Aging is perhaps an evocative term, relating as it does to a human process which while many consider natural, is in fact being thought of by more and more scientists, researchers and physicians, as a disease.
The only difference between the ‘aging disease’ and other diseases is that it affects every single man and woman on the planet!
Aging and Hormones
Over the last 40 years, we have recorded the human condition of aging, charting the progress of various chemical reactions and the output of hormones.
These are hormones, such as human growth hormone dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), melatonin and thymus. The results show that many of these functions reduce in frequency, strength and production as we age.
One of the most obvious results of this decline is a reduction in the function of the immune system, which in turn leads to easier and greater infection and disease.
However, not all hormones decline as we age; a few actually increase. For example; cortisol is a hormone responsible for stress and muscle breakdown; another is prolactin, which is a hormone that is involved in fat synthesis.
Clearly, these results reflect what we all already know about aging, but with a difference – they are the causes.
So the foundation of optimum health may be viewed like a pyramid. The basis of good health and longevity lies in a foundation of genetic makeup, lifestyle, exercise and nutrition.
Further up the scale we know that vitamins, minerals, hormones and indeed some drugs can play an important role in maintaining optimal performance and health.
The scientists, D. Pearson and Sandy Shaw dropped this bombshell on the world in the mid-seventies with their book Life Extension. It exploded the myth that nothing could be done about aging.
They pointed out that the use of nutrition, mega-vitamins, hormones and some drugs help improve and maintain better health in old age, both as a preventative (i.e. growing older) and as a treatment.
Anti-aging medicine is the stimulation and addition of “natural” human elements to help ensure that the body is able to repair and regenerate itself, utilizing the same chemicals it relies on day in, day out, but making their availability greater in older age.
In short, anti-aging is the supplementation of the body’s needs as we age, to help it continue to perform as well as it did when we were in our twenties. Nobel prize laureate, L Pauling called it orthomolecular medicine.
For example, DHEA, an adrenal gland sterone that is found in high quantities in human blood, begins to rapidly decline after the mid-twenties.
By the time we reach 70, it is only a small fraction of what it was 50 years earlier. The maintenance of DHEA to twenties levels has been shown to increase energy, well being and strengthen the immune system. This is just one small example of what a properly maintained anti-aging program can do.
Since Pearson and Shaw pointed out the benefits of their “Life Extension” program, many other eminent figures have stepped in where they left off.
The main drive in anti-aging medicine has been from the United States and many hundreds of researchers, scientists and physicians with specific interests in the aging disorder, have formed the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine (A4M) and the International College for Advancement of Longevity Medicine (InCALM).
One aspect of aging that is rallying great interest is the mitochondria – the tiny “power plants” which are in each individual cell.
They produce ATP (adenosine triphosphate) – the universal energy molecule that our bodies utilize for every function.
They also help produce a chemical called pregnenolone which is the initial material for all the neuro-steroids* and sterones in our bodies.
As you can see, these tiny mitochondria have a very important job to do, but they are easily damaged. And as the mitochondria become damaged, the organ they support becomes damaged too.
It is important therefore to help prevent this damage from occurring and products such as idebenone have been shown to be highly effective in doing just that.
Every organ contains ribonucleic acids (RNA’s) that help the organ repair and regenerate. Each organ appears to have a different set of RNA’s to perform its particular role. As such RNA replacement therapy has proved useful, particularly for the elderly both in terms of improved well being and extended organ capabilities.
The good news is that laboratory experiments have shown, for example, that liver samples from both the young and elderly perform almost identically when given the same correct environmental conditions.
In other words optimum nutrition through simulating bodily chemical processes, both in terms of hormones, vitamins and amino-acids etc., benefits the aging process to a far greater degree than previously imagined.
One of the main areas of concern in aging is the brain. This central command organ is perhaps the most overlooked organ today in terms of nutrition.
After all, your average physician may be able to suggest a diet for your heart or for your kidneys, but what about your brain and your memory? This is compounded by the fact that the brain contains a unique protective sheath called the ‘brain blood barrier.’
This barrier proves a difficult obstacle for many supplements to pass through, but its presence is unquestionable. Unlike other organs the brain doesn’t possess the ability to renew its cells; once they die they’re gone.
In fact the decline of certain brain chemicals has lead some neurologists to state that “if we all live long enough we would all become senile.”
Therefore the protection and enhancement of brain function has become one of the cornerstones of anti-aging medicine. The improvement and correction of brain function has been achieved with the use of nootropic* nutrients and drugs – the so-called Smart Drugs.
Ward Dean MD has written a bestselling series of books, pointing out the clinical trials of such products and their affect upon those who used them.
Dr. Dean proved in his Smart Drug series of books, that the use of nootropic* nutrients and drugs have positive benefits for those concerned about age related mental decline, as well as the onset of senile dementia.
Correcting and preventing brain deterioration is easier when caught as early as possible. For example who is aware that Parkinson’s disease is caused by a decline in a brain neurotransmitter called dopamine?
The disease is only diagnosed as Parkinson’s Disease (Mohammed Ali is one of its victims) after the person has already lost 80% of their dopamine levels! There is a linear affect in the loss of dopamine each decade.
Drugs such as deprenyl have been used as a preventative for this loss by increasing and stabilizing dopamine levels when taken in small but regular doses.
This is just one example of improving brain function. Of course there are also outside factors that affect aging. Stress is certainly one, but others include environmental factors such as pollution, toxic metals, and chemicals in the food chain, air and water supply, as well as the inability for modern food processing and junk food to supply the optimum doses of nutritional needs.
While regulatory bodies in many countries have fixed so-called Recommended Daily Allowances (RDA’s), these only represent the Minimum Daily Allowances (MDA’s).
For example 30mg of vitamin C per day prevents scurvy, but this is hardly optimum nutrition. Even though many nutritionists recognize that teenagers and pregnant women require extra nutrition, the needs of the particular individual and especially the aging individual are completely overlooked.
Aging and Anti-Oxidants
Potent antioxidants are necessary because we can no longer put our complete faith in the food chain and the environment.
What are the long-term toxic effects of pesticides and fluoride? Will we look back in 20 years time and consider them to be as sinister as we do with DDT and asbestos today?
But, the aging process tends more and more to be a failure on behalf of the DNA to replicate itself correctly, leading to a gradual decline in the function of various organs, until eventually a complete organ failure leads to one form of death or another.
It’s therefore likely that the major scientific breakthroughs to combat the process will consist of altering or stabilizing DNA.
There are already a number of leading geneticists studying the DNA strain specifically for the changes that occur in aging.
It appears that the telomeres that are attached to the chromosomes on the DNA spiral result in becoming shortened through the inability of the telomere to reproduce itself precisely each time it repairs itself. With this comes a “knock on” effect to other organs, for example a reduction in the output of thyroid hormones.
Dr. Kleinsek, a leading geneticist in the anti-aging field, has discovered that the correct reintroduction of the thyroid hormone (for example) will help repair the telomeres responsible for the thyroid to their original and correct structure.
In other words this is a two way street: it appears that the telomeres can be repaired even if damage has already occurred. What we need to do now is take a blood test, examine the DNA structure,see what specific damage has occurred to the individual, and then reintroduce the correct and precise hormones to repair this damage.
The telomeres can be repaired even if damage has already occurred. We envisage that the future will involve a blood test that examines the DNA structure to see what specific damage has occurred to the individual.
Then it will reintroduce the correct and precise hormones to repair this damage by carefully pin pointing the damage instead of blasting the cells with unnecessary quantities of the thyroid hormone.
What we need to know is what the role is of these millions of telemars and chromosomes. This may be a daunting task, but it is one that Dr. Kleinsek feels we are less than 5 years away from.
We already understand many of the changes and some of the principles of the aging process. The force maneuvering this indicates that major breakthroughs are just around the corner. It is generally felt within the industry that the present generation will witness these feats.