Researchers looking for ways to age healthier

BOUDLER, Colo. (KFSN) -- 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.

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

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

Dr. Tom LaRocca at University of Colorado Boulder said, "Things start happening in your cells as early as your early 30's that slow down things throughout your body."

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.

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

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

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

It 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. It results in a loss of muscle mass and a decrease in bone density," Craighead explained.

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

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

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

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.

For more evidence-based research on how to age healthier, visit CU Boulder's website on aging at HealthyAgingProject.org.
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