Anti-aging treatment and prevention
A healthy lifestyle, caloric restriction with adequate nutrution (CRAN), and perhaps even supplements can do no more than slow the aging process or extend mean lifespan. Aging is unavoidable, but major physical impairment is not. People can lead a healthy, disability-free life well through their later years. A well established support system of family, friends, and health care providers, together with focus on good nutrition and lifestyle habits and good stress management, can prevent disease and lessen the impact of chronic conditions. Medications: For the most part, doctors prescribe medications to control the symptoms and diseases of aging. More women than men use these medications.
The most common drugs used by the elderly are painkillers, diuretics or water pills, sedatives, cardiac drugs, antibiotics, and mental health drugs. (A few of those anti-aging drugs are Procaine, Deanol, Deprenyl, Levodopa, Phenformin and Phenytoin). Estrogen replacement therapy (ERT) is commonly prescribed to postmenopausal women for symptoms of aging. It is often used in conjunction with progesterone. ERT functions to help keep bones strong, reduce risk of heart disease, restore vaginal lubrication, and to improve skin elasticity. Evidence suggests that it may also help maintain mental functions.
Caloric restriction: The only known method that might be able to delay human aging is caloric restriction (CR). Caloric restriction simply means a diet with fewer calories that still delivers the required nutritional content. Experiments have shown longevity increases of more than 50% in certain mammals and other beneficial secondary effects, but most people find it hard to stick to such a diet. If science is to extend human longevity, it will have to do so by extending the healthy life span while preserving youth and vitality, not by prolonging the time spent in age-related disability. The extra years must allow future grandparents to enjoy life rather than just cling to it. Finding compounds that mimic CR has for long been an objective, but so far this search has eluded researchers. Recently, a number of molecules called small molecule activators of sirtuins have been hinted as capable of mimicking CR. These molecules include plant polyphenols such as resveratrol and fisetin.
Nutritional supplements: Consumption of a high-quality multivitamin is recommended. Common nutritional deficiencies connected with aging include B vitamins, vitamins A and C, folic acid, calcium, magnesium, zinc, iron, chromium, and trace minerals. Since stomach acids may be decreased, it is suggested that the use of a powdered multivitamin formula in gelatin capsules be used, as this form is the easiest to digest. Such formulas may also contain enzymes for further help with digestion. One of the possible causes of aging gathering much support is the free radical theory of aging. Succinctly, when oxygen is used to make energy in human cells, it releases reactive compounds called free radicals or reactive oxygen species (ROS). To fight ROS, cells possess an array of defenses called anti-oxidants. Many of these anti-oxidants can be synthesized or extracted, purified, and then sold, generally in tablets. Common anti-oxidants include vitamins A, C, and E. Co-enzyme Q10 is another anti-oxidants generally prescribed together with vitamin C. Fortunately, there is little if nothing wrong with taking these products as serious side-effects have not been described. Unfortunately, there is little evidence any of these products actually works. In mice, for instance, studies indicate that anti-oxidants do not slow aging although they can slightly increase longevity. So anti-oxidants are probably healthy in the same way vitamin supplements, often including anti-oxidants, are healthy. In the end, there is no proof that anti-oxidants delay aging but, optimistically, they might make you live a little longer.
Hormonal therapies: Many hormones' levels go down with age. Assuming these hormonal changes are important in aging some of the most popular anti-aging treatments emerged. The most famous of these involves human growth hormone (HGH). Growth hormone has been used as an anti-aging treatment and some evidence suggests it has beneficial effects on elderly people despite possible side effects. HGH supplements might have several benefits: they increase muscle mass, strengthen the immune system, increase libido, etc. Other hormones whose production decrease with age are DHEA and melatonin. DHEA has been reported to improve the well being of the elderly by a variety of ways: improved memory, immune system, muscle mass, sexual appetite, and benefits to the skin. Protection against cancer has also been argued but some types of cancer--namely prostate and breast cancer--actually appear to increase with DHEA. Minor side effects such as acne have also been reported. Melatonin is a hormone mostly involved in sleep and circadian rhythms. It appears to have anti-oxidant functions in the brain--more about anti-oxidants in a second. Its proponents claim it actually delays the aging process and many age-related diseases but this is far from proven. Although it can be used for jet lag and sleep disorders, it may also cause sleep disorders such as nightmares and vivid dreams. Recently, a study claimed that melatonin levels do not decrease with age per se; although due to diseases or drugs, elderly persons can have low levels of melatonin. Melatonin may also aggravate asthma.
Telomerase therapy: Telomere shortening contributes to mortality only in a few tissues. Neurons & muscle cells are non-dividing and are thus not affected by telomere shortening. Telomere shortening may contribute to mortality most significantly for immune system cells & arterial epithelial cells. Even if telomere shortening in the immune system is proven to cause the majority of deaths in the very elderly, the mortality is better described as "failure of the weakest link" (like the death of wild horses from worn-down teeth) than as aging. If biological gerontologists are successful in finding means to greatly increase human lifespan, then telomere shortening in proliferative tissues may become far more relevant to human aging. (For non-dividing cells, notably neurons, metabolic damage & garbage accumulation could be considered the "weakest link" if it weren't for the fact that cell death is so different from cell senescence.)
Herbal therapies: Garlic (Allium sativa) is helpful in preventing heart disease, as well as improving the tone and texture of skin. Garlic stimulates liver and digestive system functions, and also helps in dealing with heart disease and high blood pressure. Siberian ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticosus) supports the adrenal glands and immune functions. It is believed to be helpful in treating problems related to stress. Siberian ginseng also increases mental and physical performance, and may be useful in treating memory loss, chronic fatigue, and immune dysfunction. Ginkgo biloba works particularly well on the brain and nervous system. It is effective in reducing the symptoms of conditions, such as Alzheimer's, depression, visual problems, and problems of blood circulation. It may also help treat heart disease, strokes, dementia, Raynaud's disease, head injuries, leg cramps, macular degeneration, tinnitus, impotence due to poor blood flow, and diabetes-related nerve damage. Proanthocyanidins, or PCO, are Pycnogenol, derived from grape seeds and skin, and from pine tree bark, and may help in the prevention of cancer and poor vision.
In Ayurvedic medicine, aging is described as a process of increased vata, in which there is a tendency to become thinner, drier, more nervous, more restless, and more fearful, while having a loss of appetite as well as sleep. Bananas, almonds, avocados, and coconuts are some of the foods used in correcting such conditions. One of the main herbs used for such conditions is gotu kola (Centella asiatica), which is used to revitalize the nervous system and brain cells and to fortify the immune system. Gotu kola is also used to treat memory loss, anxiety, and insomnia.
In Chinese medicine, most symptoms of aging are regarded as symptoms of a yin deficiency. Moistening foods such as millet, barley soup, tofu, mung beans, wheat germ, spirulina, potatoes, black sesame seeds, walnuts, and flax seeds are recommended. Jing tonics may also be used. These include deer antler, dodder seeds, processed rehmannia, longevity soup, mussels, and chicken.
Prevention of aging
Preventive health practices such as healthy diet, daily exercise, stress management, and control of lifestyle habits such as smoking and drinking, can lengthen the life span and improve the quality of life as people age. Exercise can improve the appetite, the health of the bones, the emotional and mental outlook, and the digestion and circulation. Drinking plenty of fluids aids in maintaining healthy skin, good digestion, and proper elimination of wastes. Up to eight glasses of water should be consumed daily, along with plenty of herbal teas, diluted fruit and vegetable juices, and fresh fruits and vegetables with high water content. Because of a decrease in the sense of taste, older people often increase their intake of salt, which can contribute to high blood pressure and nutrient loss. Use of sugar is also increased. Seaweeds and small amounts of honey can be used as replacements. Alcohol, nicotine, and caffeine all have potential damaging effects, and should be limited or completely eliminated from consumption. A diet high in fiber and low in fat is recommended. Processed foods should be replaced by complex carbohydrates, such as whole grains. If chewing becomes a problem, there should be an increased intake of protein drinks, freshly juiced fruits and vegetables, and creamed cereals.