...the centenarians examined have not led the sorts of lives that doctors generally recommend. “Among our centenarians we have no athletes, no vegetarians,” Barzilai said. Thirty percent of his subjects were overweight or obese in the 1950s, and close to 30% were smokers. “We have a woman who smoked two packs a day until the age of 91. She is now 105,” he said. “What I’m saying is that they didn’t do what we tell our patients to do.”
The most publicized and the most important gene located so far, however, is CETP. This gene helps to regulate cholesterol — both LDL, the so-called “bad cholesterol,” and HDL, the so-called “good cholesterol.” Researchers have found that many of the centenarians have extremely high levels of HDL and large overall particle sizes of both HDL and LDL. CETP is involved in regulating these cholesterol particles. At the same time, scientists have found that the life-prolonging variant of CETP preserves exceptional cognitive function and protects against dementia.
I have to comment also on the issue of cognitive functions.
Good cognitive performance seem to be associated with high cholesterol, while the opposite: various neurological disorders, mood disorders and depression, correlate with low cholesterol. There seems to be a deeper connection: brain seems to work better on ketone bodies (or when high level of ketone bodies are present) - that is associated with a diet high in animal fat and animal produce in general, and either low in carb or when carbs are eaten only intermittently.
Another connection between high animal produce consumption and a good health of the neural system, is through EPA and DHA. Those are essential fatty acids present only in fish and land animals.
I suspect (guessing) that the diet of the Ashkenasi centenarians from that study is not much different from the SAD however their unique genetic makup probably causes metabolic modifications similar to what a high animal fat low carb diet causes among normal not genetically endowed people.
Animal Protein vs Plant Protein - the illusion of scale in diet epidemiology. - This graph appeared in Jason Fung's excellent Intensive Dietary Management blog here. I don't really want to disagree with Jason's statement that animal ...
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