Intermittent fasting is a popular eating strategy being studied in labs and practiced in kitchens across America. And it’s more than a fad. Restricting your calories or mealtimes may have the potential for many benefits, such as weight loss and reduced risk of various diseases. We don’t have much evidence, however, about intermittent fasting’s effect on the health of older adults, according to Harvard Medical School.
Intermittent fasting restricts when or how much you eat — and sometimes both. There are several approaches.
In alternate-day fasting, you eat normally every other day. On days in between, you eat just 25% of your daily calorie needs, in one meal. So if you consume 1,800 calories on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, you’d eat a 450-calorie meal (and nothing else) on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday.
Millions of older people with poor vision are at risk of being misdiagnosed with mild cognitive impairments, according to a new study by the University of South Australia.
Cognitive tests that rely on vision-dependent tasks could be skewing results in up to a quarter of people aged over 50 who have undiagnosed visual problems such as cataracts or age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
Age-related macular degeneration is a leading cause of vision loss for older people. It doesn’t cause complete vision loss, but severely impacts people’s ability to read, drive, cook, and even recognise faces. It has no bearing on cognition.
Last year I posted The Ravages of Age which I intended as a kind of joke on the reader as I enumerated the toll that age was taking on my 15-year-old dog, not me. The fact is that I enjoy reasonably good health. I feel well-informed on the subject of health as I read and write about it every day of my life. Nonetheless, one of the distinctive aspects of my age is the loss of a sense of context.
I hope that isn’t too vague. What I mean is that since I have outlived many of my friends, family and loved ones, I don’t have many contemporary friends. I have lots of friends and acquaintances 10, 20, 30, 40 and 50 years younger than I am. But people within a decade of my age are few and far between.
For that reason I often feel out there and alone when it comes to a lot of the nitty-gritty aspects of daily life.
Research from the Babraham Institute has developed a method to ‘time jump’ human skin cells by 30 years, turning back the ageing clock for cells without losing their specialised function. Work by researchers in the Institute’s Epigenetics research program has been able to partly restore the function of older cells, as well as rejuvenating the molecular measures of biological age. The research is published in the journal eLife and while at an early stage of exploration, it could revolutionize regenerative medicine.
What is regenerative medicine?
As we age, our cells’ ability to function declines and the genome accumulates marks of aging. Regenerative biology aims to repair or replace cells including old ones. One of the most important tools in regenerative biology is our ability to create ‘induced’ stem cells. The process is a result of several steps, each erasing some of the marks that make cells specialized. In theory, these stem cells have the potential to become any cell type, but scientists aren’t yet able to reliably recreate the conditions to re-differentiate stem cells into all cell types.
“As I reported here, after the age of 50 men are as likely to get osteoporosis as prostate cancer. More to the point, older people of both sexes have great vulnerability to it.”
Now comes a new study that explains how weight-bearing exercises affect our bone structure and fight that disease.
Osteoporosis affects more than 200 million people worldwide and is a serious public health concern, according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation. Now, Pamela Hinton, associate professor in the Department of Nutrition and Exercise Physiology, has published the first study in men to show that long-term, weight-bearing exercises decrease sclerostin, a protein made in the bone, and increase IGF-1, a hormone associated with bone growth. These changes promote bone formation, increasing bone density. Continue reading →
Vitamins and minerals are two of the main types of nutrients that your body needs to survive and stay healthy. Find information on some of the essential vitamins recommended for older adults and how to get the recommended amount within your diet, according to the National Institute on Aging (NIA).
Vitamins help your body grow and work the way it should. There are 13 essential vitamins — vitamins A, C, D, E, K, and the B vitamins (thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, biotin, B6, B12, and folate).
Vitamins have different jobs to help keep the body working properly. Some vitamins help you resist infections and keep your nerves healthy, while others may help your body get energy from food or help your blood clot properly. By following the Dietary Guidelines, you will get enough of most of these vitamins from food.
Like vitamins, minerals also help your body function. Minerals are elements that our bodies need to function that can be found on the earth and in foods. Some minerals, like iodine and fluoride, are only needed in very small quantities. Others, such as calcium, magnesium, and potassium, are needed in larger amounts. As with vitamins, if you eat a varied diet, you will probably get enough of most minerals.
Regular physical activity promotes general good health, reduces the risk of developing many diseases, and helps you live a longer and healthier life. For many of us, “exercise” means walking, jogging, treadmill work, or other activities that get the heart pumping.
But often overlooked is the value of strength-building exercises. Once you reach your 50’s and beyond, strength (or resistance) training is critical to preserving the ability to perform the most ordinary activities of daily living — and to maintaining an active and independent lifestyle.
The average 30-year-old will lose about a quarter of his or her muscle strength by age 70 and half of it by age 90. “Just doing aerobic exercise is not adequate,” says Dr. Robert Schreiber, physician-in-chief at Hebrew SeniorLife and an instructor in medicine at Harvard Medical School. “Unless you are doing strength training, you will become weaker and less functional.”
Most people aren’t connected to music the way Tony Bennett is, but virtually everyone has songs they love. And music can reengage a person with dementia.
“When my father was in hospice in the last weeks of his life, he had been unable to speak for a while and wasn’t responding to us,” says Daniel Potts, MD, FAAN, a neurologist at VA Tuscaloosa Health Care and author of A Pocket Guide for the Alzheimer’s Caregiver. “We’re a singing family, so we called everybody who used to sing with us. Most of them came, and we just sat around his bedside and sang…and he sang with us. We’ll never forget that.”
Exercising for 20 minutes a day in your 70s appears to be the best way older adults can live longer without heart problems, a new study reveals. Scientists in Italy say the moderate to vigorous physical activity reduced the risk of developing heart disease when these individuals reached their 80s.
Researchers have long known that physical activity lengthens lifespans and reduces the risk from cardiovascular disease, regardless of gender or ethnicity. Until now, however, few studies have probed whether exercise later in life can ward off heart attacks and strokes during old age.
For the study, the team drew on information from the Progetto Veneto Anziani study of 3,099 Italians over the age of 65. Those researchers carried out initial tests including a detailed medical history, physical examination, scans, and a range of blood tests between 1995 and 1997. Scientists conducted two further assessments four and seven years later.
Older women live with more pre-existing conditions
When the study began, women were more likely than men to have more than four co-existing conditions. Osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, and chronic kidney disease were more common among women than men, while diabetes and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease were more common among men.
Mental speed – the speed at which we can deal with issues requiring rapid decision-making – does not change substantially over decades. Psychologists at Heidelberg University have come to this conclusion. Under the leadership of Dr Mischa von Krause and Dr Stefan Radev, they evaluated data from a large-scale online experiment with over a million participants. The findings of the new study suggest that the speed of cognitive information processing remains largely stable between the ages of 20 and 60, and only deteriorates at higher ages. The Heidelberg researchers have hereby called into question the assumption to date that mental speed starts to decline already in early adulthood.
“The common assumption is that the older we get, the more slowly we react to external stimuli. If that were so, mental speed would be fastest at the age of about twenty and would then decline with increasing age,” says Dr von Krause, a researcher in the Quantitative Research Methods department headed by Prof. Dr Andreas Voß at Heidelberg University’s Institute of Psychology. In order to verify this theory, the researchers re-evaluated data from a large-scale American study on implicit biases. In the online experiment with over a million participants, subjects had to press a button to sort pictures of people into the categories “white” or “black” and words into the categories “good” or “bad”. According to Dr von Krause, the content focus was of minor importance in the Heidelberg study. Instead, the researchers used the large batch of data as an example of a response-time task to measure the duration of cognitive decisions.
How fatigued certain activities make an older person feel can predict the likelihood death is less than three years away, according to research published in the Journal of Gerontology: Medical Sciences by University of Pittsburgh epidemiologists. It is the first study to establish perceived physical fatigability as an indicator of earlier mortality. Older people who scored the highest in terms of how tired or exhausted they would feel after activities were more than twice as likely to die in the following 2.7 years compared to their counterparts who scored lower. Fatigability was assessed for a range of activities using the novel Pittsburgh Fatigability Scale.
“This is the time of year when people make—and break—New Year’s resolutions to get more physical activity,” said lead author Nancy W. Glynn, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Epidemiology at Pitt’s Graduate School of Public Health.
“I hope our findings provide some encouragement to stick with exercise goals. Previous research indicates that getting more physical activity can reduce a person’s fatigability. Our study is the first to link more severe physical fatigability to an earlier death. Conversely, lower scores indicate greater energy and more longevity.”
People who believe their bodies and minds will break down with age may be creating a self-fulfilling prophecy, a recent study suggests.
Researchers found that older adults with a dim outlook on aging tended to report more physical health symptoms on days when they were stressed out than on less stressful days.
In contrast, people with more of a “golden years” perspective seemed to have some protection against daily stress: They actually reported fewer health problems on days where they felt more stressed than usual.
“We’ve known that there’s a strong relationship between perceived stress and physical health,” said lead researcher Dakota Witzel, a doctoral candidate at Oregon State University’s College of Public Health and Human Sciences, in Corvallis.
Numerous studies have found that when people habitually feel stressed-out they may eat poorly, skip exercise and have long-term consequences like high blood pressure and an increased risk of heart disease.
But the new findings, Witzel said, suggest that a brighter outlook on aging can be a buffer against the physical effects of daily stress.
Grampa, when you finish that puzzle please slip on your walking shoes and step outside.
A lot of senior citizens are doing Sudoku puzzles and crosswords to ‘exercise their brains’ and slow the aging process. These puzzles can be fun, and they do build puzzle-solving skills which are long-lasting. They are not even half the battle against aging, though.
“Unless the activities that you’re practicing span a broad spectrum of abilities, then there is not a proven general benefit to these mental fitness programs. So, the idea that any single brain exercise program late in life can act as a quick fix for general mental function is almost entirely faith-based,” Professor Wang said in our post on physical exercise vs mental exercise.
Walking, on the other hand, boosts blood flow to the brain. Medicine.net reported that moderate aerobic exercise helps boost blood flow to the brain. Continue reading →
When elderly people stay active, their brains have more of a class of proteins that enhances the connections between neurons to maintain healthy cognition, a UC San Francisco study has found.
This protective impact was found even in people whose brains at autopsy were riddled with toxic proteins associated with Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases.
“Our work is the first that uses human data to show that synaptic protein regulation is related to physical activity and may drive the beneficial cognitive outcomes we see,” said Kaitlin Casaletto, PhD, an assistant professor of neurology and lead author on the study, which appears in the January 7 issue of Alzheimer’s & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association.
The beneficial effects of physical activity on cognition have been shown in mice but have been much harder to demonstrate in people.
“Falls are the leading cause of accidental death in seniors, and many people don’t know that having bladder control problems makes you about twice as likely to fall over,” said William Gibson, lead author of the study and assistant professor of geriatric medicine.