Aging Now a Disease? Humanity Should Treat It Like One, Scientist Says

Scientists are starting to reconsider our major preconception about aging. Is it really a natural phenomenon or a disease that could be treated?

It may be helpful to remember that under this question are a lot of factors. For instance, is aging really just a natural process that we should recognize? Why then are we so focused on creating technologies that will reverse its effects?

Philosophers have regarded aging as one of the reasons why we are afraid of death, and it has led to quite a lot of lessons about “cherishing life” and “making every moment count.”

However, the biomedical community seems to be on the verge of rethinking their stance on the matter.

Cambridge University’s Aubrey de Grey has pondered the question for a while. A trained computer scientist and a self-taught biologist and gerontologist, de Grey has been trying to reframe our mentality about aging.

In an article by Scientist, De Grey said it may be time to consider aging as a pathologic process, as in one like cancer and diabetes that can be “treated.”

It is important to remember that “aging” is the term we use to describe the changes our bodies undergo over time. The early changes are good as we develop stronger muscles and better reflexes. However, our problems begin when we start getting thinner hair and weaker resistances. Not to mention, the human body has different parts that develop at different paces.

Any wrong move in the pacing of the growth of our body results to diseases. For instance, while lipids are a natural part of our diet, too much of it will make our blood vessels harden and narrow, leading to heart attacks.

De Grey said we can (and we should) view aging as something that could be prevented. A team of scientists also share this belief.

In their paper published in Frontiers in Genetics, scientists Sven Bulterijs, Raphaella Hull, Victor Bjork, and Avi Roy believe that a lot of diseases that affect us over time are caused by aging.

Diseases such as the Hutchinson-Gilford Progeria syndrome, Werner syndrome, and Dyskeratosis Congenita are considered diseases that affect teenagers and young adults. However, they are considered normal and unworthy of attention when they are seen in older people.

Interestingly, common bodily afflictions that come with aging such as hypertension, atherosclerosis, dementia, and sarcopenia are all considered “diseases.” What makes aging different?

And while some consider the debate as something purely semantic, as in the way in which we define certain terms, there are “benefits” for such a label.

For instance, labeling aging as a disease will better help physicians make more medical efforts to remove and treat conditions associated with aging that we normally ignore. Calling something a disease will merit some form of commitment to medical intervention.

Source: natureworldnews

The Significance of Selenium

Selenium is a trace element a Swedish chemist, Baron Jöns Jacob Berzelius, discovered almost 200 years ago. Today, modern scientists recognize it as “an essential mineral of pivotal importance for human health,” with anti-inflammatory, antiviral and anti-cancer potential.1

This mineral is also a powerful antioxidant, which plays itself out in many ways in regard to your health. You need only a little, though, to help keep your immune system and other functions humming along in proper order.

As much as your body requires selenium, taking the proper amount is crucial, because too much (such as 400 micrograms [mcg] daily) is associated with an increased risk of diabetes.2

However, unless you’re taking a supplement, it’s not likely you’ll overdose on selenium through the foods you eat. In fact, most people have trouble getting what they need, and as many as 1 billion people worldwide have a selenium deficiency.

Your chance of having a selenium deficiency is higher if you smoke cigarettes, take birth control pills, drink alcohol or have a condition that keeps you from absorbing the nutrients you need through the foods you eat.

Free Radicals: The ‘Bad Guys’ You Don’t Want Lurking in Your Body

As previously mentioned, one of the most important aspects of selenium is that it functions as a free-radical-zapping antioxidant. What does that mean, exactly?

When you take the word apart, “anti” is something you’re against and the word or phrase that follows it is the “bad guy.” In this case, what you’re against is oxidation because it can cause oxidative stress, which in turn can lead to tissue and organ damage. According to News-Medical:

“Oxidative stress is essentially an imbalance between the production of free radicals and the ability of the body to counteract or detoxify their harmful effects through neutralization by antioxidants”3

While “free radicals” may be another murky term, in short, free radicals and other assorted reactive oxygen species (ROS) are caused by either normal, internal metabolic processes or via outside influences such as nicotine and X-rays, or exposure to harmful chemicals like those used to kill mosquitoes, germs in your bathroom or weeds around your patio. One study explains:

“Free radicals, reactive oxygen species (ROS) and reactive nitrogen species are generated by our body by various endogenous systems, exposure to different physiochemical conditions or pathological states. A balance between free radicals and antioxidants is necessary for proper physiological function.

If free radicals overwhelm the body’s ability to regulate them, a condition known as oxidative stress ensues. Free radicals thus adversely alter lipids, proteins and DNA and trigger a number of human diseases. Hence application of external source of antioxidants can assist in coping (with) oxidative stress.”4

It may be helpful to remember that free radicals can cause cell damage, and antioxidants fight free radicals.

Thyroid Function and the Role of Selenium

Your thyroid contains more selenium per gram of tissue than any other organ. One study explains:

“In 1957, studies investigating the requirements of nutrients in rodent diets revealed selenium (along with vitamin E) to be essential for prevention of liver necrosis. This led to the realization that selenium deficiency was responsible for a number of disorders observed previously …

(Selenium is) a contributing factor to Keshan disease in humans. Although toxicity at higher levels is still a serious problem, the importance of selenium as an essential micronutrient is now recognized.”5

Another study states that the value of selenium supplementation for people with autoimmune thyroid problems is becoming more understood and deficiency even appears to have an impact on the development of thyroid problems, possibly due to selenium’s ability to regulate the production of ROS and their metabolites.

In patients with Hashimoto’s disease, selenium supplementation “decreases anti-thyroid antibody levels and improves the ultrasound structure of the thyroid gland.”6 Further, studies for pregnant women regarding selenium say that supplementation significantly lowers the risk of postpartum thyroiditis.7

Selenium Strengths: Proper Amounts Cut Your Risk of Serious Disease

According to one meta-analysis:

“Selenium may play a beneficial role in multi-factorial illnesses with genetic and environmental linkages … Tissues particularly sensitive to changes in selenium supply include red blood cells, kidney and muscle.

The meta-analysis identified that for animal species selenium-enriched foods were more effective than selenomethionine at increasing (glutathione peroxidase) activity.”8

Immune Function

One of the most important functions of selenium is its ability to help your body fight disease. It raises your white blood cell count so you’re more able to resist infections.

An example is a study showing that selenium may help prevent a skin infection prevalent in people with lymphedema (swelling of the tissues in your arms and/or legs, usually as a result of chemotherapy or injury), and mycoplasma pneumonia, aka “walking” pneumonia.9

Cancer

In 2012, researchers reported that in areas of the world where selenium levels are naturally low, supplementing with selenium may be cancer protective.10 Study author and professor John Hesketh of Newcastle University, U.K., explained:

“The difficulty with selenium is that it’s a very narrow window between levels that are sub-optimal and those that would be considered toxic.

What our study shows is a possible link between higher levels of selenium and a decreased risk of colorectal cancer and suggests that increasing selenium intake may reduce the risk of this disease.”11

Heart Benefits

While it should be noted that some researchers say taking selenium supplements doesn’t appear to influence heart disease one way or the other or protect against heart attack, the University of Maryland Medical Center reported:

“Scientists know that low levels of selenium can contribute to heart failure, and being deficient in selenium seems to make atherosclerosis worse. Atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries, happens when plaque builds up in arteries, which can lead to heart attack and stroke.”12

Another study found that patients who took selenium supplements on a regular basis are “far less likely” to have another heart attack.13

Asthma

Asthma sufferers tend to have higher incidences of low selenium levels in their blood. Scientists found that diets containing high amounts of antioxidants are associated with lowered asthma prevalence in epidemiologic studies, as a report on accumulated data revealed:

“Accumulated data indicate that asthma is associated with reduced circulatory selenium (Se) … In the Se-supplemented group there were significant increases in serum Se

… Further, there was a significant clinical improvement in the Se-supplemented group, as compared with the placebo group.”14

Among 24 subjects with asthma, those who took supplements for 14 weeks had fewer symptoms than those taking a placebo, one study found. However, scientists agree that more studies are needed.15

Male infertility

Proteins found in sperm and involved in their formation are impacted by selenium and other antioxidants.

An interesting dichotomy, however, is that while studies show male infertility may be improved by the selenium in a man’s system, levels that are too high can inhibit the sperm’s ability to swim, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center.16 Another study concluded:

“Selenium-enriched probiotics or inorganic selenium supplementation gave better results than probiotics supplementation and may be used to improve animal and human male fertility compromised by hyperlipidemia or obesity.”17

HIV/AIDS

Most of the African continent is selenium deficient. Simultaneously, AIDS is the most common cause of death. News-Medical, examining diseases impacted by selenium, reported:

“Taken as a whole, the geographical evidence, therefore, strongly suggests that selenium is protective against HIV infection.

Such a relationship is not limited to this virus. A frequently fatal illness of the heart, known as Keshan disease, is widespread in the population of the low selenium belt that crosses China from northeast to southwest. Keshan disease occurs only in individuals who are both selenium deficient and infected by the coxsackievirus”18

While the highest death rates from AIDS affect several of the southwestern-most portions of the continent, such as Botswana, Uganda and Kenya, “the prevalence rate for HIV infection still hovers at an unusually low 0.5 percent among women attending antenatal clinics” in Dakar, the capital city of Senegal.

The difference, scientists say, is that Senegal is located on the far western coast of Africa, where the soil is enriched with trace elements of selenium, contrasting the eastern portion, where the soil is devoid of the selenium that might help make a difference in this regard.

A similar situation is taking place in Finland where, to combat heart disease, legislation was passed in 1984 ordering sodium selenite to be added to all fertilizers throughout the country. Perhaps as a result, the country’s HIV rates are half that of other Scandinavian countries.

Selenium From Food: Seafood, Mushrooms and Meat

The best selenium sources from food include salmon (although only wild-caught Alaskan salmon is recommended due to widespread pollution in other fish), free-range organic turkey, lamb and grass-fed organic beef. You can also find high amounts of selenium in Brazil nuts, sunflower seeds, onions and garlic and certain mushrooms.19 SFGate says:

“Mushrooms are one of the top vegetable sources for selenium. One cup of cooked shiitakes or white button mushrooms provides 19 micrograms of selenium, or 35 percent of the RDA. A more typical serving of ¼ cup provides less than 10 percent of the daily value.

A cup of cooked Lima or pinto beans averages 9 to 11 micrograms of the mineral, or about 15 to 20 percent of the RDA. Frozen cooked spinach, which is packed more tightly per cup than fresh cooked, provides 10 micrograms of selenium, or 18 percent of the RDA.”

It’s not just how much selenium is in your food, though, that determines how much you’re getting. It’s also about how much selenium is in the soil your food is grown in. Related factors include how much selenium was in the grass eaten by the cattle producing your grass-fed beef.

(Grass-fed beef, by the way, contains a healthy ratio between omega-6 and omega-3 fats. Naturally, you also want it to be free of hormones and antibiotics.)

mercola.com

 

Resolving the ‘Hispanic paradox’

Study co-authored by a UCSB researcher reveals Latinos age slower, neutralizing higher health risks of obesity and diabetes

University of California – Santa Barbara

A new paper co-authored by a UC Santa Barbara researcher reveals that Latinos age at a slower rate than other ethnic groups. The findings, published in the current issue of Genome Biology, may one day help scientists understand how to slow the aging process for everyone.

“Latinos live longer than Caucasians, despite experiencing higher rates of diabetes and other diseases. Scientists refer to this as the ‘Hispanic paradox,’ ” said lead author Steve Horvath, a professor of human genetics at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. “Our study helps explain this by demonstrating that Latinos age more slowly at the molecular level.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Latinos in the United States live an average of three years longer than Caucasians, with a life expectancy of 82 versus 79. At any age, healthy Latino adults face a 30 percent lower risk of death than other racial groups, according to a 2013 study in the American Journal of Public Health.

The UCLA team used several biomarkers, including an “epigenetic clock” developed by Horvath in 2013, to track an epigenetic shift in the genome that’s linked to aging. Epigenetics is the study of changes to the DNA molecule that influence which genes are active but don’t alter the DNA sequence.

“Our findings show that ethnic disparities in health risk are not just due to socioeconomic differences, which we adjust for in the analyses,” explained co-author Michael Gurven, a UCSB professor of anthropology. “The epigenetic analyses show biological differences in aging-related processes — but in a novel way — in how the genome is maintained and expressed through methylation, rather than conventional differences in genetic alleles.”

Horvath and his colleagues analyzed 18 sets of data on DNA samples from nearly 6,000 people. The participants represented seven ethnicities: two African groups, African-Americans, Caucasians, East Asians, Latinos and an indigenous people called the Tsimane, who are genetically related to Latinos. The Tsimane live in Bolivia.

When the scientists examined the DNA from blood — which reveals the health of a person’s immune system — they were struck by differences linked to ethnicity. In particular, the scientists noticed that, after accounting for differences in cell composition, the blood of Latinos and the Tsimane aged more slowly than that of other groups.

According to Horvath, the UCLA research points to an epigenetic explanation for Latinos’ longer life spans. For example, the biological clock measured Latino women’s age as 2.4 years younger than non-Latino women of the same age after menopause.

“We suspect that Latinos’ slower aging rate helps neutralize their higher health risks, particularly those related to obesity and inflammation,” said Horvath, who is also a professor of biostatistics at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health. “Our findings strongly suggest that genetic or environmental factors linked to ethnicity may influence how quickly a person ages and how long they live.” Gurven added “Epigenetic aging measures are fascinating because they subsume many environmental and psychosocial factors we know matter in life. One hypothesis to explain the Hispanic paradox emphasizes the strong family ties and social support found in many Hispanic families. Such a social support network may leave its biological signature in the epigenome.”

The Tsimane aged even more slowly than Latinos. The biological clock calculated the age of their blood as two years younger than Latinos and four years younger than Caucasians. This possibly reflects the group’s minimal signs of heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, or obesity, the researchers said.

“Despite frequent infections, the Tsimane people show very little evidence of the chronic diseases that commonly afflict modern society,” Gurven said. “Our findings provide an interesting molecular explanation for their robust health.”

In another finding, the researchers learned that men’s blood and brain tissue ages faster than women’s from the same ethnic groups. The discovery could explain why women have a higher life expectancy than men.

###

The research was supported by grants from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and the National Institute on Aging.

Is Coffee Good or Bad for you?

“Dr. Hyman, I’m so confused about coffee,” writes this week’s house call. “One day I read that it’s so bad for me and the next it’s good for me. Why all the conflicting information?”

Let’s face it: Americans love their coffee, which is the number one source of antioxidants in our diet – which actually makes me kind of sad!

In a recent animal study, researchers saw improvements in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and cholesterol when mice consumed coffee and fat together. (More on that combo in a minute.) They also found coffee can help reduce gut permeability or leaky gut.

Among its other benefits, studies show coffee decreases your risk for type 2 diabetes, lowers cancer risk and improves mood and memory. Coffee can also boost metabolism and sports performance.

On the other hand, coffee can become highly addictive, altering stress hormones while making you feel simultaneously wired and tired.

So I understand the confusion. It feels like one day we see studies that support coffee and the next day we see 10 reasons why coffee is bad. So let’s uncover the truth about this aromatic beverage that most of us love.

When to Avoid Coffee

Before jumping to conclusions, remember those blurred lines aren’t entirely about coffee itself. It also depends on the person drinking the coffee. The way you respond to coffee is often determined by genetics that affect caffeine metabolism. For one person, a cup could have them bouncing off the walls, while another person can have a triple espresso at dinner and fall fast asleep easily.

In other words, everyone is different and we all experience coffee’s effects differently. One patient complained about fatigue, restlessness and heart palpitations. Obviously, in that situation, I recommended avoiding coffee.

Likewise, if you suffer from adrenal fatigue, coffee could easily become dangerous. Some individuals might also be sensitive to coffee beans, meaning their bodies can’t tolerate them and they create unpleasant symptoms.

Constituents in coffee can also interfere with normal drug metabolism and liver detoxification, making it difficult for your liver to regulate the normal detoxification process.

Sometimes, too, I find patients substitute coffee for real food. Never ignore your hunger and eat regularly to prevent low blood sugar levels. Keep protein on hand and snack on a handful of nuts or seeds like almonds, pecans, walnuts or pumpkin seeds.

I had one patient who drank 12 cups of coffee a day yet constantly fell asleep at his desk. This person could barely function and couldn’t understand why he felt so exhausted.  The truth is he wasn’t sleeping well at night due to all the caffeine but he was too exhausted to realize it.  He wasn’t getting the proper rest his body desperately needed at the right time.

So we tapered him off coffee, and he began to sleep soundly at night, rather than nodding off  at his desk during the day.

If you fall into those categories, coffee probably isn’t for you.

Regardless, I recommend treating coffee like any other potential toxic trigger and eliminate it for at least three weeks, especially if you’re addicted and can’t seem to function without coffee or if you drink multiple cups a day.

If you need coffee every day to feel motivated or even function, you have a coffee addiction. If you have withdrawal symptoms and headaches from stopping coffee or feel like you can’t live without it, you are biologically addicted to it.  There’s also a big chance your stress hormones are out of whack and need resetting.

How to Quit Coffee   

The best way to wean off coffee is switching from drinking multiple cups to just one cup and eventually half a cup. You might also switch to green tea or herbal teas and warm lemon water.

As with any detox plan, drink adequate amounts of water and get plenty of rest during this time. I also suggest regular exercise to stabilize energy levels. Should you get irritable or have difficulty sleeping, supplement with 200 to 500 mg of magnesium citrate before bed.

My favorite detoxification rituals include a sauna, meditation and yoga. I provide powerful techniques to relax and combat stress on my website.

If you can handle it, remove coffee from your diet for three weeks and add it back in slowly. Be attentive to how you feel once you reintroduce coffee. Pay attention to your energy levels, symptoms (like anxiety or jittery feelings) or changes in digestion.

In other words, monitor how you personally respond to coffee. You are your own best doctor here.

It’s perfectly fine if you realize coffee just does not work for you. Other health-friendly beverages include green tea or non-coffee-based lattes using reishi powder and other powerful herbs.

If you find you can occasionally tolerate coffee, avoid adding milk and sugar. These two culprits do more damage than the actual coffee.

Alternately, add fat to your coffee. Once people taste the creamy, frothy goodness of fat blended with coffee, they don’t miss milk at all. You’ve probably heard of Bulletproof® Coffee, which blends MCT oil and a bit of  grass-fed butter or ghee with high-quality, organic coffee.  If you are a vegan, try adding 1 tablespoon of cashew butter for the creamy texture.

This delicious beverage keeps me satiated for hours, cuts cravings and keeps my brain extremely sharp. You can also drink this before exercise for steady energy levels without coffee’s crash.

Here is a version of my friend Dave Asprey’s Bulletproof Coffee:

In a blender, add:

  • 2 cups of hot coffee (regular or decaf), ideally fresh brewed with organic beans
  • 2 tablespoons of grass-fed butter or ghee
  • 2 tablespoons of organic coconut oil or 2 Tablespoons of MCT oil
  • ½ teaspoon of organic cinnamon (optional) or 1 teaspoon of organic cocoa powder for a mocha

Blend until creamy. For best results, I suggest using a metal mesh filter in your drip coffee maker or a French press.

Note: Always be very careful when pureeing hot liquids in a blender. The heat from the liquid can cause the pressure in the blender to build up under the lid, and when the blender is turned on, the top can blow off and your hot soup will go everywhere. Keep the lid vented by removing the small window insert from the middle of the blender lid; hold a towel over the open window to prevent splattering. Always start on the lowest speed possible.

The bottom line is that much no one-size-fits-all approach exists for diet and lifestyle, and that includes your coffee intake.

One person may be able to enjoy raw, cruciferous vegetables while another needs to avoid them because of digestive issues. This same thing applies to coffee. For some people it works; others, not so much.

If you’re a coffee drinker, have you ever felt like you’ve over-relied on this popular beverage? If you temporarily gave it up, how did it affect you? Comment below or on my Facebook page. And be sure to submit your questions to drhyman.com.

Wishing you health and happiness,

Source: drhyman.com

Doctors Have Known For 10 Years They’re Killing You

This is one of the most-damning studies that has ever been brought to my attention.

The “standard”, if you have ever had a cardiac “event” or coronary artery disease, is to immediately place you on a statin (for the rest of your life) and, in most cases (exception: if you have ulcer issues) low-dose aspirin as a low-level anticoagulant.

Here’s the problem: It doesn’t work because it’s not targeting where the actual issue resides.

This has now been known since 2004, when this study published; the study itself was initiated in 1999.  304 patients with a history of coronary artery disease were tested and baselined.  Only those with normal glucose levels were accepted into the study; clinical diabetes was an exclusionary factor.  202 of the 304 were excluded at baseline for this reason, leaving the study authors with 102 patients.

The results ought to wake you up; they’re here in this table.

CAD Study

The CVE+ entries are for those who had a second cardiac event during the three years of the study, the CVE- entries are for those who did not.  ALL of the CVE+ entries had elevated (by double on average) insulin levels despite both groups having normal blood glucose.

Further, those who had a second event had no material difference in cholesterol levels compared to those who did not.  In other words “management” of cholesterol levels was not protective.  Finally, there was a material difference in statin use — in the negative sense, in that a greater percentage of those who had an event were taking a statin (and a nitrate!) than those who didn’t, and even worse, aspirin wasn’t protective either.

One cautionary note: All of these results are associative, as they must be in such a study.  Even though the divergence in insulin levels was ridiculous between the two groups that does not prove causation.

But remember — while associations can provide strong evidence of a connection they are just as valuable, if not more-so, in disproving said connections.  In this case it appears that both statins and aspirin are worthless when it comes to preventing a second CAD event.

Further, since all of the participants had normal glucose levels there is no intervention that targets “diabetes management” which helps in this case.  Indeed the study showed that “management” of diabetes symptoms (specifically, blood glucose levels) that allows high insulin to persist may actually potentiate — that is, cause — the second heart attack and CAD event.

There is no medicine for the condition of high insulin — that is, “insulin resistance.”  We can and do treat the symptom that it (eventually) produces, that is, high blood glucose, but the cause of the high glucose remains unaddressed.

There is, however, a means to improve your insulin sensitivity — that is, to move yourself either from that second column to the first one or at least get closer to itGet all of the vegetable oils and carbohydrates (that is, grains and starches including breads, cereals and similar), with the exception of green vegetables and modest amounts of fruit, out of your diet.

Again — this study has been out since 2004.  Why hasn’t your doctor — and especially, if you have one, your cardiologist — told you?

Further, if you’ve got evidence of CAD in your medical history why hasn’t your insulin sensitivity (NOT just cholesterol and glucose tolerance) been tested and monitored?  Is it because there is no pill for it and that the actual means of improvement available to us require admitting that the so-called “standard recommendations” for what to eat, especially for those with heart disease, are exactly backward?

Source: http://market-ticker.org/

Lecture on vitamin C by brilliant Suzanne Humphries