Aging begins from the moment of conception and is invariable part of our life. By definition it is a common biological law and is manifested with anatomical and functional changes in the organism which lead to progressive lowering of vital activity and death. Aging is a complex of changes, which are harmful, progressive, universal and irreversible. This process is seen at all levels of organization from molecules (DNA, proteins, lipids) through cells, organs and in the whole organism. The incidence of different diseases, often called ‘aging diseases’ like arthritis, osteoporosis, cardiovascular disorders, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease is increased with its progress/advancement/. Aging is accompanied by several physiological changes like hearing loss, reduction of muscle mass and strength, less water content and increased share of fat, more time for reaction etc.
There are plenty of aging theories, but some of them prove in practice what happens in fact at cell and sub cell level and to what extend there is a genetic predisposition:
The Cell theory is and old one but it recently started to look for a serious proof in the property of the telomeres (chromosomal endings) to cut their length. There is evidence this function is connected not only with cell division but with somewhat biological clock of the telomeres and with the enzyme telomerase which switches on their recovery but only in certain cells.
DNA damage theory is based on the frequently emerging damages to DNA in the human organism. It assumes DNA changes and mutations from them are the main cause for cancer and aging. This theory is strongly supported by the fact that different mammals as well as races seem to possess different aging capacity which can be explained only genetically.
The free radicals theory is based on their main quality to do harm at sub cell level – DNA, proteins and lipids. These damages are usually called ‘oxidative stress’. Free radicals are produced mainly in mitochondria and to lesser extend in other cell organelles, and no matter that different external factors like radiation and smoking are the cause for their production, most of them are derived as a result of normal cell metabolism. Although genes are separated in the cell nucleus which is a protective mechanism, with cell aging free radicals contribute significantly for genome damages and mutations.
Mitochondrial theory postulates that damages to mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) from free radicals lead to loss of function of this organelle and thus to shortage of cell energy which ruins the function of the whole cell. …..Mitochondrial DNA mutations are in times more frequent than these in nuclear DNA. It is also known that one cell can divide around 50 times and this is a cause for aging of organisms. When this resource for division is depleted cells stop to renovate. In a multicellular organism, like humans, this leads to gradual stop of cell exchange which is expressed with wrinkles and other signs of aging.
Scientists dream to find a way of slowing down aging and even to give a possibility for immortality from a long time. This fundamental scientific question excites more and more brains in the world and nowadays we are much closer to the answer than the medieval alchemists.
Richard Miller from the University of Michigan emphasizes on the fact that lab experiments with rats and mice which are genetically close to humans will allow us to increase life expectancy with 40% even only with the reduction of the calories in food.
Unique discovery is the gene Sirt1, which is responsible for the activation of the necessary processes. One of the primates used in experiments and given low caloric diet, died at the age of 41 which is equivalent to 123 human years.
Nine gene mutations which allow the experimental mice to live 50% longer are found, dozens such genes are found in the worm respectively. Prof. Aubrey de Grey from Cambridge considers the first man to live up to 1000 years most probably is already born. At the moment he works on a drug for life extension and is convinced humans will live 150 years in the near future. It’s not accidentally the foundation prof. De Grey founded is named after the biblical Metusalem who lived 969 years. The secret for the unique form of the 100 years old Indus Fauja Singh who ran the distance 42km for 8 hours is life without alcohol and smoking, vegetarian diet with curry and tea, 10km walk or run every day. 94 years old Italian Vittorio Colo is the best 100m sprinter in his age group. After his forced retirement due to disease at the age of 35, Vitorio runs every morning in the streets in Milan, drives with no glasses, and never remains without work.
Academician Vladimir Skulachev director of the Physico-chemical biology institute at Moscow state university known leader in the immortality investigations is convinced that aging is a disease which should be cured – as cancer or myocardial infarction.
Thomas Johnson from Colorado University shows that the change in only one gene in the round worm increases his life duration twice. David Sinclair from Harvard experiments as he mixes the human gene Sir2 with 10 000 different chemical substances, trying to find the formula for its activation.
He already found the strongest stimulator is resveratrol – a chemical substance, found in the red wine. Sinclair introduces resveratrol in the food of drosophila and the worm and their life duration is increased from 14 to 70%.
The scientist claims today’s science for Anti-aging allows extension of life so at the age of 90 man to feel at least as 60.
In Bulgaria pioneer in the field of Anti-aging nutrition is prof. Hristo Mermerski, who first looked for an answer to the question what is the most important for the speed of the organism to get old with his book: “Treatment and slowing down of aging through nutrition with healing and anti-cancer foods”.
The idea for low caloric intake starts from 1934 in Cornwell University where it is applied for the first time in mice and increased duration of life is seen. Modern state of this theory assumes a decrease in calories with 30 to 50% from the usual intake and maintaining the mineral content of food.
In January 2013 the diet of the British anti-aging specialist Dr. Michael Mosley caused sensation as it was in contrast with the known dietary regimens aimed at speeding metabolism. This is achieved with the last sensation in dietology – the method of alternation of 5 days of normal eating with 2 days restriction of calories. According to many researches held under the supervision of Dr. Mosley, aging is a product of accelerated metabolism exactly, which in turn increases the amount of the harmful free radicals in the organism. The body is ‘stressed’ with organic calorie intake and gradually starts to adapt to this change and to slow down metabolism naturally, and aging consequently.
This food regimen, known also as diet 5 to 2, lets you enjoy your favorite foods without weight gain, in theory. The fast diet of Dr. Michael Mosley is based not only on proteins, as is the case with Dr. Dukan’s and Dr. Atkins’ diet (Mosley himself is a vegetarian) but mainly on lens, vegetables, black bread, fruits, fish and seafood.
Five days a week – the so called eating days – you can eat almost everything up to 2000-2600cal. In the two ‘hungry days’ you should consume up to 500cal if you are a woman and up to 600cal if you are a man.
Here are some features of the sensational Anti-aging regimen:
- The hungry days can be in sequence, but it is better not to be
- In these days you can consume all calories at once (at one meal) or to distribute them during the day between several light breakfasts.
- Typical breakfast for one such day is around 300 cal. For example two scrambled eggs with turkey ham (a good source of protein), water, green tea or black coffee. For dinner another 300 cal in the form of baked fish with vegetables.
- In the eating days you can take whatever you like, but try not to exceed 2000 cal. per day if you are female and 2600 for males.
- This diet is not recommended for pregnant women or diabetics.
- Learning some breathing exercises for stress.
Sample menu for the hungry days
- 1 banana, 1 tea spoon vanilla, 100 g yoghurt (semi skimmed)
- 2 poached eggs and steamed spinach
Lunch or dinner:
- Grilled chicken breasts (without the skin) with 100 g green salad
- 3 grilled falafels ( meatballs from chickpeas) with salad from tomatoes and cucumbers
- Grilled mushrooms, garnished with lens and artichoke ( canned or not)
- 5 steamed prawns with shredded ginger and hot red pepper, served with one handful brown rice.
You stress on green tea, tea from nettle, dill, rooibos, vanilla, jasmine, chamomile, ginger, lemon and mint.
You bet on sparkled water instead of alcohol. Your aim is to drink 2 liters of liquids per day.
Some substances like alpha lipoic acid and acetyl L-carnitine can have the effect to increase life duration as well. Prof. M. Nordio from Clinic ‘Umberto I’ in Rome is one of the most prominent investigator of melatonin, from which is made the so called ‘youth pill’. In his detailed work on this hormone, several useful effects are described: memory activation, regulation of digestive processes and avoidance of obesity; strong antioxidant effect and blocking of free radicals thus slowing down aging processes, anti-stress effect, strengthening of the immune system, positive effect on seasonal depressions and so on. Melatonin property to regulate the inner biological clock ( the circadian rhythm sleep-wakefulness) is of particular importance for the organism, so the drugs containing it are often taken by the crew of transoceanic flights as ‘antidote’ against the effects of the so called ‘jet lag’ ( disturbance of the day-and-night biorhythms during flights through several time zones).
The real fountain of youth is the pituitary gland where the growth hormone is produced. After the age of 20 its amount decreases with 14% for every ten years. This leads not only to decreased skin elasticity and hardening of the arteries, but also to many other changes, linked with aging processes. In order to diminish the consequences of this phenomenon, nowadays several pharmaceutical companies develop specific chemical substances which act upon the pituitary gland and stimulate the synthesis of larger amounts of growth hormone. In many countries synthetic growth hormone is used directly as anti-aging drug, but the pros and cons are not well measured. Really, the level of total cholesterol is lowered significantly when growth hormone is taken by adults, but at the same time blood pressure and blood glucose rise and the chance for impaired carbohydrate tolerance and diabetes is increased. Increased risk for cancer development as well is not excluded. Fluid retention is often seen, swellings, diffuse joint pains and gynecomastia (increased breast in males).
In conclusion it is appropriate to cite the most popular American anti-aging specialist Dr. Alexander Sears:
- Lessen the calories up to two thirds of the necessary with which you maintain your ideal weight.
- Do sport – thus you will be safe from high blood pressure, obesity, osteoporosis.
- Add a lot of anti-oxidants to your diet. Eat fruits, vegetables, drink a glass of red wine every day.
- Drink vitamin C additionally
- Take supplements with coenzyme Q10, a shield against heart diseases
- Reduce acute stress reaction. Do not live under pressure, take care of your good mood. Long livers are always with good sense of humor.
„Лечение и забавяне на стареенето чрез хранене с лечебни и противоракови храни“ –проф. Христо Мермерски
“Sports nutrition&performence enhancing supplements” Abbie E., Smith-Ryan, Jose Antonio
“Ultraprevention” – dr. Marc Hayman, dr. Marc Liponis
“Хранене и лечение с плодове и зеленчуци“ –Дж. Хайнерман
„Кльощавата кучка“ /New York Times Bestseller/- Рори Фрийдман и Ким Брауни
“Honestly Healthy” –Natasha Corret, Vicki Edgson
“Anti-aging medicine” – prof. Obri de Gray
“The fast diet” –dr. Michel Mosley, Mimi Spenser