The secret to healthy aging does not lie in one solution. Rather, it takes a combination of lifestyle changes and natural products to reach that goal.
What exactly does a topic like healthy aging encompass? In a nutshell, it includes ways in which one can feel youthful, both internally and externally.
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH)’s National Institute on Aging, maintaining our health can be a smoother process if we: • Pay attention to weight and shape: Body composition (fat to muscle ratio), along with location of fat can play a factor. Also, those that are overweight or obese have a greater risk of stroke, sleep apnea, high blood pressure, heart disease, osteoarthritis and some types of cancer. However, for older folks, studies have also shown that thin adults (BMI of less than 19) have a higher mortality rate than those that are normal weight or obese.
• Exercise: Balance exercises can help prevent falls, while strength exercises help build muscle and reduce osteoporosis risk. But this only begins to scratch the surface.
There are also a variety of ways for patients to maintain their vitality and functionality, such as diet and natural products, both of which practitioners can suggest should they see fit.
Being Aware of Health Issues
Aging can take shape in several different forms, including through brain health. In fact, it can lead to a multitude of issues.
“Poor lifestyle choices cause accelerated brain aging and make you more vulnerable to mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety, as well as memory problems and Alzheimer’s disease, which is expected to triple by the year 2050,” explained Daniel Amen, MD, founder of both Amen Clinics and BrainMD (California). “Our brain imaging work shows that mental health conditions and memory problems are actually symptoms of an unhealthy brain.”
A factor with aging is the manner in which it can make its presence felt, from the cellular level to the body in its entirety, brain included of course.
“Aging can manifest itself in a myriad number of ways, from the micro level (DNA, mitochondria, cell membrane) to the macro level (systemic and whole-body function),” said Mark J. Kaylor, founder of the not-for-profit Radiant Health Project and consultant/educator for Mushroom Wisdom (New Jersey). “One key and tricky area of aging concern is the brain because the issues are often occurring in the brain years, and even decades before noticeable symptoms start to arise. It’s never too early to be attentive to brain health. And so far, the best success we have seen in this area is one focused on prevention, not letting the brain issues get started in the first place. Here again mushrooms excel. A growing body of research supports the protective and preventive activities of the Lion’s Mane mushroom. Recent research has also found that simply eating two or more servings a week of mushrooms may lower one’s risk of developing mild cognitive impairment.”
And the aforementioned mental health concerns can include subjective cognitive decline (SCD), which is “a type of mental impairment characterized by more frequent episodes or worsening memory loss and/or confusion that affects an individual’s ability to care for him/herself,” according to Karen Edwards, MS, senior medical writer with Arizona-based Sovereign Laboratories, who also noted the ongoing presence of chronic inflammation.
Cai Berg, founder and CEO of nutraceutical distributor Berg Nutrition in Michigan described inflammation as the gateway to other health issues.
“… Inflammation is the common factor that causes physical distress across a majority of primary health concerns, whether it be cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, rheumatic, etc. But inflammation is not the same thing from one organ or system to another,” he said. “We must address the cause and not the ‘symptom.’ Simply taking an anti-inflammatory does nothing to address specific causes of inflammation and in many cases, simply makes things worse.”
For women, the roles that estrogen plays are numerous, including for autonomic control, brain function and emotional state. However, after age 40, production of the hormone begins to gradually decline, explained Joe Hasson, U.S. account manager for Se-cure Pharmaceuticals (Israel), who produces the Femarelle line for women’s healthy aging.
He also noted that reduction in estrogen levels can lead to multiple complications, some of which can occur if one does not pursue an active and healthy lifestyle, including:
• Mood swings
• Memory loss
• Problems focusing
• Hot flashes and night sweats
• Stress and anxiety
• Decreased libido
• Increased risk for cardiovascular disease
• Irritation or discomfort during sexual activity
• Vulnerable to vaginal infections
• Vaginal dryness leading to vaginal atrophy
• Increased risk of urinary tract infections
• Feeling the need to urinate more often
• Incontinence when coughing, laughing or lifting heavy objects
• Acceleration of osteoclast activity (the cells that break the bone), while osteoblast activity (the cells that build the bone), which is motivated by ER response, lags behind. This process leads to accelerated bone loss, which develops into osteopenia and can ultimately lead to osteoporosis.
• Abnormal growths in the breast: often harmless like cysts, but they can also be a sign of breast cancer
• Dryness, itching and an increase in wrinkling and sagging of the skin
• Skin becomes more susceptible to injury, such as bruising
So, how can patients combat these issues? Some natural solutions may help do the trick.
For those who have attended natural products trade shows—over the past year especially, the duo of collagen and hyaluronic acid have been taking the healthy aging segment by storm. But it isn’t only for their aging benefit—they can also help strengthen the joints.
“Because collagen and hyaluronic acid degrade as we age,” said Asma Ishaq, CEO of Utah-based Modere, “supplements that boost the body’s synthesis of these components are critical to support joint health, strengthen connective tissue and even reduce physical signs of aging, such as wrinkles. Our top selling products contain an active ingredient called Liquid BioCell, a naturally occurring matrix of collagen, hyaluronic acid and chondroitin sulfate that is very effective in that regard. Having pioneered the collagen market, our products are spearheading the supplement’s growing popularity as the American consumer learns about the scientific research that substantiates the efficacy of our products for healthy aging.”
And as mentioned, aging often crosses paths with other categories (like brain health), which offers citicoline as a solution.
“The cognitive health category is rapidly growing, and citicoline is the most beneficial and widely researched compound in the category, with nearly 300 published clinicals,” Berg mentioned. “Likewise, native (or undenatured) collagen type II collagen is an exciting option for joint health and mobility with a unique and effective method of action. Both can be employed as adjuncts to conventional treatments.” Essential fatty acids (EFAs) are also effective options, along with choline and CoQ10 (coenzymeQ10), among others.
“The fountain of youth is between your ears,” Dr. Amen said. “Physical exercise, new learning, good nutrition and targeted natural supplements that support brain health are extremely powerful anti-aging strategies that can be more effective than some traditional treatments. Evidence strongly indicates the following are especially helpful: omega-3 EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), PS (phosphatidylserine), choline, CoQ10, ALC (acetylcarnitine), and SAMe (s-adenosylmethionine). Certain plant polyphenols also show real promise, including curcumin, resveratrol, and the flavonoids of ginkgo leaf, green tea, cocoa and citrus fruits (especially hesperidin).”
One cannot forget about the gut, which contains a majority of the immune system and is even connected to the brain.
“Because at least two-thirds of the immune system resides in the gut, natural remedies and nutritional supplements that support the health of the gut are critical to healthy aging,” stated Edwards, whose company offers Colostrum-LD. “And, because the gut is connected to the brain via the vagus nerve, the gut microbiome plays an important role in mental health—something that researchers are learning more about every day. Everything that we put in our mouths impacts the delicate balance of the microbiome as well as the gut lining that keeps the bad stuff (i.e., pathogens, toxins) out of the bloodstream while allowing the good stuff (i.e., vitamins, minerals, nutrition) to enter and ultimately fuel the body’s cells and tissues.
“As experts in the field of bovine colostrum supplements,” she continued, “Sovereign Laboratories recognizes and advocates colostrum as one of the two essential nutritional supplements that every person, regardless of age should take on a daily basis, if good health and aging well are top priorities. Colostrum contains immune factors which enhance the immune system’s natural ability to fight illness-inducing pathogens such as viruses and bacteria, as well as down-regulating inflammation associated with autoimmune conditions. With advancing age, the immune system can become less effective at best, or severely compromised at worst; colostrum helps fortify our defenses. Colostrum also contains growth factors (hormones), which stimulate normal tissue repair and regeneration throughout the body. By supplementing with bovine colostrum daily, these bio-compatible growth factors replenish the body’s own growth factors which begin a gradual decline following puberty. Colostrum contains well over 200 bioactive components which act synergistically to support healthy aging.”
Edwards also recommends supplementation with liposomal delivery vitamin C, which is an antioxidant and immune booster that is “more readily absorbed into the bloodstream.” Butyrate, glutathione, probiotics, sulforaphane and zinc carnosine should also be considered.
The healthy aging market for natural products is looking bright, due to the goal that these products accomplish.
“Because natural medications are intended to stimulate the body’s natural healing mechanisms,” said Edwards, “rather than mask or treat specific symptoms, the state of the market for natural medications is good—good for the health-conscious consumer who prefers natural solutions, but not-so-good for the pharmaceutical industry. As people age, the incidence of age-related conditions which deleteriously affect physical and mental functioning increases. People are realizing that if they want to age well with the least risk of physical disability, compromised immunity, neurocognitive decline and pain, they need to take substantive action. Natural medications along with healthy lifestyle choices are ideal to treat the whole person, such that one can live long, live well, and die short (healthspan). As we learn more about the connection between gut health, immune health and brain health, the potential for improvements to healthspan are encouraging.”
As Edwards alluded to, the inevitable fact that consumers are getting older also opens up additional opportunities. In fact, next decade, seniors will have the advantage in terms of population.
“The alternative medicine market is (and has been) growing,” Ishaq said. “The need for supplements to help the aging population is a reflection of the Baby Boomer phenomenon that predicts that one in five Americans will be over the age of 65 by 2030 and that, for the first time, there will be more seniors than children in the United States. This means that age is top-of-mind for the general consumer more than ever. Advancements in scientific research have also supported the viability of natural medications over the years. More and more research supports preventative health measures to assure healthier aging.”
As more patients are doing their due diligence in picking the type of medication that may be suitable to their specific needs, they are beginning to discover the positives that the natural path provides.
“The world is headed toward [a] healthy life and healthy diet,” Hasson pointed out. “This trend creates a growing demand for natural solutions, and as a result the market for natural medications is growing. As an example, you can look at the active decision of women to stop using hormone therapy due to the risks involved, that made many women yearn for natural, non-hormonal therapeutic options that can return their quality of life. Today this is the biggest unmet need in the women’s health segment.”
According to Berg Nutrition, there is an even a change in demand for these types of products.
“We find the market for clinically validated dietary ingredients to be stable and growing. We see a shift in demand toward practitioner-driven channels as more clinicians embrace integrative care and look to develop secondary revenue streams,” Berg observed.
For the benefits that the market may offer, it is also important for practitioners to be conscientious of the less than credible companies that may be less reliable, especially in terms of product satisfaction and safety.
“The market for products that claim to support healthy aging are pretty much all over the place, from legit companies using well-researched ingredients, to fly-by-night pop-ups online making grandiose and exaggerated claims, and everything in-between,” Kaylor pointed out. “The good news is that there is a mounting amount of positive research finding positive benefits for a growing number of natural remedies. We can also look at traditional healing that has utilized a number of tonics to support overall health and vitality, particularly as we age.”
As referenced earlier, Modere has put its focus on studies surrounding the benefits of hyaluronic acid for both aging and the joints.
“Our products are backed by multiple human clinical trials showing efficacy across skin and joint health benefits,” Ishaq explained. “Our active ingredient is the subject of studies showing elevation of HA in the body by 6,000 percent, inhibition of hyaluronidase, the enzyme that catalyzes the degradation of hyaluronic acid, increase in collagen synthesis, reduction in fine lines and wrinkles, and improved joint health across all measures of the WOMAC (Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Arthritis Index) scale (among other benefits).”
As for Sovereign Laboratories, the company is looking to explore the connection between colostrum and the gut-brain axis, although brain health is also on the list.
“Because the importance of gut health is now more readily accepted as an influencer of healthy aging, Sovereign Laboratories is interested in colostrum’s effect on the gut-brain axis,” said Edwards. “We have plans to study the effect of daily colostrum supplementation on the composition of the microbiome, intestinal permeability, as well as on brain health, as related to anxiety and depression.”
Ishaq also noted that as time has gone by, consumers are becoming more aware of how to live a life that will allow them to age much more gracefully, saying that “today, consumers are more accurately informed about the impossibility of ‘anti-aging.’ They are savvier and care about aging healthily—being a better version of themselves as they age. They opt for lifestyle and nutrition choices that will help prevent diseases, which includes making informed decisions about their diet and dietary supplements that will help keep their bodies and minds strong.”
And as a result, consumers, especially the older generation, are taking a proactive approach to change.
“As the post-Boomer generation ages,” Berg concluded, “they bring to the market a new sensibility, one of maintenance and prevention versus the ‘fix-it-when-it-happens’ laissez-faire approach to aging and medical care favored by past generations and conventional allopathic medicine.”
Healthy Take Aways
• Alzheimer’s disease cases are expected to triple by the year 2050.
• Evidence strongly indicates that omega-3 EPA and DHA, PS, choline, CoQ10, ALC and SAMe are beneficial towards brain health.
• It is predicted that one in five Americans will be over the age of 65 by 2030 and that, for the first time, there will be more seniors than children in the United States.
For More Information:
Amen Clinics, Inc., www.amenclinics.com
Berg Nutrition, http://bergnutrition.com/
Mushroom Wisdom, www.mushroomwisdom.com
Se-cure Pharmaceuticals, www.se-curepharma.com
Sovereign Laboratories, www.sovereignlaboratories.com