This article is copyright © Nils Osmar 2020. It’s intended solely for informational purposes. It is not meant to be taken as, and should not be construed, as medical advice. Any changes to your lifestyle or diet should be done in consultation with your doctor or health care professional. Interested in anti-aging? Check out the Facebook Group –– ANTI-AGING THERAPIES.
What can we do to increase our odds of living long, healthy lives? The current evidence suggests that there are several approaches:
- FOOD ––– Eating a healthy diet rich in the right nutrients
- HERBS AND SUPPLEMENTS ––– Taking supplements which will enhance, not interfere with, longevity
- EXERCISE ––– Getting the right kinds and amounts of exercise not just for health, but for longevity
- NAD ––– Optimizing our NAD levels and maintaining high levels of NAD as we age
- MTOR ––– We need some mTOR activation. But for most people, the focus needs to be on lowering mTOR activity in the body
- AMPK ––– AMPK is the longevity pathway. We want it activated much of the time.
- BLOOD GLUCOSE AND INSULIN – Keeping both low
- BRAIN HEALTH ––– protecting our brains from dementia
- SENESCENT CELLS ––– deleting zombie cells from our bodies
- STEM CELLS ––– Supporting the genesis of new stem cells
- MITOCHONDRIA ––– Supporting the health of your mitochondria, and supporting mitochondrial biogenesis
- TELOMERES ––– Telomeres are the end caps on our cells. As we age they get shorter. We may need to focus on lengthening them
- SUPPORTING HORMESIS ––– Stressing the body in ways that promote a strong hormetic response
- GLYCATION ––– Cooking foods at low temperatures to prevent AGES (Advanced Glycation End Products, which are harmful to the body)
- STRESS ––– Dealing with stress in ways that support our mental and physical health.
I’ll be focusing on several of these in this article. Bear in mind that it’s an overview, not all you need to know.
DIET AND EXERCISE
- Our bodies need hundreds of nutrients to function well. For example, if we’re low in vitamin D or magnesium, many bodily processes run into trouble.
- There’s strong evidence that low carb, moderate protein, high healthy fat diets are associated with longevity ––– and that both HIIT exercise and resistance training are of benefit.
- There are obviously a lot of different ideas about what makes up the best diet. To me it makes sense to eat a diet rich in superfoods such as sardines, salmon, grass fed meat, and cruciferous vegetables. But you’ll have to do the research and decide what makes sense to you.
INCREASING NAD LEVELS
- NICOTINAMIDE DINUCLEOTIDE (NAD) is essential to life. It facilitates DNA repair and supports the functioning of the mitochondria. We’d be dead in seconds without it.
- NAD levels are high when we’re young but drop steadily as we age.
- Researchers have found that restoring youthful NAD levels in lab animals can reverse some of the symptoms of aging, and (in some animals) appears to result in longer lifespans.
How to raise NAD:
- INTERMITTENT FASTING or time-restricted eating ––– limiting our eating window to 8 hours or less per day. (Some limit their eating window to 4 or 6 hours.) I.F. promotes autophagy, which cleans debris from our cells and increases the levels of NAD in our cells. LEARN MORE
- PERIODIC PROLONGED FASTING. Fasting for a few days several times a year – or going on a FASTING MIMICKING DIET –– both increase NAD levels in our cells. LEARN MORE
- Note: Prolonged fasts also promote APOPTOSIS, which cleans senescent cells out of our bodies. At the end of the fast, when we start eating again, our bone marrow responds by creating a flood of new STEM CELLS. So fasting has benefits that go beyond the increase in NAD.
- HIIT EXERCISE (exercising till we’re seriously out of breath) at least 3 times a week is another way of increasing our levels of NAD. (Creating a temporary oxygen deficit triggers longevity genes). LEARN MORE
- HEAT STRESS AND COLD STRESS. (For example: saunas, ice baths and cold showers). (Triggers survival/longevity genes and increases NAD.) LEARN MORE
- All of these interventions stress the body in beneficial ways, increase NAD levels, support mitochondrial health and biogenesis, support brain health. Several of them also activate SIRT1 and other longevity genes in response to stress.
- SEE MY ARTICLE: A STRATEGY FOR KEEPING NAD LEVELS HIGH
Boosting NAD levels with food and supplements:
- There is evidence that eating a low carb, moderate protein, high (healthy) fat KETOGENIC DIET increases NAD levels and also increases the NAD+ to NADH ratio in the brain, protecting brain health.
- Taking NAD BOOSTERS such as Niacin (NA), NMN (Nicotinamide Mononucleotide) or NR (Nicotinamide Riboside) ––– forms of vitamin B3 which are tailored to support the mitochondria and increase NAD levels.
- Eating parsley for apigenin (which protects NAD from being destroyed in the body).
- Taking OTHER SUPPLEMENTS which support increase NAD, reverse some aspects of aging, and promote longevity.
- SEE MY ARTICLE: RAISING NAD LEVELS INEXPENSIVELY – OR EVEN FOR FREE
- NOTE: Most people who take NAD boosters also take resveratrol, pterostilbene or olive oil, which activate the sirtuin genes. LEARN MORE
- NOTE: Sun exposure has been shown to have health benefits. But too much sun exposure lowers NAD levels, as the NAD in our bodies is used up in repairing sun damage to the skin.
BALANCING MTOR and AMPK
- MTOR and AMPK are enzymatic reactions closely related to the aging process.
- MTOR is essential for brain health and muscle growth. It prevents muscle wasting, preserves bone strength, and prevent dementia.
- But too much mTOR activity is problematic. High levels of mTOR have been shown to shorten the lifespan. Lowering mTOR has been shown to increase the lifespan of lab animals by as much as 50 percent. LEARN MORE
- Things that lower mTOR tend to raise AMPK, a catabolic reaction that has many benefits for longevity.
How to lower mTOR:
There are several possible ways of lowering mTOR activity. They include:
- Eating a low protein diet. (0.8 grams per kg of lean body mass).(Animals fed HIGH protein diets live shorter, not longer lives, because protein increases mTOR.)
- NOTE: Some researchers maintain that this is too low, and that we need around 100 grams a day to prevent muscle atrophy.
- Eating a plant-based diet. (Protein from animal sources raises mTOR more than protein from plant sources.)
- Eating a low-carbohydrate diet. (High insulin levels also increase mTOR.)
- Intermittent fasting.
- Prolonged periodic fasting.
- Taking metformin or berberine. Both tend to activate AMPK (adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase) and lower MTOR.
- Taking ceylon cinnamon.
- Taking resveratrol.
Can you eat high protein, and still have low mTOR?
- If we choose to eat diets that are high in protein, particularly from animal sources, our mTOR will be high.
- Some people who are on high protein diets (such as the carnivore diet) try to compensate for this by increasing exercise and doing more fasting. (Some claim that if you eat a high protein diet but keep your eating window to 4 hours a day, you could still end up with low mTOR over the long haul, and the excess protein you’re eating wouldn’t be shortening your lifespan.) (I’m not sure that this is true; I’d like to see it verified by more studies.)
LOWERING BLOOD GLUCOSE
- High blood glucose is associated with greater vulnerability to infections (including Covid-19), shorter lifespans, and a greatly increased risk of dementia.
- Pharmaceuticals such as metformin and supplements such as berberine, benfotiamine, and Ceylon cinnamon lower blood glucose (which has anti-aging benefits in itself).
- NOTE: In addition to lowering blood glucose, metformin and berberine also lower mTOR levels.
REMOVING SENESCENT CELLS
- Stem cells are old half-dead cells that leach toxins into surrounding cells and tissues.
- They can be removed from the body by prolonged periodic fasting, and by taking senolytics such as fisetin, quercetin and the antibiotic azithromycin.
- Note: Some researchers have cautioned that it may not be good to remove all senescent cells; some may have important functions in the body.
SUPPORTING OUR STEM CELLS
- When we’re (very) young we have lots of stem cells.
- As we age, fewer and fewer.
- Doing a five day fast or fasting mimicking diet followed by a healthy re-feed is a proven way of triggering the creation of new stem cells. Some claim that its benefits are comparable to a course of stem cell therapy.
SUPPORTING MITOCHONDRIAL HEALTH
- Doing a five-day fast removes unhealthy mitochondria from our bodies, and triggers mitochondrial biogenesis.
- Exposure to some frequencies of red light appears to support mitochondrial health.
- Dr. Terry Wahls has developed a diet that she claims is optimal to support our mitochondria (and helped her recover from multiple sclerosis).
SUPPORTING OUR TELOMERES
- Telomeres are the end caps on our cells which protect our DNA from damage.
- We’re born with long telomeres; they get shorter as we age. Some speculate that lengthening our telomeres might buy us a few more years of life.
- Supplements including astragalus and ashwagandha have been shown to increase levels of the enzyme telomerase and lengthen telomeres.) (One caution: some cancers thrive in a high telomerase environment)
- Getting enough SLEEP
- Getting some SUN EXPOSURE (though not enough to deplete our NAD)
- Protecting our BRAIN HEALTH from the aging process.
- DEALING WITH STRESS effectively. Physical stressors can be beneficial, up to a point. Emotional stressors show evidence of shortening the lifespan.