We know that aging is associated with oxidative stress. This research tested whether glutathione deficiency occurs because of diminished synthesis and contributes to oxidative stress and what could be done about it (Sekhar RV, et.al., 2011).
Two groups that were divided into age groups made up the participants. Both older and younger participants were infused with glycine and measured for red blood cell (RBC) glutathione synthesis and concentrations, plasma oxidative stress, and markers of oxidative damage.
Compared with the younger participants, the elderly participants had markedly lower RBC concentrations of glycine, cysteine and glutathione synthesis and higher oxidative stress.
After infusion with glycine, glutathione synthesis increased significantly and oxidative stress decreased significantly. No difference was found between the older and the younger participants after the infusion.
The researcher stated that glutathione deficiency in elderly humans occurs because of a marked reduction in synthesis.
Does this mean that you have to go and have infusions all the time?
No, it’s not that complicated anymore. You can supplement with S-Acetyl Glutathione, which is a very effective form of glutathione and gets it into the cells where it’s needed (Cacciatore I, et.al., 2010). Don’t make the mistake and supplement with reduced glutathione–which is the most common form on the market. No significant changes were observed in biomarkers of oxidative stress, including glutathione status of oral glutathione supplementation (Allen J, Bradley RD, 2011).
It is common knowledge that having high blood sugar levels is damaging to our health, but in what way is it harmful to us?
Having high blood glucose levels causes oxidation of glucose and a reaction causing glycation of proteins. These reactions cause tissue damage and create a lot of free radicals. This also decreases the activity of superoxide dismutase–which is the body’s own antioxidant enzymes. This decrease in antioxidant activity again will increase the oxidative stress in a seemingly endless cycle.
This oxidation and glycation reaction chain has shown to alter the mitochondria–which are the energy-producing entities of the cell–and has shown to be involved in a variety of diseases (Edeas, et. al., 2009). The damaged mitochondria will produce less ATP (energy) than a normal mitochondria. Additionally, the damaged mitochondria cannot use glucose or lipids in a normal way. This means that a person with high blood sugar is unable to produce as much energy as they should.
So what can be done to offset the production of these advanced glycation-end products? The researchers of this study show that curcumin could suppress the advanced glycation-end products and also stimulate the synthesis of glutathione (Stefanska, 2012).
It is also important to eat food with a high nutrient content and low glycemic index, but you can take curcumin to help reduce damage from higher glucose levels. Just be sure that the curcumin you take is well absorbed since regular curcumin is not.
Taking S-Acetyl Glutathione is also an excellent way to get protection from the negative effects of elevated blood glucose, it works really well. Taking regular glutathione is not effective since it is oxidised in the stomach and not very bioavailable. Don’t waste your money.
While we can’t change our genes yet, we can however improve the expression of our genes. There are several factors that affect how we express our genes.
One of the more important factors is stress.
In this study, researchers tested several functions after a practice session of healthy individuals who had practiced meditation for many years and participants that had only practiced for eight weeks, comparing it with participants who listen to health education (Bhasin MK, et.al., 2013).
The practice of meditation enhanced expression of genes associated with energy metabolism, mitochondrial function, insulin secretion and telomere maintenance, and reduced expression of genes linked to inflammatory response and stress-related pathways.
The response was stronger in those who had been practicing meditation for a long time.
In another study the researchers found that practitioners of “Loving-Kindness Meditation” had significantly longer telomere length than controls when Genomic DNA was tested (Hoge EA, et.al., 2013).
Telomeres relates to how fast we age.
Shorter telomeres have been linked to chronic stress and shorter telomere length can serve as a marker of accelerated aging.
When telomerase was measured in participants practising meditation at a retreat, an increase in telomerase activity was found compared to the control group (Jacobs TL, et.al., 2011).
This was also very interesting. Increases in “Purpose in Life” directly mediated the telomerase group difference, whereas increases in Mindfulness did not.
So the research shows that not all meditation produces the same results.
A telomere is a region of repetitive nucleotides consisting of DNA and RNA at the end of a chromosome that protects the chromosome from deterioration.
Shorter telomeres are known to determine cell longevity and shorter telomeres lead to a shorter lifespan. Telomeres can therefore give us information on how fast we age.
Several factors can affect the length of the telomeres. We will look at one of these factors here.
Psychological stress, both perceived stress and chronicity of stress. is significantly associated with higher oxidative stress, lower telomerase activity, and shorter telomere length (Epel ES, et.al., 2004).
In a study which included 2911 men and women aged 30-64, a significant association was found between work exhaustion and telomere length related to the acceleration of the rate of biological aging (Ahola K, et.al., 2012).
In this study the researchers examined relative telomere length in a group of individuals experienced in Loving-Kindness Meditation, a practice derived from the Buddhist tradition (Hoge EA, et.al., 2013).
The meditation practitioners had longer telomeres than the group not practicing meditation indicating an effect on longevity.
When family dementia caregivers were practicing Kirtan Kriya meditation or listening to relaxation music for 12 min per day for 8 weeks, this was the results.
The meditation group showed 43% improvement in telomerase activity compared with 3.7% in the relaxation group (Lavretsky H, et. al., 2013).
The meditation group also improved mental and cognitive functioning and had lower levels of depressive symptoms.
This is one of the things you can do to keep your telomeres longer and counteract stress. Starting to meditate regularly is well worth the time you spend on the meditating,
You don’t need any equipment or take any pills to decrease blood pressure and cardiovascular risk.
When a broad range of indicators of vagal function were tested, the researchers of the following study showed that decreased vagal function is associated with an increased risk for cardiovascular disease and mortality (Thayer JF, Lane RD, 2007).
The vagus nerve–which is the 10th cranial nerve–is involved in numerous functions and has a big impact on how we feel and function.
How can we affect the vagus nerve?
You can activate the vagus nerve by breathing at a rate of 6 breaths per minute.
Slow and deep breathing with equal duration of inhalation and exhalation for 5 minutes was found to significantly decrease systolic blood pressure (Bhavanani AB, Sanjay Z, 2011).
It does not take much time to see the benefits from implementing this type of breathing, you notice a difference in the way you feel within some few minutes.
This is diaphragmatic breathing where you see your abdomen rising when you breathe in and lowering as you breathe out.
With some practice you will automatically breathe this way most of the the time, which will make you more relaxed.