How to Treat Diabetes Naturally – An MD’s Perspective

diabetes_natural_cureThe basic principle for treating diabetes is to maintain the best possible glycemic control and to prevent organ damage caused by sugar. Excess sugar is always harmful, even to those who do not have diabetes. Sugar accelerates the aging process by forming compounds together Continue reading

Add Acerola to your Diet

Did You Know…

… that the acerola fruit can help you lose weight, protect against cancer and heart disease, and boost your immune system with more vitamin C power than an orange?

     Similar in appearance to a red cherry, the acerola fruit originates from Mexico and from Central and South America.  Continue reading

Boost Your Immune System with Zinc

zincDid you know that more than 300 unique enzymes need zinc to work effectively? Zinc is found in each cell of your body. It is involved directly in nearly every single bodily process that you can think of.

But that’s not all that makes zinc an amazing mineral. Zinc also has the power to boost your immune system in a special way. Continue reading

Vitamin C and the big ‘C’

Vitamin C can curb the growth of cancer cells according to New Zealand scientists who provided hard evidence to the connection between the vitamin C and killing “the big C” (cancer). Vitamin C kills cancer because cancer cells do not have the enzyme catalase to break down hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) into water and oxygen. Vitamin C tricks cancer cells into thinking it’s sugar, so the cancer sucks it up. Continue reading

The Little-Known Secrets of Vitamin C

Here I present a multi-part look at one of the most well- known nutrients in the world: vitamin C. But do you know where it came from? Do you know (other than oranges) where to get it in food? Do you know what it does? Read on.

The year was 1753. The doctor was a British naval physician by the name of Lind, who found that there was something in citrus fruits that cured scurvy. Scurvy was a common disease among sailors when they were at sea due to the lack of fresh fruits and vegetables in the diet. Lind recommended that every sailor at sea should receive a daily ration of lime or lemon juice to overcome vitamin-C (ascorbic acid) deficiency. Fast forward to today, and you’ll find that vitamin C is the most popular vitamin supplement in the world. Continue reading

How to Build and Maintain Healthy Bones

1. Be physically active.

No other facet of your life has greater impact on the health of your bones.

Your body is designed to adapt all of your organs – your bones included – to your specific needs. If you are physically active, your body will work to make your bones as strong and flexible as possible with its resources. If you lead a relatively sedentary lifestyle, your body will not work to produce and maintain strong and flexible bones since your lifestyle is not signaling a need for such bones.

Being physically active doesn’t mean that you have to jog “x” number of miles per day or attend aerobics classes at your local gym three times a week. If you are regularly doing chores around your living and work areas, walking or biking when you can instead of taking your car, and finding other ways to go about your daily routine while being physically active, there is no need to make time to “exercise,” since you are already exercising for most of the day. If you spend most of your day sitting for long stretches at a time, for the sake of building and maintaining healthy bones, you should incorporate more physical activity into your daily routine.

2. Stretch your largest muscle groups daily.

A regular stretching program can help ensure that your muscles, tendons, and ligaments stay at healthy lengths.

A sedentary lifestyle and/or lack of stretching can cause gradual shortening of muscles, tendons, and ligaments, and since these tissues insert into your bones, when they shorten, they can actually put significant stress on their insertion points. This is a primary mechanism of bone spur (osteophytes) development.

Foam rolling your biggest muscle groups is an excellent adjunct to stretching, and can almost certainly help keep your bones and soft tissues healthy.

3. Eat mineral-rich foods.

Your body needs much more than calcium supplements to build and maintain healthy bones. When you consider that your bones are comprised of calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, manganese, zinc, iron, silica, and many other trace minerals, it should be clear that eating mineral-rich foods is far superior to taking calcium-based supplements.

Generally speaking, green vegetables and herbs are the healthiest, mineral-rich foods that you can eat. If you want to ensure that you are actually getting the minerals in green vegetables and herbs into your bloodstream to become available to your bones and other organs, you must be mindful of chewing these plants thoroughly. Thorough chewing helps to ensure that the protective cell walls that surround all plant cells are sufficiently broken to allow your bones and other tissues to have access to the many minerals contained within those cells.

Drinking freshly pressed vegetable juices and well blended green smoothies are other ways of ensuring that you actually get the minerals in green vegetables and herbs into your bloodstream.

Use of high quality green food powders can also help provide your bloodstream and bones with a rich supply of minerals.

4. Consider drinking mineral-rich broths.

Broths that are made by simmering bones and a variety of vegetables for an hour or longer are a fantastic source of calcium and other minerals that can be used to keep your bones strong and flexible.

Mineral-rich broths are a chief source of dietary calcium in east Asian countries like China and Korea, where many people are unable to fully digest dairy products. These broths take significant time and effort to make on a regular basis, but they nourish your bones (and the rest of your organs) like few other foods can.

5. Ensure adequate vitamin D status.

Adequate amounts of vitamin D must be present in your body for calcium in your foods to be optimally absorbed and used.

When the weather is warm and sunlight is readily present, the best way to ensure adequate vitamin D status is to expose your skin to sunlight on a regular basis without getting burned. Sunlight acts on cholesterol found in your skin to produce vitamin D. Your body destroys any excess vitamin D that is made in this fashion when it has made enough for your needs. Please keep in mind that use of a sunscreen with an SPF of 8 or higher can prevent sunlight from acting on cholesterol in your skin to produce vitamin D.

When the weather is cool and sunlight is not readily available, the best way to ensure adequate vitamin D status is to eat one or more foods that are naturally rich in vitamin D on a regular basis. Different varieties of fish like wild salmon and sardines are good food sources of natural vitamin D. High quality cod liver oil is another good food source of natural vitamin D.

6. Eat high quality fats and cholesterol.

Consumption of high quality fats optimizes the absorption of vitamins A and D into your bloodstream. And vitamin A is needed to keep your intestinal lining healthy and readily able to absorb minerals in the foods that you eat. For these reasons, it’s virtually impossible to have optimally healthy bones and teeth without including healthy fats in your diet.

Here are some examples of foods that are rich in healthy fats:

  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Avocados
  • Organic eggs from cage-free birds
  • Soaked nuts and seeds (about a handful per day at most)
  • Cold-water fish and high quality fish oils
  • Coconuts and coconut oil
  • Bone broths
  • Organically raised red and white meats (should be eaten sparingly if eaten at all – with proper planning, there is no physiological requirement for red and white meats)

Healthy cholesterol is also needed for a healthy intestinal lining that is able to optimally absorb minerals into your bloodstream. Healthy dietary cholesterol can help ensure adequate cholesterol status in your system so that sunlight has enough cholesterol to act on to produce vitamin D. While your body is capable of producing cholesterol from other nutrients, it makes sense to ensure adequate cholesterol levels via intake of healthy cholesterol.

7. Learn how to effectively manage emotional stress.

Chronic emotional stress can elevate the level of cortisol in your blood. Cortisol is useful for combating stress, but if it remains elevated in your system over the long term, it can cause the matrix of your bones to weaken. Corticosteroid drugs can also weaken your bones and cause osteoporosis if used in large quantities and/or over the long term.

8. Avoid regular consumption of foods that may cause your bones to lose calcium.

Acid-forming foods are foods that bring the pH of your blood down. Because you cannot survive if the pH of your blood moves outside a very narrow range (7.35 to 7.45), your body must buffer the effects of acid-forming foods to maintain a healthy blood pH level. One of the main ways in which your body buffers acid-forming foods is to take calcium from your bones and use it to neutralize the remnants of acid-forming foods. If your body is repeatedly forced to do this, your bones may be weakened.

Foods that are strongly acid-forming in your blood and should not be staples in your diet include:

  • Artificial sweeteners
  • Soft drinks (pop)
  • Sugar
  • Cookies, cakes, and pastries made with white flour
  • Table salt
  • Alcohol

9. Eat foods that are rich in vitamin C.

Collagen is a long, fibrous protein that is critical to providing your bones with tensile strength. In short, the more quality collagen that you have in your bones, the more physical stress that your bones can tolerate before breaking.

Your body needs vitamin C to synthesize collagen. Please note that there is a big difference between the full vitamin C complex found in real foods and synthetic forms of vitamin C found in many nutritional supplements. Some excellent food sources of real vitamin C are:

  • Organic goji berries
  • Bell peppers
  • Citrus fruits
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Acerola cherries

I hope that this post makes it clear that your bones are active organs that are slowly supported or eroded by every food and lifestyle choice that you make. Addressing osteoporosis with a calcium supplement or drug without regard for your overall health will not allow you to build and maintain the healthiest bones that your genetics and upbringing will allow. If you have been diagnosed with osteoporosis, please note that in early stages, weakened bones can become fully healthy again if you consistently make the good choices in the days ahead.

Softer, Younger Skin All Winter Long

Are your hands starting to feel like your pet lizard? With winter’s outdoor cold, dry, windy weather and indoor blazing heat, your skin can take a beating, looking older than your years and feeling dryer than a desert. Luckily, you don’t have to suffer anymore this winter. Follow these tips to smooth your way into softer skin and save those flakes for Mr. Snowman!

1. Eat your way to soft, supple skin

Healthy, moisturized skin starts internally, so make sure to consume a diet rich in anti-inflammatory essential fatty acids.

• Women of ancient Babylon would eat a mixture of sesame seeds and honey, called halva, to extend youth and beauty. Indeed, sesame is a favorite food among Chinese women for promoting beautiful hair and skin, prized for its nourishing qualities.

• Oily fish like salmon and sardines, walnuts, and flaxseeds are all rich in omega–3 fatty acids. An abundance of mono- and poly-unsaturated oils are also beneficial, especially unrefined organic coconut, sesame, and olive oils.

• Eat up to two small handfuls of nuts and seeds, especially hazelnuts, pine nuts, walnuts, sunflowers seeds, every day between meals.

• Avocado is rich in good fats, and also abundant in gluthione, the antioxidant compound that helps reverse premature aging of cells.

• The imperial empress of China included sea cucumber as an ingredient in her skin-beautifying recipes. A relative of the starfish, sea cucumber contains essential amino acids that are the building blocks of collagen and elastin. It can be found in dried form in Chinese food stores, ready to be used in soups. If food form is a little too adventurous, it is also available as a supplement; a typical dose is between 700 to 1,000 mg daily.

• Use healing herbs to get exquisite skin. Exquisite Skin is a traditional Chinese herbal combination that tones, nourishes and lubricates your skin, while expelling impurities.

2. Water your skin

In addition to consuming the right foods, the amount of water you drink affects your skin. Think about your house plants: without sufficient water, they slowly begin to wither away, so to prevent a sallow, wilted complexion, make sure to enjoy at least eight 8-ounce glasses of filtered water daily. Water will keep your whole body hydrated, helping to irrigate your skin and promote healthy bowel habits for eliminating toxins. Be sure to limit your intake of famous skin-dehydrators coffee and alcohol.

3. Moisturize as nature intended

A little lotion makes fine lines look better — provided the lotion is nourishing to your skin. That pumpkin pie-scented body lotion may smell delicious, but beware of the hidden chemicals within! Many commercial moisturizers contain harsh chemicals that can do more harm than good, stripping your skin of lipids and moisture. Our skin is the largest organ on our body and has thousands of pores through which toxins can enter or exit. In other words, if you wouldn’t eat it, don’t put it on your skin.

• Organic coconut oil, shea butter, and jojoba oil are all excellent choices to use as body moisturizers.

• Massage some olive or coconut oil onto your cuticles to look like you’ve just stepped out of the salon.

• To bring relief from tight, itchy skin, mix ten drops of Tonic Oil (wintergreen, eucalyptus, menthol, fennel, and sesame oil) with fresh aloe gel; apply liberally and frequently!

• For a deeply moisturizing treatment, gently rub your skin with calendula oil twice a day. Calendula has been shown to speed healing of wounds, and is thought helpful for eczema and psoriasis.

• Be on the watch for toxins. It is best to avoid using products that contain: parabens, mineral oil, paraffin, petroleum, sodium lauryl or lauryl sulfate, propylene glycol, phenol carbolic acid, dioxane, and toulene.

• Nurture your skin cells and minimize the appearance of aging with the powerful healing herbs in Rejuvenation Cream.

4. Easy-does-it cleansing for beautiful skin

On a frigid day, a long, steamy, hot shower or bath may seem to be just what the doctor ordered. However, hot water can strip our skin of its natural oils, which may lead to even more dry skin. Keep bath time under 15 minutes and opt for warm water rather than scalding hot. Also, use natural soap made from vegetable and plant-based oils that won’t dry out your skin. Is your body soap or facial cleanser too harsh? The test: After cleansing, your skin should never feel tight or dry. Wash and softly pat your skin dry with a cotton towel.

5. Protect your skin

Don’t let sun damage and dry, cold, windy weather rob your skin of vital moisture and circulation, leading to prematurely older-looking skin. Wear sunscreen, even in the winter, and bundle up from the windy cold: gloves, hat, and a scarf to protect your face — the whole nine yards! The clothing layer closest to your skin should be cotton or other natural fabrics that breathe well and are soft on skin.

6. Steer clear of stress

Also, depression, anxiety, and stress create tension in your skin, particularly on the face, causing uneven blotches and lines. Relax, breathe deeply, and release tension with gentle exercise. Make sure to get 7 to 8 hours of zzz’s in every night.

I hope that these tips will bring you young-looking, moisturized skin well into the winter! I invite you to visit often and share your own personal health and longevity tips with me.

You can find many more anti-aging strategies in Secrets of Longevity: Hundreds of Ways to Live to Be 100, which is now available on Kindle. Also, my new book, Secrets of Longevity 8-Week Program can assist you in achieving your longevity goals.

May you live long, live strong, and live happy!

—Dr. Mao

Re-print from Dr. Mao.

Laser-Processes May Help Create Better Artificial Joints, Arterial Stents

WASHINGTON – Scientists hope that laser-based processes may help create arterial stents and longer-lasting medical implants 10 times faster, and less expensively.

Yung Shin, a professor of Mechanical Engineering and director of Purdue’s Center for Laser-Based Manufacturing, stresses the need for new technologies to meet the huge global market for artificial hips and knees, insisting that the worldwide population of people younger than 40 who receive hip implants is expected to be 40 million annually by 2010, and double to 80 million by 2030.

Besides speeding production to meet the anticipated demand, Shin says that another goal is to create implants that last longer than the ones that are made presently.

“We have 200,000 total hip replacements in the United States. They last about 10 years on average. That means if you receive an implant at 40, you may need to have it replaced three or four times in your lifetime,” he said.

In one of their techniques, the researchers deposit layers of a powdered mixture of metal and ceramic materials, melting the powder with a laser and then immediately solidifying each layer to form parts.

Shin says that, given that the technique enables parts to be formed one layer at a time, it is ideal for coating titanium implants with ceramic materials that mimic the characteristics of natural bone.

“Titanium and other metals do not match either the stiffness or the nature of bones, so you have to coat it with something that does. However, if you deposit ceramic on metal, you don’t want there to be an abrupt change of materials because that causes differences in thermal expansion and chemical composition, which results in cracks. One way to correct this is to change the composition gradually so you don’t have a sharp boundary,” Shin said.

The gradual layering approach is called a “functionally gradient coating”.

The researchers have revealed that they used their laser deposition processes to create a porous titanium-based surface and a calcium phosphate outer surface, both designed to better match the stiffness of bone than conventional implants.

The laser deposition process enables researchers to make parts with complex shapes that are customized for the patient.

“Medical imaging scans could just be sent to the laboratory, where the laser deposition would create the part from the images. Instead of taking 30 days like it does now because you have to make a mold first, we could do it in three days. You reduce both the cost and production time,” Shin said.

According to the researchers, the laser deposition technique lends itself to the requirement that each implant be designed specifically for each patient.

“These are not like automotive parts. You can’t make a million that are all the same,” Shin said.

He says that the process creates a strong bond between the material being deposited and the underlying titanium, steel or chromium.

The researcher further reveals that tests have shown that the bond is at least seven times as strong as industry standards require.

Using computational modelling, the researchers simulate, study and optimise the processes.

The researchers, however, admit that more studies are required before the techniques are ready for commercialisation.

They have revealed that their future work will involve studying “shape-memory” materials that are similar to bone and also have a self-healing capability for longer-lasting implants.

They are also working on a technique that uses an “ultra short pulse laser” to create arterial stents, which are metal scaffolds inserted into arteries to keep them open after surgeries to treat clogs.

Since the laser pulses last only a matter of picoseconds, or quadrillionths of a second, they do not cause heat damage to the foil-thin stainless steel and titanium material used to make the stents.

The laser removes material in precise patterns in a process called “cold ablation”, which turns solids into a plasma. The patterns enable the stents to expand properly after being inserted into a blood vessel.

Bacteria Can Help Build Durable Bone Implants

BIRMINGHAM – Can bacteria help build bones implants? Well, at least scientists at the University of Birmingham say “Yes”.

Lead researcher Lynne Macaskie suggests that Serratia bacteria that manufacture hydroxyapatite (HA) could be used to make stronger, more durable bone implants.

In a study, the researchers showed that the bacterial cells stuck tightly to surfaces like as titanium alloy, polypropylene, porous glass and polyurethane foam by forming a biofilm layer containing biopolymers that acted as a strong adhesive.

The HA coating then builds up over the surface. For practical use, the HA layer must stick tightly, then the material is dried and heated to destroy the bacteria.

With the help of micro-manipulation technique, the researchers measured the force needed to overcome the bioglue adhesion, and showed that dried biofilm stuck 20-times more tightly than fresh biofilm.

When coated with HA the adhesion was several times more again. Slightly roughening the surface made the bioglue much more effective.

Presently, implant materials are made by spraying-on hydroxyapatite. This does not have good mechanical strength and the spraying only reaches visible areas.

The new biocoating method reaches all the hidden surfaces as the bacteria can “swim” into hidden nooks and crannies.

Macaskie insists that bacterial HA has better properties than HA made chemically as the nanocrystals of HA produced by the bacteria are much smaller than HA crystals produced chemically, giving them a high mechanical strength.

“The bacteria are destroyed by heating, leaving just the HA stuck to the surface with their own glue – rather akin to a burnt milk-saucepan,” said Macaskie.

“We need to do more work actually to turn the materials into materials we can use in biomedicine and the environment,” she added.

The study was presented at Society for General Microbiology’s meeting at Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh.

Joint and Bone Health are Connected

Joint and Bone Health are Connected

“The boomer and senior population is growing, so joint and bone health are top of mind for that demographic,” says Mintel’s Krista Faron, senior new-product analyst. “When it comes to supplements, calcium, vitamin D and magnesium dominate for bone health. Glucosamine, chondroitin and omega-3s are dominating the joint category. These traditional ingredients will continue to dominate but unexpected forms will emerge.”

For example, Bonemilk, a milk product with extra calcium plus glucosamine, was just recently launched. However, Minute Maid Active with glucosamine — despite the marketing heft of a leading mainstream brand — was pulled from the shelves after two years on the market. Formulators are also taking traditional joint-health ingredients and re-orienting them to the performance field, as with Vuel grape sports drink, a joint-rejuvenating beverage containing glucosamine, MSM and electrolytes.

“Once you move away from pills, joint health is an untapped area for joint-health drinks and foods,” Faron says. More consumers are now turning to foods — up 29 per cent— and beverages — up 11 per cent — fortified with joint-health ingredients, according to Nielsen data.

A compelling option is type II collagen, an ingredient that provides a naturally occurring matrix of chondroitin sulphate, hyaluronic acid and hydrolysed collagen type II, as well as glucosamine and other proteoglycans. Its dollar sales in 2007 were up 98.75 per cent, accoding to Nutrition Business Journal.

MSM, third in ingredient sales for the category, is worth $5 million. “A strong evidence base supports the utility of MSM for the promotion of joint health,” says Tony Keller, president of TandemRain Innovations, supplier of ActivMSM. “With ActivMSM being FDA GRAS, we see a significant opportunity for the entry of MSM into conventional foods and beverages, extending its joint-health pedigree and ushering in new applications for cardiovascular health. The suggestion of MSM being a sulphur metabolism modifier also opens up platforms for skin/hair/nails applications.” Beyond these major players, there is no shortage of ingredients looking to get in on the joint-health action.

Scientists Create Super-Strong Collagen

Scientists Create Super-Strong Collagen

MADISON A team of University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers has created the strongest form of collagen known to science, a stable alternative to human collagen that could one day be used to treat arthritis and other conditions that result from collagen defects.

“It’s by far the most stable collagen ever made,” says Ron Raines, a University of Wisconsin-Madison professor of chemistry and biochemistry who led the study, published in the Jan. 12 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body, forming strong sheets and cables that support the structure of skin, internal organs, cartilage and bones, as well as all the connective tissue in between. For decades, doctors have used collagen from cows to treat serious burns and other wounds in humans despite the risk of tissue rejection associated with cross-species transplants.

In 2006, Raines’ team d out how to make human collagen in the lab, creating collagen molecules longer than any found in nature. Now, with funding from the National Institutes of Health, the researchers have taken this line of inquiry one step further, creating a form of super-strong collagen that may one day help millions. Raines says this artificial collagen holds promise as a therapy for conditions such as arthritis, which is caused by a breakdown of the body’s natural collagen and affects more than 46 million Americans.

To make the new form of collagen, Raines’ team substituted two-thirds of the protein’s regular amino acids with less-flexible versions that stiffened the overall structure of the protein and helped it hold its form. “The breakthrough of this approach was the use of rigid analogues that have shapes similar to [the shapes the natural amino acids take] in the folded, functional form of the protein,” explains Raines.

The resulting collagen holds together at temperatures far above what it takes for natural collagen to fall apart. And although it’s built largely from amino acids that aren’t found in nature, X-ray crystallography confirms that the three-dimensional structure of the lab-made collagen is indistinguishable from that of natural collagen, according to UW-Madison bacteriologist Katrina Forest, a co-author of the study.

“This hyper-stable collagen is really a testament to the power of modern protein chemistry,” says Raines.

Active Elders Live Longer: Study

JERUSALEM – Older adults who exercise seem to live longer and have a lower risk of disability, says a new study.

Jochanan Stessman and colleagues at Hebrew University Medical Centre and its Hadassah Medical School, Jerusalem, studied 1,861 individuals born in 1920 and 1921.

Participants underwent assessments in their homes at ages 70, 78 and 85 years during which they were asked about their physical activity levels.

Those who performed less than four hours per week of physical activity were considered sedentary.

Those who exercised about four hours weekly, performed vigorous activities such as jogging or swimming at least twice weekly or who engaged in regular physical activity (walking at least an hour daily) were considered physically active.

The proportion of participants who were physically active was 53.4 percent at age 70, 76.9 percent at age 77 and 64 percent at age 85.

Compared to sedentary individuals, those who were physically active were 12 percent less likely to die between ages 70 and 78, 15 percent less likely to die between ages 78 and 85.

Seventeen percent were less likely to die between ages 85 and 88. They were more likely to remain independent and experienced fewer declines in their ability to perform daily tasks.

The benefits associated with physical activity were observed not only in those who maintained an existing level of physical activity, but also in those who began exercising between ages of 70 and 85.

“Although the mechanism of the survival benefit is most likely multifactorial, one important finding was the sustained protective effect of physical activity against functional decline,” the study authors write.

Physical activity arrested the decline by improving cardiovascular fitness, slowing loss of muscle mass, reducing fat, improving immunity and suppressing inflammation, says a Hebrew University release.

These findings appeared in the current issue of Archives of Internal Medicine.

Touching Toes May Indicate Heart Risk

Touching Toes May Indicate Heart Risk

In addition to measuring flexibility, touching your toes may indicate your risk of cardiovascular disease.

Performance on sit-and-reach tests can be a sign of the risk of an early death heart attack or stroke among people 40 years old and older, according to a study in the American Journal of Physiology.

Since arterial stiffness often heralds cardiovascular disease, a test of how far you can reach beyond your toes from a sitting position could be a quick, easy, inexpensive indicator of how stiff your arteries are.

“Our findings have potentially important clinical implications because trunk flexibility can be easily evaluated,” said one of the authors, Kenta Yamamoto. “This simple test might help to prevent age-related arterial stiffening.”

Although it isn’t known why flexibility of the body in middle age and older would be related to arterial flexibility, the authors speculate that stretching exercises may trigger physiological reactions that slow the stiffening of arteries connected with aging.

Healthy blood vessels are elastic, and elasticity helps maintain healthy blood pressure. Arteries stiffen with age, and stiff arteries are a risk factor for cardiovascular disease and death. Previous studies have shown that physical fitness can delay arterial stiffness and the authors of this study theorize that a flexible body could be a quick way to determine arterial flexibility.

The researchers divided 526 healthy, non-smoking adults ages 20 to 83 into three age groups: young (20-39), middle aged (40-59), and older (60-83), to perform a sit-and-reach test. They sat on the floor with their backs against the wall and their legs straight. They slowly bent forward and reached out with their arms. They were classified as either poor or high flexibility, depending on how far they could reach.

The study found that trunk flexibility was a good predictor of artery stiffness among middle age and older volunteers but not among the younger group. They also found that systolic blood pressure (the highest pressure that occurs when the heart contracts) was higher in poor flexibility than in high flexibility groups.

“These findings suggest a possibility that improving flexibility induced by the stretching exercise may be capable of modifying age-related arterial stiffening in middle-aged and older adults,” Yamamoto said. “We believe that flexibility exercises, such as stretching, yoga and Pilates, should be integrated as a new recommendation into the known cardiovascular benefits of regular exercise.”

However, there are other possibilities as to why bodily flexibility should be an indicator of arterial stiffness, including the possibility that the amount of collagen and elastin, which makes muscles flexible, also makes arteries flexible.