Insulin and Alzheimer’s

The following is a guest post from Marty, a friend and reader who writes for the Amazing Aging Mind.  It is a personal story to her.

It is amazing how, in the search for longevity, one finds a very logical conclusion: if you want to live longer, do what it takes to avoid disease. This may seem like a no-brainer, but we often put the cart before the horse. We wait until we have a disease, then try to fight it in order to live longer.

A smoother road to longevity is paved by avoiding disease in the first place. This blog already points to insulin imbalance as the root to the killer Diabetes, but it turns out insulin imbalance may also be responsible for cancer growth and even Alzheimer’s—two other major killers in our current understanding of human health.

I have been researching the connection between Alzheimer’s disease (a disease associated with aging) and Diabetes in an effort to understand the possible causes of my mother’s dementia and to see if I can help stem or even reverse her mental decline.

In the course of this research, I found ample evidence for a connection between Alzheimer’s and the same insulin issues related to Diabetes. Here are some examples:

From the Mayo Clinic:
Many people who have Alzheimer's disease also have a condition called prediabetes, in which their bodies have become resistant to insulin, a hormone necessary for cells to absorb glucose.
From the USC Health Magazine:
Brain insulin disappears early and dramatically in Alzheimer’s disease. And many of the unexplained features of Alzheimer’s, such as cell death and tangles in the brain, appear to be linked to abnormalities in insulin signaling in the brain.
And a piece on Diabetes of the Brain
Proper insulin function in the brain appears necessary to the formation and maintenance of memories. And, crucially, a lack of insulin or insulin resistance is connected both to amyloid protein regulation and to the modification of tau proteins, which can cause tangles.
You can read these articles and more for further details on the connection between insulin and Alzheimers.

Bringing this knowledge home, a recent development in my mother’s condition makes me wonder if we accidentally aided her cognitive improvement by unknowingly targeting the insulin levels in her body.

Because my mother suffered most of her adult life from recurring bladder infections, we decided to cut her sugar intake as much as possible in hopes of reducing these infections. Also, because my mother was so frail, we wanted to boost her caloric and nutritive intake. The product that fit both these purposes was Glucerna—a supplement developed specifically for people with diabetes (read the science behind Glucerna).

We have been giving Mom a Glucerna shake every morning at the start of her day. This has been going on for almost three years. Today Mom is showing not only a stabilization of her previous cognitive decline, but noticeable improvement, as listed in my post on Alzheimer’s and Regression.

Of course I find this amazing and beyond hopeful. And though anecdotal evidence is not scientific proof, given the scientifically proven link between insulin and Alzheimer’s Disease, it is worth looking into the practical solutions to insulin imbalance as a means of preventing the cognitive decline associated with Alzheimer’s and ultimately, of a shortened lifespan.

Here are some more tips on insulin management from the archives:

Thanks Marty! You can read more over on the Aging Mind over on her blog.

Improving Longevity With Juvenon Supplements

Is Juvenon Really A Powerful Anti-Aging Supplement?

Have you ever heard of Juvenon? I write a blog on how to increase longevity and I hadn’t heard of this supplement before a few days ago. Now this should not imply that any you have or have not heard of it either but for me the reason I haven't heard of it before is because I tend to not consider supplements a valid method of extending life. I put more emphasis on diet and lifestyle choices but hey; science has brought us this far; maybe it’s got more to offer us.

Despite my personal belief I thought I’d investigate this supplement a bit and see what it is and why it has been glorified as a longevity secret recently made available to the public. According to the company’s website Juvenon is essentially a mixture of two chemicals normally found in the body. The supplement is made of acetyl-L-carnitine and alpha-lipoic acid. It’s also got a couple other nutrients in small degree which are clearly displayed on the label. If you are unfamiliar with either of these two chemicals then see these write-ups on the chemicals published by the University of Maryland Medical Center: acetyl-L-carnitine and alpha-lipoic acid.

Looking at the label we see that each “serving” the anti-aging supplement Juvenon contains a gram of acetyl-L-carnitine and about 400 mg or .4 grams of alpha-lipoic acid (ALA), which by the way is very different from the fatty acid ALA. The Juvenon supplement is also touted to be sold in a bottle of 30 servings (60 tablets) for roughly $34-$40 per bottle. This got me thinking. Even if this combination of natural chemicals has the ability to improve longevity and the health of our cells, can’t we just buy these two supplements separately and join them together on our own?

Sure enough, heading over to I found with virtually no effort a bottle of 60-count 400mg Alpha Lipoic Acid tablets for $13 and a 100-count bottle of 500mg acetyl-L-carnitine for only $10. Combined, this gives you roughly 50 doses of the combination of chemicals found in the Juvenon supplement for a little over $20. Run the math and you are look at roughly a 50-75% savings over buying the branded supplement from Juvenon directly.

Does The Juvenon Supplement Actually Help With Anti-Aging?

So anyway all the above goes to show you that buying supplements can be a huge waste of money if you go about it the wrong way but it doesn’t touch on the validity of the anti-aging compound. Does Juvenon actually help you live longer?

I dug into the archives of Newsweek for a story they ran on the supplement back in 2005 when the studies by the company were fresh and Juvenon was just going into production. Newsweek had this to say about how the longevity supplement worked:

In studies published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in 2002, Ames and his colleagues fed older rats two chemicals normally found in the body's cells (and also sold as nutritional supplements): acetyl-L-carnitine and alphalipoic acid. Not only did the rats perform better on problem-solving and memory tests, but they moved around with more ease and energy.

Researchers determined that the combination of chemicals had improved the function of mitochondria, organelles that serve as a cell's main energy source. Ames formed a company called Juvenon to license the combination of cell-rejuvenating supplements (also sold separately at several health stores). The company plans to begin human trials soon to evaluate the cognitive effects of the dual supplements. In the meantime, Ames, who chairs Juvenon's scientific advisory board but gets no proceeds from the company, is overseeing lab research on human cells in tissue culture. In one study, Berkeley researchers found that lipoic acid protected the cell from oxidation when iron or hydrogen peroxide was added.

Now he hopes to replicate those results in human subjects. Other studies have already linked unhealthy mitochondria to Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, type 2 diabetes and other degenerative diseases, so reversing or repairing decay in mitochondria could help to stave off the age-related diseases. "I'm hoping we can add a few years to people's lives," says Ames, who's 76. "I think we can."

And from the Juvenon company website:

Research has shown that an important factor in aging is the decay of the mitochondria- the organelles within the cell that convert amino acids, fatty acids and sugars into energy. Research performed by Juvenon scientists and others has demonstrated that as we age, the efficiency of the mitochondria diminishes, as does their quantity per cell. The effect is a body operating at one-half to one-fourth the energy it had at youth.

Basically Juvenon believes that this combination of chemicals can slow or reverse the decay of the mitochondria and can thus slow aging and increase energy as we get older. As far as I can tell however research studies have not yet concluded on humans to see if this is the case.

Right now it seems the company is relying on the observations of rats tested in the 2002-2005 time period. Considering the supplements show some promise in animals and have little risks to humans in these quantities then I guess it’s not that big of a deal to try supplementing with these yourself but I’m not convinced yet. I think you’re going to be doing much better at improving longevity by simply enjoying a glass of wine with dinner, staying active, and limiting portion sizes at meal time… but that’s just me.

Newsweek -
Juvenon Company Overview -

How To Lower PSA Levels Naturally

I'm sure a lot of men relate to concerns over elevated PSA levels. Prostate cancer is one of the leading cancers affecting men in America and high PSA levels are one of the markers for the early stages of this condition. A PSA level reading is a standard test your doctor does on you as part of your regular prostate cancer screenings.
Update: Do to popular demand I've just posted: How To Shrink Your Prostate Naturally. Check it out.
Many doctors will check the prostate "manually" in addition to checking PSA levels in the blood but even when both are done consistently it is no guarantee that problems with the prostate will be avoided or that a prostate cancer diagnosis will actually lead to immediate treatment. This is because prostate cancer is a slow growth cancer which often doesn’t metastasize after first diagnosis for months and sometimes years.

What is considered smart is in treating high PSA levels naturally with diet, nutrition, exercise, and supplementation while you wait for further medical observations to conclude. The longer you can maintain low PSA levels and discourage further prostate cancer growth the longer you can comfortably live with this condition.

The next most obvious question after how to screen for prostate cancer is how to lower PSA levels naturally before the doctor begins formal treatment for the condition. Doctors will often not treat prostate cancer until the condition has progressed for months to years down the road. This is because early stage prostate cancer is not dangerous and treating it too early can be troublesome and often make it worse. Luckily there are a few answers to this question that have been shown promise in clinical studies and research.

How To Lower PSA Levels Naturally

  1. Does aspirin lower PSA in men? It can sure help. Low does aspirin has been shown to help with lowering PSA levels in men who take the drug routinely and have enlarged prostate. Aspirin in low dose form has long been known to help the heart and now studies shown that it may be effective in keeping PSA levels lower.
  2. Foods that help with prostate cancer prevention can also help with its advancement and possibly with managing lower PSA levels. Tomatoes and Broccoli consumed in the same meal has been shown to do just that though researchers still don’t know why.
  3. Eating cruciferous vegetables has been shown by researchers to be particularly helpful in lowering risks for developing aggressive prostate cancer. If you have elevated PSA levels and want to decrease your risks then make sure to eat plenty of these types of PSA lowering foods.
  4. Lowering cholesterol levels have long been shown to positively influence your body in just about every way imaginable. There are various studies that have linked high cholesterol levels to high PSA levels and thus lowering PSA levels might be possible with a cholesterol friendly diet.
  5. Pomegranates have also been shown in very recent studies to be effective in helping to manage high PSA levels. A study concluded in 2006 showed that the antioxidants in the fruit may be the cause of the benefits but until further research is conducted the results are tentative yet promising.
Remember, lowering PSA levels naturally is basically as simple as living and eating more healthy. Make sure to emphasize in your diet specific foods to lower PSA readings like those mentioned above. None of the above methods should be considered a cure for prostate cancer nor are they a means of preventing it but they are good ways to help manage your PSA until your doctor feels it’s time to take medical action.

Treatment For Elevated PSA

Obviously you shouldn't rely solely on your diet to manage your prostate health. Even slightly elevated PSA levels should always be monitored through examintaion by a doctor.

And if you want to take additional steps to managing better prostate health and improving your your diet alone is not something you can reliably count on on a daily basis you may want to try taking a quality prostate health supplement to fill in the gaps. One good option is the Saw Palmetto Prostate Formula by Real Health Laboratories but, as always, follow the advice of your physician first.

Do you know any more ways how to get a low PSA reading? If you have any further ideas on reducing PSA levels naturally while you are in the “wait-and-see” treatment phase share them in the comments or drop me an email. I’ll add them to this list.

Money and Longevity

I just came across another excellent piece on human longevity published over at Smart Money. The premise behind the article is money and how centenarians are financially as a group and how they perceive their wealth status.

I wrote a bit about money and longevity a few months back in my post Can You Afford to Live To 100 and I’d encourage you to check that out but also to read this article on Smart Money as they reference quite a few studies on aging and longevity, many of which conclude some of the basic things I’ve preached about over the past year on this blog such as this recent post on how to increase longevity.

Longevity and Financial Security
According to the conclusions of the author’s research many centenarians are living below the poverty level due to various reasons. They have either out lived their savings, never had any, or they gave it away for tax reasons. Despite this however the centenarians as a group feel extremely optimistic about their financial situation and 96 percent of them feel they are better off than their peers.

A full 95 percent [of centenarians] said they had enough money to meet their needs, while 76 percent reported they had “enough to buy extras.” Overall, a staggering 96 percent of 100-year-olds said they were doing better than or the same as others of the same age. These expert survivors, the researchers concluded, have managed to adapt successfully to a ripe old age, and they perceive themselves to be better off than their peers—when clearly objective resources reveal quite the opposite.

Longevity and Health Status
Additionally it is noted that centenarians, the worlds oldest people, are proving that aging to extreme lengths does not mean that you have to live for decades in poor condition. They conclude that people who make it to 100 are models of health and they live with few disabilities and little sickness until only the very end of their lives.

As a group, 100-year-olds aren’t 80-year-olds who have tacked on 20 years of physical and mental decline. Instead, centenarians typically don’t suffer the chronic illnesses associated with age—such as Alzheimer’s disease, cardiovascular trouble or diabetes—until shortly before dying. In fact, they often escape them altogether, according to studies of centenarians in Georgia and New England. Of people who make it to 100, more than 90 percent were physically and mentally healthy into their 90s, and about half still live either on their own or with families. “Centenarians disprove the perception that ‘the older you get, the sicker you get,’” says Thomas Perls, associate professor of geriatrics at Boston University School of Medicine and director of the New England Centenarian Study. “They teach us that the older you get, the healthier you’ve been.”

Lessons From Centenarians
If this tells you anything about living a longer life it is that centenarians are likely the people we all should be modeling our lives after. They are happy and optimistic. They live healthy and active lives. They exemplify the meaning of coping with life’s struggles and rolling with the punches. They don’t get too stressed out and they only worry about what they have power over. And regarding money and longevity… money is a means for them but not an end. So long as their basic necessities are met they remain happy and content. This should be a lesson for us all.

Smart Money -

Longevity and Fertility

I came across an interesting article today on the relationship between human longevity and fertility, obesity, and gender. The article noted a a few interesting distinctions in longevity trends which I haven’t really covered very much on this site.

For one the author notes that species tend to have increased longevity when they are less fertile:

Similar factors also affect humans, for example women in countries hit by famine... When there’s a famine, women often stop ovulating and lose reproductive condition. For women whose bodies find a way to remain fertile, they produce more babies but tend to have shorter lives than others.
The author also notes that women tend to be more obese when they are poor in wealthy nations and rich in poor nations:

We may think that the high obesity rates are a disease of wealthy nations – but you’ll find that the people who are most at risk for obesity are the poor women in wealthy countries and the wealthier women in poor countries,' Professor Brooks says. 'Although one of the reasons is that these women can afford only enough high energy food to get obese, but not enough food with high protein, we also found that far more women are obese than men.
This seems to indicate that women who are either poor in wealthy nations or rich in poor nations are at a disadvantage when it comes to their expected levels of longevity due to their likelihood of becoming obese.

Obesity also affects fertility and women who are obese usually are less fertile and thus this does help to offset the loss of life expectancy but obviously not entirely and not in every case.

If anything, all of this is just interesting food for thought. For more on increasing longevity check out this handy list of longevity tips I prepped a while back and if you want to check out the complete article it can be found at Red Orbit.

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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