Evidence Affirms Benefits of Naturopathic Diet and Lifestyle on Aging

Editor’s note: In general, Vital News does not publish research articles from peer-reviewed journals. Instead, our focus is on sharing practical and personal perspectives, in a conversational style among colleagues. That said, when WANP member, Dr. Davis Lamson shared the following article with us, so hot off the press it hadn’t been posted on PubMed yet, we felt compelled to share it with you.  Enjoy!

In the following abstract, lead investigator and best-selling author, Dr. Dean Ornish and his team have shown that one of the key markers of aging – telomere shortening – can be positively impacted by diet and lifestyle changes – essentially affirming what naturopathic medicine has espoused and practiced since its inception.

In bringing this to our attention, Dr. Davis Lamson, who is admittedly up to his eyeballs in writing of his own, shared these sentiments:

“What Ornish proved is that dietary and lifestyle changes can lengthen our telomeres, which can give longer life, [and this is] essentially earthshaking in several ways. Of course there are materials that can do this, but it’s so wonderful to accomplish something tremendous without a bottle. And the article can be used to demonstrate to patients that their fate really can be in their own hands!”

In response to the increasing call for ‘evidence-based medicine’ and the not uncommon critiques aimed at naturopathy in this area, this study provides affirmation for some of our most essential practices.

Effect of comprehensive lifestyle changes on telomerase activity and telomere length in men with biopsy-proven low-risk prostate cancer: 5-year follow-up of a descriptive pilot study Dean Ornish, Jue Lin, June M Chan, Elissa Epel, Colleen Kemp, Gerdi Weidner, Ruth Marlin, Steven J Frenda, Mark Jesus M Magbanua, Jennifer Daubenmier, Ivette Estay, Nancy K Hills, Nita Chainani-Wu, Peter R Carroll, Elizabeth H Blackburn

Summary Background: Telomere shortness in human beings is a prognostic marker of ageing, disease, and premature morbidity. We previously found an association between 3 months of comprehensive lifestyle changes and increased telomerase activity in human immune-system cells. We followed up participants to investigate long-term effects.

Methods: This follow-up study compared ten men and 25 external controls who had biopsy-proven low-risk prostate cancer and had chosen to undergo active surveillance. Eligible participants were enrolled between 2003 and 2007 from previous studies and selected according to the same criteria. Men in the intervention group followed a programme of comprehensive lifestyle changes (diet, activity, stress management, and social support), and the men in the control group underwent active surveillance alone. We took blood samples at 5 years and compared relative telomere length and telomerase enzymatic activity per viable cell with those at baseline, and assessed their relation to the degree of lifestyle changes.

Findings: Relative telomere length increased from baseline by a median of 0·06 telomere to single-copy gene ratio (T/S) units (IQR –0·05 to 0·11) in the lifestyle intervention group, but decreased in the control group (–0·03 T/S units, –0·05 to 0·03, difference p=0·03). When data from the two groups were combined, adherence to lifestyle changes was significantly associated with relative telomere length after adjustment for age and the length of follow-up (for each percentage point increase in lifestyle adherence score, T/S units increased by 0·07, 95% CI 0·02–0·12, p=0·005). At 5 years, telomerase activity had decreased from baseline by 0·25 (–2·25 to 2·23) units in the lifestyle intervention group, and by 1·08 (–3·25 to 1·86) units in the control group (p=0·64), and was not associated with adherence to lifestyle changes (relative risk 0·93, 95% CI 0·72–1·20, p=0·57).

Interpretation: Our comprehensive lifestyle intervention was associated with increases in relative telomere length after 5 years of follow-up, compared with controls, in this small pilot study. Larger randomised controlled trials are warranted to confirm this finding.

Funding: US Department of Defense, NIH/NCI, Furlotti Family Foundation, Bahna Foundation, DeJoria Foundation, Walton Family Foundation, Resnick Foundation, Greenbaum Foundation, Natwin Foundation, Safeway Foundation, Prostate Cancer Foundation.

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