Several studies have identified specific nutrients and healthy behaviors as effective in delaying the development and slowing the progression of age-related diseases like macular degeneration. It has been said that the best cure for age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is to simply stop growing older. Now a pilot study of 43 men ages 50 to 72 may give that suggestion some veracity. Through a program of diet, sleep, exercise, and relaxation techniques, combined with supplemental probiotics and phytonutrients, a team of international scientists have described a plan that may actually reverse aging and its resultant effect on disease.
In their study, the diet and lifestyle treatment group decreased in biological age by 3.23 years compared to the control group. The data also showed that those in the treatment group decreased in biological age by 1.96 years over the eight weeks. These results were determined by chemical analyses of the subjects’ DNA, and biological age was calculated using the Horvath DNA Methylation Clock. Scientists, by the way, have determined that predictions of mortality and multiple morbidities are better using biological age rather than chronological age.
The researchers gave well-supported rationales for each intervention in the plan, but they stress that slowing the aging clock may or may not actually curtail risks of age-related diseases. Still, the interventions used in the study are worth considering as an expansion upon the current recommendations for good eye health found on this website and many others. For that reason, they are outlined below as they were followed by the subjects in the 8-week program. It is important to remember that the researchers made choices based upon their knowledge of nutritives and activities providing optimum benefit to this study, but that is not to say that other options are not as beneficial. According to the authors:
“The combination of interventions used in this study may yet be improved upon and may be more impactful when further personalized. Future iterations of the intervention in continued clinical trials will attempt to optimize the program for efficacy, efficiency, scalability and affordability. An ever-evolving understanding of personalized application of such dietary and lifestyle interventions will likely lead to refinements to this kind of intervention that may further extend indicators of biological age.”
Guidance per week:
3 servings of liver
•(1 serving = 3 oz)
•Ideally free-range, organic, omega-3 enriched
Guidance per day:
2 cups of dark leafy greens
•Measured raw, chopped, and packed
•Including kale, Swiss chard, collards, spinach, dandelion, mustard greens
•Does not include salad greens such as romaine, iceberg, Spring mix
2 cups cruciferous vegetables
•Measured raw, chopped, and packed
•Includes broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, bok choy, arugula, kale, mustard greens, watercress, rutabaga, kohlrabi, radish, Swiss chard, turnip
3 additional cups colorful vegetables of your choosing (excluding white potatoes, sweetcorn)
1-2 medium beet 4 tbsp (1/4 cup) pumpkin seeds (or pumpkin seed butter)
4 tbsp (1/4 cup) sunflower seeds (or sunflower seed butter)
1+ serving methylation adaptogens, choose from:
•1/2 cup berries (wild preferred)
•1/2 tsp rosemary
•1/2 tsp turmeric
•2 medium cloves garlic
•2 cups green tea (brewed 10 minutes)
•3 cups oolong tea (brewed 10 minutes)
6 oz animal protein
•Grass-fed, pastured, organic and hormone/antibiotic-free
2 servings of low glycemic fruit
Organic preferred over conventional
Don’t eat between 7pm and 7am
Include “healthy” oils
•Balance types of fat
•E.g. coconut, olive, flaxseed and pumpkin seed oil
Avoid added sugar/candy, dairy, grains, legumes/beans Minimize plastic food containers
PhytoGanix® [or comparable product]*, a combination of organic vegetables, fruits, seeds, herbs, plant enzymes, prebiotics and probiotics.
UltraFlora® Intensive Care* [or comparable product], containing Lactobacillus plantarum 299v.
Minimum of 30 minutes of exercise per day for at least 5 days per week, at an intensity of 60-80% of maximum perceived exertion.
Average a minimum of 7 hours of sleep per night.
Stress Management Prescription
Breathing exercise from Steps to Elicit the Relaxation Response developed by Herbert Benson MD, twice daily.
*PhytoGanix® and UltraFlora® Intensive Care are products of Metagenics, Inc., which supported this study with an unrestricted grant.
Author: Dan Roberts
SOURCE: Fitzgerald KN, et al. Potential reversal of epigenetic age using a diet and lifestyle intervention: a pilot randomized clinical trial. Aging (Albany NY). 2021; 13:9419-9432. https://doi.org/10.18632/aging.202913