2011 was a good year for anti-aging news. Diverse studies published this year suggest that it’s possible to retain your mental powers, muscle mass, speed and physique as you age. It’s also looking like coffee, chocolate and yes, even beer, (all in moderation, of course) can be a part of your anti-aging regime.
In the most encouraging studies of the year, scientists showed that exercise not only increases cognitive sharpness, but may even change brain cells at a molecular level – increasing the mitochondria (which produce energy) in the neurons. Multiple other researchers showed that any exercise – from intense training, to light jogging or even informal exercise like cooking, cleaning and gardening – leads to better memory, sharper problem solving skills, more youthful muscle mass and balance, and less shrinkage of hearts, brains and gonads. Even fidgeting counts. While it’s certainly not enough exercise, small unplanned movements like having to run to catch the bus, tapping your fingers and walking to the water cooler can burn up to an extra 300 calories a day and increase your VO2 max (the maximum amount of oxygen you can take in while exercising.)
Hormones replacement has been back in the news this year as well. As decade old studies about the risk of hormone replacement therapies are being debunked, more people are embracing hormone replacement therapy – both men and women. Researchers are finding even more evidence that hormone replacement therapy is extremely beneficial as estrogen and testosterone levels start to drop significantly around mid-life. Data shows that with the decline of these naturally occurring hormones comes possible depression, sleeping problems, mood swings, bone loss, heart disease, and a decline in brain function. But hormone therapy, which boosts mood, libido, muscle and bone mass, is about much more than that. According to one pharmacist, “It’s about vitality and energy and cognition — especially with the large number of professional women in this generation who want to continue their careers into their 60s and 70s.” New types of hormone therapy becoming available are especially exciting as they can be personalized to individual patients. Bioidentical hormones are now being used by the top anti-aging doctors. Derived from plants or animals, bioidentical hormones have been modified to be molecularly identical to those in the human body, make them even more efficacious and since these new therapies are delivered though the skin in the form of creams or patches, doctors can also use lower doses.
2011 also came with new concerns about BPA levels, especially in women. An endocrine-disrupting compound that mimics the body’s hormones, BPA has been linked to heart disease, diabetes and obesity, and to potential problems during development young children. Japanese and Korean researchers also linked it to oxidative stress and inflammation in post-menopausal women. Aging occurs, in part, because of cell damage due to oxidative stress and inflammation. You can cut down on your BPA exposure by using glass, rather than plastic, containers and cutting out as much canned food as possible. (As an added benefit, you’ll reduce your salt intake quite a bit as well!)
Looking forward to healthy and vital 2012!