Aging is a multifactorial process that affects all lifeforms beginning at birth. Research into methods to extend life began decades ago with lower life forms such as yeast, nematodes, mice and continued for decades on differing species including non-human primates with each study showing positive life extending properties associated with calorie restriction (CR). The search for a “new age” Tree of Life or Fountain of Youth treatment continued with renewed energy until an advanced definition was formed for applying this search to humans. Since the quality of life with the absence of age-related diseases is a goal of human life extension as well as adding years onto those years free of disease, a new term was given to the outcome of human longevity research, “healthspan” (1).
What is CRON?
CRON, or calorie-restricted-optimal-nutrient diet is an acronym for a diet developed by Roy and Lisa Walford after participation in the “Biosphere 2” project in 1991-92. (2) Proponents of this diet believe that most people have a “set-point” weight that they will gravitate to when eating normally that is determined by genetics and childhood habits. Evidence for this theory was never proven.
Proponents of this diet also believe that sticking to about 10-15% under this “set-point” is one indicator of diet effectiveness, an indicator that is certainly lacking determination of quality of diet or adequacy of nutrients.
Walford’s original Biosphere 2 diet contained 10% fat calories, 1 gm/protein/kg body weight and was almost totally vegetarian. Furthermore, the study was not long-term but lasted 6 months. The diet was supplemented with 50% of the RDI for multivitamins and minerals plus 100% of vitamin D, vitamin B12, folic acid, vitamin E and vitamin C. Foods were nutrient dense and claimed to be low glycemic index. There were 8 subjects in his study group. (2)
The CRON diet is typically started by improving the quality of nutrient intake first by incorporating nutrient dense, lower calorie foods into the diet rather than by restricting calories. General changes are recommended first such as cutting out sugar, white flour and eating more fresh fruits and vegetables. Omega-3 fatty acids are encouraged. Decreasing weight/percent body fat to a healthy BMI should be done slowly at a rate of 2% per month for overweight individuals and 1% for others. Special guidelines exist for pregnancy, the elderly, those in growth cycles, and other “at risk” groups.A typical restriction percentage from assessed needs is 20%, although calculations for the restriction seem to differ depending on source.
Risks of the CRON diet plan
Risks of the diet first and foremost are malnutrition and eating disorders. After that comes a possible loss of libido, feeling cold, reduced bone mass, hunger or food obsession, menstrual irregularity, or rapid weight loss more than recommended by the CRON plan.
What are cellular biomarkers for aging?
To examine a therapy for effectiveness, we need to know what we are looking for. To slow down the aging process the treatment should do one or more of the following functions…the more functions it can perform, the stronger the treatment. The following mechanisms are associated with aging and to increase healthspan a therapy must positively affect the following: (1)
· Telomere shortening or erosion
· Genetic changes such as the breakdown of genes and the emergence of genetic disease tendencies
· Stem cell depletion
· Cellular aging
· Mitochondria dysfunction
· An instability in the genome
· Proteostasis imbalance related to an imbalance in the biological pathways of protein homeostasis within and without the cell. It is a key process related to successful aging without disease
· Impaired nutrient sensing, i.e. The cells ability to sense the presence of glucose or other nutrients so that nutrient-specific molecules essential for metabolism and life can be produced
· Abnormal cell to cell communication
Impact of CRON on cellular markers of aging
This is where the review of studies on the outcome of the CRON diet get interesting, contradictory, inconclusive, poorly defined, poorly designed and easily misinterpreted. First, there seems to be no standard reference base for calorie restriction or how the CR is determined. Quality of the diet was not a consistently studied or addressed variable. The amount and type of protein in the diet was generally not addressed. The number of subjects in the studies were frequently small and/or predominantly male. (4-9)
The reported impact of CRON on healthspan has been the following: lowering of cholesterol, blood pressure, blood glucose and total leukocyte count (2); a reduction in fat mass and overall adiposity (3); prevention of increase in BMI after an athlete retires (5); prevention of age related heart muscle changes resulting in better blood pressure control (7); a promising adjunct to cancer therapy (8).
In addition to calorie restriction, one of the mechanisms proposed for the CRON diet’s positive effects on healthspan is the limited amount of the amino acid methionine found in many follower’s diets. Also, the composition of the protein load correlated with age is another variable to consider. A lower protein intake has been associated with lower mortality up until the age of 65 and then the reverse becomes true according to some studies. The same relationship exists for the composition of the protein load. A primarily vegetarian diet is associated with lower mortality up until age 65-70 and the correlation disappears. (8)
Other mechanisms identified to date associated with CR include activation of the SIRT 1 biochemical pathway, the decline in growth hormone and growth hormone receptors, a reduction in fasting blood sugar thus potentially impacting diabetes expression, and a reduction in IGF-1 (7,8).
A novel and controversial study recently published by Tomiyama and his team set out to measure telomere length in CRON society members who had been following Walford’s diet for a mean of ten years. The surprising result was that the telomere length was statistically significantly shorter in Walford’s CRON group than in the control group.
Delayed immune aging was also not proven which recalls Walford’s low total lymphocyte counts (TLC) in his study which dropped from a normal range to a level sub-normal indicative of a possible nutritional deficiency. (6) Tomiyama’ s study has its shortcomings as the number of subjects was small, predominantly male and older than 50. However, it is one of the few studies available that measure telomere length after a significant time on the CRON diet. The conclusions, which, admittedly must be approached with caution, are disturbingly different than expected.
Application of research
All in all, there have been relatively few human studies on the effects of the CRON diet in its original form on biomarkers of aging. No real longevity or healthspan conclusions can be drawn from these studies on caloric restriction relative to healthspan at this point.
It is clear that future studies need to look at a larger sample size of differing age groups and an even distribution between male and female. A consistent percentage or calculation for caloric restriction should be used across all studies. A standardized supplement regime should be used with subjects and controls. Diet records need to be computer analyzed for nutrient content, distribution of macronutrients, protein content relative to needs, type of protein consumed and the amount of methionine eaten.
Outcome measures should address those elements associated with aging and aging related disease variables which should be clearly defined in the study methodology.
In summary, the CRON diet seems to be a restrictive form of lifestyle that few can follow safely and justifies the scientific search for caloric restriction mimetics, or nutraceuticals /pharmaceuticals that can mimic the effects that we see in caloric restriction in other species in our human species to slow down the ravages associated with the aging process. Right now, our most promising nutraceutical for this mimetic is Resveratrol.
More studies are needed on the effects of the CRON diet on biomarkers of healthspan and until then the risks seems to outweigh the benefits for humans.
1. Pica A, Pesce V, et al. Does eating less make you live longer? Clinical Investigations in Aging. 2017; 12:1887-1902.
2. Walford R, Harris S, et al. The calorically restricted low-fat nutrient dense diet in Biosphere 2 significantly lowers blood glucose, total leukocyte count, cholesterol and blood pressure in humans. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 1992;89(23):11533-37.
3. Das S, Roberes SB, et al. Body composition changes in the Comprehensive Assessment of Long Term Effects of reducing intake of energy (CALERIE)-2 study: a 2-year randomized controlled trial of calorie restriction in non-obese humans. Am J of Clin Nutr. 2017; 105:913-27.
4. Jain S, Sing SN. Calorie restriction – an approach towards obesity management. J. Nutr Disorders Ther.2015; S1:006.
5. Czerwinska M, Holowko J et al. Caloric Restriction Diet (CR Diet) or Mediterranean Diet (MD)-which is better choice for former athletes? Central European J of Sports Medicine and Science. 2018;13(1);23-35.
6. Tomiyama A, Milush J, et al. Long-term calorie restriction in humans is not associated with indices of delayed immunological aging: A descriptive study. 2017. 147-156.
7. Meyer T, Kavacs S, et al. Long -term caloric restriction ameliorates the decline in diastolic function in humans. J of the American College of Cardiology. 2006;47(2):388-402.
8. Levine M, Suaz J. Low protein intake is associated with a major reduction in IGF-1, cancer and overall mortality in the 65 and younger but not older population. Cell Metab. 2014; 9(3):407-417.
9. Kopeina GS, Senichkin VV, et al. Caloric restriction – a promising anti-cancer approach from molecular mechanisms to clinical trials. Biochimica et Biophysica Acta. 2017; 1867: 29-41.
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Tunes for Tranquility
Music has been used throughout the centuries to create “environments” which alter in some way or other, consciousness. Music sets the “mood” of the occasion. Or, think about the music we use to celebrate holidays, to worship by, to have fun by. Music is an important part of our culture, our religions, our history and now, as we are discovering and putting to use, healing.
Let’s take a closer look at binaural music and examine what science has to say about popular claims linking these tunes with tranquility. Science has termed the musical perception that occurs when listening to this “healing” music as binaural beats. Reason? In order for the beats to create the desired change in the individual and promote a feeling of “tranquility”, two different beats need to be played, a different beat in each ear and each frequency below 1500 Hz. A binaural beat is an auditory illusion created when one ear perceives a frequency lower than 1500 Hz and the other ear perceives another yet different frequency also lower than 1500 Hz. The auditory illusion is that the listener, when presented with the two different frequencies, perceives a third tone. This third tone is called the binaural beat, a beat heard in your mind when TWO beats in different ears stimulate brain neurons.
Research findings have demonstrated that music or auditory stimulation can affect immune function, relaxation, mood and stress control and that such changes are centrally/ neurologically based with the exact mechanism still unknown. The following states of awareness have been observed, measured and/or reported after using binaural beats:
· Feelings of Tranquility
· An Increase in Vigilance
· Better Memory
· Reduction of Anxiety Levels
· Reduction in Pain
· Increase in Creativity
· Decrease in Mood Dysregulation
So, What Does This Mean for Me?
For the general, stressed out fatigued public, binaural beats represent a way to take a tranquility break that doesn’t cost a fortune. For the more focused, it represents a life-saver for problems that adversely impact their lives, such as trait anxiety – anxiety that is just part of your personality, not situational like you just went through a divorce, but there all the time 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It is an alternative or adjunct to pills that may be the first effective treatment an individual has ever tried.
How to Use Binaural Beats
Get a good set of headphones. The better the headphones, the better the experience.
1. You don’t need to buy anything. Plug your headphones into your desktop, your laptop, your tablet and go to YOU TUBE.
2. Search for Binaural Beats.
3. Choose one that looks appropriate to your needs.
4. Plug in and focus on the music; 30 minutes seems reasonable, but everyone is individual.
5. You will become increasingly aware of your surroundings when the video stops.
Although research continues, using music to promote tranquility seems like a wonderful, easy way to relax while creating positive change within. Binaural Beats can be a tool to be used daily to take back control over our health, our happiness, and to cement our goals within reach.
Choose any one or combination of tools to break the plateau:
*Meal Plan Adjustments - Use the Calorie Restricted Optimum Nutrients Diet ( CRON)
*Journals: weigh, measure everything that is eaten
Pay attention to emotional cues and whether hunger is driving your appetite
*Begin an Intermittent-Fasting Meal Plan (not for diabetes)
*Change your workout routine-frequency/interval/duration
*Use sprint interval training
*Do resistance training first, then cardio
* Add balancing activities – yoga, tai chi, meditation
*Add Themogenic Aides:
*Green Tea (synergetic with quercetin, fish oil, caffeine)
* Add hot chili peppers and turmeric to foods
* Assure adequate vitamin D
* Resveratrol use- 150 mg/ day
* Bitter orange supplement
Weight-loss plateaus are discouraging and temporarily halt the weight loss process due to the drop in metabolic rate. The trick is to increase the metabolic rate through a combination of foods and/or supplements to break the plateau, then resume the scheduled nutritional program and back off on the plateau interventions.
Any and all changes to your current nutritional plan should be made in conjunction with your health care provider. This is not an attempt to diagnose or treat any disease or illness.
Adapted from the Weight Loss Program “Synergetics” by Kathryn Shattler, MS, RDN
New blog posted on Hematopoiesis, Aging and Anemia on my Wellness Center Site at:https://nutritionalsynergywellnesscenter.wordpress.com/2018/02/25/hematopoiesis-aging-and-anemias/
B-12 Deficiency – A New Player in Chronic Illnesses - Hyperlipidemia, Diabetes, Neuropathy and Gestational Diabetes
Feeling sluggish, fatigued and you can’t blame your thyroid – what do you do? Now, there is an alternative reason and a treatment for it . . . before it’s too late.
The association between fatigue and low B-12 is not a new concept. What is new is how many chronic illnesses B12 deficiency is found in, the widening scope of a problem not necessarily identifiable by a common lab test and very rarely treated. The effects of the deficiency, such as dementia or neuropathy, may become permanent.
In late 2015 Vitamin B-12 deficiency was highlighted again as an ever growing safety threat to our population’s health, longevity and quality of life. It had come to light that the consequences of B12 deficiency may be far more profound than anyone has yet to imagine.
Studies came to light showing that Metformin, a drug commonly used with Type 2 Diabetes and Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, causes B12 deficiency and independently contributes to the development of peripheral neuropathy. Only 60 % of the diabetic subjects had any symptoms. Bottom line? Long term treatment with metformin yields approximately a 19% reduction in vitamin B12 levels resulting in a 5% greater heart wrecking homocysteine level.
Furthermore, vitamin B12 deficiency does not always show up in the typical lab work. A metabolite called methylmalonic acid must be measured.
That isn’t the end of the story. It makes one wonder how much vitamin deficiencies are involved with chronic disease. A deeper look at B12 deficiencies show that B12 deficiency is associated with high blood fats, hyperlipidemias in individuals with diabetes on or off metformin. The relationship is so strong that in 2014 there was a discussion of automatic screening for B-12 deficiency be done on all individuals with diabetes and a pill be developed that combined metformin with B12. This has been brought up again in 2018 as a resounding problem without a workable solution in place.
If that isn’t bad enough, low B12 has been found in those who are obese and have gestational diabetes. A deficiency during pregnancy can affect the baby’s growth and development not to mention cognitive development.
Is it out of line to start questioning just how much vitamin and nutrient deficiencies contribute to our chronic diseases? That medications given to alleviate problems create more serious nutritional problems? That the nutritional deficiencies created, or already present but not looked, for are at the bottom of many problems?
The time to address the medical nutritional needs of patients is urgent, neglected and has come to the forefront of the nation’s attention.
Lack of movement and unhealthy food choices are thought to be the main causes of obesity, but when looking deeper into the unconscious aspect of being fat, it is no secret that a more hidden agenda exists. . . often not spoken of, not dared to think about even. Let’s start this part of the transformation journey by being honest with ourselves, to dare to confront the sabotages, to finding oneself and then not losing that person again.
Unmet emotional (and spiritual) longings are recurrently filled by food – looking deeper, it may even be our “comfort food” or the food that always made us feel better as kids. Our mind in its ultimate judgement feels empty, lonely, starved for affection or belonging recurrently and unconsciously even telling our bodies to turn to food to gain some feeling of being “full”. Food eventually becomes a learned substitution for every need in our lives, including how to deal with stress, emptiness, despair. Stress comes with its own sad story of fat hormones and carbohydrate intolerances which may lead to sleep issues. Lack of adequate sleep, in turn, contributes to “fatness.”
Is it reasonable to expect that any effective weight loss program should address an awareness that successful obtainment of the physical goal of achieving permanent weight loss, body shape change, mental image transformation requires that a plan emphasizing replacement strategy needs to be in place? This plan could address such things as:
Humans are emotional creatures and there is no denying basic instincts such as finding community, love, pleasure and happiness. Unlike our land and sea mammals driven biologically to reproduce and survive, humans have an expansive consciousness with the freewill to choose how they want to live, eat and love.
It can be argued that over the years families have changed thus giving birth to an entire generation with predominantly negative health behaviors. If a child grows up eating fast food and drinking soda in replacement for water and nutritionally balanced meals, the child will grow up into an adult that passes these behaviors and unhealthy ways of coping down into his/her family.
Underlying causes of many cases of resistant obesity are driven from the emotions, which then becomes an addiction caused from the release of hormones in the body. Many food chemists design food to become addictive which, in turn, plays into the role of overeating. It’s a vicious cycle that takes time to retrain the body and brain. Even food commercials stimulate the production of insulin, not a very helpful tool in assisting food addicted individuals from responding to a physical stimulus. Essentially, our environment is not set up to help those who struggle with these issues.
In ancient Japanese beliefs, one’s midpoint is called theHara, or “sea of energy.” Combined with the Harais a pocket of etheric energy calledtan tien. In alchemist’s texts, Taoists refer to the Hara as the “cauldron” as this is the area for digestion and assimilation of food. Those with an energy blockage have issues feeling full or satisfied due to a lack oftan tien. The same concept is true withmanipuraas the naval chakra in Yogic texts as it represents our digestive fire. The fire in our constitution balances the heat and energy produced in the body. When unbalanced stomach problems arise, this can affect the clarity of the psyche. Thus, there is a deep connection between the mind and the gut, between emotions and food.
A frequent complaint in weight management is the problem of abdominal obesity, or belly fat. Biology on fat storage plays a roll, but gynoid or abdominal obesity is often the easiest to gain and the hardest to lose. And, abdominal girth represents metabolic disaster. Abdominal fat is now referred to medically as “sick fat.”
For many struggling with weight find they have “lost” their power somewhere on their journey in life. Many keep giving their power away to their boss, spouse, children, friend or anyone who needs their service. Those who have power, but still struggle emotionally are stuck in belief systems that they can’t be or look a certain way. This, too, is linked subconsciously to being powerless.
Another common emotional scenario are those who have been verbally, physically or sexually abused in their past. Emotional burdens from these life experiences are likely to lead one to fall into negative eating habits. There seems to be an underlying sense of shame or the need to be unattractive to others bound up in their actions.
People struggle with weight for many reasons, but those who are not emotionally stable often seek fulfillment and validation through overeating. Those who “MUST eat their ice cream everyday” have connected a certain food with a certain feeling. Why is this connection to a certain food that important? Questions like these must be asked and answered with a plan.
A truly balanced person never has a biological urge to “need” a certain food every day for survival. Power must be balanced. Those who have excess or too little power often abuse their personal strength, or use their power to compensate for something else lacking in their life. Not everybody has emotional baggage, but for many emotions run deeply buried allowing others to control our life instead of ourselves.
Breaking free from tangled emotions that interfere with balance and control in one’s life is an evolution to embrace with awareness. That awareness is achieved by allowing oneself to experience an emotion, deal with it and then letting it go. Awareness means knowing that food does not equal being loved nor does it take away the pain not dealt with and buried. The essence of breaking free means you have room to fill your heart and soul with other more positive emotions and food no longer must be part of the emotional baggage.
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