Getting older can bring many opportunities and joys – if you stay healthy, But, while life spans are increasing, health spans – the years you stay fit and well – for most people are not. Therefore, I believe investing in health is as important as investing in a pension.
So this article summarises the latest research on healthy ageing – the food plan we recommend and how the NutriShield Premium health supplement supports ageing well.
Colin Rose is a Senior Associate Member of the Royal Society of Medicine, and Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. He is the founder and Director of Research and Innovation of Uni-Vite Healthcare.
This article is based on the findings from his new book: Delay Ageing: Healthy to 100, where he reveals how to slow ageing and, therefore, help prevent later-life illness.
Key facts about ageing
♦ Your body's ability to produce and absorb key nutrients reduces as you get older.
♦ At the same time, without action, your immune system becomes less resilient and therefore less protective.
♦ Damage to DNA and cells accumulates.
♦ In addition, mitochondrial function – key to energy production – declines.
You need to counteract all these processes if you are to increase your healthy life span.
Avert age-related illness
It’s true that a sensible diet – including at least three vegetable portions and two of fruit a day – is a good baseline for early and middle years or life.
But the research is clear that you need a higher level of protective and regenerative nutrients when you are over 50-60 – to keep your body healthy and your mind sharp.
The aim is to avert ‘age-related’ illness before it finally manifests itself. By which time it’s late in the day and the default treatment is synthetic drugs – most of which treat symptoms rather than the root cause a\nd can have long-term negative side-effects on other body processes.
Which nutrients and which foods?
There is no healthy ageing without a strong heart and a healthy brain, so that’s a main focus.
But the nutrients that protect the brain and mind aren’t necessarily the same as those that sustain your energy level – or help keep your immune system strong – or help preserve your eyesight.
Since there are multiple biological ‘pathways’ that cause ageing and ‘age-related’ illnesses, you need multiple defences against them.
Cellular health – why phyto-nutrients are the key
‘Phyto’ merely means plant.
We often think of fruits and vegetables and herbs as healthy just because they provide vitamins and minerals.
They do indeed, but we now know that the special phyto-nutrients in them are central to slowing ageing and helping prevent most later-life illness.
Dr Michelle Hauser, of the Harvard Medical School, confirms:
“People who eat diets rich in phytonutrients have lower rates of heart disease and cancer—the two leading causes of death in the West.”
Researchers at the Department of Medicine at Johns Hopkins University echoed this in March 2021:
“Phytochemicals are a critical part of enhancing health-span … the evidence points to their necessity in the context of living a long life free of chronic diseases.”
And echoed again in the journal Food Frontiers in May 2021:
“Epidemiological evidence points strongly to beneficial effects of phytochemical-rich foods on the prevention of essentially all chronic diseases.”
Phyto-nutrients averagely represent just a tiny one-thousandth of the weight of fruits or vegetables – but they pack a big health and longevity punch.
Health starts at the level of your cells, because cells make tissues, tissues make organs and organs make up your body.
Phyto-nutrients help in all these ways
♥ Phyto-nutrients reduce inflammation
Now acknowledged to be the root cause of most chronic illnesses and is deeply implicated in Alzheimer’s and dementia.
♥ Phyto-nutrients clear away senescent cells
Senescent cells have aged and can no longer function properly.
♥ Phyto-nutrients improve mitochondrial function
The production of energy by mitochondria can diminish as much as 50% as you get older – which is why you get tired.
♥ Phyto-nutrients support gut/microbiome health
This in turn supports immunity and even improved mood.
♥ Phyto-nutrients counteract free radical damage to DNA
♥ Phyto-nutrients reduce levels of uric acid
Lowering uric acid has very recently been shown to improve blood pressure and counteract insulin resistance – the main risk factor for diabetes.
♥ Phyto-nutrients can switch on positive genes
Your genes, of course, are fixed, but the way they are 'expressed' – turned off or on – is influenced by what you eat, by stress and by your lifestyle. We know, for example, that grapeseed and green tea can turn on genes that prevent cell mutations.
POWERFUL PLANT PHYTO-NUTRIENTS
At the end of this article is a link to a Mediterranean Diet style food plan that provides a valuable baseline of phyto-nutrients. But the purpose of NutriShield is to increase the amount and range of phyto-nutrients to a level that counteracts the challenges of ageing.
It includes the following. But while each one has desirable properties – the strength is in the combination.
Lycopene is the phyto-nutrient that creates the bright red colours in tomatoes, and in lesser amounts in watermelons, apricots and pink grapefruits.
Lycopene is an antioxidant and studies show that higher levels of lycopene have been linked to a decreased risk of prostate and breast cancer. That may be because lycopene – along with beta carotene – helps boost the body’s ability to repair DNA.
Beta-carotene is found in carrots (where the name comes from), in mangoes, pumpkins, and sweet potatoes. The body can use beta-carotene as a precursor to make vitamin A – which is essential for healthy cell growth and a strong immune function.
Curcumin is the concentrated form of the spice turmeric. It is both an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. It’s one of the most remarkable natural plant-based remedies with ‘multiple health benefits, even for people with no current health issues.
There is persuasive evidence that curcumin can help inhibit development of mutations at the cell level20. A 2019 research study stated:
“This polyphenol compound, alone or combined with other agents, could represent an effective drug for cancer therapy.”
2017 research shows that curcumin stimulates production of an essential growth factor, called BDNF, that promotes new connections between brain cells. It is now being extensively researched for a protective role against deteriorating brain function.
The very positive ‘side effect’ of curcumin is its anti-inflammatory property – meaning it has a role to play in issues like arthritis and IBS.
Curcumin also helps regularise blood sugar levels in pre-diabetic people. Stopping a pre-diabetic condition developing into full Type 2 diabetes sharply reduces the accompanying risk of heart disease, stroke and kidney failure.
Curcumin really is a ‘super-nutrient’. You should choose curcumin over turmeric as a supplement because turmeric is poorly absorbed. Ensure that any supplement with curcumin in it includes a black pepper extract called piperine and some oil – ideally Omega 3. They hugely boost the bioavailability of curcumin.
GREEN TEA CATECHINS
Green tea extract contains phyto-nutrients called catechins. The four main ones are epicatechin (EC), epicatechin-3-gallate (ECG), epigallocatechin (EGC), and epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG). Of these catechins, EGCG and EGC are found in the highest amounts in green tea and have been the subject of most of the studies.
According to The National Cancer Institute, they have properties that may:
“Protect cells from DNA damage caused by reactive oxygen species (free radical damage)” and “have been shown to inhibit tumour cell proliferation”
Green tea has other benefits. EGCG helps support autophagy, an important mechanism whereby cells shed old, defective components. Without this process, the cellular debris from senescent cells creates toxins that distress neighbouring healthy cells, causing inflammation. Other nutrients that support autophagy include curcumin, grapeseed extract and the B vitamin nicotinamide.
Grapeseed extract is another phyto-nutrient with multiple long-term benefits. Studies show it can help improve blood flow, which has a positive impact on heart and brain function. It can also help reduce the effect of free radical damage on LDL cholesterol – again very positive for the heart and brain.
Perhaps grapeseed’s most important potential brain benefit is that it contains an ingredient – gallic acid – which can support neurological health. It appears to do this by helping inhibit the formation of a sticky compound called beta amyloid, the presence of which characterises Alzheimer’s.
Researchers at UCLA have also shown that curcumin combined with vitamin D3 also has promise for lowering beta amyloid.
Betaine – a nutrient in beetroot and other beets – is not a well-known supplement, but it should be on any list of effective heart and brain nutrients.
That’s because, with folic acid, it helps lower a dangerous compound in the blood called homocysteine. Homocysteine contributes to the build-up of plaque in blood vessels – the condition called atherosclerosis ie clogged arteries.
Betaine also supports proper liver function, and because the liver is involved in turning stored fat and sugars into energy, it helps reduce fatigue.
Importantly, betaine also helps increase the body’s production of nitric oxide, which is a ‘vasodilator’, meaning it relaxes the inner muscles of blood vessels, causing them to widen. This increases blood flow and therefore can help lower blood pressure.
Clogged arteries lead to coronary heart disease, stroke and dementia, so keeping blood flowing freely is vital to heart and brain health – as it obviously is to sexual health.
As we already noted, there’s no healthy ageing without a strong heart and healthy brain, so betaine, curcumin, green tea and grapeseed should be in any serious supplement for men and women over 50.
Lutein – together with another carotenoid called zeaxanthin – plays a key role in eye health. Here’s how.
Lutein and zeaxanthin are yellow-coloured nutrients, so they absorb blue light. The problem with blue light is that it creates free radical particles of oxygen. Over time, this degrades eye cells, and the build-up of cellular debris impairs vision.
By helping to counteract blue light damage, lutein and zeaxanthin protect the light-sensitive tissue of the eyes called the retina. So much so, that some researchers have even called these two nutrients ‘internal sunglasses’!
The US National Eye Institute confirms that lutein and zeaxanthin help prevent and slow down the progression of AMD – Age-related Macular Degeneration. This is the leading cause of poor vision and ultimately blindness in men over 60.
Their research shows that lutein and zeaxanthin, combined with beta carotene, vitamin C and E plus the minerals copper and zinc, cut the risk of AMD progressing by over 25%. So many opticians recommend supplementing with these combined micro-nutrients.
People with blue eyes are especially urged to ensure adequate lutein, because their eyes do not absorb lutein as well as brown eyes. So, if you are a man or woman with blue eyes – or if you do a lot of night driving with associated headlight glare – make sure you increase your lutein intake.
Ensure you also have an adequate supply of Omega 3 as this fatty acid is a major component of the retina. Studies show that inadequate Omega 3 is a factor in macular degeneration.
Other studies support bilberries and bilberry extract as support for eye health, especially when combined with lutein. Which is why all these eye health nutrients are in NutriShield.
Cellular health – Summary
To help keep cells healthy, ensure an optimum level of vitamins and minerals, and phyto-nutrients from fruits and vegetables.
Lycopene, beta carotene, lutein, green tea, grapeseed, bilberry, betaine and curcumin are especially powerful.
You're as old as your immune system
The Covid pandemic has highlighted the importance of immune T-cell response to viruses. While a vaccine may help prevent a serious reaction, it is T-cells that actually kill the virus before it can do further damage.
So, it’s important that phyto-nutrients have been shown to help increase T-cell response – central to keeping your immune system functioning strongly.
A research paper published July 2021 in the leading scientific journal Nature shows that each of us has what they described as an ‘inflammatory score’ or ‘inflammatory clock’ which can predict illness and mortality. That’s because high levels of inflammation lead to a weakened immune function and that in turn lead to disease and accelerated ageing.
In the study, a group of healthy centenarians (100-year-olds) were shown to have “inflammatory ages averaging 40 years less than their calendar age. One, a 105-year-old, even had an inflammatory age of 25!”
This direct link between high levels of chronic inflammation and low immune function and ageing prompted the lead researcher to state that: “You’re as old as your immune system”.
This is where the phyto-nutrients in fruits and vegetables come in. They not only reduce inflammation, but they also directly support the effectiveness of your immune system, which otherwise declines as you get older.
An additional immune booster 1-3, 1-6 beta glucans
A natural compound isolated from the cell wall of baker’s yeast called 1-3, 1-6 beta glucans goes even further. It enhances your immune system by prompting increased activity in key immune cells called neutrophils and Natural Killer cells.
In all, there are more than 80 clinical trials showing the effectiveness of beta glucans on the US National Library of Medicine website. They show effectiveness for a range of issues – from immuno-therapy to lowering the risk of flu infections. So much so, that this type of beta glucans is commonly used in Japan and at the Brown Cancer Center in USA as an adjuvant (support) to both chemo and radiation therapy.
[Note these are not the same as oat beta glucans, which can help lower cholesterol.]
This type of beta glucan is the key ingredient in Uni-Vite's immune supplement called ImmunoShield.
Of interest to men is that ImmunoShield also contains beta sitosterol – rated ‘effective’ by WebMD for helping protect the prostate against benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). Beta sitosterol has further documented success for prostate health and is found in small quantities in nuts and avocados.
Immune health – Summary
Phyto-nutrients support immune function, but also ensure you have an optimum daily level of zinc, selenium, and vitamins A, C, D, E, folic acid and Omega 3 – all vital for a robust immune system.
Protecting joints and bones
Osteoporosis is far more common in women than men, because there is a hormone link and women start with less bone mass. However, loss of bone density is a problem in older men, too.
Bone mass peaks for both sexes during the third decade of life. After this point, the amount of bone in the skeleton typically begins to decline slowly as removal of old bone exceeds formation of new bone.
By age 65 or 70 men and women lose bone mass at the same rate, and the absorption of calcium decreases. This bone loss can lead to loss of height, a fracture, or a fall and can be an ultimate cause of loss of later-life independence.
Calcium, of course, is essential for bone health – but it also helps reduce the risk of colon cancer and hypertension. Equally important is magnesium, which combines with calcium and vitamin D to improve bone density.
Vitamin D3 is needed to enable calcium to be absorbed from the gut and to generate bone growth.
Vitamin K also helps maintain bone density – and ensures healthy blood clotting. Indeed, vitamins D and K are co-factors in enabling glucosamine to help build cartilage – so any supplement designed to support joint health and cut the risk of arthritis must include all three.
Soy isoflavones are phyto-nutrients derived from soya which improve bone density. But soy isoflavones do more – they help balance hormone levels in women and help lower the risk of prostate cancer in men.
Omega 3 fatty acid is a further vital nutrient for joint health – and more. Because Omega 3 is a powerful anti-inflammatory, it helps reduce any stiffness or tenderness in joints and helps ‘lubricate’ them for smoother mobility.
To good nutrition, add exercise that strengthens your joints and bones.
Hearing loss? A 2015 survey of over 10,000 people found an unexpected link between osteoporosis and double the risk of sudden hearing loss. But the connection makes sense – the vital small bones in the ear are as vulnerable to demineralisation and loss of density and function as those in the hips or femur.
Bones and joints – Summary
For strong bones and joints, ensure calcium, magnesium, vitamins D and K, soy isoflavones and Omega 3.
Optimum and Balanced A-Z Vitamins and Minerals
All A-Z vitamin supplements include a range of vitamins and minerals – so what’s different about those in NutriShield?
First, they are at optimum rather than the basic RDA (Recommended Daily Amount) levels. RDAs are established for the average person, and to establish the level below which you are vulnerable to absolute deficiency diseases. Once you are over your 50s and 60s, your nutrient needs are not average – they increase.
So, the important antioxidant vitamin C is at 500mg a day in NutriShield. The RDA for vitamin C is a woeful 60mg, which is hardly more than the mean level of 46mg to prevent scurvy!
Vitamin C works to reduce tiredness and fatigue and helps maintain the normal functioning of the immune system. It’s also central to collagen formation – so helping reduce skin ageing.
The B complex vitamins – vital for extracting energy from food – are also at what we calculate as optimum levels. Vitamin B6 is commonly deficient in many men over 50, which is a worry as it also vital to create antibodies against viral or bacterial infections and research shows it can help prevent cognitive decline.
Similarly, vitamin B12 deficiency is common, because the absorption of B12 declines as you get older, due to changes in the way that stomach acid works. Vitamin B12 is critical for proper metabolism, for protecting neurological function and for healthy blood cells.
NutriShield also contains Vitamin B3 in the form of nicotinamide. Nicotinamide is essential in the creation of a coenzyme called NAD+. NAD+ is found in every cell in your body and is involved in extracting energy from food and therefore with hundreds of metabolic processes.
But levels of NAD+ decline with age – and this is linked to both lower energy levels and increased fat storage. The journal Cell Metabolism confirms that:
“Decreasing NAD+ levels could therefore prompt the development of many of the ailments associated with aging.”
Nicotinamide, however, is not the only way to boost your levels of this critical co-enzyme – phyto-nutrients do too. Moreover, phyto-nutrients also improve the functioning of your mitochondria – the tiny ‘energy factories’ in almost every cell in your body.
It is not only the level of vitamins and minerals in NutriShield that is different – it's the way they are balanced.
Calcium - Vitamin D - Vitamin K
For example, we have seen that calcium is essential for bone health. But you need Vitamin D3 and vitamin K to act as ‘co-factors’ to extract calcium from the diet and use it to build bone to generate bone growth.
Without these two co-factors, excess calcium can accrue in blood vessels and mix with cholesterol to create atherosclerosis – and hardening of the arteries. So, vitamins D and K are indirectly very important for heart health. Of direct importance for heart health are Co Q10, folic acid, vitamins C, B6 and B12 and magnesium.
Vitamins D, C and E - Zinc - Selenium
Vitamin D3 in adequate amounts (800 IU a day in summer and 2,000 IU in winter) is a key nutrient in maintaining a strong immune status. As are zinc, selenium, and vitamins C and E. Again, you need all these nutrients in the right balance.
Overall, the vitamins and minerals in NutriShield combine to maintaining normal vision, blood pressure, heart functions and immune system.
Comprehensive balanced combination of nutrients
Together the benefits of all these nutrients are well documented in peer reviewed research (see over 50 references below). They help you create a series of shields – for the mind, eyes, joints, heart and to keep cells healthy.
NutriShield Premium Health Supplement
This recommended healthy eating and lifestyle plan will help ensure you do get the nutrients we have explored.
But unless you are eating 8-10 portions of fruits and vegetables a day, plus oily fish 2-3 times a week, you will not be getting either the full range or the higher level of nutrients needed to optimally support cell protection and DNA repair as you get older.
That’s the level of daily fruit and veg intake that both Imperial College London and the American Cancer Society recommend. But I suspect it’s not a realistic level for most people.
That’s why NutriShield Premium contains so many capsules. It is a supplement that can double the average person’s intake of phyto-nutrients, carotenoids and Omega 3 – as well as providing optimum levels of vitamins and minerals. It was originally designed by Dr Paul Clayton (former Chair of the Forum on Food and Health at the Royal Society of Medicine), and has been updated and improved every year since.
Delay Ageing book explains the ageing process and how you can postpone it
Medical researchers agree that if you slow ageing, you also delay the onset of age-related disease. And we know that it’s not just nutrition. Sleep, reducing stress and cardio and strength exercise are also essential to longevity and ageing well.
So, I am unashamedly (!) recommending my new book Delay Ageing: Healthy to 100, published in 2020.
It explains the latest ageing science and contains more detail about the healthy eating plan the over 50s, plus a 7-minutes-a-day strengthening exercise, a very effective stress reduction exercise and much more.
It’s been rated 5-star and I am sure you will get a lot of benefit from it, as so many have already.
And if you have got value from this article, why not share it with a friend?
Dr Paul Clayton designed NutriShield as a comprehensive health supplement with OPTIMUM levels of 43 essential nutrients including Omega-3, polyphenols and flavonoids from fruits, vegetables and other plants, betaine and green tea.
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