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Anti-Aging, What Does it all Mean?

dr crapo q and a

Dear Dr. Mark,

“I’ve been hearing a lot lately about the science of anti-aging. There seems to be a great deal of research that’s coming out. As a baby-boomer I’m very interested in the topic but I’m afraid some of the terms I’ve heard, I don’t really understand. Could you tell me what some important terms are and what they mean?”

Aging in Anaheim

Dear Anaheim,

You’re certainly right the journals are filled with new information regarding this topic, as are newspapers, magazines, the Internet and even television. Here are some words and concepts that you might find helpful.

Longevity: of course this means long life or existence.

Centenarian: this is someone who has attained the age of 100 years or more.

Super-Centenarian: this is someone who has attained the age of 110 years or more.

Senescence: the state of process of aging. It comes from the Latin meaning Old Man or Old Age.

  1. Cellular senescence is where isolated cells will divide only a limited number of times… and then die.
  2. Recent research has shown in the presence of resveratrol these cells will divide anywhere from 25% to 700% longer!

The Bible seems to indicate that the average life-span should be 120 years, but it is filled with people that lived much, much longer than that. Modern science seems to agree. Many scientists feel the expected life-span should be between 120-150 years.

  1. China says one of its oldest citizens was Li Qing Yuen who died in the year 1930 at the age of 252! Not that long ago a French woman, Jeanne Louise Calmet died at the age of 122 and a Japanese man, Shigechiyo Izumi at the age of 121.
  2. Currently a Russian woman, Zabani Khachukayeva, holds a passport that states she is 125 and Hanna Barysevich from Belarus is 117.

Contrary to common belief among Americans the US does not have the longest life expectancy, Japan, Australia and some European countries all have a longer life expectancy than the approximately 73 years we have for men and 83 years for women.

  1. However we currently have about 100,000 centenarians living in the US. This number is expected to climb to 834,000 by the year 2050!

The US Health Care System

In truth we do not have a health care system but a disease care system. Preventative measures such as vitamins, minerals and other supplements are not generally covered by our disease care system.

We currently spend about 14% of our GNP (Gross National Product) on disease care, or about 1.6 trillion dollars! (This is more money than any other nation on earth spends for health care.) For this we are:

  1. 35th in the world for infant mortality.
  2. 27th in the world for life expectancy.
  3. And you are 9,000 times more likely to die from Iatrogenic Disease than being shot! (This means you got it from a doctor or hospital, pill or surgery.)

Two of the hottest topics in anti-aging right now are resveratrol and ellagic acid.

Resveratrol is a very unique substance, a phytoalexin phytochemical, that is found in grapes and pomegranates. This anti-aging substance has only been studied for about the past 10 years. It seems to have a number of important health and longevity properties:

  1. It supports healthy serum lipid levels. (This means cholesterol and triglycerides.)
  2. It supports a healthy cardiovascular system.
  3. It has anti-inflammatory properties.
  4. It seems to help balance the body’s set point which can aid in weight loss.
  5. Studies show it helps cells live longer.

Ellagic acid is a naturally occurring polyphenolic constituent found in fruits like pomegranates and grapes. This is a very potent antioxidant, a substance that protects against Free Radicals that cause oxidation; one of the major factors in the degenerative diseases of aging.

  1. Ellagic acid has been shown to inhibit mutations within a cell’s DNA.
  2. It has also been shown to cause apoptosis or normal cell death in cancer cells.
  3. Additional research has found ellagic acid has potent antibacterial and antiviral properties.

The Dietary Supplement Education Alliance (DSEA) lists several other very important nutrients for longevity and health.

  1. Vitamin C for anti-aging protection, skin elasticity and immune function.
  2. Vitamin E as a Free Radical scavenger and its protective benefits for the brain.
  3. Vitamin A or Beta-Carotene for reproduction and growth.
  4. Calcium not only for healthy bones but weight maintenance, hormonal balance and a healthy heart.
  5. Folic Acid, a B family nutrient, to protect against birth defects and support healthy heart, brain and vision.
  6. Omega 3 fatty acids for the cardio-vascular system, balanced serum lipids and a healthy nervous system.

DSEA recently released a study showing that supplementing with just calcium and folic acid could save 15 billion dollars in health care costs!