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5 foods that have anti-ageing longevity-promoting properties; boost immunity, reverse ageing and help live long healthy life
02 December 2021 IST
5 foods that have anti-ageing longevity-promoting properties; boost immunity, reverse ageing and help live long healthy life

Everything we eat to fuel ourselves shows its impact on our health and ageing. Are there any superfoods out there that can stop or reverse ageing? What could stall the march of time and help one live longer and healthier lives?

 
 

"First hint that body’s ‘biological age’ can be reversed," screamed the headline of Nature.com, an online scientific articles website. In a small trial, drugs seemed to rejuvenate the body’s ‘epigenetic clock’, which tracks a person’s biological age, it reassured. 
 
According to the report in Nature.com, a small clinical study in California has suggested for the first time that it might be possible to reverse the body’s epigenetic clock, which measures a person’s biological age. By testing the blood samples from the said clinical trial designed to reverse aspects of human ageing, scientists found a significant reversal in their epigenetic ages.
 
What was the experiment?
 
1. The study was titled "Thymus Regeneration, Immunorestoration and Insulin Mitigation" or TRIIM trial.
 
2. The TRIIM trial tested 9 white men between 51 and 65 years of age. 
 
3. First, the researchers decided upon which 9 persons to pick from the many healthy volunteers.
 
4. Then, the chosen ones were given a cocktail of three common drugs — growth hormone and two diabetes medications.
 
5. Findings suggest that on average, each of them shed 2.5 years of their biological ages.
 
6. These results were arrived at by measuring and analysing marks on a person’s genomes. 
 
7. The participants’ immune systems also showed signs of rejuvenation.
 
8. The TRIIM study was carried out in 2019 and was led by immunologist Gregory Fahy, the chief scientific officer and co-founder of Intervene Immune in Los Angeles.
 
9. The trial was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration in May 2015.
 
10. It began a few months later at Stanford Medical Center in Palo Alto, California.
 
Thymus Gland on the radar:
 
 According to the report in Nature.com, the results were a surprise even to the trial organisers — but researchers caution that the findings are preliminary because the trial was small and did not include a control arm.
 
“I’d expected to see slowing down of the clock, but not a reversal,” says geneticist Steve Horvath at the University of California, Los Angeles, who conducted the epigenetic analysis. “That felt kind of futuristic.” The findings were published on 5 September in Aging Cell. 
 
“It may be that there is an effect,” says cell biologist Wolfgang Wagner at the University of Aachen in Germany. “But the results are not rock-solid because the study is very small and not well controlled.”
 
The latest trial was designed mainly to test whether growth hormone could be used safely in humans to restore tissue in the thymus gland. The gland, which is in the chest between the lungs and the breastbone, is crucial for efficient immune function.
 
What the Thymus Gland does:
 
White blood cells are produced in the bone marrow and then mature inside the thymus, where they become specialized T cells that help the body fight infections and cancers. In simple words, a type of lymphocyte that develops in the thymus gland, T-cells are essential to human immunity. As we age the thymus gland starts to shrink after puberty and increasingly becomes clogged with fat.
 
The epigenetic clock is an age predictor based on DNA methylation levels. It is dependent on the body’s epigenome, which is a complete description of all the chemical modifications—such as methyl groups—that tag DNA and histone proteins. 
 
The pattern of these tags changes throughout the course of a person’s life, and tracks their biological age, which does not necessarily coincide with their chronological age.
 
According to the researchers, additional studies need to be done on immunosenescence. 
 
Evidence from animal and some human studies shows that growth hormone stimulates regeneration of the thymus. But this hormone can also promote diabetes, so the trial included two widely used anti-diabetic drugs, dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and metformin, in the treatment cocktail.

 
 

Foods that boost the functions of the Thymus gland and Immunity:
 
1. Garlic: Garlic contains allicin which may have antibacterial, antiseptic, antifungal and antibiotic effects. It’s also said to protect against atherosclerosis and stroke by its ability to keep platelets from sticking together. Garlic may also help lower high blood pressure and cholesterol. It may help the body resist or destroy viruses and other microorganisms. It does this by boosting the immune system, says the University of Rochester Medical Center. Marie Claire cites Patrick Holford, nutritionist and author of Boost Your Immune System, who says, "Have a clove or two of garlic a day... It is naturally anti-viral and anti-bacterial." 
 
2. Pumpkin seeds: The edible, flat, green seeds extracted from the flesh of a pumpkin, can be rinsed and roasted, either plain or with other flavours such as oils and spices, to create a delicious, crunchy snack. Though there are numerous good uses of pumpkin seeds, some listed by BBC Good Food are benefits to bladder health, heart health, sleep regimen, sugar balance, blood pressure, etc. It is also enriched with anti-oxidants. ‘Pumpkin seeds are a great source of zinc,’ explains Nina Omotoso, nutritional therapist at Revital tells Marie Claire. ‘Zinc is one of the most important immune-boosting minerals and promotes the function of the thymus gland, which controls the entire immune system. It also increases the production and activity of infection-fighting white blood cells, and has direct anti-viral properties.’ 
 
3. Herbs and Spices: ‘Herbs and spices contain immune-supporting nutrients,’ explains Patrick Holford. ‘Try adding turmeric to rice or grating ginger into stir-fries.’ Times Now had reported earlier about a study by Sri Ramchandra University on herbal medicines affecting the cardiovascular system compiled by collating scientific literature shows why spices rule our heart health, literally and metaphorically.
 
4. Kiwi: "Eating just two kiwis gives you around 160mg of vitamin C, which is a real classic when it comes to helping us fight coughs and colds," Nina Omotoso, a nutritional consultant based at the Revital health store in London’s Victoria, tells Mari Claire. "Vitamin C enhances our immune response by increasing the production of white blood cells and antibodies. It also increases enzymes, and strengthens connective tissue and cell membranes, making it more difficult for viruses to spread through the body and enter cells."
 
5. Cocoa: Marie Claire quotes Nina Omotoso who says, "Eating a few cocoa beans a day could give your immune system a boost,’ says Nina Omotoso. ‘But while a chocolate bar may sound tempting, it won’t provide the same benefits – there’s less cocoa and too much sugar. It’s better to stick to the raw bean. It’s rich in flavonols, a type of antioxidant that can stimulate the immune system."
 
What "not to do" or what to "give up" to age healthier?
 
Ageing is inevitable. But take the dullness, stress, ill-health, and regret out of the process. Go easy on sugar if you cannot give up the artificial option altogether. Sugar can actually depress immune activity, so avoid any forms of it if you are fighting an infection. Give up smoking. That is in fact, enemy number one of a long healthy life. Longevity does not sit fine on the cancer stick, sorry! People around the world are changing the rules of ageing. Some simple changes in your lifestyle will help you age gracefully. Why not do it?

 
 
 
 
 

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  Thought of the Day

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Shibu Chandran
2 hours ago

Serving political interests in another person's illness is the lowest form of human value. A 70+ y old lady has cancer.

November 28, 2016 05:00 IST
Shibu Chandran
2 hours ago

Serving political interests in another person's illness is the lowest form of human value. A 70+ y old lady has cancer.

November 28, 2016 05:00 IST
Shibu Chandran
2 hours ago

Serving political interests in another person's illness is the lowest form of human value. A 70+ y old lady has cancer.

November 28, 2016 05:00 IST
Shibu Chandran
2 hours ago

Serving political interests in another person's illness is the lowest form of human value. A 70+ y old lady has cancer.

November 28, 2016 05:00 IST


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