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This key ingredient can help you cope with your body’s changes as you grow older

Turning the big 4-0? Fight the effects of ageing – such as weakening immunity, cardiovascular issues and wrinkles – with the help of fucoidan

Discover the ingredient that could be the key to living well and ageing gracefully. PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES

Some things, like fine wine, become better with time. Our health, on the other hand, doesn't always fare as well with age.

Now is a good time to take the right steps to cope with the changes that come with ageing, such as cardiovascular issues and a weakening immunity, so that we can live life to the fullest.

Good nutrition has been identified as an important factor when it comes to ageing gracefully and healthily. An example of this is Okinawa, Japan, where the residents live the longest and have a lower risk of age-associated diseases, thanks to their diet.

Undaria pinnatifida, a species of brown seaweed, has been used in traditional medicine and remedies for centuries. PHOTO: MARINOVA PTY LTD

A key component? Undaria pinnatifida, better known as wakame.

It may appear unassuming but this subtly sweet, crunchy accompaniment for soups and salads on many dining tables in East Asia contains fucoidan, a unique, health-enhancing compound believed to promote healthy living and ageing.

Since 1,200 BC, Japan, China, South America and Europe have been using seaweed - and, in turn, fucoidan - in traditional medicines and remedies. It wasn't until 1913 that Swedish scientists were able to elevate the status of fucoidan to a nutraceutical, thanks to its fucose-rich polysaccharides and other powerful, active components. Since then, there has been a growing body of research into the benefits of fucoidan.

It boosts your immunity

Keeping our natural immune system functioning optimally has become more important than ever. Unfortunately, the body's defence system tends to weaken with age. Slower to respond, a compromised immune system can increase the risk of sickness and inflammatory conditions.

Numerous studies have shown that fucoidan supports the body's immune system, thanks to an intriguing property that blocks the attachment of harmful viruses and bacteria to healthy cells, and helps prevent infections from setting in.

Simultaneously, fucoidan also works to promote necessary immune responses and has even been found effective as a complement to the effects of vaccinations. A 2009 study conducted in Osaka, Japan, showed that an extract of Mekabu fucoidan increased antibody concentrations, indicating an enhanced response to the seasonal influenza vaccine in 70 volunteers over 60 years of age. This is especially important for preventing infections and serious complications such as pneumonia among the growing population of immunocompromised elderly in developed countries.

It supports heart and metabolic health

Age can affect every part of the body, and especially your heart. Those aged 65 and older are more likely to develop heart disease or have a stroke, due to the age-related stiffening of the arterial walls or the build-up of fatty deposits that form clots and blockages within the arteries over the years. This causes blood pressure to rise, which can put strain on the cardiac muscle (myocardium) and damage it.

Those looking to improve their cardiovascular and metabolic health can potentially benefit from fucoidan's protective properties. It has been shown to decrease diastolic blood pressure and LDL cholesterol (also known as "bad" cholesterol) concentrations while increasing insulin secretion and insulin resistance. Additionally, the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of fucoidan may protect the integrity of blood vessels in the circulatory system.

It improves cognitive and physical functions

Forgetfulness is seen as a normal part of ageing. Research indicates that the brain's capacity for memory, reasoning and comprehension skills can start declining as early as age 45. This is partly because the ageing brain is more prone to free radicals, which slow down neural activity.

Older folks wanting to improve their short-term memory may want to tap into fucoidan's antioxidant properties as well. A 2018 study has indicated its neuroprotective and antioxidant potential. Senior subjects in the study showed improvements in cognitive and physical functions, thanks to fucoidan's stimulation of the necessary components that protect motor neurons and maintain neuromuscular integrity.

It helps to maintain a youthful appearance and a healthier gut

After the age of 20, we produce about 1 per cent less collagen in the skin every year. This, along with UV and environmental damage, can exacerbate the signs of ageing, causing the skin to become thinner, fragile and more prone to wrinkles.

Fucoidan, which has anti-inflammatory properties, has been shown to improve overall skin health as it boosts elasticity and hydration and reduces age spots, redness and wrinkles.

These properties extend to the rest of the body as well, and particularly in areas experiencing age-related fatigue or health issues. This includes the ever-important stomach and gut (intestines) that are integral parts of our daily nutrient uptake, immune functions and overall health. Research shows that fucoidan stimulates antimicrobial peptides in the gut as well as inhibits the production of key pro-inflammatory biomarkers that can cause acute and chronic gut conditions.

Australian natural health company Max Biocare has harnessed the multiple benefits of fucoidan in a convenient, vegetarian friendly capsule supplement. Maxucosa® which contains Maritech® fucoidan is the only extract form certified by ACO (Australian Certified organic)and is non-GMO and ICCV Halal-certified.

To best reap the benefits of fucoidan, Maxucosa® uses only sustainably sourced Undaria pinnatifida that grows in the pristine waters of Patagonia, South America. From this, fucoidan is then extracted in Tasmania, Australia, using the proprietary Maritech®1 solvent-free method, which preserves the natural structure and integrity of the fucoidan molecule. Not all fucoidan is created equal: check out this video to see how Maritech® is manufactured and review the list of the scientific research that has been done on this material.

Easy to consume, Maxucosa® efficiently delivers a range of defences against those pesky, age-related health issues.

Besides forming an integral part of a well-balanced, healthier lifestyle that includes keeping active and eating well, nutraceuticals like Maxucosa® could go a long way to boosting our immune responses and well-being, so that we will have the strength and confidence to live well and age gracefully.

Maxucosa® is available in selected medicinal halls, KrisShop, and major online platforms including Shopee, Lazada, Natural Medicinal Shop, Mumsclub, Mamahood and Supreme Parent. For a complete list of retailers, visit maxbiocare-sg.com/where-to-buy

1 Maritech® is a registered trademark of Marinova Pty Ltd

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