Study: Consuming This Kind of Drink is Shortening Your Life

There are many “secrets” to leading a long and healthy life (though they aren’t really secrets). One of them – which I’m sure you’ve heard time and time again – is to limit sugar intake (especially added sugars). One of the best ways to do that is to cut down on sugary, health-hazardous beverages.

According to numerous pieces of research, any sugar-sweetened drink can cut years off of your life, including sports drinks, fruit drinks, and energy drinks. Just because there is a picture of fruit on the label doesn’t mean it’s safe for consumption.

And, as you will see, just because you see the word “diet” on the label, you shouldn’t assume that means “healthier.”

Read: Avoid These Drinks to Help Prevent Brain Shrinkage, Dementia, and Strokes

Findings of a Recent Study

To look for a potential link between sugary drink consumption and early death, researchers analyzed information from more than 80,000 women and 37,000 men in the health profession and followed the participants for about 30 years. Each participant was asked to complete a survey about their diet every 4 years, and they answered questions about their lifestyle and overall health every 2 years.

The more sugary drinks a participant consumed, the greater their risk of death was during the study period.

  • Those who consumed 2-6 sugary drinks per week were 6% more likely to die during the study period, compared to those who drank less than 1 sugary drink per month.
  • People who drank 1-2 sugary beverages per day were 14% more likely to die during the study period, compared to those who drank less than 1 sugar-sweetened drink per month.

The findings remained unchanged after researchers accounted for other risk factors for early death and disease, including smoking, alcohol use, physical activity levels, and consumption of fruit and vegetables, and red meat.

In a statement, lead study author Vasanti Malik, a research scientist at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health’s Department of Nutrition, said:

“Our results provide further support to limit intake of SSBs (sugar-sweetened beverages) and to replace them with other beverages, preferably water, to improve overall health and longevity.”

Strong Link to Heart Disease

In the study, sugary beverage consumption was particularly strongly linked with an increased risk of death from heart disease. Participants who drank 2 or more sugary drinks per day had a 31% higher risk of early death from heart disease, compared to those who imbibed infrequently.

Dr. Walter Willett, study co-author and a professor of epidemiology and nutrition at the same institution, said:

“These findings are consistent with the known adverse effects of high sugar intake on metabolic risk factors; and the strong evidence that drinking sugar-sweetened beverages increased the risk of Type 2 diabetes, itself a major risk factor for early death.”

Read: Soda Consumption Tied to Increased Coronary Heart Disease Risk

Another Main Cause: Cancer

The second main cause of early death in the study was cancer, primarily of the colon and breast. [2]

Another important takeaway from the study was the finding that diet drinks may not necessarily be safer alternatives to sugar-sweetened beverages. Women who consumed 4 or more servings of artificially-sweetened drinks per day had an increased risk of early death. [1]

Compared with women who drank sugary beverages less than once a month, women who had more than 2 servings a day had a 63% increased risk of early death. Men who did the same had a 29% increased risk. [2]

That doesn’t necessarily mean that diet drinks directly caused early death in those people; it may be that people with known heart disease risks switched to diet drinks because of their existing health conditions.

Read: Poor Diet Caused Nearly Half of All Deaths in the U.S. in 2012

The team said that more research is needed to better examine the link between high diet beverage consumption and heart disease. Another important thing to note is that the study revolved around surveys and self-reporting – which is a method notoriously-known for its inaccuracies.[1]

The study is published in the journal Circulation.

Sources:

[1] Live Science

[2] CNN

Immortality Herb Boosts Cellular Health, So You Feel Younger Longer

(Anna Hunt) Many Japanese elders refer to the plant ashitaba as the immortality plant and believe it will keep you looking and feeling young. For ages, people in Japan have been using this plant as medicine to prevent illness. Now, researchers are discovering why. A flavonoid substance in ashitaba may be responsible for boosting cellular health. It does so by helping the body clear out cellular “debris” and supporting the process of autophagy.

The post Immortality Herb Boosts Cellular Health, So You Feel Younger Longer appeared on Stillness in the Storm.

Cultures Around the World Show Us How Life Purpose Fuels Longevity

We know instinctively that meaning and purpose are necessary in order to live a fulfilling life, with those of us in a career we love often held in high regard. But regardless of how passionate you may be about your career, we all need a hobby – an interest outside of work that we truly love to do. The benefits of purpose and hobbies, however, go beyond quality of life.

Japanese culture has a concept called ikigai, which roughly translates to “purpose in life.” Ikigai has traditionally been associated with health and longevity. One study on over 4000 adults set out to determine if this theory was true.

All participants were over 65, with:

  • More than 1800 identified as at high risk of death
  • More than 1200 at high risk of losing ability to perform activities of daily living (ADLs)
  • More than 1100 at risk of losing their ability to perform instrumental ADLs.

Data from February 2011 to November 2014 was used, which can be a long time when it comes to age-related disability. Compared to people who had both hobbies and an ikigai, having neither of these was associated with double the risk of mortality, close to triple the risk of losing ADL abilities, and almost double the risk of losing IADL abilities!

Therefore, hobbies and ikigai were linked to increased longevity and healthy life expectancy in older adults.

This was not the only study that found a link between purpose in life and longevity. Another study on 6000 adults with a 14-year follow-up time found that people who initially reported a strong purpose in life had a 15% lower risk of dying from any cause.

Other research found that those who described clear goals and purpose lived both longer and better than those who did not. In fact, other “Blue Zone” cultures (areas with a high prevalence of centenarians) besides the Okinawans of Japan value purpose, with the Nicoyan (Costa Rica) people calling it plan de vida.

Longevity Secrets: 6 Reasons Okinawans Live to Be Older than 100

How to Find Your Own Ikigai

So how can you find your own iikigai, or plan de vida, if you haven’t already? A great way to start is by doing an internal inventory.

Take a piece of paper, and for 20-30 minutes think of all your ideals, principles, standards, and morals, then think of your physical, mental, and emotional talents, strengths, and abilities.

It can take a while, maybe even a couple of attempts, to get an idea of what you really want, but you know you’re getting close if anything brings out a strong emotional reaction. And then…put your skills into action!

It’s also important to build relationships with people who can help you achieve your goals. Overall, longevity is for everyone, and it turns out that some of the best ways to extend your life also improve its quality.


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Is Metformin a Viable Anti-Aging Solution?

If you’re a longevity enthusiast, I’ve got some news for you. After all of these years, aging itself is on its way to be officially classified as a disease. Of course, it’s taken decades of improving life expectancy and survival rates due to better living standards and lifestyles, but it is most likely worth the wait.

Why?

This could mean that antiaging will be taken more seriously by the health industry and society as a whole, including insurance companies. It may also raise the value of prevention, instead of just waiting for health problems to appear or reach a certain level of severity before treatment.

So, What Happened Exactly?

Two years ago, researchers managed to convince the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to approve a human lifespan study of metformin, which is currently used for blood sugar control. But it may end up being the first drug approved specifically to ‘treat’ aging.

The study, known as the TAME Study (Targeting Aging With Metformin) started up in 2016, aiming to enroll 3,000 people aged 70-80 and study the effects of metformin over 5-7 years. Everyone must be at risk of or have one or more of the following: cancer, heart disease, or dementia. If metformin can delay or prevent these and delay death, the next step is to test it in younger people.

But why Metformin?

High blood sugar and insulin resistance are key factors in aging and other complex, chronic illnesses, such as cardiovascular disease and cancer. But this is not the only way that metformin could fight aging. Metformin works by acting on an enzyme called AMPK (adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase), which regulates how cells process energy.

AMPK boosts metabolism, which may aid weight loss by burning more sugar and fat; it improves blood flow and body composition; it aids cell detoxification and renewal; and it has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory effects.

On the other hand, unaddressed aging results in slowing metabolism and weight gain; muscle loss; poor circulation and detoxification, and a vicious cycle of inflammation.

Is Metformin Really the Best Solution to Aging?

Unfortunately, no. Aging is a complex ‘disease’ involving chronic inflammation, so health and longevity promoting strategies that target the whole person are likely to be far more effective. As it is multifactorial, focusing on one aspect of it is probably not the best strategy, as other complex, chronic diseases do not respond to this method.

Metformin is not without side effects, either. It has a black box warning for the rare-but-dangerous side effect of lactic acidosis, which is especially problematic in reduced kidney function. It may also be pro-inflammatory and increase production of beta-amyloid protein, which gets tangled in brain tissue as it accumulates and causes the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. If you want to use pharmaceutical drugs, aspirin is an anti-inflammatory AMPK activator.

So What Can We Do to Fight Aging?

There are natural antiaging therapies which also activate AMPK, without the side effects.

  • Intermittent fasting, where food intake is confined to 8-12 hours of the day, has been shown to promote longevity and fight age-related diseases.
  • Exercise not only keeps the musculoskeletal and cardiovascular systems strong, but also activates AMPK, especially in high-intensity interval training (HIIT).
  • Cold water immersion, especially after exercise, also enhances AMPK.
  • There are also herbal remedies that can activate AMPK, such as Gynostemma pentaphyllum (Southern Ginseng). One human study involving diabetic patients found that this herb reduced haemoglobin A1c ten-fold, which measures the rate of glycation (a very pro-aging process). It also decreased insulin resistance by three-fold and did not cause dangerously low blood sugar. It has been used as a pro-longevity herb in some Chinese circles for hundreds of years, but only now do we know exactly how it works and how to best use it.

Read: 5 Anti-Aging Herbs to Slow the Aging Process

While metformin may be a promising treatment for aging, there are natural alternatives that could be far superior.

Sources:

GreenMedInfo

LifeExtension

Cell

Pubmed/27607453

Pubmed/4613459


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