Aging

Articles

The State of the Art in Sleep and Aging (Guest Bryce Mander, Ph.D. – UC Berkeley)

Do we really need less sleep when we get older?

We know that as people age, they tend to get less sleep. But older people also seem to suffer less when subjected to sleep deprivation, compared to younger adults. This has led some to conclude that older people get less sleep simply because they do not need as much.

However, recent brain studies have revealed that the aging brain changes in ways that makes sleep less restorative. This suggests that the real reason why older adults get less sleep than their younger counterparts is because they are less capable of generating the sleep that they really need.

In this episode of humanOS Radio, I talk with Bryce Mander, a postdoctoral fellow in the Matthew Walker Sleep and Neuroimaging Lab at UC Berkeley. Bryce and colleagues recently wrote a review that explores how sleep changes as we grow older, and the potential long-term implications of these alterations. Perhaps most alarming, research has shown that a lack of deep sleep is associated with higher levels of amyloid beta, which are the toxic misfolded proteins that accumulate in the brains of those afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease.

This raises a number of interesting questions. If we could test for sleep disruption, could we determine who is susceptible to developing Alzheimer’s disease soon enough to intervene? And could we find ways to enhance slow wave oscillations as people grow older, so that we can enjoy high-quality restorative sleep our whole lives? Listen here to learn more!


Does Dim Light at Night Make You Fat?

Before electricity, humans got all of their light via exposure to the sun, fire, and the moon and stars. This meant that nights were spent in relative darkness. Today, our environment is quite different. Our homes can now be brightly illuminated all the time, regardless of season or time of day. Also, our cities have bright LED street lamps that create “light pollution” filling outdoor city environments with much more light than is natural.

On the latest episode of humanOS Radio, I talk to Dr. Laura Fonken who is postdoctoral fellow in Steven Maier’s lab in the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience at the University of Colorado. Before joining the Maier lab, she and a group at Ohio State performed a fascinating experiment with rodents, in which they compared body weight gain in animals who only ate at night versus animals who only ate during the day. The results were startling – and had interesting potential implications for our own health.

Check out our interview here to learn more!


Sauna Bathing for Brain and Heart Health (Guest Jari Laukkanen, MD, PhD)

Taking a hot sauna regularly can feel good and relax you, but can it also prevent heart disease and Alzheimer’s disease?

If you’re from the US, you probably associate saunas with gyms and spas. But saunas have existed in some form for hundreds of years, particularly in Scandinavia, where they are used regularly as part of the culture. Nowhere are they more ubiquitous than in Finland – it is estimated that 99% of Finns use one at least once per week. They have traditionally been used as places to relax with friends and family and to recover from intense physical activity.

And while sauna usage is typically associated with health behaviors, like for example using a sauna after exercise or before sleep as a way to relax, research has now taken a closer look to see if sauna usage itself is health promoting.

In the newest episode of humanOS Radio, I talk with Jari Laukkanen, MD, Ph.D. Jari is a clinical cardiologist who runs a research lab at the University of Eastern Finland. He primarily studies the role of a wide range of cardiometabolic risk factors in relation to cardiovascular disease. In his latest study, he and his colleagues examined thousands of Finnish men over the course of two decades. Participants were divided into groups based on how frequently they sauna. It turns out that men who sauna more frequently appear to have a tremendous benefit to their heart and brain health. Listen here to learn more.


Can We Reverse Aging With “Young Blood?”

Can we stave off the aging process by transfusing young blood into old people? The idea that youthful blood might have rejuvenating properties has lingered in popular imagination for centuries.

In this episode of humanOS Radio, I speak with Drs. Michael and Irina Conboy of the Department of Bioengineering at UC Berkeley. Their lab investigates the process of tissue repair throughout the body and is trying to determine why damaged tissue is not productively repaired as the body ages. In their most recent study, they discovered that molecules in aged blood may actually be interfering with the regenerative process. They are trying to identify these inhibitors, and perhaps find a way to clear them from the blood. Are we on the cusp of a breakthrough to help us stay at our peak abilities for decades longer?


Young Forever? We’re Actually Getting Closer (Interview with Aubrey de Grey)

Can we really stay young forever? This has been a goal of humans since the dawn of time. I know I would like to keep my peak abilities and not see those diminish over the decades. Aging is a subject that I have become increasingly interested in and it’s not necessarily because I’m getting older. Understanding it can help guide how you live, even way before you start to feel old. Plenty of things we can do today can help us live longer by not dying early from disease. Diet and lifestyle make a huge difference here, but this podcast is really about something entirely different – it’s about using cutting edge biotechnology to actually keep the aging process at bay far beyond what good lifestyle practices could achieve. We’re talking about staying close to your peak abilities in life through the age of 130 to 150, or even longer.


How Olive Oil Keeps Your Blood Vessels Healthy

We’ve known for a long time that people who consume more olive oil – as opposed to other sources of dietary fat – are protected in certain ways from heart disease. And some recent research has started to uncover the reasons why.

One compelling and unappreciated way that olive oil prevents cardiovascular disease has to do with its impact on blood pressure.

High blood pressure is often characterized as a “silent killer” because it can cause permanent damage throughout the body without any obvious symptoms. Tragically, by the time the problem becomes obvious, it is sometimes too late to reverse the damage.
About 70 million adults in the US have hypertension – that’s 1 in every 3! And only around 52% of people with hypertension have it under control. It is also likely that many are walking around with the condition who don’t even know they have it.

In this post, we will discuss why consuming extra virgin olive oil seems to help keep blood pressure in check – and how you can best take advantage of this in your own diet.


Lifestyle Modifications to Extend Life by Limiting Growth

Does the ideal diet change across the lifespan? I couldn’t help circling back to this idea regularly while writing this article. In the last article on this subject of growth promotion and better aging, we discussed the concept of antagonistic pleotropy, which suggests that natural selection may favor genes that increase reproductive potential – even at the expense of long-term vitality and longevity. But can we harness an understanding of this idea to alter how we live in our post-reproductive window, to stay younger and live longer? In my latest post, I address just that – lifestyle modifications that may not only be effective to help us surviving longer, but also to live better along the way.



Top Health News This Week (May 7-20, 2016)

Every day, we collect the most interesting health and biology news out there, and post it on our Facebook Fan Page and on Twitter. But news and social media move fast, and it’s hard to keep up with everything that comes out every day. Here is a handy roundup of all of the most compelling stories we encountered this week – in case you missed something awesome.

This week, we covered information related to 1) nutrition, 2) sleep & circadian rhythms, 3) physical activity, and 4) aging, fasting & inflammation.


Hot Sauce For Cancer Prevention (and more)

Chili pepper is a culinary element consumed worldwide, especially in China, Mexico, and Italy. Capsaicin is a biologically active alkaloid produced by chili peppers that produce their spicy flavor. The irritation produced by these plants is probably a protective mechanism, evolved to deter animals (like us) from devouring them. But ironically, these compounds, which ostensibly emerged to harm us, may actually offer certain health benefits when eaten – like with respect to cancer.