CURRENT CONCEPTS ABOUT PROLONGING LIFE
By Dr. James
Regulating insulin secretion has long been known to be important in preventing disease and slowing the aging process. This can be accomplished by eating foods that do not cause the body to secrete insulin. Avoiding refined carbohydrates and carbohydrates that are readily converted to glucose (sugar, corn syrup, white flour in the form of bread, pasta, crackers, rice, potatoes etc.) is beneficial because it decreases insulin production.
Drastic reduction in food intake (about 30 % below normal) clearly improves longevity in animals (worms, spiders, rodents, dogs, cows, and monkeys) and would probably work in humans. The problem with this approach is that few persons want to spend the remainder of their days feeling cold, fatigued and hungry.
Biochemist Cynthia Kenyon of the University of California in San Francisco has been finding out much about aging. Her research has shown that hormones control aging in worms. The primary hormones involved in this process are insulin and IGF-1 (insulin like growth factor-1). Eliminating the gene responsible for transmitting these hormones' signals across the cell wall has increased the lifespan of worms six-fold. The worms with impaired pathways for insulin and IGF-1 were healthier and stayed younger for a longer period of time than untreated worms. Worms are valuable in studying genetic conditions because they have short life spans (20 days), are easy to perform genetic surgery on, and they have the same endocrine and hormone systems present in humans.
Using the information obtained by Kenyon, Martin Holzenberger in France genetically altered mice so they exhibited poor responses to IGF-1. These altered mice lived 26% longer than normal mice. Mice genetically altered to respond poorly to insulin lived 18% longer than normal mice in another similar study.
Insulin is released from the pancreas in response to rising blood sugar levels. This insulin moves glucose out of the bloodstream by opening small channels in cell walls. Once inside the cell the glucose is burned for energy. Another function of insulin is to promote the storage of fat in the body's fat cells. This stored fat should be an emergency reserve for persons to use when starvation occurs. However, persons who overeat foods that rapidly become converted to sugar (high glycemic carbohydrates) are causing more insulin to get secreted and more fat to become stored. This process is accentuated in persons with an indolent life style.
What this research points out is that eating in a manner that does not provoke insulin secretion becomes an effective anti-aging tool. Low carbohydrate diets are popular now (Atkins, South Beach etc.) but the key dietary measure needed is consuming carbohydrates that are low glycemic foods. Lots of vegetables are fine as long as they are not starchy (potatoes, rice). Avoiding sugar, corn syrup, and white flour foods such as bread, pasta, crackers, pastry, rolls, cakes, pies and candy is vital. Go to www.mendosa.com and click the food link on the left to get a comprehensive list of high glycemic foods. Adding a teaspoon or more of cinnamon to your food daily reduces insulin secretion. Chromium, vanadium and alpha lipoic acid all diminish the secretion of insulin. Regular exercise decreases insulin secretion by burning up glucose.
Cynthia Kenyon observed that when sugar was added to the diet of her gene-altered worms their life span shortened. This caused her to decrease high glycemic foods in her own diet. She started to avoid sweets, potatoes, bread, pasta, and rice. Lots of low glycemic vegetables were eaten along with meats, cheeses, fish, nuts, salads, and eggs. Within two years her triglyceride dropped to 30 mg/dL (normal below 150 mg/dL.) and her good cholesterol HDL increased to 86 mg/dl., which is quite high (desirable).
Insulin like growth factor-1 IGF-1 is closely involved with insulin in controlling the speed of aging. IGF-1 stimulates growth and cell division. Typically the production of IGF-1 declines as we age. Holzenberger's team learned that their low IGF-1 mice were more protected against chemicals and substances that provoked free radical generation. There was less damage to their DNA, proteins, and cell membranes than was seen in mice with higher IGF-1 levels.
For many years human growth hormone has been praised as an age-reversing substance because it creates muscle and diminishes fat along with other desirable changes. However, IGF-1 levels rise after growth hormone usage and some authorities have been concerned that these elevated IGF-1 levels might encourage tumors to begin or have more rapid growth.
Harvard Professor David Sinclair has performed research that identified organic molecules that were capable of extending life span. A substance found in red wine increased the activity of a longevity protein that affects the insulin/IGF-1 system. This substance (resveratrol) is a polyphenol that mitigates age-related problems like arteriosclerosis, nerve degeneration, and cancer formation. Resveratrol from wine drinking has long been considered to be the reason the French people have so little arteriosclerosis compared to the U.S.
Professor Sinclair has demonstrated that resveratrol stimulates an enzyme in yeast that increases their lifespan by 70 %. This enzyme belongs to the same family of proteins that regulates lifespan in worms, and cell survival in humans. This enzyme is known to be responsible for the increased longevity in humans who severely curtail their caloric intake. Six drug companies are frantically trying to develop drugs to control the insulin IGR-1 pathway.
What Should Interested Patients Do?
Begin to eliminate sugars, refined carbohydrates (white bread, pasta, pastry etc.) and the high glycemic carbohydrates from your diet. At this time implementing such a dietary change at age fifty should be able to add 10 healthy years to your lifespan. This diet is an ideal way to prevent Type 2 diabetes, arteriosclerosis, and cancer. A desirable feature of this dietary change is that there are no side effects. Persons with inflammatory illnesses (rheumatoid arthritis, Alzheimer's Disease, arteriosclerosis, etc.) need to be alert as increasing the intake of inflammatory meat and dairy products might intensify their symptoms. Obviously a symptom flare up needs to cause these diet changes to be reversed.
Including resveratrol in this life-prolonging program makes good sense. Resveratrol is able to prevent heart disease by having strong antioxidant capabilities, increasing the output of beneficial nitric acid to relax arteries and by preventing clotting so that blocked arteries have a good chance to reopen. In addition resveratrol may be effective in preventing the amyloid deposits found in Alzheimer's Disease.
Resveratrol inhibits the growth and development of cancer cells as well as killing existing cancer cells. Estrogen activity can be controlled by resveratrol. It helps control hot flashes, mood fluctuations, bone loss and other menopausal symptoms. Blocking the onset and progression of estrogenic cancers such as breast and prostate also seems to occur with resveratrol. Spread of cancer cells to bone also appears to be blocked by resveratrol, particularly noted in cancers of pancreas, kidney and breast.
Resveratrol has an ability to protect against skin and stomach cancer, liver disease, and pain.
The best known sources of resveratrol are red wine and grape juice. Resveratrol is also found in Japanese knotwood, pine trees, eucalyptus, and peanuts. Plants produce resveratrol for protection against stress, bad weather, poor nutritional availability, and to be protected against fungal and other plant diseases. More resveratrol is produced in conditions of harsh climates and unfriendly environments. The resveratrol is found in the skin of grapes. In the production of white wine the skin is removed early so white wine contains little resveratrol.
Research suggests that about 20 mg. of resveratrol daily provides maximal health benefits. Red wine contains 0.2 mg per ounce so a glass or two daily is helpful but to achieve an intake of 20 mg., supplementation is necessary. Cynthia Kenyon now includes a daily glass of red wine in her diet.
One or two capsules daily of Resvert with meals contains 25 mg. of resveratrol plus 100 mg. of proantrocyanidins. This can be purchased from Young Again Nutrients www.youngagain.com or by phoning 877-205-0040.
Some of this information about resveratrol began to become known 5 or 6 years ago. Our product Recovery used for arthritis, collagen diseases and musculoskeletal pains contains resveratrol and green tea as its two primary ingredients. When taking a therapeutic dosage of Recovery, 5 mg. of resveratrol is received daily. Nutrients received from foods or combined with other nutrients in a product like Recovery have an enhanced effectiveness when compared to a nutrient taken in isolation.
Resveratrol has no side effects but persons taking anti coagulants or patients with platelet deficiencies or bleeding tendencies should be monitored by a physician as resveratrol does decrease the clotting tendency of blood.
This evidence about ways to prolong life is sufficiently strong that modifying one's diet and considering resveratrol appears prudent. Certainly this approach is much more palatable than living a calorie restricted life.
1 Nature 03; 421 (6919):182-7.
© 2004 Dr. James Howenstine - All Rights Reserved
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What this research points out is that eating in a manner that does not provoke insulin secretion becomes an effective anti-aging tool.