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Anti-Aging Basics


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A Review of the book: Boomers Really Can Put Old on Hold by Barbara Morris, R.Ph.

Barbara’s philosophy is: “You are inviting debilitating old age with what you eat.  But the body is incredibly forgiving and often responds miraculously to tender but aggressive loving care.  You can do a lot to compensate for the abuse by taking supplements.”

Barbara Morris, R.Ph is a full-time pharmacist in Escondido, California.  She is seventy-three years old and now coaches baby boomers and other generations on how to retain the vital characteristics of youth.  Barbara’s book was published by Image F/X Publications, 2002. 

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Why Supplements are Necessary

Barbara acknowledges that it’s not easy to turn away from what you’ve been happily eating for most of your life and suddenly become a health freak. To do so means that you are fighting not only deeply ingrained habits and preferences of your taste buds, but family custom and tradition.  But she says that you must do it. 

Barbara cites a food consumption study conducted in the mid-1980’s by the U.S. Department of Agriculture which evaluated the food intake of 21,500 people over three days.  Not a single person met the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for the top ten nutrients.  And the RDA set by the National Academy of Sciences is unrealistically low.  Diets have not improved since then.

Barbara indicates that supplements are definitely needed by those taking prescription medications. Being a pharmacist and expert on medications and their effects, this is valuable advice.  While not exactly side effects, most pharmacists and prescribing physicians do not tell a patient of all the potential nutrient depletions.  She cites, for example, oral contraceptives, which many women take, which deplete the body of vitamin B6, folic acid, vitamin B12, Vitamin C and the minerals zinc and magnesium. What is the significance of these depletions?  For one thing, depletion of vitamin B6 reduces synthesis of serotonin, which can result in depression and anxiety.  Depletion of vitamin B6 also reduces synthesis of melatonin, which can cause sleep difficulties, and raises homocysteine levels, which can damage arteries, increase plaque formation, and boost the risk of cardiovascular disease. 

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Drugs Deplete Nutrients

Diuretics (or water pills) can deplete potassium.  So-called loop diuretics such as furosemide can deplete calcium and magnesium.  Calcium loss is significant for older women at risk for osteoporosis.   

A substance called CoenzymeQ10 has cardio protective effect and is vital to energy production inside the body. It is so important that a major manufacturer of cholesterol-lowering statin drugs is considering adding CoQ10 to these drugs because they tend to deplete it. 

Many people take cardiovascular drugs, which include metaprolol, atenolol, pindolol and propranolol, to mention just a few. All of these drugs have been identified as causing CoenzymeQ10 depletion.  Potential depletion problems are seen in congestive heart failure, high blood pressure, and low energy.  We suggest asking your pharmacist to coach you on potential depletions of any prescription drugs that you are buying from them. 

Many diseases can contribute to or worsen nutrient deficiencies.  For example, diabetics don’t use zinc very well, yet it’s needed for wound healing.  Recall how injuries to the feet, the greatest extremity are problematic for diabetics.  Diabetics may also be deficient in magnesium and chromium. 

Barbara reminds those who take anticonvulsants that you may experience nutrient depletion.  For example, the drug Dilantin can deplete biotin, calcium, folic acid, Vitamins B1, B12, D and K.  Other anticonvulsant medications can cause similar losses.  We recommend that anyone who takes medication on a regular basis read the Drug-Induced Nutrient Depletion Handbook by Ross Pelton, Et. Al. (Natural Health Resources, 1999). 

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What Supplements are Needed

Here are Barbara’s main recommendations.  First on the list are antioxidants.  Primary causes of aging are oxidants called free radicals, which result from the breakdown of what you ingest and from pollution. Free radicals are highly reactive and can attack healthy cells, weaken collagen, and contribute to various diseases.  As you age, your body becomes more vulnerable to the effects of free radical damage. Fortunately, you can supplement your diet with antioxidants that include Vitamins C, E, CoenzymeQ10, and alpha lipoic acid.  There are others, but these are Barbara’s favorites.  Remember, Barbara says, these are not specific recommendations – everyone is different, and it’s up to you to educate yourself about what’s right for you. 

Barbara quotes some recent findings that relate to the role of antioxidants in slowing the aging process.  She references The Antioxidant Miracle by Lester Packer (John Wiley & Sons, 1999). 

Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA) may be more potent than either Ginkgo Biloba or Vitamin E in protecting the brain.  Because ALA is the only antioxidant that can easily get into the brain, it’s considered useful in preventing damage from a stroke. One of alpha lipoic acid’s amazing attributes is its ability to regenerate Vitamins C and E after scavenging free radicals – enough to continue to fight still more free radicals. 

Barbara loves Ginkgo Biloba.  She takes it every day and believes that it plays a major role in maintaining the integrity of her memory and cognitive ability.  Ginkgo networks with vitamins C, E, and alpha lipoic acid, providing a super-effective “free-radical fighting machine.” 

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CoenzymeQ10 is also enormously protective of the brain.  CoQ10 recycles Vitamin E.  It also works with Vitamin E in the skin, protecting against UV radiation.  Research on CoenzymeQ10 is showing that it is vitally important to maintain health and longevity in ways we can’t yet imagine. 

People who take Vitamin E are 40 to 50 percent less likely to die of cancer or heart disease; men who take Vitamin E are also 42 percent less likely to die of prostate cancer. 

Antioxidants can keep cells youthful by preventing the accumulation of a waste product called lipofuscin.  Age spots on the hands are one manifestation of lipofuscin.

Polyphenols found in grapes and red wine protect not only against heart disease, but also against certain cancers, Alzheimer’s disease, and macular degeneration.  Moderate wine drinkers tend to live longer than teetotalers. 

While collagen is currently seen as a cure for wrinkles more than a cure for the common cold, Vitamin C’s ability to stimulate collagen production and thus strengthen connective tissue is a vital part of the body’s defense against viruses.

Men can cut their risk of heart attack by 45 percent simply by taking 300 mg of Vitamin C a day, according to a University of California at Los Angeles study (go UCLA Bruins!).  Long-term supplementation with Vitamin C has been found to reduce the risk of developing cataracts, and Vitamin C causes wounds to heal 40 to 50 percent faster than without it.  

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Barbara likes Soy and Whey for their protein value because she doesn’t eat a lot of meat.

Barbara recommends Glucosamine and Chondroitin in conjunction with MSM (methyl sulfonyl methane, a form of sulfur) for relief of joint pain.  When these supplements work, and they often do so with dramatic results, they surely beat ibuprofen and other prescription anti-inflammatory drugs that have a lot of nasty side effects. 

Barbara recommends calcium, magnesium, folic acid, bioflavonoids and the entire B-complex family.

SAM-e (S-adenosylmethionine) is a naturally occurring compound good for so many things that Barbara takes it as a preventive measure.  SAM-e has been used to treat Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and migraine headaches.  SAM-e (pronounced “sammy”) has been shown to stimulate cartilage growth and may reverse the underlying causes of osteoarthritis.  Clinical trials have demonstrated SAM-e to have analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects.  SAM-e has been compared to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen and naproxen, but without the side effects. 

Based on studies Barbara has read, Indole-3 Carbinol shows great promise of protecting against breast cancer.  Barbara’s doctor, who practices integrative medicine, is very keen on this supplement. 

Fiber from bran and psyllium play a vital role in the ability to slow the effects of aging.  A clean gut will go a long way toward preventing or alleviating many health problems.  Fiber helps keep everything flowing in the intestines. 

Altogether an outstanding book, by an outstanding role model, who has studied the effects of drugs, nutrition and diet on the human body. 

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