Aging in a healthy manner is no simple feat, but practitioners can help their patients remain healthy as they grow older.
One has heard the phrase being used time and time again: “that person sure is aging so well!” At times, it is directed towards figures in the entertainment industry—actresses and actors—who have appeared to find the secret in altering the space-time continuum.
According to a Population Reference Bureau (PRB) January 2016 report, the number of Americans aged 65 and older is predicted to more than double, from the approximate 46 million to 98 million by the year 2060. This age group would then represent about 24 percent of the total population, compared to 15 percent currently.
Even though aging healthily may not be as simple as it seems, it is still obtainable, as long as practitioners can successfully describe the factors associated with aging, along with ways to treat these concerns.
Common Health Issues
Each person’s case is different especially depending on gender, but on a more general note, women and men encounter various illnesses as they age.
Cesilie Cocks, ND, a member of the College of Naturopathic Medicine’s adjunct faculty at the Natural University of Natural Medicine (NUNM) in Oregon provided the following list of common age-correlated issues divided by gender:
Women: Cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, heart disease, arthritis, immune dysfunction, malnutrition, age-related cognitive decline, dementia/Alzheimer’s, incontinence, urinary tract infections
Men: Cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH, also known as enlarged prostate), malnutrition, decreased immune function, arthritis, cognitive decline, dementia/Alzheimer’s disease, macular degeneration, cataracts
According to Dr. Cocks, these illnesses lead to the “inability to maintain proper immune function, regeneration and repair of cellular structures diminishes, and we produce less of multiple enzymes and vital nutrients needed for optimal function. All this is happening in the face of a lifetime of external and internal stressors, and, in our society, these processes are accelerated by poor dietary habits, sedentary lifestyles, increased stress and toxic exposures.”
Brandon Price, president of Montana-based Medicine Springs Inc. agreed with Dr. Cocks. Additionally, he felt strongly about issues impacting the joints, especially since his company’s bath formulas can help provide natural pain relief in this area.
“The most common ailments associated with aging are joint conditions like arthritis, which hinder one’s efforts to maintain an active lifestyle,” he said. “Historically, people as they aged would visit hot springs to soak these sore joints and help relieve the joint pain of arthritis. With the majority of people not living near a hot spring or not having the time/ability to drive to a hot spring every time they needed relief, this was a hard practice to follow into modern times. With Medicine Springs now being an option, history comes full circle. Now, instead of people traveling to the hot springs for relief, the hot springs travel to the people!”
Perhaps from a more scientific perspective, Mark Eastman, founder and CEO of the CompX Research Institute in California, views aging as an inevitable process that can be sped up as a result of the surrounding environment.
“Environmental risk factors (pollution, stress, overeating, smoking) tend to accelerate the damage process. Controlling those factors is certainly useful, Eastman noted, “but the underlying deterioration process is inexorable.
“The problem of cellular defects has plagued every complex organism that has ever existed. So evolution has had plenty of time to work out a solution. The occurrence of defects cannot be prevented, but evolution did provide humans with processes that repair the damage as it accumulates. The critical distinction between these repair processes and the healing process is that these processes must be activated through physical activity.”
In other words, the greater the amount of exercise, the better one may feel, health and aging wise; more activity could also help to lower the risk of chronic degenerative diseases.
Vincent Giampapa, MD, FACS, founder of Healthycell in New Jersey, a health sciences company that stands for optimizing the body at its core (the cell), feels that the most effective natural remedies begin with those that intend to repair DNA. He even recommended a product for practitioners to pass along to their patients. “The best natural compounds are those that improve DNA repair, he said. “Damage to DNA is the key initiating event in cell aging that causes changes in telomere length, decreases in ideal gene expression patterns and is the beginning of the formation of cellular senescence. One key compound that can improve DNA repair is ac-11, which is a very specific extract of Uncaria tomentosa, otherwise known as cat’s claw, grown in the Peruvian Amazon rainforest. Its effects are backed by multiple publications in peer-reviewed journals in both human and animal studies.”
However, it’s also important to keep in mind that caring for one’s skin is not necessarily just about applying the proper topical medications.
Rather, as mentioned by Paula Simpson, skin nutrition, formulation expert and co-founder of Missouri-based ZSS Skincare, consumers are now aware of the fact that external influences such as sun damage, sleep, stress and food choices can impact the “extrinsic aging” process—as one gets older, the cells themselves have been exposed to these environmental stressors, as Eastman referenced earlier.
“Nutrition has some effect on the mechanisms of aging of the body as a whole,” Simpson noted. “Inhibiting these mechanisms slows down the overall aging process, including the aging of the skin. As we age, the physiological functions of the skin can be dramatically compromised … When the skin is under ‘oxidative overload,’ free radicals can eventually break down the protein substance in connective tissue (collagen) and release chemicals that cause inflammation in the skin. It is a combination of these cellular and molecular events that leads to skin aging and the formation of wrinkles, uneven skin tone and sagging skin.”
One form of antioxidant-related therapy Simpson suggests that can help restore skin balance is sea buckthorn (berry oils) or marine sources, which “offer [a] balanced blend of omega fatty acids (3,6,7,9), and plant-based ceramides show promise in restoring epidermal bilayer and skin moisture.”
Resveratrol, which can be found in peanuts, pomegranates, red grape juice and wine offers a plethora of benefits that span across multiple age groups. “Experimental studies suggest that it offers a both anticarcinogenic and anti-inflammatory effects and additionally reverse obesity, reduce hyperglycemia, protect heart and endothelial function, improve cognitive performance, and increase the life span,”1-3 Dr. Cocks noted.
Furthermore, when it comes to the relationship between aging, bone and heart health, Price said, magnesium can help replenish the amount that some Americans lack in their everyday diet. “According to researchers at the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom, soaking in hot spring water rich in magnesium can boost levels by as much as 35 percent. Magnesium is important for bone and heart health and data collected by the National Academy of Sciences shows most Americans don’t get enough in their diet. Medicine Springs is unique in that it contains all of these minerals in recipes designed by nature.”
State of the Market
Although traditional and natural medication is often classified as two separate categories, one could make the argument that they are actually from the same source. Dr. Giampapa finds this to be an advantage.
“Many people don’t understand that medication (synthetically created Rx drugs) often are derived from nature. Half of the top 10 prescription drugs in the U.S. are of animal, plant or microorganism origin,” he noted. “For example, without nature-derived cancer drugs like Taxol or blood pressure lowering drugs like lisinopril, many people reading this right now may not be here. So it is only logical to think that the source of synthetic drugs—natural compounds—can be as powerful as the drugs themselves in some circumstance. For this reason, the market for natural healthy aging products will continue to grow because people are becoming more educated. Add to this the fact that many natural compounds have less side effects than Rx drugs, and you have even greater demand for natural healthy aging products.”
If patients are looking for anti-aging products per se, this does not necessarily exist – instead, there are products that help treat conditions relating to aging. “There are currently no anti-aging medications on the market; however, there are numerous medications that treat age-related diseases,” mentioned Dr. Cocks. “These drugs include treatments for and prevention of cardiovascular disease, such as statins and antihypertensive medications; diabetes medications, like metformin and insulin; bisphosphonates for osteoporosis; various cancer-treatment drugs; drugs to treat sexual dysfunction and hair loss; and hormone replacement therapies. These are all part of the multibillion dollar pharmaceutical industry that is growing rapidly.”
Depending on how these various medications continue to develop, their progress could affect the future of research in the field.
As we have seen, aging is a process that can affect various parts of the body. Therefore, the pancreas is no exception.
Michael Murray, ND, chief science officer with Enzyme Science in Florida, noted that digestion can be impacted by the pancreas as a result of insufficiencies, especially as one ages.
He referenced a study titled “Fecal Pancreatic Elastase-1 Levels in Older Individuals Without Known Gastrointestinal Diseases or Diabetes Mellitus,” in which 159 patients were divided (not equally) into three age groups (60-69, 70-79 and above 80, with 53 20-28 year-olds serving as controls). Fecal elastase-1 level was measured from stool samples with an ELISA method. Dr. Karl-Heinz Herzig, professor at Department of Biotechnology and Molecular Medicine, A.I. Virtanen Institute for Molecular Sciences, University of Eastern Finland was the lead investigator of the study.
The study, published in BioMed Central stated, “fecal elastase-1 concentrations correlated negatively with age and were significantly lower among subjects over 70 years old compared to controls. Among the over 60 year-old subjects, the fecal elastase-1 concentrations were below the cut off level of 200 μg/g in 23 of 106 individuals, indicating pancreatic exocrine insufficiency. Of those, nine subjects had fecal elastase-1 level below 100 μg/g as a marker of severe pancreatic insufficiency.”
Adam Killpartrick, DC, chief scientific officer for DaVinci Laboratories of Vermont, put together an Aging Protocol Guide with DaVinci Labs. It describes the methylation/telomere/mitochondrial cycle, which influences proper aging. The item even adds that each piece of the cycle “drives the next and requires adequate nutritive support in order to do. Optimizing this cycle lays the foundation for long term health.”
However, when it comes to the approach surrounding healthy aging research, its evolution has undergone a 360-degree transformation.
“We feel the evolution is coming full circle,” said Price. “In the age of modern medicine, people relied upon a shot and a pill for health. In a more health conscience world, it seems the shift is going back to a more well rounded approach to living and aging. Eat properly and exercise along with a well-balanced supplement program containing soaks like Medicine Springs are a valuable part of this new lifestyle and in healthy aging. Products like Medicine Springs Sport and Joint formulas help to control pain and soreness, which allows us to get out and be more active. This then leads to a more active lifestyle which is important in healthy aging.”
1 Bradamante S, Barenghi L, Villa A. Cardiovascular Protective Effects of Resveratrol. Cardiovascular Drug Reviews. 2006;22(3):169-188. doi:10.1111/j.1527-3466.2004.tb00139.x.
2 Effects of resveratrol, curcumin, berberine and other nutraceuticals on aging, cancer development, cancer stem cells and microRNAs. PubFacts: Scientific Publication Data. www.pubfacts.com/ detail/28611316/Effects-of-resveratrol-curcumin-berberine-and-other-nutraceuticals-on-aging-cancer-development-cance. Accessed June 27, 2017.
3 Kennedy DO, Wightman EL, Reay JL, et al. Effects of resveratrol on cerebral blood flow variables and cognitive performance in humans: a double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover investigation. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2010;91(6):1590-1597. doi:10.3945/ajcn.2009.28641.
Healthy Take Aways
• According to a Population Reference Bureau January 2016 report, the number of Americans aged 65 and older is predicted to more than double, from the approximate 46 million to 98 million by the year 2060. This age group would then represent about 24 percent of the total population, compared to 15 percent currently.
• Cardiovascular disease, diabetes, malnutrition, immune dysfunction/decreased immune function and arthritis are some of the common age-correlated issues that women and men share. Others are gender specific.
• According to researchers at the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom, soaking in hot spring water rich in magnesium can boost levels by as much as 35 percent.
For More Information:
CompX Research Institute, www.compxtheory.com
Enzyme Science, www.enzyscience.com
Medicine Springs Inc., www.medicinesprings.com
Natural University of Natural Medicine, www.nunm.edu
ZSS Skincare, www.zss-skincare.com