Reverse Aging News September / October 2014

Risk factors for Cardiovascular Disease Drop

People on a low-carb diet lost nearly three times the weight as those on a low-fat diet over the course of a year while a risk factor for heart disease improved.
The yearlong study of 180 black and white obese adults published in the Sept. 2 edition of the Annals of Internal Medicine, found that although total and “bad” (LDL) cholesterol dropped in both groups, "... but 'good' cholesterol [HDL] went up quite a bit more on the low-carb diet than it did on the low-fat diet,” said Lydia Bazzano,MD professor at the Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, one of the study’s lead authors.

Low-carbohydrate diet pioneer Robert Atkins, MD gave his last extended TV interview to the anti-aging documentaryReverse Aging Now.” He stressed that his diet worked better than low-fat diets, because compliance was better, “A majority of people in our nation wouldn’t be happy to cut their fat intake down.”

“This isn’t a license to hit the butter and meat fats,” cautioned Bazzano when she announced her new study “But even very high-fat diets can be healthy.”

The key is choosing the right fats, including fish oil and extra virgin olive oil, while still shunning saturated fat and hydrogenated fat.

It’s not that carbohydrates per se are bad, it’s the nature of the carbohydrates eaten. Go to any buffet and take a look at loads of refined carbohydrates offered, including white rice, white pasta, white bread, and potatoes in salad or mashed without the skins. Don't forget to count the hidden carbs lurking in beverages sweetened with sugar or, worse, high-fructose corn syrup.

Ounce for ounce potato skins are more nutritious than the rest of the potato. Brown rice is far healthier than white. Refining whole wheat removes almost all of the vitamin E and magnesium, most of the B vitamins, half the calcium and seventy percent of the phosphorus. White flour is so refined, that when it hits your blood, your body treats it as sugar. A 2004 study showed that people who ate too many refined carbs put themselves at increased risk for obesity and type 2 diabetes.

When choosing carbs, pick those that are good for you including fruits and vegetables. Remember that when it comes to anti-aging, the best diet is one that is nutritionally dense while being low in calories, so when you choose your fats, pick them well. Fats still have more than twice the calories per gram (9) as proteins and carbohydrates do (4).

Five Servings a Day for Fruits and Vegetables Are Optimal

According to the Centers for Disease Control, adults in the United States consume fruit an average of 1.1 times a day and vegetables about 1.6 times. A new study from the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH), concludes Americans don’t have to stuff themselves with produce to obtain the optimal health benefit from these nutrition packed foods. Eating just five servings a day of fruits and vegetables (excluding starchy tubers like potatoes) lowers the risk of death, but piling on the produce past that amount doesn’t help significantly.

In a meta-analysis of 16 studies involving more than 833,000 participants, published July 29, 2014 in the British Medical Journal, Frank Hu, MD, PhD, professor of nutrition and epidemiology at HSPH and his colleagues found that each daily serving of fruits or vegetables was associated with a 5 percent lower risk of mortality up to 25 percent. However eating more than that didn’t lower the risk death much past that percentage. Hu speculated that the body had a limit in what it could handle on a daily basis, “the availability of nutrients and other bioactive compounds of these foods may have reached a plateau at five servings per day for most people.”

Still, there nothing wrong with eating more fruits and vegetables. The Harvard-based Nurses’ Health Study and Health Professionals Follow-up Study of 110,000 men and women found compared to those who ate less than 1.5 servings a day of fruits and vegetables, those who consumed an average of 8 or more daily servings were 30 percent less likely to have a heart attack or stroke. Both studies found that fruit and vegetable consumption had a greater impact on cardiovascular mortality than incidence of cancer.

Middle-aged High Blood Pressure Linked to Cognitive Decline

If you've been treating high blood pressure as a minor annoyance that has no immediate bearing on your life, think again - while you still can. A new study published in the August 4 issue of Journal of the American Medical Association Neurology links hypertension to cognitive decline.

Researchers with the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Neurocognitive Study spent more than two decades following the health, memory and thinking skills of nearly 13,500 men and women. All the participants were middle-aged (45-64) when the study began. They took sets of cognitive function and memory tests between 1990 and 1992, 1996-1998, and between 2011 and 2013. Participants’ blood pressures were recorded. Whether or not patients were taking medicine to control hypertension was also noted. White participants made up 76 percent of the group; 24 percent were black.

Over the 20 years of testing, there was a general decline in mental function, but those with high blood pressure saw a greater drop in cognitive capacity. Participants taking medication to control hypertension lost less cognitive ability than those who left their condition untreated.

“This provides more evidence that hypertension contributes to lost memory and reasoning ability over the long term,” says Melinda C. Power, ScD, an author of the study.

Remember that the ideal reading for healthy blood pressure is 120/80. If yours is too high, there are steps you can take to control it including: cutting back on salt, especially in processed foods; getting your weight to a healthy body mass index; increasing your consumption of fruits and vegetables; eliminating all tobacco products; limiting alcohol consumption to no more than one drink a day for women, no more than two a day for men; while exercising daily.

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To see how one baby boomer is applying anti-aging precepts to his own life, go to Anti-Aging Diary.com. To embrace anti-aging you need to make a mental as well as physical journey. It's not always easy, but well worth the effort. Remember to watch our anti-aging documentary, “Reverse Aging Now.

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in the subject line. Photo of fruits and vegetables courtesy Lebewesen; blood pressure courtesy Dean Jenkins through MorgueFile.com; all other photos by Paul M. J. Suchecki.

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