"Human progress has never been achieved with unanimous consent. Those who are enlightened first are compelled to pursue the light in spite of others."
Christopher Columbus (1492).
"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful citizens can change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has."
"To grow old in a beautiful and dignified way is at the same time a science and an art."
Professor Ana Aslan
Aging is perhaps an evocative term, relating as it does to a human process which while many consider natural, is in fact being thought of by more and more scientists, researchers and physicians, as a disease.
The only difference between the aging disease and other diseases is that the aging disease affects every man and woman on the planet!
Over the last 40 years, we have recorded the aging human condition, charting the progress of various chemical reactions and the output of hormones.
Hormones such as human growth hormone (HGH), Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), melatonin, thyroid and thymus. The results show that many of these functions reduce in frequency, strength and production as we age.
One of the most obvious results of this decline is a reduction in immune system function, which in turn leads to easier and greater infection and disease.
However, not all hormones decline as we age, a few actually increase. For example; cortisol is a hormone responsible for stress and muscle breakdown; another is prolactin, a hormone that is involved in fat synthesis; another is insulin which is also responsible for pro-aging affects, making us all effectively diabetic as we age.
Clearly, these results reflect what we all already know about the aging condition, but with a difference, they are the causes.
So optimum health may be viewed like a pyramid. The base of good health and longevity lies in a foundation of genetics, lifestyle, exercise and nutrition, but further up the scale, we know that vitamins, minerals, hormones and indeed some drugs can play an important role in maintaining optimal performance and health.
The scientists, Durk Pearson and Sandy Shaw dropped this bombshell on the world in the mid seventies with their book Life Extension.
It exploded the myth that nothing could be done about aging. They pointed out that the use of nutrition, mega vitamins, hormones and some drugs help improve and maintain better health in old age, both as a preventative (i.e. growing older) and as a treatment.
Anti-aging medicine is the stimulation and addition of "natural" human elements to help ensure that the body is able to repair and regenerate itself, utilizing the same chemicals it relies on day in, day out, but to make their availability greater in older age.
In short, anti-aging is the supplementation of the body's needs as we age, to help it continue to perform as well as it did when we were in our twenties. Nobel prize laureate, Linus Pauling called it orthomolecular medicine.
For example, DHEA, an adrenal gland sterone that is in high quantities in human blood, begins a rapid decline after the mid twenties, and by the time we reach 70, it is only a small fraction of what it was 50 years earlier. The maintenance of DHEA to twenties/thirties levels has been shown to increase energy, well being and strengthen the immune system. This is just one small example of what a properly maintained anti-aging program can do.
Since Pearson and Shaw pointed out the benefits of their "Life Extension" program, many other eminent figures have blazed the various trails.
The main drive of antiaging medicine has been from the United States and many hundreds of eminent researchers, scientists and physicians specifically interested in the aging disorder, have joined together in the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine (A4M) and the International College for Advancement of Longevity Medicine (InCALM).
One affect of aging that is gathering great interest is the mitochondria, the tiny "power plants" which are in each individual cell. They produce ATP (adenosine triphosphate) the universal energy molecule that our bodies utilize for every function.
They also help produce a chemical called pregnenolone which is the starting material for all the neurosteroids and sterones in our bodies.
As you can see these tiny mitochondria have a very important job to do, but they are easily damaged and as the mitochondria become damaged the organ they provide for becomes damaged too.
It is important therefore to help prevent this aging damage from occurring and products such as Idebenone have been shown to be highly effective in doing just that.
Every organ contains ribonucleic acids (RNAs) that help the organ repair and regenerate, each organ appears to have a different set of RNAs to perform its particular role. As such RNA replacement therapy has proved useful, particularly for the elderly, both in terms of improved well being and extended organ capabilities.
The good news is that laboratory experiments have shown (for example) that liver samples from both young and elderly persons perform almost identically, when given the same correct environmental conditions. In other words optimum nutrition through simulating bodily chemical processes, both in terms of hormones, vitamins and amino-acids etc., has benefits for the aging condition, to a far greater degree than previously imagined.
One of the areas of greatest concern in aging is the brain. This central command organ is perhaps the most overlooked organ today in terms of nutrition. After all, your average physician may be able to suggest a diet for your heart or for your kidneys, but what about your brain and your memory?
This is compounded by the fact that the brain contains a unique protective sheath called the "brain blood barrier."
This barrier proves a difficult obstacle for many supplements to pass through, but it's there for a very important reason. Unlike other organs the brain does not possess the ability to renew its cells, once they die they're gone, in fact the decline of certain brain chemicals has lead some neurologists to state that "if we all live long enough we would all become senile."
Therefore the protection and enhancement of brain function has become one of the cornerstones of anti-aging medicine. The improvement and correction of brain function has been achieved with the use of nootropic nutrients and drugs, the so-called Smart Drugs. Ward Dean MD has written a best selling series of books, which have pointed out the clinical trials of such products and their affect upon those who used them. Dr. Dean proved in his Smart Drug series of books, that the use of Nootropic nutrients and drugs have positive benefits for those concerned about age related mental decline, as well as the onset of senile dementia.
Correcting and preventing brain deterioration is a lot more easily performed when caught as early as possible.
For example were you aware that Parkinson's disease is caused by a decline in a brain neurotransmitter called dopamine? The disease is only diagnosed as Parkinson's after the patient has lost 80% of their dopamine!
There is a linear affect of a loss of dopamine each decade, drugs such as deprenyl have been used as a preventative for this loss, increasing and stabilizing dopamine levels when taken in small but regular doses.
This is just one example of improving brain function.
Of course there are also outside factors that affect aging. Not only stress, but environmental factors such as pollution, toxic metals, various chemicals in the food chain, air and the water supply, as well as the inability for modern food processing, market demands and junk food to be able to supply the optimum doses of nutritional needs.
Whilst various countries regulatory bodies have fixed so called Recommended Daily Allowances (RDAs), these really represent the Minimum Daily Allowances (MDAs). For example, 30mg of vitamin C per day prevents scurvy, but this is hardly optimum nutrition, and whilst most will recognize that teenagers and pregnant women require extra nutrition, the needs of the particular individual, and especially the aging individual, are completely overlooked.
On average, it is estimated that optimal nutrition doses could be as much as 10 times the RDAs. As Linus Pauling remarked "there isn't a disease or a disorder that isn't caused by or accentuated by a lack of a vitamin or a mineral." We obviously are what we eat, breathe, touch and absorb (light, radiation, heat etc.) It makes common sense to supply the body with its natural needs and protect it against "alien" forces.
Potent antioxidants and specialist supplements for reestablishing correct testosterone / estrogen balances and chelation (the removal of toxins and metals) are necessary as we age because we can no longer put our complete faith in the modern environment. What are the long-term toxic effects of the various metals, pesticides and other chemicals such as fluoride that inhabit our food chain? Will we look back at them in 20 years time and consider them like we do DDT and asbestos today?
But general aging appears more and more to be a failure on behalf of the DNA to replicate itself correctly, leading to a gradual decline in the function of various organs, until eventually a complete organ failure leads to one form of death or another.
It's therefore likely that the major breakthroughs will consist of DNA altering or stabilizing, there are already a number of leading genealogists who are studying the DNA strain specifically for the changes that occur in aging.
It appears that the telemars that are attached to the chromosomes on the DNA spiral end up becoming shortened through the inability for the telemar to reproduce itself precisely each time it repairs itself. This idea has been expertly expressed in Michael Fossel MD's book, Reversing Human Aging.
With this comes a "knock on" effect to other organs, for example a reduction in the output of thyroid hormones.
Dr. Don Kleinsek, a leading genealogist in the anti-aging field has discovered that the correct reintroduction of thyroid hormone (for example), will help repair the telemars responsible for the thyroid, to their original and correct structure. In other words this is a two way street, it appears the telemars can be repaired even if damage has already occurred.
We envisage that the future will involve a blood test that examines the DNA structure to see what specific damage has occurred to the individual and then reintroduce the correct and precise hormones to repair this damage - pin point shooting, if you like, instead of a shotgun approach.
Obviously what we need to know is what each of these millions of telemars and chromosomes means and does. A daunting task, but one that Dr. Kleinsek feels we are just a few years away from understanding!
We already know many of the changes and some of the principles of the aging condition. The force that now drives this means that the great breakthroughs are just around the corner. It is generally felt within the industry that these will definitely happen in this generation, and for those leading the field, within the next 10 years! The main hindrance to this advance shall probably be from the vested interests and dogma within certain authorities, and the established industry itself.
But right now, the main focuses for optimal health and life extension can be seen in all of the following groups:
A great deal can be done to correct signs of aging and especially to prevent the signs of aging from occurring. An exciting future free from the pains and problems of severe aging lies just ahead.
We recommend reading through our A-Z Anti-Aging Medicine to discover the latest about the cutting-edge of anti-aging supplements that represent the tip of the optimal health pyramid.
We also recommend viewing our Library and contacting other similar minded organizations and Professionals that can provide further information on the science behind living longer and healthier.