A Power Program for Student Review
Course Coverage 2015
- Jan Fit To Last
- Feb Visceral Obesity
- Mar Modern Malnutrition
- April Metabolic Syndrome
- May Prevalent Predicaments
- June Sugar Diabetes
- July Diabetes Complications
- Aug Cholesterol, Atheroma
- Sept Aging Brain & Body
- Oct Cancer Considerations
- Nov Feeling Liverish
- Dec Energetic Longevity
Only a few decades ago, people regarded aging as a stage of life, a passage, tending to accept it’s symptoms and signs as the trail-wear of a full life. Because most individuals entering their middle years today, don’t feel any older, they prefer to act younger and not appear any older. Skin wrinkling and sagging have become common issues of concern. They result from lost tissue elasticity and are a common sign of aging. Less visibly, the same process also wrinkles organs like the liver and kidneys.
Another sign of aging is slowing, and seen best in the speed of nerve impulse transmission. Slower reaction times are the rule in older individuals, along with memory failure. Nerves are like electric wires and must be insulated from each other with a wrapping called myelin. It begins to thin away mid-life, starting in the frontal region and showing itself as short-term memory loss. Many patients incorrectly assume such changes to be gene-based and beyond improvement, but new research suggests otherwise. The brain is a living organ and its functions are best preserved by having it react with daily challenges, like for example, a new hobby.
The chemistry of life is called metabolism. It involves the use of oxygen for energy to grow and function, to remove waste and repair cell machinery. A byproduct of using oxygen is the production of irritants, called free radicals. They are released continually into a cell’s environment, like smoke from industrial chimneys, and wear away delicate cell membranes or elastic tissue throughout the body. Holes develop that leak, causing tissues and their containing structures to shrink, which is another sign of aging.
Cell membranes are protected from the harmful effects of free radicals by antioxidants in dietary plant products. They are present in many foods and sequestered in cell juices like security guards, ready to collar troublemaking free radicals before they graffiti up the neighborhood. Antioxidants are abundant in fruits and vegetables, foods well-recognized to help guard against lethal diseases like cancer, heart attacks and strokes.
Along with the hazard of free radicals, blood sugar is another element in aging. When its levels are high, the glucose couples with proteins in body tissues in a process is called glycation. It compromises tissue function by leading to less flexibility and greater rigidity, two additional signs of aging. Patients with diabetes, who tend to live with higher blood sugars, also show earlier signs of aging, independently of other diabetic complications.
Menopause is an early and most conspicuous sign of aging. It signals the end of cycling in a woman’s reproductive life, and begins a time of lower estrogen levels throughout her body. Menopause is triggered by age-related changes in the nervous system, in pacemakers that are housed in Old Brain. It signals a shutdown of the neuroendocrine clock and not egg exhaustion of the ovaries, as once thought. Low estrogen levels have an aging affect on all reproductive tissues, on bone and mineral metabolism, and on memory and cognition. Although less dramatic in males, their own neuroendocrine clocks begin shutting down in their late middle years. There is a gradual reduction in circulating testosterone with a comparable diminished brain maintenance of mood, memory and cognition.
Brains are living organs and composed of tissue, not unlike muscle. They are inclined to waste away when underused, more than to wear out from overuse. The most scientific way to delay brain aging (from the small physical demands of modern life) is with daily exercise. It has been shown in repeated testing, to preserve nerve transmission speed. Studies of men in their 60s and 70s, who have been actively fit for a decade, demonstrate reaction times that are faster than sedentary male controls half their age.
Aging also compromises immune system responsiveness. There is a gradual replacement of youthful, vigorous defensive cells with older cells hobbled by structural defects and functional impairments. It increases an older person’s vulnerability to infection. So aging immune systems are populated by a declining body of legacy cells, strong immune veterans that remember past exposures well, to begin responding slowly, less ineffectively, to new infection challenges. Cruise ship crowding anyone?
A recent Cleveland study of more than 100 autopsies on elderly men and women is most insightful. All of those studied had died in comfortable old age. They had enjoyed an ‘ideal’ retirement of supportive surroundings, community meals, occasional cards and evenings of music or television. None had been active, and none were disabled. Nothing in their autopsies revealed why each of them had died at the moment he or she did die. Each had lived for months or years before death in peaceful inactivity. Each one appeared to have died of an early withdrawal from life. The benefits of daily walks or dancing or (gasp!) jogging are real…and up for grabs…to any geezer looking for them.
The latest research to have gone deepest into the causes of aging…deeper than oxidation, glycation and cellular clutter…has examined stem cells. Every tissue has a small pool of them, and throughout life they generate replacements for every working cell that has been damaged or worn out. New research has shown the stem cell pool itself ages in two ways…1) cell replacement rates slow down, and 2) cells that are eventually produced from the pool tend to be flawed. This is new work into the aging process and opens fresh possibilities. Stay tuned.BLAST OFF