Volunteers needed

If you would like to participate in one of the nutraceutical studies, send an e-mail to health.study@colorado.edu or call 303-735-6410 or 303-492-2485.

Participants must be either 50 to 79 years old, for post-menopausal women only, or 18 to 30 years old for those who do not regularly exercise.

All volunteers must be free from chronic disease such as cardiovascular disease or diabetes.

University of Colorado professor Douglas Seals believes there can never be too many resources for preventing and treating cardiovascular disease, including just faking a healthy lifestyle.

Seals, a professor of integrative physiology, has dedicated more than 30 years to the positive effects that a healthy lifestyle can have on heart disease.

But because many Americans refuse to exercise and eat according to nutritional standards, Seals and his team of researchers are working to develop a simpler solution -- supplements called "nutraceuticals."

"Nutraceuticals could have effects that may mimic some of the health benefits of exercise or healthy diet," Seals said. "They don't have the same effects of diet and exercise but may be able to improve in specific areas that could promote healthy arterial aging, which would decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease."


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Seals' team is working to produce several nutraceuticals, or vitamin and food supplements that would mimic the positive effects of diet and exercise. They are meant to complement a healthy lifestyle, but in some cases may also act as a supplement for exercise.

There are two studies underway looking at the effects of Vitamin D and Curcumin -- the major component of the India spice turmeric, used in curry. Several similar projects are also in the planning stages and will begin testing on either mice or human subjects in the near future.

Kristen Jablonski, a doctoral candidate at CU, is directing the Vitamin D study, which they hope will produce results within the next two years.

"One pill is never going to be a cure all," Jablonski said. "I'm not hoping for a perfect solution, I just hope we can change some type of lifestyle element involved in the aging process."

The goal is to address two arterial changes, stiffening of the arteries and dysfunction of the lining that contribute to higher risk for heart disease.

"We set out to determine why those things occur and how we can keep those changes from occurring," Seals said.

Besides compensating for unmotivated Americans looking to avoid the gym, Seals said he is hoping the results can improve the health of aging individuals who are physically incapable of exercise.

"There are all kinds of reasons not to exercise, but this is not just for someone who lives next to sports club and has money to join, but chooses not to," Seals said. "We want to have alternatives for older adults who have difficulty with exercise."

Jablonski said after two years on the project she's already noticing some personal changes brought on by healthy lifestyle research.

"I've always considered myself to be a healthy person," Jablonski said. "But I do think I'm more aware of what I'm eating now than I was before."

Seals said he will continue looking for resources to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, but the application of the results is another story.

"There is a concern that this may be seen by some as a way out of diet and exercise," Seals said. "But at this point, I'm just trying to identify and establish evidence for what is effective. Then the broader community will have to decide how to approach applying the research."