In February, I shared part of my new Alzheimer’s cure with you. It’s based on a key breakthrough I discovered when studying all the newest dementia research…
Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia could also be called “aging of the brain.”
In fact, I believe dementia may very well be the flip side of aging in the body. And, in turn, preventing dementia is the ultimate “anti-aging” effect.
Why? Well, research shows that many of the steps you already take to counteract diseases associated with aging in your body can also help you fight age-related brain diseases. I’m talking about easy-to-understand, common sense, natural solutions like taking the right supplements, eating the right healthy diet, and getting enough sleep and physical activity.
I shared some of these “brain anti-aging” steps with you in February, and will unveil my full Alzheimer’s prevention and reversal cure later this spring.
In the meantime, this month, I’m revealing the latest research on how you can slow down or even prevent age-related diseases in your body.
I’ve boiled the new studies down into three simple but effective steps. And they start with my favorite fruit.
Step 1: Eat blueberries, live longer — and better
News about the amazing health benefits of blueberries just keeps getting better.
As I discussed in the January issue of Insiders’ Cures, there’s compelling evidence that blueberries can help fight the oxidation that leads to age-related brain damage like dementia and Alzheimer’s. They also help slow down aging in your body by lowering your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.
And now, a new study reveals that blueberries can improve functional mobility in older adults.1
This discovery is a remarkable aging breakthrough. As I told you in the May 2013 Insiders’ Cures (“Survival at the gait”), research shows that maintaining mobility—including the ability to walk quickly and effectively—is the single-best predictor of longevity.
Blueberries have already been shown to improve motor function in animal models. And this new study demonstrates they can do the same for humans.
Boost your longevity in just 6 weeks
Researchers gathered men and women age 60 or older and divided them into two groups. One group ate two cups of frozen blueberries daily for six weeks, and the other group got a placebo.
At the end of the study, the researchers found that the blueberry group had noticeable improvement in grip strength, reaction time, and balance and foot placement while walking.
And they had improved walking speed…which equals improved longevity.
That’s quite striking after just six weeks of eating blueberries.
Of course, eating two cups of blueberries every day might not be very realistic. Fortunately, you have other options. Look for powdered, water-soluble blueberry food extract, which you can add to any beverage. I recommend 400 mg a day of the water-soluble powdered ingredient to help slow down aging in both your body and brain.
Step 2: Fight aging at the genetic level
Until recently, the only way to really increase your chances of living longer was to have had parents who lived into old age.
But now, researchers have discovered that even if you didn’t win the parental genetic lottery, you can still take steps to control aging at the cellular level.
In essence, you can actually turn back your biological clock.
How? Well, those who study longevity are focusing on telomeres, which are sequences of nucleic acids (thymine, adenine, and guanine, or TAG) that appear at both ends of all chromosomes in each gene. This “TAG” team helps keep chromosomes stable—similar to the way metal or plastic caps help protect the ends of shoelaces from fraying.
To understand how telomeres affect aging, you need to know that the cells in your body continually divide and replace themselves. So theoretically, you should always have “young” cells in your tissues, as long as they are properly nourished, energized, and hydrated.
But there is one catch. When new cells are formed in chromosomes, the telomeres don’t duplicate. Instead, they get shorter with each new cell division. Eventually, they become so short that the stability of the chromosome is compromised, and cell division comes to a halt. No more new, young, healthy cells to replace the old.
That’s why over a lifetime, cells can only undergo a finite number of divisions. Eventually, they enter a phase where they accumulate imperfections, lose their functions, and simply die. And that’s a big factor in the aging process.
So it’s no wonder that telomere shortening has been a focus of aging research at the genetic and cellular levels.
Gilgamesh was right—plants really can extend your lifespan
I think it’s fascinating that much of this 21st century research was actually inspired by a king who ruled nearly 5,000 years ago. In the ancient Sumerian epic of Gilgamesh, the king of Uruk searches for a plant that can restore youth. This inspired Andrew Sokar, a child-prodigy-turned-doctor, to create the Gilgamesh Project to research how to prolong the human lifespan.
Dr. Sokar and other researchers have discovered that as cells age, genetic modifications accumulate and appear to affect our biological clocks.
We hear a lot about biological clocks in terms of pregnancy, but they also influence how we age. In my specialty of forensic medicine, for example, investigators might be able to determine the age of an unknown victim, or assailant, from blood or tissue samples at the scene.
Dr. Sokar and other researchers have actually discovered how to determine and detect “age accelerators,” or factors that make our biological clocks go faster. They’ve also discovered which natural compounds help fight these age accelerators.
Interestingly, two of these compounds are found in plants, just as Gilgamesh suspected long ago. I’m talking about B vitamins and betaine—which comes from beets. I wrote about betaine’s amazing health properties in the November 2015 Insiders’ Cures (“The heart hazard throwing aging into overdrive”).
My colleagues at the NIH’s cellular and molecular pathology lab tell me another important way to slow your biological clock is to nourish the mitochondria, which provide the energy and water that’s critical for proper cell function and replication. You can do this by taking Co-Q10 every day, as well as aspal (rooibos, or red bush), dandelion, and blueberry.
Step 3: Don’t stress about living longer
We’re always hearing that “stress is aging us.” But how, exactly?
Well, a new study on stress reduction and lifestyle modification provides great insight into this question. The study was done on African-Americans, who have long been recognized to suffer disproportionately from high blood pressure and heart disease.2
When I was in medical training, researchers searched in vain for genetic causes for these differences in African-Americans. But after my research overseas in the late 1970s, I recognized stress was more of a factor for high blood pressure and heart disease among different population groups than genetics were. Of course, stress is now frequently cited as a contributing factor for many chronic diseases.
The new study looked at 48 African-American men and women with high blood pressure.
The participants were divided into two groups. One group followed a stress-reduction program that involved meditation and basic health education. The other group followed an extensive health program.
After 16 weeks, researchers measured both groups’ blood pressure and their genetic expression associated with aging. Both groups showed improvements in each of these measurements.
Social support can outweigh diet and lifestyle factors
Based on this study, I am tempted to conclude that participating in any healthy group activity has longevity benefits. In particular, there are powerful stress-reduction benefits that come from having doctors and health professionals actually paying some attention to you and interacting in a healthful environment with other people.
In fact, as I noted in my special report The Insider’s Guide to a Heart-Healthy and Statin-Free Life, research shows that over a lifetime, family and social support can outweigh the strongest dietary and lifestyle factors. (You can order a copy of this report by clicking here, or by calling 1-800-292-5808 and asking for order code GOV2S3AS.)
The Ornish diet program is a specific example of this phenomenon. People who participate in the diet program often report reduced blood pressure, which lowers their risk of heart disease. But the Ornish diet itself isn’t all that healthy—it’s much too high in carbs and low in healthy fats. It seems the benefits of learning, eating, cooking, and even food shopping in a social group interaction can aid in weight loss, and improved heart health, even if you do follow a poorly designed diet.
This reminds me of my father, Ed Micozzi (1927–2007). Dad was an independent, do-it-yourself kind of guy, bless him. After serving in World War II he went to work as a civilian with the U.S. Navy installing new radar systems in Turkey to detect threats behind the Iron Curtain. After that, he worked as an electrical and avionics engineer on NASA Apollo Lunar Missions. And finally, he rounded out his career as a business executive. With a lifetime spent in high-pressure work environments, it’s no wonder he developed heart disease in the 1990s.
Dad wanted to avoid heart surgery (for good reason), so we encouraged him to get into Dean Ornish’s heart disease-reversal program in his city. It was really the only alternative we had at that time. (Remember, 20 years ago the popular medical myth was still “carbs are good and fats are bad.” I suspected this was wrong, but it was not yet as crystal clear then as it has become now with recent exposure of all the medical myth-making.)
The Ornish program had just hit the scene, and dad could not get a space in his local program. So I talked to Dean Ornish himself, and introduced him to my parents during lunch at my annual natural medicine conference—which was co-chaired that year by Dean himself and former U.S. Surgeon General C. Everett Koop. Dean kindly called his local associate, Dr. Noel, who gave dad a spot in her Ornish program.
Some time later, I called dad to see how he was doing in the Ornish program. Much to my chagrin, he said he had found Dr. Ornish’s book at the local drugstore. He had read it and was following the diet at home, rather than joining the community program! Of course, that was missing the whole point.
How meditation can boost your lifespan
Had we known about the longevity benefits of mindfulness meditation before my dad developed heart disease, I would have also encouraged him to meditate daily.
Beyond lowering the risk of heart disease, studies show that meditation can also help lower stress, anxiety, and depression in people with a chronic disease like cancer—and that can potentially help prolong life or even help reverse the disease.
And, as I reported in a February 2015 Daily Dispatch (“Mindfulness meditation boosts brain density in just eight weeks”), short periods of meditation can actually increase brain matter. Which, of course, can help fight diseases like Alzheimer’s.
Mindfulness and stress reduction has also been shown to influence healthful gene expression (including the genetic expression associated with aging) in studies conducted by the “father” of relaxation therapy, Herb Benson, at Harvard University.
But you don’t have to become a Buddhist monk to practice mindfulness meditation and gain its stress-reducing and anti-aging benefits. My book with Don McCown, New World Mindfulness, tells you how to practice mindfulness anytime, anywhere, in the middle of your busy life. (You can order a copy at www.drmicozzi.com or by calling 1-800-682-7319).
So, there you have it. The secret to living longer—and better—isn’t flowing from some mythical fountain of youth (which I actually addressed last month in the Daily Dispatch “Find your fountain of youth this April”). It’s actually flowing within you.
And science shows that a common (but powerful) fruit, a few simple supplements, and meditation appear to be keys that will help you tap into it.
[SIDEBAR #1] 5 supplements scientifically proven to slow down aging
Here’s my daily anti-aging “prescription” based on these breakthroughs in cellular and genetic research:
- A high-quality B vitamin complex that contains at least 200 mcg of folate, 50 mg of B6, 12 mcg of B12, 50 mg of B2, and 50 mg of choline
- 2-4 grams of betaine (or a serving of beets)
- 100 mg of CoQ10 (ubiquinol)
- 400 mg each of aspal and dandelion (you can find these combined in powders you can add to any beverage)
- 400 mg of blueberry powder (or a handful of fresh blueberries)
[SIDEBAR #2] NEWS BRIEF: New research reveals this common drug can slow down aging—and add almost 5 years to your life
I’ve said before that dementia might as well be called “type 3 diabetes.” After all, as I reported in the February issue, controlling diabetes markers like blood sugar and hemoglobin A1c are key parts of my upcoming Alzheimer’s prevention and reversal cure. And, of course, preventing type 2 diabetes is vital for reducing your risk of serious disease and increasing your longevity.
Metformin is a proven, safe way to fight both type 2 and 3 diabetes. Even though it’s a drug, it has ancient natural roots derived from the ancient herbal remedy French lilac.
And research shows there are also beneficial anti-aging “side effects” for metformin, including preventing lung and pancreatic cancer and helping you maintain a healthy weight.
But it turns out metformin can do even more. New research suggests it may even be able to slow down the aging process.3,4
Scientists studied the effects of metformin on animals, and found that the drug can increase lifespan by nearly 6 percent. That doesn’t sound that impressive until you translate it into human terms. An 80-year-old could live almost five years longer, thanks to metformin!
All the benefits of fasting without skipping a single meal
Researchers believe metformin mimics some of the benefits of calorie restriction—without actually having to cut calories. I find this effect particularly interesting because some of the strongest lab experiments for the past half-century show that increases in longevity come from either fasting or restricting calories. Cutting calories lowers blood sugar and substantially reduces your chance of developing metabolic syndrome and obesity—all of which are major risk factors for a variety of fatal diseases.
Apparently, this research has even impressed the government. I’m hearing that the FDA has approved human trials on metformin’s effects on longevity. Although, considering how long the average person lives, we could be waiting a very lengthy time to get final results!
I’m not the only doctor who’s excited by metformin’s longevity potential. Dr. Jay Olshansky of the University of Illinois recently said: “This would be the most important medical intervention in the modern era—an ability to slow aging. “5
I met Dr. Olshansky when I gave a lecture to the medical residents at the University of Illinois medical campus in Chicago over 15 years ago. The new doctors-in-training were more interested in hearing about natural approaches to healing than were their faculty members—with the exception of Dr. Olshansky.
As old-line faculty challenged me, Jay spoke up in favor of my “new” healthcare ideas. I thought then that he would make a name for himself, and history has proven me right.
1“Effects of blueberry supplementation on measures of functional mobility in older adults.” Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2015 Jun;40(6):543-9.
2“Effects of Lifestyle Modification on Telomerase Gene Expression in Hypertensive Patients: A Pilot Trial of Stress Reduction and Health Education Programs in African Americans.” PLoS One. 2015 Nov 16;10(11):e0142689.
3“Metformin promotes lifespan through mitohormesis via the peroxiredoxin PRDX-2.” Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2014 Jun 17;111(24):E2501-9.
4“Metformin improves healthspan and lifespan in mice.” Nat Commun. 2013;4:2192.