Aging and the Nutrition Imperative

Speaker: I. H. Rosenberg Presented at: 2015 The New York Academy of Sciences


A quarter century ago, William Evans and I released a book entitled Biomarkers: The 10 Keys to Prolonging Vitality (1992) to make the case that the metrics of aging should not be chronological but rather biological. That concept was prefaced a quarter-century earlier in the work of Nathan Shock, who emphasized functional declines in one of the earliest studies of aging cohorts. Those declining functions with age represented cross-sectional mean data failed to emphasize the growing individual variability, which is such an important descriptor of aging populations. That variability offers the opportunity to question the factors which, when observed longitudinally, may explain some differences among those elders who age “successfully” and those with accelerated declining functions. At the bookends of those functions, that is to say biomarkers, which so importantly define healthy aging, are the physical marker, muscle mass and strength, who’s decline we called Sarcopenia, and cognitive function and memory, which is the topic of this interesting conference. Surprisingly, it was only about 40 years ago that nutritional factors and changing requirements with age were focused upon as major interactants with age and biomarkers of aging. As the leading environmental factor that might influence the slope of declining functions with age, diet and nutrition must be imperatives in our approach to the prevention of age related disease and functional decline.