only related to the immune cells.

It is unavoidable for a person to completely deter their exposure to pollutants but there are ways a person can decrease it. If a person limits junk food, drinking, smoking and exposure to the sun, pesticides and chemicals it would go a long ways to prevent the increase of free radicals. The defense system in a persons mitochondria cannot keep up with too much exposure thus not able to repair the damage.

This study suggests that premature aging could be prevented by limiting exposure to pollutants and making good lifestyle choices and changes.

To view the original scientific studies click below:An aged immune system drives senescence and ageing of solid organs

Is Your Sunscreen Toxic?

It is well known that using sunscreen can help minimize sun damage and help a person stay in the sun longer. But what is sunscreen really made of and what does it do?

After a recent test by Valisure of 294 sunscreen products, it was determined that 78 of them had high levels of benzene. Benzene is a known carcinogen and can build up in the body at unhealthy levels. The federal supervision of personal care products has not been updated since the 1930s. This was before a lot of the synthetic chemicals that are now added to them were used. The FDA has allowed these products to be sold without proper testing including sunscreen. The levels of benzene in some of the most popular brands is quite alarming. Benzene is considered a Class 1 solvent and should not be used in personal care products. However, the FDA allows it be used at a restricted level if a product has a significant therapeutic benefit and its use is unavoidable. Many sunscreen products don’t contain it which brings into question whether it is a necessary ingredient.

The National Health and Nutrition Examination Study from 2003-2004 showed that 96.8% of the sunscreen samples tested had measurable levels of benzophenone-3. This is another name for oxybenzone which promotes the ability of chemicals to enter the skin, including pesticides, insect repellent and toxic herbicides.

The FDA led two studies that showed certain ingredients found in sunscreen can build up to unhealthy levels. A FDA research team then performed a follow-up study of active sunscreen ingredients where the participants applied it over a 4 day period. Blood samples were then taken that revealed a concentration of over 500 times than was presumed safe after just a couple of days use. But the FDA continues to widely promote sunscreen use.

Some sunscreen products contain titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, which are ingredients known to be safe. But this safety level is not extended to the nanosized versions which measure less than 100 nanometers. By inhaling these nanoparticles it allows them to infiltrate areas in your lungs and body fluids that are difficult to clear. They can enter into your bloodstream and cause damage to organs, cells, immune system, heart, brain and the nervous system. Because of the size of these nanoparticles, they can cause toxic effects.

In addition to sunscreen you can also help protect your skin by taking the oral supplements Astaxanthin and Polypodium. These are powerhouse antioxidants that have been linked to healthier skin, heart health, endurance and joint pain. They have become extremely popular because of their myriad health benefits that are stronger than Vitamin C. But be aware that it will take a few weeks, taken daily, to build up the body’s protection. Astaxanthin is now being incorporated into a number of sunscreens which can be applied topically.

It is important that when you are in the sun a person does need to be cautious. Everyone needs some sun exposure to be healthy but in a careful way so as not to get burned. Using clothing and exposing 40% of your body for short periods daily helps the body produce vitamin D which can increase your levels so as to reduce the risk of cancers including melanoma. Only stay in the sun until the skin is a light shade of pink. Because the skin on the face is thinner and more prone to premature aging, when in the sun for longer periods of time protect it with a hat.

Use sunscreen or sunblock that does not contain benzene and contains titanium oxide or zinc oxide that is not nanosized. Using a cream or lotion that contains zinc oxide or Astaxanthin will provide the best protection from UVA rays. Eating a healthy diet of foods that contain natural oxidants such as fresh, raw and unprocessed ingredients will provide nutrients to maintain a healthy balance of oils in your skin that will help create a natural defense against sunburn.

Remember to always use a balanced and sensible approach to sun exposure.

To view the original scientific studies click below:
Concentrations of the Sunscreen Agent Benzophenone-3 in Residents of the United States: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2003–2004
Valisure Detects Benzene in Sunscreen
Effect of Sunscreen Application Under Maximal Use Conditions on Plasma Concentration of Sunscreen Active Ingredients
Effect of Sunscreen Application on Plasma Concentration of Sunscreen Active Ingredients

Is There a Secret to Living to 100?

What is the secret to living to 100? Is there one? A team of researchers at the Center on Healthy Aging at the Univ. of Calif., San Diego created a study to find out. It’s participants were aged from 21 to 99 and over. The study concentrated on a number of small villages in Italy, where it was shown these people lived a long and healthy life. They decided to focus the study on the participants’ character traits instead of their diet and heredity.

The results showed that although the older participants (aged 90 and over) had worse physical health, their mental well-being was better then the younger participants. Their mental health was rated on issues such as their resilience, depression, optimism, anxiety, stress and their overall mental and physical well-being. Some of these participants had been through such things as war, traumatic events, traveling and life’s ups and downs. But they still showed bonds with family, religion, worked hard with resilience and optimism and also loved the land.

It was shown that they were much more able to deal with “life” and avoid stressors. They were compassionate, emotionally stable and were able to make smart decisions.

The older participants scored higher on the measures of decision making, self confidence, mental well-being and were less anxious and depressed. They showed they were more adaptable with having strong social support and a high level of confidence. They had a sense of pride about their personal stories and things they had to overcome in life.

All of the older participants had a love of their land and thus giving them a purpose in life. Almost all of them still work on their houses and the land. They have an attitude that they will not give up their wonderful life, therefore, giving them a sense of grounding.

This study concluded that a long life was maintaining a balance to be able to overcome adversities with a positive attitude with close ties to family, a purpose in life, religion and a love of the land.

To view the original scientific study click below:
Mixed-methods quantitative–qualitative study of 29 nonagenarians and centenarians in rural Southern Italy: focus on positive psychological traits

Resolving Arguments Helps Minimize Emotional Stress

An unresolved argument can make a person feel emotionally stressed. But a study by the Oregon State University has shown that resolving an argument can erase or reduce almost all of the emotional stress associated with it. The study used data from the National Study of Daily Experiences that had surveyed more than 2,000 people about their experiences and feelings for 8 days.

They interviewed the participants about their reports of arguments they had. The researchers wanted to know whether they had arguments, or instead, avoided them so as not to have a disagreement. They could then measure how the occurrence affected the person’s emotions either negatively or positively for the day of the incident and the day after. If a reaction occurs the day of the argument it is considered as “reactivity”, while the next day’s emotion is called “residue”. Researchers found that when the people resolved the argument the same day they reported the reactivity was half of those who reported the argument had not been resolved. But if the argument was avoided or not resolved, on the following day the results were worse.

Stress is a normal emotion in a person’s daily life. You cannot stop certain situations from being stressful. But if you can learn to bring the emotional response to an end by resolving it the same day the payoff to your well-being will be immense. It is quite important for maintaining overall health on a daily basis.

Chronic stress has long been known to affect general health. Depression, anxiety and even physical problems such as gastrointestinal issues, a weak immune system and heart disease have all been associated with stress. Major chronic stressors such as violence or poverty can cause damage to your emotional well-being. But just day-to-day stressors that are minor, such as inconveniences can have impacts on cognitive function, inflammation and even mortality.

This study also took into account age difference in the responses to arguments and those that had been avoided. They found that adults 68 and older reported that their arguments had been resolved 40% more than people aged 45 and younger. But, regardless of age, the impact of resolving the argument’s status either negatively or positively remained the same.

The researchers explained the older adults’ rate of resolution as being higher because they can be motivated to minimize these feelings since they have fewer years in their life left. They also determined the older adults have more experience resolving, avoiding or defusing conflicts. They are more motivated to ensure that their emotional well-being is healthy, therefore, doing a better and maybe faster job at resolving stressors.

Of course, a person cannot control the stressors that come into their life and not knowing how to deal with it is in itself an emotional stressor, but learning to control their emotional response is beneficial. If you can defuse the stress so that it does not have an emotional impact on you during the day or days after it will help reduce the potential long term impact.

To view the original scientific study click below:
Want a longer, healthier life? Resolve your arguments by day’s end, OSU study says

Walking Briskly Improves Brain Health

A new study has shown that in aging people that have memory impairments walking briskly can improve thinking and brain health. Researchers at the Univ. of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas conducted the study with 70 people aged 55 or older that were considered as sedentary. They all had been diagnosed with mild cases of cognitive impairment. They asked them to start increasing their level of movement.

Before the study, they lab tested the participants on their current health and cognitive function and aerobic fitness. With certain techniques and advanced ultrasounds they then calculated how stiff the carotid artery was. This result shows the amount of blood that is flowing to and through the brain.

They divided the participants into 2 groups. The first group began performing light stretching and exercises aimed at toning the body. This served as the active control group. This group kept their heart rates and breathing to a minimum. The second group was asked to perform aerobic exercises primarily by walking on a treadmill. After a few weeks, this group then walked outside by keeping their exertions brisk to raise their heart rates and breathing.

Both groups performed this routine three times per week under supervision and for around a half an hour. They continued this for six months and slowly added more sessions to slowly increase their workout sessions to five per week. The groups continued these routines for a year, where, about 20 participants dropped out, mostly from the second group.

The participants were then retested at the lab and the results were compared. The second group‘s results showed that they were more fit with increased aerobic capacity while the first group showed no improvement. The carotid arteries of the second group showed greater blood flow throughout and to their brains.

The most important result was that the second group performed better on thinking skills. These skills involve planning and decision making and tend to decline earlier with the onset of dimentia. Both groups did raise their scores somewhat on tests concerning thinking and memory roughly the same amount. It seems just moving in some way appears to help the healthy flow of blood to the brain and reduce any decline in thinking.

As a person gets older, our ability to think and remember normally dulls slightly. It is common for many people to show a decline in blood flow to the brain, when their hearts weaken and arteries stiffen. But when memory loss intensifies, a medical condition called mild cognitive impairment can occur. If it continues, a person is at a higher risk of getting Alzheimer‘s later in life. The reason for mild cognitive impairment is not known but blood flow to the brain changes may contribute to it.

This study shows that exercise can increase blood flow to the brain, even when people are just performing stretching and toning exercises. The researchers do believe that over an extended time period, walking briskly results in cognitive gains and less memory decline than just stretching. It was noted that it could take more than a year to show improved cognition from the improved blood flow to the brain. They will continue to investigate how adding or decreasing the exercise sessions each week might help the brain. They also are working on ways to help motivate the participants to continue with the exercises.

To view the original scientific study click below:
One-Year Aerobic Exercise Reduced Carotid Arterial Stiffness and Increased Cerebral Blood Flow in Amnestic Mild Cognitive Impairment

Changing Your Sleep Pattern Could Help Depression

If you suffer from depression, a new study just might help you. A person could reduce their risk of having major depression by 23% by adjusting their sleep schedule according to a genetic study published May 26, 2021. The study consisted of 840,000 participants and was conducted by the Univ. of Colorado at Boulder and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. It’s one of the first studies to signify what can influence mental health based on how much or how little change is required.

Researchers have often wondered how the relationship between mood and sleep timing has on a person. This study reveals strong evidence that a person’s certain sleep time influences their mood. Just going to sleep an hour earlier than usual, a person’s risk of depression is significantly lowered.

From previous studies it has been learned that early risers are less likely to suffer from depression than night owls. But it has been hard to decipher what causes it since mood disorders can disrupt normal sleep patterns. So to find out, data from a DNA testing company was used. A method called “Mendelian randomization” helped decipher genetic associations as to cause and effect.

Of the most common genetic variants, more than 340 were used that could affect a person’s chronotype or their behavior to sleep at a certain time. 850,000 participants were assessed their de-identified genetic data and the researchers also had 85,000 people wear a sleep tracker for 7 days. The study included 250,000 people that filled out a sleep preference questionnaire. This was to give them a more finite picture, even down to the hour of how the gene variants influence sleep and wake up times a person has.

The participants were divided into three groups. One-third identified themselves as morning larks. The second group, the night owls, were about 9% and all of the rest were somewhere in the middle. The researchers took into consideration a person’s genetic information, their diagnosis of any mental disorders, and medical and prescription records.

The data suggests that those people that have genetic variants that predispose them to wake up early do have a lower risk of depression. If you are already an early riser, it was unclear if a person could benefit from waking up earlier. Because early risers have a greater amount of daylight exposure, the research suggests this could benefit their hormones and influence mood.

If a person goes to sleep even one hour earlier it correlated with a lower risk of depression by 23%. If they would go to sleep two hours earlier and slept the same amount they could cut it by 40%. So people that normally stay up late in the evening could benefit from an earlier bedtime. So if you can shift to an earlier sleep pattern, it may be beneficial and possibly lower your risk of depression.

To view the original scientific study click below:
Genetically Proxied Diurnal Preference, Sleep Timing, and Risk of Major Depressive Disorder

Tai Chi Can Have Same Benefits as Conventional Exercise

Tai Chi, a Chinese martial art and system of calisthenics is now being compared to conventional exercise. In a recent study from the University of Hong Kong, the Chinese University of Hong Kong; Chinese Academy of Sciences; and UCLA it shows that Tai Chi can duplicate the benefits of exercise. It can reduce the waist circumference in middle to older adults (over 50 years of age) that have obesity in the central region of the body.

Tai Chi consists of very slow controlled movements in sequences. This technique is used to enhance physical and mental health and can also improve balance, posture, strength and flexibility.

People that have obesity in the central region of the body have an acute manifestation of what is known as a metabolic syndrome. This includes cardiometabolic risk factors which can be central obesity, hyperglycemia, high blood pressure, dysipidemia, a low level of high density lipoprotein cholesterol that all can increase the risk of getting type 2 diabetes and/or cardiovascular disease.

In this study, there were 534 people, aged 50 or older that participated. They were assigned randomly to one of 3 equally sized groups. These control groups consisted of no exercise, conventional exercise which included aerobic and strength training, and a group that performed tai chi. The study lasted 12 weeks.

At the end of the study, the outcome was that waist circumference had reduced in all groups. Other findings were body mass index; body weight; triglyceride; high density cholesterol and fasting plasma glucose levels.

This study suggest that tai chi can be an effective way to reduce central obesity. Incorporating tai chi into all kinds of physical activity for middle to older adults can be an important approach for central obesity management.

To view the original scientific study click below:
Effects of Tai Chi or Conventional Exercise on Central Obesity in Middle-Aged and Older Adults

Stem Cells and Muscle Regeneration

In the recent study at the Salk Institute and published by Nature Communications, researchers showed that by using molecular compounds it can speed up the regeneration of muscle tissue. These compounds are commonly used in the research of stem cells. As we age loss of muscle mass is a concern in regards to causing disabilities.

Regeneration of muscle cells was increased in mice using these compounds by activation of the precursors of muscle cells. These are called myogenic progenitors and the loss of these could be connected to muscle degeneration in age-related groups. This study found several factors that could speed up muscle regeneration and reveal the mechanism by which the loss occurred.

The study used compounds discovered by the Japanese scientist Yamanaka, therefore, naming them Yamanaka factors. They consist of proteins that have been labeled transcription factors. DNA is copied to translate into other proteins by these factors. These proteins are then used during the research in the lab to change specialized cells, possibly skin cells into a cell that is more like a stem cell. They become pluripotent, meaning they have the ability to become a different kind of cell. The lab research already knew these factors could rejuvenate cells to promote tissue regeneration but now they know how it happens.

Regenerating muscle is found to be mediated by muscle stem cells. These are also called satellite cells. They are specific to an area between connective tissue and muscle fibers. After the addition of the Yamanaka factors the research team used two mouse models to point to the muscle stem cell or niche changes. The mice used were young so that the findings of the factors were not age dependent.

In the muscle fiber model niche, muscle regeneration was increased by adding the Yamanaka factors. This worked by the reduction level of a protein called Wnt4. This activated the satellite cells to speed up muscle recovery or function. The stem cell model did not activate any satellite cells, therefore, not improving muscle regeneration. This suggests that Wnt4 is an important role in muscle regeneration.

More studies will need to be done but this study is promising in that an approach to regenerating muscle tissue can be found.

To view the original scientific study click below:
In vivo partial reprogramming of myofibers promotes muscle regeneration by remodeling the stem cell niche

The Health Benefits of Eating Berries

Spring is a great time to eat berries now that they are in season, especially strawberries. Eating berries offers many health benefits and a wide range of nutrients. They have a low glycemic index and are lower in sugar than most other fruits. They are also considered a heart-healthy food. The bright colors of berries come from polyphenols. Those are antioxidants which are far more powerful than vitamin C and other common antioxidants found in supplements. The brightness and different colors of berries reflect different kinds and amounts of polyphenols. Consuming many different kinds of polyphenols is beneficial so it is good to eat different varieties of berries.

In addition to their antioxidant characteristics polyphenols help repair tissues throughout the body. Also, studies have been shown that eating berries may help decrease a person’s cancer risk. A study of strawberries has shown they have strong, protective effects on cancer cells of the liver.

Another important benefit of berries is that they can lower LDL cholesterol in the blood which can enhance the function of arteries and reduce the risk of heart attack. They can prevent LDL cholesterol from becoming damaged or oxidized. They can help control blood sugar levels, important for the prevention of diabetes. A study of more than 200,000 people showed an 18% decrease in type 2 diabetes risk by eating strawberries. They can improve blood sugar and insulin response when eaten with foods high in carbohydrates or included as a ingredient in a smoothie.

Berries are high in soluble fiber which slows the movement of food through the digestive tract and absorbs toxins. This can lead to reduced hunger and make you feel fuller longer. One cup of berries is low in calories. By increasing your fiber from eating berries you could absorb up to 130 fewer calories a day. This can help maintain weight management.

The antioxidants in berries can help reduce skin wrinkling and damage by controlling free radicals. They protect skin by blocking production of enzymes that can break down collagen when skin is damaged by the sun. Collagen is needed to allow your skin to remain firm and stretch. Without it, skin tends to develop wrinkles and sag.

Of course, fresh raw berries are considered to be the healthiest. They are delicious as a snack, added to breakfast or used as a dessert after a meal. They can be added to almost any type of diet, including the Mediterranean, vegetarian and vegan and even people on low-carb and keto diets. A 1/2 cup serving has less then 4 grams of digestible carbs.

Berries are highly nutritious and provide many health benefits and they taste great!