Morgan Levine: ‘Only 10-30% of our lifespan is estimated to be due to genetics’

Zoë Corbyn

The Yale scientist explains her research into biological and chronological age – and why she’s joined a $3bn startup funded by the likes of Jeff Bezos

This article is a repost which originally appeared on The Guardian

Edited for content. The opinions expressed in this article may not reflect the opinions of this site’s editors, staff or members.

Our Takeaways:

· It’s thought there are two ages: a fixed chronological age and a malleable biological age

· Biological age is considered more important in that there’s a lot which can be done to affect it

· Biological age should be checked by a professional 1-2 times a year

It can be said we have two ages: a fixed chronological age based on when we were born and a malleable biological age – the age at which our body is functioning, which can be affected by our lifestyle choices. Dr Morgan Levine designs tools that measure the latter. In her new book, True Age, she argues that we should regularly measure our own biological age – giving us information we could use to monitor, and even gain control over, our own individual ageing process. Levine, 37, is an assistant professor of pathology and epidemiology at Yale University’s school of medicine. This June she will join Altos Labs, a new $3bn (£2.2bn) anti-ageing biotech startup whose funders are said to include Jeff Bezos.

What got you interested in the science of biological ageing?
Growing up with an older father. He was 54 when I was born and people always assumed he was my grandfather. Most kids aren’t pondering their parents’ mortality early on, but I was already consumed with the fear that he might not be around. My mother, who works on ageing policy, also influenced me. I saw the resources it takes to care for older adults and wondered if there was a possibility to delay that need.

Why is biological age important?
It is more informative than chronological age for predicting risk of disease or death. That’s because it is not chronological time that drives the development of disease, but rather the biological changes taking place among the molecules and cells in our bodies. Most people’s biological age will be within plus or minus five years of their chronological age, but you can have outliers of up to 10 or more years. The wonderful thing, compared with chronological age, is that biological age is modifiable. We don’t yet know exactly how to modify it to the greatest extent, but the clock can be made to tick slower, or even possibly go backwards, in response to our behaviours (though it can also speed up). The first step is getting a valid and reliable measure of it, which my lab has been working on.

“The process – biological ageing – that gives rise to cancer also causes diabetes, Alzheimer’s, heart disease and others”

 

You advocate getting our biological age measured regularly – once or twice a year. Is the science really advanced enough for that?
It is early days for these tests, and they still need improvement. There is no standard, agreed upon way yet for measuring biological age – different methods give different numbers – and there’s probably no “perfect” way either, because there is nothing to compare against. But they are good enough to give people a general sense of their health status. Both my and others’ labs have shown these measures are better than just the standard cholesterol or glucose level tests that physicians currently use. Doing it regularly gives a more accurate picture: people can put too much weight on a single measurement and things like being sick or uncharacteristically stressed can misconstrue it.

There are various consumer tests available. How might we best measure?
Right now, probably the cheapest and easiest way is based on regular clinical lab tests that people would get done as part of an annual physical. I have published a method of estimating biological age that combines nine blood measures and the calculator to do it is free online.

But there are other ways too. Counting the diseases and/or high-risk conditions a person has and adding this up into a single score is one method, though it is much less predictive for younger people. Molecular-level methods include the measurement of telomere length [the protective sections of DNA at the end of our chromosomes which shorten with age], though I don’t think it is such a powerful predictor. Another, which my lab has worked on, is epigenetic clocks. These use machine learning to decode some of the patterns of DNA methylation – chemical tags on our DNA throughout our genome that can alter quite dramatically with ageing. Results from our epigenetic measure match with the clinical test because we trained the former on the latter.

You have a vested interest here. You helped develop “Index”, a $499 epigenetic age test which uses a saliva sample and is offered by Elysium Health…
Elysium Health did license [my lab’s] epigenetic measure. I decided to work with them because I wanted to make sure what they provided to consumers was the most valid and reliable version possible. I stopped work with the company last year and I am not receiving any compensation from them (though it was too late to correct for this book). I’ve never received a dime for the clinical test, which is freely available and I promote equally to the epigenetic test.

Your own biological age is five years younger than your chronological age. But it might not feel so great to discover you are older biologically. Do you understand why people might not want to know?
Completely. It is a personal choice. For me it is just a way to start evaluating things; a potential early wake-up call that could lead to behaviour change. And, because it is potentially modifiable, it is less worrisome than a genetic test, where these are the cards you’re dealt at birth.

Is it just the usual lifestyle factors we all know about but find so hard to implement that can alter biological age?
The patterns we observe are nothing surprising. People who tend to age slower don’t smoke, don’t really drink, exercise regularly, eat lots of plants, get better sleep, and experience less stress. On average, only 10-30% of our lifespan is estimated to be due to genetics. That means how we age will largely be down to our behaviours – along with some random chance. Something we don’t have control over which has a huge impact is socioeconomic status. Being poor reduces your life expectancy by about 10 years on average, which is on a par with being a current smoker. We think it is chronic stress to some degree.

Caloric restriction (CR) is popular in the tech world as a way of increasing longevity. What evidence is there it works in humans to slow ageing?
The Calerie study [Comprehensive Assessment of Long-term Effects of Reducing Intake of Energy] is really the only randomised clinical trial. Some of the biological age estimates I have created have been applied and they do seem to show some impact from CR, though whether it is down to the restriction of calories or just the lack of overeating, we don’t know. There is also a question about whether the benefit would be maintained over the long term. Obviously, CR should be at a level where you’re still getting adequate calories. In the Calerie study it was only a 12% reduction. I am not a proponent of CR for most people – there are better ways – but there are probably less health risks with moderate CR versus what is more common, which is overeating.

You and your husband – who also studies ageing – are leaving your current positions at Yale to join Altos Labs, which is focused on turning back the ageing clock through cellular reprogramming. What will you be doing?
One goal is developing biological age measures to a level that they could be a surrogate end point in clinical trials to slow or reverse ageing (using lifespan or disease incidence isn’t really feasible because results can take decades). I’ll also continue to study epigenetic clocks. They are a bit of a black box. We can estimate ageing epigenetically, but we don’t really understand what is going on.

The mega-rich have a penchant for funding anti-ageing research and Altos Labs seems no exception. Isn’t this just an effort to extend the lives of plutocrats?
That’s not why I joined [Altos Labs]. I would actually have a big problem working on anything that increased health disparities. I joined because I want to keep the majority healthier for longer. Scientists involved in ageing research need to make the case that our involvement is for the greater good.

Wouldn’t anti-ageing research funding be better spent on combating diseases such as cancer, heart disease and so on, which we know are killers?
We look at diseases in a very siloed way, and our medical system goes after one at a time. But the process – biological ageing – that gives rise to cancer is the same one that gives rise to diabetes, Alzheimer’s, heart disease and others. If we can tackle the thing that causes all of them simultaneously, it could deliver a bigger benefit. You would be saving people from, or at least postponing their incidence of, not just one but many major chronic diseases.

At what point does an obsession with staying young and healthy become negative? Shouldn’t wisdom, wrinkles and grey hair be celebrated rather than fought and derided?
I struggle with this. I don’t want to stigmatise ageing. For most people wrinkles and grey hair don’t have a huge effect on quality of life. Delaying biological ageing is about preventing or slowing the accumulation of diseases, which do affect quality of life. A lot of people in the field want to call ageing a disease. I disagree. Not only does it further stigmatise ageing, but I don’t think we could settle on a chronological or even biological age where you could say: you are diseased now, and you weren’t diseased before.

Is there such a thing as too much exercise?
If you bottled the effect of exercise and sold it as a pill, it would be one of the best anti-ageing interventions on the market. And it is never too late! But, yes, there is probably a sweet spot for optimal benefits. Past a certain point and there seem to be diminishing returns. It is difficult to know the optimal level and type of exercise for each of us, but likely most of us aren’t even getting close to it.

What do you do to lower your own biological age?
I try to eat a mostly plant-based diet, stay active and exercise. Sleep and stress levels are the areas where I know I need to pay more attention. I do intermittent fasting where I restrict the time window in which I eat. I don’t know if it is CR – I don’t really count my calories – but implementing it isn’t hard. I always calculate my biological age based on my clinical numbers from my annual physical and I’m due another epigenetic test. But I’m no biohacker: I leave my experimenting to the lab.

Any advice for those who want to go further with biohacking their ageing process to quantify the specific effect of their regimes?
I would caution those interested in self-experimentation not to put too much faith in every single metric. While hypothetically in the future we could have these applications, we aren’t there yet. If anything, I think this kind of testing might dissuade people from unproven interventions: most of the regimes people might test I doubt will show a sustained effect on biological age.

Biohacking for beginners: The 4 basic things a doctor wants you to know before thinking about biohacking

Posted by Chloe Gray for Wellbeing

This article is a repost which originally appeared on Stylist

Edited for content. The opinions expressed in this article may not reflect the opinions of this site’s editors, staff or members.

Our Takeaways:

· Research and a medical check up should be performed before engaging in biohacking

· There’s been a greater than 8-fold increase in Google searches for biohacking information

· Focusing on strengthening the foundation should be a priority over niche treatments

If you’re curious about biohacking, here’s what a doctor wants you to know beforehand.

The term “biohacking” came into the public consciousness a few years ago via Silicone Valley execs who sought to improve their efficiency by attempting to hack their biology. Their habits ranged from taking slightly obscure supplements to adding microchips into their body to “improve their magnetic field” and life span (yes, really).

Now these habits have gone mainstream (OK, maybe not the microchip one) and it’s easy enough to land on the term with a two-minute scroll on social media. Google searches of “biohacking for beginners” have increased 850% over the past 12 months, and many of us have tried something a little obscure that’s promised to improve how our body functions, whether that’s fasted exercise or SAD lamps.

But things have gone too far. At least, that’s according to Dr Adrian Chavez, who is fiercely anti-biohacking. His concern? “It’s marketing. People end up spending time doing these things that are half-truths when they could have spent that time actually doing the things that people need to do to improve their health,” he tells Stylist.
Why anti-biohacking?

Dr Chavaz’s anti-biohacking journey began after he fell for the trend himself. “I started being interested in nutrition because of a health issue that I had. I went to a doctor and they didn’t really help me out very much, so I changed my diet and I was able to improve my digestive health.

“At that point, I started googling information and I landed on a lot of fringe sites. I was in my early 20s, getting a master’s degree in exercise science and I believed a lot of the obscure ‘biohacking’ stuff I was finding, so I completely shifted my degree to nutrition. But as you do a PhD programme, you learn science. And I learned that a lot of the stuff that I believed before is pretty ridiculous in some cases, but oftentimes dangerous.”

The real frustration for him is that we want to (or believe we should) start with the niche treatments before we’ve even nailed the basics. And when things like greens powders or cryotherapy don’t work, people give up at improving their health.

“The evidence for cold water exposure, for example, is a few poor papers. But we know that and have the evidence for 30 minutes of exercise every day reducing your risk of almost every chronic disease known to man. We need to be doing more of that than we do getting into a cold pool and seeing how that might hack our biology,” he says.

So why don’t we? Why do some people feel that “nutrigenomics” (eating in line with your genes) is more important than just eating their five a day? “The basics are boring,” he says. Meanwhile, bio-hacking ‘experts’ have sussed out the Instagram algorithm to excite us with new buzzwords that mean we forget about broccoli and bedtime in favour of expensive solutions.

In fact, that’s why Dr Chavez focuses his content on the concept of anti-biohacking. “​​I realised a long time ago that if I said, ‘Hey guys, eat fruits and vegetables,’ there’s no way people would respond. So I try to frame my content in a way that will take off, but all I’m saying is focus on the basic stuff before spending money and time worrying about the extremes,” he said.

What exactly is that basic stuff then? What should we be doing, if not taking IV vitamin drips?

The four basic elements of health

Sleeping

“I can’t tell you how many people I’ve met that claim they are lacking energy and are trying to find the solution when they just need to sleep more,” says Dr Chavez.

Around three-quarters of people in Britain get less than eight hours of sleep a night, according to YouGov, and a recent study from Southampton University found that one in four also suffer sleep problems (mainly impacting women and people from marginalised backgrounds).

The scenario is similar in America, where 35% of people report less than seven hours of sleep. Yet 40% of people in the US have tried CBD. But the toughest pill to swallow is that the sleep crisis is real, and we can’t hack our way out of our biological need to sleep.

Hydrating

Dr Chavez jokes: “I think you guys in the UK get more hydration because you drink tea.” But in any case, he recommends drinking half your body weight in pounds in ounces of water (this is an American customary calculation, but you can work it out with a digital converter or stick with the average recommendation of two litres of water a day).

“A lot of people complain about constipation or headaches who just don’t drink water. Not always, but often some of that stuff will go away when you just drink more – ideally non-caffeinated – water,” he says.

Eating well

71% of UK adults take food supplements, according to the Health Food Manufacturers’ Association. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, especially as we need to top up on essential minerals like vitamin D. The problem is when we compare that to the stats showing only 27% of us eat our five a day.

“Nutrition is the most complicated area of all,” Dr Chavez says. “But my general recommendation is to focus on having balanced meals throughout the day – it doesn’t matter if it’s two, three or four,” he says. “Just make sure that you have a decent amount of protein, some vegetables, some carbohydrates that are high in fibre (or not, depending on how many vegetables you have) and that all of your meals are set up to meet your energy needs,” he says.

That sounds simple enough, but in a world that recommends excluding a lot of main food groups or adding in obscure ingredients, it’s actually pretty hard to ignore the noise and eat the basics. “Less processed food, more fruits and vegetables, not too many fatty meats,” Dr Chavez summarises. You can walk away from the £50 greens powder for now.

Exercising

“I always recommend this is the one everyone starts with because it’s the easiest and has the biggest knock-on effect on all of the other elements,” he says. “Simply move every day. It doesn’t have to be a crazy workout routine – the bare minimum should be a 30-minute walk around the block. But make it any type of movement you enjoy – running, chasing around your kids, anything!”

Around 39% of people in the UK don’t hit their recommended 150 minutes of activity a week, and a lot of the people who are missing out are from poor or minority backgrounds. But one huge issue is that our lives are designed for inactivity, Dr Chavez says.

“Many of us are sitting for work and then we sit in a car and then sit at home to watch television and then go to sleep and we’re just getting no movement whatsoever. Going from that to 30 minutes is a massive benefit for most people,” he says.

Personalised additions

I ask Dr Chavez if, when those four basics are nailed, there’s anywhere else to go. Are these basics the upper threshold of health-promoting habits and everything else a biohacking lie, or can we still implement additional behaviours?

“One million percent there is more you can do,” he says. “I can get into all of the nuances of nutrition that someone might try for various reasons, but that’s specific advice that doesn’t suit the whole population. The problem is people get too lost in the details and on tailoring their habits before focusing on sleeping, exercising, etc and it’s just a waste of time. There’s a time for the extras, but you have to start with the basics.”

It’s important to emphasise the “personalised” aspect of any extra habits, he says. They need to be figured out based on your health or illness and ideally with an expert or at least an inquisitive eye so you can monitor what is working and what isn’t. “But there are 175 other things I’d recommend before cold exposure,” Dr Chavez concludes.

Beyond longevity: The DIY quest to cheat death and stop aging

Would you take your (extended) life into your own hands?

Peter Ward

This article is a repost which originally appeared on Inverse

Edited for content.  The opinions expressed in this article may not reflect the opinions of this site’s editors, staff or members.

Our Takeaways:

· Self-experimentation often yields breakthroughs when done correctly

· Critical thinking is necessary to ensure self-experiments are performed correctly

· There are many tools which can be used to help you in the process of self-experimentation

Ken Scott plans to live until he’s 500.

At 79, he’s already outlived the CDC’s official life expectancy by two years and he has no intention of dying — or even slowing down — anytime soon. An active man, Scott jets between his homes in upstate New York and Florida, flies to exotic locations such as Panama City for business and still finds time for the odd cruise. His secret? A DIY regime of self-experimentation and untested therapies he believes will keep him going well past the next century.

Self-experimenters litter the history of medical science. Dentist Horace Wells dosed himself with nitrous oxide in 1844 to see if it could kill pain, Nicholas Senn inflated his innards with hydrogen a few decades later to work out if it could diagnose a ruptured bowel, and more recently, Barry Marshall drank a solution containing H. pylori in 1985 to prove the bacterium caused ulcers.

These scientists risked their own health to make a medical breakthrough or prove a theory, but Scott is not a scientist. He’s an amateur enthusiast, also known as a biohacker. Biohackers engage in DIY biology, experimenting on themselves to enhance their brain and body. And many of them — like Scott — see longevity as the ultimate prize.

Now, longevity research is being transformed by mega-cash injections by the likes of Peter Thiel and Jeff Bezos. In 2021, Bezos helped fund a start-up called Altos Labs, which deals in “rejuvenation” science — essentially, trying to science our way out of the aging process. Biohacker Reason (his legal and only name), who runs the website fightaging.org, tells Inverse that Bezos and others’ success in their endeavors will come from the experiments he, Scott, and other biohackers do now.

“You don’t get companies with money coming in and running half-million-dollar or million-dollar clinical trials that are semi-formal without a community of self experimenters to ferment and give rise to that. And you don’t have people running huge formal trials without support from this community,” Reason says.

Life Extension for the Masses

Scott’s interest in longevity has grown over time. He first got involved in the 1980s after reading Life Extension: A Practical Scientific Approach by Durk Pearson and Sandy Shaw, which preached healthy eating and rigorous exercise, but really got serious in 2002 when he was frustrated by continual sinus infections.

“I remembered something my grandmother had told me when I was 10 or 12, she told me ‘You are what you eat.’ I said to myself, I need to stop eating, this eating is poisoning me,” he recalls. Scott didn’t eat for five days and by the fourth, his sinuses were cleared. He realized he had a gluten problem and apparently never suffered from sinus issues again.

From there, Scott’s experiments got gradually more extreme, from adopting a vegan, sugar-free, processed food-free diet, to regular intermittent fasting. In the past two years, he started taking untested and unregulated interventions like amniotic fluid injections.

Over the same time period, longevity and anti-aging research were picking up pace and getting some serious private cash flow — giving hope to people like Scott who want to live radically longer lives.

This has happened before. Biohacker Reason describes a wave of enthusiasm for life extension which began in the 1970s, but those involved ended up building an industry delivering “nothing except hope and fraud.”

This horrified the scientific community, he says, which took a step back from the whole concept of intervening in aging.

“It took several decades of intense advocacy and a lot of philanthropic help and some advances in the science to change that,” Reason says.

The thing is: While there are more researchers interested in aging and longevity, perhaps in part due to the fact the world population is aging, clinical treatments for aging-related problems are not keeping pace. That leaves people like Scott with a choice: DIY or die.

Scott now spends a large portion of his time researching and seeking out treatments that have not yet been approved for human use — and at a great cost.

“We’re letting people die while we continue to cure mice of conditions.”

Every three months, Scott injects himself with 1cc of amniotic exosomes, a type of extracellular vesicle containing protein, DNA, and RNA of the cells that excrete them, in this case, extracted from the fluid which surrounds and nourishes fetuses as they grow in the womb. He also takes Dasatinib, a drug approved to treat certain types of cancer, believing it will help kill damaging senescent cells in his body. The FDA has not approved amniotic exosomes as a treatment for anything and Dasatinib has not been given the green light for anti-aging purposes, although it has been shown to work in mice when taken with Quercetin, a plant pigment.

In the future, Scott plans to travel outside the United States to undergo a plasmapheresis treatment he describes as a “cleansing” of the blood and eventually gene therapy to reverse the aging in his body’s cells. Plasmapheresis involves taking blood from a patient, removing the plasma, and then mixing the remaining blood with a plasma substitute. It’s used as a cancer treatment, particularly in some forms of blood cancers, but Scott believes it also has regenerative potential for the elderly.

The treatments are not cheap. Amniotic fluid injections cost around $2,000 a pop. Clinics offering amniotic fluid exosome treatments are easily found with a quick Google search, and Scott says their regulation falls into a gray area. Dasatinib is similarly difficult to obtain and costs hundreds of dollars. Scott gets his online, and it’s shipped in from abroad, although he isn’t sure exactly where from in the world. His plan to undergo gene therapy could rack up hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical bills.

“What we’re talking about here is first adopters, and first adopters always pay more,” he says, predicting the cost of treatments will be lowered in the same way computers or cars have become cheaper over time.

Jonathan Moreno, a professor of medical ethics and health policy at the University of Pennsylvania, who authored the book Everybody Wants to Go to Heaven but Nobody Wants to Die, tells Inverse he didn’t see the point of this type of self-experimentation.

“It can be dangerous and most often I think it doesn’t make much difference at all, depending on what you are doing to yourself.”

But he added that he didn’t believe self-experimenters like Scott were doing anything wrong, even if they were wasting their money. “They’re lining the pockets of some fraudsters, and if you don’t mind being exploited that’s the way it is.”

Journey of self-experimentation

Liz Parrish is one of the most well-known self-experimenters in the world. She traveled to Colombia in 2015 to undergo a gene therapy treatment her company made with the intent of slowing down aging.

Parrish flew to Colombia because regulations in the United States prevented her from trying out the treatment. This is an extreme form of medical tourism — when people travel to countries with more lax regulation in order to undergo treatment not available at home. Parrish believes this type of self-experimentation is becoming increasingly popular.

“It’s like a kettle boiling over,” she says. “People are looking for new technologies. They’re looking for the translation of the technology that they read about in the newspaper.”

“The longevity self-experimentation community is sadly little better than the weightlifters and those guys are crazy.”

The desire to try new medical technology is frustrated by the FDA rules which govern clinical trials, according to Parrish, who says too much time is spent on animal trials that cannot predict how a drug will work on a human.

“We’re letting people die while we continue to cure mice of conditions. It’s at the point of absurd. Millions of people will die this year from age-related diseases, they should be given access to technology that not only can help them but make a better world for everyone else,” she says.

There’s also the matter of cost. A study led by the London School of Economics found the average price of bringing a drug to market was $1.3 billion. And research by BIO, a trade association for biotechnology companies, found it takes on average 10.5 years for a drug in phase 1 of a clinical trial to attain regulatory approval.

“The regulatory systems are more burdensome and more costly than ever so how are companies going to get that data?” asks Parrish.

Her company Bioviva is attempting to solve that question and collects data from clinics taking medical tourists as clients, hoping it can help bring new technologies like gene therapies to humans in the United States faster. She also says self-experimentation will play an important role at home in the United States, but only if it’s done right.

“Collecting data and expressing your data and keeping track of adverse events, working with groups that can help you do that, is critical,” she says. “But if you don’t track what’s happening it’s not super useful.”

Look inside yourself

Fortunately for biohackers, the tools to measure what’s going on inside their bodies are cheaper and easier to access than ever. InsideTracker, a Boston-based health tracking company, charges customers $589 for its “ultimate’ tracking service, which includes blood tests tracking 43 biomarkers, and then offers clients a full breakdown of how they can improve their health.

Gil Blander, the company’s CEO and co-founder, does not describe himself as a biohacker.

“A lot of them are doing it more to impress others than to do it for themselves,” he says. “I call them pretenders.”

However, he says his company’s services can offer them the chance to produce meaningful results from experimentation. “You measure your 43 blood biomarkers before, do whatever you want — it’s crazy, it’s not crazy, that’s your problem — then measure again and you’ll see what’s happening.”

Biohacker Reason has gone one step further on fightaging.org, posting detailed how-to guides for self-experimentation. He does so because he wants to improve standards in the community.

“The longevity self-experimentation community is sadly little better than the weightlifters and those guys are crazy,” he says. “Bar raising is definitely needed.”

“One thing I can guarantee you, I guarantee you are going to die.”

Scott takes a barrage of health tests every year to ascertain what’s working and what isn’t, but he’s not as eager to make a wider scientific impact. He admits that although he does record the results of his various self-experiments, his data is not lab standard. “I’m very much concerned with doing this for myself,” he admits.

But is he putting himself at considerable risk? Judy Campisi, professor of biogerontology at the Buck Institute for Research on Aging, is concerned by some of the measures taken by people who want to live longer. She says with many drugs and interventions intended to slow down aging, one issue which is always overlooked is the potential stimulation of cancers.

Campisi is also worried about anyone taking amniotic fluids as Scott does.

“I think that people who are not trained in science are not necessarily trained to think critically and that’s a problem. If you’re not thinking critically you could be led astray and that could lead to actual harm because you’re not thinking about the intervention in a way that’s holistic,” she says.

Because of the paucity of data, nobody would really know for certain if a solo experiment had caused serious illness, but the same goes for extended life. Campisi believes the focus should be on extended healthspan, not lifespan — in other words, living your best life for longer. And while she shares concerns over the cost of getting drugs to market, she can’t get on board with lofty goals like immortality.

“Evolution has set species-specific lifespans probably by tweaking hundreds if not thousands of genes and it’s not going to be a single intervention that will be able to do what evolution could do,” she says.

“One thing I can guarantee you, I guarantee you are going to die.”

Editor’s note: This article has been updated to make clear Liz Parrish flew to Colombia in 2015, and not Mexico. We regret the error.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The secret to making your brain work better

Want to improve your cognitive function? Then you’ll need to get a handle on your supplements ‘stack’

Tiffanie Darke March 29 2022

This article is a repost which originally appeared on Financial Times Magazine

Edited for content.

Our Takeaways:

· Supplements can be used to enhance brain function

· Nootropics can yield benefits without the side effects of more commonly used substances, like caffeine

· Foods like eggs which are high in Choline and phospholipids are good for brain health and function

“I take lion’s mane with a daily microdose of psychedelic, and B6 to switch on the brain and get more ideas,” says writer Catherine Frenette, of the effects of her supplements regime. “I did it all through writing my latest book: I had a short deadline and needed to stay at my desk. It absolutely worked. Without doubt, I’m working better.”

Tired, unfocused brain in need of a boost? The traditional recourse – coffee – is, it turns out, very pre-pandemic. A stimulant made for 2019’s office-worker world, when we were all just striving to “keep up”, it’s a short-term fix that burns through your adrenal reserves and leaves you, ultimately, depleted. Nowadays, that’s not good enough. Enter the latest nootropics – cognitive enhancers that will take users up and up, and could support brain function and health in the long term.

Unlike coffee, these new nootropics, or smart drugs, nourish the brain without cashing in on its energy reserves. The brain is the body’s most hungry organ, consuming 20 per cent of our energy, so it is vital that it is well fed. Stimulants such as coffee, Adderall or “study drug” Modafinil operate by robbing Peter to pay Paul: increasing dopamine while simultaneously depleting reserves.

“We think it’s normal to be tired and forget things. That’s not normal. We should be feeling better”
Michelle Gundry, clinician nurse

There is much debate about which nootropics to take, how to take them – and how much to take. In online forums, the nootropic hive mind bandies about options that include amino acids like L-theanine and glutamine, the salt magnesium threonate, nutrients citicoline and phosphatidylserine, adaptogenic herbs such as rhodiola and Bacopa, or the ubiquitously trending cordyceps.

“Everybody wants to know about brain biohacking right now,” reports Dr Tamsin Lewis, founder of Wellgevity, a personalised preventative healthcare service. “Everything starts with the brain. If you can change your neurochemistry you move differently, you interact differently, the whole filter to your day changes.” Lewis, who began trying nootropics following a head injury, believes plenty of improvement can be gained, but counsels: “There’s no one-size-fits-all – everyone’s baseline function is different.” She also cautions that some supplements are not dosed correctly or do not include their ingredients in a bioavailable form – it’s important to look for clarity when it comes to dosages.

Lewis recommends to her patients personalised blends of intravenous ingredients, including B vitamin complex and alpha lipoic acid. She says the latter is “a great enhancer of mitochondrial function, naturally increasing levels of glutathione [an amino acid involved in cell repair]. It can make your brain feel very clear for a good few weeks.”

Another compelling ingredient is Cognizin, a version of choline, which is a compound derived from food, particularly eggs. It promotes the production of phospholipids, which make up the membranes of our neural cells. Studies of Cognizin demonstrate up to a 25 per cent increase in attention, memory and focus in patients versus a placebo. It is an ingredient available in brain-boosting supplements from Qualia to Mind Lab Pro. Julian Lee, CEO of green tech business Binding Solutions, began taking Cognizin as one of the ingredients in the super-supplement Lyma. “I have remarkably better energy and focus during the day,” he reports. “Things have really shifted. I’m 50 and in very good health and spirits – I feel much younger than my age. Mentally, clear as a whistle.”

“If you can change your neurochemistry you move differently, you interact differently, the whole filter to your day changes”
Dr Tamsin Lewis, founder of Wellgevity

Over at Matt Roberts Evolution in Mayfair, where longevity doctors, physiotherapists and microdosing and psychedelic experts operate in tandem, a 60-something client is emerging from an intravenous glutathione infusion to treat her “brain fog”. “Glutathione cleans out her cells,” explains clinician nurse Michelle Gundry. “We think it’s normal to be tired and forget things. That’s not normal. We should be feeling better.” Matt Roberts Evolution also has coffee on the menu, but with a difference: “Mushroom coffee,” confirms Roberts, “made with cordyceps to give you the kick you need without the comedown.”

Medicinal mushrooms such as lion’s mane show some evidence of supporting neural health and cognition. Roberts recommends magnesium threonate for sleep (good sleep is essential for brain recovery and memory) and the supplement NAD, which is essentially niacin (a vitamin B3 extract), or its more hardcore sister, NMN. NAD may increase human-growth hormone response and therefore the ability of the body’s cells to regenerate. “Watch how you take NMN, though,” he says, “as it needs to be attached to a fat molecule to be absorbable.” Like almost everyone else I spoke to, Roberts cites gut health – in the form of a diet rich in plants and fermented foods – as a key element in the quest to improve brain function and adaptability.

Neuroplasticity is also on the mind of Clinique La Prairie, the Swiss health and beauty brand, which declares it a fundamental aspect of healthy ageing. Cognition, says Professor Bogdan Draganski, a neuroscientist at the University Hospital of Lausanne and a member of CLP’s scientific committee, is a key target for biohackers – or “neurohackers”, as he calls them. Last year, Clinique La Prairie came out with its own health supplement range, Holistic Health. It has been formulated with the patented nootropic Cognivia, which showed a nine per cent increase in numeric working memory.

Much of the interest in neurohacking is fuelled by the work of key professors at Stanford, Harvard and Yale. Neuroscience professor Andrew Huberman at Stanford School of Medicine is one such guru, as is Harvard professor of genetics David Sinclair. Both publish their work daily on social media and have amassed huge followings. Sinclair believes it’s possible not only for us to halt cellular decline but to reverse it. Huberman recommends easy hacks such as 30 minutes of sunlight every morning to set the circadian rhythm and “put you in control of your nervous system”.

Huberman also likes to publish his “stack”, which is how wellness nerds refer to their supplement regime. On a recent podcast he listed his latest, which included eating foods that are rich in omega-3s and/or supplementing with omega-3s to get 2-3g of the fatty acid EPA per day; phosphatidylserine, a lipid-like compound abundant in meat and fish; choline, which helps in modulating brain circuits; and creatine – a supplement the fitness-obsessed use to bulk up, “but which is good fuel for the brain – at least 5g a day”, he said.

“The science is changing all the time,” says James Heagney, gym director of KX health club in South Kensington, where Chelsea’s most ambitious wellness disciples go for workouts. “We follow the research to choose not just the nutrients gaining in popularity but those that have scientific backing.”

Heagney is currently looking at “dopaminergic supplements for focus and concentration, the amino acid tyrosine to improve alertness, and adaptogens like gingko and holy basil”. As a 4am riser, and with two young children to wrangle, Heagney is laser-focused on his own “stack”. “Increased performance and cognition is where it’s at,” he says. “Brain function is everything in the body.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Understanding Blood Flow Restriction

U.S. News & World Report

February 22, 2022, 7:00 PM

This article is a repost which originally appeared on wtopnews

Edited for content

Our Takeaways:

· BFR (Blood Flow Restriction) is commonly referred to as the new “cupping”

· BFR signals to the brain the muscle is working harder than it is- creating a compensation mechanism

· BFR can induce the secretion of HGH, IGF1, Nitric Oxide, and other beneficent compounds.

Blood flow restriction tourniquets — those arm and leg bands that look a little like narrow blood pressure cuffs — made a splash at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Some top performing track athletes and swimmers such as Michael Andrews and Galen Rupp used them while warming up or cooling down.

BFR was hailed as “the new cupping” by some, referring to previous Olympic Games when many swimmers showed up with large circular marks on their skin from the ancient Chinese practice of cupping. Like cupping, BRF is the latest trend in professional sports and fitness that might also have applications for the less-athletic set.

What is BFR?

Caroline Brunst, a physical therapist and athletic trainer with the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in Columbus, describes blood flow restriction training as “a novel technique that has gained popularity in recent years.” It’s also known as tourniquet training, because it involves the use of a cuff or tourniquet system on “the proximal end of an extremity,” meaning the upper arm or upper leg.

Most systems use a pneumatic tourniquet, in which the band is inflated with air “to a pressure high enough to maintain arterial flow while restricting venous return,” Brunst explains. This means that the cuff inflates enough to slow the return of blood from the muscle to the heart, but isn’t so tight that it cuts off all circulation, or even restricts blood flow to the working muscle.

This blockage of blood flow from the muscle back to the heart is the key component of BFR. The presence of the extra blood signals to the brain that this muscle is working harder than it really is. This type of physical stimulation can help build muscles, “similarly to what is noted at higher-intensity training with more resistance,” Brunst says. In other words, it boosts the effects of strength training.

A 2019 study in the Journal of Applied Physiology that examined a group of men aged 55 and older during a 14-week period, found that BFR paired with low-intensity resistance exercise offered muscle building gains similar to those achieved through high-intensity resistance exercise.

Origins of BFR

BFR has older origins, says Steven Munatones, CEO and co-founder of KAATSU Global, Inc., the company that makes the original blood flow modification device called KAATSU.

“KAATSU is a Japanese word that means ‘additional pressure’” Munatones says. The idea was first developed by Japanese physiologist and powerlifter Dr. Yoshiaki Sato in 1966.

Sato developed the KAATSU system, which is hailed as the first of the blood flow restriction or blood flow modification systems. There are a variety of other brands and types of blood flow restriction devices on the market today, and they can range from about $25 for the most basic model, to several thousand dollars for the high end options.

How it Works

Blood flow modification or restriction devices like KAATSU are designed to add pressure to the limbs. Munatones says that KAATSU equipment “gently applies pressure to slow down the venous flow — or the return of blood from the limbs to the torso.”

The equipment does not block the flow of oxygenated blood from the heart to the muscle, however, “which is extremely important. While tourniquet and blood pressure cuffs are specifically designed to cut off arterial flow from the torso to the limbs, KAATSU equipment is designed specifically to allow arterial flow to continue unimpeded and only to slightly modify the venous flow.”

Users can set the pressure at variable or constant levels, and you may want to start with very low pressure and build up over time to more intense restriction. Depending on the program, that pressure will stay elevated for usually about 30 to 45 seconds before releasing, and may also cycle through on a set series or repetitions.

A small computer powers these pressure changes in the KAATSU device, and users can set it to a wide variety of programs to help reach their goals, whether that be building speed, stamina, strength, flexibility or recovery and rehabilitation.

Munatones says that when your limbs are engorged with blood and you move, “then a number of biochemical reactions occur naturally in the vascular system and brain as a result.” He says this includes increased secretion of several hormones and other compounds including:

Human growth hormone. HGH is a hormone produced by the pituitary gland that helps muscles grow and cells regenerate. It’s useful for building and repairing tissues in the body and is especially important after intense physical exercise to repair and build stronger muscles.

Insulin-like growth factor 1. IGF-1 is a growth hormone that’s similar in structure to insulin, but works like HGH in building and repairing muscles in adults.

Vascular endothelial growth factor. VEGF is a protein that stimulates the formation of new blood vessels. When blood vessels are obstructed and less oxygen is reaching the tissue, VEGF is released to help new blood vessels develop to get around the blockage.

Brain-derived neurotrophic factor. BDNF is a protein that stimulates cellular growth and repair in the brain and nervous system. Exercise promotes the release of BDNF in the brain.

Nitric oxide. NO is a compound that stimulates growth hormone secretion. It’s also involved in vasodilation, and when blood vessels are compressed, that can increase the release of NO.

Plasmalogens. These lipids, or fats, can help protect other lipids and lipoprotein particles from oxidative stress – that’s the daily wear and tear cells undergo from the stress of daily living, exposure to toxins, and other similar factors. This makes their function similar to that of antioxidants, which are found in many plant-based foods.

Ceramides. These fats found in skin cells can also help build more resilient blood vessel walls.

Testosterone. The male sex hormone testosterone is well known for helping increase strength and muscle size.

“It’s this hormonal and metabolic response that leads to athletic gains and enhanced rehabilitation and recovery,” Munatones explains.

“It’s kind of a biohack,” says Chris Morgan, a Massachusetts-based swimming coach and chief aquatic officer at KAATSU Global. He adds that the device can provide a more efficient way to get the intensity you need from a workout.

For example, with his swimmers, instead of having them swim 8 times 200 meters, (1600 meters total) Morgan will have them do 16 times 25 meters (400 meters total) to get the same end result in a quarter of the time. “And you’re also not going to tear your shoulders apart. You’ll have less connective tissue tearing and less bone grinding, especially if you’re a land athlete” because of that reduced training volume.

Who Can Use BFR Training and Devices?

Strength and power athletes, such as those doing explosive sprinting or those who want big, weightlifting muscles are obvious candidates for adding BFR to their training regimens to reap its benefits of less wear-and-tear on the body.

But other individuals may also find a benefit. Thomas Roe, an American Council on Exercise certified personal trainer, endurance athlete, founder of TRoe Fitness and owner of Local Moves Studio in San Antonio, Texas, says “an ideal candidate is anyone who has trouble lifting heavy loads, which includes your own body weight. Think elderly or those who aren’t physically active prior to going into the surgery or therapy session.”

Munatones agrees that older adults, sedentary people, folks who lack mobility and balance, as well as those with musculoskeletal injuries who are recovering can also be considered ideal candidates.

If you’ve had surgery or are undergoing rehab for an injury “the traditional strengthening model may not be feasible due to pain, instability, swelling or other factors,” Brunst says. If that’s the case, a sports medicine practitioner may use BFR “to facilitate improvements in strength and function.”

The protocol can also help busy individuals get more out of each workout in less time, and even use the devices while doing house work or walking the dog to get a workout in without heading to the gym.

Is BFR Safe?

Brunst notes that people with certain conditions should steer clear of BFR training. These conditions include:

— Vascular disease.

— Diabetes.

— Sickle cell trait or disease.

— Severe hypertension.

— Cancer.

— Pregnancy.

— A history of deep vein thrombosis.

If you have any of these conditions, Brunst recommends talking with your physician and rehabilitation team to determine if BFR is appropriate, or whether an alternative treatment option might be a better choice.

Still, Brunst concludes that “when performed with appropriate athlete selection and with a provider that has undergone sufficient training on BFR application, it has been shown to be safe with very few reported complications.”

Munatones agrees that over their 50-plus years of research and development, KAATSU devices have been found to be safe and “most, but not all, BFR equipment is safe.” However, with some of the less-expensive versions, particularly those that more closely mimic a blood pressure cuff “users can apply too much pressure or apply too much pressure for too long.”

It’s also possible to put the bands in the wrong places or complete exercises that aren’t compatible with consistent pressure. This is why KAATSU recommends working with one of their certified practitioners when starting this therapy. As with any exercise regimen, it’s best to clear use of BFR with your doctor before you start, particularly if you have any underlying medical conditions.

Munatones, who suffered a massive heart attack in 2016, says “I’m convinced that the primary reason why I’m alive is because I had been using KAATSU for over 15 years before I had my heart attack.” He also recovered quickly following KAASTU protocols for cardiac rehabilitation and is now back to competing in marathon swimming events.

That said, not everyone likes or wants these pressure devices as part of their training or rehab efforts. Roe, for example, doesn’t subscribe to this approach. “BFR really is a personal choice,” he says. “If it works for you or you achieve repair and recovery results, then stick with it. Personally, I think most injuries or post-surgery recovery can be accomplished with deep tissue massage, yoga or Pilates, stretching and strengthening or swimming.”

Nutritional components hold promise for improving the health and well-being of adults

Reviewed by Emily Henderson, B.Sc. Jan 25 2022

This article is a repost which originally appeared on NEWS MEDICAL LIFE SCIENCES

Edited for content

Our Takeaways:

· Nutrition has a great impact on age-associated cellular decline (AACD)

· Cellular mitochondria are the cell’s powerhouses and also control apoptosis (programmed cell death)

· A low calorie diet appears to offer longevity benefits, though there are still studies being performed on this subject

Emerging research indicates that nutritional components that target specific mechanisms associated with age-associated cellular decline (AACD) hold promise for improving the health and well-being of adults.

“Cellular Nutrition and Its Influence on Age-Associated Cellular Decline,” the latest issue of The Gerontological Society of America’s What’s Hot newsletter with accompanying infographic, provides an overview of current research regarding evidence regarding the influence of nutritional components on health and aging.

“Declining mitochondrial health is increasingly being recognized as a common mediator of declining function and development of chronic diseases associated with aging. This report describes contributions of mitochondria to cellular functions and homeostasis and reviews emerging evidence regarding how nutritional components can influence these functions.”

Nathan K. LeBrasseur, PT, PhD, FGSA, professor and co-chair of research, Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and co-director of the Paul F. Glenn Center for Biology of Aging Research, Mayo Clinic

Nathan K. LeBrasseur is a member of the newsletter’s content development faculty.

Mitochondria are commonly known as the powerhouses of cells and are responsible for the production of cellular energy. They also regulate cellular metabolism, apoptosis (programmed cell death), signaling by producing reactive oxygen species (ROS). ROS are highly reactive molecules derived from oxygen that are key to many biochemical reactions; however, when present in excess, they can result in molecular damage. Mitochondria also have their own DNA (mtDNA) that encode for 13 proteins that are components of the respiratory chain and can develop mutations as a result of oxidative stress.

Declines in mitochondrial function and metabolism are among the key components of AACD. Evidence suggests that changes associated with AACD act as triggers for age-associated diseases and conditions.

“Because abnormalities in the function of mitochondria are associated with many diseases, including cancer, cardiovascular diseases, and neurodegenerative diseases, drivers of mitochondrial dysfunction are promising targets for addressing multiple age-related conditions,” said Roger A. Fielding, PhD, FGSA, a member of the newsletter’s content development faculty who is associate director of the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging and professor of medicine at the Tufts University School of Medicine.

Adoption of healthful eating patterns and exercise has been shown to improve markers of age-associated diseases and attenuate biological aging.

“Calorie restriction appears to improve markers of disease risk in humans, but its acceptability and feasibility particularly over the long term remains a challenge,” said LeBrasseur. “Dietary supplementation with nutritional components that target specific mechanisms associated with AACD may be an alternative or complementary approach to lifestyle interventions targeting AACD.”

Further, identifying AACD risk factors and intervening with cellular nutrients earlier in the aging process, before major mobility disabilities and disease-driven limitations emerge, could help improve overall healthy aging.

Emerging research indicates that some nutritional compounds can support healthy aging by influencing mitochondrial repair and preservation, quality control, and signaling. Examples of emerging compounds that have been shown to address mitochondrial damage and clinical disease states include SS peptides, coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), MitoQ, and glycine and N-acetylcysteine (GlyNAC). Compounds that may address mitochondrial quality control include sirtuins, mitochondrial division inhibitor (mdivi), urolithin A, and epicatechin. Finally, nutritional compounds that have been shown to address mitochondrial signaling include nicotinamide riboside and nicotinamide mononucleotide. Dietary supplementation with these components may be an alternative approach to lifestyle interventions targeting AACD, although more research is needed before making definitive recommendations.

Support for this issue of What’s Hot was provided by Nestlé Health Science.Source:

The Gerontological Society of America

Promising Anti-Aging And Longevity Molecules

Posted on Jan 11, 2022, 4 p.m.

This article is a repost which originally appeared on WORLD HEALTH.NET

Edited for content

Regenerative, anti-aging, and longevity researchers have been working to find molecules that can help to improve and/or extend both human health and lifespan. This article gathers information on some of the most promising molecules to extend human healthspan and possibly lifespan. There are also a few honorable mentions at the end of the article. 

This list is heavily influenced by the Interventions Testing Program (ITP). This program selects a variety of different molecules each year to see which ones will extend mice’s lifespan. They use mice that are genetically heterogeneous, all this means is that the mice are genetically diverse and therefore minimize the possibility that characteristics of a single type of mice would affect the results. They also run these experiments at three separate labs, this is to figure out if the results are true and reproducible. 

The first molecule is called glycine. When the Interventions Testing Program trialed glycine it led to a four to six percent increase in lifespan for both males and females. Now bear with me because we need to unpack this. Glycine along with another molecule called NAC (N-acetylcysteine) are building blocks for a powerful antioxidant called glutathione. In humans, the glutathione antioxidant system is maintained until around 45 years of age and then it declines rapidly. But in a 2021 human trial glycine and NAC supplementation for 24 weeks corrected the glutathione deficiency. By using glycine and NAC we can restore the glutathione balance, and now we’ve got human data showing a positive benefit for health. 

A 2021 human trial of a group of molecules called the combined metabolic activators (CMAs)  that do consist of glutathione precursors, use cuts the recovery time from COVID-19 by a whopping three days when compared to placebo. In that trial to support glutathione, they did use NAC but instead of using glycine, they used another molecule called serine. Serine is just converted into glycine by the body. Overall though for the first molecule, it’s actually a combination of precursors to rebuild glutathione. The combination of glycine or serine and NAC.

Next up is nicotinamide riboside. As part of the combined metabolic activators, it also included nicotinamide riboside to help rebuild a molecule called NAD. This is important because new research has come out showing that after the age of around 60 years old our metabolism appears to tank and NAD is central to our metabolism. By rebuilding our NAD stores, we’re hopefully helping to support our metabolism and therefore improve our resiliency against diseases. 

When the Interventions Testing Program trialed nicotinamide riboside it did not extend lifespan. But much of the excitement around nicotinamide riboside is not to do with its potential of lifespan extension, instead, it’s because we can support our metabolism with it, which can make us more resilient against metabolic attacks. For example, sunlight, alcohol, and time zone disruption, all these things attack our metabolism, and by taking the nicotinamide riboside we may be more resilient against these attacks and that’s possibly why we can see an improvement in the recovery time of COVID-19 patients. 

The third molecule is 17-alpha estradiol which is a non-feminizing type of estrogen. When the Interventions Testing Program trialed it, it extended male mice’s lifespan by 19%. To stress again this is a non-feminizing type of estrogen, this is important because estrogenic actions have been increasingly recognized to have potential health and anti-aging benefits. It’s not just males that seem to get a benefit from this molecule, in female mice, there’s a 20% reduction in body weight. We are very excited to read more human data about this molecule.

Moving on to the fourth molecule on the list we’ve got SGLT2i inhibitors. This is a class of medication that is routinely prescribed to type 2 diabetic patients. When the Interventions Testing Program trialed it, it extended male mice lifespan by 14%. In humans, a 2019 systematic review was published in The Lancet journal looking specifically at heart disease outcomes involving over 34 000 patients, and what we could see in this study is that SGLT2i inhibitors reduced heart attacks by 11% and reduced the progression of kidney disease by 45%. 

This medication works by encouraging the kidneys to pee out sugar, instead of that sugar remaining in the bloodstream, it’s eliminated out of the system. This is important because it blunts the peak blood sugar levels which may be a factor in the lifespan extension effects that we see from the Interventions Testing Program. The potential for this molecule is because as we age our kidney function declines even from our mid-20s, and we’ve got human data showing that for non-diabetic kidney disease patients this type of medication does delay the progression of kidney disease. So I do wonder whether this class of medication would be used to the wider population to slow down kidney disease and therefore extend healthspan.

The fifth molecule that there is excitement about is rapamycin. Rapamycin is the golden egg from the Interventions Testing Program. Over and over again when they trial this molecule it extends both female and male lifespan, and that is why I’ve chosen to study this molecule. In a clinical trial, I want to figure out if using rapamycin once a week combined with exercise gives even greater muscle performance benefits compared to just exercise alone.

There are also three other molecules that almost made the top five list. The first one is fisetin. Essentially as we age some of our cells stop dividing and they become senescent. Fisetin does hold the potential to clear away those old cells, and that’s important because those old cells don’t just remain dormant they also release all sorts of factors that can damage our body. The Interventions Testing Program as part of their 2018 group of molecules will be trialing fisetin, and the Mayo Clinic have turned their attention to running human fisetin trials.

The second honorable mention is alpha-ketoglutarate (AKG), this molecule generated quite the hype in 2020 where a mice trial showed a 16.6% improvement in lifespan. We are all eagerly awaiting more human data to come out on this molecule to see whether it will improve human health.

The final honorable mention is hyaluronic acid. The quantity of hyaluronic acid gradually declines as we age, and hyaluronic acid is a major component of the connective tissue of the body including our blood vessels, skin, and organs. In a 2021 human 12-week double-blind placebo-controlled study we can see that hyaluronic acid significantly improved skin elasticity. If hyaluronic acid can improve skin health (wrinkles and dry skin) maybe it can improve blood vessel health and other parts of the body. Additionally, hyaluronic acid may also be the underlying reason as to why the naked mole rat has such exceptional longevity.

There we have an evidence-based list of top promising anti-aging and longevity molecules. But it is worth mentioning that this article is only partial, there are many others being studied looking for that elusive “fountain of youth” to help improve the human condition. 

As with anything you read on the internet, this article should not be construed as medical advice; please talk to your doctor or primary care provider before making any changes to your wellness routine.

Content may be edited for style and length.

Materials provided by:

This article was adapted from a presentation by Dr. Brad Stanfield

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How to reverse your bio age — like Tom Brady and Jeff Bezos — in 8 weeks

By Lucy Dunn

This article is a repost which originally appeared on NEW YORK POST

Edited for content

A slew of celebrities are said to practice bio-hacking. Now, a new book claims it can help reverse your “bio age.”

Jeff Bezos’ makeover from scrawny to strapping was highlighted again over Christmas, as the Amazon founder flaunted his shirtless muscles while in St. Barts with girlfriend Lauren Sanchez. The world’s second-richest man has long claimed that healthy eating — including, he has said, ditching his habit of eating an entire can of Pillsbury biscuits for breakfast — and sleep habits led to his transformation. But experts suggest Bezos is, like many other A-listers and tech titans, probably a fan of biohacking.

“Access to biohacking tools such as stem cells and hormones is allowing men to look, perform and think better,” cosmetic dermatologist Jessie Cheung told Town & Country. “I’m pretty sure he’s gotten a taste of some good stuff.”

Bezos has also invested millions of dollars in Unity Biotechnology, a startup that reportedly aims to make the “debilitating consequences of aging as uncommon as polio.”

And who wouldn’t want to look a little younger, have fewer wrinkles and feel more energetic — and a little less creaky? The book “Younger You: Reverse Your Bio Age and Live Longer, Better” (Hachette Go) by Dr. Kara Fitzgerald, out Jan. 18, aims to show what you can do to look and feel younger longer, in as little as eight weeks.

It’s not quite “Back To The Future.” But Fitzgerald, a doctor in naturopathic medicine from National College of Natural Medicine in Portland, Ore., says it is possible to reverse your biological age — or “bio age” — a term scientists use for determining how old someone’s tissues, systems and genetic material are.
“Younger You” by Dr. Kara FitzgeraldYounger You shares DIY biohacking tips.

As Bezos learned, poor diet, lifestyle and even factors such as stress can damage your body. But, Fitzgerald claims, getting those factors under control can help wind back your bio age for better cognition, higher energy and a more youthful appearance — and also lower your risk of every major disease.

The doctor recognizes that not everyone has the money, time or desire to pursue the form of biohacking that tech gurus like former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey are said to enjoy: “Somewhere in Silicon Valley right now (so many biohackers seem to be male, tech-friendly, and wealthy), someone is injecting themself with human growth hormone, receiving an IV of a young person’s blood plasma, taking an immunosuppressive drug, or even downing a cocktail of gene-editing enzymes and proteins in an effort to achieve maximum performance and longevity,” Fitzgerald writes. “While … I am paying attention to (and excited about) the latest anti-aging science, for most of us, [it’s] not available, affordable, doable, or even desirable.”

Instead, her plan focuses on DIY hacks.

The eating plan is “plant leaning” and similar to the popular keto diet in that the goal is to move your body into “ketosis” — the state where it makes ketones for fuel from fat instead of burning glucose.

“Younger You” concentrates on lowering inflammation (as Tom Brady and Gisele Bündchen do), which has been linked to many major diseases including cancer, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, depression and Alzheimer’s. It avoids excess sugar and simple carbs found in processed, refined foods like sugar, pasta and white bread — but also grains, beans and legumes, and dairy, which can raise blood sugar and cause inflammation.

Fitzgerald’s plan is based on research that was the first of its kind to show biological age reversal in humans, by an average of three years. Patients in her study showed an improvement in digestion, a drop in blood sugar and insulin production, and higher “good” cholesterol and lower “bad” cholesterol numbers. Lower levels of the antibodies that are hallmarks of autoimmune conditions were also reported.

The program is centered around genetics. Consider DNA as your body’s hardware: It never changes. The software — which determines which genes are turned on or off — is a process called “DNA methylation.”

“You want your DNA methylation to be working in such a way that your good genes [those that suppress tumor growth, for example] are on and your bad genes [for, say, inflammation] are off,” says Fitzgerald. The lifestyle choices you make every day — what you eat, when you go to bed, how much you exercise — can all negatively or positively influence it.

To discover your current bio age, go to biological-age.com, one of the many online links that deduce how “old” your body is based on factors such as education, relationships, and food, exercise and sleep habits.

Six tips for reducing your bio age

  1. Readjust your eating ratios

The ideal is 45–50 percent of daily calories from a blend of healthy monounsaturated, saturated, omega-3, and omega-6 fats; 15–20 percent of daily calories from clean protein: organic and pasture-raised meat, as well as eggs, nuts and seeds; and 30–35 percent of daily calories from unexpected carbs: green, cruciferous (broccoli, cauliflower) and colorful vegetables and low-sugar fruits.

  1. Get moving

A good workout session promotes cellular repair, burns fat and builds heart muscle. Fitzgerald recommends a minimum five sessions per week of at least thirty minutes at a moderate exertion level — and notes that even cleaning the house can help with anti-aging DNA changes.

  1. Manage your stress

Stress can increase inflammation, raise blood sugar and reduce immunity, so two daily meditation sessions of 10 to 20 minutes each are recommended. Try downloading a meditation app such as Headspace or Calm.

  1. Sleep it off

Getting enough sleep is a fundamental component of health overall — and healthy DNA methylation in particular. Try to get at least seven hours a night.

  1. Avoid toxins

Eat organic wherever possible. When it’s not, peel or soak vegetables in white vinegar to reduce toxin exposure. Avoid using plastic food and drink containers, as well as lotions and sunscreens that contain chemicals like phthalates, parabens, formaldehydes, and methylene glycol.

  1. Hug it out

Known as the love hormone, oxytocin is released when you enjoy physical contact with someone else. It also has a number of benefits — including helping cope with stress and recover from trauma. Oxytocin has even been found to lower blood pressure and can help you stop eating when you’re full.

What to Eat — and What Not to Eat

Good vegetables

Antioxidant-rich colorful vegetables such as artichokes, bell peppers, eggplant, green peas, radishes, summer squash, tomatoes and zucchini

Cruciferous vegetables such as arugula, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, turnips and watercress

Dark leafy greens such as collard greens, escarole, lettuce (endive, green, mesclun, radicchio, romaine — but not iceberg), spinach and Swiss chard

Bad vegetables

Corn, processed vegetable snacks, white potatoes

Good fats

Nuts and seeds including almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, chestnuts, chia seeds, flax seeds, hazelnuts, hemp seeds, macadamia nuts, pecans, pine nuts, poppy seeds, sesame seeds (and tahini) and walnuts

Oils including almond oil, avocado oil, coconut oil, flaxseed oil, MCT oil, olive oil, pumpkin seed oil, red palm oil, safflower oil, sesame oil, sunflower oil and walnut oil

Bad fats

Peanuts

Oils such as cottonseed oil, Crisco, hydrogenated fats, margarine, shortening, soybean oil, trans fats, vegetable oil

Good proteins

Beef (grass-fed), bison, buffalo, chicken (organic), duck, eggs, fish (wildcaught or responsibly farmed and with low mercury), lamb, pork, rabbit, shellfish and turkey

Bad proteins

Any meat from animals raised with antibiotics or hormones, fried meats and fish, high-mercury fish, and processed meats including sausage, hot dogs, cold cuts and canned meats

Also avoid dairy — including milk, cheese, yogurt, kefir and butter; and all soy, including soy sauce, soybean oil, soy milk, soy yogurt and textured vegetable protein

Good fruits

Avocado, blood oranges, blueberries, grapefruit, green apples, lemon, lime, pomegranate seeds, raspberries, strawberries

Bad fruit

Bananas, mangos, oranges, pineapples, red and yellow apples, and stone fruits such as peaches and apricots

Good condiments

Avocado-oil mayonnaise, Baker’s yeast, brewer’s yeast, mustard, nutritional yeast, salsa (no sugar added), tamari (low sodium), vinegars

Bad condiments

Prepared sauces with sugar and additives, including BBQ sauce, honey mustard, ketchup and teriyaki sauce, as well as store-bought salad dressing

Good sweeteners

Minimal amounts of natural no-calorie sweeteners that don’t impact blood sugar, including erythritol, monkfruit and stevia

Bad sweeteners

Artificial sweeteners, coconut sugar, evaporated cane juice, high-fructose corn syrup, honey, maple syrup, molasses and refined sugar

Good drinks

Coconut water, coffee, green tea, herbal tea, oolong tea, seltzer, water (filtered, mineral, or spring)

Bad drinks

Alcohol, fruit juice and soft drinks — including diet soda.


Try this recipe for Golden Turmeric Milk (1 serving)

This tasty beverage gets its color from turmeric — the “clean-up crew” for life’s inevitable biochemical messes. Tip: You can triple or quadruple the amounts of spices and store the blend in a glass jar for future cups — just add a rounded 1 1/2 teaspoons to your nondairy milk and sweetener of choice.

1 1/2 cups coconut or almond milk, unsweetened

1 teaspoon turmeric
 1/4 teaspoon ginger
 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon 
¹⁄8 teaspoon black pepper
 A few drops of liquid stevia, to taste
  1. 1. Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a simmer.

2. Turn off the heat and let sit for 5 minutes for the spices to mellow and blend together. Enjoy while still warm.

8 Ways to Boost Your Natural Testosterone

By David Thompson Jan 06, 2022 12:20 PM EST

This article is a repost which originally appeared on NATURE WORLD NEWS

Edited for content

A normal testosterone level for a man ranges from 264 and 964 nanograms per deciliter. Low testosterone can have a number of adverse health effects, including low libido, fatigue, hair loss and weight gain. There are medications that can increase your testosterone. However, many of these medications come with risks.

That is why it is best for you to try to boost your testosterone naturally. You can implement the following lifestyle changes to boost your testosterone.

Get Plenty of Sleep

A lack of sleep can cause a hormone imbalance. Testosterone is one of the hormones that can get out of whack if you do not get enough sleep. There have been studies done to confirm that your testosterone levels drop when you do not get enough sleep.

One study was done by the University of Chicago. It involved 10 men who were 24-years-old. They slept for eight hours for one week while at home. They then slept in the lab for the next 11 days. After that, they only slept for five hours for eight days.

The researchers found that the men’s testosterone levels dropped by 15 percent when they only got five hours of sleep. Keep in mind that a man’s testosterone only drops by one or two percent per year due to the natural aging process.

That is why it is important for you to prioritize getting the right amount of sleep. You need seven to eight hours per day. If you do not get enough sleep, then you should talk to your doctor.

Follow a Healthy Diet

A nutritious diet is important for maintaining a healthy testosterone level. You should avoid dieting because this can cause an imbalance in your hormone levels. You should eat plenty of whole foods so that you can get the right balance of proteins, carbohydrates and fats.

In reproduction and bodily functions, free testosterone is just as effective as bound testosterone. To determine if they are within the recommended quota, it is important to test their levels. They are essential for the body to connect with its testosterone receptors. A fractional reduction in this hormone could cause reproductive problems and impairment of primary bodily functions, such as muscle development.

Lose Weight

Studies have shown that obese men are more likely to suffer from low T. In fact, a study published in “Clinical Endocrinology” that showed that obese males who are between the ages of 14 and 20 have 50 percent less testosterone.

Stay Active

Being active can naturally boost your testosterone levels. You should try to exercise every day. However, it is important for you to avoid overdoing a good thing. If you are too active, then it can actually decrease your testosterone levels. That is why it is common for athletes to suffer from low testosterone.

Stress

Stress is something that we all have. It is impossible to completely avoid stress because it comes with living. When you are stressed, your cortisol levels are higher. This can impair your metabolism and immune system response. If you have too much cortisol, then your testosterone levels will be lower.

Vitamins And Supplements

Vitamin D is one of the supplements that can help you increase your testosterone levels. There have been studies that have linked low testosterone levels to vitamin D deficiency. In addition to taking a supplement, you can increase your vitamin D levels by spending at least 15 minutes in the sun. You can also eat fortified cereal, milk and salmon.

DHEA is a hormone that your body needs in order to produce testosterone. Your DHEA levels tend to decrease as you get older. DHEA supplements may help your body produce more testosterone.

If you are deficient in magnesium, then taking a supplement can help your levels return to normal. A zinc deficiency can also cause your testosterone levels to drop. Additionally, there has been evidence to suggest that creatine can increase testosterone. It is also found in tuna, beef and salmon.

Review the Medications That You Take

It is important for you to look at the side effects of the medication. Low testosterone may be a side effect of the medication that you are taking. If you think that your medication is causing you to experience low testosterone, then it is a good idea for you to talk to your doctor. Your doctor can either adjust your medication or switch you to one that does not affect your testosterone levels. Do not stop taking your medication or adjust your dosage without talking to your doctor’s first.

Do Not Abuse Alcohol or Drugs

If you abuse drugs and alcohol, then your testosterone levels can drop. They can also cause serious damage to the cells in your body. That is why you should avoid drugs completely. If you drink alcohol, then you should avoid overdoing it. Do not have more than two alcoholic beverages per day.

Grape seed extract may have anti-aging properties

Grape seed extract reverses aging in mice

Written by Timothy Huzar on December 9, 2021 — Fact checked by Anna Guildford, Ph.D.

This article is a repost which originally appeared on MEDICAL NEWS TODAY

Edited for content.

‧ Aging is a key risk factor for a range of health issues. This is due, in part, to the buildup of senescent cells in a person’s body.
‧ In recent years, scientists have identified a class of drugs called senolytics. These can destroy senescent cells in laboratory and animal experiments.
‧ In the recent study, the researchers identified a component of grape seed extract as a potentially effective senolytic, and they used it to extend the life span and healthspan of mice.


In a new study, researchers identified a new drug based on a component of grape seed extract that has successfully extended the life span and healthspan of mice.

The research, which appears in the journal Nature Metabolism, lays the groundwork for further clinical studies to determine whether or not the effects may be reproducible in humans.

Senescence and senolytics

Aging is a key risk factor for many chronic conditions. Scientists believe that this is due, in part, to cellular senescence. This occurs when a cell ceases to be able to fulfill its biological function in a person’s body.

In recent years, researchers have identified a class of drugs called senolytics. These drugs can destroy senescent cells in the laboratory and in animal models, potentially reducing the number of chronic conditions that occur with age and an increasing life span.

In the study, the scientists identified a new senolytic derived from a component of grape seed extract, known as procyanidin C1 (PCC1).

Based on previously available data, PCC1 showed promise at inhibiting the effects of senescent cells when administered at low concentrations and selectively destroying senescent cells at higher concentrations.

Mouse experiments

To test the effects of PCC1 on aging, the researchers developed three experiments involving mice.

In the first experiment, they exposed mice to a sub-lethal dose of radiation to induce cellular senescence. One group of mice then received PCC1, while the other group received the vehicle that carried the PCC1.

The researchers found that after the mice underwent irradiation, they developed abnormal body features, including significant amounts of gray hair.

Treating the mice with PCC1 significantly reversed these features. The mice who received PCC1 also had fewer senescent cells and fewer biomarkers associated with senescent cells.

Finally, the irradiated mice had worse exercise capacity and muscle strength. However, the mice that received PCC1 saw this reversed and had better survival rates.

In the second experiment, the researchers treated older mice with either PCC1 or a vehicle every 2 weeks for 4 months.

The team found a significant number of senescent cells in the kidneys, livers, lungs, and prostates of the aged mice. However, PCC1 treatment reversed this.

The PCC1-treated mice also had improved grip strength, maximum walking speed, hanging endurance, treadmill endurance, daily activity levels, and balance, compared with the mice who only received the vehicle.

In the third experiment, the researchers looked at very old mice to see what effect PCC1 may have on the longevity of the mice.

They found that mice treated with PCC1 lived, on average, 9.4% longer across their lifetime than mice who received the vehicle.

This equated to a 64.2% extended life span following the treatment.

Furthermore, despite living longer, the PCC1-treated mice did not have any greater age-related morbidity than the mice that received the vehicle.

Summing up the findings, corresponding study author Prof. Yu Sun — of the Shanghai Institute of Nutrition and Health in China — and colleagues say, “We hereby present proof-of-principle evidence that, even when administered in late life, [PCC1] holds prominent potential to remarkably delay age-related dysfunction, reduce age-related diseases, and enhance health conditions, thus providing a new avenue to improve healthspan and life span in future geriatric medicine.”

Speaking with Medical News Today, Dr. James Brown — a reader in aging and metabolism and a member of the Aston Research Centre for Healthy Ageing in Birmingham, United Kingdom — said that the findings provide further evidence for the potential benefit of senolytic drugs. Dr. Brown was not involved with the recent study.


“Senolytics are an exciting new class of anti-aging compounds, often found to be naturally occurring. This study suggests that PCC1 joins compounds like quercetin and fisetin in being able to selectively kill aged cells [while] leaving young and healthy cells alive and well.”


“This study, along with others in this field, looked at the effects in rodents and other lower organisms, and, therefore, there is much work to do before any anti-aging effect of these compounds in humans is established.”

“Senolytics certainly show promise as potentially being the leading class of anti-aging ‘drugs’ that are being developed,” said Dr. Brown.

Mice to humans?

Speaking with MNT, Prof. Ilaria Bellantuono — a professor of musculoskeletal aging at the University of Sheffield in the U.K. — agreed that a key question is whether or not the findings are reproducible in humans. Prof. Bellantuono also was not involved with the study.

“This research adds to a body of evidence showing that eliminating senescent cells using drugs [that] selectively kill those cells — called senolytics — improves physical function with age and enhances the action of chemotherapeutic agents in cancer.”

“It is to be noted that all the body of evidence in this area is in animal models — in this specific case, in mouse models. The real challenge is to test whether these drugs are as effective in [humans]. At the moment, there [are] no data available, and clinical trials are just starting,” said Prof. Bellantuono.

Dr. David Clancy — of the Division of Biomedical and Life Sciences at Lancaster University in the U.K. — said to MNT that the dose levels may be an issue when translating the findings to humans. Dr. Clancy was not involved with the recent study.

“Doses given to mice are often very large compared with what humans can tolerate. Proper senolytic doses of PCC1 in humans may turn out to cause toxicity. Rat studies might be informative; their livers apparently metabolize drugs more like humans’ than do mouse livers,” said Dr. Clancy.

Speaking with MNT, Dr. Richard Siow — the director of aging research at King’s College London in the U.K. — also said that nonhuman animal studies do not necessarily translate into positive clinical effects in humans. Dr. Siow also was not involved in the study.

“I don’t always equate findings in mice and worms and flies to humans, for the simple fact that we have bank accounts — they don’t. We have wallets — they don’t. We have other stresses in life that animals don’t have: dietary, social, work, Zoom calls. I’m sure you can stress out a mouse in different ways, but it’s usually the bank accounts we’re more worried about,” said Dr. Siow.

“It’s a joke, of course, but just to put it in context, you can’t translate everything that you read about in mice into humans. It’s great if you’re a mouse and you want to live to 200 — or the mouse equivalent of 200 — but is that meaningful for man? That’s always a caveat when I talk about animal studies.”

Nonetheless, Dr. Siow said that the findings were significant.

“On the positive side, it’s robust research, and it’s telling us about confirmatory evidence that many of the pathways that even my own research focuses on are important when we consider life span in general.”

“Whether it’s an animal model or a human model, perhaps we need to look at some of these particular molecular pathways in the context of human clinical studies with compounds such as grape seed procyanidins,” said Dr. Siow.

Dr. Siow said that one possibility was the development of grape seed extract as a dietary supplement.

“Having a good animal model with robust outcomes [and a paper] published in a high impact journal does add weight to the development and investment in human clinical studies, whether it’s from the government, clinical trials, or through investors and industry taking this on board, and based on these papers putting grape seed as a nutritional supplement in a tablet.”

“I’m taking nutritional supplements that may not have gone into clinical trials but based on evidence from animals, it adds weight — it gives the consumer confidence that there may be something in this. That’s one degree of translating awareness of nutritional supplements being beneficial in some respects for longevity,” said Dr. Siow.

Healthspan, not just life span

Dr. Siow stressed that the quality of a person’s life was also important, not just the number of years they live.

“If we look at life span, and more importantly healthspan, we need to delineate what we mean by life span. It’s OK that we live until 150, but if we spend the last 50 years in bed, that’s not great.”

“So, rather than life span, maybe a better word would be healthy longevity: You may well extend the number of years, but are you adding life to those years? Or are they meaningless years? And also mental health and wellness: You may be living to 130, but if you are unable to enjoy those years, is it worthwhile?”

“It’s important that we look at the broader perspective of mental health and wellness, frailty, immobility, how we grow old in society — are taking the pills sufficient? Or do we need more social care? If we’re living into our 90s, 100s, 110s, is there support in place? Is there government policy?”

“If these pills are helping us and we are getting into our 100s, what can we do to improve the quality of life — not just by taking more pills? There’s only so much you can do with grape seed and pomegranate and so on,” said Dr. Siow.

Future research

Prof. Bellantuono said that the study’s findings could be particularly valuable for developing clinical trials involving cancer patients receiving chemotherapy.

“The general challenge with senolytics is to identify [who] will benefit, and how to measure the benefits in a clinical trial.”

“In addition, as many of these drugs are most efficacious in preventing a condition rather than treating it when it is diagnosed, the clinical trials could last years depending on the conditions, and this is too expensive to do.”

“However, in this specific case, [the researchers] have identified a group of patients [who] will benefit from this: cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy. In addition, as it is known when the formation of senescent cells is induced — that is, with chemotherapy — and when the effects they cause on the tumor and physical performance occur — that is, weeks to [a] few months — this is an excellent example where a proof-of-concept study testing the efficacy of senolytics in patients could be performed,” said Prof. Bellantuono.