Eating Your Way to Longevity
September 30, 2002
Deciding what you should eat,
and particularly, what (if any) nutritional supplements to take is a tough go.
There is no shortage of advice. In fact, there's an embarrassment of riches.
Even the experts disagree. Nutritional supplementation is clearly an enormously
lucrative business, with nutritional sales hype confounding the
already-confusing divergent opinions among the experts.
Twenty-three years ago, after reading Nathan Pritikin's books and reviewing hundreds of articles at our local medical library, I decided to embark upon a low-fat diet. When I learned that Tommie Jean had elevated cholesterol levels, I got her on a low-fat diet, also. Nor was I exactly alone in this transition to low-fat foods. A potpourri of low-fat products have become available at the supermarket. But if you're going to reduce your calories from fat to 10% or less, that means that you have to get 90% or more of your fat from carbohydrates or proteins. Now we're learning that carbohydrates may be a greater threat than fat! The Owner's Manual for the Human Body (Copyright 1999, 2000, by Peter A. Passaro, Jr., Joshua Watts and the Maximum Life Foundation) observes that starchy or sugary carbohydrates can KILL!
What follows is based upon the above manual.
The authors observe that aging begins in women at age 25 and in men at age 28. However, there are creatures in nature that don't age. There also seem to be different rates of aging among different people.
The four major killers in the United States are
Heart attack (277 per 100,000 per year)
Cancer (205 per 100,000 per year)
Stroke ( 61 per 100,000 per year)
Lung disease ( 40 per 100,000 per year)
and these are all are related to aging.
It's probably worth noting that in animal studies over the past few decades, feeding the animals antioxidants increased their average life spans, although it didn't raise increase their maximum life spans.
The material below is drawn from the book above. Since the Maximum Life Foundation is a non-profit institution, I'm thinking that there may be less conflict of interest than there might be with a profit-making company.
The basis for this statement that carbohydrates are more damaging to the body than fats is predicated upon the fact that the bulk of our free radical damage occurs as an byproduct of the metabolization of foods. We weren't designed for the sugar and simple-starch intake we can so easily obtain today. Eating a lot of sugar or starch can cause peaks of high blood sugar. This, in turn, causes excessive insulin release, and can lead to a roller-coaster effect in which blood sugar and insulin yo-yo up and down. (As insulin levels rise, blood sugar may drop low, which makes us hungry for more sugar.) Eventually, particularly as we grow older, this can lead to Type II diabetes, in which the cells of the body no longer respond properly to insulin. The body raises the level of insulin in the blood stream, which goes with high blood sugar, and this, in turn, causes major damage to your arteries. This includes (say the authors) higher cholesterol in your blood, formation of sticky sugar-protein clusters that clog your arteries, free-radical damaged, molecules, and release of cortisol, which causes tissue breakdown.
Slow Intake of Sugar, Starch; Artificial Sweeteners
What's the solution? Slow ingestion or release of sugar. The complex carbohydrates contained in non-starchy vegetables are released slower than are refined sugars, or starches like my favorite kind: baked potatoes.
Another solution is sugar substitutes. There is a tinkers' chorus of "aspartame is bad" conpirationalists. My opinion of the moment, after running a search on "aspartame", is that aspartame is safe and is OK. There have been other hatchet campaigns that have been disgustingly successful in getting valuable products taken off the market based upon what I know to be totally base motives. We're probably more susceptible to being gulled by anti-establishment types than we are to being taken in by the establishment. (More about this later.)
Low Calorie Diets
Holding down one's weight is always a good idea.
Eat Brightly Colored, Non-Starchy Vegetables
You know: broccoli, carrots, spinach, cabbage, and cauliflower. Peppers are good, along with onions and garlic.
Eat Brightly Colored Fruits
The authors also recommend fruits, and particularly, blueberries, bilberries, strawberries, purple grapes, and tomatoes. To this I would add the idea of eating a little at a time and stretching it out, so that there are no spikes in your fructose levels.
Give Up Candy, Cookies, and Soda
The authors warn against a large intake of refined sugars and starches. The first things to go are candy, cookies, and soda. They warn against major amounts of bread and pasta, since, like baked potatoes, these also can be converted into sugar before they've left your mouth. On the other hand, they recommend brightly colored, non-starchy vegetables.
Lower Your Fat Intake
Whoops! This is where I came into the picture show! My fat intake is already very low. They say that some forms of health are important to one's health, and that fat is much less damaging than sugar, but excess intake still causes problems.
I would add to this that hydrogenated fats are dangerous--a fact that's now being advertised. Mono-unsaturated fat such as olive oil is considered good. I eat butter, but only a little of it. Natural polyunsaturated fats found in nuts are probably good for us. Lard is bad news, as is food like french fries and deep-fried foods.
Increase Your Intake of Fish
Again, it depends upon how much fish you're already consuming. I eat a little canned salmon every day. On the other hand, we're now being warned that fish are contaminated with mercury. But the omega-3 fatty acids are certainly desirable.
Avoid Blackened or Burned Foods
Charred foods have been implicated in cancer.
Hold Down Your Ingestion of Salt-Cured Meats Such as Bacon and Ham.
These foods are cured with potassium nitrite, and tend to release nitrosamines during cooking. (The American Cancer Society warns against them.)
Hold Down Your Ingestion of Red Meat.
This is also high in nitrosamines, as well as fat. (However, we once in a while cook ground round steak that's 96% fat-free.)
The Authors Recommend 50% Carbohydrates, 25% Protein, and 25% of Calories from Fat
Consume Plenty of Water (e. g., a Gallon a Day)
This reduces the chances of bladder cancer by 50%.
Eat Five or Six Small Meals a Day
This helps to regulate blood sugar levels, and keep them in line with energy requirements.
One of the first questions to be asked is: can these supplements affect anything, or is our health and our life spans coded in our genes?
I think there's something to the genetic model, but I think that environment also plays a role. Alcoholics and high rollers often die in their forties. Lung cancer often hits in the fifties and sixties. And when it comes to these supplements, we're on virgin ground. In animal studies, feeding animals antioxidants elevates the average age of death, but not the maximum life span. Here. though, some of these supplements might possibly modulate the rate of aging, since they contain more than merely antioxidants. However, raising the average life span (if indeed they can do this) would be quite fine. The longer we can avoid cancer, heart disease, strokes, Alzheimer's Disease, Parkinson's Disease, and so forth, the better. And the longer we remain disease-free, the greater the chance of improved treatments.
One factor to consider is the cost of these "nutritionals". Costs would eat you alive if you tried to buy all of these supplements individually. For this reason, the "Life Extension Mix" from the Life Extension Foundation sounds promising o me. It's advertised as costing $1.36 a day (plus the annual cost of membership in the Life Extension Foundation). That might sound like a lot, but when you consider the cost of buying even a fraction of this at Walmart (let alone a health boutique), it begins to look like a pretty good deal. I'm not prepared to recommend anything at this time because I don't yet know that much about these choices.
In any case, if you're going to buy nutritional supplements, and most people do these days, then the three of these supplement lists are probably a better choice than what's available at Walmart. You could probably find all this at your local health food store, but it would cost you an arm and a leg.
In the first column below are Maximum Life Foundation's daily dosage recommendations of supplements, based upon suggestions from Dr. Lester Packer. Dr. Karlis Ullis, and the Life Extension Foundation.
In the second column below are the daily supplements that John Furber is taking.
The third column contains the ingredients in the Life Extension Foundation's Life Extension Mix.
Life Extension Mix
|Beta Carotene||5-20 mg.||10,000 IU|
|Vitamin B1||500 mg.||200 mg.||125 mg.|
|Vitamin B2||100 - 200 mg.||200 mg.||50 mg.|
|Vitamin B3||100-200 mg.||300 mg.||187 mg.|
|Niacinamide||140 mg.||(Included above)|
|Vitamin B5||500 - 1,500 mg.||1,000 mg.||600 mg.|
|Vitamin B6||250 mg.||200 mg.||100 mg.|
|Vitamin B12||300 - 500 mcg.||200 mg.||600 mcg.|
|Folic Acid||800 mcg. with B12||1,600 mcg.||800 mcg.|
|Vitamin C||500 - 1,500 mg.||3,000 mg.||2,605 mg.|
|Ascorbyl Palmitate||600 mg.||250 mg.|
|Citrus Bioflavenoids||1,300 mg.|
|Vitamin D3||400 IU||400 IU|
|Vitamin E (mixed)||500 mg.||1,000 IU||400 IU|
|Calcium||1,345 mg.||227 mg.|
|Chromium||200 - 400 mcg.||200 mcg.||200 mcg.|
|Magnesium||592 mg.||325 mg.|
|Selenium||200 - 400 mcg.||150 mcg.||200 mcg.|
|Zinc||60 mg.||35 mg.|
|Coenzyme Q-10||30 - 90 mg.||50 - 100 mg.|
|Lutein||1,000 mg.||15 mg.|
|N-Acetyl-i-Cysteine||1,000 mg.||600 mg.|
|L-Lysine HCl||900 mg.||500 mg.|
|Thiodipropionic Acid||25 mg.|
|Grape seed||50 - 100 mg.||50 mg.|
|Gingko||120 mg.||240 mg.|
|Green Tea||300 - 1,200 Mg.||1 cup|
|Black Tea||1 cup|
|Curcumin||900 - 1,800 mg.|
|Glutathione||300 - 400 mg.|
|Breaker 45C||100 mg.|
|Alpha-Lipoic acid||200 - 400 mg.||500 mg.|
|Acetyl-l-Carnitine||100 - 2,000 mg.||415 mg.|
|Choline||1,400 mg.||117.5 mg.|
|Inositol||400 mg.||250 mg.|
|DMEA Bitartrate||200 mg.|
|PABA||200 mg.||200 mg.|
|Bilberry||100 - 200 mg.||30 mg.|
|Silymarin||300 - 600 mg.|
|Flax Oil||2 - 4 tablespoons|
|Saw Palmetto Extract||160 mg.|
|Ginger Root Extract||200 mg.|
|Acerola Juice Extract||300 mg.|
|Broccoli Complex||500 mg.|
|Labiatae Extract||300 mg.|
|Raspberry Leaf Extract||130 mg.|
As you can see, there's no
universal agreement regarding what supplements one should take.