Natural Approaches to the Syndrome of Aging
A series by Dr. Chris Jackson, PhD, DOM (FL)
In this third article in a series on natural approaches to the Syndrome of aging, we will address the causes and emerging treatments for aging. Yes, aging may be described as a disease, or perhaps a group of disorders with their related signs and symptoms, associated with aging. It is fairly common knowledge that the effects of aging on the human brain may be delayed through extracurricular activities that include physical, social, and mental components. Yet we all experience our own individual versions of the aging syndrome. The information contained in this article is backed by research which is available upon request.
As discussed in the previous article, telomere shortening is an effect that can be delayed through caloric restriction, thereby lengthening lifespan. In addition to delaying the shortening of telomeres, it has been demonstrated that telomeres can be lengthened when critically short and DNA damage can be repaired. Therefore, an essential element of aging could be reversible. For this purpose, an extract of the herb Astragalus membranaceus, has shown significant effectiveness.
Proper diet and nutritional intake may delay the onset of Alzheimer's. The risk of cognitive impairment, dementia, and Alzheimer's have been inversely correlated with elevated vegetable and fruit consumption. In other words, increasing consumption of vegetables and fruit may help to prevent or minimize the effects of aging on the human brain. Viewing this more broadly, adherence to a Mediterranean diet, including high legume, vegetable, fruit, and fish intake, as well as a low beef and poultry intake, may lead to less brain aging.
When vitamin and mineral levels are related to the processes involved in aging, supplementation of the same nutrients may help to reduce the effects of aging. More specifically, antioxidants are naturally occurring vitamins and minerals that donate electrons, essentially helping to repair oxidative damage (from free radicals) that contributes to the aging process. When vitamin C is combined with vitamin E, cognitive function can be improved due to effective repair of the fatty membranes of vascular cells and a resultant reduction in the level of inflammation throughout the body, particularly the brain. Some degree of neuroprotection also exists with vitamin E supplementation.
Antioxidant CoQ10 assists longevity by helping to prevent and treat disorders including cardiological and immune system issues. CoQ10 also helps to keep energy levels and cognition optimal. Acetyl-l-carnitine in combination with CoQ10, alpha lipoic acid, and vitamin C, helps to increase energy production, cognitive acuity, and muscle mass. Vitamins thiamin (B1), riboflavin (B2), and niacin (B3) help CoQ10 and carnitine to improve energy production. Additionally, B12 and B9 combine with B2 and B3 to improve gene synthesis and repair, very important to aging prevention.
Many other substances are of interest to improve upon or delay the effects of aging. The potent antioxidant resveratrol can have the effect of increasing lifespan. Resveratrol triggers the protective silent information regulator T1 (SIRT1) gene which helps to prevent cell death (apoptosis). Resveratrol also has blood sugar regulating properties, providing protection against diabetes and its sequela. Proanthocyanidins aside from resveratrol, and curcuminoids (found in turmeric or curcumin) help fight inflammatory conditions from cognitive to cancer to cardiovascular disease. Curcumin helps to reduce inflammation in neurons, therefore additional neuronal protection may be provided.
Thus, there are many approaches to address the underlying factors involved in the aging syndrome throughout the human body. The gains include better quality of life, with less disease, and the potential for a longer life.