Immunosenescence: A Possible Key to Longevity
By Dr. Jen Morganti, NEEDS Education Director
Immunosenescence is a technical term that was created by the late gerontological researcher, Dr. Roy Walford in the late 1960s. Although it hasn't been incorporated yet into our daily language, it's an important concept that explains the progression of a declining immune system with age, which leads to a decline in health that is accepted as "normal" in both humans and animals.i Because of immunosenescence, older folks are more vulnerable to serious infectious diseases and a poor response to vaccinations. For example, the 2012-2013 flu vaccination was reported to have only 9% effectiveness against influenza A in seniors over 65 years of age, versus 52% in adults under 65.ii
As current life expectancy continues to increase, we need to proactively take steps to slow the aging process in order to improve the quality of life in later years. The key may lie in Walford's concept of immunoscenescence; if the deterioration of the immune system is largely responsible for the aging process, then focusing on supporting the immune system may be the key to enhancing longevity and health status.
Living a healthy life is paramount; smoking, drinking alcohol, poor sleep habits, and an unhealthy diet can all suppress immune cell function and must be minimized. But is there more that can be done to supercharge the immune system and delay the degeneration process?
One exceptionally-effective, immune-enhancing nutrient is called Rice Bran Arabinoxylan Compound (RBAC), found in Peak Immune 4. It is a natural polysaccharide composed of the fibrous part of rice bran, modified by an enzyme derived from shiitake mushroom. The resulting Arabinoxylan compound is a smaller molecule than the rice bran extract which it was derived from, making it more bio-available and better absorbed. Many in vitro and human studies have been conducted on RBAC which confirm its impact on the immune system; it consistently increases natural killer cell activity (otherwise known as NK cells, the first responders), and significantly enhances B and T cell count (other key immune cells) in individuals with compromised immune systems. RBAC is particularly unique because it is a proven iii immunomodulator, meaning it will set the immune system in a healthy range, and not over-stimulate it.
In one published clinical trial, RBAC was shown to increase NK cell activity in a dose dependent manner up to a certain dosage. Twenty-four individuals took the compound at three different concentrations: 15, 30, 45 mg/kg/day. The activity of 5 NK cells was measured after taking the extract for one week, one month, and two months. The results of the study showed that all doses increased the activity of NK cells, but the larger the dose, the quicker the NK activity increased. After two months of treatment, NK activity peaked to the same level regardless of the dosage. One month after discontinuing treatment, NK activity levels declined to baseline levels. This study proved valuable in making dosage recommendations; immune-compromised persons should take a high initial dose of the supplement to boost NK activity quickly. After a few weeks, a high level of NK activity could be maintained long term on a lower maintenance dose level.iv
A more recent study at the University of Miami included 20 healthy individuals and determined that immune activity starts to increase within as little as two days, and becomes significant after one week of taking RBAC. This study also demonstrated how RBAC has modulating actions, as it lowered or raised the activity as needed.v
But how does this boost in immune activity translate into clinical results? Several clinical studies and many reported case studies have demonstrated a significant positive clinical effect. One specific clinical trial showed that RBAC helped improve the quality of life for people with serious, life-threatening illnesses, when taken in conjunction with standard therapies. In this study, the people in the control group used only standard therapies and were found to have poor appetites with subsequent weight loss, extreme fatigue, and high mortality rates. The group taking RBAC in conjunction with standard treatment experienced improved appetites, and significantly higher survival rates.vi
RBAC has been the subject of 40 published studies to date, and hundreds of impressive case studies have been collected from physicians around the world. Physicians have used RBAC to increase patients' life expectancy, improve their quality of life, and shorten recovery rates for a wide range of heath concerns.
i. Immunity & Ageing 2005, 2:7
iii. Townsend Letter for Doctors and Patients January 2000:58-62.
iv. Int J Immunotherapy 14(2) 89-99, 1998
v. Functional Foods in Health and Disease 2012, 2(7):265-279
vi. Clinical Pharmacology and Therapy 2004; 14(3)