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WHY HUMANS AGE

Notes from a presentation by Dr. Christian Leeuwenburg at the American Aging Association, June, 2004

Life expectancy in the US was 77.4 in 2002, 77.2 in 2001, while it is 80 in Japan and 82 in Okinawa where they consume 40% fewer calories than in the US. The longest person has lived to 122.

Three theories of aging are well documented in the literature, with specific actions one can take to lessen their progression:
1. The free radical theory of aging: Developed by Denham Harman, a host of diseases are attributed to free radicals (see Table 1). To lessen free radical damage, one can consume vitamin C 500 mg twice a day, vitamin E 400IU twice a week, and eat a diet of colorful fruits and vegetables that contain a variety of antioxidants.
2. Inflammation (or “Inflammaging” ): Another cause of chronic disease, including plaque in the arteries, cancer, etc.  To reduce inflammation, one can consume fish oil, avoid 4-legged meat, reduce stress by exercising and avoiding the media, by treasuring friends, meditating and doing yoga.
3. Telomere shortening.  The length of telomeres, which are caps on the end of the DNA, preserve our genetic information to allow longevity. Actions that shorten telomeres include stress and high metabolic rate.  Consuming antioxidants, staying fit, and relaxing are all useful to keep long telomeres. Note that EGCG and quercetin help maintain telomere length (1).

A fourth theory Dr. Rolf Martin and I are testing through the teaberry trial is this one:
4. The Translational Infidelity Error Theory of Aging: The basic mechanism is that mRNA is translated incorrectly, incorporating the wrong amino acids into proteins that then fold improperly (based on the AA error theory of  Wolfgang Freist). These proteins are either destroyed, causing a shortage of needed proteins, or worse, remain malfunctioning and accumulating as hazardous waste such as plaque in Alzheimer’s.  Processes that may lessen functional proteins being lost in translation include: 1) increasing the availability of needed amino acids, 2) slowing the rate of translation to increase accuracy, 3) providing time for better proofreading, 4) increasing degradation of misfolded proteins, or 5) diluting the accumulated damage by half through cell division. Helpful actions likely include getting exercise, eating blueberries, drinking green tea, and adjusting the diet to include beneficial foods such as tomatoes, onions, strawberries, and cabbage, which contain less common amino acids.

Pages related to aging: 1)Aging index 2) Shigeaki Hinohara 3) Roc Ordman

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