RATED BLOG – AA (Athletic Audience)
Health, Science, Performance Enhancing Language, Athletic Audience Advised
This week my treasure hunt led to some fascinating learning on anti-aging.
David A. Sinclair, Ph.D., A.O., is a Professor in the Department of Genetics and co-Director of the Paul F. Glenn Center for the Biology of Aging at Harvard Medical School. He is best known for his work on understanding why we age and how to slow its effects. He is one of the most highly regarded experts in the field of aging. His book Lifespan: Why We Age – and Why We Don’t Have To is a great starting point for those who want to dive deeper into this subject. Though the book is titled ‘Lifespan,’ it really focuses on ‘Healthspan.’ How can we stay healthier longer? How can we maintain a vibrant mind and body longer? This is not a new field of study, but research is now on the cusp of reversing aging. Dr. Sinclair is further developing the Information Theory of Aging.
There are two types of information we get from our parents. The first is genetic information – the actual DNA from our parents. Think of ATCG (the nucleotide bases Adenine, Thymine, Cytosine, and Guanine found in DNA) as our ‘digital information.’ The second level of information above the cells is the ‘reader’ of our cells. This is the Epigenome, and it is the ‘analog’ information controlling which genes in our DNA are turned on and off. The epigenome organizes the structure of DNA. It is what causes cellular differentiation or what makes our nerve cells different from our muscle cells.
As athletes, we always want to perform at the highest level with less inflammation, fatigue, and fewer injuries. Understanding the epigenome and cellular aging is a great foundation on which to build our Healthspan. At the bottom of this blog, I provide links and recommendations by several world-renowned experts to enable a “quick study” on how to slow down our aging process while improving our health. Scientists are feverishly working in the field of human longevity. Learning about this should be at the top of the list for all of us.
Let me take you through a few of the basics of the science of longevity and anti-aging. The following definitions are a good starter list. Familiarize yourself with these terms, and they will help you build a foundation as you study more on this subject.
The telomere’s job is to stop the ends of chromosomes from fraying or sticking to each other. Think of telomeres like the plastic tips on the ends of shoelaces. Telomeres also play an important role in making sure our DNA gets copied properly when cells divide. Cells lose their ability to stay young because they lose information. Chromosomes break a trillion times a day in our body, and in the repair process, the epigenome gets corrupted. The good news is we have the ability to lengthen (or shorten) telomeres by the lifestyle choices we make every day. Unhealthy choices shorten our telomeres and hence shorten our Healthspan. Conversely, making good lifestyle choices actually lengthen our telomeres.
Sirtuins are a class of enzymes that influence aging and longevity through multiple molecular pathways. Sirtuins regulate various metabolic processes, including insulin release, mobilization of lipids, response to stress, and lifespan modulation.
Compared to chronological age, biological age measures how well or poorly our body functions relative to how long we have been alive. Biological age is how our cells have changed over time and can be influenced by many different lifestyle factors. The Horvath Clock is an epigenetic ‘clock’ that can tell us with a high accuracy level when we will die. I know it sounds scary.
Things that are bad for us in small doses can be good for us long-term. It’s a key component of health. Our body becomes complacent unless we tell it to work hard. By creating resistance, we activate the body’s natural processes of healing and recovery. By increasing needed enzymes through exercise, diet, or, fasting we increase enzyme efficiency. In today’s culture, everything is seemingly designed to make us more comfortable. We can eat whatever we please. We live more sedate lifestyles with added leisure time. Even our temperature is controlled so that we are always comfortable. All of these marvelous benefits are destroying our longevity! If we embrace moderate stressing of our bodies, we can slow down the aging process dramatically.
New research suggests that heat and cold treatments turn on the protective longevity genes. This turns on “brown fat” under our skin. This brown fat is full of very dense energy-and heat-producing mitochondria. Brown fat is not like normal fat. It is metabolically active. Its secreting proteins tell our body to stay young. Brown fat is found mainly in babies. You can turn your beige fat into brown fat by being cold. Calorie restriction also seems to extend lifespan in a wide variety of organisms. Calorie restriction in rodents was first shown to extend life span back in the 1930s.
mTOR stands for mechanistic Target of Rapamycin. It is a genetic pathway that senses amino acid concentrations and regulates cell growth, cell proliferation, cell motility, cell survival, protein synthesis, autophagy, and transcription. Aberrant mTOR signaling and subsequent suppression of the autophagy pathway have been shown to be associated with cell death and degeneration.
Autophagy is the body’s way of cleaning out damaged cells to regenerate newer, healthier cells. Autophagy declines as we age, which means cells that no longer work or may harm if allowed to multiply. Fasting is the most effective way to trigger autophagy. Intermittent fasting (restricted eating ‘windows’ during the day) can jump-start this super cleansing process. Skipping breakfast is an easy start to this routine. Since you don’t eat while you are sleeping, a breakfast skip increases your ‘fasting.’ This is particularly good for athletes. Add a daily intermittent fast along with a monthly 48-hour full fast to help reset our entire system. This path will reap great Healthspan benefits for us. Experts agree that there is no one best definitive fasting regime. Everyone has different needs. Choose a fasting regime that works for you. Or change it up from time to time.
Resveratrol is a polyphenolic compound produced in plants in response to injury or pathogenic attack from bacteria or fungi. Resveratrol exerts a diverse array of biological effects, including anti-tumor, antioxidant, antiviral, and hormonal activities. It activates Sirtuin 1 (SIRT1), an enzyme contributing to cellular regulation (including autophagy). Blueberries, raspberries, and mulberries are good sources of resveratrol. Trans-Resveratrol is generally produced from plant extracts and may offer a more consistent source as a dietary supplement.
List of Health Protection Habits:
- Intermittent Fasting. Remember, small stresses activate healthy processes in our bodies. Try a 24-48 hour fast once or twice a month for even better results. This is one of the most powerful tools you have for anti-aging, and it’s absolutely free!
- Hydrate with filtered water. Consider adding trace minerals.
- Limit carbs. Consider eliminating all packaged, processed carbs from your diet. After a few weeks, not only will you not miss them, you will probably ask yourself why you ever ate them to begin with.
- Ten minutes of cardio each day will have a very positive health benefit. Remember, a 5- to 10-minute warm-up first thing in the morning offers a maximum window of fat and sugar burn opportunity.
- Don’t Smoke – Hard Stop!
- Avoid sunburn as it may reduce your Healthspan. Some moderate stress is healthy, but extended stress can accelerate our aging process.
- Try not to eat 90 minutes before bedtime. But if you must have an evening snack, here’s a tip. As I was working on this blog late one evening, I got a snack craving. I allowed myself a snack, but it was a healthy – and delicious – one. I went to the kitchen, got a “small” cup, and filled it with blueberries, pecans, and macadamia nuts. Unsalted, real foods with no candy coatings! I snacked while editing. It’s so easy to eat healthy if we shop healthy. (Does gatekeeper ring a bell?) Here’s another golden nugget: Never sit down to snack on a ‘bag’ of nuts or a ‘bag’ of anything. Always use portion control. Transfer your food item to a smaller container. You know what happens if you don’t. Before you know it, the whole bag is eaten. Probably not conducive to anti-aging. And, no second servings! A snack is a one and done.
- Limit alcohol consumption. The more you limit, the better-off your body will be. “But, my red wine has resveratrol, so it’s healthy,” you say. Correct, red wines contain resveratrol. However, you would need to drink an entire barrel to receive any worthy benefits. Don’t try this at home. In fact, there is no upside in our Healthspan by consuming alcohol of any kind, only a downside.
Taking steps to learn about our own Healthspan, followed by actions to improve these areas of our entire body’s ecosystem, leads to significant improvements in our life. Chasing ailments with treatments without truly identifying and understanding the real root cause is fraught with unsuccessful temporary fixes. This is the historical, conventional medical approach. Discovering ways to prevent and/or determine the root cause of illnesses empowers us in big ways to improve our own health. Consider that current experts in the field of aging believe only 20% of longevity is due to genetics. This is great news because it means that we control 80%!
A note on COVID-19: Though we are learning more each day about this virus and why some people handle it with relative ease and others are devastated by it, we do know one thing for certain: The stronger our immune system, the better we can combat the virus if exposed. If we create and maintain a healthy lifestyle, our immune system will be stronger. A strong immune system doesn’t guarantee that we won’t get sick, but it equips us to fight infection better. Exercising, eating well, fasting, and good quality sleep improves our body’s immune response.
Thank you for taking it upon yourself to learn more, act more, and share more with others. I founded Body Helix to bring you better compression options. Our team works to bring you products and information to improve your lifestyle and Healthspan. By offering you high-quality compression, we hopefully allow you to keep training through your aches and pains.
It is my greatest hope that you will implement some tips from our Bio-Cultivating blog. And further, I’m hoping you will be inspired to pass these nuggets along to your family and friends. We all have people in our lives who have the desire but lack the information to improve their health. It is frustrating to sift through the bombardment of data and the misinformation in today’s world. It’s no wonder some give up in frustration. I believe that we deserve the healthiest choices that modern science can offer. It is my sincere mission to help as many people get and stay healthy.
Learn. Act. Share.
Move Through It!
If you wish to expand your knowledge base in longevity and health, the links below contain information from leaders in the field who have earned a high level of trust worldwide. Enjoy!
Lifespan: Why We Age – and Why We Don’t Have To
by David A. Sinclair PhD
Tom Bilyeu, David Sinclair
David Sinclair & Lewis Howes
David Sinclair Is Extending Human Lifespan | Rich Roll Podcast
Dr. Rhonda Patrick & Dr. Elissa Epel on Telomeres and the Role of Stress Biology in Cellular Aging