Author Archives: Zuzanna Walter

Reversing the Biological Clock

While the current increasingly aging population and enhanced human lifespan are signs of great advancement in medical technology, population aging also contributes to a variety of socioeconomic, environmental, and healthcare-related difficulties, significantly straining the global economy and healthcare system. The medical community began investigating potential biomedical strategies of reversing the aging process several years ago in the hopes of diminishing cognitive decline, weakening of the immune system, and other negative effects of biological aging. In doing so, researchers have made significant discoveries in the field, one of which now provides a definitive basis of measurement for determining biological age – the epigenetic clock.

Developed by Dr. Steve Horvath, professor of Human Genetics and Biostatistics at UCLA, the epigenetic clock utilizes the body’s epigenome and specifically, changes in DNA methylation state to determine a person’s biological age, which may often exceed or fall behind their chronological age. Dr. Horvath’s discovery has helped to elucidate novel aspects of the aging process and deepen our current understanding, promoting further research efforts aimed at uncovering the complexities of reversing systemic aging. Thus far, attempts at the reversal of biological aging have not been confirmed by epigenetic age changes although the latest trial results from California implicate the potential to effectively reverse the aging process for the first time.

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Meatless Meat: How Healthy Are Plant-based Meat Alternatives?

Plant-based diets have grown in popularity over recent years as rising awareness of the associated health benefits, climate change, environmental pollution, and ethical concerns have driven consumers to adopt vegetarian or vegan diets. Although it is difficult to measure the exact number of vegetarians or vegans in the United States, current estimates suggest that between 2% and 6% of Americans identify themselves as vegetarians, and about 1% of those consider themselves vegan. Responding to high demand and providing consumers with appealing product options, plant-based food companies are creating a variety of meatless foods.

While plant-based meat alternatives are not a new concept, the market has witnessed an influx of a novel product – meatless burgers designed to taste like traditional beef burgers. Spearheading the meatless meat movement, Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods have experienced instantaneous success, with sales of Beyond Meat increasing five-fold since 2016 and the latest round of funding valuing Impossible Foods at $2 billion. This positive attention is due in part to the environmental benefits and assumed positive health impact of eating a plant-based diet, however, the nutritional content of these products has been largely overlooked. Are meatless burgers as healthy as they have been positioned to be or are they just less harmful than their animal-based counterparts?

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The Connection Between Prenatal Fluoride Exposure and Children’s IQ Levels

The potentially noxious effects of fluoride are a highly contested subject within the medical community and the public arena as previous research has hinted at the possibility of detrimental health consequences caused by drinking fluoridated water ranging from dental fluorosis to neurotoxicity. As fluoride crosses the placenta – accumulating in the brain regions associated with learning and memory –  it may alter proteins and neurotransmitters in the central nervous system of the fetus, making it potentially neurotoxic.

Although still a controversial subject, increased fluoride exposure from community water fluoridation has been tied to lowered children’s IQ levels in past studies, prompting growing research efforts aimed at uncovering the link between prenatal fluoride exposure and IQ levels in offspring. A recently published prospective study implicates that high fluoride intake during pregnancy may be associated with a reduction in children’s IQ at ages 3 to 5 years, and potentially beyond.

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