A MOMENT FOR SENIORS
At an international symposium on longevity held in Geneva, Switzerland, new research showed how it might soon be possible to slow down the biological, or ‘inner’ aging process. Charlotte Lytton highlights some things we can all do to improve our chances o
TAKING THE PEPTIDES
Often referred to as “small proteins,” naturally occurring peptides (short chains of amino acids) increase the production of human growth hormone, more commonly known as HGH, which helps to metabolize fat and stimulate muscle and bone growth. Once you hit your 20s, the body’s natural production of HGH slows by 14 per cent every decade.
In recent years, peptides have been introduced to cosmetics and food supplements, making boosting your levels of them easier than ever. Peptide-enriched moisturizers, which have been available for several years, have been shown to help skin cells to heal and stimulate new cell growth.
As well, Canadian health authorities became the first in the world to approve a range of nutraceutical supplements containing shrimp shells — which are naturally rich in peptides, but are normally discarded during food processing — after several clinical trials showed they have a remarkable blood pressurelowering effect.
TRY THE OKINAWA DIET
At 83.7 years, Japan has the longest life expectancy in the world and a greater number of centenarians than any other nation, largely credited to their adoption of the Okinawa diet. Based on the eating habits of the Ryukyu Islands’ indigenous people, it replaces traditional Japanese rice with sweet potato, and includes a higher than average consumption of pork.
It also adheres to what is easily the least popular, yet most effective, means of boosting overall health: calorie restriction.
Okinawa dieters eat about 300 calories fewer than average. According to Craig Willcox, coauthor of The Okinawa Program: How the World’s Longest-Lived People Achieve Everlasting Health — and How You Can Too (Potter/TenSpeed/Harmony, $24.99): “Okinawans have a low risk of arteriosclerosis and stomach cancer, a very low risk of hormone-dependent cancers, such as breast and prostate cancer.”
WRAP YOURSELF IN FIR
Christmas trees and cancer prevention may seem strange bedfellows, but recent research into terpenoids, a hydrocarbon found in Siberian firs, have shown that the compounds could defend against cancer and the aging process. Produced in bulk by conifers to protect against disease, the genes have been found to play a key part in the transportation of complex proteins as well as degrading unnecessary ones, exhibited in their suppression of tumours, leading scientists to believe that they could be applied to further ailments in the future.
Health experts are regularly warning us off booze, but a dose of mother’s ruin could work wonders. At least, that’s what the makers of CollaGin (34.99 pounds, C$53 for 500 mL; collagin.co.uk, and only available in the U.K.) promise, distilling the hard stuff with pure collagen, star anise and orris root, botanicals said to have anti-aging properties.
MAKE MORE MELATONIN
Commonly used as a sleep aid, melatonin can help regulate circadian rhythms and is widely used as a jet-lag remedy. But as the quantity produced by the body declines with age, in trials supplements have been found to improve the overall health of mice, as well as extend their life.
There is also increasing evidence that melatonin as a dietary supplement could help slow down the aging process. Recent studies have shown that taking the hormone in small doses (such as 0.5 mg each night) can protect against heart damage and help to delay the onset of Alzheimer’s by guarding against cell decay. It has also been shown to fight UV ray-induced skin aging due to its antioxidant properties and ability to repair DNA damage.
One of the easiest ways to support your body’s ability to produce melatonin is to consume more magnesium, which is found in foods such as almonds, avocados and spinach. Also, tropical fruits such as pineapples, oranges and bananas are naturally rich sources of natural melatonin.