Fundamentals of Healthy Aging – What Causes “Aging”?

This is part of our ongoing The Best Kept Secrets to Healthy Aging spotlight. Each week, we will be posting some of the great information that’s packed into our book, The Best Kept Secrets to Healthy Aging.

Today’s topic:
Fundamentals of Healthy Aging – What Causes “Aging”?

Aging is a process of gradual change that results in the accumulation of small incremental decreases in the normal functional capacities of the body and mind. Effects on outward appearance also become noticeable as changes occur in the skin, hair and nails. Other functional changes involve the regulation of metabolism and of physiological systems, affecting such things as immune function, vision, sexual performance, energy levels and sleep. Some of the changes that affect the body’s structural elements – muscles, bones, joints, tendons and ligaments – occur gradually over many years. As these changes take place, movement, flexibility, strength, endurance and recovery from overuse or injury may be compromised. Also, because aging-associated changes can affect the body’s control centers – the brain, spinal cord and nerves – cognitive functions, including memory formation and retrieval, quickness of thought, ability to concentrate and make decisions, attention span, emotional balance and mood – can become less reliable. Scientists have yet to agree upon a clear definition of aging, other than simply “getting older,” but, like the rest of us, most know it when they see it.

Many theories abound for the causes of the signs of aging on the human body. A number of them make a certain amount of sense from a strictly empirical (that is, evidence-based) scientific point of view that focuses on the individual. A major theory is the “free radical theory of aging” that suggests that eventually the accumulation of the inevitable chemical imperfections in body biochemistry will cause enough damage to result in functional declines and failures in various body systems. The evidence for this is increasing, as we now know a number of physiological changes occur in cells throughout the body secondary to the ravages of oxidative stress. We also know that cells exposed to overwhelming oxidative damage eventually will succumb to it and die. It is also well-established that cells capable of defending themselves through the production or availability of antioxidant defenses can stay stronger, longer. Thus, according to this theory, the health of every cell, and thus organ, system and likely the human individual, is dependent on maintaining a balance that favors a higher amount of antioxidants to free radicals. Further evidence for this comes from studies showing that individuals consuming foods that are high in antioxidants, such as fruits and vegetables, generally are healthier overall than those individuals consuming diets low in antioxidant-rich foods. Based on these findings, it is easy to see how this theoretical perspective on the causes of aging has merit.

On the other hand, other theories attempt to explain the issue from larger perspectives, such as a sort of combination of environmental influences and genetic predetermination that lead to a determination of how cells, organs, systems and the body age. Studies of population groups comprising different ethnicities have shown that certain cultures certainly have varying genetic makeup and tendencies towards differing health concerns.

People in South Asia tend to have a greater incidence of heart disease than many other cultural groups throughout the world. Recently, genetic factors have been identified that likely explain this greater risk, at least in part. Several other such examples exist in cultures spanning the globe. In the end, all possibilities exert some influence on the process of “aging” and together combine to produce the changes in normal physiology associated with age.

The preceding can appear to describe an overwhelming situation – what some may describe as the “inevitability” of age. It’s not surprising that so many people seem to surrender to these changes and choose to embrace “the inevitable.” Please don’t follow their example. They are not aware of and, therefore, cannot understand the key to “healthy aging” – for every dart that “growing older” seems to throw at you, Mother Nature offers you a shield. These shields, or principles, describe the foundations of healthy aging practices. Your job is to determine what those principles are, which principles apply to your individual case, and how to implement them in your daily life. Of course, if you’ve read through the book (or blog posts) this far you know the answers. Now, the challenge is to actualize the principles that have been outlined here and incorporate them into your diet, your lifestyle practices, and your foundational nutritional regimen, adding to this foundation based on your own needs.

Next Best Kept Secrets to Healthy Aging topic:
Fundamentals of Healthy Aging – Is “Aging” Truly Inevitable?

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Joint Health – Use Them, or Lose Them

This is part of our ongoing The Best Kept Secrets to Healthy Aging spotlight. Each week, we will be posting some of the great information that’s packed into our book, The Best Kept Secrets to Healthy Aging.

Today’s topic:
Joint Health – Use Them, or Lose Them

There is something else you can do in addition to utilizing targeted nutrition to help your joints last as long as possible – exercise! Two recently published human studies have confirmed the roles of physical activity in joint health. A study published in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases showed that if you don’t use your joints, their cartilage covering tends to thin out.20 A second study published in the journal Arthritis and Rheumatism showed that moderate exercise increases the thickness of joint cartilage and improves joint performance.21

A combination of healthy dietary choices, supplemental nutrients, and exercise can lead to beneficial effects in terms of your ability to maintain optimal joint structure and integrity.

Next Best Kept Secrets to Healthy Aging topic:
Healthy Habits – Developing a Plan that Fits Your Needs

References:
20. Eckstein F, Lemberger B, Gratzke C, Hudelmaier M, Glaser C, Englmeier KH, Reiser M. In vivo cartilage deformation after different types of activity and its dependence on physical training status. Ann Rheum Dis 2005;64:291-295.
21. Roos EM, Dahlberg L. Positive effects of moderate exercise on glycosaminoglycan content in knee cartilage: A four-month, randomized, controlled trial in patients at risk of osteoarthritis. Arthritis Rheum 2005;52:3507-3514.

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Joint Health – MSM (Methylsulfonylmethane)

This is part of our ongoing The Best Kept Secrets to Healthy Aging spotlight. Each week, we will be posting some of the great information that’s packed into our book, The Best Kept Secrets to Healthy Aging.

Today’s topic:
Joint Health – MSM (Methylsulfonylmethane)

MSM is an organic sulfur compound that is chemically inert. It occurs naturally in certain plants and is available as a dietary supplement for joint health. Sulfur is a mineral that is necessary for the health of connective tissue throughout the body, including the bones, joints, ligaments and tendons. Supplemental MSM provides sulfur that can be used in the formation and maintenance of these different types of connective tissue. Studies have shown that MSM can enhance joint health and function. Recently, a study conducted in India showed that MSM, alone and in combination with glucosamine, was able to promote joint comfort and mobility.19 The study was a randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trial conducted in 118 individuals. Using MSM in combination with glucosamine, similar to the combination of glucosamine with chondroitin, may be another viable approach that nature has developed for helping us achieve functional, healthy joints.

Next Best Kept Secrets to Healthy Aging topic:
Joint Health – Use Them, or Lose Them

References:
19. Usha PR, Naidu MU. Randomised, Double-Blind, Parallel, Placebo-Controlled Study of Oral Glucosamine, Methylsulfonylmethane and their Combination in Osteoarthritis. Clin Drug Investig. 2004;24(6):353-63.

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Joint Health – Stinging Nettle

This is part of our ongoing The Best Kept Secrets to Healthy Aging spotlight. Each week, we will be posting some of the great information that’s packed into our book, The Best Kept Secrets to Healthy Aging.

Today’s topic:
Joint Health – Stinging Nettle

Along with Boswellia serrata, research suggests that an extract of the stinging nettle plant may also promote a healthy, balanced immune response within joint tissue. According to the results of a human study published in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, the extract of stinging nettle enhanced joint comfort in aching joints in older men and women.18

Next Best Kept Secrets to Healthy Aging topic:
Joint Health – MSM (Methylsulfonylmethane)

References:
18. Randall C, Randall H, Dobbs F, Hutton C, Sanders H. Randomized controlled trial of nettle sting for treatment of base-of-thumb pain. J R Soc Med 2000;93:305-309.

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Joint Health – Boswellia serrata

This is part of our ongoing The Best Kept Secrets to Healthy Aging spotlight. Each week, we will be posting some of the great information that’s packed into our book, The Best Kept Secrets to Healthy Aging.

Today’s topic:
Joint Health – Boswellia serrata

Extracts of the herb Boswellia serrata may also provide support for maintaining a healthy immune balance within joints. In studies published recently in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, Boswellia serrata extracts reduce the severity of experimentally induced joint conditions in animals by modulating the release of the immune system intercellular messenger cytokine, interleukin-1ß.16,17 By forcing the immune system to maintain the status quo, Boswellia serrata can aid in achieving comfortable, properly-functioning joints.

Next Best Kept Secrets to Healthy Aging topic:
Joint Health – Stinging Nettle

References:
16. Banno N, Akihisa T, Yasukawa K, Tokuda H, Tabata K, Nakamura Y, Nishimura R, Kimura Y, Suzuki T. Anti-inflammatory activities of the triterpene acids from the resin of Boswellia carteri. J Ethnopharmacol 2006;107:249-253.
17. Fan AY, Lao L, Zhang RX, Zhou AN, Wang LB, Moudgil KD, Lee DY, Ma ZZ, Zhang WY, Berman BM. Effects of an acetone extract of Boswellia carterii Birdw. (Burseraceae) gum resin on adjuvant-induced arthritis in Lewis rats. J Ethnopharmacol 2005;101:104-109.

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Joint Health – Vitamin C

This is part of our ongoing The Best Kept Secrets to Healthy Aging spotlight. Each week, we will be posting some of the great information that’s packed into our book, The Best Kept Secrets to Healthy Aging.

Today’s topic:
Joint Health – Vitamin C

Vitamin C is absolutely necessary for the production of strong collagen fibers, including those found within joint cartilage. Without adequate supplies of vitamin C, collagen fibers become weak and lose structural integrity. Mechanical failure of weakened joint cartilage can trigger joint discomfort and other joint health issues.

Data obtained from the 10-year prospective Iowa Women’s Health Study of 29,368 women aged 55 years or older when the study began indicate that among these seemingly typical older US women, the chance of maintaining healthy joint structure and function among women consuming more than twice the current RDA for vitamin C was about twice as good as that among women consuming less vitamin C.14 Consistent with this finding, other studies have found that routine daily vitamin C intakes greater than twice the current RDA enhance an individual’s ability to maintain normal joint function with age.15

Next Best Kept Secrets to Healthy Aging topic:
Joint Health – Boswellia serrata

References:
14. Cerhan JR, Saag KG, Merlino LA, Mikuls TR, Criswell LA. Antioxidant micronutrients and risk of rheumatoid arthritis in a cohort of older women. Am J Epidemiol 2003;157:345-354.
15. McAlindon TE, Jacques P, Zhang Y, Hannan MT, Aliabadi P, Weissman B, Rush D, Levy D, Felson DT. Do antioxidant micronutrients protect against the development and progression of knee osteoarthritis? Arthritis Rheum 1996;39:648-656.

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Joint Health – Type II Collagen

This is part of our ongoing The Best Kept Secrets to Healthy Aging spotlight. Each week, we will be posting some of the great information that’s packed into our book, The Best Kept Secrets to Healthy Aging.

Today’s topic:
Joint Health – Type II Collagen

Supporting the body’s immune response to various triggers affecting joint health can support the function of joints throughout the body. Enabling the immune system to become tolerant by exposing it to inactivated segments of type II collagen, the type of collagen found only in joints, may desensitize the response seen in cases of joint discomfort to the point where joints are no longer impacted and the body’s overall inflammatory response is normalized. This is the theory that forms the basis for the beneficial effects associated with the administration of type II collagen as a joint health supplement.

Adults and adolescents alike have responded to dietary supplementation with 0.1 mg/day to 10 mg/day of various preparations of processed type II collagen with enhanced comfort and ease, and increased mobility in several joints. More impressively, the results of a randomized double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial indicate that adults respond to 90 days of dietary supplementation with 0.5 mg of solubilized type II collagen daily with increased function, decreased sensations of pressure, and increased mobility.13

Next Best Kept Secrets to Healthy Aging topic:
Joint Health – Vitamin C

References:
13. Trentham DE, Dynesius-Trentham RA, Orav EJ, Combitchi D, Lorenzo C, Sewell KL, Hafler DA, Weiner HL. Effects of oral administration of type II collagen on rheumatoid arthritis. Science 1993;261:1727-1730.

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Joint Health – Chondroitin Sulfate

This is part of our ongoing The Best Kept Secrets to Healthy Aging spotlight. Each week, we will be posting some of the great information that’s packed into our book, The Best Kept Secrets to Healthy Aging.

Today’s topic:
Joint Health – Chondroitin Sulfate

Chondroitin sulfate is another key structural component of joint cartilage that works hand-in-hand with hyaluronic acid and glucosamine sulfate. Just like its two partners, chondroitin sulfate also has been shown repeatedly to enhance joint health and function. For example, in randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled studies of subjects with joint discomfort due to various causes, dietary supplementation with chondroitin sulfate (1200 mg daily for 6 months) enhanced joint comfort and increased joint mobility, while also supporting the structural cushioning ability of cartilage tissue. Daily consumption of only 800 mg of chondroitin sulfate has been equally effective, although results were not apparent until after continuous supplementation for one year or more. Several groups of investigators have applied the techniques of meta-analysis to evaluate dietary supplementation with chondroitin sulfate. They have concluded that 1200 mg of chondroitin sulfate consumed daily for at least 4 months will produce noticeably improvements in joint comfort and function.9-11 Chondroitin sulfate also has a high safety profile and fits the mold of being a core nutrient for joint wellbeing.

Next Best Kept Secrets to Healthy Aging topic:
Joint Health – Type II Collagen

References:
9. Flex Protex 215 McAlindon TE, LaValley MP, Gulin JP, Felson DT. Glucosamine and chondroitin for treatment of osteoarthritis: A systematic quality assessment and meta-analysis. JAMA 2001;283:1469-1475.
10. Flex Protex 159 Pendleton A, Arden N, Dougados M, Doherty M, Bannwarth B, Bijlsma JWJ, Cluzeau F, Cooper C, Dieppe PA, Günther K-P, Häuselmann HJ, Herrero-Beaumont G, Kaklamanis PM, Leeb B, Lequesne M, Lohmander S, Mazieres B, Mola E-M, Pavelka K, Serni U, Swoboda B, Verbruggen AA, Weseloh G, Zimmermann-Gorska I. EULAR recommendations for the management of knee osteoarthritis: Report of a task force of the Standing Committee for International Clinical Studies Including Therapeutic Trials (ESCISIT). Ann Rheum Dis 2000;59:936-944.
11. Leeb BF, Schweitzer H, Montag K, Smolen JS. A meta-analysis of chondroitin sulfate in the treatment of osteoarthritis. J Rheumatol 2000;27:205-211.

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Joint Health – Glucosamine Sulfate

This is part of our ongoing The Best Kept Secrets to Healthy Aging spotlight. Each week, we will be posting some of the great information that’s packed into our book, The Best Kept Secrets to Healthy Aging.

Today’s topic:
Joint Health – Glucosamine Sulfate

Glucosamine sulfate is another component of healthy joint cartilage that can be delivered to your joints through dietary supplementation. The results of 2 “gold standard,” randomized double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trials have shown conclusively that men and women with mild to moderate degrees of joint discomfort and loss of flexibility experience clinically important improvements in joint ease and comfort, after a month of dietary supplementation with 1500 mg of daily glucosamine sulfate.4,5 In addition, these improvements in joint characteristics are accompanied by increased ability to utilize the joint in daily activities – with minimal or no side effects – an important feature of any joint supportive therapy.

The results of two much longer randomized double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trials confirm the joint-friendly properties of glucosamine sulfate. In these two studies, 3 years of dietary supplementation with glucosamine sulfate (1500 mg/day) restored joint tissue and structure, and increased joint function while promoting joint comfort and mobility.6,7 Various groups of investigators have concluded that daily dietary supplementation with 1500 mg of glucosamine sulfate for 6 weeks or more reduces joint discomfort and increases joint mobility, flexibility and ability to bear weight with excellent safety. The most recently completed systematic analysis concluded that 1500 mg of glucosamine sulfate daily is “effective and safe” in supporting knee joint function and wellness.8 Glucosamine sulfate has been established as one of the foundational nutrients for promoting joint health as it is a key building block for strong healthy joints.

Next Best Kept Secrets to Healthy Aging topic:
Joint Health – Chondroitin Sulfate

References:
4. Flex Protex 197 Drovanti A, Bignamini AA, Rovati AL. Therapeutic activity of oral glucosamine sulfate in osteoarthrosis: A placebocontrolled double-blind investigation. Clin Ther 1980;3:260-272.
5. Flex Protex 198 Rovati LC. Clinical research in osteoarthritis: Design and results of short-term and long-term trials with disease-modifying drugs. Int J Tiss Reac 1992;14:248-251.
6. Flex Protex 201 Pavelka K, Gatterova J, Olejarova M, Machacek S, Giacovelli G, Rovati LC. Glucosamine sulfate use and delay of progression of knee osteoarthritis. A 3-year, randomized, placebocontrolled, double-blind study. Arch Intern Med 2002;162:2113-2123.
7. Flex protex 204 Christgau S, Henrotin Y, Tanko LB, Rovati LC, Collette J, Bruyere O, Deroisy R, Reginster JY. Osteoarthritic patients with high cartilage turnover show increased responsiveness to the cartilage protecting effects of glucosamine sulphate. Clin Exp Rheumatol 2004;22:36-42.
8. Flex Protex 216 Poolsup N, Suthisisang C, Channark P, Kittikulsuth W. Glucosamine long-term treatment and the progression of knee osteoarthritis: Systematic review of randomized controlled trials. Ann Pharmacother 2005;39:1080-1087.

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Joint Health – Fish Oils

This is part of our ongoing The Best Kept Secrets to Healthy Aging spotlight. Each week, we will be posting some of the great information that’s packed into our book, The Best Kept Secrets to Healthy Aging.

Today’s topic:
Joint Health – Fish Oils

Fish oils promote joint flexibility and ease of motion. In a study published recently in Nutrition, supplementation with 3000 mg of fish oils daily promoted healthy joint movement and flexibility in a group of middle-aged men.2 This is just one example of the evidence that confirms the benefits that fish oils can provide to your joints. Recently, a meta-analysis of clinical studies concluded that consumption of fish oils led to the promotion of feelings of comfort and ease in the joints of individuals supplementing with them.3 Fish oils play a vital role in supporting the recovery of joint comfort and function associated with everyday activities.

Next Best Kept Secrets to Healthy Aging topic:
Joint Health – Glucosamine Sulfate

References:
2. Herbert AA, Kondo CR, Almendra CL, Matsuo T, Dichi I. Supplementation of fish oil and olive oil in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Nutrition 2005;21:131-136.
3. Goldberg RJ, Katz J. A meta-analysis of the analgesic effects of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid supplementation for inflammatory joint pain. Pain 2007;129(1-2):210-23.

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