Can Diet and Lifestyle Slow Aging?


Can Diet and Lifestyle Slow Aging?

November 14, 2015

Imagine living to 365 years old! If you read Genesis chapter 5 in the Bible, you will see how people just like you and I lived to well beyond 100 years. But by the time Psalms were written the human lifespan had shortened dramatically, "The days of our lives are seventy years..." Psalm 90:10

As you can imagine, scientists and researchers are involved in many different studies exploring ways to slow aging. In 2009 the Nobel Prize for Physiology and Medicine was jointly awarded to four scientists who worked for many years on human aging. Their work centred on "telomeres", the protective tip that caps the ends of every strand of DNA.  These telomeres are a little like the tips on the ends of shoelaces. The "shoelace", the DNA is like a miniature slinky in structure,  and contains the building blocks of life as well as being the catalyst for cell repair and division. Also, DNA contains the information which defines each of us as a unique individual -  such as the colour of eyes and hair. You might have heard that DNA is found in almost every cell in the human body. Now each time cells divide, the  DNA"tips" , the telomeres, shorten. And the shortening is one of several factors which cause aging and death. 1 You might say that telomeres are like a "biological clock."

But what if diet and lifestyle could reduce this shortening of telomeres? Turns out, God had the answer all along! Dr Dean Ornish, famous in the USA for his diet and lifestyle programmes reversing heart disease, and Dr Elizabeth Blackburn (one of the Nobel prize winners for her work on telomeres) worked together on a small pilot study to see what happened to the telomeres of people who changed their diet and lifestyle. While his study was small (35 participants) and male only, findings suggest most people could decrease the shortening of their telomeres, by eating mostly plant foods, reducing stress by meditating every day (60 minutes) and engaging in physical exercise (30 minutes brisk walking six days a week).

Another study, this time in Korea, looked at the dietary patterns  over 10 years of 1958 adult men and women who were interviewed and then monitored. The dietary patterns fell naturally into two distinct groups. One group had a high intake of whole grains, seafood, legumes, vegetables and seaweed. The other group had a high intake of refined grain, red meat or processed meat and sweetened carbonated beverages (fizzy drinks).

The researchers found that those who ate a diet high in plant foods had longer leucocyte telomere length (LTL),  which is generally considered the same as measuring the actual telomere.

As well as looking at the two dietary patterns, the researchers looked at the effect of specific foods. Would you like to know the foods linked to longer telomeres?

"...higher consumption of legumes, nuts, seaweed, fruits and dairy products and lower consumption of red meat or processed meat and sweetened carbonated beverages were associated with longer LTL."

Another study in January 2010, showed how 608 people with coronary heart disease were able to prevent their telomeres shortening by eating more food high in Omega 3 fatty acids over five years.2

These people ate more high fat and cold water fish - high in Omega 3 fatty acids.  Many people believe they need to eat fish or take fish oil supplements for Omega 3 fatty acids. But the good news is there is an effective, cheaper and vegetarian way to increase your Omega 3 intake, if these foods suit you:

Flax seeds, green leafy vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds can meet the human body’s need for good quality Omega 3 fatty acids.  Why? Because whole foods like these contain a marvellous range of nutrients, including vitamin E which helps preserve the Omega 3 hidden in the seeds and other whole foods.  This means the Omega 3 fatty acid will not go rancid in the human body. 3

Helping our bodies to have high levels of glutathione is yet another way to slow the shortening of the DNA  telomeres. Glutathione is manufactured inside our cells from three amino acids - glycine, glutamate and cystine. Yes, glutathione supplements can be taken, but are not very well absorbed.7 As you might expect, God has provided a simple way to increase our glutathione levels. Special compounds in sulphur containing vegetables can help your body make glutathione.

How do you know which vegetables are sulphur containing? If you overcook sulphur containing vegetables, your house will smell like a sulphurous bubbling mud pool!

Broccoli, kale, cabbage, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, onions, garlic, leeks are all sulphur containing. Eating these vegetables sliced and raw makes excellent use of the special compounds. BUT, slicing and leaving the vegetable sit for about 10 minutes, then lightly steaming until vibrant in colour produces the same effect as eating raw!  Remember: Slice-Sit-Steam!6

One final word on physical activity. As we age, many of us might naturally limit physical activity, perhaps we have some stiffness or aches and pains. However, the research is clear: Regular strenous exercise slows the shortening of the DNA "tips" - so  to be healthier longer - don’t sit down! Jump up and find the most enjoyable way to keep physically active and remember to include daily strength activity. Personally, I am not a strong person, and have days when I cannot lift a saucepan from the stove. However, God has blessed me greatly in this way: We tend to buy our organic whole foods in bulk (to get best value). This means that every day I am lifting 5 to 20kg bags of nuts, seeds, lentils or coconut and carrying them to the kitchen for preparing food for the family! 

Can you see God’s way is being proved by science yet again? To slow aging follow God’s way: choose and enjoy eating mostly or ALL plant foods, especially those foods which suit your individual constitution, spend time praying and meditating every day and be sure to walk and do some sort of strength exercise most days of the week!

References:

1. "Association of Marine Omega 3 Fatty Acid Levels with Telomeric Aging in Patients with Coronary Heart Disease." Journal of American Medical Academy, January 20, 2010.
2. Kitamura, Makiko. "Veggie-Heavy Stress Reduction Regimen Shown to Modify Cell Aging." BloombergBusiness, September 17, 2013. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2013-09-16/veggie-heavy-stress-reduction-regimen-shown-to-modify-cell-aging.
3. Lee, Jun, Joon, Shin and Baik, JY NR, D, C, I. "Association between Dietary Patterns in the Remote Past and Telomere Length." European Journal of Clinical Nutrition advance online publication 15 April 2015. Accessed August 18, 2015. http://www.nature.com.ezp.lib.unimelb.edu.au/ejcn/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/ejcn201558a.html.
4. Press Release. "The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2009  Elizabeth H. Blackburn, Carol W. Greider, Jack W. Szostak." NobelPrize.org, October 5, 2009. http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/medicine/laureates/2009/press.html.
5. Simopoulos, AP. "Omega-3 Fatty Acids in Wild Plants, Nuts and Seeds." Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition 11 (2002): S163–73.

6. Sisson, Mark. "Dear Mark: Glutathione, Workout Nutrition, Cartilage Regeneration, Pam, and the Best of the Worst." Informational. Mark’s Daily Apple - Primal Living in the Modern World, April 25, 2015. http://www.marksdailyapple.com/glutathione-cartilage-regeneration/#axzz3qP7nO2hi.

7. Mercola, Joseph. "New Science of Living Longer and How to Achieve It." Health. Mercola.com, April 14, 2011. http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/04/14/new-science-of-living-longer-and-how-to-achieve-it.aspx.

Image Credit: "Telomere". Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Telomere.png#/media/File:Telomere.png

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Posted: Sat 14 Nov 2015

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