The Elixir of Youth? Anti-oxidants Aren’t It
The BBC documentary, Don’t Grow Old, features several scientists who offer unique and intriguing theories about the molecular processes that age us, and possible ways to prevent them. There may never actually be an elixir of youth that comes in a bottle (darn), in spite of scientists’ efforts to package and sell it. In this documentary, a number of scientists claim they have done just that. There are a plethora of theories about what causes aging and what we can do to slow it down.
David Sinclair, a Harvard Medical School professor suggests an exciting possibility in the documentary: stay slim, age much more slowly, yet don’t cut calories. Sinclair began experiments ten years ago, using yeast and mice. Yeast is a simple organism with 6,000 genes (about a 10th of ours). Almost all of these genes exist in human being. Even more intriguing, a set of genes were discovered in yeast that increase life longevity that greatly extends the life span of yeast. Adding one extra copy of the gene greatly expanded the lifespan of yeast: about 30%. The chemical that acted like this set of genes, along with a molecule called resveritrol, were added to a control group of people’s diets, yielding the results he hoped for: high energy and a much more youthful appearance. Sinclair sold his drug for $720 million dollars. However before we get too excited. Resveritrol hasn’t been released onto the market, yet. It is till in its developmental stage. Interestingly, people in the documentary who look much younger than their actual age don’t appear to be taking any drugs: they eat very well and stay active. Rather than the old adage, eat less and exercise more, the new mantra should be eat well and exercise more. Your love affair with food may continue unabated, so long as your menu is a good one. Hooray. Moving right along….
Across the continent Professor Arlin Richardson experimented with anti-oxidants. He set out to prove that the 1950s theory, (not his own), oxidative stress, was a leading cause of aging and premature death. The theory suggests that a faster heart rate while at rest causes the stress, however many scientists now believe that isn’t the case. Oxygen, however, remains a central part of the oxidative stress theory. Surprisingly, after ten years of experimentation with mice, Richardson discovered that anti-oxidents, the supposed cure-all against aging, wasn’t. Another research scientist has confirmed these results. Oxidative stress doesn’t make a difference in aging. Therefore, eating and using anti-oxidents aren’t the answer to slowing down the aging process. In fact, oxidative stress is probably a cause of the environment, including pollution, rather than a lack of anti-oxidants. It’s going to take a long time for anyone to buy into that one. Don’t let cosmetics companies in on that discovery either: they earn billions of dollars annually by claiming to package anti-oxidants into their products. Regardless, food agnostic that I am, I insist on seeking out skin care products with anti-oxidants, and eating foods that nutritionists claim to have loads of the stuff. Just in case.
Dr. Bill Andrews believes there is a fundamental cause of aging: telomes. Every time our cells divide, the tips of the cells, called telomes, become shorter. Eventually they become short enough that our cells no longer divide. Since we can’t produce new cells, we age. Andrews insists there is nothing we can do about telomesl however, he discovered a natural enzyme in our bodies called telomerase. He injected the enzymes into cells and it prevented the telomes from shortening. Andrews sought a drug that would transport telomarese into our cells and prevent aging; however another company, TA Science, beat him to it, developing the product TA65. Andrews began taking TA65. TA65 is on the market for $25,000.00 a year. Seriously. Another scientist argues that telomes are responsible for aging. He worked with children with progeria, a disease that causes extremely rapid aging, and discovered a mutation in a gene called lamin A. Lamin A causes the body to produce an abnormal protein within the children’s cells. The same protein is made at very low levels in healthy individuals who don’t have the mutation. Elderly people’s cells cannot cope with lamin A, which tries to do damage. So much for TA65.
How to Be Slim
Alongside anti-aging documentaries, the BBC documentary how to be slim is another interesting perspective on healthy lifestyle and attractive bodies. Metabolism is in every fitness aficionado’s Have vocabulary, it seems. Yet, none of us use it correctly. In the documentary, an overweight woman named Joan, claimed she ate half of what Becky, her skinny friend, ate, yet she remained fat and her friend remained skinny. An experiment revealed that Joan actually ate 50% more than Becky. Mindless snacking throughout the day added significant calories to her diet. Another big surprise (for all of us), Joan burned more calories while sitting down because her body had a faster metabolism than Becky. What? Her body had a faster metabolism than Becky. Isn’t that contrary to everything you’ve ever learned about metabolism? Aren’t slimmer people supposed to have a higher metab? Not so. The more Joan ate, the hungrier she got, the more she cranked up her metabolism, and the hungrier she got, and the vicious cycle kept repeating itself. Joan ate more than she needed. Period. Extra calories are stored as fat. If this is you, your weight problem isn’t due to your metabolism at all. You eat too much! And you eat unhealthy, unfriendly food. Stop that!
There are hoards of BBC documentaries about healthy eating, slim living, and contrasts between healthy and unhealthy eating. They are informative and interesting. I suggest you check them out.
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