The inevitable decline that comes with aging, from hair loss to wrinkles, from muscle loss to the loss of mobility, and the increased risks of numerous serious diseases from cardiovascular disease to cancer, have made the search for methods to slow the aging process a top research priority.
Several methods, including simple lifestyle changes, have been shown to slow the aging process and to benefit an individual’s overall health. The easiest and most important of these lifestyle changes include changes in diet, an increase in physical activity, and control of high blood pressure.
However, the concept of an elderly person actually regaining aspects of their youthful vitality and health has remained in the realm of science fiction. Now, in a groundbreaking study led by Dr. Shin-ichiro Imai, a professor of developmental biology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, the possibility of reversing the aging process has entered the realm of science.
It has been known for many years that nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD), a cofactor found in all living cells, plays a fundamental role in the aging process. NAD is required for DNA repair, regulation of metabolism, energy production, and the overall health of the body. As people age, their cells have greater difficulty producing adequate amounts of NAD.
A critical component for the proper functioning of NAD is the enzyme eNAMPT. This enzyme turns out to be a rather accurate marker for longevity. In the words of Dr. Imai, “We could predict, with surprising accuracy, how long mice would live based on the levels of circulating eNAMPT.”
Dr. Imai and his colleagues used this finding as the starting point for further research. The team decided to take eNAMPT from younger mice and give it to older mice. The results were startling. Not only did the eNAMPT boost NAD levels in the elderly mice, it helped to slow the aging process and even reversed numerous age-related problems that the older mice were suffering from.
Among the important results demonstrated by the researchers was that the infusion of eNAMPT into elderly mice improved their insulin resistance, mobility, cognitive function, sleep quality, and even their overall appearance. Again quoting Dr. Imai, “These are old mice with no special genetic modifications, and when supplemented with eNAMPT, their wheel running behavior, sleep patterns and physical appearance — thicker, shinier for, for example — resemble that of young mice.”
The researchers published their findings in the journal Cell Metabolism. Their research demonstrated conclusively that eNAMPT levels were directly proportional to lifespan. They also showed that an infusion of eNAMPT prolonged the lifespan of mice by an average of 16%. Further research is required to determine the amount of eNAMPTand the number of infusions that will achieve the greatest impact on lifespan and overall health.
In many cases, studies in mice do not accurately represent the effect a process or procedure will have on humans. However, numerous studies have demonstrated the fundamental role NAD plays in the process of human aging. Studies are currently taking place to evaluate the efficacy of various supplements which attempt to bolster NAD levels in people, in the hope that this will provide a variety of health benefits, including slowing the aging process.
This new research has shown that targeting eNAMPT may be far more important in terms of its therapeutic value. Who knows, the elusive fountain of youth may not be so far away after all.
Until that magic elixir is finally attainable, the best way to promote good health in the elderly is in an atmosphere conducive to physical and emotional wellbeing.
At Hamilton Grove Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center, in Hamilton, NJ, our care programs are designed specifically to meet the unique needs and interests of seniors and long-term care patients. We emphasize restorative care, maximizing each patient’s potential to regain and maintain function and mobility.
We foster an environment that is cheerful and enthusiastic, so residents truly relish and appreciate life.
Our outstanding Social Services team works hard to ensure that every resident thrives socially, emotionally, and spiritually.
We promote a culture of independence, crucial for emotional, social, and physical health. Residents are encouraged to choose their activity and meal preferences, and to perform tasks and activities as self-sufficiently as possible.
We carefully select, train and re-train our wonderful caregivers, who are especially sensitive to the needs of our long-term care patients. They treat residents with love, compassion, and dignity.
Or better yet, come see for yourself: Contact us to schedule a tour by calling 609-588-5800 or by clicking here.