Here it is half-way through January, the decorations are back in storage, tax season is beginning, and it seems like the last thing I have time for is writing about health and aging well. But it has been a long time since I did a Frank’s Column and the search engine stats are telling me I need to get to putting words on line. Occasionally it seems like I have said it all before and no one is listening anyway. But actually, the science keeps advancing and we are getting smarter about avoiding the so-called diseases of aging with every passing day. There were some key learnings last year in the area of optimal aging, and I think it would be good to highlight them.
To me, the most important potential advance for getting lasting health out of what time we have on earth lies in the potential benefit from preserving or restoring the length of our chromosome’s telomeres. Last year a company by the name of TA Sciences ramped up marketing of its product called TA-65. TA-65 is a patented extract of the herb Astragalus, which induces production of the enzyme telomerase, which coaxes our cellular mechanisms to repair and lengthen our telomeres. This has been done by several labs on mice, with very measurable reverse-aging in evidence.
The question has been whether this would occur in aged humans, because no human studies are more than a few years in duration. But the early adopters are clearly showing early benefits, such as increased energy, skin repair, cognitive improvement, etc, we just don’t know what the long-term effects are. The overriding fear is that we will see and increase of cancer proliferation. That outcome has yet to be proven one way or the other. I suggest watching this development closely for positive outcomes. One of the more notable MDs offering the so-called Patten Protocol is Dr Al Sears, who has stated that he is testing the Patton Protocol on himself and will be offering it to his clients. The web link to his site for this activity is http://telomeraseactivation.org. There are others offering this protocol, but this is the Cadillac of supplements, with costs running above $4k for a 6-month course of treatment, and suggestions that it be done for two years to get the full benefit.
If you don’t want/can’t spend that kind of money, what else has been shown to slow the loss or preserve the length of our telomeres? Wouldn’t you know, four of the same Six Keys to Senior Fitness that I have been harping on for the last 7 years all reduce our rate of telomere shortening. The key factors are modest eating of real foods, regular exercise, the use of supplements to make sure our nutrient status is excellent, and about 7 hours of quality sleep on a regular basis. Add to that some thinking and attitude skills to manage our stress levels, while applying an understanding of the major aging mechanisms to optimize our choices of lifestyle, and we should have the best shot at a long and disease-free life. Research continues to converge on these factors as having profound impact on our fitness lifespan. Epigenetics – the influences that lifestyle and environmental factors have on gene expression – is becoming the hottest topic in the field of gerontology. We should be paying rapt attention and applying the knowledge as it unfolds.
Good Living – Frank