Sunday, May 27, 2007

Evidence highlights new fear over drinks additive

The row over artificial preservatives and flavourings in our foodstuffs has raged long and hard. Now the 'IoS' discloses how one substance may cause damage similar to alcohol abuse.
Like most other children, Lee Buniak enjoys swimming, basketball, burgers and, of course, fizzy drinks. But just one of those drinks can make him disruptive and aggressive, says his mother, Helen.
After having a soft drink, Lee, nine, from Waltham Forest, east London, can also suffer from headaches and occasionally develops itchy rashes on his body.
For years, his mother took him to all sorts of experts, without success. Finally, one suggested she stop allowing him fizzy drinks or sweets with E-numbers in them. The improvement was remarkable.
Lee is one of an estimated one million children in Britain who suffer reactions from behavioural problems to physical illness when they consume anything containing E-numbers.
The Independent on Sunday's revelations focus on another potential side-effect of soft drinks and one that may have much longer-term implications.
The substance is known as E211, or sodium benzoate, and the findings of Professor Peter Piper, from Sheffield University, represent another challenge to the already blemished reputation of food additives.
New studies have emerged over the past few years that call into question whether E-numbers approved for use in Europe are as harmless as regulators and the food industry suggest.
The most famous of them all is probably E621 - monosodium glutamate, the "flavour enhancer" found in many takeaways and pasties.
In all, the EU sanctions 395 additives: 71 thickeners and emulsifiers, 64 colours, 54 preservatives, 54 antioxidants, 54 anti-caking agents and acidity regulators, 52 miscellaneous, 27 additional chemicals, and 19 flavour enhancers.
Some additives are just innocuous everyday things such as E601 (vitamin B2) and E901 (beeswax), but others have properties that alarm university professors.
Perhaps the most controversial are the "azo dyes", a series of vivid yellow and orange colourings that give a lurid colour to fruit squash, fizzy drinks, sweets, jelly, cakes and other foods often eaten by children. The best-known azo dyes are sunset yellow (E110), quinoline (E104), and tartrazine (E102).
Professor Piper's research touches on a common preservative, sodium benzoate, which is found in everything from Fanta to barbecue sauce.
For some time, there have been fears about the ability of sodium benzoate to form benzene (a carcinogenic chemical) when it reacts with another preservative in soft drinks, ascorbic acid (vitamin C).
When the Food Standards Agency (FSA) checked 150 soft drinks in March 2006, it found that, though undetectable in many samples, some drinks had up to three times the benzene level permitted by the World Health Organisation.
The FSA said levels in general were low; but it advised manufacturers to withdraw four products, and for the industry to be vigilant on benzene.
Like Professor Piper, Professor Vyvyan Howard, professor of bio-imaging at the University of Ulster, questions the practice of approving additives for use that have been tested alone. But in 2005, Professor Howard led a Liverpool University study that showed that, when combined, some additives in crisps and fizzy drinks had seven times the effect they had singly.
"No one really knows what this chemical cocktail could be doing, particularly in the early stages of development. This cocktail is far too complex," said Professor Howard, who personally avoids eating anything with E-numbers.
Another study, conducted by the University of Southampton in 2004, had even more alarming findings for parents. Researchers gave 277 3- and 4-year-olds on the Isle of Wight either a placebo drink or a drink containing additives. Their parents, who did not know what their child had been given, were asked to rate their child's hyperactivity. The number of children showing extreme hyperactivity on the additive-free diet was more than halved, falling from 15 to 6 per cent.
The FSA has commissioned a further study from the Southampton team which may provide conclusive evidence about the link between hyperactivity and additives.
Both the studies looked at six colourings: tartrazine (E102), sunset yellow (E110), carmoisine (E122), ponceau 4R (E124), quinoline yellow (E104) and allura red AC (E129). There was also one preservative in the study: sodium benzoate.
According to Professor Piper, sodium benzoate has a destructive effect on living cells, destroying the DNA in the mitochondria. In essence, his laboratory tests on yeast cells suggest that such preservatives generate free radicals which, in turn, damage cells. This oxidative damage, he says, is the kind of done by ageing and by alcoholic binges. Professor Piper is disappointed at what he sees as a "complacency" among the soft-drinks industry over the potential dangers of additives.
He believes the industry has been relying on safety tests that are old and incomplete and has chosen to prioritise other research in other areas. "If they do any basic research, it's more into whether it tastes good rather than trying to reduce additives and make it more natural."
He stressed that he was not saying that sodium benzoate was unsafe, but that the food industry could not state with certainty that it was safe. "We are feeding vast amounts of them to children inadvertently. Is this a completely safe process? This is what we have to worry about."
Drinks manufacturers point out that sodium benzoate has been approved for use by regulators. A spokesman for Britvic, which makes Pepsi Max in the UK, said: "Obviously, like other soft-drinks manufacturers, we will only use additives that are thoroughly tested and approved for use in this country by both the FSA and the EU."
Coke contains no sodium benzoate, but it is found in many of Coca-Cola's other brands such as Oasis, Dr Pepper and Sprite.
A spokesman for Coca-Cola said: "We use preservatives in some of our products - particularly those that include fruit - to ensure that they remain unspoiled throughout their shelf life, whether people are able to store them in a fridge or not.
"All our ingredients have been approved as safe by the food regulatory authorities in Britain and the EU and that is where we take our guidance from."
The British Soft Drinks Association described the safety of additives as "an area" for the Food Standards Agency.
The FSA said additives had been approved by the European Commission. "Sodium benzoate and benzoic acid are approved for food use," the FSA said in a statement. "Food additives are only permitted for use after a long and careful process of evaluation. This includes rigorous assessments for safety, undertaken by independent scientific committees."
Nonetheless, manufacturers and retailers have begun to remove additives from food and drinks. Sainsbury's will have removed almost all artificial colourings, flavourings and benzoate preservatives by the end of June. Marks & Spencer will phase out additives by the end of this year. And Asda will do the same for its own-brand products by the end of 2007.
Despite maintaining that there is no safety risk, the soft-drinks manufacturers are also responding to public and especially parental concern.
Britvic, which issued the statement above, has taken sodium benzoate out of several drinks aimed at children, such as Fruit Shoots and some of its Robinson's range. Its website says it recognises parental concern about sodium benzoate, will not use it in new products and intends to remove it from other products "where possible".
Richard Watts, of the Children's Food Campaign, said: "We have been told for some time now that parents should not be concerned about preservatives in soft drinks, but we keep on hearing of new concerns. These concerns will not go away until there is an authoritative study of the risks."
Helen Buniak agrees. "I think the Government has to bring in a blanket ban on these E-numbers, such as sodium benzoate."
The chemicals in our food and drink, and what they can do to us
Tartrazine: colouring.
Can provoke asthma attacks and has links to thyroid tumours. Colours soft drinks.
Quinoline yellow: colouring.
Used in a wide range of medications but can cause dermatitis. Banned in US and Norway.
Sunset yellow FCR: colouring.
Side effects are hives, kidney tumours, nausea and vomiting.
Carmoisine: colouring.
Derives from coal tar. Can cause bad reactions in asthmatics and people allergic to aspirin.
Ponceau 4R: colouring.
Carcinogen in animals, can produce bad reaction in asthmatics.
Carrageenan: thickener.
Fibre extracted from seaweed, recently linked to cancer.
Guar gum: thickener.
Derived from seeds fed to cattle in the US. Can cause nausea.
Monosodium glutamate (MSG): flavouring.
Flavour enhancer found in many canned foods. Not permitted in foods for young children. Adverse effects appear in some asthmatic people.
Monopotassium glutamate: flavouring.
Can cause nausea, vomiting and abdominal cramps.
Disodium 5-ribonucleotide: flavouring.
Associated with itchy skin rashes up to 30 hours after ingestion. Often found in instant noodles and party pies.
By: Martin Hickman
Published: 27 May 2007

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Cardiologists are embracing integrative approaches to detect and treat heart disease.

In The Past, patients with cardiovascular disease had few options for treatment, other than drugs and surgery. Fortunately, the last 20 years have seen a shift, as many cardiologists explore natural approaches, using stents and bypass surgeries only as last resorts.
Complementary therapies, therefore, have become an important first line of defense in the fight against cardiovascular disease. In addition, new technology and screening methods play a large role in preventing the disease.
Heart Scan
Long before cardiovascular symptoms are clinically evident, atherosclerosis begins disrupting the health and function of specialized cells that line the arteries. These endothelial cells are the key to atherosclerosis. In fact, endothelial dysfunction is the coronary heart disease's central feature. Therefore, identifying endothelial dysfunction before symptoms and a fatal heart attack occur is the new frontier of cardiology.
Clearly, early detection and prevention are invaluable in protecting health and longevity. That's where a CT scan comes in. This scan can help determine a coronary artery score. It's especially useful for the asymptomatic patient with risk factors such as hypertension, hyperlipidemia, smoking, diabetes and positive family history. Many of these patients pass cardiac stress tests, but may still have severe nonobstructive coronary artery disease that requires aggressive management of risk factors.
The coronary calcium score measures calcium deposits in atherosclerotic plaque in the coronary arteries. This heart scan allows us to discover the presence of plaque and atherosclerosis in the endothelium while the patient is still asymptomatic. The calcium score estimates the extent of disease based on the number and density of calcified plaques in the coronary arteries. The EBCT calcification scores match with angiographically significant stenosis findings. A calcification score of 80 has a sensitivity score of 84 percent with specificity of 84 percent. However, cut-points in the calcification scores that would provide 90 percent specificity and sensitivity also have been identified. (See table for further breakdown.)
To reduce risk, we use the coronary calcium score to guide lifestyle modifications and medical therapies. When a patient has a calcium score that indicates disease, we can move more aggressively to make dietary changes and use supplements. If evidence of ischemia exists on stress testing, patients may be referred for coronary artery angioplasty/stenting or surgery.
The coronary calcium score measures hard plaque. Another method scans carotid intimal medial thickness and provides a way to measure soft plaque, using noninvasive carotid ultrasound. Abnormal (higher) carotid IMT is associated with cardiovascular risk factors and can also predict coronary artery disease and heart attacks in adults.1
Lipid Profiles
Another key to promoting heart health is drawing lipid profiles, which provide precise information for future health. But knowing a patient's total cholesterol, high density lipoprotein (HDL) and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) levels is simply not enough. LDL accounts for only 25 percent of the risk of premature cardiovascular disease. The remaining 75 percent represents "residual risk" from other risk factors.2-3
The Vertical Auto Profile (VAP) and the Berkley Heart Lab Advanced Testing methods provide a more complete picture of cardiovascular system health than the routine cholesterol test.
The VAP test directly measures LDL, as well as LDL particle size. This is important because patients with small, dense LDL have four times the risk of developing heart disease. In addition, the VAP test also measures several other important lipoprotein subclasses, including VLDL (very low-density lipoprotein), lipoprotein(a) [Lp(a)], HDL subtypes (HDL2 and HDL3) and IDL (intermediate-density lipoprotein).
These new generation blood tests offer a far more comprehensive and reliable prediction of future cardiovascular risk than the standard cholesterol test. For example, high levels of Lp(a) raise the risk of coronary artery disease by 300 percent, even if all the other standard lipid panel results look good. High levels of Lp(a) are present in one-third of patients with coronary artery disease. For this reason, we aim to bring Lp(a) levels below 15 mg/dl. Niacin is the most effective and commonly used therapy to lower Lp(a).
Other new generation screening blood tests can help as well. For example, measuring apoB provides a much more accurate way of determining the number of LDL particles. In addition, apolipoproteinE measures a protein attached to some lipoprotein particles, which provides information on patients' risk level and how responsive they will be to diet. This more advanced and sensitive testing makes it possible for doctors to identify up to 90 percent of at-risk patients.4
Cholesterol: The Good and Bad
Once we have a baseline lipid profile, treatment becomes a matter of choosing the best and least toxic approach for addressing each of the risks. If LDL is elevated or if HDL is too low, we may suggest an integrative approach using diet and lifestyle modification and the appropriate supplements, rather than statins.
LDL is most often referred to as the "bad" cholesterol whereas HDL is known as the "good" cholesterol. LDL transports cholesterol throughout the body to the cells. LDL is dangerous because it can penetrate the blood vessel wall and create foam cells, which form the core of a plaque deposit. Oxidized LDL cholesterol also initiates inflammation in the blood vessels, which accelerates atherosclerosis.
HDL, on the other hand, prevents the formation of plaque by carrying cholesterol away from the arteries to the liver where it's eventually processed and eliminated.
LDL and HDL have been recognized by the American Heart Association as strong and independent risk factors that can affect heart health. While high levels of LDL are associated with increased risks of cardiovascular disease (potentially leading to heart attack or stroke), high HDL can positively affect heart health, drastically reducing the risk of heart disease.
Physicians can prescribe statins to lower LDL levels, but I have concerns with some potentially dangerous side effects associated with their use. Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) deficiency is one adverse effect. Statins may cause liver problems and elevate liver enzymes. They also can heighten the risk of myopathy and rhabdomyolysis, which is characterized by muscle pain, weakness and kidney failure.
As physicians, we have other tools at our disposal, among them:
Pantethine. Patients who have elevated LDL can use supplemental pantethine to reduce it. Pantethine, a form of pantothenic acid (also known as vitamin B5), is found in small amounts in foods such as liver, salmon and yeast. Pantethine lowers cholesterol by blocking its production.
Studies have shown that pantethine safely and effectively inhibits several of the enzymes and coenzymes used for cholesterol production. It blocks the activity of one coenzyme involved in cholesterol synthesis, HMG-CoA, by about 50 percent.5 This significantly lowers cholesterol production. To compensate, the liver pulls additional LDL out of the bloodstream.
Studies have shown that, on average, pantethine can lower total cholesterol levels by 16 percent, LDL cholesterol levels by 14 percent, and serum triglycerides by 38 percent. It also can raise HDL cholesterol by 10 percent.6-8
Plant sterols. Another approach to reduce LDL is using plant sterols, which are the fats of plants. Found in nuts, vegetable oils, corn and rice, plant sterols are structurally similar to cholesterol and can act as a stand-in for cholesterol and block its absorption. Because plant sterols look like cholesterol, they fit perfectly into cholesterol channels. The cholesterol being blocked from absorption remains in the intestines where it is eventually excreted.
If the diet contains adequate amounts of plant sterols, the amount of cholesterol absorbed from the intestinal tract is greatly reduced. Mirroring pantethine's effect on the liver, this cholesterol reduction causes the liver to pull LDL cholesterol out of the blood, reducing total and LDL cholesterol levels.
Flavonoids and tocotrienols. We also can reduce LDL and total cholesterol with Sytrinol taken in a dose of 300 mg daily. Sytrinol is a patented formula made from citrus and palm fruit extracts that contain flavonoids and tocotrienols. In human trials with analysis by ANOVA, this formula has significantly reduced total cholesterol, LDL and triglycerides.
The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of flavonoids and tocotrienols contribute to managing additional cardiovascular disease risk factors. In addition, several supplements combine plant sterols with pantethine to deliver impressive results.
Few drug treatments boost HDL levels. However, multiple nutrients in the medical literature have clinically been shown to alter good cholesterol levels. For example, various vitamins, such as vitamins C, E, B6, and B12, niacin, folic acid, magnesium and selenium, have produced positive results.
In addition, protein-building amino acids and powerful antioxidants, such as CoQ10, alpha lipoic acid (ALA), N-acetyl cysteine (NAC), policosanol and extracts of hawthorn, garlic, grape seed, soy isoflavones, have positively affected heart health.
Lowering Trigylcerides
HDL exists in a careful balance with triglycerides, which are stored fats used as an energy source for metabolism. Triglyceride levels fluctuate easily, especially after meals. Increased levels are almost always a sign of excessive carbohydrate and sugar intake.
High triglycerides are yet another independent risk factor for cardiovascular disease. High triglycerides raise the risk of heart attack or stroke. Lifestyle factors that significantly aggravate elevated triglycerides and low HDL levels are obesity, smoking and sedentary lifestyle. Thus, diet, weight control, exercise and smoking cessation offer a foundation to treat elevated triglyceride and low HDL levels.
Fortunately, integrative medicine has several additional options for lowering triglycerides. Pantethine and plant sterols lower triglycerides safely and effectively. Fish oils also are effective for reducing triglyceride levels. The American Heart Association recommends that patients with elevated triglycerides take a daily dose of 2,000 to 4,000 mg of combined EPA and DHA from cold water fish.
Other Risk Factors
Elevated Lp(a) is arguably the most dangerous sub-fraction of cholesterol. It's an independent clinical risk factor for heart disease and stroke, and increases the risk of premature heart disease by up to 70 percent. Statins do not reduce Lp(a), and beta blockers may actually increase it. However, patients with high Lp(a) can reduce it easily with niacin and fish oils.
I also suggest testing for two other known risk factors: homocysteine and high-sensitivity c-reactive protein (hs-CRP). Inflammation is central to the endothelial dysfunction that underlies coronary artery disease. Measuring levels of c-reactive protein (CRP) is a good way to assess inflammation. Studies have shown that higher levels of CRP increase the risk of stroke, heart attack and peripheral vascular disease.
By using these new generation tests, we can assess a person's cardiovascular picture more comprehensively. An integrative approach further arms us in this war, helping us prevent heart attacks and strokes.
For a list of references, go to and click on the references toolbar.
Dennis Goodman, MD, FACP, FACC, FCCP, is a physician team member of Scripps Center for Integrative Medicine in La Jolla, Calif. Prior to this, Dr. Goodman was chief of cardiology and medical director of the Cardiac Treatment Center at Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla. He is a clinical associate professor at University of California, San Diego.
Disclosure: Dr. Goodman indicates he is on the scientific advisory board of Enzymatic Therapy and is a developer of a comprehensive cardiovascular nutritional supplement, HDL Booster, which incorporates flavonoids and tocotrienols.
In Range
Studies show that raising good cholesterol reduces cardiovascular disease risk more than lowering bad cholesterol alone. As a result, the American Heart Association and the National Cholesterol Education Program have established the following guidelines to keep the heart healthy.
Keep HDL levels above 40 (above 60 is optimal).
Keep LDL levels between 100 and 159 (preferably less than 130).
Keep total cholesterol (HDL and LDL) under 200.

Dennis Goodman, MD, FACP, FACC, FCCP
Vol. 2 •Issue 4 • Page 59
New Frontiers for Heart Health

Longevity gene linked to low-calorie diets

Scientists have identified the first gene essential to extending the lives of animals on low-calorie diets, raising the prospects of a longevity pill.
In earlier research, "caloric restriction" extended the life, sometimes 40 percent longer than average, of creatures ranging from mice to worms. Some studies in people and monkeys are exploring whether near-starvation diets, which consist of perhaps 70 percent of the calories consumed in a normal diet, will help them live longer, too.
But "those diets are pretty tough to stick with," says Andrew Dillin of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, Calif., whose international team's gene research is reported in today's issue of the journal Nature. Discovery of the gene, called PHA-4, raises hopes that uncovering the genetic machinery behind caloric restrictions may enable people to skip starvation and still live longer.
Other genes have been linked to low-calorie diets and life extension in the past, but in the new study, the team found that the presence or absence of PHA-4 in worms was the make-or-break factor in whether a starvation diet extended their lives, regardless of whether they had any of those other genes.
Dillin calls PHA-4 the "primordial" gene underlying a process that likely arose in feast-or-famine conditions in the past, where creatures that evolved metabolisms that worked more efficiently under starvation conditions survived. Versions of the gene, which the team has patented in worms, are found in mammals, too, and the team is conducting experiments on mice to see its effect.
"We are on the threshold of some pretty big discoveries in caloric restriction," says MIT biologist Leonard Guarente, who was not part of the PHA-4 study.
A number of recent discoveries, such as last year's report by Harvard Medical School researchers that resveratrol, which is found in red wine, has life-extending properties in mice, also have boosted hopes for life-extension treatments.
"My suspicion is that (treatment) won't be a substitute for a healthy lifestyle. You'll still need to go to the gym," Guarente says. "But if you are fit, we'll find something to make you fitter and if you aren't, we'll likely find something to help."
In the study, Dillin's team turned their gene on and off by adding gene-silencing compounds to the worm's food. If similar experiments work in mice, a final step would be to try boosting the activity of the mammalian version of the gene, called Foxa1, in people.
Starvation is nothing new in human history, Dillin notes, but in previous centuries people lacked antibiotics, sanitation and hospitals, likely disguising any longevity benefits hidden in famine.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Researchers Find Link between Food Odors and Lifespan in Fruit Flies

Could aromas from the kitchen offset some of the hard-earned benefits of a strict diet?
Researchers hoping to learn why organisms tend to live longer if their intake of calories is restricted have made a startling discovery – in fruit flies, just the smell of food can have a negative effect on longevity.
Scientists have known for decades that restricted dietary intake can increase the lifespan of many species, including rats and monkeys, but the mechanism that causes this is not understood. Short-lived organisms like the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, are studied to help unravel this mystery, and the knowledge gained could have important implications for human health.
In a paper published in Science, the journal of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, researchers at NMSU, Baylor College of Medicine and the University of Houston reported that exposure to food odors can modulate lifespan and partially reverse the longevity-extending effects of dietary restriction in fruit flies.
“Not only can they not have their cake – they can’t smell their cake” without shortening their lifespans, said Wayne Van Voorhies, a faculty member in NMSU’s Molecular Biology Program and a member of the research collaboration.
The researchers, led by Scott Pletcher of the Huffington Center on Aging at Baylor, measured the lifespans of different strains of fruit flies in the presence and absence of food odors – specifically live yeast, which is an important component of the flies’ diets. Exposure to food odors reduced lifespan in flies that had been subjected to dietary restriction. The reductions ranged from 6 percent to 18 percent – not as much reduction as actual consumption of more food caused, but significant enough to show that food odors have a modulating effect on lifespan.
The researchers also studied genetically altered strains of fruit flies to determine whether loss of olfactory function – the sense of smell – had an effect on lifespan. They found that in all cases, the longevity of the mutant flies was considerably greater than their wild-type controls.
More studies are needed, but the scientists suspect that food odors may somehow trigger metabolic changes by signaling the presence of food, even if it is not eaten.
“It’s obviously affecting metabolic signaling, but how isn’t clear,” Van Voorhies said. “There are a lot of pathways involved – for instance, there is an insulin-signaling pathway that is critical for regulating metabolism. But this seems to be operating in a separate pathway from that, which is exciting because it suggests there’s another mechanism here for modulating longevity.”
Van Voorhies did the metabolic measurements for the study, using sensitive detectors in his laboratory at NMSU to analyze the aerobic respiration of the tiny flies. Carefully controlling the flow and oxygen content of air flowing to the flies in sealed systems, he can determine the flies’ metabolic rates by analyzing the carbon dioxide they give off.
At the cellular level, this metabolic process is essentially the same in all organisms. Fruit flies and other short-lived organisms make useful “model organisms” for studies such as this because studying humans is impractical, Van Voorhies noted.
“If you are studying longevity, by definition the study is going to take longer than the lifespan of the researcher,” he said. Van Voorhies said metabolic studies of the fruit flies showed that longer lifespans in those subjected to caloric restriction were not simply a result of slower metabolism.
“A simple way to get a fruit fly to live longer is to put it at lower temperatures,” he said. “It will live longer but everything is going slower in the animal, so you haven’t fundamentally altered the way it has aged. So we wanted to make sure the effect of caloric restriction wasn’t just slowing the animals down, and we found that it wasn’t. You can have a high metabolic rate and be long-lived, and that’s an encouraging observation.”
Ultimately, understanding any link between human longevity and caloric intake, and the role our sense of smell may play in the process, will require more knowledge of the fundamental mechanisms at work.
“You continue to work on the model organisms to try to figure out what the actual mechanism is, and then you can try to apply it to people,” Van Voorhies said. “The pharmaceutical companies would like to be able to mimic the beneficial effects of caloric restriction by having you take a pill. But for that to work, you need to understand the mechanism by which caloric restriction extends longevity.”

Written By: Karl Hill
University Communications and Marketing Services MSC 3KNew Mexico State University; PO Box 30001; Las Cruces, NM 88003-8001 • (505) 646-3221 •

The ki to longevity

Art of Qi:

We know it as qi, or chi. In Japan, they call it ki, and one Japanese master is renowned for his ki practice.
MASTER Kozo Nishino is a remarkable man. While studying for his medical degree, he also pursued courses in ballet and dance choreography, and this later led him to a stint in a ballet school in New York, US. At age 28, he established his own ballet school in Japan, which produced many famous Japanese dancers. He went on to produce many popular TV shows.
At age 50, he learned Aikido from the son of its founder, and he also mastered kung fu. He attained the highest rank in both. Finally, at the age of 59, he established Nishino Juku, the School of the Nishino Breathing Method, which brought him fame worldwide.

The Nishino Breathing Method
The Nishino Breathing Method (NBM) is his own innovation of breathing to harness the maximum ki (life-force in Japanese, also called qi or chi). It is a result of his understanding of the workings of the body through his knowledge and practice of medicine, dance and martial arts.
He is famous because of the regular demonstrations of his ability to move masses of people using his ki, and also because he remains fit and looks 20 years younger than his age.
His book on ki has been translated into several languages and is sold throughout the world. He is now 81 years young.
NBM consists of relaxing, stretching, twisting and rotating the body combined with a very slow, deep breath (one cycle of breathing in 1–2 min).
Readers may recall that I teach my qigong students to slow down their breathing from the average 12-16 per minute to six or less per minute. But this is one cycle in one to two minutes! So it will take much practice for beginners to breathe so slowly without feeling uncomfortable.
One of his training methods is called “Taiki-practice” (meaning “a paired ki-practice” or energy exchange). Both participants extend their hands and touch each other. They take turns sending ki to the other, repeating the exercise several times. This is most effective when done by a master and a student. He found that through this Taiki-practice, students can quickly improve their level and control of ki.
Ki can also be sent remotely, that is, without any contact, and often causes movements in the recipients.
He believes that this is a ki-induced “non-verbal” communication. When he himself sends ki to his students, many of them would move, jump, run, dance or even sing, as if they are controlled by him.
Although he has demonstrated this ability many times on TV, many scientists reject his claims and attribute the effects to trickery or mass hypnosis. In actual fact, the same results can be achieved with the recipients blindfolded and their ears blocked (thus excluding hypnosis).
The ability of ki or qi to cause movements in others is related to it’s “intelligence”. This is very little understood, even by practitioners. Scientists who know about ki postulate that ki carries “information” or “instructions”.
Qigong masters have known about this phenomenon for a long time. It is possible to “let loose” qi in the recipient or to focus the qi with precise instructions or intentions.
While the mind of the recipient is not so important in determining the outcome, the sender must be clear of the intention when sending the qi. In healing, it is essential that the qi is focused and utilised to improve cellular or organ function, and not end up wasted in useless movements.
Remote ki-sending has been practised for a long time in a Japanese martial arts technique called “Toh-Ate” (meaning “hit from a distance”). It is used to knock down opponents from a distance without physical contact. This martial arts technique is still being taught in Japan. This method is also practised by some of our silat (Malay martial arts) exponents. I am sure there are similar methods in many other martial arts styles.
Although Master Nishino has taught over 10,000 students in Japan, he never claimed that NBM has any healing or therapeutic effects on those with diseases. The only claims made are that it “revives and strengthens cell function, cultivates life energy, and preserves and restores youth and beauty”.
While most NBM practitioners do report being mentally and physically young and healthy, many have also recovered from health problems like high blood pressure, osteoporosis, arthritis.
In fact several scientific studies have been conducted on him and his method. One study demonstrated that his method increased the immunity and lowered the stress levels of practitioners. Other studies showed that his ki protected isolated rat liver mitochondria from heat-induced damaged, and also was able to inhibit cell division of cultured human liver carcinoma cells.
Those of you who have read my articles about how qi and qigong works will not be surprised (see ).

Ki protects mitochondria
According to Nishino, NBM revitalises cellular respiration, that is, the generation of ATP-energy by the mitochondria (the cell’s energy power houses), as well as increases the cellular ki. This is how NBM revives and strengthens cell function, improves health, rejuvenates and slows down ageing.
His hypothesis is that ki plays a crucial role in protecting mitochondria from damage, and enhances their energy-generating functions. Since all cells (except red blood corpuscles) depend on intact, functioning mitochondria to drive their activities, having healthy mitochondria means the cells remain “young” and active.
This hypothesis assumes that ageing is mainly due to the gradual loss of cellular mitochondrial function, and natural cell death (apoptosis) occurs when the remaining mitochondria cannot provide sufficient energy for continued cell survival. Much of the mitochondrial damage is due to free radicals, and ki is believed to protect the mitochondria from them.

Sokushin Breathing
Sokushin Breathing is a basic NBM exercise, suitable for beginners. Stand as in the basic qigong stance (see photo). Imagination is important because as you inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth, you have to visualise as if you are breathing through the soles of your feet.
You must be fully aware of your soles. As you inhale, visualise the ki being sucked from the ground up your legs to the spine until it reaches the top of the head (hyakue, equivalent to baihui acupuncture point).
Gently hold your breath for a few seconds and then resume inhaling while you visualise the ki travelling downwards across your face, throat, chest and upper abdomen towards an area three fingers below your umbilicus (tanden, equivalent to dantien in TCM).
Once there, exhale slowly while directing the ki downwards through your legs and out of your soles into the earth. Here, “sokushin” refers to the centre of the sole, through which the ki enters and leaves.
Beginners can “move” the energy faster so that they don’t run out of breath, and can gradually slow down until breathing is as slow as possible, without suffocating. Like everything else, practise makes perfect.
This is actually similar to the microcosmic orbit exercise described in previous articles. Amazingly, Master Nishino developed this exercise without prior knowledge of the qigong or Healing Tao variations. This goes to show that great masters concur on the important exercises.
Reiki was started by a Japanese (Dr Usui), but is now mostly practised outside Japan. There are many more treasures in the rich history and culture of the Japanese people that we have yet to discover.
In a future article, I will introduce another Japanese energy practice, a ki-meditation technique which is like yoga combined with the whirling dervish Sufi dance. And it is not called sushi!

Dr Amir Farid Isahak is a medical specialist who practises holistic, aesthetic and anti-ageing medicine. He is a qigong master and founder of SuperQigong.

South Korea - 26th worldwide in length of lifespan

Korea’s women place 13th in world study

Korean is 26th in the world in terms of average lifespan.
According to data announced by the World Health Organization (WHO) on May 18, Koreans’ average longevity is 78.5 years, or 26th out of 194 nations. The figure for Korean women was 82, 13th place along with Germany, while Korean men’s life span was 75, 33rd place jointly with the U.S.
The average lifespan of Koreans has prolonged by 1.5 years annually for the past three years, from 75.5 in 2003 and 77 in 2004.
North Koreans had an average lifespan of 66.5 years (65 for men and 68 for women), which stayed the same as the previous year. Japan maintained the first place for two consecutive years with an average longevity of 82.5 years, followed by Australia, Monaco, and Switzerland at 81.5 years, and Iceland, Italy, San Marino and Sweden at 81 years.
The average longevity of males - 80 years - was the longest in San Marino, a small country with a population of 30,000. Next were Sweden, Switzerland, and Japan, all at 79. That of females was the longest in Japan at 86 years, followed by Monaco at 85, and Italy, Spain, and France, all with an 84-year average female lifespan.
In the case of other Asian countries, Singapore had an average lifespan of 80 years, followed by China at 72.5, the Philippines at 67.5, Mongolia at 65.5, and India’s 63-year average longevity.
The figure was the shortest worldwide in Swaziland at 37.5 years, followed by Sierra Leone at 38.5 and Angola and Zambia, both at 40 years.

Retire Early and Live, Retire Later and Die?

This article about retiring early is not only for mid-lifers. It is for everyone who works no matter the age. Young folks, listen well. You still have time to plan and save for an early retirement.

Here is a link to an article regarding early retirement and longevity. It's a compelling reason to look at retiring earlier than you may have considered previously.

In brief, the article cites studies that show a correlation between early retirement and longevity.Here is a table.

Table 1 – Actuarial Study of life span vs. age at retirement.Age atRetirement Average Age At Death

49.9 - 86
51.2 - 85.3
52.5 - 84.6
53.8 - 83.9
55.1 - 83.2
56.4 - 82.5
57.2 - 81.4
58.3 - 80
59.2 - 78.5
60.1 - 76.8
61.0 - 74.5
62.1 - 71.8
63.1 - 69.3
64.1 - 67.9
65.2 - 66.8

I have no idea how well the studies were done or how big the population looked at. Apparently there were at least two studies done at Lockheed Martin and at Boeing. In Boeing's numbers, employees retiring at 65 typically received their pension checks for only 18 months. At Lockheed, employees retiring at 65 on average received their pension checks for 17 months. I think that these studies were done a couple of decades ago, so that may affect their results. People are generally healthier and more vital than in older times.

The supposed culprit in early death is work stress.

What can we take away from this? Obviously, not all of us are in a financial position to retire early. If you can't retire ahead of schedule, then what can you do?

Reduce job stress. This is very serious and can take as much as 20 years from your life span. Reduce job stress by taking breaks, changing jobs within a company or changing companies. Learn to take frequent breaks and meditate or do some deep breathing or take walks. This is not just to feel better, it is to save your life.

Take your vacation time every year without fail. No working while on vacation!

Do not take work home with you. Have a clear line between work and home to make it easier to relax when you are home.

Live your dreams. Changing to a career better suited to your lifestyle, your temperament and your desires and dreams, can literally add years to your life. It's worth the effort to figure out what you really want to do and start doing it.

Ask questions about your work life. Why are you working so hard? Whom does it serve? What do you gain from it? What do you lose? What underlying need are you fulfilling by striving and working so hard? Does this really serve you? In what ways? Do you still want the same things you wanted when you started your career (climbing the ladder, more money, prestige, a title, the corner office, your parent's approval, etc.). If not, what changes can you make right now? What do you like or not like about your current work? Your current job? Your current work environment?

Here is a link to another study of railroad workers that corroborates the above study, but not quite as dramatically.

Here is a link to another study that shows a much smaller correlation between early retirement and longevity.

It does not seem to corroborate the above studies. I also have heard of (although can't find particulars) that working longer makes you live longer. I suspect that is for those who have no life outside work. Wonder if the environments had significantly different stress rates? I don't think they actually looked at stress in any of these studies, however, stress has long been mentioned as a factor in illnesses and diseases, some of which lead to early death. I know I have worked in both the oil and aerospace industries, both in responsible IT jobs, and there was no comparison of the stress levels. Aerospace was by far more stressful. But that may have been at that time period, at that office, just my job, or whatever else could have affected it.

Either way, reducing stress on the job can only help and may save your life. I hope this will encourage you to start planning for this major life change now.

Written by: Mary Anne Fields, Houston, TX, USA -

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

International Anti-Aging Conference

More than 2,500 participants from the medical, scientific, and business arenas converged at the 15th Annual International Congress on Anti-Aging Medicine's Spring 2007 Session. Held April 26-28 in Florida, this three day event attracted cutting-edge innovative physicians and health practitioners representing more than 40 nations around the world. This program was the first of three events taking place in the United States in 2007 to be co-sponsored by the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine (A4M;, the academic leader in a worldwide movement in life enhancement and life extension that impacts more than 100,000 physicians in 90 countries.
This session's registration increased by over 100% as compared to last year's spring event. Presentation topics by 60 speakers covered exciting new data on genetic diagnostics and genetic engineering, stem cell technology, and molecular medicine."

At the co-located Orlando Anti-Aging Exposition, over 300 international companies showcased the latest technologies from the medical and biotech market aimed at improving and/or extending the healthy human lifespan.

Charles Darwin on Evolution

It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but rather the one most responsive to change. - Charles Darwin

Healthy Habits That Aren't

Using anti-bacterial soap

You may be tempted to take a biological jackhammer to every microbe that dare touch your family, but the fact is there’s a lot we don’t know about the long-term effects of common, household use of anti-bacterials. According to the Centers for Disease Control, these chemicals have been shown, in the lab, to kill off only weak bacteria—leaving the tougher ones to reproduce. That’s led many medical experts to worry that anti-bacterial soaps might be contributing to the rise of stronger bacteria, capable of fighting off our attempts to kill it. So far, this theory hasn’t been proved in a real-life setting. What has been proved, however, is that washing your hands with anti-bacterial soap isn’t anymore effective at preventing disease than hand washing with regular soap. First reported in a 2004 study, published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine, this discovery led a Food and Drug Administration Expert Advisory Council to announce the next year that there was no proof anti-bacterial soaps lived up to their advertising claims. Bottom line: It’s just not worth the risk.

Sitting up straight
According to a study presented in 2006 at the annual conference for the Radiological Society of North America, so-called “perfect” posture might actually be contributing to back pain. Go ahead, call your mom and gloat. But make sure you get your facts right. When this story first came out last November, many newspapers incorrectly reported that slouching was the better way to sit. The problem turned out to be a “slanguage” barrier. In England, where the story was first reported, “slouching” refers to reclining backward, which is, according to the study, a great way to relieve pressure on your lower back. Translated into American slang, however, the news reports gave many people the impression that hunching forward was healthy, when, in fact, it’s actually worse than sitting up straight.

Following a low-fat diet
Significantly cutting the fat in your diet is supposed to lead to weight loss, cancer prevention and a healthier heart. Turns out, those promises might just be empty intellectual calories. In 2006, the Women’s Health Initiative—a several-billion dollar, eight-year study of the effects of low-fat diets—finally came to an end. The results were shocking. Not only did the women who followed “fat-free diets” show no decrease in cancer or heart disease rates compared to their fat-eating counterparts, but they also weren’t any skinnier. And, the researchers said, the study probably applied to men as well. If you follow the medical literature, however, there’ve been plenty of studies, dating back to the early 1990s, which show low-fat diets aren’t as effective as they’re made out to be. In fact, there’s even some evidence that the behaviors they inspire might be harmful. A 2007 study in the journal Human Reproduction found that women who carefully avoided full-fat dairy products were more likely to experience a certain type of infertility.

Trusting your eyesight to carrots
If you think these vegetables will improve your vision, think again. While carrots do contain vitamin A, which is a major player in keeping your eyes working properly, you really only need a small amount of it—and no matter how much vitamin A you consume, it’s not going to magically eliminate your need for glasses. In fact, if you eat too much vitamin A, you can end up with a toxic—although not usually fatal—reaction. The idea that more carrots means better vision might actually be a relic of a World War II-era military disinformation campaign. According to the online World Carrot Museum, British intelligence began spreading the myth during the blitz as a plausible explanation for why their fighter pilots were suddenly able to spot Nazi planes at night. In reality, the British had simply developed a better radar system and didn’t want the enemy to find out about it.

Taking antioxidant supplements
They’re supposed to reduce your risk of cancer and heart disease and even diminish the effects of aging, but, if you take antioxidants as a pill or some other drug-like form, chances are they aren’t doing anything at all. The basic idea behind the hype is that antioxidants, chemicals found in fruits and vegetables, can help reduce damage to various parts of your body by balancing unstable chemicals known as free radicals.

Without antioxidants, free radicals start trying to stabilize themselves—often by swiping molecules from your DNA, damaging it in the process. So far, so good. The free radical-fighting power of antioxidants has been demonstrated in the lab and people who eat plant-heavy diets are less likely to suffer from the diseases linked to free radicals. But, as Dr. Lisa Melton wrote in an article in the August 2006 issue of New Scientist magazine, many studies have shown that people who get their antioxidants from popular supplements receive none of the health benefits. In fact, Melton cited a few studies that even suggested antioxidant supplements were leading to worse internal damage, including a 1992 study by the National Cancer Institute that had to be cancelled after the patients taking beta carotene supplements actually began developing higher rates of lung cancer than those taking sugar pills.

Drinking eight glasses of water a day
Admit it, this is one healthy habit that’s a royal pain. Luckily, it’s also completely unnecessary. For some people, eight glasses a day might actually be far too much, leading to sodium deficiencies and potentially life-threatening water intoxication, caused by kidneys not being able to keep up the intake of liquids. In 2002, a kidney specialist tried, in vain, to find any scientific evidence supporting the eight-glasses-a-day myth. His report, published in the American Journal of Physiology, concluded that this standard health advice was complete and utter bunk that, like many urban legends, stemmed from a tiny grain of truth. Apparently, the dietary guidelines provided by the Food and Nutrition Board of the National Research Council do say that humans need 1 milliliter of water for each calorie of food—adding up to about 10 cups a day. However, the same guidelines also say that we get most of this liquid from the water in solid food. There’s no need to drink more.

Buying “all-natural” health products
Certain natural health products and supplements might have some value, but the label “all-natural” doesn’t necessarily mean “safe.” Don’t feel too bad if you’ve leapt to that conclusion, though. It’s such a common mistake that the Canadian National Health Network began an education program aimed at making sure consumers were aware of the risks inherent in natural health products. According to the CHN, some natural health products might be toxic if you take too much, others can trigger unexpected allergic reactions, and still others react badly with medically prescribed drugs or with individual health issues, like pregnancy or heart disease. And, while the CHN reviews and labels natural health products for safety, most of the ones in the U.S. haven’t been tested or proven effective. They can be sold as long as they don’t claim to be able to treat or cure a specific disease. The best thing to do, before you start taking any supplement or look into any alternative cure, is to talk to your doctor. He or she will be able to help you make the best decisions for your body.

Relying on sunscreen to save you from skin cancer
Why is this healthy habit a bust? Because you’re probably doing it wrong. According to Dr. Francesca Fusco, spokeswoman for the Skin Cancer Foundation, people tend to not use enough sunscreen or use it consistently or use it early enough in life; they also often aren’t using a sunscreen that’s truly effective. Some of her tips for proper use include: Putting sunscreen on over any medication but under makeup; using the equivalent of a shot glass or two to cover your whole body—even under clothes—and then waiting at least 30 minutes before you go outside; and always using a sunscreen that contains the ingredient mexoryl. That last one is a biggie. Sunscreens without mexoryl—which is, to say, most of them—only protect against UVB wavelengths of light. But UVA waves are dangerous as well—possibly more so, considering that they can damage your skin without causing sunburn, leaving you unaware of your risk.

By Maggie Koerth-Baker for MSN Health & Fitness

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Enrich Your Vision

If you or someone you know is getting on in years, you may want to consider supplementing your diet with lutein. Lutein and another carotenoid, zeaxanthin, form the yellow pigment of the retina and absorb blue light, a potentially harmful component of sunlight.

There is very good evidence that the lutein in food helps protect against cataracts and macular degeneration, which are common, age-related eye disorders. It is one of the yellow and orange pigments found in many fruits and vegetables, including mangoes, sweet potatoes, watermelon, carrots, squash, tomatoes and dark, leafy greens (such as kale, collards and bok choy). The best thing you can do to prevent eye disorders is to make sure that your diet contains plenty of lutein-rich fruits and vegetables. To get zeaxanthin, orange bell peppers, oranges and honeydew melon are good additions to the foods listed above. If you can’t enough through your diet, consider supplementing with lutein. Learn more about lutein in Dr. Weil’s Vitamin Advisor.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

No more gaps with home-grown teeth

HERE'S something to smile about: replacement teeth have been grown from scratch and implanted into the mouths of adult mice. A similar technique might one day replace missing teeth in humans.
Takashi Tsuji at the Tokyo University of Science in Japan and his colleagues extracted single tooth mesenchymal and epithelial cells - the two cell types that develop into a tooth - from mouse embryos. They persuaded these cells to multiply and injected them into a drop of collagen gel. Within days, the cells formed tooth buds, the early stage of normal tooth formation.
The team extracted teeth from adult mice and transplanted the tooth buds into the cavities, where they developed into teeth with a normal structure and composition. The engineered teeth also developed a healthy blood supply and nerve connections (Nature Methods, DOI: 10.1038/NMETH1012).
Other researchers have previously grown intact teeth from engineered tooth buds implanted in the kidneys of mice. They stopped short of showing that engineered buds could develop into teeth in the jaw (New Scientist, 26 June 2004, p 13).
The cells in Tsuji's study were taken from embryos, meaning the technique would be difficult apply to humans for now. His team is now planning to look for adult cells, such as epithelial or mesynchymal stem cells, that could be used instead.
From issue 2592 of New Scientist magazine, 24 February 2007, page 18

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Taking medicine to next level

ANNAPOLIS -- Imagine not having to go to the doctor when you are sick. No medicine, no popping pills.
Instead, tiny cell-like machines in your body would manufacture medicine and deliver it exactly where it is needed.
University of Maryland researchers said these "nanofactories" may not be that far away.
Nanofactories are pseudo-cells that are swallowed, inhaled or absorbed through the skin and travel to a specific location in the body.
What's unique about these tiny biochemical factories is that they could potentially use materials already in the body to manufacture medicine at the first sign of infection or disease.
"You actually take components and make something that wasn't there before," said Dr. Gary Rubloff, a professor and director of the University of Maryland NanoCenter, in College Park. "It takes things from their environment and puts them through the factory and generates something important."
The nanofactory could potentially ward off disease and infection by interfering with what is known as the quorum sensing process. In this process, bacteria "talk" to each other, as scientists put it, to coordinate their attack on the body.
The bacteria communicate by sending signals, and use receptors to detect the signals.
Scientists say the bacteria communicate about the availability of food and how to protect themselves from harmful substances such as a response from the human immune system.
"Typically, they establish a biofilm," said William Bentley, chair of the bioengineering department. "That's a big problem because people with cystic fibrosis have biofilm.
"Once you have a biofilm there, it's hard to kill because it's hard for the antibiotics to get to it."
The more bacteria there are communicating with each other, the greater the chance that they can overpower the human immune system and create biofilms.
"A lot of their activities are coordinated by this communication," Bentley said. "The network [of cells] determines how well they attach to other surfaces."
It takes a large number of bacteria to create a biofilm. Bacteria can create biofilms in the body which could lead to common ailments such as ear infections, gingivitis or urinary tract infections. Biofilms can also have a role in fatal illnesses such as cystic fibrosis.
The concept of using nanotechnology to deliver drugs in the body isn't new, Rubloff said.
But the new nanofactory technology would deliver the drug to a specific site in the body before it is even needed. There, it would generate drugs using materials already in the body or intercept communication between the bacteria.
"There's a fair amount of this going on," Rubloff said. "What is unusual here is the notion that you look at constructs of biology with man-made nanotechnology as something very active ... as a system."
When an individual takes an antibiotic, the drug travels all over the body. It goes to the site where the bacteria are communicating as well as other places where it is not needed. When drugs are delivered to unnecessary sites in the body, this can cause side effects.
The nanofactory would prevent side effects by delivering the drug to only the infection site instead of the entire body.
"This technology would allow you to pinpoint the drug where it needs to be," Bentley said. "You don't need a lot of drug. It treats those specific cells and nothing else. You wouldn't have all sorts of interactions with everything else."
Now the researchers are working on how to control the factory from outside the body. They can turn it on, but can't turn it off.
And they are working on a way to disguise the nanofactories so that the body doesn't think they are foreign and attack them.

By SHARAHN D. BOYKIN - Capital News Service

Leading Scientists Announce Creation Of Encyclopedia Of Life

Science Daily — Realizing a dream articulated in 2003 by renowned biologist E.O. Wilson, Harvard and four partner institutions have launched an ambitious effort to create an Encyclopedia of Life (EOL), an unprecedented project to document online every one of Earth's 1.8 million known species. For the first time in history, the EOL would grant scientists, students, and others multimedia access to all known living species, even those just discovered.
The effort, announced May 9, will be supported by a new $10 million grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and $2.5 million from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.
With a Wikipedia-style Web page detailing each organism's genome, geographic distribution, phylogenetic position, habitat, and ecological relationships, organizers hope the EOL will ultimately serve as a global beacon for biodiversity and conservation.
Harvard joins the Field Museum in Chicago, the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Mass., the Smithsonian Institution, and the Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL) to initiate the project, bringing together species and software experts from across the world. An international advisory board of distinguished individuals will help guide the EOL.
Harvard's EOL participation will be led by James Hanken, director of Harvard's Museum of Comparative Zoology and Alexander Agassiz Professor of Zoology in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. Harvard scientists will partner with colleagues at the Smithsonian to spearhead the education and outreach facets of the project.
"EOL is an audacious project, but one that is doable with existing technology," Hanken says. "It has the potential to transform how people learn and communicate about biology."
For more than 250 years, scientists have catalogued life, but traditional catalogues have long since become unwieldy, EOL organizers say. They believe technology can help science grasp the immense complexity of life on this planet while protecting Earth's biodiversity and better conserving our natural heritage.
Over the next 10 years, the EOL will create Web pages for all 1.8 million living species known to exist on Earth. The pages, housed at, will provide written information and, when available, photographs, video, sound, location maps, and other multimedia information on each species. Built on the scientific integrity of thousands of experts around the globe, the EOL will be a moderated Wikipedia-like resource, freely available to all users everywhere.
A prolific and eloquent author and perhaps the world's foremost champion of biodiversity, Wilson, the Pellegrino University Professor Emeritus at Harvard and now the honorary chair of the EOL, cheers the project's advent.
"Our knowledge of biodiversity is so incomplete that we are at risk of losing a great deal of it before it is ever discovered," he says, adding the hope "that we will work together to help create the key tool that we need to inspire preservation of Earth's biodiversity: the Encyclopedia of Life.
"What excites me is that since I first put forward this idea, science has advanced, technology has moved forward," Wilson says. "Today, the practicalities of making this encyclopedia real are within reach as never before."
Scientists began creating individual Web pages for species in the 1990s. However, Internet technology needed to mature to allow efficient creation of a comprehensive encyclopedia. While specific EOL efforts, including the scanning of key research publications and data, have been under way since January 2006, work has accelerated with the support of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.
Ultimately, the EOL will be made available in numerous languages and will connect scientific communities concerned with ants, apples, or zebras. While initial work will emphasize species of animals, plants, and fungi, the design can be extended to encompass microbial life.
To provide depth behind the portal page for each species, the Biodiversity Heritage Library, a consortium that holds most of the relevant scientific literature, will scan and digitize tens of millions of pages of the scientific literature that will offer open access to detailed knowledge. In fact, the BHL already has scanning centers operating in London, Boston, and Washington, D.C., which have scanned the first 1.25 million pages for the EOL.[JH1]
"I dream that in a few years, wherever a reference to a species occurs on the Internet, there will be a hyperlink to its page in the Encyclopedia of Life," says James Edwards, executive secretary of the Global Biodiversity Information Facility and executive director of the EOL.
Note: This story has been adapted from a news release issued by Harvard University.

Scientists Explore Queen Bee Longevity

Science Daily — The queen honey bee is genetically identical to the workers in her hive, but she lives 10 times longer and – unlike her sterile sisters – remains reproductively viable throughout life. A study from the University of Illinois sheds new light on the molecular mechanisms that account for this divergence.
Entomology professor Gene Robinson is the principal investigator on a study that looked at queen bee longevity. (Credit: L. Brian Stauffer)
The research centers on the interplay of three factors known to have a role in reproduction, growth and/or longevity. The first, vitellogenin (Vg), is a yolk protein important to reproduction but which also has been found to contribute to longevity in worker bees. The second, juvenile hormone, contributes to growth and maturation. The third, an insulin-IGF-1 signaling pathway, regulates aging, fertility and other important biological processes in invertebrates and vertebrates.
The study explores these factors in queen honey bees. How, the researchers wanted to know, could the queen achieve such a long life compared with her sisters while also devoting so much energy to reproduction?
“Many times the way organisms achieve longevity is via a tradeoff with reproduction,” said entomology professor Gene Robinson, principal investigator on the study. “In general, life forms that postpone reproduction until later in life live longer. But the queen bee has her cake and eats it too. She’s an egg-laying machine. She lays 2,000 eggs a day and yet lives 10 times longer than individuals that stem from the same genome and yet do not reproduce.”
The researchers knew from studies of the fruit fly and nematode that the insulin-signaling pathway had a role in longevity. Down-regulation of insulin-IGF-1 signaling (IIS) in those species was associated with increases in longevity – but at the expense of fertility.
They also knew that manipulating fat body cells in the head of the fruit fly influenced longevity. Because Vg is synthesized in fat body cells in honey bees, the team decided to look at Vg expression in the head and thorax as well as the abdomen.
This led to an important discovery. Expression of Vg was high in the abdomen in the young queen and declined over time, but increased with age in the head and thorax. Old queens showed much higher Vg expression than young queens.
Worker bees had much lower levels of Vg expression than queens, and Vg in worker heads was also low compared with queens. Previous studies in workers had shown that Vg reduced oxidative stress in honey bees by scavenging free radicals that can lead to aging or illness. Not surprisingly, queens were more resistant to oxidative stress than workers.
Whether this is the actual mechanism by which queens achieve both fertility and long life remains to be seen, Robinson said. In any event, this study suggests that vitellogenin plays a vital role in queen bee longevity, he said, particularly since the honey bee lacks many antioxidants commonly found in other species.
“There are implications here (for other species) in the sense that here is an organism that is reproductively active and long-lived,” said Robinson, who is also affiliated with the Institute for Genomic Biology. “And we see novel and conserved factors that are part of a large regulatory network. The queen has her cake and eats it too. And humans want to know how that works.”
The study appears in the online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Note: This story has been adapted from a news release issued by University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Monday, May 7, 2007

4 Abdominal Pitfalls to Avoid

Let's face it. A sleek and well-defined midsection is something everyone wants to have. Six-pack abs are mainstream among the fitness community. A sculpted mid-section displays health, vitality, strength, and overall fitness.
If you read any magazine or online article you will be bombarded with an over abundance amount of information on how to achieve six-pack abs. Six-pack ab advertisements have even found their way right to your living room in the form of infomercials.
If you are not careful, you can be literally brainwashed into false ab information, leading you down a road of despair.
If you want to be on top of your six-pack ab game, first eliminate the myths, lies, and deception you have been fed by the so-called "experts" in the fitness industry.
Exotic Abdominal Equipment – Turn on your tube and you will be overwhelmed at the amount of abdominal equipment available. These fancy ab-devices can cost anywhere from 20 bucks to several hundred dollars.
Are they effective? Are they worth it?
Look at some of the top runners. Many elite runners have six-pack abs and some even have eight-pack abs. What is surprising to many people is that many runners don't even do ab exercises.
Is this shocking?
It shouldn't be. Everyone has abs. If you can't see your abs it's not that you are lacking a unique piece of abdominal equipment, it's simply because you have a layer of fat covering your abdominals, preventing them from showing.
Hundreds of Crunches – Okay, so we know you don't need top-dollar exorbitant abdominal equipment to get that well-desired six-pack abdominal region.
The top recommended abdominal exercise, recommend by the leading "experts" are crunches; hundreds of crunches a day.
Crunches are fine and dandy for developing the abdominal area, but it is useless to do hundreds of them. Some people can spend up to 20 minutes doing crunches and their abs still never shine though.
Don't overdo the crunches. Two to three sets of 10-25 crunches is all you need. Doing endless crunches is not going to make your abs peep through. All crunches will do is strengthen your midsection. When you lower your body fat your abs will be more visible.
Fat Burners – Many people are under the impression that fat burners burn body fat with little or no effort on their part. How nice that would be!
Fat burners can be helpful on a fat-loss program, but only if they are taken correctly and combined with the right nutrition and training program.
Fat burners should be used as a supplement, not the all-or-none factor.
Starving Yourself – Okay, you have the point by now that you need low body fat for your abs to appear. While this is true, you do not want to starve yourself. When you venture onto a starvation diet you aren't starving your body fat, you are starving your lean muscle tissue.
When your body must feed off its own muscle mass due to starvation your metabolism dramatically declines. This metabolic downgrade leads you to even more stored body fat.
Starving yourself is not the answer to a six-pack abdominal region.
What is the Answer to Achieving Six-Pack Abs? To get your sexy abs to shine you need to feed your body. You should eat a balanced meal (containing a protein and a carbohydrate) every three hours. This speeds up your metabolism and nourishes your body
Drink 8 – 12 ounces of water with meals and between meals. The more water you drink, the more toxins, fat, and sodium you are able to flush out.
Train your abs with a variety of ab-training exercise to prevent boredom. Abs can be trained every other day at best, provided they are not still sore from your previous workout.
Add some cardio to your program. Cardio, too, will help kick up your metabolism. Just be sure to avoid cardio-overdrive, which is doing too much cardio that prevents your body from recovering.
Manage food intake, drink water, and get adequate exercise, and you'll have a six-pack abdominal region in no time.
Karen Sessions has been in the fitness industry since 1988. She is a nationally qualified bodybuilder and holds two personal training certifications. She has written 6 ebooks on fitness and has helped hundreds of clients transform their bodies. "Use of this article is authorized provided it is reproduced in full, and all web URLS are active hyperlinks directed to the author"
Article Source:

Friday, May 4, 2007

Study identifies gene linked to longer lifespan, longevity

In studies going back to the 1930’s, mice and many other species subsisting on a severely calorie-restricted diet have consistently outlived their well-fed peers by as much as 40 percent. But just how a diet verging on the brink of starvation extends lifespan has remained elusive.
Now, researchers at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies have cracked open the black box of how persistent hunger promotes long life and identified a critical gene that specifically links calorie restriction (CR) to longevity. “After 72 years of not knowing how calorie restriction works, we finally have genetic evidence to unravel the underlying molecular program required for increased longevity in response to calorie restriction,” says Andrew Dillin, Ph.D., an associate professor in the Molecular and Cell Biology Laboratory, who led the study published online in the May 2 issue of Nature. Having identified a key link between calorie restriction and aging also opens the door to development of drugs that mimic the effects of calorie restriction and might allow people to reap health benefits without adhering to an austere regimen that only ascetics can endure. Initially, researchers thought that the effect of calorie restriction on aging was mediated through insulin-like signaling pathways in the roundworm Caenorhabditis elegans (C. elegans), but experiments by graduate student Siler Panowski in Dillin’s lab suggested otherwise.In the worm, signals passed down the insulin/IGF-1 pathway regulate a DNA-binding protein called DAF-16 that belongs to what is called the forkhead family. It was believed that DAF-16 then regulated expression of genes associated with longevity. Dillin had also identified a co-regulator in the pathway called SMK-1 that apparently worked with DAF-16 to regulate longevity.“When we asked whether DAF-16 and SMK-1 proteins were both necessary for CR-mediated longevity, DAF-16 turned out to be unnecessary but, somewhat surprisingly, SMK-1 was,” says first author Panowski. Since 15 other forkhead-like factors are expressed in C. elegans, graduate student Suzanne Wolff and former post-doctoral fellow Hugo Aguilaniu, Ph.D., now an assistant professor at the École Normale Supérieure de Lyon, France, set out to determine if any of them teamed up with SMK-1 to delay aging in the CR-response. They did this by knocking out each gene separately and observing whether the genetically altered worms still showed enhanced longevity when calorie-restricted. Loss of only one of the genes, a gene encoding the protein PHA-4, negated the lifespan-enhancing effect of calorie-restriction in worms. And, when researchers undertook the opposite experiment—by overexpressing pha-4 in worms—the longevity effect was enhanced. “PHA-4 acts completely independent of insulin/IGF-1 signaling and turns out to be essential for CR-mediated longevity,” says Panowski.So far, only one other gene, called sir-2, has been implicated in the life- and health-prolonging response to calorie restriction. Increased amounts of SIR-2 protein extend longevity of yeast, worms, and flies, but while loss of sir-2 disrupts the calorie restriction response only in yeast, it has no effect on other organisms, such as worms. “We know three distinct pathways that affect longevity: insulin/IGF signaling, calorie restriction, and the mitochondrial electron transport chain pathway, yet it is still not clear where sir-2 fits in. It seems to meddle with more than one pathway,” says Dillin and adds that “PHA-4 is specific for calorie restriction as it does not affect the other pathways.”

Scientists identify gene that boosts longevity and quality of life

PARIS: The elixir of youth may ultimately be hidden in a poorly-understood gene that not only fosters longevity but enhances quality of life, according to a landmark study released yesterday.In a series of experiments on earthworms, a team of scientists at the Salk Institute in San Diego, California, have identified for the first time a gene, known as PHA-4, which plays a critical role in prolonging life without tapping into insulin-regulating neural pathways that also control the ageing process.Other molecular biologists hailed the study as a ‘breakthrough’ that will change research agendas in the new but burgeoning field of longevity genetics.But they also cautioned that duplicating the results in humans is far more complicated.Only within the last decade have scientists understood that single genes can significantly affect ageing, once though to be an uncontrollable process of decay.“There are two major ways to prolong life,” biologist Hugo Aguilaniu, one of the study’s co-authors, explained in an interview.One is to decrease sensitivity at the cellular level to insulin. “This is already well known — genetically modified mice have been created that live twice as long as a result,” he said.But there are unwelcome side-effects, including stunted growth and reproductive malfunction.The other way is dietary restriction. “If you give an animal 70% of its normal intake, it will live 20 to 30% longer,” said Aguilaniu.In a human being, that adds up to an additional 15 to 20 years of life. A restricted diet, however, is not the same as near starvation, and must consist of a balanced mix of nutrients to be effective.The link between eating less and living longer has been known for decades. “But we had no idea what the molecular actor of this process was,” he said.In the study, led by Andrew Dillin and published in the British journal Nature, C. elegans worms were fed a bacteria laced with genetic material that selectively switched off the PHA-4 gene. As suspected, the worms no longer enjoyed a longer lifespan when placed on a slimmed down diet.But while this first experiment showed that the gene was critical for diet-induced longevity, it did not prove that the PHA-4 directly triggered longer life, so another test was devised.“When we over-expressed the gene” — making it more active that it would be naturally — “the animals lived longer, up to 20 or 30%,” even when they ate normally, said Aguilaniu.Adding dietary restrictions boosted longevity even further.The researchers conducted a separate set of experiments to be sure that PHA-4 was acting independently from any insulin signalling pathways.“What is most interesting is that diet-restricted animals are more dynamic. We like to talk not just about life span but ‘health-span expansion’ — being healthier over a longer period of time,” Aguilaniu said.The millimeter-long C. elegans worm is frequently used in the laboratory because it is easy for researchers to disrupt the functions of its nearly 20,000 genes to determine what they do. Many, including PHA-4, have specific counterparts in humans.Scientists familiar with the study described it as significant. “It answers a question we have been asking for a long time,” commented Martin Holzenberger, a researcher at France’s National Institute for Health and Medical Research.“It is certainly a real breakthrough in our understanding of diet restriction,” he said, adding that the study showed PHA-4 to be “a key gene” that regulates others. – AFP

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Exercise to Lower Parkinson’s Risk

Here’s some more good news about Parkinson’s disease: the more you exercise, the less likely you are to develop it. This finding comes from a study involving more than 143,000 men and women in the United States who were followed for almost 10 years. At the study’s outset in 1992, the average age of the participants was 63. By the end of the study, 413 participants had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s but those who engaged in moderate to vigorous exercise (swimming, biking, aerobics) were 40 percent less likely to be affected. Those who exercised most did the equivalent of five to six hours of aerobics or three to four hours of lap swimming per week. The researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health said the more hours of exercise and the more vigorous it was proved more important than the type of activity. The study was reported at the 59th Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Neurology in Boston, April 28-May 5, 2007.

Melatonin May Help Prevent Diseases of Aging

In a newly published study, Spanish researchers report that melatonin, a hormone produced by the pineal gland and found naturally in some foods, can help delay the oxidative damage and inflammatory processes that underlie age-related diseases. The investigators, from the Spanish Aging Research Network, found that the first signs of aging in the mice start at the age of five months (equivalent to age 30 in humans), primarily due to an increase in free radicals, which cause an inflammatory reaction. They then administered small amounts of melatonin to the animals and found that it neutralized oxidative stress and the inflammatory process. The researchers suggested that taking daily melatonin beginning between age 30 to 40 could prevent or delay such age-related illnesses as Parkinson’s disease and the complications of diabetes in humans. Small amounts of melatonin occur in onions, cherries, bananas, mint, lemon, verbena, sage, thyme, red wine and in corn, oat and rice cereals. The study was published in several medical journals including Free Radical Research, Experimental Gerontology, the Journal of Pineal Research and Frontiers in Bioscience.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

10 All-Natural Ways to Stay Young

By Marisa Fox

Getting older -- without being doomed to wrinkle-dom and jiggly thighs -- does not require a high-priced trainer and a bucket o' Botox. We swear it. We know it. We asked top researchers to share their stay-young secrets for winding back time naturally. Their advice will help you stay young and have you looking and feeling everyday fabulous, by doing everyday smart things: exercise, eat healthy, de-stress -- not so hard, right? Try it today.
The Workout That Helps You Lose Weight and Stay Young
Get the complete You on a Diet Workout, developed by Dr. Mehmet Oz and Dr. Michael Roizen, authors of the best-selling You on a Diet.

1. Give yourself a break
Recent studies show that stress causes physical changes in the body that can accelerate aging. Surges of the hormones adrenaline and cortisol cause blood pressure to rise and the heart to beat faster. These days, when our stressors seem unrelenting (a steady stream of job pressures, traffic jams, money problems), chronic doses of adrenaline and cortisol take a heavy toll on our physical and emotional health. "Sixty to 90 percent of all doctors' visits each year are related to anxiety, depression, obsessive anger and hostility, insomnia, high blood pressure, heart attacks -- all problems caused by stress," says Herbert Benson, MD, author of the landmark book The Relaxation Response and a founder and director emeritus of the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine in Boston.
The most effective way to halt this destructive chain of events is to meditate, using what Dr. Benson calls "the relaxation response." The technique involves repeating a mantra -- a word, sound, phrase, or prayer -- for as little as 10 minutes a day. A 2005 study conducted at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston showed that meditation helped prevent age-related changes in the brain.
Try it! Once or twice daily, for 10 to 20 minutes (yes, you do have the time -- you just have to make it), sit in a quiet place, close your eyes, relax your muscles, roll your head, neck, and shoulders, and breathe deeply. On each exhale, repeat your mantra. If other thoughts try to invade, says Dr. Benson, tell yourself, "Oh, well," and return to your word or phrase. When you're done, keep your eyes closed for an extra minute; slowly allow everyday thoughts to flow back into your mind. Still not into the idea of meditation? Do yoga, or something active and repetitive, like running, instead. Focus on your breathing and how your feet land with each stride. Get your to-do list out of your head, says Dr. Benson.

2. Consume more fat
The healthy kind, that is. Omega-3 fatty acids (found in salmon, walnuts, and seeds) help stabilize your mood, maintain bone strength, and help prevent visible signs of aging by reducing inflammation in the body, explains Nicholas Perricone, MD, a leading anti-aging expert and author of 7 Secrets to Beauty, Health, and Longevity. "Omega-3s also boost the ability of the body's enzymes to pull fat out of storage -- from your hips, say -- and use it as energy," he says. "Omega-3s keep you healthy and your skin radiant."
Try it! "Virtually every expert agrees that you need two grams of omega-3 fatty acids a day," says Michael Roizen, MD, chair of the division of anesthesiology at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio and coauthor of You on a Diet. Eat plenty of fatty fish such as wild salmon (a 3-ounce serving has 6.9 grams), as well as walnuts (one-half ounce has 9.2 grams), says Dr. Roizen. If you aren't getting enough omega-3s from your diet, consider taking fish-oil supplements.

3. Get off the couch
Not only does regular exercise help you lose weight, tone muscles, build healthier bones, and boost mood, it can also help you think clearly. Studies cited by the National Institute on Aging demonstrate a connection between physical exercise and better brain power. "Walking for just 10 minutes a day lowers your risk of Alzheimer's by 40 percent," says Gary Small, MD, director of the UCLA Center on Aging and coauthor of The Healthy Brain Kit. "Physical conditioning reduces stress and anxiety, which wipe out your memory bank."
Try it! Make time for three 20-minute workouts a week. Run, bike, swim, dance -- do whatever you enjoy most.

4. Feel the love
Anyone who's ever fallen head over heels or discovered an activity that makes them eager to jump out of bed in the morning knows that passion is a powerful drug. "It's the central motivation of all human activity," says Gail Sheehy in her new book, Sex and the Seasoned Woman. The ability to embrace life boosts self-esteem, fuels the immune system, and improves cardiovascular health. Passion in bed can be particularly beneficial: "Loving touches release hormones, including oxytocin, that reduce stress and anxiety," says Mehmet Oz, MD, professor of surgery and vice chairman of cardiovascular services at New York-Presbyterian/Columbia University, as well as the coauthor of You on a Diet. "If sex is a purely hedonistic process, it won't have the same results."
Try it! Banish boredom and isolation at all costs. Rekindle the flames with your partner. Or discover a new love in the form of a mental or physical pursuit: Take up painting, join a book club, start a running program (you'll find motivation and tips and connect with other women like you through Team FITNESS, our personalized online exercise community, at Do whatever it is that makes you feel energized and alive.

5. Drink red wine
Last fall, a groundbreaking study showed that mice on a high-fat diet supplemented with resveratrol, a substance found in the skin of grapes, had longer average lifespans than those not given the resveratrol. According to the study's co-lead researcher Rafael de Cabo, PhD, of the National Institute on Aging, resveratrol clearly reduced the risk of diabetes and liver problems in mice, leading to a significant decline in obesity-related deaths. But here's the catch: "You'd have to drink 180 bottles of red wine a day to get the same benefits," says Dr. Roizen.
Researchers are working now to improve the potency of resveratrol in order to develop a pill that contains the optimum amount of the substance. In the meantime, there's plenty of evidence that a little red wine can offset a host of health problems. A new animal study from Johns Hopkins University suggested that red wine can diminish brain damage caused by stroke by as much as 40 percent. And research released last year showed that grape-seed procyanidins, found in red wine, helps reduce arterial clogging, resulting in lower blood-cholesterol levels and a reduction in deaths from heart disease.
Try it! Until an optimally potent resveratrol pill is available, enjoy red wine, but it's best to follow the latest alcohol guidelines from the American Medical Association and drink no more than one glass (5 ounces) a day for your health.

6. Do yoga
More energy, better posture, greater flexibility, improved mood, and less stress are just some of the rewards of this mind-body workout. "Yoga means 'union' in Sanskrit," says Cyndi Lee, founder of New York City's Om Yoga and a FITNESS advisory board member. "Through conscious yoga breathing, you become aware of the connection between mind and body." That translates into major anti-aging advantages. Yogic breathing has been shown to oxygenate the cells, ridding them of toxins, helping prevent illness, and making skin radiant. Unlike other exercises, says Lee, yoga poses are designed to work the inside of your body as well as the outside, which helps rejuvenate the digestive system, the reproductive system, even the immune system. "Yoga is like wringing your body out like a washcloth," she says. "It's one of the best ways to keep things moving."
Try it! Practice yoga or other mind-body activities at least twice a week, says Lee, to give yourself an energy boost, help build bone mass, and de-stress.

7. Bite into a superfruit
There's a good reason we're hearing so much about pomegranates these days. "Current studies show that they are more beneficial than other fruits," says Dr. Oz. Pomegranate juice has been found to lower cholesterol and blood pressure, possibly delay the onset of atherosclerosis, and potentially help reduce the risk of Alzheimer's disease; researchers believe it may also help prevent some forms of cancer from starting or progressing. Pomegranates can also protect the skin from damage caused by UV rays, according to a study published last March.
Another promising anti-ager is the goji berry, a fruit native to Tibet that boasts 500 times more vitamin C by weight than an orange and is considered to be the most abundant source of carotenoids, a type of antioxidant, on earth. This little nutritional powerhouse -- which tastes like a denser, sweeter cranberry -- also contains more iron than spinach, 18 amino acids, calcium, magnesium, zinc, selenium, and vitamins B1, B2, B6 and E, according to Dr. Perricone. The goji berry stimulates the release of human growth hormone, a natural substance in the body that improves our ability to sleep, helps us look younger, reduces fat, improves memory, boosts libido, and enhances the immune system, he says.
Try it! Snack on a handful of dried goji berries (available at Whole Foods Market) throughout the day. Be sure to buy ones from Tibet, because they have high serum levels, advises Dr. Perricone. In addition, drink pomegranate juice. Not a fan of the flavor? Buy it in concentrate and add a tablespoonful daily to kefir (or plain yogurt), suggests Dr. Perricone. For dewy skin, try Rodial's Wrinkle Smoother, a pomegranate-infused anti-aging serum with marine extracts and vitamin C created to plump wrinkles, block sun and give a youthful glow (available at

8. Sip green tea
The health buzz about this brew keeps getting stronger: Last year, green tea was found to reduce the risk of breast cancer and prevent remissions, and now it's being tested as a way to help prevent bladder, colorectal, and lung cancer recurrence. "Green tea is an amazing compound in terms of blocking the signaling network that is linked with the progression of cancer," says Amy Yee, PhD, a professor of biochemistry at Tufts University and principal investigator of the cancer study. It's also an effective weight-management agent because it appears to rev up metabolism, says Dr. Roizen. Preliminary research indicates that green tea may even help prevent Alzheimer's disease. A Japanese study published last year in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that drinking at least one cup a day can help keep your brain sharp as you get older.
Try it! Sip two or three cups daily for the ultimate health benefits, says Yee. We like Tazo China Green Tips tea.

9. Slather your skin with supplements
Retinol, a type of vitamin A (and a nonprescription, weaker-strength relative of Retin-A), is considered the most effective over-the-counter treatment to smooth the skin and prevent wrinkles, says David Colbert, MD, founder of the New York Dermatology Group and a member of the FITNESS advisory board, who practices in New York City. Retinols cause the skin to gently peel, revealing a silkier, rosier, and more supple layer. Dr. Perricone touts the benefits of alpha lipoic acid, a potent antioxidant that naturally occurs in the body. "Alpha lipoic acid is a wonderful anti-aging mechanism," he says. It has been shown to reduce fine lines, improve skin texture, tighten pores, and give skin a general radiance.
Another powerful age-defying ingredient is madecassol, or madecassoside (found in La Roche-Posay's Redermic, available at select CVS locations), an Asian plant extract that helps plump the skin, minimize fine lines, and restore a youthful glow, says Dr. Colbert. Madecassol has been used in France for decades to help heal scars and wounds. European studies have also found that it helps diminish wrinkles, restores firmness to skin, and hydrates skin cells.
Try it! Look for skin creams containing retinols, such as La Roche-Posay's Biomedic Retinol Cream (available at dermatologists' offices) or RoC's Retinol Actif Pur Night (at drugstores). Use it only at night, since it doesn't include an SPF. Or try products containing alpha lipoic acid.
Another good way to ensure cell turnover, protect your skin against free radicals, and stimulate collagen growth is to apply vitamin C serum under your moisturizer and makeup, says Dr. Colbert. Some expert-approved choices: IS Clinical C & E Serum (available at dermatologists' and other specialists' offices), SkinCeuticals C & E Ferulic (at dermatologists' offices), Noah's Naturals Honest to Goodness Anti-Oxidant Serum Gel (at select Wal-Mart locations), and Pond's Age defEYE Anti-Circle Anti-Puff Eye Therapy (at drugstores). Finally, be sure to use a broad-spectrum sunblock every day to protect against UVA and UVB rays, which cause aging and skin cancer. One we like: Anthelios SX Daily Moisturizing Cream with Mexoryl SX (available at select CVS locations).

10. Do mental aerobics
A study published in last December's Journal of the American Medical Association shows that brain exercises can prevent cognitive decline, and the benefits can last for as many as five years. In his own research, Dr. Small has found that a two-week program of mental training can actually rewire the brain. "We've seen evidence on brain scans that memory improves," he says.
Try it! Strengthen your mind every day by doing crossword puzzles, Sudoku, or Brain Games, a handheld electronic game developed by Dr. Small that uses numbers, sequences, and word play to condition the left and right spheres of the brain (available at Wal-Mart and Target stores).
Originally published in FITNESS magazine, April 2007.

Centenarians 4x more likely to have 1st child in their 40s.

European researchers, drawing on 12 centuries of genealogical records of the British aristocracy, have shown a clear trade-off between early childbearing and longevity. In an article published last December in Nature, two gerontologists at the University of Manchester found that women who delay having children until their 30s and 40s, and then have only one or two, are more likely to live into their 80s, 90s and beyond. Female longevity, they say, is linked to the number of children a woman has and her age at the birth of her first child. This study comes in the wake of another carried out in the Boston area by a team of Harvard researchers led by Thomas T. Perls. It showed that centenarians are four times more likely than the general population to have had their first child in their 40s.