Friday, June 4, 2010

"Metabolomics" - A New Key to Unlock your Lifespan

It's never too late to get in shape, right? According to a new study, apparently, the answer isn't so simple.

You are born with a set number of heart beats, and that is your life clock. So goes the folk theory of lifespan.

So, is exercise bad? Does elevating your heart rate use up too many beats too fast?

No, goes the same folk theory of lifespan. Exercise does increase your heart beat temporarily, but it lowers your overall resting heart rate so much, that you end up far ahead on the heartbeat tally. And you live longer.

Now a new exercise study, centering on a field called "Metabolomics", tends to reinforce that longevity idea--- and much more that ever suspected in the past.

Metabolic profiling's goal is to extend life, by finding patterns that may signal risk for disease and new ways to treat it. And personalizing the metabolomics of individuals, for treatment, is a new and fast-growing area of preventive medicine.

"We're only beginning to catalog the metabolic variability between people," says Dr. Robert Gerszten of Massachusetts General Hospital.

His research team reported last week in the journal 'Science Translational Medicine'. Their big news--- they found that just 10 minutes of brisk exercise triggers profound metabolic changes. These life-extending metabolic changes, incredibly, were still measurable 60 minutes after cooling down.

The research team measured biochemical changes in the blood of very different three test groups--- 1) the healthy middle-aged, 2) some who became short of breath with exertion, and 3) marathon runners.

Surprise--- the less fit you are, the less benefit you get from exercise. It's the people who work out regularly that get the most bang for their 10 minutes of work. It's been long believed by health pros that the less fit get the most out of a workout, because they seem to need it so much more than the people in good shape.

The study shows that exercise builds health exponentially, in a way that is just beginning to be understood. In the metabolism, as well. Wouldn't it be amazing, to have a personal template, of our health tendencies, and lifestyle ways to enhance every aspect of living?

And that isn't all. The research found more pluses for those among us who are fit. Thinner people evidence greater increases in a key metabolite, niacinamide--- a nutrient byproduct involved in blood-sugar control.

The team (from Mass General and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard) found that people who are extremely fit — a group of 25 Boston Marathon runners — had ten-fold increases in niacinamide after running a marathon! No blood sugar problems in that bunch. Their body regulators seem turbocharged by extreme fitness.

What do we take away from all this? Apparently, this--- it's never too late to become healthier through better fitness. But the sooner you start, you sooner you reach the top of the mountain.

And once you are fit, even a small amount of work, even 10 minutes, has a big payoff. And the more enduring your good health will become.

But just how fit does each person need to be, to gain this amazing health advantage?

Dr Gerszten said, "We have a chemical snapshot of what the more fit person looks like. Now we have to see if making someone's metabolism look like that snapshot, whether or not that's going to improve their performance."

Individual metabolic profiling can't be far off, and for all of us that is a very very good thing!

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