Reverse Aging News November 2014

Improvement cuts across age groups and genders

According to new data from the Centers for Disease Control an American baby born in 2012 can expect to live to 78.8 years, a new record. That’s 36.5 days longer than in 2011. News is good for senior citizens too. Those who reached 65 in 2012 also had a 36.5 day increase in their life expectancy over 2011 for an additional 19.3 years.

At either end of the scale, females have a longer life expectancy than males. At birth the increase in life expectancy is 4.8 years. Women who make it to 65 can expect another 20.5 years to reach the age of 85.5, 2.6 years longer than a typical man who makes that milestone.

The CDC credits the gains to the drop in death rates in 8 of the 10 major causes of mortality including heart disease and cancer responsible for 2/3 of the deaths in the US. Other declines were seen in Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, chronic lower respiratory disease, influenza/pneumonia, stroke and kidney disease.

Deaths rates from unintentional injuries remained the same and rose for suicide. Among men, between 1999 and 2010 the greatest increases in suicide were among those aged 50–54 years by 49.4 percent, and 55–59 years at 47.8 percent; while among women the greatest increase occurred to those between 60–64 years. The demographics for suicide are noteworthy because the increases are not in those facing the end of life but the end of youth, for people realizing that as the song says, they are now “too old to die young.”

Beware of Holiday Weight Gain

Gaining weight this time of year used to be a good thing. The harvest was in, cold and darkness threatened while an uncertain winter food supply was often a worry. Today however, we do better to forestall packing on the pounds before resolving to lose them in a paroxysm of righteous resolutions come New Year's Day.

Most Americans gain about a pound during the holiday eating season. That doesn't seem a lot, but for most of us that weight never comes off, one reason why so many middle aged adults are significantly overweight. By some estimates Americans consume more than 3000 calories for Thanksgiving Dinner. To put that number in perspective, most of us would have to run a marathon to burn that off.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind for healthy holiday eating: The first is to make healthier food choices. Rather than serve cheese balls, pigs in blankets or canapés, offer crudités. These are traditional French appetizers of raw, sliced vegetables. Many work great including red bell pepper strips, celery and carrot sticks, miniature carrots, or grape tomatoes on tooth picks. For a healthy dip add your favorite flavoring to fat-free Greek yogurt or fold an avocado into salsa.

When starting your meal with salad, favor a fat free vinaigrette dressing at only 30 calories per serving, vs. 180 for buttermilk ranch. Practice portion control. Eat what you enjoy, but do so in moderation savoring the food as you eat. Just because you like something, does not mean you need to take seconds. Don't stuff yourself to the point of being uncomfortable. Trust me, the turkey will be there the next day for sandwiches.

It might have been grandma's favorite recipe, but forgo the sweet potato casserole topped with marshmallows. A serving can run over 600 calories. A cup of baked bean casserole can average 450 calories. Instead choose cooked vegetables that are simply prepared, either steamed or stir fried in olive oil and garlic. For example a ½ cup serving of steamed peas and pearl onions runs only 40 calories. It can be livened up with flavorful vinegar. Rather than eat eight ounces of turkey, go for half that amount at 323 calories for dark meat. Use gravy to moisten not drench. Ask what the stuffing is made of. If it's primarily white flour, avoid it since there is little nutritional value.

For desert, remember that a slice of pecan pie is stuffed with over 500 calories while traditional pumpkin pie has a bit over 300. A single cup of eggnog with 2 ounces of either rum or brandy will run 470 calories! If you swap the eggnog for the same amount of Sauvignon Blanc, a good pairing with turkey, it will be only 241 calories. Be sure to drink moderately since alcohol can lower your inhibitions about eating.

Don't forget to get some exercise on feast days. A half hour walk can burn off half a cup of mashed potatoes and can help relieve some of the stress caused by the holidays. Finally, remember to focus on the social aspects of the holiday, not the just the food. Relish the good companionship of family and friends.

Early Alzheimer's Detection Found with MRIs

Worsening blood flow to a key part of the brain appears to predict the onset of cognitive decline in senior citizens. Radiologists found the deficiency using MRIs, magnetic resonance imaging, a technique that can examine soft tissue structures by exciting hydrogen atoms in the body. The images are created without any radiation as in a computerized tomography (CT scans) or injection of contrast dye, as in positron emission tomography (PET scans) making them a less expensive and safer diagnosis tool.

The MRIs employed a refinement called arterial spin labeling to magnetically tagged water protons in circulating blood. The images were made of the brains’ posterior cingulate cortex in 148 seniors with no cognitive decline and 65 with a diagnosis of mild cognitive impairment. After 18 months the symptom-free seniors were divided into two groups, those who with stable cognitive function, 75 subjects, and those who exhibited deteriorating cognitive function, 73 subjects. Those who showed deterioration had also had detectable reduced brain blood flow a full year and a half before exhibiting overt signs of mental decline. The control group with mild cognitive impairment also showed less blood flow to the posterior cingulate cortex.

Scientists are still not certain about what the posterior cingulate cortex actually does. It has high metabolic activity and dense structural connectivity to widespread brain regions so it probably acts a cortical hub. It seems to be involved in internally directed thought and memory recollection, skills that decline in Alzheimer’s patients. Prior studies of patients with full-blown Alzheimer's disease revealed dramatically reduced activity and lessened blood flow to the posterior cingulate cortex. Finding that this kind of blood flow lessening can as a predictor of Alzheimer's disease is new. The study was conducted in in Switzerland and the Netherlands and published in October in the journal Radiology.

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To see how one baby boomer is applying anti-aging precepts to his own life, go to Anti-Aging 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.

Reverse Aging News © 2014 Checkmate Pictures - Paul M. J. Suchecki, Editor

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