Strategies for healthier aging

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You can't stop time from marching on, and Americans are aging at an astronomical rate. The number of Americans 65 and older will more than double from about 48 million today to more than 98 million by the year 2060.

You can't stop your cells from aging, but what if you could slow the process? New research on how to keep your heart young shows remarkable promise.

Aging is the single biggest risk factor for heart disease.

"As you age, there's more oxidative stress," postdoctoral fellow in the University of Colorado Boulder Aging Laboratory Dr. Daniel H. Craighead said. "That stress can damage how well your blood vessels work and increase the risk for cardiovascular disease."

Physiologists Craighead and Dr. Tom LaRocca say our bodies start aging far sooner than we realize.

"Things start happening in your cells as early as your early 30s that slow down things throughout your body," said LaRocca, who also works at the University of Colorado Boulder.

They're now looking at ways to mimic the effects of exercise and healthy eating. Even just eating fewer calories can clear harmful free radicals from aging cells

"It's thought that many of those free radicals come from the mitochondria and that that gets worse as we age," LaRocca said.

In a recent study, MitoQ, a nutraceutical, or food with medicinal benefits, targets the mitochondria and improved vascular health by 42 percent.

"In participants that started the study with higher arterial stiffness, they saw a reduction, so their blood vessels got less stiff with MitoQ," Craighead said.

It actually made blood vessels look 15 to 20 years younger. Slashing calorie intake can also improve heart health.

"An issue with older adults, though, sometimes losing weight can be bad for them," Craighead said. "It results in a loss of muscle mass and a decrease in bone density."

Another study showed nicotinamide riboside, a supplement that mimics caloric restriction, decreases blood pressure and decreases arterial stiffness.

"People are certainly interested in anything that can help you age more successfully," LaRocca said.

"We're not quite at the point where people should go out and start buying these, but the research is very promising," Craighead said.

Both MitoQ and nicotinamide riboside are available over the counter, but researchers say it's still too early to recommend them to the aging population. They say for people who exercise regularly and eat a healthy diet, there is no need for any of these supplements, because they're already getting the anti-aging benefits of a healthy lifestyle.

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BACKGROUND: There are various things that happen to our bodies when we age. Your cardiovascular system becomes stiffer, this means that your heart has to work harder to pump blood through your vessels and arteries; this change may increase the risk of high blood pressure and other cardiovascular problems. Your bones tend to shrink in size and density, this weakens them and makes you more likely to get a fracture. Your muscles may lose strength and flexibility as well, which will affect your stability, coordination, and balance. Your digestive system will go through changes that can result in more constipation and, your bladder and urinary tract will become less elastic, which will result in the need to urinate more frequently. Your memory and thinking skills won't be as effective as they are now, you will be more likely to forget familiar names or words. Other things that may be affected with age are your eyes, ears (hearing), teeth, skin, weight, and sexuality. (Source:

HEALTHY AGING: Even though you can't stop your aging process, you can make choices that will lead you to aging in a healthier way. The Healthy Aging Project is a program designed for adults to age healthier and avoid some of the problems that come with it by being active, productive, and physically fit later in life. By reducing the amount of people suffering from the health-related side effects of aging, we can also reduce the cost that come with treatments. This program was designed by the Integrative Physiology of Aging Laboratory at the University of Colorado Boulder. It provides information on healthy aging practices that are based on evidence through an interactive website which engages social media and educational workshops. (Source:

MITOQ: As we age, the way our body makes power slows down because the mitochondria - one of the most important components of the cell - decline in performance by 10% per decade after we turn 30. When we are young, our mitochondria work at maximum efficiency, processing food and oxygen, converting it into energy, but this changes while we age. Although we do not notice these changes immediately, we begin to have less energy, which is why it is important to make sure our mitochondria are healthy. This supplement is absorbed through the membrane of the mitochondria and it is used to re-line the membrane, which helps maintain its structural integrity and support the defensive barrier. (Source: