Calorie restriction slows age-related epigenetic changes

Researchers found that calorie restriction slows age-related epigenetic changes in mice and monkeys. The findings suggest a mechanism for how calorie restriction extends lifespan.

Related image

Ok….lets feel better about aging!

Related image

Calorie restriction has been shown to extend lifespan in several different species, but the underlying reason isn’t known. During normal aging, epigenetic changes occur throughout cells in the body. These changes alter the way genes are switched on and off without changing the DNA sequence itself. Levels of one type of epigenetic modification, called DNA methylation, have been shown to roughly reflect a person’s age. To investigate whether caloric restriction affects DNA methylation, a team of scientists led by Dr. Jean-Pierra J. Issa at Temple University examined the epigenetic profiles of mice, rhesus monkeys, and humans at different ages. They then tested whether these changes were altered by a calorie-restricted diet in mice and monkeys.

The team first analyzed DNA methylation in blood from mice, rhesus monkeys, and humans at different ages. Each species showed similar changes in DNA methylation patterns as they aged. These changes are called methylation drift, or epigenetic drift. The rates of epigenetic drift were inversely correlated with lifespan. That is, the shorter the species lifespan, the faster the changes in DNA methylation. This finding suggests that DNA methylation helps regulate the effects of aging.

The team then tested whether a calorie-restricted diet could slow methylation drift by feeding a group of mice 40% fewer calories than controls starting when they were 0.3 years old until they were 2.7 to 3.2 years old. They also fed rhesus monkeys a diet with 30% fewer calories than controls starting at the age of 7–14 years old until they were 22 to 30 years old. The changes in DNA methylation patterns slowed for the animals fed a calorie-restricted diet. Monkeys on a calorie-restricted diet showed the same patterns of DNA methylation as monkeys who were 7 years younger but had eaten regular diets. This methylation age difference was even higher in mice.

The team then compared the rates of epigenetic drift to telomere shortening. Telomeres are molecular caps at the ends of chromosomes. Their length has previously been linked to the aging process. Calorie restriction had no measurable effect on telomere length. “The impacts of calorie restriction on lifespan have been known for decades, but thanks to modern quantitative techniques, we are able to show for the first time a striking slowing down of epigenetic drift as lifespan increases,” Issa says.

More studies are needed to better understand why age-related epigenetic changes occur faster in some people than others, and whether altering them could help prolong human life. The study was funded by National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) National Cancer Institute (NCI) and National Institute on Aging (NIA). Results appeared online on September 14, 2017, in Nature Communications.

Adapted from: Caloric restriction delays age-related methylation drift. Maegawa S, Lu Y, Tahara T, Lee JT, Madzo J, Liang S, Jelinek J, Colman RJ, Issa JJ. Nat Commun. 2017 Sep 14;8(1):539. doi: 10.1038/s41467-017-00607-3. PMID: 28912502.

Nutritional Nugget

Barely eat barley? This hearty whole grain can be used in soups, salads, risottos, or cooked like oatmeal for breakfast.

WOD Nugget

Jaded: Bored or lacking enthusiasm, typically after having had too much of something

Inspiration Nugget

The longer you wait for something, the more you appreciate it when it finally arrives. The harder you fight for something, the more priceless it becomes once you achieve it. The more pain you endure on your journey, the sweeter the arrival at your destination. Remember... all good things are worth waiting for and fighting for.



Happier Meals for Kids at the Drive-Thru


You’ve got hungry kids in the car and you need food pronto, so you pull into the drive-thru at a fast food restaurant. We’ve all been there … but, hopefully, not too often. A 2013 study in JAMA Pediatrics found that teenagers and younger children who eat fast food consume more calories than at home. In addition to excess calories, a steady diet of fast food — heavy on fat, sugar and sodium and low in fiber, vitamins and minerals — may contribute to nutrient deficiencies.

Fast food meals for kids have gotten more nutritious, but these quick-serve food establishments remain a minefield of less-than-desirable choices. While parents don’t need to enforce a complete ban on fast food, make sure to choose the most nutrient-rich options in kid-appropriate portions.

Set Limits

The wafting smells of French fries or fresh doughnuts can play havoc on your resolve to order smart, so be clear about your rules for fast food before ordering. For example, let your kids know you want them to sip milk instead of soda or have a fruit or vegetable with their meal. Allow them to choose between apple slices or a salad, not between a salad and French fries.

Arm Yourself with Information

Many quick-serve establishments list nutritional content online, so take a few minutes to study the best choices at a variety of fast food joints before you hit the road. When you don’t have the time to check facts, avoid fried anything or any food smothered in cheese or other sauces, and keep these lighter choices in mind:

  • Salad with grilled chicken
  • Grilled chicken wrap or fresh turkey wrap
  • Plain, kid-sized hamburger
  • Low-fat yogurt
  • Apple slices
  • Bean burritos or tacos
  • Chili
  • Large fruit cups
  • Small roast beef sandwich
  • Fat-free or low-fat milk

Mind the Portions

Order appropriate child-size meals for youngsters and resist supersizing meals for older kids, unless two or more children are splitting it. It’s good to know that adults can order kid-sized meals, which often automatically come with fruit and low-fat milk and supply about half the calories of a meal you would order off the regular menu.

Rethink Your Drink

Younger children should drink milk or water most of the time. Teenagers, who may be able to eat more calories because they are active, may request regular soda or blended coffee beverages that are loaded with sugar and might displace more nutritious calories coming from milk or food. Instead, steer them toward the smallest size possible or have them split the smallest drink on the menu.

Plan to Avoid Fast Food

Planning for hunger can help you avoid the pull of the drive-thru. Keep tasty and nutritious foods in the car, including dried fruit, natural applesauce in single-serve containers and nuts. On longer trips, take a small cooler or refrigerator bag stocked with fresh fruit, string cheese, low-fat yogurt, milk boxes, whole-grain crackers, nut butters or hummus and fresh veggies to tide you over or to supplement a fast food meal.

Adapted from: Elizabeth M. Ward, MS, RD

Nutrition Tip of the Day

Don’t Eat a Lot of Refined Carbohydrates! Not all carbs are created equal. Refined carbs have been highly processed, and have had all the fiber removed from them. They are low in nutrients (empty calories), and can be extremely harmful. Studies show that refined carbohydrates are linked to overeating and numerous metabolic diseases.

Daily Inspiration 




Food-borne illness: First aid


All foods naturally contain small amounts of bacteria. But poor handling of food, improper cooking or inadequate storage can result in bacteria multiplying in large enough numbers to cause illness. Parasites, viruses, toxins and chemicals also can contaminate food and cause illness. Signs and symptoms of food poisoning vary with the source of contamination, and whether you are dehydrated or have low blood pressure. Generally they include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Vomiting
  • Dehydration

With significant dehydration, you might feel:

  • Lightheaded or faint, especially on standing
  • A rapid heartbeat

Whether you become ill after eating contaminated food depends on the organism, the amount of exposure, your age and your health. High-risk groups include:

  • Older adults. As you get older, your immune system may not respond as quickly and as effectively to infectious organisms as it once did.
  • Infants and young children. Their immune systems haven’t fully developed.
  • People with chronic diseases. Having a chronic condition, such as diabetes or AIDS, or receiving chemotherapy or radiation therapy for cancer reduces your immune response.

If you develop food poisoning:

  • Rest and drink plenty of liquids.
  • Generally, anti-diarrheal medications should be avoided because they may slow elimination of organisms or toxins from your system. If in doubt, check with your doctor about your particular situation.
  • Infants or young children should not be given anti-diarrheal medications because of potentially serious side effects.

Foodborne illness often improves on its own within 48 hours. Call your doctor if you think you have a foodborne illness and your symptoms have lasted longer than two or three days. Call immediately if blood appears in your stools.

Seek emergency medical assistance if:

  • You have severe symptoms, such as severe abdominal pain or watery diarrhea that turns very bloody within 24 hours.
  • You belong to a high-risk group.
  • You suspect botulism poisoning. Botulism is a potentially fatal food poisoning that results from the ingestion of a toxin formed by certain spores in food. Botulism toxin is most often found in home-canned foods, especially green beans or tomatoes. Signs and symptoms of botulism usually begin 12 to 36 hours after eating the contaminated food and may include headache, blurred vision, muscle weakness and eventual paralysis. Some people also have nausea and vomiting, constipation, urinary retention, difficulty breathing, and dry mouth. These signs and symptoms require immediate medical attention.

Tip of the Day

Out of something in your kitchen? Add it to a list!  Keeping a running list of items you need and bringing it to the store will minimize the number of products you buy and the size of your bill.

Daily Inspiration 




Exercise, Supplements Like Fish Oil Won’t Keep Elderly Sharper

Two trials cast doubt on these widely touted strategies. Neither exercise nor supplements such as fish oil don’t seem to do much to help keep older folks mentally sharp, two new studies found. The reports, published August 2015 in the Journal of the American Medical Association, cast doubts on two strategies purported to keep older brains younger and healthier. In one study, two years’ worth of moderate exercise didn’t seem to improve the brain power of people between 70 and 89 or lower their odds for dementia. Similarly, giving older adults fish oil or other supposed brain nutrients did not keep them sharper.

The exercise study, which involved 1,600 sedentary adults, “is the largest and longest randomized trial of a physical activity intervention in older adults who were not already active and were at risk of losing their ability to walk,” said Dr. Kaycee Sink, medical director of the Kulynych Memory Assessment Clinic at Wake Forest School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, N.C. She and her colleagues found no significant difference in mild mental impairment or dementia among those who participated in physical activity and those who were assigned to health education workshops and arm stretching (13.2 percent versus 12.1 percent). “Our results are contrary to what many people believe about the role of physical activity in preserving memory and thinking abilities,” Sink said. Sink said the study raises questions about the role of physical activity in preserving memory and thinking abilities. For instance, how early do you need to start? How intense does the activity need to be? Will exercise help if your memory is already impaired?

“Even though I can’t tell you that walking is going to preserve your memory better than participating in mentally engaging activities, walking is good for you for many other aspects of your health,” she said. “So stay active — physically active, mentally active and socially active.” Dr. Sudeep Gill, an associate professor of medicine at Queen’s University in Ontario, Canada, agreed. “Overall, I think it is valuable to encourage sedentary older adults to engage in regular physical exercise as there are many potential health benefits, such as improved heart health and reduced insulin resistance,” he said. “Indeed, the primary results of the study did find their structured exercise program protected against development of major mobility disability.” The study’s two-year follow-up may have been too short to see an improvement in mental function, said Gill, who wasn’t involved with the study but co-authored an accompanying journal editorial. It’s also possible that the mental health tests were flawed, or the results could be a statistical fluke, he noted.

In the other study, Dr. Emily Chew, deputy director of the division of epidemiology and clinical applications at the U.S. National Eye Institute, and colleagues tested the effects of fish oil, and supplements of lutein and zeaxanthin on mental function. The researchers randomly assigned more than 7,200 participants in an age-related eye disease study — average age 73 — to a fish oil supplement, or lutein and zeaxanthin or a placebo. Participants were also given combinations of vitamins C, E, beta carotene and zinc. They underwent yearly eye exams and mental function tests every other year. The five-year study found no statistically significant differences in measures of mental function among those who took a fish oil supplement and those who didn’t. The researchers reported similar results for those who took lutein/zeaxanthin supplements and those who didn’t.

“From our point of view, it’s probably more important to eat a healthy diet,” Chew said. “Or perhaps at that age it’s too late to start taking supplements or improving your diet,” she said. “You are what you eat, you should start much earlier.” Gill said these results weren’t surprising. “Most studies of specific dietary supplements have failed to show that they have any significant mental benefits,” he said. Gill agreed that adopting a healthy diet might have more effect on maintaining mental sharpness than taking supplements.

Reprinted from

Tip of the Day

Create a work of art! Add color to salads with baby carrots, shredded red cabbage, or green beans. Include seasonal veggies for variety throughout the year.

Daily Inspiration


50 Years of Medicaid and Medicare

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services marked the 50th anniversary (August, 2015) of its namesake programs by recalling their start and recounting their achievements. “Here’s what we’re celebrating: more than a generation of seniors who have lived their retirements with medical care they needed without depleting their life savings,” said Andy Slavitt, acting administrator for CMS. Slavitt also noted the millions of disabled Americans and children the programs have helped. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell joked that she had a lot in common with Medicare and Medicaid, having just turned 50 herself and having just joined social media. On a more somber note, she observed, “It is hard to imagine a world that is without Medicare and Medicaid.” In 1965, when the programs were first signed into law, seniors had to rely on their families and their savings account, and those lacking them suffered in poverty.

Poor families and children were entirely dependent on charities and providers’ goodwill. Burwell recounted how these two programs also helped close the racial divide in an era when many hospitals would not employ African American doctors or admit African American patients. “No other program has changed so many lives, our families, our friends, our neighbors, and no other program has given so many so much hope,” she said. The first week after President Lyndon B. Johnson inaugurated the Medicare program, a million people signed up. Today there are 55 million seniors and disabled Americans who receive coverage under the program, she said. More than 70 million have gained coverage through Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program, including 12.3 million Americans who joined through the provisions of the Affordable Care Act that expanded care to more low-income individuals.

Burwell also highlighted recent advances in Medicare, such as the new goal of shifting Medicare payments to focus on value rather than volume. By 2016, 85% of provider reimbursement will be paid on the basis of quality rather than the number of services provided. A second revision to the program announced this month would encourage better coordination of care during and after joint replacements by bundling reimbursement across services into one payment. Providers pay would be determined by patient outcomes following surgery and through the rehabilitation period, she explained. Following Burwell’s remarks, a panel of health industry and policy experts shared their views of the two programs and offered recommendations for the future.

Jason Furman, PhD, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors for the White House, spoke of research that pointed to the positive economic impact of Medicaid. A study comparing low-income Americans who received Medicaid with those who didn’t found that beneficiaries, especially women, had higher wages as a result. Adults who received Medicaid coverage as children did better in school and their careers, he added. “The most plausible reason is the simplest. If you’re healthier you’re going to be more likely to graduate high school, more likely to go to college, more likely to earn more,” Furman said. “I think this fabric of our economy, from Medicaid, Medicare and the social insurance system more broadly, has all the direct moral benefits but also has an important economic set of side benefits.”

Asked what advice panel members would give to HHS moving forward, Furman said, “You’ve just got such a great platform here and the private sector really can follow your lead so take advantage of that.” Diane Rowland, ScD, executive vice president of the Kaiser Family Foundation based here, agreed that the two programs are leading the way in innovation. “Keep the people that these programs were designed to serve in mind,” she said. Although some people worried about Medicare’s financial future have called for raising the Medicare eligibility age, another speaker on the panel urged the opposite. Steven Safyer, MD, president and CEO of Montefiore Medical Center in West Chester, N.Y., said he would ask HHS to consider, in time, lowering the eligibility age. “You have huge leverage and you have the bully pulpit. So, I would say continue to move healthcare writ large with value-based purchasing and stay away from vouchers,” he said.

Tip of the Day

Popcorn is a whole grain! Pop a bag of low-fat or fat-free popcorn for a healthy snack. 3 cups equals 1 oz of grains.

Daily Inspiration


Senate Passes the Older Americans Re-authorization Act of 2015

The Senate passed the Older Americans Re-authorization Act of 2015, by a voice vote. This bill calls for greater use of locally grown fresh foods in nutrition programs, includes language to more directly utilize dietitians in senior nutrition programs, and clarifies policy on supplemental foods given with home delivered meals. These improvements, combined with maintaining separate funding for congregate and home-delivered meals and keeping contributions from participants voluntary, will ensure that the largest program in the Older Americans Act (OAA) continues to be effective in its important mission.


Tip of the day

Be a healthy role model. Help children develop healthy eating habits for life. Cook together, eat together, talk together, and make mealtime a family time!

Daily Inspiration 

No matter what sin we have committed, no matter how black, dirty, shameful, or terrible it may be, God loves us. We may be at the very gate of hell itself, but God loves us with an everlasting love. Because of his love there is a way of salvation, a way back to God through Jesus Christ, his son.

“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”

~John 15:13

More than 8 million use long-term care services in USA

More than 8 million people, mostly women and those older than 65, used services of a long-term care provider in 2013, according to the first-ever compilation of federal data profiling the types of providers in the USA and the people who use them. The report is based on the National Study of Long-Term Care Providers, a new effort by the National Center for Health Statistics to get a better handle on the options for care and determine trends. “Most think of nursing homes, but because the long-term care industry has evolved over the past 30 years, nursing homes are still the major player in long-term care services but not the only provider,” says Lauren Harris-Kojetin, the report’s lead author. The five areas of paid, regulated providers are adult day service centers, home health agencies, hospices, nursing homes, and assisted living and similar residential care communities. The report for 2012 includes some 2011 data; officials say numbers will be updated every two years.

Having the federal data will help providers and officials understand the scope of caregiving needs, suggests John Schall, CEO of the Caregiver Action Network, a family caregiver organization based in Washington, D.C. “This confirms what we always suspected in terms of what those numbers would look like,” he says. “That’s a fascinating number (8 million) because we never actually had that number.” However, Schall says the 8 million figure is still “a minority of people receiving care.” “By far, the lion’s share of people getting care are getting it from their family caregivers rather than from paid care workers,” he says. “There’s no question that family caregiving is really the backbone of the long-term care support services in this country.”

Data released from the Pew Research Center showed that 39% of adults in the USA say they are caregivers for someone with significant health issues, up from 30% in 2010. In many cases, Harris-Kojetin says, the new information is “a piece of the picture” of people who may also be getting unpaid, informal care, “but at least some services from paid, regulated providers.” The national report finds that about 58,500 paid, regulated long-term care entities are divided among the five sectors and employ nearly 1.5 million nurses and nursing aides. The report finds that “a sizable portion of service users” in all five types of facility sectors had a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias, ranging from about 30% of home health patients to almost half of nursing home residents. The percentage of users of long-term care services diagnosed with depression was highest in nursing homes (48.5%) and lowest in residential care communities (24.8%), adult day services centers (23.5%) and hospices (22.2%).

Tip of the Day

What counts as an ounce of protein foods? 1 ounce lean meat, poultry, or seafood; 1 egg; ¼ cup cooked beans or peas; ½ ounce nuts or seeds; or 1 tablespoon peanut butter.

Daily Inspiration

“Many Samaritans from that city believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, he told me all that I ever did.”

~ John 4:39

No matter how sinful or unworthy we may feel today, God can use us. Throughout history God has chosen ordinary people and unworthy people and the least likely people. He can use us in our community, our town, our city, our country!