Despite what unduly positive individuals might believe, there is no wellness revolution…. We are currently aging and developing age-related diseases at a rapid pace. Leading killers remain heart disease and cancer, and we now live in a nation where the average adult and adolescent is either overweight or obese. Where is the wellness revolution in this picture?
Not surprisingly, the lifestyle factors that are known to be anti-aging, are also those that promote wellness and prevent the development of degenerative diseases. Nicklas, et al., explain that obesity, smoking, lack of exercise, low fruit/vegetable intake, and low omega-3 fatty acid intake leads to the development of a pro-inflammatory state, which promotes heart disease, osteoarthritis, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes mellitus, and age-related disability.1 The opposite is also thought to be true. That is, eating fewer calories, eating anti-inflammatory foods (fruits, vegetables, omega-3 meat, fish, eggs), and regularly exercising is thought to slow aging and promote wellness.
Let’s assume we are old rats for a moment, and consider some basic science research on the subject.
“In old rats (vs. young rats), mitochondrial membrane potential, cardiolipin level, respiratory control ratio, and cellular O2 uptake are lower; oxidants/O2, neuron RNA oxidation, and mutagenic aldehydes from lipid peroxidation are higher. Ambulatory activity and cognition decline with age. Feeding old rats acetyl-L-carnitine plus alpha-lipoic acid for a few weeks restores mitochondrial function, lowers oxidants, neuron RNA oxidation, and mutagenic aldehydes, and increases rat ambulatory activity and cognition.” 2
This research by Ames, et al., suggests that old rats and, presumably, this means humans and other animals, produce less cellular energy and more free radicals, which leads to reduced mobility and cognition. Ames and his colleagues have pioneered anti-aging research with acetyl-L-carnitine (ALCAR) and alpha-lipoic acid (LA), which have been used to improve ATP production and reduce free radicals.2
They estimate that humans should take 200 mg of LA and 500 mg of ALCAR twice per day. See their website for details (www.juvenon.com). Ames also urges us to get adequate omega-3 fatty acids and he is quite adamant about our taking multivitamins,3 as certain minerals and B-vitamins help to reduce mitochondrial aging.2
Reduced ATP, excessive free radicals, and pro-inflammatory cytokines and eicosanoids have all been associated with the development of age-related diseases, which is the opposite of wellness. A recent review article states that “emerging pathological evidence indicates that major chronic aging-related diseases, such as atherosclerosis, arthritis, dementia, osteoporosis, and cardiovascular diseases, are inflammation-related.” Clearly, the enemy of aging and wellness is inflammation.
We have known for many years now that there was a relationship between inflammation, age-related disease promotion, and the associated deterioration of wellness.5 It is impossible to keep up with the explosion of research in this area. Despite the massiveness of the literature, a very obvious trend is noticeable; we need to stay focused on maintaining an appropriate body weight by eating anti-inflammatory foods and taking some basic supplements: a multivitamin/mineral, magnesium, fish oil, coenzyme Q10, ginger/turmeric, and, perhaps, vitamin D. Additional supplements such as lipoic acid and acetyl-L-carnitine may be a wise choice. Making it more complicated than this seems to be unnecessary.
Being open to new ideas is always good. However, having a mind that is too open can be detrimental, as well. I was once told by Dr. Len Faye of Motion Palpation fame that “having an open mind is good, but not so open that our brains fall out.”
When it comes to nutrition, there always seems to be a new supplement on the market that will cure everything. We should guard our minds regarding such claims, as they are likely to be untrue. The basic diet and supplement ideas discussed in this article have stood the test of time, and continue to do well in new research trials. Accordingly, sticking to, and being highly motivated about the fundamentals of appropriate nutrition is good practice, and can help keep your patients focused on the pursuit of wellness, which is a reasonable goal.
Dr. Seaman is the Clinical Chiropractic Consultant for Anabolic Laboratories, one of the first supplement manufacturers to service the chiropractic profession. He is on the postgraduate faculties of several chiropractic colleges, providing nutrition seminars that focus on the needs of the chiropractic patient. He is also a faculty member at Palmer College of Chiropractic Florida, where he teaches nutrition and subluxation theories. He can be reached by e-mail at [email protected].