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What Scientists Know About Aging

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In just the last 10-15 years, advances in technology have allowed scientists to view the human body in ways never before possible. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) utilizes a powerful magnetic field. This creates vibrations in body particles which can be measured and then displayed using sophisticated computers. Without exposing your body to x-rays, MRI scans can provide extremely accurate, three-dimensional pictures of bones, organs and other internal body parts.

The very blueprint of living organisms, DNA, can now be dissected and manipulated. With the aid of advanced computer technology, scientists have been able to isolate and observe some of the most basic functions on a microscopic, cellular level. Even cellular chemical reactions that last only a fraction of a second can be measured and analyzed.

Still, with all the advances and newfound knowledge, modern medicine--for the most part--continues to concentrate primarily on developing methods to treat disease rather than prevent it. Could it be that selling the promise to cure a disease is much easier and far more profitable than selling prevention? Most of us might be willing to pay $25 to $50 a month on supplements to help prevent disease, but we'll spend our life savings to find a cure. Pharmaceutical companies are fully aware of this gold mine and they are shrewd marketers that know exactly how to tap into it.

The Missing Link in the Aging Process

In the 1980's Dr. Calvin A. Lang, a professor of biochemistry, at the University of Louisville Medical School, found that certain humans maintained high blood and tissue levels of a natural compound called glutathione throughout their lives. These same individuals experienced superior health and extreme longevity.  Scientists know that there is a strong relationship between glutathione and aging of the lens of the eye. Low levels of glutathione are directly linked to cataracts, macular degeneration and a long list of other eye diseases.

Glutathione is a tripeptide. A peptide is a compound that breaks down into two or more amino acids. Since glutathione is a "tri" peptide it is composed of three amino acids, namely glycine, glutamic acid and cysteine. Glutathione is present in every cell of your body and essential for life itself.  Dr. Lang discovered that glutathione levels decline with old age and with this decline, there is a corresponding decline in overall health and survival rates. Physicians evaluated the health of hundreds of the elderly and discovered that those with arthritis, diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease had lower levels of glutathione than those who were disease free.

It is clear that individuals who are able to maintain high levels of glutathione remain the healthiest and live the longest.  This makes sense since aging occurs when the cell loses its ability to replicate and regenerate itself. Aging is also associated with a decline in the function of the immune system.

The Major Functions of Glutathione are

·     regulating protein and DNA biosynthesis and cell growth; 

·     maintaining the strength and integrity of cell membranes; 

·     enhancing the functions of the immune system by increasing the production of disease-fighting blood cells called lymphocytes; 

·     detoxifying external compounds like environmental pollutants and drugs; and 

·     acting as an extremely powerful antioxidant, protecting cells against free radical damage.

A brief look at some of these functions will give you a pretty good indication of the wide variety of ailments low glutathione levels have been linked to.

Glutathione and DNA Repair

Aging

Your ability to repair damaged DNA is essential in helping to retard the aging process. And glutathione levels play an extremely important role. DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) is the master molecule of all body functions. This complex molecule resides in every cell of your body and provides both the blueprint and the instructions necessary for each cell to replicate and repair itself. It determines the particular build of your body, your height, skin color, hair texture and color, blood type and to which diseases and ailments you are most susceptible. DNA damage is a primary cause of aging.

Studies have shown a direct relationship between the life span of a species and its ability to repair damaged DNA. (Man and elephant have roughly the same life span and ability to repair DNA. Man lives about twice as long as chimpanzees and has twice the ability to repair DNA.)

DNA can be damaged in thousands of ways. This includes everything from breathing polluted air to lying in the sun too long. When a strand of DNA is damaged, researchers believe two things can occur. If glutathione (or possibly another antioxidant) is available, it can attach to the damaged area and the DNA strand can be repaired. If glutathione is not immediately available, then oxygen attaches to the area and the damage will become irreversible.

Increasing the levels of glutathione in the body have been shown to both decrease the frequency of DNA breaks and aid in their repair when necessary. Whenever you increase your ability to repair or protect DNA, you are in effect retarding the aging process. Glutathione has the ability to do both.

Cancer

Mutations or damage to DNA strands have also been linked to cancer. In addition to x-rays and UV light exposure, several other factors can promote DNA damage leading to cancer. A few of these include: tobacco and tobacco smoke; various hormones (like estrogen); drugs (legal and illegal); and environmental toxins and irritants like asbestos, coal tar products, benzene, cadmium, uranium and nickel.

By preventing DNA damage, glutathione can be a potent agent in the prevention of cancer. However, increasing levels of glutathione during the acute or active phases of cancer is not recommended. According to Dr. Mara Julius, one of the top researchers on this topic, glutathione augments the functions of every cell in the body. It makes no distinction between normal cells and those of a cancerous tumor. 

 

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