WHN/A4M co-founders Robert Goldman and Ronald Klatz were recently involved in this study along with Gary Null, Luanne Pennesi, and Richard Gale of the Nutrition Institute of America, and William Faloon and Scott Fogle of the Life Extension Foundation.
The study published in the HSOA Journal Of Alternative, Complementary & Integrative Medicine, was designed to evaluate how lifestyle modifications including exercise, stress reduction techniques, and following a plant-based diet regime, may help to improve both physical and mental health, as well as potential anti-aging benefits with the average American lifestyle.
All of the 33 participants involved in this 60-day observational study conducted in a controlled environment were between the ages of 64-73, and generally in good health, not taking any prescription medications, with several subjects having overlapping mild medical conditions. Each participant was physical and mentally examined at the beginning of the study which included blood testing, then every 2 weeks after, with a final examination that included a second round of blood tests being conducted at the conclusion of the study. None of the participants were overweight or obese, but 3 were clinically underweight at the start of this study.
The protocol for this study involved 3+ hours of exercise daily, intermittent fasting, vegan plant-based diets, and stress reduction practices such as yoga, meditation, and spending green time in nature. Participants were regularly measured for hydration levels, bone density, blood pressure, endurance, muscle mass, body fat, and weight for the duration of the study.
Exercise and training schedules were tailor-made to each participant specifically, and daily records were kept tracking performance, distance, speed, and balance among others. Participants began every day with a power walk, gradually increasing distance, then engaged in an hour of cardio exercise along with muscle resistance training, bike spinning, and aerobic exercises.
The plant-based, gluten-free, alkalizing, and anti-inflammatory diet was designed to exclude wheat, dairy, meat, fish, poultry, caffeine, alcohol, artificial sugars, refined sugar, refined carbohydrates, additives, and carbonated beverages. This meal plan was based on modified fasting with fresh juices for breakfast and two solid meals for lunch and dinner 5 days a week, with the remaining 2 days being a modified fast of no solid foods after 6 PM until 9 AM.
There were a variety of anxiety and stress reduction classes daily such as yoga, meditation, and mindfulness training that the participants were instructed in daily. The Hamilton Depression Rating Scale(HDRS) was completed by each participant before and after this study. Three of the participants were life long clinically diagnosed as being depressed, and eight were rated with mild to moderate depression at the beginning of this study.
26 of the participants completed the full 60-day program in this study. Results show that with a thorough healthy change of habits and lifestyle such as that used in this study, within a sixty-day period seniors are able to substantially improve the quality of their mental well-being and physical health. These results may be even more statistically significant due to the relatively healthy lifestyles that the participants followed prior to the study.
Physical Biomarkers: There was a loss of body fat (N=24) with a mean loss of -29.27%, added bone density (N=18) with a median +16.6%. The benchmark blood pressure limit was 130/80, and all but six participants finished with readings typically characteristic of a middle-aged adult.
Physical Vitals Results:
Weight: N=21 decrease; N=4 increase. Mean average loss -4.6%. Body Fat Percent: N=22 decrease; N=3 increase. Mean loss -29.3%. Muscle Mass: N=17 gain; N=8 loss or no change. Mean gain +2.2%. Water Percent: N=18 gain; N=7 loss or no change. Mean gain +8.15%. Bone Weight: N=19 gain; N=6 loss. Mean gain +9.2%.
Muscular performance results:
Ropes (min/sec): N=22 gain; N=3 decrease. Mean gain +587.3%. Versa Climber (min/sec): N=23 increase; N=1 decrease. Mean gain +341.4%. Pushups: N=24 increase; N=2 decrease. Mean increase +167.85%. Sit-Ups: N=23 increase; N=2 decrease. Mean increase +266.4%. Lateral Pull Reps: N=18 increase; N=2 decrease. Mean increase +282.7%.
Moderate decreases were observed in all participants with the exception of one 80-year-old man who was clinically underweight as follows: Biceps -20.0%, Triceps -17.9%, Subscapularis -17.6%, and Subilium -29.4%.
Power walking (aerobic):
Note: 2 participants have been excluded from the results due to minor foot injuries keeping them from completing power walking sessions.
The average distance walked at the beginning of the study was 2 miles at an average pace of 22 minutes per mile, with the highest increase recording being 2 to 26 miles. There was a mean increase of 822.4% with an average of 12.4 miles, and the average walking pace increased to 15 min/3 sec per mile.
Depression and Mental Health Biomarkers:
Anxiety and depression levels were recorded before and after the study using the HDRS survey.
At the conclusion of this study, all participants finished with statistically significant lower levels of anxiety and depression, as well as a heightened sense of self-esteem and a positive outlook on life.
The 3 participants that were life long clinically diagnosed with depression were noted to be depression-free, and the 8 originally rated with mild to moderate depression showed a greater than 100% improvement. The final cumulative scores decreased by 72.7% at the completion of this study.
The rigor of a 60-day period in a controlled environment enabled all participants to follow an identical daily regimen, but the study recruited a relatively small number of participants. However, despite the limitation, this observational study succeeded to investigate lifestyle modification in a sustained controlled environment and observed notable benefits in a short duration.
These findings add to a growing body of evidence supporting lifestyle medicine as a fundamentally necessary and viable preventative strategy to improve geriatric mental health, physical endurance, vitality, and general wellness. Once more healthful lifestyle modifications have been shown to keep you healthy and help to slow down the aging process both inside and out.
These almost immediate findings also support additional anti-aging research in a larger group with a longer duration to further demonstrate the positive effects of making healthy lifestyle changes to improve longevity, lifespan, and healthspan among other areas of health and wellness.