How Do Genetics Affect Life Expectancy And Ageing

Sometimes Life Is Simply Unfair

I’ve made it a significant portion of my life this year to dedicate my blogging efforts to analyzing the science behind preventing disease and living longer. As I’ve stated countless times already here on this site my life’s dream as a child was to live into my one hundreds and for whatever reason this desire still persist and my analytical and investigative mind has been lit with a fire to learn what it is that makes us tick and what it is that makes us tick longer.

Over the better part of the past eight months I’ve analyzed every major disease to varying degree. I’ve particularly spent a fair amount of time analyzing insulin production and diabetes; prostate cancer prevention, cancer prevention, longevity diets and activities. I’ve noted the many benefits of exercise and the longevity inducing effects of the Mediterranean diet and the calorie restriction diet. What I have not give much time to however is the inevitable and seemingly pointless effects that genetics can have on our life spans.

Genetics and Living Longer of Shorter Lives

To some degree genetics can play a large role in our living longer but unfortunately genetics can also play a major role in us living shorter lives… sometimes extremely shortened lives. My reasons for this are a couple. First of all I’m not a scientist and for me to understand many of the particulars and theories of genetics I would need too much time. Second I have stayed away from the implication of genetics on living longer or shorter lives because quite frankly there’s often nothing you can do about genetics. You are who you are from birth.

The Story of Our Esther
This weekend, I learned that in a very personal way when my wife and I had to put our little cat to sleep. Saturday evening was probably the hardest day of my life. My wife and I both held our little baby in our hands and comforted her as she struggled to breath. The vet gave her her injection and she lightly struggled, then I watched her slowly drop her head down and sigh her last breath. That moment will be burned in my memory for ever. She was, after all, our first responsibility as a family. She was like our own child and we saw her into end; she will be missed and remembered as my wife and I grow old together.

Our little cat only lived to 23 months. She didn’t even make it to her second birthday. This is despite the fact that we did everything for her and made sure she had the best home possible and the best quality of life possible. Life is unfair sometimes and it hurts. She ate something that upset her stomach, threw up, aspirated, and the sickness quickly weakened her heart which we learned was defective from birth. Her left ventricle was too large and it was a matter of time before it got stressed and failed. This upset stomach was all it took and if it wasn’t this then it would’ve been something else in a matter of months. Her heart went into failure three days after she first got sick and though we did everything we could for her during those three days her heart said it was time.

Long Life Is Not A Right – It Is A Privilege

Living longer was not in the cards for her as genetics took over and she passed on. Life sometimes is not fair and no matter what we believe and what we do we cannot always manipulate it as we hope. This was a lesson for me as I have lived a privileged life. I am so lucky that the hardest encounter with end of days is the passing of my cat but at the same time the pain is real and the regret is deep.

Life, no matter the species, is not a waste when there is love surrounding it. When loving memories are left behind even the shortest of lives are gifts to treasure forever. Life which is shortened abruptly is not a waste… but it is unfair. I hope I never forget this lesson and I never take life for granted. Yes living longer is something I aim to achieve but it cannot be manipulated and it cannot be assumed. In the end everything happens for a reason and God remains in control.

Goodbye Esther; you were loved.

Risks For Very Early Parkinson's Symptoms May Be Improved

Risks For Early Parkinson's Symptoms Can Be Lowered With Organic Milk

Early Parkinson's Symptoms
Parkinson's Disease is a neurological disorder which causes the brain to slowly lose motor control. It is degenerative meaning early Parkinson's symptoms are much less severe than late stage Parkinson's symptoms; it worsens over time.

According to estimated statistics roughly 0.2 percent of the American population has Parkinson's Disease in various severity's which translates to about 1-in-500 people. Interestingly people who follow the Mediterranean Diet tend to have lower occurrences of the disease (13 percent or roughly 1-in-570).

The Rates of Parkinson's Disease

There have been studies which have identified a notable decrease in life spans for those that have Parkinson's despite the fact that the disease itself is not directly fatal. It generally causes the body to decline and become more susceptible to ending through other means. The diagnosed elderly have a remarkably higher mortality rate than the diagnosed non-elderly likely because of physical impairments the body might otherwise suffer from. Likewise people who suffer from early Parkinson's symptoms don't have a significantly lower mortaility rate as the general population.

Organic Dairy and Early Parkinson's Disease

The causes of Parkinson’s are unknown but they are often are associated with toxins and pesticides. It is believed that these toxins might be one of the prime causes for the nerve damage in sufferers. Along those lines the American Journal of Epidemiology recently published a study showing that the risks of developing Parkinson Disease increase by roughly 60 percent in people who ingest more than 800 grams of dairy every day. The researchers however concluded that the levels of nutrients and fats were not to blame for the increase in risk; it was likely pesticides contained in the milk that were the cause. It's likely that early Parkinson's symptoms can be avoided by limiting the sources of these toxins such as non-organic milk.

An increase in risk of Parkinson's Disease of 60 percent means your odds of the getting the condition rise from 1-in-500 to 1-in-300 so they’re still on the low side but there is an obvious effect.

This finding is in direct competition with the mantra of getting daily dairy to prevent and increased risk for Metabolic Syndrome and increasing your consumption of Omega-7s fats. However the tug-of-war of how much is too much can still be in balance by getting roughly two to three serving a of dairy a day. You can also make sure to buy organic dairy to limit the pesticide/toxin intake if it worries you too much. And to offset the often high cost of organic dairy you can always shop around for veggies to save money. :)

Angela Martin - Journal of Epidemiology, January 2007 -

Metabolic Syndrome In Mothers May be Prevented By Breastfeeding

As A Pregnant Mother You Could Prevent Metabolic Syndrome From Ever Developing

prevent metabolic syndrome by breastfeeding
What Is Metabolic Syndrome? 
Metabolic Syndrome is essentially a basket disease (a collection of multiple conditions) which puts patients at risk for developing diabetes and heart disease. To prevent metabolic syndrome you basically have to do the same things you want to do to prevent diabetes and heart disease such as exercise more often and watch what you eat however new findings have been trickling out for a while now that indicate that women may have a way of lowering their risks even further. Women might be able to prevent metabolic syndrome by simply breastfeeding their children… and the longer the better it seems.

Metabolic Syndrome Study
A recent study funded by the government by Kaiser Permanente's Division of Research found women who breast fed their babies lowered their chances from developing metabolic syndrome compared to a control group. The study suggests that long-term prevention is enhanced when these women breastfed for longer periods of time. Breast feeding between one and five months provided a 39 percent reduction of metabolic syndrome occurrence compared to a 56 percent reduction for those mothers who breast fed for longer than nine months.

There was also indications that mothers who experienced diabetes during pregnancy lowered their risks for developing metabolic syndrome by 44 percent if they breast fed even a little versus a reduction of 86 percent for those mothers who breast fed for longer than nine months.

This would indicate that expectant mothers especially who develop pregnancy related diabetes should give major consideration to breastfeeding for a long time. An 86 percent reduction is huge and just a stones throw away from completely preventing metabolic syndrome. This is very important because metabolic syndrome puts you at great risk for developing insulin resistance, type-2 diabetes, and heart disease and a lifetime of dealing with these problems such as keeping tabs on medications, insulin pumps, etc. People who suffer from these conditions consistently live shorter lives than the national average and the quality of the later years of those lives are not good.

Long-Term Benefits Of Breastfeeding
If you are a woman who is expecting or have yet to have your first child remember to ask you doctor about the benefits of breastfeeding and always keep this in mind as an added kick in the pants. Breast feeding has long been understood to be the best form of nutrition for the child and it appears to be great for the mother as well. Live longer and prevent metabolic syndrome by breastfeeding, who would've thought it? Check out the sources below for more details.

USA Today (12/4, Rubin)
HealthDay (12/3, Gordon)
WebMD (12/3, Boyles)

Lower LDL Cholesterol With Plant Sterols

Consume Plant Sterols with Each Meal to Maintain Healthy Cholesterol Levels

lower ldl cholesterol levels with plant sterolsLDL Cholesterol vs. HDL Cholesterol
Having healthy LDL cholesterol levels is one of the the greatest influences on having healthy arteries and a well balanced cardiovascular system. When LDL cholesterol levels get too high you are far more likely to develop plaque buildup in arteries and are more likely to experience clogged arteries if enough time passes with little change to your situation.

Having Lower LDL cholesterol levels means you have less cholesterol in your blood stream that will buildup along the walls leading to heart disease. HDL cholesterol acts to help flush LDL cholesterol out of the system. That is why HDL cholesterol is desirable but who else can you ensure that your circulating bad cholesterol levels remain as low as possible. You can participate in exercise, as you should be doing anyway, but you also should focus on improving your diet.

Plant Sterols and LDL Cholesterol
In a recent issue of Men’s Health a blurb was published referencing a new study conducted by Tufts University. In that study researchers found that people who ate plant sterol spreads (i.e. butter substitutes containing plant sterols such as Promise Active and Smart Balance with Heart Right) with every meal rather than with just a single meal or not at all were able to effectively lower their LDL cholesterol levels by approximately 6 percent. This is very significant because it is a means to managing your cholesterol in a completely different way than other actions such as exercise and dietary restrictions.

The reasoning quoted for the lower LDL cholesterol levels is due to the properties of plant sterols. Plant sterols basically hinder the absorption of cholesterol in the intestines. They decrease the bioavailability of LDL cholesterol and therefore keep more of it from ever entering your blood stream in the first place.

Plant Sterols Help You Live Longer

Where to Get Plant Sterols
If you can easily add plant sterols to your diet around the clock you will be much better off and will be much more likely to live a longer life than if you are not able to make this change. Butter substitute spreads are not the only source of plant sterols so make sure to keep a look out for other options. Some fortified orange juices contain sterols as do many other products. You may even be able to find quality plant sterol supplements which aide in lowering LDL cholesterol if you take them safely.

Other Ways to Manage Cholesterol Levels
Of course do not abandon the tried and true methods of managing cholesterol levels. Taking action by eating better and exercising are of course your first line of defense against unsafe plaque build up in the arteries, but assuming this is already happening, consider these findings for a little more help in the task of lowering LDL cholesterol, increasing heart health, and increasing your life expectancy rate.

Men’s Health – Nov 2009
Tufts University

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Leading Causes of Death

Heart Disease is easily the leading cause of death in America. One of the major contributors to heart disease is cholesterol. See the following posts for more on lowering your risk for heart disease:

How To Lower LDL Cholesterol Levels Naturally

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