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New on HuffPo: New Study Shows Moderate Exercise Prevents Premature Aging

02 Mar

Mice that ran on a treadmill a few times a week for five months fended off premature aging in nearly every organ of their bodies, according to a study published on February 21, 2011 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. It’s one of the strongest pieces of evidence ever produced showing the power of exercise as an anti-aging remedy.

Read more at Huffington Post.

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Posted in Lifestyle, Science of Aging


New on HuffPo: Astaxanthin Makes Flamingos Rosy But Will it Keep You Young?

21 Feb

Another day, another anti-aging phenom.

The newest supplement to catch the fancy of folks who refuse to get old is astaxanthin, an antioxidant found in algae. Astaxanthin (pronounced as-ta-ZAN-thin) is the compound that gives salmon and flamingos their pink hue. Proponents claim that in people, it has the power to reduce inflammation and oxidative damage to cells, which in turn preserves the eyes, skin, joints and central nervous system.

Read more here.

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New on Huffington Post: “Conductorcise” Encourages Exercise Through Music

18 Jan

Everyone knows that exercise is good for their health and longevity, but so few of us are willing to get off our butts and actually do it. According to a 2009 Roper poll, only one in four Americans can manage to squeeze in a half-hour of exercise five times a week. This despite the mountain of data proving that exercise extends lives. A study by the Institute for Aerobics Research in Dallas, for example, found that men who became fit decreased their risk of dying of any disease by a remarkable 44 percent.

On Jan. 13, I met David Dworkin, a Julliard-trained musician who has invented a wonderfully innovative solution to exercise phobia. Read more here.

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Can Society Encourage Exercise?

05 Dec

When I speak about Selling the Fountain of Youth, I’m often asked why it’s so hard for people to exercise when staying active clearly guards against age-related conditions. I don’t know the answer, but I often wonder if there’s anything society a whole could do to encourage exercise?

I found one great idea yesterday, in this video of an experiment performed in Sweden. Making one small but creative change to a staircase prompted a 66% increase in people choosing the stairs over the escalator. I love it. And I especially love that this was sponsored by Volkswagon, a company that you would think would want to encourage people to spend more time in their cars–not on their feet.

I only hope this inspires more ideas for building exercise into everyday life.

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Health Magazine: Are Natural Cures Bad For You?

26 Nov

Health Magazine has embarked on a series of stories about the dangers of herbal supplements. I found the first story in this series to be both eye-opening and disturbing.

The story starts with an anecdote about a woman who developed ventricular tachycardia–an irregular heartbeat–after taking an over-the-counter diet supplement. She assumed because the product was made of herbs, it must be safe.

Millions of people take herbal supplements–often in enormous doses–because they think they’re natural and safer than pharmaceutical products. Fact is, the laws in our country provide little oversight over the makers of herbal supplements, and these remedies can be just as potent as what the pharmaceutical companies make.

According to a poll by, 83% of people take some sort of supplement sometimes. And 56% of respondents said they believe supplements are safer than prescription and OTC drugs.

I’m not surprised. Some people who find out about Selling the Fountain of Youth tell me that they’re taking super-potent doses of resveratrol–the red wine supplement that was shown in Harvard studies to extend the lives of mice by about 30%. (The same incredible results have not been shown in humans as of yet.)

Yes, you can buy resveratrol over the counter at your local health food store and many other places. And because it’s a non-prescription product, you can take it in super-potent doses if you choose.

But that doesn’t mean it’s safe. As reported here in June, GlaxoSmithKline ended a trial of a resveratrol product because some patients in the trial developed kidney problems. So it worries me when people tell me they’re taking massive doses of the resveratrol they can buy at their local store.

Since late 2007, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration has received 2,000 reports of adverse side effects from nutritional supplements, according to the Health story. The report goes on to describe several examples of dietary supplements that contained trace amounts of prescription drugs, some of which could be dangerous.

As of earlier this year, supplement makers must comply with good-manufacturing practices set out by the FDA. The agency could take enforcement actions against those who don’t comply.

In the meantime here’s some advice for anyone who is taking nutritional supplements:

1. Check the bottles of your supplements to make sure they include a seal from US Pharmacopeia (USP). That at least will ensure the supplement contains the ingredients it says it does.

2. Google the name of the supplement and the manufacturer to make sure there are no safety reports on file.

3. Get your doctor’s opinion on any supplement you plan to take.

4. And finally, don’t take enormous doses of anything. Remember, you are self-medicating. And even if you think what you’re taking is perfectly “natural,” that doesn’t mean it’s risk-free.

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Huffington Post: 3 Anti-Aging Thanksgiving Ideas

22 Nov

I initially groaned when I saw the headline “An Anti-Aging Thanksgiving Feast!” on the website, Stop Aging Now. But while it’s a bit far-fetched to suggest chowing down on a Thanksgiving feast will make you younger, I can definitely get on board with some of the holiday recipes presented on this site. After all, you can get many of the nutrients you need from healthy food.

Read more here on Huffington Post.

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Finally A Sane Article About Healthy Aging

07 Nov

At first, the headline in the November issue of Men’s Health made me cringe: “The End of Aging.” I was prepared for another hype-filled article promising men that if they just replace their hormones, they’ll never age.

But the article, by geriatrician Dr. T.E. Holt, is quite the opposite. It doesn’t mention hormones once. Instead it reviews the science of aging–at least as much as we know about it today–but makes no grand promises that it will help us live forever.

I took two major conclusions away from this article: First, aging is merely a series of tiny accidents. Years of breathing in oxygen results in oxidative stress, which in turn causes aging. But Holt wisely advises readers not to run out and buy anti-oxidants.

Why? Here comes the second conclusion: How well we age depends largely on our genes and our gender. (Sorry guys: Women have the edge.) In other words, we can’t control how long we live.

That said, Holt still provides a number of tips for achieving longevity. I can definitely get on board with these, as they match the conclusion of my book. They are:

1. Know your risk factors, such as hypertension, and get them under control

2. Exercise

3. Watch what you eat

4. Watch what you weigh

5. Don’t go overboard–i.e. with Ironman-style workouts

6. Control your cholesterol

7. Watch your blood pressure

8. Check your blood sugar

9. Stop smoking

10. Use your brain–be a lifelong learner

None of this is brain surgery. All of it has been said by proponents of healthy, hormone-free aging, including me. But it’s certainly worth repeating.

Read more of Holt’s tips here.

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HuffPo: Centenarians on How to Make it to 100

03 Nov

What is it about centenarians that gives them the gift of extraordinarily long lives? On Nov. 1, Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York launched a website,, which tracks one scientist’s decade-long quest to answer that question. Dr. Nir Barzilai, director of the college’s Institute for Aging Research, has been studying 500 Ashkenazi Jews age 95 and older, along with 700 of their children. He’s trying to uncover the genes that promote long life — discoveries that he hopes will lead to drugs to prevent age-related diseases such as diabetes, cancer and heart disease.

Read more here.

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Huffington Post: Anti-Aging Ice Cream? Stop the Presses!

21 Oct

That headline got your attention, didn’t it? It caught my eye, too, especially when I saw the words “anti-aging ice cream” on the websites of well-known journalism outlets like Allure Magazine and Fox New York. This so-called news emanated from a deal that consumer-products giant Unilever (parent company of Ben & Jerry’s) signed recently with a Silicon Valley company called Ampere Life Sciences.

Read more about what I discovered on my quest to find anti-aging ice cream.

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Exercise and Aging: Yet Another Study Proves the Benefits

15 Oct

A study published in the Oct. 13 online edition of the journal Neurology shows that walking six miles a week prevents the brain from shrinking, which in turn preserves memory in aging people. It’s just the latest of many studies proving that good old exercise is the best anti-aging treatment around.

The study, conducted by University of Pittsburgh scientists, lasted for nine years and tracked the exercise habits of 299 people. The researchers found that walking 72 blocks per week–about the equivalent of six to nine miles–increased gray matter in the brain. Participants who were the most avid walkers cut their risk of suffering memory problems by half.

As I’ve been out speaking about Selling the Fountain of Youth over the last several weeks, I’ve often been asked what works when it comes to slowing down the aging process? I believe this latest study confirms what I’ve been telling people: Exercise is the only anti-aging remedy that has been shown to work in scientific, controlled trials.

“If regular exercise in midlife could improve brain health and improve thinking and memory in later life, it would be one more reason to make regular exercise in people of all ages a public health imperative,” said Kirk I. Erickson in a press release. I couldn’t agree more.

One study I cite in the book showed that men who became fit decreased their risk of dieing of any disease by a whopping 44%. And you don’t have to do Mr. Universe-style workouts to reap the benefits. Many studies have shown that moderate exercise–walking, gardening, climbing stairs–for a half hour, a few times a week, is more than adequate. This latest data on the benefits of walking should only drive home that point.

Here’s my bottom line: If you want to stay young, throw out the hormone gels and pricey supplements, turn off the TV, and take a walk. It doesn’t get much simpler than that.

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