Disorders suffered by older people are complications that arise from senescence or ‘biological aging’. These complications are different for different people.
Aging disorders are also different from age-related disorders like chicken pox which affects mostly kids. and from genetic disorders such as accelerated aging diseases like Progeria.
Some common age-related disorders that affect the elderly are cataracts and other eye disorders, cardiovascular diseases, arthritis, cancer, osteoporosis, and Alzheimer’s disease. While people of all ages contract these diseases, the risk increases greatly with age.
Other age-related disorders are age-related macular degeneration and type 2 diabetes. Let us see why a few of these disorders affect the elderly. Alzheimer’s disease affects the brain and it is irreversible and progressive.
The brain begins to shrink and there is greater damage to brain cells in the elderly. Hence, as the brain’s function reduces, such patients suffer from impaired cognitive function, memory loss and cannot live a normal life. This usually affects people over 60 years.
Type-2 diabetes affects older people especially those who are obese. Their bodies cannot use the insulin in the same efficient way it could when they were younger.
Type-2 diabetes damages the kidneys, eyes, heart etc. Arthritis that causes inflamed, stiff and painful joints is again more likely to affect the elderly.
Incidences of strokes and heart disease increases in those over 65. Over the age of 85, most deaths occur due to some heart problem caused by high blood pressure, weakened heart muscles and due to aging of blood vessels. Loss of central vision and sharpness of vision is macular degeneration. This again affects older people.
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About Goji berries
Goji berries, Lycium barbarum, Lycium chinense or Chinese wolfberries are tiny sweet and sour reddish-orange berries.
There are different varieties that grow mostly in China and Himalayan regions of Nepal and Tibet. This fruit is available in health food stores, Chinese food stores and online.
Ripe berries are collected and then dried at low temperatures until they resemble raisins. These dried goji berries are then marketed all over the world. Slow-dried goji berries retain their nutritive value and shelf-life for longer periods.
Goji berries can be used to make juice or tea, added to various recipes like muffins, cakes, trail mixes, energy bars, cereals, soups and salads etc. The Chinese use the leaves to make tea and the bark for medicinal purposes.
Goji berries are nutritionally dense foods that have a vast array of 21 minerals, vitamins, 18 amino acids, fatty acids and phytochemicals.
This fruit contains large quantities of cartenoids like zeaxanthin and beta-carotene that are antioxidants and have powerful anti-aging benefits. They also contain vitamins E, A, C, B1, B2, and B6, minerals like calcium, phosphorous, selenium, germanium, zinc, copper and iron.
Goji berries benefits for Anti-aging disorders
The human growth hormone (HGH) is said to slow the aging process.
The pituitary gland produces growth hormones. This helps children grow and it maintains healthy organs and tissues throughout our lives. As we grow older, the amount of HGH produced by the pituitary gland reduces and this can cause various health problems.
The research community has been trying to see if synthetic HGH can be used to stave of old age disorders. Those with age-related disorders can benefit from injections of human growth hormones which can increase muscle mass, reduce body fat and increase energy and bone density.
Healthy adults on the other hand may not enjoy too many benefits by taking synthetic HGH. There are certain foods too that can promote the production of human growth hormone.
It is believed that goji berries are the only natural foods that can help stimulate the pituitary gland and promote production of human growth hormone.
This is due to the presence of polysaccharides in goji berries. These master molecules can protect the immune system. With better production of human growth hormone, some aging-related health conditions can be reversed. This is why statistics have shown that people who live in traditional goji berry growing areas live longer and have fewer health problems.
Antioxidant-rich foods are said to reduce signs of aging. With an ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) rating of number 1, goji berries score far higher than other foods that have antioxidant nutrients.
In one study, 67% of a group of elderly people were given goji berries daily for 3 weeks. These people had a dramatic improvement in the performance of their immune system, their appetites and energy also increased, most of the study group enjoyed better sleep patterns and a small percentage of the group (35%) were able to recover part of their sexual function.
Free radicals affect our bodies and cause serious health problems. Superoxide is one free radical that is said to cause the onset and advancement of age-related diseases.
This is neutralized by superoxide dismutase, an enzyme that is found in goji berries. The amount of superoxide dismutase in mammals was said to be directly related to longevity.
It also protects against radiation, pollutants and prevents cell damage after a heart attack and acts as an anti-inflammatory agent.
In a double-blind study on the benefits of goji berries, it was found that taking it continuously for 2 weeks increased feelings of well-being, energy levels, quality of sleep, ability to focus on activities, improved mental acuity, feelings of calmness, contentment and happiness in the control group as against the group taking a placebo.
For older people, consuming goji berries daily can give them plenty of carbohydrates, protein, fat and various vitamins and minerals.
Consuming such a well-balanced food can provide many anti-aging benefits. Zeaxanthin and beta-carotene levels in goji berries are high.
These two carotenoids can reduce the risk of AMD or age-related macular degeneration, the leading cause of vision loss and blindness that usually affects those over 65.
Goji berries boost functioning of the brain and can reduce the risk of contracting Alzheimer’s disease. A study found that goji berries given to diabetic rats increased their good (HDL) cholesterol and reduced blood sugar levels.
Healthy immune system can protect the body from attack by viruses, bacteria and carcinogens. This can prevent many age-related disorders like arthritis, weight gain and joint pain. Polysaccharides in goji berries can strengthen the immune system.
Precautions with Goji Berries
Taking Goji Berry in limited numbers is safe. Always consult your doctor especially if you are on any medication for herbal supplements like goji berries can interact with certain medications – especially blood pressure and diabetes drugs that many elderly people take.
Those on blood thinners like warfarin must also avoid goji berries for the risk of excessive bleeding increases. Avoid goji berries if you suffer from pollen allergies.