Putting off get­ting old Age­ing - what you can do

Monthly Chronicle - - Health & Well-Being - PROF. ROSS GRANT, NEUROPHARMACOLOGIST, THE SAN

For cen­turies civil­i­sa­tions have asked the same ques­tions: how do we live longer and stave off the neg­a­tive ef­fects of age­ing?

Thank­fully, whether baby boomers or mil­len­ni­als, more than any other gen­er­a­tion be­fore, we have ac­cess to the sci­en­tific knowl­edge to pro­vide some an­swers.

With med­i­cal, sur­gi­cal and tech­no­log­i­cal ad­vances in­creas­ing the av­er­age Aus­tralian life ex­pectancy of 80 years for males and 84 years for fe­males, the es­ca­la­tion of health­care costs is un­sus­tain­able. The down­side of age­ing, the fis­cal and phys­i­cal costs of cu­mu­la­tive and com­plex dis­eases, need to be re­duced.

While the cel­lu­lar dam­age of ag­ing is most of­ten vis­i­ble on the skin, the other main signs of ag­ing in­clude slow­ing me­tab­o­lism, brit­tle bones, aching and stiff joints, weight gain or de­clin­ing mus­cle mass, mem­ory, bone and vi­sion loss, gum or heart dis­ease, stroke, high blood pres­sure and clogged ar­ter­ies, di­a­betes, can­cer and Alzheimer’s or other de­men­tias.

Thank­fully while science has shown that ag­ing and its re­sult­ing dis­ease de­vel­op­ment is linked to cell dam­age of­ten caused by in­flam­ma­tion and ox­ida­tive stress (or free rad­i­cal dam­age) par­tic­u­larly af­ter the age of 60, science has now also shown that some life­style fac­tors that we can con­trol - phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity, nu­tri­tion and sleep - can in­flu­ence how well we age.

Phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity of at least 30 min­utes a day five days a week has been shown to slow down age­ing of cells by pro­tect­ing the telom­eres, the small caps on the end of chro­mo­somes which shorten dur­ing the age­ing process, giv­ing high ex­er­cis­ers a bi­o­log­i­cal age­ing ad­van­tage over the less ac­tive.

Also, high in­ten­sity in­ter­val train­ing (HIIT ) will also pos­si­bly de­lay cell ag­ing as it boosts both the num­ber and ef­fi­ciency of the mitrochron­dria help­ing to pro­duce greater en­ergy with less pro­duc­tion of free rad­i­cals. HIIT train­ing typ­i­cally in­volves an 8 se­cond burst with 12 se­cond rest on a bike for car­dio­vas­cu­lar im­prove­ment and greater mus­cle strength, for ten min­utes at a time, sev­eral times day.

As well as ex­er­cise, good nu­tri­tion and re­duc­ing al­co­hol con­sump­tion also seems to help stave off de­men­tia by re­duc­ing at­ro­phy of the brain, which typ­i­cally shrinks about 5% each decade af­ter the age of 40.

San based Aus­tralasian Re­search In­sti­tute (ARI) backs this up, find­ing ex­er­cise, diet and sleep sig­nif­i­cantly im­pact the body’s ox­ida­tive dam­age ei­ther ac­cel­er­at­ing or decelerating the age­ing process, de­pend­ing on how much and what qual­ity of each you get.

Weight bear­ing ex­er­cise also stim­u­lates the body and brain by in­creas­ing neuro-traf­fic trophic fac­tor, a chem­i­cal es­sen­tial for learn­ing and help­ing the brain to func­tion well.

If you want to pre­vent dam­age to the body and re­duce ag­ing and age-linked dis­eases then not only do you want to eat foods that pro­vide both nu­tri­ents and phy­tonu­tri­ents such as whole­food, grains, nuts and seeds, but also re­duce fatty foods, al­co­hol and ex­cess sat­u­rated fat, all of which pro­mote in­flam­ma­tion, cell dam­age and ac­cel­er­ate ag­ing.

The anti- age­ing foods

Berries are a rich source of an­tiox­i­dants, con­tain­ing high lev­els of vi­ta­min C re­quired for col­la­gen for our skin while blue­ber­ries boost mem­ory and help stave off dis­ease such as Alzheimer’s de­men­tia, Alzheimer’s and Parkin­son’s dis­ease. Grapes are a good source of strong an­tiox­i­dant and anti-in­flam­ma­tory resver­a­trol which some re­search sug­gests may in­crease re­sis­tance to cell death in the brain. Sim­i­larly leafy green veg­eta­bles like spinach are ex­cel­lent sources of vi­ta­min K (needed to help move cal­cium into the bones), lutein, and zeax­an­thin which strengthen our eyes from harm­ful ul­tra­vi­o­let rays, and help pre­vent brit­tle bones and the risk of frac­tures. To boost me­tab­o­lism and keep mus­cles strong the body needs pro­tein from good sources such as nuts, legumes in­clud­ing tofu or soy prod­ucts and for non-vege­tar­i­ans, skin­less chicken, turkey breast, lean beef, eggs, veg­e­tar­ian non­scav­eng­ing seafood such as whit­ing, bream and flat­head, and low fat dairy which also con­tains cal­cium and phos­pho­rus, crit­i­cal for strong bones.

Dark choco­late (more than 80% ca­cao) is high in fla­vanol phy­tonu­tri­ents and can pro­duce pos­i­tive ben­e­fits for car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease in­clud­ing low­er­ing blood pres­sure and choles­terol. This may help re­duce heart at­tacks and stroke in peo­ple al­ready suf­fer­ing with meta­bolic syn­drome, though the vaso­con­stric­tion ef­fect of any caf­feine present may mit­i­gate some­what po­ten­tial vas­cu­lar ben­e­fits in the brain. No more than 50g a day is rec­om­mended.

Fast­ing or calo­rie re­stric­tion

Though what we eat is very im­por­tant, re­search dat­ing back to the 1930s con­sis­tently shows that one of the most ef­fec­tive ways of slow­ing ag­ing and re­duc­ing dis­ease is through calo­rie re­stric­tion.

But let’s be clear - this is not star­va­tion but re­ally just not eat­ing more calo­ries than the body ac­tu­ally needs. When we do this there are many an­ti­age­ing ben­e­fits in­clud­ing in­creased re­sources for re­mov­ing waste from the cells (au­tophagy), in­creas­ing DNA re­pair and re­duc­ing ox­ida­tive stress and in­flam­ma­tion.

In one study mon­keys fed a 30% calo­rie re­stricted diet had a 30% re­duc­tion in mor­tal­ity and a 50% re­duc­tion in life­style dis­eases com­pared to mon­keys al­lowed to eat how much they liked.

Es­sen­tial shut- eye

When we get less than six to eight hours sleep a night, our bod­ies suf­fer: a re­cent ARI study found peo­ple with poorer sleep qual­ity or quan­tity had sig­nif­i­cantly higher lev­els of ox­ida­tive stress dam­age in their body, likely in­creas­ing tis­sue ag­ing and pre­dis­pos­ing them to dis­ease.

Pro­fes­sor Ross Grant PhD, Clin­i­cal As­so­ciate Pro­fes­sor, Syd­ney Med­i­cal School and CEO Aus­tralasian Re­search In­sti­tute Syd­ney Ad­ven­tist Hospi­tal

Ex­er­cise plays a huge role in stay­ing younger longer

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