What should I know about Aging?
Aging is a natural, normal part of life. We sometimes tend to fear growing older, accepting without question the belief that ill health and infirmity are inevitable consequences of the aging process. It doesn’t need to be this way. While it’s true that our risk of disease goes up as we age, there is no reason why we cannot enjoy good health for a lifetime. In fact, science is learning more about how we can do just that. No one can turn the clock back on aging, but an impressive body of scientific research points the way to strategies that may help people stay healthier as they grow older, and perhaps even live longer. How long you live and how healthy you remain while you live depend a great deal on the way you live. (1) , (2)
The maximum possible human life span is estimated to be about 120 years. (3) The average life expectancy in developed countries is 76 to 79 years. Why the difference? While science has yet to discover how to increase the maximum potential life span, people can adopt lifestyle and nutritional strategies that may allow them to live in relatively good health significantly longer than the current average life expectancy. At center stage in aging research is a class of substances found in the human body and in nature, called “free radicals.”
Free radicals: The free radical theory of aging, first presented by Denham Harman, M.D., in 1956, (4) says that changes that occur in the body with aging are caused by the buildup of free radicals. In a recently published paper, Dr. Harman discusses a growing scientific consensus that free radicals are a major cause of aging–maybe the only one. (5)
What, exactly, is a free radical? Everything that exists in the physical world around us–natural or man-made–is held together by chemical bonds. All substances are made of molecules that bond to each other by sharing electrons, the subatomic particles that orbit the atom’s nucleus. Electrons like to form pairs; the pairing of electrons creates a biochemical peace and stability, without which, everything would come apart at the seams. Free radicals are molecules that have an unpaired electron. This unpaired electron makes the free radical highly unstable, like a sort of molecular loose cannon. So anxious is the free radical to find a mate for its solitary electron, it will snatch an electron away from whatever is close by. The issue is far from settled at this point, however: you may now have another equally rapacious free radical desperate to replace its stolen electron. This can set off a chain reaction producing thousands of free radicals in less than a wink of an eye. (6) The process continues until something comes along with spare electrons–a biochemical benefactor that can give up an electron without itself becoming a free radical–and order is restored.
These molecular peacekeepers, substances that donate electrons to halt free radical chain reactions, are called “antioxidants.” Also known as “free radical scavengers,” antioxidants include familiar nutrients like vitamins A, C, and E. The plant world fairly brims with antioxidants, which is one reason why fruits and vegetables are so healthy.
What happens if an antioxidant is not available in sufficient quantity to halt the free radical chain reaction? Our cells and tissue suffer collateral damage. Fatty molecules in cell walls, proteins, enzymes that regulate cell function, even DNA itself are all vulnerable to free radical attack. (7)
What does all this have to do with aging? Fortunately, nature has outfitted the body with a rapid-response team of enzymes that neutralize free radicals before they can do much damage. In health, and in youth, we have an abundance of these enzymes. As we age, the body may not produce enough antioxidant enzymes to keep up. The resulting unchecked injury to cells and tissues, so the free radical theory of aging goes, causes a breakdown in tissue and organ function, setting the stage for disease. If we could somehow turn this around and regain the upper hand against free radicals, in theory we could slow aging down. Or at least preserve organ health and function longer, allowing us to enjoy better health longer.
Slowing down the aging process: How can we protect ourselves against free radical damage? One step is to reduce our exposure to environmental sources of free radicals. A partial list of environmental free radical producers includes ionizing radiation (x-rays), ultraviolet light (a sunburn), (8) pesticides and insecticides in water and food, and heavy metals such as lead and mercury.
Stress reduction is a key health measure that can help tip the balance in our favor. Studies indicate that physical, emotional, and mental stress increase formation of free radicals in the body. (9) , (10) , (11) , (12)
The next important anti-aging strategy is to increase our intake of antioxidant nutrients. An enormous number of studies have been published showing individuals with higher intakes of various antioxidant nutrients have increased protection from many of the common aging-related diseases. (13) , (14)
Good scientific evidence indicates that lifestyle choices greatly influence health, longevity, and the aging process. Avoidance of smoking, regular exercise, keeping weight down, and eating a healthy diet, do more than just reduce our risk of disease. They help us live longer and better.
World Health Organization, 2006.
- In 2000, there were 600 million people aged 60 and over; there will be 1.2 billion by 2025 and 2 billion by 2050.
- Today, about two thirds of all older people are living in the developing world; by 2025, it will be 75%.
- In the developed world, the very old (age 80+) is the fastest growing population group.
- Women outlive men in virtually all societies; consequently in very old age, the ratio of women/men is 2:1.
Malaysian Medical Association, 2002.
- The population who are aged 60 and over in Malaysia is estimated at about 1 million.
- Projected to increase to 1.5 million by the turn of the century.
- 4 million by the year 2025.
Administration on Aging, 2004.
The older population (65+) numbered 36.3 million in 2004 (the most recent year for which data are available).
The number of Americans aged 45-64 – the “babyboomers” who will reach 65 over the next two decades – increased by 34% during this decade.
About one in every eight, or 12.4 percent, of the population is an older American.
Over 2.0 million persons celebrated their 65th birthday in 2000 (5,574 per day).
Persons reaching age 65 have an average life expectancy of an additional 17.89 years (19.2 years for females and 16.30 years for males).
Older women outnumber older men at 20.6 million older women to 14.4 million older men.
By the year 2030, the older population will more than double to about 70 million.
The 85+ population is projected to increase from 4.2 million in 2000 to 8.9 million in 2030.
World Health Organization, 1998.
390 million people worldwide are over 65 yrs. of age.
WHO estimates the elderly will make up 10% of total world population by the year 2025. That is approximately 800,000 million people.
Signs and Symptoms
The following list does not insure the presence of this health condition. Please see the text and your healthcare professional for more information.
The signs and symptoms of aging can be seen in the numerous chronic degenerative diseases so common today: diabetes, high cholesterol, clogged arteries, overweight, cataracts, low energy, and many others. Deterioration of any organ system or body part is a sign of the aging process.
- Increased blood sugar
- Heart problems including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and hardening of the arteries
- Weight gain or loss
- Cataracts and other visual problems
- Organ system deterioration
- Skin and other connective tissue breakdown
Traditional health care has played an important role in improving people’s health and extending average life span. Surgery and prescription drugs play a valuable role when they are needed. It is felt that integrating natural therapeutics with the best of traditional medical care will provide a quantum leap in improving health for the aging population worldwide.
Healthy aging requires optimum nutrition. Most individuals who embark on an anti-aging, life extension lifestyle regularly take a high potency multivitamin/mineral supplement in addition to following a diet rich in whole, unrefined foods. (15) Achieving and maintaining high-level wellness and healthy aging may require amounts of nutrients that exceed the Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs).
Taking additional antioxidant nutrients is considered an important step in slowing down the aging process. Antioxidants neutralize free radicals, protecting cells from their damaging effects. (16) , (17) All the basic antioxidant nutrients are important, and they should be consumed in combination rather than taking high amounts of one while excluding others.
Vitamin C is the most important water-soluble antioxidant. Vitamin C benefits every cell in the body, providing antioxidant, anti-aging protection. In addition to its function as an antioxidant, vitamin C plays a role in the synthesis and maintenance of cartilage, ligaments, tendons, arteries and veins. The immune system also requires adequate levels of vitamin C to do its job.
Dr. Irwin Stone, M.D. was one of the first physicians to recognize vitamin C’s potential power. Dr. Stone wrote a book titled The Healing Factor: Vitamin C Against Disease, (18) published in 1972. Dr. Stone’s book reviews scientific evidence collected from over 500 studies that show the value of high doses of vitamin C in preventing and treating over 100 diseases.
An extensive survey analyzing vitamin C’s influence on life extension reveals that a 35-year old man who takes over 300 mg of vitamin C daily has a remaining life expectancy of 41.5 years, living to 76.5 years old. In contrast, a 35-year old male with a low intake of vitamin C can expect to reach age 71. This study suggests that higher intakes of vitamin C may provide men with 5.5 years of life extension. The study also found 2.3 years of added life expectancy for a 35-year old woman consuming higher doses of vitamin C. (19)
Another review of vitamin C research studies revealed that individuals consuming vitamin C at levels greater than the RDA had reduced risks of cardiovascular disease, cataracts, and several forms of cancer. (20) Some of vitamin C’s beneficial effects are thought to stem from its ability to recycle vitamin E. Thus, adequate vitamin C may also increase the anti-oxidant effectiveness of vitamin E. (21)
All in all, a considerable amount of data has been gathered on vitamin C’s role in enhancing the immune system and helping to prevent many common diseases linked to aging.
Vitamin E is a primary fat-soluble antioxidant. Once inside the fatty membranes surrounding every cell in the body, vitamin E protects the cell from free radical aging damage. Vitamin E helps prevent formation of potent free radicals called “lipid peroxides,” (22) that attack cell membranes and enzymes, negatively impacting tissues, organ systems, and the brain in the process.
Many studies suggest vitamin E helps reduce the risks of major chronic degenerative diseases such as atherosclerosis, diabetes, cancer, etc. (23) , (24) , (25) Vitamin E deficiency hampers the immune system increasing susceptibility to infectious diseases and tumors. Vitamin E supplementation provides numerous immune benefits, especially for the aged. (26) , (27) Natural vitamin E (d alpha tocopherol) has approximately twice the bioavailability of synthetic vitamin E (dl alpha tocopherol). The recommended dose is 400-800 IU daily. (28)
Vitamin A & beta-carotene are fat-soluble antioxidants that perform many vital functions in the body. Vitamin A helps regulate reproduction, growth, and vision. It supports integrity of the skin and mucous membranes, which serve as our barrier and protection against the outside world. (29) Vitamin A plays a critical role in the health and maintenance of the “epithelial” cells that line all of the glands, ducts, and organs of our bodies. As one of the most important antioxidants, vitamin A is a key immune support and anti-cancer nutrient. (30) , (31)
Selenium, an essential trace mineral, is highly regarded as an anti-aging nutrient. The body uses selenium to make a critically important antioxidant enzyme called “selenium peroxidase.” (32)
Men take note: selenium supplementation may provide significant protection against prostate cancer based on a double blind study in which men with a history of prostate cancer received either 200 micrograms of selenium or a placebo daily for 4.5 years. The study subjects were followed for an additional 6.5 years after discontinuing selenium supplementation. Selenium treatment reduced the incidence of prostate cancer by 63 percent. Compared to men on placebo, the individuals taking selenium also had 58% less colon cancer and 45% less lung cancer. (33)
Coenzyme Q10, also known as “CoQ10,” is a vitamin-like nutrient found in nearly every cell. CoQ10 has two critical functions. Number one, CoQ10 is a key fat-soluble antioxidant. Secondly, the cellular machinery that generates energy for metabolism requires CoQ10 to work. Energy production in cells produces large amounts of free radicals. CoQ10 helps of the cells produce energy and it also neutralizes the free radicals formed during the process of energy production. (34)
CoQ10 qualifies as an anti-aging nutrient by protecting DNA from free radical damage. As part of the aging process, cumulative damage to DNA results in a gradual loss of the cell’s energy-generating capacity. (35) Declining CoQ10 levels may contribute to low energy and fatigue in the elderly.
Coenzyme Q10 is transported throughout the body packaged with LDL and VLDL cholesterol. LDL cholesterol is vulnerable to oxidation by free radicals. “Oxidized” LDL injures the inner walls of blood vessels, setting the stage for the buildup of plaque in the arteries called “atherosclerosis.” As it travels through the bloodstream piggy-backed to LDL, CoQ10 helps protect LDL from being oxidized. CoQ10 is thus a valuable nutrient for preventing cardiovascular disease. (36)
Heart disease is one of the primary diseases of aging. Since the heart is the most energy demanding muscle in our bodies, a deficiency of CoQ10 first affects the heart and cardiovascular system. CoQ10 has been called a “scientific breakthrough” in the treatment of chronic heart failure. (37)
Research with laboratory animals shed’s light on CoQ10’s potential as an anti-aging nutrient. In one study, aging mice given CoQ10 maintained healthy fur, stayed bright and active, and lived longer than untreated mice. (38) Also, the coenzyme Q-treated mice had fewer diseases and a much better quality of life throughout their entire life span.
Essential fatty acids are beneficial fats required by the body for many important needs. A healthy diet supplies two types, the “omega-3” and “omega-6” fatty acids. Fish oil is one of the best sources of omega-3, while omega-6 comes mainly from vegetable oils. Getting enough omega-6 is no problem; most people consume substantial amounts from oils such as corn, safflower, and sunflower oil. Unless one eats cold water fish such as salmon and cod two or three times a week, the intake of omega-3 may not be adequate to balance this plentiful amount of omega-6. Taking fish oil supplements is one way to make up the difference.
Omega-3 fatty acids, also known as “EPA” and “DHA,” perform a host of important functions. They help keep inflammation down, regulate blood pressure, promote immune function, benefit the heart and blood vessels, help produce hormone-like substances called “prostaglandins,” and support the nervous system. (39) , (40) , (41) , (42) , (43)
N-Acetyl Cysteine is a cousin of the amino acid cysteine that has value as an anti-aging nutrient. Also, known as “NAC,” it helps the body produce “glutathione,” which is one of our most important internal antioxidants. (44) The liver uses glutathione to convert toxins into harmless substances that can be quickly eliminated from the body. NAC also helps bind and remove toxic heavy metals, thus protecting cells from their deleterious effects. (45) , (46)
Lipoic acid is another antioxidant compound nutrient available as a dietary supplement. Lipoic acid does double duty, neutralizing free radicals in both watery environments such as blood and fatty environments like cell membranes. (47) Lipoic acid improves nerve function, helps insulin carry out its blood sugar regulating functions, and may prevent cataracts. (48) , (49) , (50) In addition to its own antioxidant duties, lipoic acid recycles other antioxidants such as vitamin C and vitamin E. (51) Dosages range from 10mg to 300mg twice daily.
The venerable Ginkgo tree is the world’s oldest living tree species. Fossil records place Ginkgo on the earth more than 200 million years ago. Ginkgo is famous for its longevity; a famous 1,000 year-old Ginkgo tree thrives today in a Japanese monastery. Fittingly enough for such a hardy tree, the Ginkgo leaf is one of today’s most promising herbs for increasing longevity and reversing the effects of aging on the brain.
In China, the medicinal use of Ginkgo leaf as a brain tonic dates back 4,000 years. Ginkgo biloba extract is the most frequently prescribed herbal medicine in Europe, and it ranks high on the list of America’s most popular herbal supplements. Ginkgo is also one of the world’s most extensively researched herbs, with more than 100 clinical studies to its credit. This research shows that Ginkgo is indeed a brain tonic; it increases brain circulation, improving memory and mental function. There is good evidence that Ginkgo may reverse the effects of aging on the brain, reducing senility, and perhaps even delaying the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. While Ginkgo research has mainly centered around its effects on the elderly, Ginkgo has been shown to improve memory in younger people as well. (52) , (53) , (54)
Virtually all of these clinical trials have used a standardized extract of Ginkgo biloba that contains a concentrated amount of substances in the leaf called “flavonglycosides” and “terpene lactones.” These active ingredients are flavonoid-like compounds that do wonders for the health of the circulatory system. They neutralize free radicals, keep the blood from thickening, improve delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the brain, and strengthen blood vessel tissues. (55) , (56) , (57) , (58) , (59)
Since the 1800’s, Hawthorn berries have been regarded as an herbal heart tonic. Modern research shows that Hawthorn stimulates circulation with a mild blood vessel dilating effect. Hawthorn extracts are widely prescribed in Europe to treat heart failure and cardiovascular conditions in the elderly. Hawthorn demonstrates an ability to normalize blood pressure, both high and low. (60)
Hawthorn contains flavonoids that dilate blood vessels of the heart, making it useful for relieving angina, a condition that causes chest pain due to coronary artery spasms. Hawthorn improves circulation in the extremities as well. (61) Flavonoid-like ingredients in Hawthorn called PCO’s strengthen the heart, relax blood vessels, and help fight arterial plaque. (62) , (63) , (64) , (65) , (66) , (67)
Eleuthero root is known around the world as a strengthening tonic for the entire body. (Eleuthero should not be confused with Korean ginseng or American ginseng, which belong to an entirely different genus of plants). Historically, eleuthero dates back 2,000 years in the records of Chinese medicine. It was used for respiratory tract infections, colds, and influenza. (68) The Chinese believed that eleuthero provided energy and vitality. In Russia, it was originally taken by the Siberian people to boost physical performance, increase the quality of life, and fight infection.
Studied extensively since the 1940’s, eleuthero is classified as an “adaptogen,” an herb that helps the body adapt to stress. (69) , (70) Eleuthero has been shown to increase stamina and endurance, and protect the body against stress-induced illness. (71) , (72) Russian Olympic athletes have used eleuthero to enhance sports performance and concentration.
Cordyceps is a unique black mushroom that grows only on a caterpillar found in the high altitudes of Tibet and China. Cordyceps is one of the most valued medicinal agents in traditional Chinese medicine for lung and kidney problems and as a general tonic for promoting longevity, vitality, and endurance. (75) Cordyceps helps people with decreased energy restore their capacity to function at a higher activity level. Cordyceps has been used for centuries as a tonic that improves performance and vitality. Research suggests Cordyceps helps the heart and lungs absorb oxygen better under stress. It also appears to help tissues maintain a constant energy supply. Cordyceps may support immune and endocrine gland function, increasing physical strength and endurance. (76) , (77)
Cordyceps has traditionally been used to improve respiration in asthma and bronchitis. (78) Cordyceps may help prevent cancer by checking the spread of cancer cells. (79) , (80) , (81) Cordyceps has also been shown to benefit the kidneys and protect red blood cells from the damaging effects of chemotherapy and radiation. (82) , (83) , (84) , (85) , (86)
Cordyceps has been reported to increase sexual vitality in both men and women and decrease male impotence. It may also reverse drug-induced impotence. (87)
Bilberry is the fruit of a small shrub native to mountainous and hilly regions of Europe, North America, and Asia. Used as food and medicine since the Middle Ages, bilberries were traditionally recommended as a remedy for the stomach and digestive system. Bilberry gained attention rather serendipitously during World War II when a squadron of British pilots fighting the Battle of Britain, apparently low on provisions, began eating bilberry jam sandwiches before taking off on their nightly missions. The pilots found their night vision markedly improved, and they enjoyed tremendous success in dogfights with the Luftwaffe.
Following the war, European scientist began studying the health effects of pigments in bilberry called “anthocyanins.” Closely related to the flavonoids, anthocyanins are excellent antioxidants that neutralize some of the most potent free radicals in the body. Anthocyanins directly benefit the eyes, protecting the retina against damaging enzymes and regenerating “rhodopsin,” the retinal pigment responsible for night vision. (88)
Bilberry extracts are now available that contain a concentrated amount of anthocyanosides. Bilberry extract qualifies as an anti-aging herbal product, due to the strengthening effect of anthocyanins on connective tissue. Anthocyanins stabilize collagen, the key structural protein in connective tissue-rich structures like cartilage, tendons, and ligaments. (89) Anthocyanosides firm up capillaries (our tiniest blood vessels), making them less leaky. This is especially beneficial to the brain, as the integrity of capillaries in the protective barrier that surrounds the brain keeps out toxins.
Interestingly, bilberry has been shown to stimulate production of the stomach’s protective mucous layer, lending support to its traditional use as a stomach remedy. (90) Bilberry’s vision benefits are the most exciting. As we grow older, the delicate tissues in the retina become more vulnerable to the aging effects of free radicals. By protecting the eyes against free radical damage, bilberry may help delay or even prevent age-related eye diseases such as macular degeneration and cataracts. (91) , (92)
Green tea is the unfermented leaves of Camellia sinensis, an evergreen shrub cultivated throughout Asia as a tea plant. The medicinal properties of green tea were recognized centuries ago in China, where it has long been used to promote digestion, improve mental faculties, decrease flatulence, and regulate body temperature. Green tea contains antioxidants that may help lower cholesterol and protect cardiovascular health. (93) , (94) , (95) , (96) Studies suggest that green tea helps ward off intestinal infection, support the immune system, and prevent cavities. (97) , (98) , (99) , (100) , (101)
Green tea contains a group of antioxidant substances called “catechins” that protect red blood cells from being oxidized by free radicals. (102) , (103) , (104) , (105) It is important to note that putting milk in tea may diminish its effectiveness as an antioxidant. (106)
Green tea may have substantial anti-aging benefits. Studies suggest green tea drinking reduces the risk of some cancers. (107) , (108) , (109) There are hints that women with early breast cancer may have a better prognosis if they were green tea drinkers prior to onset of the disease. (110) Green tea also seems to have a positive effect on cholesterol and triglycerides, increasing the ratio of “HDL,” the beneficial form of cholesterol, to total cholesterol in the blood. Green tea may also reduce stickiness of blood platelets, which is important for preventing cardiovascular disease. (111) , (112) , (113) , (114) , (115) , (116) , (117)
Grape seeds are rich in PCO’s, the powerful antioxidants mentioned earlier in our discussion of hawthorn. As we age, free radicals cause tissues to become stiff and inflexible, like an old tire sitting in the sun. PCO’s help blood vessels maintain youthful strength and pliability. PCO’s work as a partner with vitamin C, taking up some of vitamin C’s antioxidant duties and thus helping the body conserve its vitamin C supply. (118) Research shows that PCO’s neutralize a wide range of free radicals. They also slow the release of inflammatory substances such as histamine, making them potentially beneficial in inflammation and allergies. (119) , (120) , (121) , (122) , (123)
Diet & Lifestyle
Diet: A diet based on fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grain products, seeds, nuts, and legumes along with lean sources of protein and quality fats is vitally important for preventing many of the chronic degenerative diseases associated with aging. Fast foods and processed foods should be avoided as much as possible. Studies report that organically grown foods have nearly twice the nutritional content as the same foods that are grown with commercial farming methods. (124) In addition to greater nutrient density, organically grown foods (produce as well as animals) are free of pesticides, insecticides, herbicides, antibiotics, and growth hormones. Reducing one’s processed food intake limits to the intake of additives and preservatives.
Phytochemicals: “Phyto” is the Greek root word meaning “plant.” Phytochemicals are a vast group of plant-based compounds that, although not classified as essential nutrients for humans, offer many health benefits. Throughout most of evolutionary history, humans have eaten a primarily plant-based diet consisting of fresh, unprocessed fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds. This means we have evolved on a diet rich in phytochemicals. Over the past several decades, research has revealed a great deal about the health effects of phytochemicals. Many phytochemicals are designed to protect plants from disease (just like humans and animals, plants are vulnerable to free radicals and infection), and the evidence suggests they do the same for us.
Water: Water is vitally important for optimum health, and even more so as we age. For adults, this means drinking approximately eight 8-ounce glasses of quality water every day. Water is essential for flushing toxins out of the body. In general, the best advice is to use a water purification system, or some other source of pure water. Many individuals rely on soda, tea, and coffee to get their fluid intake, but these are no substitute for plain water.
Full spectrum light: One reason for the health benefits of being outdoors is that sunlight exposes us to the full light spectrum. Notwithstanding the known skin cancer risk from long hours of direct exposure to the sun’s rays, full spectrum light is the most natural light. Moderate daily exposure to full spectrum light, either natural sunlight, or artificial indoor lighting that approximates the full light spectrum, is an important health measure. People who wear glasses or contact lenses should remove them and get 20 to 30 minutes of natural, full spectrum light in their eyes each day. Dr. Ott, a well-known light researcher on the health effects of full spectrum light, has conducted experiments showing that blue-violet wavelengths of light enter the eyes and stimulate brain regions responsible for balancing our entire endocrine gland system. (125)
Exercise: Regular exercise is an essential element of a healthy lifestyle. The target should be 20 to 30 minutes of exercise at least 3 to 4 times per week that includes aerobic exercise, bending and stretching exercises, and strength building exercises. Researchers at the Human Nutrition Center on Aging at Tuft’s University have put frail adults in their 80’s and 90’s on 12-week strength training programs. In this short period of time, they increased muscle strength by 180 to 200 percent and muscle mass by 12 to 15 percent. Along with these results come improvements in metabolism, cholesterol levels, blood sugar, heart rate, bone density, and much more. This is an example of reversing the aging process.
Sleep: More and more research is pointing to the role of adequate sleep in maintaining both physical and psychological health. Sleep’s rejuvenating influence becomes even more important as we age, since rest promotes a healthy immune system and allows the body to repair itself.
Stress: Given the toll that long-term stress exacts on the body, stress management is something that should not be neglected, especially later in life when we are more vulnerable to illness. Stress can elevate cholesterol, impair immune function, overburden the adrenal glands, and negatively impact nervous system.
Things to avoid:
Partially hydrogenated fats and oils. If a food label reads “contains partially hydrogenated fats and oils,” the product contains fats that have been chemically and structurally altered to extend shelf life. Partially hydrogenated oils are a type of fat called “trans fatty acids.” The body does not break down or utilize trans fatty acids very well, and they may have deleterious effects on health. Recent studies link trans fatty acids with higher rates of breast and colon cancer. (126) , (127)
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