Fighting Inflammation – The Key to Healthy Aging from Dr. Bradley Willcox

by Robert Kay

Dr. Bradley Willcox trained at the University of Toronto, the Mayo Clinic, and Harvard Medical School. His work has appeared in cover articles for Time Magazine, National Geographic, and on Oprah, Good Morning America, and the BBC.

Dr. Willcox also is the Principal Investigator of several National Institute on Aging-funded studies. He is also Professor and Director of Research at the Department of Geriatric Medicine, John A. Burns School of Medicine, University of Hawaii.

Question: What is the connection between inflammation and aging?

Dr. Bradley Willcox: Oxidative stress and inflammation are the key factors for the development of chronic disease and other ravages of old age. Oxidative stress—let’s call it inflammation, is believed to be a principal mechanism of aging.

Q: How do you prevent inflammation and chronic disease?

Dr. Wilcox: The good news is that most of these ailments can be markedly delayed and largely prevented by a healthy diet, exercise, and other lifestyle factors.

Q: Can you talk a little about astaxanthin, why is it so important?

Dr. Willcox: Yes. It’s known as a marine carotenoid, found in seaweeds and kelp. It’s part of the Okinawan diet and shows particular promise in our research. The compound has powerful, broad-ranging anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory properties.

Q:  What’s the difference between the natural product and the “nature identical” product?

Dr. Willcox: The natural compound (sold as Bioastin) is derived from algae, whereas the nature-identical version (ZanthoSyn) is synthesized. They are both good for you. ZanthoSyn, however, has greater 3x more bioavailability, meaning it’s absorbed better by your system. (Full disclosure, I’m on the scientific advisory board for Cardax, the company that produces ZanthoSyn).

Q: What’s the bottom line of your research regarding the FOXO3 gene and longevity?

Dr. Willcox: In short, the FOXO3 gene, which everyone has, is strongly associated with human longevity. However, people who have certain variants of this gene have a 2-3 times greater chance of living to 100. I’m also convinced that FOXO3 is connected to mitigating inflammation.

Q: Can you discuss any recent research you’re involved in that might be of interest?

Dr. Willcox: I’m glad you asked. My colleague Richard Allsopp, a Ph.D. Professor over at the John A. Burns School of Medicine has reported preliminary findings from a trial focused on how astaxanthin impacts FOXO3 in mice. What he’s found seems to confirm what we believe about the efficacy of astaxanthin.

Q: Any parting advice?

Dr. Willcox: Eat lots of vegetables and fish, engage in regular physical activity, avoid tobacco and drink moderately. Wouldn’t hurt to take astaxanthin either.


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