This is the time of year where we take time to be generous and giving, take time to reflect on our lives and the lives of those we love. We can wish for gifts like the slowing of time, the slowing of our aging processes.....we can wish for healthy longevity, and a vigorous life.
Not that long ago, our grandparents accepted aging. Look at photos of your grandmother when she was the age that you are....notice any differences? Not to say that our grandmothers weren't beautiful...but they were definitely OLDER appearing than we are today.
We can and do take advantage of the latest anti-aging research. We know how to stay healthy, to exercise, to take our vitamins for women, to listen to our esthetician, our dietician, our physician, our personal trainers.....While we can't stop the overall aging process...we can manage it.
The Basic Tenets of Anti-Aging:
Your body is an inter-connected system that is designed to run efficiently and in balance.
Depending on factors that are largely in your control, such as how you handle stress and the types of foods you eat, your body will either remain in equilibrium or it will spin off balance
Because of this inter-connectedness, generally you’ll find that taking healthy actions to support one area will have healthy benefits for the whole.
4 major Aging Accelerators
Over the next few weeks, we will discuss 4 major factors that lead to accelerated aging and the erosion of your health.
- Insulin Resistance
- Chronic Stress
- Lack of Sleep
We need to understand the causes of aging before we look into the steps needed to invigorate our health and improve our chances for healthy longevity.
Let's look at the first factor that can kick our aging clock into high gear
When methionine, an amino acid, breaks down, it leaves homocysteine behind as waste. Methylation, another enzymatic process, breaks homocysteine down into a nontoxic amino acid. When this functions normally, the levels of homocysteine remain low. But, when methylation isn’t working normally, total homocysteine levels (tHcy)build up.
People with elevated homocysteine levels are more likely to have strokes, Alzheimer's disease and dementia, kidney disease, diseases of the eye, erectile dysfunction, and, especially, heart disease De Bree A et al 2002. — Note these are all age-related diseases.
tHcy is affected by our lifestyle, dietary choices, and genetics. tHcy is also increased by certain pharmaceuticals, an aging metabolism, smoking, drinking too much alcohol or coffee, lack of exercise, obesity, and stress. Also we age, our ability to absorb nutrients decreases so less of the important B vitamins are available to help metabolize Hcy.
One of the first studies reported in 1997, showed a homocysteine level of 15+ increased the risk of death over 6 times in patients with heart disease.Nygard O, et al. New England Journal of Medicine.1997Jul 24.
A later study, following Nygard's theory and completed 20 years later, in 2007, proved the assertion of increased tHcy significantly increasing the risk of CAD (coronary artery disease) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1852902
Elevated tHcy is linked to:
- heart attack
- vascular disease
- diseases of the eye, stroke
- Alzheimer's disease
- Erectile dysfunction
- Poor outcome in pregnancy
Levels of tHcy
Normal—5 to 15 µmol/L Moderate—16 to 30 µmol/L
Intermediate—31 to 100 µmol/L
Severe—Above 100 µmol/L
Dietary choices affect Hcy levels. Eating foods that contain large amounts of methionine, such as red meat and chicken, has been shown to increase blood levels of tHcy (total homocysteine) and low intake of foods rich in vitamin B, such as green leafy vegetables, may also increase homocysteine levels Devlin TM 2002.
tHcy's association with heart disease is well known, but tHcy levels are also linked to the following:
Alzheimer’s disease and dementia— Individuals with Alzheimer's disease have been shown to have elevated tHcy levels Joosten E et al 1997; McCaddon A et al 1998).
Depression—linked to low levels of folic acid in women Ramos MI et al 2004. Low folic acid levels decrease the effectiveness of the antidepressant fluoxetine (Prozac®) Fava M et al 1997, and vitamin B6 may alleviate depression Hvas AM et al 2004. Deficiencies in these vitamins are also closely associated with high tHcy levels.
Diseases of the eye—Hcy's ability to damage blood vessels also has implications for the tiny blood vessels in the eye. Elevated Hcy levels are associated with serious eye conditions, including glaucoma and macular degeneration. A study showed that homocysteine levels of 11.6 µmol/L were the average concentrations in patients who had central retinal vein occlusion; the average level was 9.5 µmol/L in control subjects Vine AK 2000.
Erectile dysfunction—Hcy has been shown to reduce the production of nitric oxide that causes blood vessels to relax, increasing blood flow to organs and tissues. Folic acid and vitamin B12 may help lower tHcy levels. In one case study, a man with erectile dysfunction, who also had a genetic defect that causes elevated homocysteine levels, did not initially respond to treatment with sildenafil (Viagra®). However, after treatment with 5000 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid and 1000 mcg of vitamin B12, his erectile dysfunction was successfully treated with sildenafil Lombardo F et al 2004.
Take care of your health, take your vitamins for women and be blessed, Kersten