Mother Nature’s Bodybuilding Toolbox For A Long Life
Mother Nature’s Bodybuilding Toolbox For A Long Life
It never ceases to amaze me every time I see IFBB pro Betty Pariso onstage. I recently witnessed Betty win 2nd place at the Phoenix Pro. She stands out among other female bodybuilders as the oldest professional bodybuilder, still competing at age 54. The announcer referred to her as she walked onstage as the “Immortal Betty Pariso!” There is no doubt that Betty has great genes, but more than likely she also practices a healthy lifestyle with her eating. Some people may read MD and never want to compete, but just train hard and look good. Most people who read MD want to be big and ripped, but who wouldn’t want to be like Betty Pariso— and kick the asses of girls half her age onstage?!
This month’s Nutrition Performance is going to give you the breakdown of the latest science on what bodybuilders need to eat and drink for a long life— so they don’t look like the Crypt Keeper.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids and Tea Have Anti-Aging Effect on Cells
Omega-3s, the fatty acids found primarily in coldwater fish like salmon, have a host of health benefits including protecting against prostate cancer and reducing heart disease. Now there's evidence that Omega-3s may have a profound anti-aging effect, too.
A study using rats found that administration of Omega-3 fatty acids increased their life span by approximately one-third.1 A more recent study in the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association looked at the effect of Omega-3 fatty acids on telomere length. Telomeres are structures at the end of chromosomes that are markers of biological aging. Think of a piece of strand that is wrapped up, and every time the strand is unraveled, it shortens your life span. Well, telomeres are at the end of the strand, keeping the strand from unraveling— so every time the telomeres shorten is indicative of the Grim Reaper taking a step closer.
Genetic factors, exposure to certain chemicals and environmental stressors, inflammation, obesity and lack of exercise all shorten the length of telomeres— and are believed to contribute to the aging process. Researchers from the University of California investigated whether Omega-3 fatty acid blood levels were linked to changes in telomere length in a study of 608 people who had stable coronary artery disease. The researchers suspected that Omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA) may have anti-aging effects. That’s exactly what they found!
The scientists found that research subjects with the least amount of DHA and EPA experienced the most rapid rate of telomere shortening (indicative of a shorter life). However, those with the highest levels of the Omega-3 fatty acids experienced the slowest rate of telomere shortening.2 Each one-standard deviation increase in DHA+EPA levels was associated with a 32 percent reduction in the odds of telomere shortening. So the question is, how do Omegas-3 fatty acids provide anti-aging effects?
One of the mechanisms is that Omega-3 fatty acids reduce free radical damage, which shortens telomeres. Taking Omega-3 fatty acids and eating plenty of marine wildlife is a sure “supplement” to extend one’s life.
1. Jolly CA, Muthukumar A, Avula CP, Troyer D, Fernandes G. Life span is prolonged in food-restricted autoimmune-prone (NZB × NZW)F(1) mice fed a diet enriched with (n-3) fatty acids. J Nutr, 2001;131 (10):2753-2760.
2. Farzaneh-Far R, Lin J, Epel ES, Harris WS, Blackburn EH, Whooley MA. Association of marine omega-3 fatty acid levels with telomeric aging in patients with coronary heart disease. JAMA, 2010 Jan 20;303(3):250-7.
Don’t Take Fish Oils Without Antioxidants!
Now that you know Omega-3 fatty acids can prolong one’s life span, you may feel like popping fish oils like they are amino acids! Hold on a second— there are some things that you need to understand about fish oils— for openers, they are susceptible to oxidation. Here is an experiment: take some fish oil gel tabs and poke a hole in them, and let the gel tabs sit on the counter as they are exposed to oxygen— you may notice they smell horrible. Fish oils are especially prone to spoilage. If you take fish oils, you should take them with antioxidants.
Researchers from Appalachian State University reported that taking fish oils without antioxidants before heavy exercise can cause more damage than good. The researchers had trained athletes perform a bout of heavy exercise. Test subjects were randomized for six weeks to receive fish oils (3,000 IUs vitamin A and 200 micrograms selenium), a fish oil and antioxidant combination, or a placebo. The researchers measured several markers of antioxidant markers in the blood. The concerning finding was that the fish oils group had a 53 percent greater value in prostaglandin F2, compared to the placebo group. F2-isoprostanes are bioactive compounds, which are considered to be the gold standard for determination of oxidative stress.
Interestingly, F2-isoprostanes are elevated in obesity and various other disease states associated with elevated oxidative stress or free radical damage. F2-isoprostanes were increased 53 percent by Omega-3 fatty acids alone, but only 32.8 percent when Omega-3 fatty acids were coupled with large doses of antioxidant vitamins (i.e. C, E, A, and selenium). This suggests that co-ingestion of antioxidants with Omega-3 fatty acids offered some protection from lipid oxidation.1
Another study reported that if you are taking fish oils, they should be consumed with vitamin E. Researchers looked at men who consumed a controlled diet for a total of 28 weeks. For the first 10 weeks, they received placebo oil capsules (15 grams/day), for the next 10 weeks they received fish oil capsules (15 grams/day), and for the last eight weeks they received the fish oil plus 200 mg of vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol). The urinary excretion of peroxidation products (malondialdehyde) more than doubled when the fish oil capsules were introduced, but then dropped by a factor of four when vitamin E was added. The vitamin E concentration in the red blood cells dropped significantly when fish oil was ingested, but more than recovered with the vitamin E supplement.2
In conclusion, the negative effects of fish oil consumption can be overcome by taking fish oils with vitamin E. Don’t take fish oils without taking an antioxidant-rich supplement with it; you may be doing more harm than good.
1. McAnulty SR, Nieman DC, Fox-Rabinovich M, Duran V, McAnulty LS, Henson DA, Jin F, Landram MJ. Effect of n-3 Fatty Acids and Antioxidants on Oxidative Stress after Exercise. Med Sci Sports Exerc, 2010 Feb 13.
2. Nair, Padmanabhan P., et al. Dietary fish oil-induced changes in the distribution of alpha-tocopherol, retinol, and beta-carotene in plasma, red blood cells, and platelets: modulation by vitamin E. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 58, July 1993, pp. 98-102.
Put Something Else In Your Coffee Cup!
Like many other bodybuilders, I am hooked on caffeine. I love the energy it gives for a workout, but there are several modifications to include in your diet to counteract some of the harmful effects of taking too much caffeine. If you are a caffeine junkie, researchers in this month’s European Journal of Clinical Nutrition examined the effects of coffee consumption on endothelial function (how your blood vessels constrict or vasodilate). Subjects were healthy and not overweight, and they were administered either one cup of coffee, which consisted of 25 ml of espresso, or decaffeinated coffee. Interestingly, the results showed a significant reduction in blood flow mediated dilation (~22 percent) after coffee consumption, with a maximum effect occurring at 60 minutes, whereas decaffeinated coffee produced no reduction of mediated dilation.1
If you are drinking coffee all day long and constricting your blood vessels, you are at risk for significant increases in blood pressure and also increased risk for cardiovascular disease. So put something else in your coffee cup— the alternative for a healthier lifestyle is black, green or Rooibos tea.
If you are looking to prolong your bodybuilding life, tea is the healthier alternative to coffee. A new study reported that tea consumption, like Omega-3 fatty acids, has anti-aging effects. The study reported that tea consumption was associated with increased telomere length, which means a longer life for tea drinkers.2 The study examined 976 Chinese men and found that those who drank the most tea had longer telomere length, meaning less DNA damage. The antioxidative properties of tea and its constituent nutrients may protect telomeres from oxidative damage in the normal aging process. Tea is rich in polyphenols and contains carotenoids, tocopherols, ascorbic acid, minerals and certain phytochemical compounds. These constituents have been suggested to work against oxidative damage in several ways, including scavenging harmful reactive nitrogen and oxygen species, acting as metal chelators.
With all the pre-workout stimulants bodybuilders take, controlling blood pressure can be a tough job without the use of prescription drugs— but taking a special blend of Rooibos tea may just be what the doctor ordered. Researchers examined what teas had the greatest impact on vasodilatation and nitric oxide activity. Subjects consumed green, black or Rooibos tea, while nitric oxide and angiotensin-converting enzyme (i.e., a key enzyme which constricts blood vessels and lowers nitric oxide production) levels were measured. Only the consumption of Rooibos teas led to a significant inhibition of the blood vessel-constricting enzyme ACE, while green and black tea had no effect.3
The amazing finding is that the average inhibition of ACE activity 30 minutes after consuming Rooibos tea was 6 percent, compared to 16 percent inhibition of ACE activity after chronic intake of 10 mg of the prescription drug Enalapril.4 So drinking some Rooibos tea in conjunction with green and black teas throughout the day may be a safe way of lowering blood pressure, without the use of prescription drugs to counteract the blood pressure-rising effects of pre-workout stimulants.
Who knew that adding these few ingredients to your lifestyle can improve your life and have anti-aging effects? Maybe one day we can all be Betty Pariso clones, and beat competitors half our age!
1. Buscemi S, Verga S, Batsis JA, Donatelli M, Tranchina MR, Belmonte S, Mattina A, Re A, Cerasola G. Acute effects of coffee on endothelial function in healthy subjects. Eur J Clin Nutr, 2010.
2. Chan R, Woo J, Suen E, Leung J, Tang N. Chinese tea consumption is associated with longer telomere length in elderly Chinese men. Br J Nutr, 2010. Jan;103(1):107-13.
3. Persson IA, Persson K, Hägg S, Andersson RG. Effects of green tea, black tea and Rooibos tea on angiotensin-converting enzyme and nitric oxide in healthy volunteers. Public Health Nutr, 2010 Feb 10:1-8.
4. Abrams WB, Davies RO & Gomez HJ (1984) Clinical pharmacology of enalapril. J Hypertens Suppl, 2, 31-36.