Nutrition Interventions in Aging and Age-Associated Disease

Authors

  • Mohsen Meydani

    Corresponding author
    1. Vascular Biology Program, Jean Mayer USDA-Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University, Tufts University, Medford, Massachusetts 02155, USA
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Address for correspondence: Dr. Mohsen Meydani, Vascular Biology Program, Jean Mayer USDA-Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University, Boston, MA 02111. Voice: 617-556-3126; fax: 617-556-3224; MMeydani@HNRC.TUFTS.edu.

Abstract

Abstract: The nutritional status and needs of elderly people are associated with age-related biological and often socioeconomic changes. Decreased food intake, a sedentary lifestyle, and reduced energy expenditure in older adults altogether become critical risk factors for malnutrition, especially protein and micronutrients. Surveys indicate that the elderly are particularly at risk for marginal deficiency of vitamins and trace elements. Changes in bodily functions, together with the malnutrition associated with advancing age, increase the risk of developing a number of age-related diseases. Chronic conditions pose difficulties for the elderly in carrying out the activities of daily living and may increase the requirements for certain nutrients due to changes in absorptive and metabolic capacity. Free radicals and oxidative stress have been recognized as important factors in the biology of aging and of many age-associated degenerative diseases. In this regard, modulation of oxidative stress by calorie restriction, as demonstrated in animal models, is suggested as one mechanism to slow the aging process and the decline of body functions. Therefore, dietary components with antioxidant activity have received particular attention because of their potential role in modulating oxidative stress associated with aging and chronic conditions. Several studies have indicated potential roles for dietary antioxidants in the reduction of degenerative disease such as vascular dementia, cardiovascular disease, and cancer. In support of epidemiological studies, our recent studies indicate that the antioxidant properties of vitamin E and polyphenols present in green tea may contribute to reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, in part by reducing the susceptibility of low density lipoproteins to oxidation, decreasing the vascular endothelial cell expression of pro-inflammatory cytokines, and decreasing the expression of adhesion molecules and monocyte adhesion. Recently, we also demonstrated that these dietary antioxidants may have a preventive role in cancer, potentially through the suppression of angiogenesis by inhibiting interleukin-8 production and the cell junction molecule VE-cadherin. These findings concur with epidemiologic, clinical, and animal studies suggesting that the consumption of green tea and vitamin E is associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer, the leading causes of morbidity and mortality among the elderly.

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