Research into Reversing Aging

Research into Reversing Aging
5 (100%) 6 votes

The first dietary intervention shown to boost telomerase activity.

Discuss
Republish

All right, let me close out with one final round. First, a bit of background. Each one of us has 46 strands of DNA in each of our cells, coiled into chromosomes. At the tips of each chromosome, at the end of each DNA strand, there’s a cap, like the tip of a shoelace, which keeps our DNA from unraveling and fraying. That cap is called a telomere.

Every time our cells divide, though, a bit of that cap is lost. And when it’s completely gone, the cell stops dividing, or dies. So telomeres have been thought of as kind of our life “fuse.” They start shortening as soon as we’re born, and when they’re gone, we’re gone. In fact, forensic scientists can take DNA from a bloodstain, and tell you how old the person was, based on how long the telomeres are.

The thought is, if we can slow down this ticking clock, slow down this shortening, we may be able to slow down aging and live longer. So, what do we have to do? Stop smoking—#1—which has been shown to significantly eat away our protective telomeres. But is there anything in our diet that’s accelerating the process, speeding up aging? We didn’t know, until last year.

120-food-item questionnaire. Two foods were associated with telomere shortening—accelerated aging; you tell me which ones. In alphabetical order: coffee, fried foods, high-fat dairy, non-fried fish, processed meat, red meat, refined grains, or high fructose corn syrup-containing soda. I’ll give you a hint; one of them was processed meat. But which was the other one?

It was the fish, nipping at our DNA. Eating fish appeared to age people’s DNA six years, and processed meat 14 years, in terms of how short the telomeres were of fish- and lunch-meat-eaters.

So, fish and bacon appear to speed aging up. But is there any way to slow aging down, or even actually turn back the cellular clock, and actually repair and lengthen our telomeres back up? Yes, but it appears we have to eat vegan.

Dr. Dean Ornish wasn’t satisfied with just reversing heart disease and cancer, so now he’s trying his hand at reversing aging. There’s a tree, called a bristle cone pine, which is the oldest living thing on earth. There’s one in California that started growing around the time the Egyptian pyramids were being built, about 5,000 years ago. And the tree is still going strong. Scientists found an enzyme in its roots called telomerase, which could actually rebuild the telomeres, and humans have the enzyme, too.

The problem is that no one had ever found a way to boost its activity. But that’s because no one had ever tried a whole foods, plant-based diet before. In a study funded by the U.S. Department of Defense, Ornish found that after just three months of a whole foods, plant-based diet—along with exercise—one could significantly boost telomerase activity.

The accompanying editorial celebrated this breakthrough, and hoped that this “exciting outcome…[would] encourage people to adopt a healthy lifestyle in order to avoid or combat cancer and age-related diseases.”

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by veganmontreal.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

 

 

All right, let me close out with one final round. First, a bit of background. Each one of us has 46 strands of DNA in each of our cells, coiled into chromosomes. At the tips of each chromosome, at the end of each DNA strand, there’s a cap, like the tip of a shoelace, which keeps our DNA from unraveling and fraying. That cap is called a telomere.

Every time our cells divide, though, a bit of that cap is lost. And when it’s completely gone, the cell stops dividing, or dies. So telomeres have been thought of as kind of our life “fuse.” They start shortening as soon as we’re born, and when they’re gone, we’re gone. In fact, forensic scientists can take DNA from a bloodstain, and tell you how old the person was, based on how long the telomeres are.

The thought is, if we can slow down this ticking clock, slow down this shortening, we may be able to slow down aging and live longer. So, what do we have to do? Stop smoking—#1—which has been shown to significantly eat away our protective telomeres. But is there anything in our diet that’s accelerating the process, speeding up aging? We didn’t know, until last year.

120-food-item questionnaire. Two foods were associated with telomere shortening—accelerated aging; you tell me which ones. In alphabetical order: coffee, fried foods, high-fat dairy, non-fried fish, processed meat, red meat, refined grains, or high fructose corn syrup-containing soda. I’ll give you a hint; one of them was processed meat. But which was the other one?

It was the fish, nipping at our DNA. Eating fish appeared to age people’s DNA six years, and processed meat 14 years, in terms of how short the telomeres were of fish- and lunch-meat-eaters.

So, fish and bacon appear to speed aging up. But is there any way to slow aging down, or even actually turn back the cellular clock, and actually repair and lengthen our telomeres back up? Yes, but it appears we have to eat vegan.

Dr. Dean Ornish wasn’t satisfied with just reversing heart disease and cancer, so now he’s trying his hand at reversing aging. There’s a tree, called a bristle cone pine, which is the oldest living thing on earth. There’s one in California that started growing around the time the Egyptian pyramids were being built, about 5,000 years ago. And the tree is still going strong. Scientists found an enzyme in its roots called telomerase, which could actually rebuild the telomeres, and humans have the enzyme, too.

The problem is that no one had ever found a way to boost its activity. But that’s because no one had ever tried a whole foods, plant-based diet before. In a study funded by the U.S. Department of Defense, Ornish found that after just three months of a whole foods, plant-based diet—along with exercise—one could significantly boost telomerase activity.

The accompanying editorial celebrated this breakthrough, and hoped that this “exciting outcome…[would] encourage people to adopt a healthy lifestyle in order to avoid or combat cancer and age-related diseases.”

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by veganmontreal.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

 

 

49 responses to “Research into Reversing Aging

Commenting Etiquette

The intention of the comment section under each video and blog post is to allow all members to share their stories, questions, and feedback with others in a welcoming, engaging, and respectful environment. Off-topic comments are permitted, in hopes more experienced users may be able to point them to more relevant videos that may answer their questions. Vigorous debate of science is welcome so long as participants can disagree respectfully. Advertising products or services is not permitted.

To make NutritionFacts.org a place where people feel comfortable posting without feeling attacked, we have no tolerance for ad hominem attacks or comments that are racist, misogynist, homophobic, vulgar, or otherwise inappropriate. Please help us to foster a community of mutual respect. Enforcement of these rules is done to the best of our ability on a case-by-case basis.

    1. I would be interested in knowing if they made distinctions between canned (ie canned tuna), processed or smoked fish. I could see that maybe some of the same treatments applied to processed meats could apply to these. It could be possible that a significant percentage of respondents’ fish intake could correspond to canned tuna. I also wonder if uncooked fish (sushi) has the same effect as cooked fish.




      2



      0
  1. Dear Dr. Greger,

    Thank you for bringing this exciting research to the attention of your followers. I admire your tireless devotion to the very important cause of lifestyle medicine.

    I have a specific concern, however, that when I followed the link to the cited article by Dean Ornish, I discovered that he is not advocating a strictly vegetarian diet. In fact, he used a whole foods, plant-based diet, which included fish oil supplements daily (This made me cringe because of your other video on highest PCB levels present in fish oil?!).

    While the article presented an intriguing pilot study, nothing in it even suggested that vegetarianism was responsible for the increased telomerase activity.

    You may wish to consider this feedback to improve the accuracy of your video.

    Thanks,
    BPC




    0



    0
    1. I agree with your concerns about fish oil and no longer recommend for my patients. I was present at a McDougall Advanced Study Weekend where Dr. Ornish presented. He was asked about his fish oil recommendation. His response was, in my opinion, dismissive and didn’t address the issue. Based on the best current science I would avoid fish oil and if you feel that you should take an omega 3 supplement I would follow Dr. Greger’s recommendation of an algae based product… see video http://nutritionfacts.org/videos/algae-based-dha-vs-flax-2/, not to mention the lack of adequate labeling see http://nutritionfacts.org/videos/fish-oil-in-troubled-waters/.




      0



      0
    2. Dr. McDougall’s website has an article or newsletter or one of his “hot topics”, in which he supports his claim that the people eating the traditional Japanese diet with fish are healthy in spite of eating the fish, not because of it.

      No need for me to elaborate; Dr. McDougall writes and supports it well enough for anyone interested to go straight to the source.




      0



      0
      1. And, that source would be: the February 2003 newsletter, article “Fish Is Not Health Food”.

        There: I made it easy for you. *And* surprised myself that I so clearly remembered something from that long ago. Hm… Must have made an impression.




        0



        0
    1. If you heat fish it will form oxidized cholesterol and this will shorten telomeres: Front Biosci (Elite Ed). 2010 Jun 1;2:1164-8. Telomere length and its associations with oxidized-LDL, carotid artery distensibility and smoking. Nawrot TS, Staessen JA, Holvoet P, Struijker-Boudier HA, Schiffers P, Van Bortel LM, Fagard RH, Gardner JP, Kimura M, Aviv A. Department of Molecular and Cardiovascular Research, Laboratory of Hypertension, University of Leuven, Study Coordinating Centre, Leuven, Belgium.




      0



      0
    2. They have the longest lifespans compared with cultures that eat many animal products. Okinawans, the Japanese people with the longest lifespans don’t eat a lot of fish. And since the nuclear disaster I wouldn’t trust any fish within 25,000 miles of Japan. Not a problem for me anyway, since I’m vegan. Here’s one source about what Okinawans eat: http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-14305/these-people-live-longer-than-anyone-here-are-9-things-they-do.html




      0



      0
  2. One of the best studies on longevity was done on residents on Okinawa. Many folks assume that because they lived on an island that they consumed alot of fish. Actually the long living study participants ate a small per cent of fish… they ate about 70% sweet potatoes. Fish has omega 3, EPA & DHA(antiinflammatory substances) which they get from algae they eat. Unfortunately fish also comes with cholesterol, saturated fat and all sorts of chemicals including mercury, arsenic, drugs, pcb’s and other organic chemicals including fire retardants. Therefore it is not surprising that fish has an adverse effect on our telomeres. See http://nutritionfacts.org/videos/hair-testing-for-mercury/, http://nutritionfacts.org/videos/dioxins-in-the-food-supply/, & http://nutritionfacts.org/videos/prozac-residues-in-fish/. We are learning more about aging see… http://nutritionfacts.org/videos/mitochondrial-theory-of-aging/ so keep tuned to Nutritionfacts.org for updates.




    0



    0
  3. Do you think that the fish caused a shortening of telomeres due to the contaminants themselves? Or do you think it was independent of the contaminants?




    0



    0
  4. Good questions. I don’t know. The sample size of the study was small. If it had been larger it might have helped answer your question(s). The Ornish study involved diet and exercise. So there may be confounding variables as well. I view them as more evidence which supports the “paradigm” that eating a whole food plant based diet with B12 supplementation is the best way to eat… for individuals, families, communities, nations and the world.




    0



    0
    1. O I am well aware of the benefits of a whole foods plant based diet, I am just curious to know if the contaminants in fish increased telomere shortening. I would think the nitrosamines in processed meats would be the culprit in rapid telomere shortening.




      0



      0
  5. I just discovered your website a few days ago(Dr. McDougal e- mail) and have shared it with multiple friends. I was familiar more than 15 years ago with some of Dr. McDougal’s work, also the China study, the recent “forks over Knives”, some of the TED.com videos of Dr. Ornish. I just wanted to thank you for all the information you have put together here and also the way you present it. My wife is Chinese so this type of plant strong diet is easy for us and quite normal. What I like is that you bring in a lot of new ideas as to the why’s and how things work. thanks again for all you effort.




    0



    0
  6. This is a very interesting video! My concern is that if the telomerase activity was significant, wouldn’t this cause a flaw in the blood/dna aging procedure? IE: They wouldn’t be able to correctly identify a persons age by their blood, because they wouldn’t know if that person was vegan or not.
    What do you think? Do you know how significant this telomerase activity is?




    0



    0
  7. I’m just wondering, when Ornish says that a vegan diet along with exercise can boost telomere strength – how much exercise must one do? I’m a vegan, but I really super enjoy sitting. It’s so awesome, is sitting.
    Just wondering.
    And thanks for all these great videos. It’s a great service you are doing. Thank you!
    Ellen Reid




    0



    0
      1. That’s not possible for most people, especially as people age. Actually 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise plus as much activity as possible throughout the day does wonders. Mild – moderate – rigorous are all relative to the capabilities of the individual. For exercise, some aerobic activity at least 5 daya, strength training 2-3 days (full-body), and stretching at least 5 days.




        0



        0
  8. The study discussion states: “Food groups such as whole grains, nuts, fish, fruit, and vegetables and prudent dietary patterns rich in these foods were inversely associated with several age-related diseases and total rate of mortality (14–19, 21–29, 46).” Yet the results found that “With the exception of nonfried fish (P = 0.04), processed meat consumption (P = 0.001), and the dietary pattern scores for fats and processed meat, which were each inversely associated with telomere length.” This “inverse association” found between fish and telomere length was ignored in the discussion.

    Additional studies have found fish consumption to correlate with increased telomere length. It would be nice to see more recent data on this topic.




    0



    0
  9. According to this article http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18996878 telomerase activity increases in the presence of cancer cells…if Dr Ornish’s research was done on subjects with cancer…might not the increase in telomerase activity indicate that the cancer was progressing and not an indication that the telomere’s were lengthening
    ? I would love to believe that we can lengthen our telomere with a low fat whole foods vegan diet but I don’t see how this proves it…Please help me understand! I’m looking online and not finding anything other than maybe eating more folate rich foods!




    0



    0
  10. I’m looking into intermittent fasting for its supposed health benefits. Have you come across any research in this area? Although caloric restriction is generally associated with longevity, I do not wish to be malnourished and nutrient deficient.




    0



    0
      1. Ah yes I have seen this one! (Ive seen almost all of them haha), but I am interested more in the negatives of fasting despite the already prevalent benefits of veganism. I would like to incorporate it into my life regardless.




        0



        0
        1. I do not know of direct research other then benefit with water fasting and hypertension
          http://www.scribd.com/doc/32727377/Medically-Supervised-Water-only-Fasting-in-the-Treatment-of-Hypertension
          http://www.scribd.com/doc/32727203/Medically-Supervised-Water-Only-Fasting-in-the-Treatment-of-Borderline-Hypertension

          But Jeff Novick, a very prominent and well informed plant based dietician does discuss fasting here. “Fasting is not required or necessary for good health. However, in certain conditions, fasting can be of benefit.”
          http://drmcdougall.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=5852&highlight=fasting




          0



          0
  11. According to researchers from the University of California, San Francisco, the higher the blood levels of fish-derived omega-3 fatty acids in patients with coronary heart disease, the longer the telomeres. Their study, published in the January 2010 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, found that leukocyte telomere length (LTL) was positively associated with higher (not lower) blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids. (http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/715449)

    Far from causing a shortening of telomere length, fish oil appears to increase it.




    0



    0
    1. Wonder if they get the same results from Krill, Flax & Chia, as “fish-derived” omega 3? Side-stepping the negative effects apparently associated with eating “fish” by getting Omega 3’s elsewhere?

      Of course, I don’t know whether plant-derived sources ever have EPA/DHA or just ALA…




      0



      0
  12. I am wondering if there is such a thing as too much fruit. I eat approximately 7-8 servings of fruit per day. My husband says too much fruit can have a bad effect on my blood sugar. Is this true? The rest of my diet is pretty healthy. Incidentally, I also eat around 4-5 servings of vegetables per day.




    0



    0
  13. This would bring us into a bigger question as to why Japan and in particular Okinawa have one of the longest lived and healthy populations when they consume alot of fish. The Okinawan diet includes the consumption of all things pork as well. I have adopted the eating of bitter melons and okinawan sweet potatoes and await more studies into this subject.




    0



    0
    1. To add some more controversy. Current countries with highest average life expectancy as well as number of centenarians per 100,000 are Spain and France. France having a really fatty diet. I don’t know about Spain.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Centenarian

      Something else I found interesting was the high number of Centarians for Thailand (my home country) even though currently they do not have a very high average life expectancy (Rank 115, 74years).

      http://www.infoplease.com/world/statistics/life-expectancy-country.html




      0



      0
    1. There are lots of veggie roll sushi options that would work nicely when following a whole-food, plant-based diet. :)




      0



      0
        1. So sorry for the confusion! Eating fish appeared to age people’s DNA six years. From this information, I believe it’s safe to assume that this would include sushi that contains fish products.




          0



          0

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This