Tag Archives: anti-aging

Anti-Aging Benefits of The Paleo Diet

Are sore joints the inevitable consequence of aging? How about fatigue or poor sleep? Should we just “learn to live” with chronic conditions or is there something we can do to reverse them? While patients are told more and more frequently by health practitioners that their symptoms are due to the natural aging process, there is still hope. The major medical journals tells us that 85% of chronic diseases are due to diet, exercise, and lifestyle factors. Unfortunately, less than half of 1% of the standard medical education is in these areas.

So, what is the best anti-aging advice from a nutrition, movement, and lifestyle point of view to turn back the clock and maintain your youthful energy and vigor?

Reduce All-Cause Mortality

Experts recently discovered one of the most important markers for healthy aging to be your amount of lean muscle. That’s right, a recent study by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that lean muscle mass was inversely correlated with mortality in over 1,000 men with an average age of 82.1 Maintaining muscle seems to be your best bet to tapping into the proverbial “fountain or youth” and aging healthily. The study didn’t find the same correlation in women, however lean muscle has anti-aging benefits for everyone.

Which food type increases lean muscle mass better than any other? Animal protein.

Beef, wild game meats, poultry, fish and seafood – all staples of a Paleo diet – contain the greatest concentrations of essential and branched-chain amino acids, as well as creatine which are critical for building and maintaining lean muscle. I encourage all of my male clients to consume a portion size equal to 1.5x the size and thickness of their palm at every meal, and females to consume 1.0x the size and thickness of their palm.

Defend Against Cognitive Decline

So, if lean muscle doesn’t reduce mortality in women, why should they maintain a high protein intake? There are lots of reasons, but number one on the list is cognitive health. The New England Journal of Medicine recently found in patients over the age of 65 that those with high blood sugar levels (as measured by HbA1c, a three-month average) were at seven times greater risk of dementia.2 Even more alarming, not all of these people at high risk were outside the normal range!

A common habit as we age is developing what’s called a “tea and toast” diet, where  elderly tend to rely primarily on convenience foods like toast for meals, and drink tea throughout the day which further suppresses appetite. This type of high carb diet wreaks havoc on your brain cells (neurons) and leads to cognitive decline and dementias.

To help combat this, adopting a lower carb diet puts the emphasis back on lean meats, healthy fats, and abundant vegetables – all staples of a Paleo diet – that help restore optimal blood sugars and support a healthy brain. Unfortunately, habits are tough to break and many people get stuck in the traditional American breakfast of toast, cereals, and orange juice, or have been deterred by health professionals to eat brain-boosting eggs in the morning for fear of raising cholesterol levels. Did you know that LOW cholesterol levels are associated with dementia? Don’t be afraid of the egg… or the yolk!

Movement and Healthy Aging

As we age, we become more susceptible to infections, falls and traumatic injuries, nutrient deficiencies, diminishing cardiac capacity, and loss of muscle mass that leads to worsening health.

The most common condition in hospital wards across the country in elderly patients over-65 is congestive heart failure (CHF), where the heart is no longer capable of pumping enough blood throughout the body to match the body’s needs. This leads to dangerous reductions in sodium and hemoglobin levels, weakness, fatigue and risk of seizure, coma, and death.

Maintaining an active lifestyle and good cardiovascular health is the best prevention. Be sure to include 20-30 minutes of activity daily, in the form of walking, strength training (e.g. squats, lunges, push-ups, etc.), or stretching.

Strength training is a powerful weapon for keeping your heart strong and healthy. It also helps to increase your concentration of fast-twitch type-IIb muscle fibers. While we mostly think of these fibers as crucial for helping us jump higher, run faster, or lift heavier weights, they are also critical for another important task.

Fast-twitch muscle fibers help you “catch yourself” before falling over. Hip fractures are account for over 250,000 hospital visits amongst the 65-over population.3 By maintaining an active lifestyle – and supporting your muscles with adequate protein intake – you’ll help prevent falls and hip fractures from taking place.

Support Positive Mood

Mood and motivation can sometimes wane as people grow older. The research tells us that high blood sugars and insulin, low vitamin D, low omega-3 status, and low testosterone levels are all associated with low mood. The standard American diet (SAD) is high in processed and simple carbs, which can lead to insulin dysfunction, weight gain, inflammation and subsequently low blood levels of vitamin D and essential omega-3 fats.

By adopting a Paleo approach to eating, you’ll be providing your body with the building blocks to correct these deficiencies and dysfunction, and maintain your vitality as you grow older.

Exercise performs just as well as medications for correcting mild to moderate depression.4 Want to improve your mood, improve blood sugars and reduce risk of diabetes? Again, strength training and cardio – combined with a low-carb diet – are far and away your best bet. Something as simple as walking is a great way to lower blood pressure, reduce stress, and improve health.

Benefits of High Protein Diets and Paleo Lifestyles

Ensuring optimal protein intake doesn’t just increase your lean muscle, it also improves other key markers of health: blood pressure, blood sugars, inflammation, and cancer risk.

You may be wary of adopting a high protein diet because you’ve heard it may increase your risk of heart disease. The famous OmniHeart study by Harvard University found that high protein diets were far superior at lowering blood pressure than low-protein, high-carb diets.The group consuming a high-protein diet also had the greatest increases in good HDL cholesterol and decreases in pro-inflammatory triglycerides.

A Paleo diet is not just about protein intake, but also about the abundant consumption of nutrient-dense vegetables and fruits. A rich intake of alkalinizing veggies and fruits provide robust amounts of essential vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that support immunity, protect DNA from damage and fight off cancers, maintain heart health and promote optimal health. As we age, appetite tends to decline and so to does the intake of essential proteins and veggies. The so-called “tea and toast” diet of many elderly and aging adults doesn’t provide the body with adequate nutrients to maintain health.

Of course, movement and exercise are inherent parts of a Paleo lifestyle. This is most evident in my clinical practice. I’ve seen 60+ year olds with high blood pressure and blood sugars, a poor diet and no experience in strength training significantly upgrade their health and bodies in a matter of months (not years!). I have numerous 70+ year-old men who can perform multiple chin-ups and 70+ year old women who perform full squats and deadlifts with ease. It’s no wonder their blood pressure, lipid panels, blood sugars, and mood all tend to be very good as well!

I see in my clinic every day that chronological age is just a number. Don’t put limits on your mind and body. Your body and your physiology react to the inputs they are given; remain sedentary and eat the wrong foods and your brain and body will suffer. Eat clean, healthy whole foods and move every day (e.g. strength training, cardio, stretching, hiking, walking, etc.) and you will be amazed at how youthful you’ll feel.



[1] Graf C et al. Body composition and all-cause mortality in subjects older than 65 y. Am J Clin Nutr April 2015 vol. 101 no. 4 760-767.

[2] Crane P. et al. Glucose Levels and Risk of Dementia. NEJM. Sept 2013. Vol 369. National Hospital Discharge Survey (NHDS), National Center for Health Statistics. 

[3] Carek P, Laibstain S, Carek S. Exercise for the treatment of depression and anxiety. Int J psychiatry Med. 2011;41(1):15-28.

[4] Appel LJ, et al; the OmniHeart Collaborative Research Group. Effects of protein, monounsaturated fat, and carbohydrate intake on blood pressure and serum lipids: results of the OmniHeart randomized trial. JAMA. 2005;294:2455-2464.

Anti-Aging Supplements | The Paleo Diet
Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is one of the most widely consumed antioxidant supplements, but according to recently published research CoQ10 doesn’t function as commonly believed. Earlier this month, a team of researchers led by professor Siegfried Hekimi of McGill University (Canada) published their remarkable findings in Nature Communications.[1] Specifically, they demonstrated that CoQ10 doesn’t behave as antioxidant and, thus, shouldn’t be marketed as an anti-aging supplement.

This spells bad news for the rapidly growing CoQ10 market, but good news for people genuinely interested in improved health. A recently published market research report suggests the global CoQ10 market will nearly double by 2020, ballooning to an estimated $850 million. This money would be much better spent on healthy food, which provides plenty of antioxidants.

Professor Hekimi explained, “Our findings show that one of the major anti-aging antioxidant supplements used by people can’t possibly act as previously believed. Dietary supplements cost a lot of money to patients throughout the world—money that would be better spent on healthy food. What’s more, the hope for a quick fix makes people less motivated to undertake appropriate lifestyle changes.”[2]

CoQ10 is a lipid-like substance occurring naturally in all cells of the body. Cell mitochondria use CoQ10 to create energy from oxygen and various nutrients. In addition to this vital role, CoQ10 was also thought to behave as an antioxidant, hence being positioned as an anti-aging supplement.

The researchers experimented with a strain of mice unable to produce adequate amounts of endogenous CoQ10 and, therefore, requiring supplements. As expected, absent supplementation, those mice suffered severe illnesses and early death due to CoQ10’s vital role in energy production. Surprisingly, however, the scientists observed no signs of elevated oxidative damage when supplementation was suspended. This lack of damage, they determined, was not due to deployment of other antioxidant strategies. Eventually, they concluded that CoQ10 is not an antioxidant.

This study underscores a larger, more important issue with respect to supplements, particularly antioxidant supplements. Besides simply being ineffective, as per CoQ10, antioxidant supplements (or those marketed as such) can actually damage your health. Dr. Cordain has written extensively about the numerous randomized controlled trials and meta-analyses showing these products actually increase all-cause mortality. For example, a 2007 meta-analysis spanning 67 random controlled trials (232,606 participants) determined that antioxidant supplementation with vitamin E or vitamin A increases overall death rates.[3]

For most people, the only supplements Dr. Cordain recommends (if any) are fish oil and vitamin D. And, whereas the recently published study shows CoQ10 is not an antioxidant, you might wonder whether it’s a worthwhile supplement based on CoQ10’s role in energy production. This is a valid question, but the answer is very simple and straightforward. By consuming a healthy Paleo diet, your cells will have all the CoQ10 they need. Dr. Cordain further points out that meat, poultry, and fish are concentrated sources of natural CoQ10.

Supplementation is a dangerous game because nutrients can easily be consumed excessively and in the wrong proportions with respect to other nutrients. Whole foods don’t have this problem. That’s why the Paleo diet emphasizes food while largely discouraging supplements.

Christopher James Clark, B.B.A.
Nutritional Grail

Christopher James Clark | The Paleo Diet TeamChristopher James Clark, B.B.A. is an award-winning writer, consultant, and chef with specialized knowledge in nutritional science and healing cuisine. He has a Business Administration degree from the University of Michigan and formerly worked as a revenue management analyst for a Fortune 100 company. For the past decade-plus, he has been designing menus, recipes, and food concepts for restaurants and spas, coaching private clients, teaching cooking workshops worldwide, and managing the kitchen for a renowned Greek yoga resort. Clark is the author of the critically acclaimed, award-winning book, Nutritional Grail.



[1] Wang Y, et al. (Mar 2013). Mitochondrial function and lifespan of mice with controlled ubiquinone biosynthesis. Nature Communications, 6(6393).

[2] McGill University. (Mar 6, 2015). Popular antioxidant likely ineffective, study finds. ScienceDaily.

[3] Bjelakovic G, et al. (Feb 2007). Mortality in randomized trials of antioxidant supplements for primary and secondary prevention: systematic review and meta-analysis. JAMA, 297(8).

Anti-Aging And Paleo | The Paleo Diet

A hypothetical ‘fountain of youth’ has long been a sought-after commodity.1 Researchers have looked at elements as disparate as vitamin D,2 DHEA,3 and telomerase4 among many others, in order to try and prevent nature from taking its course.5

New and exciting discoveries in the scientific field aside, it is important to note that a healthy lifestyle is the number one way to prevent both disease and aging.6 In fact, oncologists found of all cancer-related deaths, as many as 30–35% are linked to diet.7

Anti-Aging Figure 1

Cancer deaths (%) linked to diet as reported by Willett

Many mechanisms induce the process of aging,8 including the gene, TAp63, as a possible critical element.9 Described as a ‘master transcriptional regulator of lipid and glucose metabolism,’10 the theory has merit.

Anti-Aging Figure 2

(A) TAp63 maintains adult stem cells (ASC) by transcriptionally activating p57 and repressing Ink4a/Arf, preventing premature aging. (B) In the absence of TAp63, p57 mRNA levels are low, leading to hyperproliferation of ASCs (shown in pink), and Ink4a/Arf levels are high, resulting in a concomitant senescence of ASCs (shown in blue) and a premature aging phenotype in TAp63 deficient mice. The interplay of the p53 family, including TAp73, ΔNp73, and ΔNp63, remains to be elucidated.

High docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) content combats the aging process, placing wild-caught fish near the top of the list.11 One anti-aging mechanism via which omega-3’s (such as DHA) operate, is through nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2 (Nrf2).12 Nrf2 is a master transcriptional factor for antioxidant genes,13 and vital for many processes in the body.14

Interestingly, researchers found that DHA, but not EPA, markedly increased intracellular 4-HHE, and nuclear expression and DNA binding of Nrf2.15 This lends further support to evidence DHA’s superiority to EPA.16 DHA has also been shown to have neuroprotective effects,17 increasingly important in neurodegenerative diseases, like Alzheimer’s.18

Anti-Aging Figure 2

Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and its neuroprotective properties. Affect on amyloid plaque formation and aggregation, improves cerebral blood flow and reduces inflammation.

Researchers also identified dietary flavonoids as important activators of the Nrf2 system.19 Flavonoids are present in large amounts in citrus fruit, berries, olive oil, apples, red wine, tea, grapes, chocolate, and cocoa.20, 21, 22

Anti-Aging figure 3

Schematic representation depicting some of the various cytoprotective proteins that are upregulated by Nrf2. Flavonoid-mediated protection from ischemic/hemorrhagic stroke, traumatic brain injury, and/or other neuropathies may result in large part from Nrf2 regulation of these pathways.

Anti-aging figure 4

Schematic representation depicting the potential mechanisms by which flavanol-mediated Nrf2 induction leads to activation of cytoprotective pathways after stroke, traumatic brain injury, and/or other neurodegenerative diseases. Flavanols may induce Nrf2 through binding to receptors seated on the plasma membrane and subsequent initiation of intracellular signaling cascades. Alternatively, passive diffusion or active transport through the plasma membrane may permit direct cytosolic dissociation of the Keap1/Nrf2 complex or activation of second messengers that regulate Nrf2 translocation into the nucleus. Upon nuclear translocation, Nrf2 binds to AREs on the promoter regions of cytoprotective genes to regulate heme/biliverdin, glutathione, NAD(P)H, and/or other protective pathways.

Fasting and caloric restriction activate Nrf223, 24 as well. Since Nrf2 has been shown to help with longevity, metabolic regulation and also responds to nutritional input,25 its importance in anti-aging cannot be overstated.26

Anti-Aging Figure 5

Model: Nrf2 as a convergence point for stress, metabolic, and longevity signals

Perhaps unsurprisingly, there have also been studies that show consumption of alcohol and caffeine actually alter telomeres.27 Telomeres protect chromosome ends from degradation and play crucial roles in cellular aging and disease.28 This is further proof that a Paleo lifestyle can help protect against aging.29, 30

Out of all aging-related mechanisms, the most interesting may be a protein named GDF11, which appears to cause a reversal of many signs of aging.31 GDF11 normally declines with age, but when levels are restored, GDF11 shows benefits to multiple tissues.32 The idea of a novel approach to not only reverse muscular aging, but also brain aging, is tantalizing.33

But remember, while scientific advances are exciting, they are still years away from being proven in humans, and/or are limited in implementation. Therefore, a healthy lifestyle is still the number one way to prevent both disease and aging. A Paleo Diet, which is by nature high in flavonoids, low in inflammation and rich in nutrients, is a great choice. A Paleo lifestyle, with regular physical activity, fun, and high quality sleep, will keep you looking and feeling young, for many decades to come!


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17. Shimazawa M, Nakajima Y, Mashima Y, Hara H. Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) has neuroprotective effects against oxidative stress in retinal ganglion cells. Brain Res. 2009;1251:269-75.

18. Yurko-mauro K, Mccarthy D, Rom D, et al. Beneficial effects of docosahexaenoic acid on cognition in age-related cognitive decline. Alzheimers Dement. 2010;6(6):456-64.

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33. Katsimpardi L, Litterman NK, Schein PA, et al. Vascular and neurogenic rejuvenation of the aging mouse brain by young systemic factors. Science. 2014;344(6184):630-4.

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