Search Term: " Seniors "
New findings show mushrooms protect brain health
May 10, 2019 02:15 PM
The culinary world loves mushrooms because they have rich flavors but yet they are packed with high amount of nutrition and possess antioxidant and anti-inflammation properties. But new findings show that mushrooms can even provide much more. They have been shown to help in brain health. The research highlighted in this blog shows that when people eat mushrooms they have reduced risk of a mild cognitive impairment that precedes Alzheimer’s disease. The study was conducted in the National University of Singapore and used 600 human subjects who were given various types of mushrooms such as dried mushrooms, white button mushrooms, and golden mushrooms. The researchers found at the end of the study that participants who had consumed mushrooms had reduced cognitive decline especially if they take two or more servings of mushrooms each week as seniors. Other benefits of mushrooms beyond brain health are that it helps prevent cancer, improves the immune function, reduces weight, and is a healthy source of vitamin D.
"Beyond the new findings that show mushrooms may boost brain health and lower the risk for cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease, mushrooms offer other significant health benefits, too."
Read more: https://www.naturalhealth365.com/mushrooms-brain-health-2936.html
Coconut oil studied for its potential to reverse Alzheimer's
April 22, 2019 04:31 PM
A recent study that was conducted by scientists in Spain has shown that extra virgin coconut oil can actually result in the reversal of Alzheimer's symptoms. A controlled group was given 40 mL of olive oil each day while receiving cognitive evaluations by the researchers in order to determine how their cognitive functioning was coming along. The results showed an increase in this functioning when it came to those who were taking in the extra virgin coconut oil on a regular basis.
"Some research has indicated that it very well could be a natural way to boost cognition, and possibly even reverse the effects of this dreaded disease."
Read more: https://www.naturalnews.com/2019-02-27-coconut-oil-to-reverse-alzheimers.html
Whey protein supports recovery from muscle loss among the elderly
March 27, 2019 10:31 AM
Whey protein is good for building muscle especially in the elderly. Studies have shown that whey protein can help elderly people build lost muscle from long hospital stays or illness. Lack of strength in the elderly can affect their balance and the ability to perform simple tasks. A controlled study of sixteen men and fifteen women between the ages of sixty-five and eighty, were given whey protein or collagen for five weeks. During the study there was no difference between the two, but after the study, whey proved to recover more muscle than collagen. The right supplements can help keep you healthy when paired with a healthy diet and exercise.
"A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition has found that whey protein can help seniors rebuild lost muscle from inactivity linked to illness or long hospital stays."
Read more: https://www.naturalnews.com/2019-01-26-whey-protein-supports-recovery-from-muscle-loss-elderly.html
Reduces homocysteine levels and acts as an Alzheimers bodyguard?
March 12, 2019 01:50 PM
The prevalence of Alzheimer's is steadily growing, and researchers are growing more and more concerned at the apparent epidemic. Approximately one in six adults will end up experiencing some form of dementia, and this statistic alone is enough to motivate medical experts to find solutions. Some physicians are finding that taking in adequate amounts of omega-3 fatty acids each day can help prevent the stiffening and inflammation of cells that have the potential to lead to a drop in cognitive function related to dementia.
"The influence of marine-based omega-3 fats on physical and mental health has been the subject of intense research for decades, and there’s compelling evidence they can help ameliorate a variety of psychiatric illnesses and degenerative brain disorders, including Alzheimer’s."
Read more: https://www.healthnutnews.com/reduces-homocysteine-levels-and-acts-as-an-alzheimers-bodyguard/
Carotenoids may also bolster brain function in older adults: Study
February 07, 2019 04:16 PM
Antioxidants and substances with anti-inflammatory properties have long shown to have great advantages on neurological function. Researchers are now finding that carotenoids can provide both of these beneficial properties, and that consuming carotenoids may help aid older adults in maintaining their brain health while preventing certain neurological disorders. The experts found that specifically lutein and zeaxanthin are the two carotenoids that have the most impact on successfully boosting cognitive function in seniors, as well as increasing verbal skills.
"However, while most studies have looked at the benefits of lutein and zeaxanthin in eye health, it should be worth noting that the two are also found in certain brain regions."
Read more: https://www.naturalnews.com/2018-12-19-carotenoids-may-also-bolster-brain-function-in-older-adults.html
Daily green tea consumption found to slash dementia risk by up to86%
January 10, 2019 04:26 PM
Green tea has long been touted for its many health benefits. It is full of antioxidants that help remove oxidation and free radicals from the body system. New studies reveal that it is also very effective in offsetting the risk factors of developing dementia later in life. Dementia effects the brain's memory system and in later stages the body's neurological system. Green tea helps to break down the plaque like build up of beta amyloid in the brain by over 80% and reducing the risk of development of dementia by over 50% in patient populous with a genetic history.
"Beta-amyloid plaques is shown to trigger the onset of cognitive disorders in patients. Researchers note similar effects regardless of whether the tea was green or black."
Read more: https://www.naturalnews.com/2019-01-02-daily-green-tea-consumption-found-to-slash-dementia-risk-by-up-to-86-percent.html
Vitamin B6 Benefits, Food Sources, Dietary Allowance & Deficiency
May 22, 2018 05:16 PM
Pyridoxamine (aka Vitamin B6) is a water soluble vitamin of the B Complex family with a range of important nervous system and stress regulation functions. B6 helps regular immunity, protect the skin, prevent cognitive decline (especially in seniors) and provide for a steady, healthy emotional state and sleep cycle. Foods rich in B6 run the gamut from plant-based sources like chickpeas, tofu, brown rice and avocados to beef liver, chicken breast, yellow tuna and other animal sources.
"In the research test groups, it was shown that Vitamin B6 benefits cognitive health in such a way that it can significantly reduce serum total homocysteine (tHcy) levels. This process is especially helpful when B6 is taken in supplement form; even then, it can better aid cognitive health when used alongside additional vitamins such as B12."
Read more: https://healthyfoodmaster.com/vitamin-b6-benefits-food-sources-dietary-allowance-deficiency/
Tell Your Grandparents to Start Consuming Weed: 8 Reasons Why Seniors Should Use Cannabis ...
October 30, 2017 01:14 PM
It's easy for me to believe that the elderly would benefit from cannabis. Considering the plant is useful for pain management and arthritis pain. While i was in favor of the first point, I wasn't sure of what to think of point two. The usual stereotype for a cannabis user is dad bod at best.
I do wish there was more studies done on the benefits of cannabis over prescription pain relief for elderly. With America going through an opioid epidemic, you can see instant and prolonged benefit from this issue. Younger patients could be introduced to cannabis from a medical standpoint immediately, and not need opioids at age 11 for an appendix surgery.
Endocannabinoids are apparently good for bone strength. Which is great for the elderly.
Again, chronic pain is relieved by cannabis. Dementia can also be treated with cannabis. And can be prevented by smoking as an adult.
Enjoying life doesn't mean smoking cannabis, but smoking cannabis makes life enjoyable.
"Every day, Baby Boomers and seniors are discovering the many benefits of the natural herb, and they’re using it to combat the consequences of age"
Read more: http://www.dopemagazine.com/8-reasons-grandparents-use-cannabis/
Increasing use by elders of CBD for anxiety
May 23, 2017 11:44 AM
Medical marijuana has helped those with issues such as dementia cope with the pain but limiting the side effects of getting 'high'. As an example, a woman named Grace in Oregon began using a strain of this to help with her anxiety. In doing so, she was able to stay more calm vs. normal medication. Various facilities in the area help support this with recommendations and for a nominal fee for those interested in learning more.
"If you are living in a facility that accepts Medicare or Medicaid, you cannot use marijuana in any form, even though it’s legal in Oregon."
Read more: http://www.dailytidings.com/news/20170516/increasing-use-by-elders-of-cbd-for-anxiety
Daily consumption of tea may protect the elderly from cognitive decline, study suggests
March 23, 2017 06:44 AM
A recent study of almost a thousand Chinese seniors aged 55 and over strongly suggests that drinking tea daily can help reduce the risk of cognitive decline by at least fifty percent, and as much as eighty-six percent in some. Starting in 2003, the seniors' tea drinking habits were tracked for two full years. Then their cognitive function was assessed every two years, ending in 2010. Possible confounding factors were controlled carefully. At this point in time, scientists believe this finding is due the bioactive compounds in tea.
Read more: Daily consumption of tea may protect the elderly from cognitive decline, study suggests
Want fewer wrinkles? Eat protein at every meal, plus fruits, vegetables, healthy fats
November 27, 2016 04:59 PM
Reduce wrinkles by following healthier diet habits. Maintain a steady intake of fluids for hydration, such as milk, orange juice, water. Regularly eating a combination of fruits like oranges, pineapples, some vegetables such as tomatoes, beets, and high protein foods like chicken, meat, and fish, will reduce the speed of wrinkles on your body. These simple tips will function much better than using anti-aging creams and lotions which are the most commonly followed rituals today.
"Eating an anti-inflammatory diet with healthy fats, including olive oil and avocado, along with lots of fresh vegetables and fruits, can help reduce inflammation."
May 17, 2008 10:17 AM
Recently, the Natural Products Association has experienced a flurry of activity on the legislative front. One month ago, Natural Products Association members went to Washington, D.C. to meet with their representatives and discuss legislation important to the association and the industry. Many who could not visit Washington in person were part of our "virtual march" on Washington that delivered e-mails, petitions, and videos to Congress on the importance of natural products. Natural Products Day was a great success, boasting higher than ever attendance at our evening Congressional reception, and resulting in additional co-sponsors for S. 771, the Child Nutrition Promotion and School Lunch Protection Act sponsored by Tom Harkin (D-Iowa). The bill now boasts co-sponsorship of more than a quarter of the Senate. Its companion bill in the House of Representatives, H.R. 1363, sponsored by Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.), has gained an additional five co-sponsors as the result of Natural Products Day meetings and now has 140 co-sponsors. These bills continue to build momentum, thanks to your support.
More recently, the Natural Products Association urged supporters to contact their legislators to include an amendment to the "Farm Bill" allowing food stamp recipients to purchase dietary supplements. This provision was similar to free-standing bills that have been introduced in the current and previous Congresses by Sens. Harkin and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and have earned the association's support. Although the amendment advanced further than other versions in previous sessions, it did not make the final Farm Bill, which was reported out of conference today. The good news is that the Farm Bill did contain significant increases in nutrition programs and increased funding for organic farming, another supported goal of the Natural Products Association. Because of the strong effort of our supporters on the amendment's behalf, the bill was placed on Congress's radar screens and has greatly improved the chances as stand-alone legislation, S. 770, the Food Stamp Vitamin and Mineral Improvement Act, of seeing passage. We will continue to ask for support on this important bill as this legislative session progresses.
In addition, the Natural Products Association has been leading the fight to protect Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), and to keep this important, safe, and effective supplement available to elderly consumers. The same players behind S. 762, which would wrongly classify DHEA as an anabolic steroid, proposed S. 2470 in late 2007 as a misplaced reaction the release of the Mitchell Report, which chronicled the abuse of steroids by professional baseball players. Although DHEA has no performance enhancing attributes, this bill was proposed to limit the access of minors to DHEA. The Natural Products Association and its supporters have worked hard to inform Congress of the benefits of DHEA, and that it is not an anabolic steroid and should not be classified as one. We have been able so far to prevent any movement on the bill, but the association continues to monitor its progress and make sure that this supplement remains accessible to the Seniors who need it most.
Thanks to your help, the Natural Products Association continues to have an active presence on Capitol Hill that is felt by legislators. We could not do it without the help of you, our supporters, who know how important it is to stand up for natural products. The impact of your messages to legislators continues to help the Natural Products Association to ensure all natural products - from natural and organic foods to dietary supplements and health and beauty aids - are accessible to Americans. With your continued support we will continue to be known as a vocal group with a wide base of support through the rest of this legislative session and beyond.
To get involved, please visit our action center at www.capwiz.com/nnfa/issues/
Seniors Need More Than a Multiple with Only 100 Percent of the RDA
January 21, 2008 03:14 PM
The aging process is a gradual one. That might seem obvious, and it is, but it is the fact that it is gradual that causes people not to notice the small but significant changes in their body that are taking place. Aging is more than just the oxidation of skin cells that cause them to wrinkle, but involves specific functional cell changes, such as their ability to multiply.
As this slows down the immune system is affected, and we find it more difficult to recover from injury and disease. Oxidation becomes more prevalent and free radicals become more common as the natural antioxidants of our bodies become overwhelmed. We are less able to recover from the effects of environmental stress, such as UV radiation from the sun, pollution and the effects of heat. We find it increasingly difficult to deal with a lack of nutrition or toxins in our food from pesticides. In short, we become less capable of dealing with attack by invaders, but do not notice this gradual lack of immune response.
Age also affects our joints from the vertebrae in the neck to the joints of our toes. The net result is a compression of the bones that causes a reduction in height. We also develop more body fat and less muscle tissue, which is a significant consideration in planning the nutritional needs of the elderly. However, of more critical importance when discussion the nutritional needs of our aging population is the possibility of malabsorption.
Malabsorption is an inability of the digestive system to absorb nutrients from food, and occurs in people of any age although it tends to be more prevalent in Seniors. It is predominantly due to a dysfunction of the liver, the pancreas or the small intestine that are the three major physical components of the human digestive system.
The liver produces bile that is needed to process the fats in your food, and if the bile is not delivered to the small intestine, then malabsorption is possible. The same is true of the enzymes that are produced by the pancreas These enzymes are important components in the biochemistry that allow us to absorb nutrition from our food, and since most of this absorption occurs in the small intestine, this too is essential for proper absorption. When any of these three are reduced in efficiency, as they are with advancing years, then malabsorption will occur.
When this occurs in Seniors, however, it is essential that a multiple supplement with more than 100% of the RDA (Rcommended Daily Allowance) is used. This type of nutritional deficiency can be very serious at an age when so many normal biochemical processes are slowing down, and it is important that steps are taken to avoid the serious problems that can arise.
The immediate symptoms of malabsorption are diarrhea and weight loss, although the more serious longer term effects are anemia due to a deficiency in folic acid and iron and a reduction in the blood’s ability to form clots due to a deficiency in vitamin K absorption. There are others, but not all problems associated with aging are actually due to malabsorption, or even with aging.
Many of the problems associated with aging are now believed to be connected with the patient’s lifestyle and diet. Heart disease such as atherosclerosis is now known to begin earlier in life, as are many other conditions once believed to be associated with age. A loss of cognitive ability can be age related, but also due to cigarette smoking and excessive alcohol consumption. However, irrespective of all this, it is essential that the aged are provided with vitamin and mineral supplements offering more than 100% RDA.
Calcium is of particular importance for older women who are particularly prone to osteoporosis due to malabsorption of calcium from their food. At least 1000mg daily should be taken, and extra magnesium and vitamins A and E will also be necessary since they are needed for the proper absorption of calcium. The extra does not infer that all of the supplement will be absorbed, but that enough should be to help reduce the possibility of bone density problems.
The elderly are particularly prone to vitamin B deficiencies, particularly of vitamin B12, due to absorption problems and a good vitamin B complex supplement is needed. Chromium too can be seriously depleted in the aged, and this mineral is necessary to enhance the activity of insulin. It is also believed to play a part in the metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins and fats. There are no known consequences of an excess of chromium so a good supplement can be provided. It is believed that vitamin B and chromium together are required for cardiovascular and neurological health that are so important as we age.
One important supplement for the elderly is Coenzyme Q10. Many older people are prescribed drugs such as statins for the treatment of high cholesterol levels. Statins work by depressing the biochemical synthesis of cholesterol by blocking the action of mevalonate, and this is known to interfere with the metabolism of Coenzyme Q10, otherwise known as ubiquinone.
CoQ10 is essential in allowing the production of energy within the cell mitochondria by allowing electron transfer back and forth between NAD and NADH to allow the production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP). A supplement of this important enzyme is therefore essential in maintaining the energy levels of the aged who are being prescribed statins.
Almost 20% of the elderly on prescription drugs are also taking herbal remedies and supplements, and there could be an interaction between them. Anybody taking prescription drugs should consult their physicians before taking natural remedies or any form of supplement, and this is particularly true of the elderly.
However, where the elderly are safely taking a vitamin and mineral supplement, it is extremely important that this contains more than just the RDA. Absorption problems are very common in the elderly, and this excess can make sure that they receive more than they would otherwise, if not the whole recommended dosage of the particular substance involved. Better safe than sorry, especially where an excess is not known to cause harm.
An Interview with Congressman Sam Farr, Representing California’s Central Coast.
May 30, 2006 02:36 PM
Ambassador to Health Profile
An Interview with Congressman Sam Farr, Representing California’s Central Coast.
Congressman Sam Farr, a fifth-generation Californian, represents the state’s beautiful central coast. His district encompasses the length of the big Sur coastline in Monterey County, the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, the Salinas Valley “Salad bowl,” the redwoods, mountains and beaches of Santa Cruz County, and the majestic rural landscape of San Benito County. The health and wealth of this region has been strengthened by Rep. Farr’s focus on the environment, education and the economy. Rep. Farr was raised in Carmel, California and graduated from Willamette University with a BS in biology. He later attended the Monterey Institute of International Studies and the University of Santa Clara. He is fluent in Spanish. As a tough advocate for the health food industry, he has lobbied for strict federal organic standards.
Todd: Congressman Farr, thank you for taking the time to speak with us! Id also like to thank you for all the great things you’ve done for our community, form funding marine sanctuaries and authoring the Ocean’s Act to expanding Pinnacles national Monument. The League of Conservation Voters and others have recognized you as an “Environmental Hero”. And, you’ve worked hard to support the economic vitality of central coast’s $3 billion agriculture industry which includes a substantial organic segment. Our backyard here is also the home of a robust group of nutritional supplement manufacturers. An estimated 187 million Americans are currently taking dietary supplements as part of their daily healthy diet. In California, we’ve got 792 natural product manufacturers and distributors. Where do you stand on the state of our industry?
Congressman Farr: Well, thank you for the introduction and for asking to talk to me about nutritional supplement issues. I am very supportive of this industry and include myself in the 187 million Americans taking dietary supplements. I think supplements offer many safe and viable tools to maintain your health. The continued growth of this industry is an indication of both consumer confidence in the products and the products’ ability to fill the gaps where conventional medical care falls short.
Todd: It is estimated that by 2030, more than 70 million Americans will be over the age of 65 and the cost of health care could reach $16 Trillion per year. A recent study by the Lewin Group showed that by taking certain dietary supplements, Seniors can lead healthier, more productive, independent lives while saving billions in reduced hospitalizations and physician services. Do you share our view that a Wellness Revolution is needed to counter the dilemma of an aging population versus shrinking health care support in the future?
Congressman Farr: Our health care system is definitely facing a challenge, especially as the Baby Boomers hit their 60’s and Americans are living longer than ever before. As a Baby Boomer myself, I am well aware of America’s aging population and the impact that will likely have not only on our social institutions but also our fiscal well-being. I agree that dietary supplements do play and will play an even larger role in the future as more Seniors look for a way to augment their diets in order to stay healthy and active longer than past generations.
Todd: Our industry is regulated by DSHEA (the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act), which was passed unanimously by Congress in 1994 to create a reasonable regulatory framework for access to, information about, dietary supplements. But many say that the FDA and DSHEA weren’t adequately funded to do the job as tasked. “Supplements are unregulated” is a false argument we sometimes hear. To ensure that the FDA is able to carry out the law as Congress intended, Representatives Dan Burton (R-Ind.) and Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) introduced H.R. 2485, the DSHEA Full Implementation and Enforcement Act of 2005. Did you support this bill and where does it stand today?
Congressman Farr: I think the DSHEA is a critical law and was proud to support it when Congress considered it in 1993 and 1994. I would certainly support H.R. 2485 if it came up for a vote in Congress. Unfortunately this bill has not moved since it was first introduced and referred to the Subcommittee on health in the house energy and commerce committee. Since this is an election year we have a tight schedule with only about 60 legislative days scheduled before we adjourn. That means it’s likely Congress will only finalize bills such as the appropriation bills that fund government before adjournment.
Todd: Our business climate has included some valid and rigorous challenges to improve our industry, from good manufacturing practices (GMP), to allergy labeling, to implications of Prop-65 in California. It’s disconcerting that a new bill, H.R. 3156 The Dietary Supplement Access and Awareness Act would try to capitalize on misconceptions about the industry. In an era of declining health care and declining insurance coverage, this bill would regulate supplements as prescription drugs. Among other things, it would also require adverse event reports to be turned over to the FDA, even though other foods, including those with identical ingredients, do not have the same requirements. This has the potential to be the next Prop-65-like Lawsuit mill. The result of H.R. 3156 would be chilling. It will knock smaller producers out of the market. It will result in higher prices for all supplements. It will decrease the availability of health-giving supplements to the public. What’s your feeling on this?
Congressman Farr: I am similarly concerned about H.R. 3156 and would oppose it if it came up for a vote in Congress. Like H.R. 2485, this legislation has been referred to a subcommittee on Health in the House Energy and Commerce Committee without any further action. The supplement industry has worked in good faith with the FDA since passage of DSHEA and H.R. 3156 would re-invent a wheel that isn’t needed. Instead, adequate funding as proposed in H.R. 2485 would provide ample oversight for the industry.
Todd: According to a recent study, 72% of the general population believe the government should fund more research on health benefits of nutritional supplements. Do you agreen and what can be done to meet this need?
Congressman Farr: I definitely agree that the federal government should play a bigger role in support of research regarding the health benefits of nutritional supplements. As a member of the House Appropriation Committee, I sit on the subcommittee that has jurisdiction over the FDA’s budget and I know the tight fiscal restraints the agency is under. I’ve worked with my colleagues to provide adequate funding, but it’s an uphill battle especially when we’re in a “robbing Peter to pay Paul” kind of situation. I recommend that people within the industry organize and use your consumer base to actively lobby Congress for additional funds. I’m fond of reminding people that the squeaky wheel gets grease – so let every Congress member and Senator know how much this issue matters to you.
Todd: When there is overwhelming scientific evidence that nutritional supplements provides relief for a disease condition, it currently takes a lawsuit to get the FDA to relent and allow the claim. Even then, the FDA strictly limits the claim and requires a disclaimer that does more harm than good in communicating this important information to the public. There is a new bill, H.R. 4282, The Health Freedom Protection Act that would end FDA and FTC censorship of health information. As an example, the 50% of all adult males who suffer from an enlarged prostate could receive relief from that condition by consuming a simple and safe ingredient, saw palmetto derived from the fruit of the dwarf American palm tree. The FDA censors that information. The public deserves a better opportunity to be informed about omega-3 EFA and heart disease, folic acid and birth defects, phosphatidylserine and cognitive impairment. Do you agree and do you support this bill?
Congressman Farr: I agree the public needs to access to the best information possible so they can make well informed choices about their health. I likely would support H.R. 4282 if it came up for a vote in Congress. Unfortunately this bill is in a similar situation as other we’ve mentioned in this interview – and again because of the tight schedule of an election year, it’s unlikely action will happen this year.
Todd: According to the barometer study, 85% of the US population is currently using some type of dietary supplement. Do you? Looking at your busy schedule from co-chairing the House Oceans Caucus to your seat on the Travel and Tourism Caucus, you are one busy congressman! Are you popping nutritional supplements please tell us!
Congressman Farr: I do take some nutritional supplements, though they vary and since Ginkgo Biloba isn’t among them I cant remember their names off-hand! One product I do use faithfully is Airborne to help me combat germs and colds that I might get from sitting on an airplane. But, like many Americans my life is over-scheduled and combined with the amount of air-travel I do, I find nutritional supplements helpful as I try to stay healthy despite my hectic lifestyle.
Todd: Thank you Congressman Farr! Live long and prosper!
DSEA Release of Health/Cost Impact Study Conducted by the Lewin Group, Initial Results, Wash DC; Nov. 2, 2005
NNFA database. Adam.F on 3-15-06.
DSEA Nutritional Supplement Barometer Study, 2005 Report, Prepared by the Natural Marketing Institute (NMI).
Todd Williams; Source Naturals Marketing Programs Manager.
Hidden In Plain Sight - The spreading epidemic: Diabetes.
June 12, 2005 06:02 PM
Hidden In Plain Sight by Carl Lowe Energy Times, October 7, 2003
Today, a devastating disease is striking millions of Americans. Sixteen million Americans already have this disease, and every day another 2,200 Americans learn they have it. The spreading epidemic: Diabetes.
The potential ramifications: Millions of people more susceptible to heart disease, dementia, infections, amputations and blindness. Lowering your risk for diabetes is relatively simple and terribly important. Because dealing with some of its effects once you are its victim can be much more complicated.
Signs of Trouble
"Approximately one in four individuals over the age of 60 has type 2 diabetes, which is a remarkable statistic," says Gerald Shulman, MD, of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute at Yale University. "And, if you add impaired glucose tolerance [a condition that often leads to diabetes], you're talking about 40% of the population."
The economic burden of this epidemic is staggering, estimated at about $100 billion a year and growing.
If you never exercise, carry around a substantial amount of stomach fat and have seen your weight climb significantly over the years, you are among the people at higher risk for diabetes.
These lifestyle habits eventually render your body unable to efficiently process blood sugar. In technical terms, researchers investigating how the body uses and misuses blood sugar have identified what they have called "syndrome X" or "metabolic syndrome," a condition that puts you at high risk for both diabetes and heart disease.
If you have three or more of the following signs, you now have metabolic syndrome and, unless you change the way you live, may eventually suffer diabetes (Circulation 7/14/03):
* Fat around your middle
* High blood pressure
* High triglycerides (blood fats)
* Low level of HDL ("good" cholesterol)
* High fasting blood sugar
In a study of more than 6,000 men in Scotland, having three of these metabolic problems almost doubled the risk of heart disease and more than tripled the risk of diabetes. If you have four of these risk factors, your risk of heart disease just about quadruples, and your diabetes risk skyrockets almost 25 times.
The cells in your body get the energy they need to survive when they take sugar out of your blood and oxidize it along with fatty acids. Normally, insulin, a hormone-like substance released by the pancreas, speeds the absorption of blood sugar by the cells. When your pancreas cannot make insulin at all or makes too little, you suffer what is called type 1 or juvenile diabetes. This condition is usually treated by taking insulin.
But if your pancreas secretes what should be enough insulin for glucose absorption, and your cells are still unable to take sufficient sugar from your blood, you have what is called type 2 or adult-onset diabetes.
Understanding exactly why cells develop difficulties in taking sugar out of the blood and using it for energy has long troubled medical investigators. This condition, before it develops into full-blown diabetes, is called insulin resistance. Researchers have now linked it to malfunctioning mitochondria, the little structures in cells that make the energy that keeps cells functioning.
Scientists have long known that, as you age, you become more susceptible to diabetes. And when researchers compare the mitochondria in young people with those found in the cells of the elderly, they find that older mitochondria are more sluggish.
The mitochondria within the cells oxidize glucose and fatty acids to make energy. (They accomplish this in a complicated metabolic action called the Krebs cycle.) Difficulty with this process, or insulin resistance, can occur when fat and fatty acid waste products accumulate in your liver and muscle tissue.
"We hypothesized that there were two routes to this type of fat accumulation," says Dr. Shulman. "One is that the fat cells might release more fatty acids to be delivered to muscles and/or defects in mitochondrial oxidation might then lead to the accumulation of these fatty acids."
Research confirms that fatty molecules probably collect in muscle cells because the mitochondria's ability to burn fat breaks down over the years. On average, mitochondrial activity dips about 40% in older people.
Dr. Shulman thinks that the final coup de grace in the development of diabetes from insulin resistance takes place when the mitochondria malfunction in the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas.
Although Dr. Shulman says that more research is needed to understand why mitochondrial function slips with age, he recommends keeping your mitochondria from slacking off by exercising. Studies now show that regular physical activity can probably increase the mitochondria in your muscles by activating release of an enzyme called AMP kinase. "...an encouraging note in this study is that-since we've shown that exercise leads to more mitochondria by activation of [the enzyme] AMP kinase-by staying active, the elderly might...maintain mitochondrial content and head off such health problems," says Dr. Shulman. "This is yet another reason for Seniors to maintain an active lifestyle," he adds.
Maitake for Metabolic Syndrome
Another natural way to fight the metabolic syndrome is with an extract of the maitake mushroom (Grifola frondosa). The extract, called sx-fraction, is attracting research investigating its ability to help the body manage blood sugar more efficiently. In one study, five people with diabetes improved their blood sugar levels with sx-fraction (Diab Med 2001; 18).
This research found that taking maitake sx-fraction is often accompanied by drops in blood glucose levels ranging from 30% to 63%. According to Mark Kaylor, PhD and Ken Babal, CN, in Syndrome X and SX-Fraction (Woodland), "...Studies have demonstrated that whole maitake or its fractions are potent agents for improving 'diabetic conditions.'"
Take the Whole Grains Home
Eating a daily dish of whole grains, like whole wheat and brown rice, can also reduce your risk of diabetes (AJCN 8/22/03). In a twelve-year study of more than 40,000 men between the ages of 40 and 75, researchers found that those who ate three servings of whole grains a day cut their risk in half.
The researchers found that even overweight people lowered their chances of diabetes by eating whole grains and exercising.
Consuming more magnesium also helped; whole grains contain amounts of this mineral missing in refined-grain foodstuffs. Magnesium improves insulin response.
In an age of junk food, our simple taste for sugar and refined grains may threaten our health. Yet, your defense against this scourge is no further away than simply eating more fibrous foods and going for a simple, everyday walk.