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Understanding the importance of the human endocannabinoid system for healthy aging


In this article, a researcher at the University of California, Davis discussed current knowledge of the key components of the endocannabinoid system (ECS) that contribute to appetite and influence energy metabolism, as well as dietary factors that affect the activation of cannabinoid receptors and their impact on the brain. This review was published in the journal Nutrition Research.

  • Diet is a major factor that influences aging.
  • Healthy aging includes freedom from disease, the ability to engage in physical activity and the maintenance of cognitive skills.
  • As people age, their risk of obesity and diabetes also increases, so exercise is encouraged for weight management and the maintenance of muscle mass, mobility and overall well-being.
  • The ECS plays a role in systemic energy metabolism, inflammation, pain and brain biology. As such, it is an area of research that integrates many aspects of healthy aging.
  • Among the benefits of exercise, which facilitate macronutrient use, promote organ health and support the maintenance of metabolic activity and physiological functions, are good overall health and well-being, which researchers believe are linked to ECS functioning.
  • Apart from the role of the ECS in the body, the researcher also tackles the relationship between dietary polyunsaturated fatty acids, macronutrient intake and systemic metabolism, and discusses promising areas of research that show how exercise induces endocannabinoid production in the brain to promote well-being.

While there is much to learn about how the ECS participates in controlling pain through exercise, the researcher is hopeful emerging studies will uncover key relationships that will improve the current understanding of the ECS.

Journal Reference:

Watkins BA. DIET, ENDOCANNABINOIDS, AND HEALTH. Nutrition Research. October 2019;70:32–39. DOI: 10.1016/j.nutres.2019.06.003

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