FOREVER YOUNG - from chapter four
Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids and Life Span: The Long and Short of It
As you will learn later in this chapter, stress plays a role in shortening life span, and I will retell several excellent news stories that Craig Weatherby and the team at Vital Choice generously shared with me. The good news is that certain nutrients, such as omega-3 essential fatty acids, can help counteract this effect. I have long championed the benefits of wild salmon and other cold-water fish for a variety of reasons, including their ability to keep skin supple, youthful, and radiant; increase brainpower and cardiovascular health; protect joints; and improve and stabilize mood, to name just a few benefits. I believe there is a solid link between diet and disease, including some forms of cancer. I also believe—and science bears this out—that stress is one of the single greatest precipitators of accelerated aging.
(YES INDEED; TAKE A LOOK AT SOME OF THE RECENT PRESIDENTS OF THE USA, AND NOTE HOW 4 TO 8 YEARS IN THE WHITE HOUSE AGES THEM…… BILL CLINTON IS A VERY GOOD EXAMPLE - Keith Hunt)
If we are to be Forever Young, we need to find successful strategies to conquer stress, both physical and mental. A loving, nonjudgmental companion animal is a great antidote to stress, as are forms of exercise such as yoga, spending time out in nature, or simply making the time to restore yourself.
Stress can shorten your life span—this is not a theory but an actual measurable fact. A recent study at the University of California has not only implicated stress in cell aging, it also suggests that stress accelerates the rate at which cells age. We have long known that stress precipitates premature aging, but the exact mechanism of how this occurs has been unclear.
According to researchers, stress affects telomeres, strips of DNA at the end of chromosomes, which appear to protect and stabilize the chromosome ends. A chromosome is a type of cell that carries hereditary information. Telomeres are involved in regulating cell division. Each time the cell divides, the telomere shortens, until eventually there is nothing left, making cell division less reliable and increasing the risk of age-related disorders. Like the wrapped tips of shoelaces, without which the laces would unravel, telomeres ensure that a cell's chromosomes do not fuse with one another or rearrange themselves during cell division, which can lead to cancer.
With each replication the telomeres shorten, and when the telomeres are gone, the cells are programmed to commit a form of cellular "suicide" called apoptosis, which was discussed in chapter 1. Telomeres are highly vulnerable to oxidative stress from free radicals generated by:
Eating a pro-inflammatory diet (i.e., high-glycemic carbohydrates)
Weakened immune system
Excess exposure to ultraviolet light
Since they protect telomeres by neutralizing free radicals, foods rich\in antioxidants, which help the body neutralize free radicals, help maintain good health and a youthful appearance.
Omega-3s to the Rescue
Researchers have shown that omega-3s may also protect telomeres, as one study with heart patients demonstrates.
Researchers based at the University of California conducted a study designed to determine whether omega-3 blood levels were associated with changes in telomere length among heart patients with coronary artery disease.
A team led by Ramin Farzaneh-Far, M.D., recruited 608 heart patients between September 2000 and December 2002 and measured the length of their leukocyte telomeres at the beginning of the study and again after five years of follow-up.
After comparing the starting lengths of the cardiac outpatients' telomeres with their length after five years, the researchers found that people with the lowest Omega-3 levels experienced the speediest rate of telomere shortening.
In contrast, those with the highest omega-3 levels showed the slowest rate of telomere shortening.
RESULTS MAY HELP EXPLAIN OMEGA-3s' PROVEN HEART BENEFITS
The findings offer one plausible biological explanation for why eating cold-water fish such as salmon, sardines, and anchovies as well as taking fish oil helps heart patients.
The authors speculated that omega-3s may counteract oxidative stress, or increase the production of telomerase, an enzyme that lengthens and repairs shortened telomeres.
If you find it surprising that they'd suggest an antioxidant role for Omega-3s, you've been listening to the wrong people.
Many observers make erroneous assumptions about the susceptibility of dietary Omega-3s to oxidation in the body.
While Omega-3s oxidize rapidly when exposed to air, several recent studies have shown that they act as antioxidants inside our vascular system . . . thereby reducing inflammation and, in turn, the risk of atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease. . . .
The researchers studied only the effects of fish oil on cellular aging in heart patients, so it is not clear if the association would hold true in healthy people.
But as Dr. Farzaneh-Far told Reuters, "There is no reason to think that it wouldn't."
He expressed the essence of his team's finding this way:
"Telomere length is an emerging marker for determining biological age. . . . We are excited to identify omega-3 fatty acids as a potentially protective factor that may slow down telomere shortening."
TO BE CONTINUED
MORE GOOD REASONS TO MAKE SURE YOU ARE GETTING ENOUGH OMEGA-3 FATTY ACIDS, THROUGH EATING SALMON AND OTHER FOODS RICH IN OMEGA-3. SUPPLEMENTS OF OMEGA-3 -6 -9 ARE NOT THAT EXPENSIVE.