Anti-Aging

If you are experiencing temporary ringing of the ears due to a romp at a loud club or concert venue, consider yourself lucky. You heard correctly, it’s a good position to be in. Temporary tinnitus can be thought of as a warning sign that you were too hard on your ears. If you keep up the abuse it may lead to a permanent case of tinnitus, and it may happen faster than you think.

Of course there are other causes that don’t have to do with noise exposure such as stress, jaw misalignment or an ear infection; however, here the focus is on ringing due to noise.

Not your Momma’s Ear Plugs

Most people don’t want to compromise their lifestyle in order to protect their ears. Folks in their twenties especially completely disregard hearing protection. Still, the best solution is always prevention and with new advancements it isn’t burdensome at all. If you are attending a loud event, bring some hi-fi ear plugs with you. Even if you only wear the plugs during the less exciting portions of the show, you are still giving your ears a rest and it’s definitely better than nothing.

When people think of ear plugs they picture the cheap, disposable foam plugs so commonly found at the drug store. While this type works in a pinch, inexpensive ear plugs that last far longer and don’t muffle the sound are a much better option. When wearing Etymotic Research’s ER-20 High Fidelity ear plugs, everything around you sounds crisp and clear, just not as loud. Every music-lover should own at least a few pairs as you’re bound to lose a set at some point. If you do, it’s not a big deal because a pair costs just $12.

NAC before the Noise

Animal studies confirm that ingesting an anti-oxidant called N-acetylcysteine or NAC prevents hearing loss and therefore tinnitus. The U.S. Army and Navy are currently doing clinical trials to find if it’s as effective in humans.

If you’re a real skeptic you might want to wait for the conclusive evidence. For the rest of us, since N-acetylcysteine is terrific for the body in many more ways than to prevent hearing loss, taking a supplement seems like a no-brainer.

For the best results, take a standard dosage of NAC right before you go out to a loud event. This prevents damage to the tiny hairs in the ear from ever happening in the first place and temporarily makes the hairs more resilient. If you forget to take it before exposure, the next best thing is to take it right after you get home.

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Allow for Recovery Time the Next Day

The Motörhead concert was unbelievable. Unfortunately your head feels like it’s been smashed to smithereens by Lemmy and the ringing is driving you up the wall.

Designate the next day after a loud event as a “quiet day.” Since most hearing loss occurs because of repeat exposure, you can reduce the damage by avoiding more loud sounds. Whatever you do, don’t decide to mow the lawn at the crack of dawn.

This is where a hangover can actually be useful. People tend to oversleep after a long night of partying so as a side-effect the ears have some to recover too.

Common Sense

If you are experiencing temporary tinnitus you’re doing something wrong. Consider how much loud sounds you’ve been exposed to throughout the week. Cut it down by lowering the volume on your stereo, wearing ear plugs or listening for shorter periods of time. With a little luck and conscious effort you will prevent that temporary buzz from staying with you for life.

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Photo: Chris Thomson

A good CoQ10 supplement is a mainstay of any anti-aging regimen. It’s usually touted for its positive effects on heart health, but in actuality CoQ10 is useful throughout the body on a cellular level. It is vital in the creation of ATP (adenosine-5-triphosphate). ATP is the main source of energy for cells. Biological processes we take for granted are possible because of it.

CoQ10 is also a powerful antioxidant capable of zapping the free radicals that cause age-related decline. Besides heart health, its ability as an antioxidant is mentioned countless times by the media and in medical journals.

Functions: Ubiquinol vs Ubiquinone

Both forms of CoQ10, ubiquinol and ubiquinone, are contained in the body. Ubiquinone is used within the mitochondria to produce energy for the cell. Ubiquinol works outside of the cell by regenerating deactivated antioxidants such as vitamin C and vitamin E. Once the process is complete ubiquinol is transformed into ubiquinone. It then goes to work at producing energy.

Due to the processes explained above ubiquinone-based supplements only do half the job that ubiquinol does. Ubiquinol has the ability to recycle otherwise used up front line antioxidants, making it a vastly superior solution to the problem of oxidative damage.

CoQ10 Supplement Facts

Most commonly ubiquinone is used by manufacturers. Until very recently it was the only game in town. It’s inexpensive, thus enabling supplement makers to keep costs low.

In 2006, Kaneka QH became the first form of supplemental ubiquinol that is identical to the form produced naturally by the body. The only difference is the molecule has two extra hydrogen atoms. However, this simple addition makes it far more effective as a free radical scavenger.

Ubiquinol-based supplements cost about four times as much as a typical ubiquinone-based brands per milligram. With such a large discrepancy in price, people often get sceptical about if it is worth it.

Ubiquinol-fed Mice Stay Youthful in Study

Based on the results of recent animal studies, the answer is a resounding “yes.” Researchers were shocked when they compared mice divided into three categories. The first group of mice (the control group) were given nothing to supplement their regular diet. The second group was given ubiquinone, the traditional supplemental form of CoQ10. The final group was given ubiquinol capsules.

Before the mice hit middle age, a difference was noticed between the three groups. The symptoms of old age were just beginning to take effect for mice in the control group. The mice given ubiquinone and ubiquinol stilled looked youthful.

Amazing results manifested when the mice all reached old age. The control group looked ghastly and was largely inactive. The group that was given ubiquinone was in better shape but still had characteristics of old mice; the coat was yellowish and hair loss was obvious. The mice that were given ubiquinol had a youthful coat and didn’t look like old mice at all! On top of that, they were far more active than the mice in the two other groups.

Conclusions

Based on the results of the study it appears ubiquinol-based supplements are the way to go. The only bummer is that emulating the study as a human isn’t cheap. You’ll need to take 200-300mg of ubiquinol to get results this drastic.

The good news is that supplementing with CoQ10 gets exponentially more important as you age. So if you failed to take any ubiquinol supplements before age 40, you’ll still get impressive results if you start later in life. Of course the earlier you start, the better, as this prevents damage from occurring in the first place. As time goes on, the supplementation will only continue to be more and more significant to your quality of life.

Aubrey de Grey has become the leading prophet of the radical life extension movement. To adherents, he has become a messiah figure as well; the long Jesus-like beard serves him well.

No other speaker trumps his passion for the subject of aging. Instead of searching for pragmatic methods to slow aging using current technology, de Grey has his sights set on the future.

His primary message is that even with all the major advances in regenerative medicine and biotech, we are still far from the goal of repairing damage accumulated from aging. Funding isn’t adequate enough to benefit people living today; it needs to be ramped up dramatically. Business will only act if there is sufficient demand along with promise of profitability. Aubrey’s goal is to convince scientists, decision makers, and the public at large that the answer to aging will materialize if we want it bad enough. The time has come to vote with our voices and our wallets.

Without further ado, here are some key quotes from Aubrey de Grey.

“A lot of people, especially journalists, like to characterize my work and the SENS Foundation’s work as being about immortality or living forever. (…) But actually what we’re about is stopping people from getting sick, which is a very down to earth and not terribly controversial topic.”

From Singularity University talk

Q. “First, a personal question; you are now approaching fifty; I am even older. Is it too late for you, and more importantly, is it too late for me to live to a thousand?”

A. “I have no idea, though I would say I have maybe a 50% chance. (You don't say how much older than me you are, so I can't comment.) All I know is that the sooner we develop these therapies, the better my chances. But my motivation is actually very largely independent of that. I focus on the fact that every day that I bring the defeat of aging forward, I'll have saved 100,000 lives (that's the number of people who die every day at present from causes that young adults rarely die of). That's pretty good motivation, whether or not I'm one of the people in question.”

From digitaljournal.com interview

“… I encounter knee-jerk resistance about the desirability of the ability of postponing aging; and this arises primarily from the way it is portrayed in the media. In the media there is a tendency to try to make everyone feel comfortable with what they are hearing and what they’re reading. The whole prospect of postponing aging doesn’t make people feel comfortable because they’re worried that it won’t be in time for them.”

From bigthink.com interview

Q. “Of the ‘seven deadly things’ that cause ageing - cell loss, mutant mitochondria, mutations, death-resistant cells, tissue stiffening, and extracellular and intracellular aggregates - which will be the most difficult to address?”

A. “I'm in no doubt that the hardest one to address is mutations in our chromosomes. The problem with those is that they lead to cancer, which has natural selection at its disposal - so the cleverer we get, the cleverer it gets. That's why the SENS approach to combating such mutations is so aggressive, and indeed so ambitious.”

From nextbigfuture.com interview

“People have fear of the unknown. They appreciate that a post-aging world will be unbelievably different from the world that we know today.”

From bigthink.com interview

“The human body is at root is a machine. It’s a really, really complicated machine. There’s no dispute about this… but as we all know the human body is a machine. (Swigs beer) Machines accumulate wear and tear. Machines have what you might think of as a warranty period. They’re built to last a certain amount of time and they probably won’t last much longer than that, other things being equal. (Shows slide of VW jeep) Here is a machine that has lasted unusually long, for a car. This is more than fifty years old. And the reason it has lasted that way is because it was built unusually well. (…) That’s one way for a car to last longer than the ten or fifteen years your average car is likely to last. (…) There is another way to achieve that level of longevity for a car. (…) There are just as many fifty year old VW bugs driving around the streets of the U.S.A as there are fifty year old land rabbits. (Shows slide of VW bug) And the reason is because they’ve got style. Their owners are sufficiently in love with them that they’ve done enough maintenance on them; comprehensive enough maintenance to keep them going.”

From Singularity University talk

“The phrase ‘natural causes’ is a very strange one, really. Ultimately what it means is: they die of aging in a way that has not been given an additional name. So when someone dies of cardiovascular disease, for example, from a heart attack or a stroke, they die of aging just the same as someone who dies of natural causes. It’s just that the last stage of what they died of is given a particular name. It’s just a matter of terminology.”

From bigthink.com interview

“Anything that mainly kills the elderly, anything that young adults essentially never die of is death from aging. (…) Which means if we look at the international classification of diseases, we can determine that something in the region of two-thirds of all deaths worldwide are from aging. That’s 30 World Trade Centers every day.”

From TEDMED talk

“I’m not a worrier, actually. I figure I’ve got an extraordinarily privileged life. I’ve been able to go into a position of making a very substantial difference to the world’s biggest problem. As a scientist… someone who likes working on hard problems, you can’t get much better than that.”

From bigthink.com interview

Futurist and anti-aging writer Ray Kurzweil gobbles down 250 supplements per day. To us normal folk such measures seem excessive given the limited power of such interventions. At the other extreme, contemporaries like Aubrey de Grey see little value in supplements.

Often the truth lies somewhere in the middle. Supplementation won’t extend your lifetime but there is a good chance it can improve the quality of your life. After all, who wants to hang on to a miserable existence with a frail body? What we really need is a way to maintain our vitality and our youthful approach to living.

1. Resveratrol

There isn’t a more promising compound within the grasp of mere mortals. The scientific studies and evidence behind resveratrol continues to stack up. Findings have been largely positive although major pharmaceutical companies have funded unfavourable studies of questionable credibility.

Resveratrol mimics the effects of caloric restriction, which to date is the only known way to slow down the effects of age-related disease in mammals. As a side effect of the way it alters metabolism, resveratrol fends off the threat of type 2 diabetes. This means that overweight people benefit from it more than thin, active people.

2. Coenzyme Q10

Co Q10 is an anti-oxidant produced naturally by the body. Problems start to arise when production of Co Q10 slows down with age. At this point supplementation can make up for these losses.

Patients with congestive heart failure, coronary artery disease, hypertension and a host of other coronary diseases tend to lack coenzyme Q10 in their body. Studies have shown that Co Q10 has managed to improve the condition of patients in the late stages of heart diseases previously thought of as irreversible. Of course it is best to use coenzyme Q10 to prevent problems in the first place.

3. Fish Oil (Omega 3)

Omega-3 fatty acids have long been touted as an effective means to ward off coronary heart disease. It turns out that the benefits don’t stop there.

In 2010 researchers found that people with the highest levels of omega-3 had longer telomeres than people with low levels. At present it is believed that telomeres are an accurate way of gauging how much a person has aged. This new information suggests we may have more control over the aging process via lifestyle choices than previously imagined.

4. Curcumin

Spicy Indian food is good for you, as long as you watch the oil and animal fat. The secret is found in a popular spice used to make curry: turmeric. It turns out that turmeric contains a compound called curcumin which is one of the most powerful anti-oxidants known.

Curcumin has the ability to actively kill cancer cells that presently have no formal means of treatment. The evidence that curcumin is valuable as a cancer prevention supplement are piling up: the terms curcumin and cancer returns 1535 research abstracts of published literature. In animal studies it prevented oxidative stress in fruit flies resulting in long lifespans. Given, we aren’t sure we’ll get the same results as humans.

5. Melatonin

Melatonin is commonly thought of as the sleep compound. It is naturally produced by the body and is responsible for making us feel tired at the appropriate times at night. Levels of melatonin decrease as we age which explains why senior citizens tend to wake up at ridiculously early hours in the morning. These seniors need more sleep but cannot stave off the urge to wake up due to the lack of melatonin.

In addition, melatonin is an anti-oxidant that is safe to take at night. Other anti-oxidants such as resveratrol have the most positive effects in the morning, so this is a good way to keep your body protected from oxidative stress throughout the day.

The science behind telomeres is fast becoming a pop culture phenomenon. Just about anyone interested in anti-aging interventions has heard about its effect on aging. People with longer telomeres are said to look and feel younger, regardless of biological age.

A few years ago resveratrol was the talk of the town. However, when new research showed that resveratrol does more to improve quality of life than extend life span, the hype died down. The anti-aging community soon after found its new saviour.

Coaxing telomerase into lengthening telomeres is the new hope for longer human lives.

It turns out that humans do have a built-in mechanism to control the process of aging. The passage of time along with poor lifestyle choices wears down telomeres. The function of telomerase is to rebuild the tips of the DNA. The problem lies in the fact it can’t keep up with the damage. No matter how carefully you follow the direction of your doctor, eat right and exercise, the gradual decline of your genetic code persists. Mutations give us age spots, sagging skin and weaker organs. When our telomeres get too short, we die.

Despite the lack of funding, a small group of biotech laboratories are working around the clock to find out what substances can lengthen telomeres. Companies such as Sierra Sciences in Reno, Nevada use sophisticated robots to test compounds. Their goal is find something that can effectively halt the aging process. So far the best compound they have found has reached 15.89% of this target.

As the public, we have no idea what has been tested so far and what hasn’t. What we do know is an herb popularly used as complementary medicine is among the top performers; it’s called astragalus. The plant was known by the ancient Chinese to have a positive effect on the immune system. How interesting that all these years later, there is evidence to show they were right.

So does this news make astragalus the new super supplement every health-conscious person over 30 needs to take? Scientists are in disagreement.

One camp, including nobel prize winner Elizabeth Blackburn, feels that there isn’t enough data in place to suggest astragalus can extend life in humans. More testing and clinical trials need to be done before it can be responsibly recommended. This is of course the default position of scientists: one of scepticism.

The other camp, including Sierra Sciences founder Bill Andrews, feels that being overly conservative can cost us years of life that could otherwise be saved. Although there isn’t conclusive evidence that astragalus based supplements like TA-65 work, we’ve got a pretty good hunch based on sound research. The only way you’d be able to tell if astragalus worked is if it was given to a large group of people from middle age to death. Tests of that magnitude aren’t realistic so we could be waiting for the data Blackburn speaks of indefinitely.

It is important to note that run of the mill astragalus supplements don’t have much ability to extend telomeres, if any. The compounds that work are rare portions extracted from the plant: astragaloside IV or better yet cycloastragenol. Some readily available supplements have traces of astragaloside IV, check the label. Keep in mind that such tiny dosages won’t do much good. The only products with promise are cycloastragenol from RevGenetics and TA-65 from TA Sciences.

Prices are shocking to the casual supplement-popper, so chances are most will be waiting on the wings until more studies are published and more options are available.