David Sinclair: Extending the Human Lifespan Beyond 100 Years | Lex Fridman Podcast

David Sinclair is a geneticist at Harvard and author of Lifespan.

This Podcast is a repost which originally appeared on lexfridman.com
Podcast notes are a repost which originally appeared on PodcastNotes
Lex Fridman Podcast #189 with David Sinclair - June 6, 2021
Edited for content and readability - Images sourced from Pexels

Key Takeaways

  • Wearables have the potential to revolutionize medicine
  • The goal is doctors being able to look at a dashboard of our body based on swabs, blood tests, and biosensors and make real-time, tailored recommendations
  • Top causes of aging: broken chromosomes, cell stress, smoking
  • Lifestyle methods to slow aging: fasting (skip 1-2 meals per day), eat more vegetables and less red meat, exercise, get good quality sleep (quality more important than quantity)

Introduction

Dr. David Sinclair (@davidsinclair) is a biologist, professor of genetics at Harvard, author, and expert on aging and longevity. His research and biotech companies focus on understanding why we age and how to slow its effects.

In this episode of the Lex Fridman Podcast, Lex and guest David Sinclair discuss the determinants of why we age, solving aging, the trend of wearables and tracking health data, artificial intelligence, social perspectives of lifespan , and death, and lifestyle factors to improve lifespan.

Host: Lex Fridman (@lexfridman)

Book: Lifespan: Why We Age and Why We Don’t Have To by David Sinclair

Artificial Intelligence & Immortality

  • We live in a time we can leverage data to have the pieces of the life of people we can gather using technology, beyond just written books
  • AI makes it possible to bring back people that we love in some way and in essence achieve immortality
  • AI can be used to build experience, thoughts, speech
  • AI uses in aging: generate biological clocks, predict protein folding, assemble genomes, predict longevity in mouse in response to stimuli, diagnosing a virus

David Sinclair Interest And Predictions On Wearables

  • Wearables represent the merging of machines and humans  
  • Wearables help us collect biological data about our bodies
  • We can use data to keep ourselves in optimal shape
  • “Picture a future where you’re monitored constantly so you wouldn’t have a heart attack, you’d know that was coming.” – David Sinclair
  • It’s feasible that wearables and similar technology will indicate what antibiotic or medication to take, what to eat, etc. – and augment physicians who would just need to sign off on the protocol
  • COVID-19 accelerated biological technologies & medical advances
  • There will be day doctor’s use wearable technology to send patients home for monitoring instead of keeping them in the hospital
  • Wearables will revolutionize medicine – it can collect data which can be used to predict sickness, diagnose disease

InsideTracker

  • InsideTracker: David Sinclair co-founded a company that creates personalized and actionable plans to help people optimize their bodies through nutrition, supplements, and lifestyle
  • Connects scientific papers to individual data and make recommendations for lifestyle
  • InsideTracker leverages hundreds of thousands of human data points and thousands of scientific articles to create a formula of what works and what doesn’t for your body
  • Recommendation of food and nutrition was better than leading drug at treating type 2 diabetes
  • Soon, the current model of medicine is going to outdated as machines and data will know us better than our doctor
  • “We wouldn’t drive a car without a dashboard so why would doctors do the same?” – David Sinclair

How And Why We Age

  • Aging is both a feature and bug of evolution
  • We only need to live as long as we need to in order to replace ourselves – some breed slowly and build a body that lasts, some breed quickly and die quickly
  • We can do better at aging
  • Hallmarks of aging include: loss of telomeres, senescent cells, loss of energetics
  • Defining factor of aging: preservation of information and loss of entropy
  • “Loss of information in our bodies is a root cause of aging.” – David Sinclair
  • We have information regulator genes in our bodies – upregulation could preserve health
  • Information in cells = DNA and epigenome
    • DNA is usually intact in animals and humans over time
    • Epigenome: regulators of genetic information
  • Question of importance: is there a repository of information in the body to restore from?
  • Antagonistic pleiotropy: a system built to keep us alive when we’re young but has damaging effects later in life
  • Causes of aging: (1) broken chromosomes and (2) cell stress – smoking also dramatically accelerates biological age
    • It’s hard to repair something that’s constantly breaking: we have 1000 chromosome breaks per day – the break is recognized by proteins and is usually fixed but not always
  • You can slow down aging using three embryonic genes to reset the age of tissues to a certain point – but if you don’t do it right it can cause tumors  

Data Sharing In Biology

  • “We’re living through what’s going to be seen as one of the biggest revolutions in human health through the gathering of data about our bodies.” – David Sinclair
  • Ultimately, we’re all going to be monitored
  • There will be a reversal where blamed will be assigned for not collecting data
  • Decisions are made based on very few tests when we have the opportunity to collect more
  • Consumer health is going in the direction of the patient having access to better data than the doctor (through private lab tests, biotech companies, etc.)
  • Doctors are becoming excited and interested about seeing and using privately collected patient data to make more informed decisions
  • The U.S. currently spends 17% of GDP on healthcare – we can save money by monitoring using wearables and prevention
  • Ideally, we can create a system where we can share data as we’d like and keep what we wouldn’t

Lifestyle Methods To Slow Aging

  • Fasting is one of the oldest ways to improve health – we need to optimize how long and the frequency
  • “If there’s one thing I can recommend to anybody to slow down aging it’s to skip a meal or two a day.” – David Sinclair
  • Note: David Sinclair is a big fan of one meal a day; the carnivore diet has made Lex feel really good
  • When you eat seems to be more important than what you eat
  • Data says plant-based foods are better than meat-based foods
    • People who live longer tend to eat Mediterranean diets with little red meat
    • High meat consumption stimulates mTor
    • Could take rapamycin to counteract effects of meat
    • Meat produces immediate health benefits (muscle, energy) but potentially at the expense of long term effects
  • Eat a diet full of leafy greens, avoid spikes in sugar, possibly explore supplementing with resveratrol
  • Exercise clearly extends longevity
  • You don’t need much exercise to get great benefit – exercise aerobically a few times per week (even 10 minutes) and lift weights a few times per week
  • Sleep is critical for longevity to avoid premature aging and adverse health outcomes
  • Sleep quality seems to matter more than quantity
  • The brain is the center for longevity so we have to take care of stress levels, mental health

Data Collection Methods

  • We’ll likely work to moving away from blood draws for data
  • Currently: swab and ship to the lab to test hormones, stress levels, blood glucose, etc.
  • In the next 10 years: spit on paper and stick in a machine for analysis
  • Home tests are really easy and scalable if they can become democratized (price reduced)

Realistic Goals Of Lifespan

  • If you start eating cleaner in your 20s, that has been shown to improve lifespan in animal models
  • If you are in your 20s, aim to reach 100
  • There’s no maximum limit to human lifespan

Death & Denial

  • We seem to draw meaning from life being rooted in our existence – most of us find it distressing to face our own mortality
  • All living beings have evolved to want to live and survive
  • It’s possible we evolve to naturally deny aging because we need to use our energy and focus for innovation and life instead of death
  • It might be easier to be lazy if you are immortal

Note: Wearable Oura ring was referred to multiple times throughout the show

Researchers discover a wound-healing repair in gut diseases

An international team led by the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine has discovered novel properties of the protein Gasdermin B that promotes repair of cells lining the gastrointestinal tract in people with chronic inflammatory disorders like Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.

This article is a repost which originally appeared on ScienceDaily

Case Western Reserve University - February 7, 2022
Edited for content and readability - Images sourced from Pexels 
Source: DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2021.12.024

Our Takeaways:

  • Gasdermins are a type of proteins that cause cell death
  • Gasdermin B is an exception – instead it keeps the gastrointestinal tract healthy
  • Future therapies investigating Gasdermin B could produce effective wound-healing of the lungs, skin and other organs

The new findings, recently published in the journal, Cell, are significant because the impact of Gasdermin B (GSDMB) on healing epithelium — a type of body tissue that lines the organs that have direct contact with the external environment — will play a key role in research on wound formation and designing novel therapeutics to enhance wound repair, said Theresa Pizarro, lead study author and the Louis Pillemer Professor of Experimental Pathology at the School of Medicine. In addition to medical school colleagues on campus, researchers included scientists from Cleveland Clinic, Texas, England and Greece.

Gasdermin B

Gasdermins are a family of proteins known to cause pyroptosis — a type of cell death usually triggered by infections and inflammation that contributes to conditions like ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.

Within that protein family, Gasdermin B (GSDMB), unlike other gasdermin proteins, doesn’t cause pyroptosis, especially in epithelial cells, but instead contributes to keeping the gastrointestinal tract healthy — a significant discovery for the development of future therapeutic treatments.

Previous research has shown that individuals carrying genetic variations of Gasdermin B have an increased risk of developing inflammatory disorders like asthma or inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

“Little was known regarding the mechanisms of how this occurred,” Pizarro said. “In our studies, we uncovered the functional consequences of these GSDMB genetic variants.”

“So, although IBD patients may produce higher levels of GSDMB when they have disease flares,” she said, “the GSDMB protein produced by the genetic variants interferes with the ability of epithelial cells to regenerate and form a healthy barrier critical to healing, for example, in ulcers of patients with ulcerative colitis.”

The study

The scientists analyzed samples from Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis patients using state-of-the-art techniques, such as single-cell RNA sequencing, CRISPR/Cas9 and epithelial organoid cultures. Results confirmed substantial increases of GSDMB in biopsies of those with IBD, particularly ulcerative colitis, when compared to levels of GSDMB found in healthy individuals.

The findings unexpectedly showed the lack of epithelial cell death due to GSDMB; instead, this increased level led to:

  • Proliferation, or the growth of new cells;
  • Migration, or the movement of cells;
  • And decreased adhesion dynamics — the attractive forces between cells and other surfaces that affect motility.

Together, these processes promote restoration of the epithelial layer and effective wound-healing, Pizarro said.

“Future therapies targeting gasdermin B are not necessarily restricted to IBD or other chronic inflammatory states of the gastrointestinal tract,” Pizarro said, “but also have far-reaching implications for effective wound-healing of the lungs, skin and other organs interfacing with the external environment that require maintenance of an efficient epithelial barrier.”

Pizarro credited “this groundbreaking discovery on the collaborative and concerted efforts from immunologists, gastroenterologists, cell biologists and bioinformaticians from around the world,” including from Oxford University, University of Athens, Baylor College of Medicine, UT Southwestern and her colleagues at Cleveland Clinic Lerner Research Institute and Case Western Reserve.

Men Prone To Worry and Anxiety May Develop Heart Disease and Diabetes Risk Factors at Younger Ages

Middle-aged men who are anxious and worry more may be at greater biological risk for developing heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes, also called cardiometabolic disease, as they get older, according to new research published today in the Journal of the American Heart Association, an open access journal of the American Heart Association.

This article is a repost which originally appeared on SciTechDaily

The American Heart Association - January 24, 2022
Edited for content and readability - Images sourced from Pexels
Source: DOI: 10.1161/JAHA.121.022006

Our Takeaways:

  • Heart disease and Type 2 diabetes developed earlier in life among those who reported more feelings of worry or being overwhelmed.
  • The study suggests that men prone to worry and anxiety may need to pay extra attention to cardiometabolic disease risk factors, such as maintaining a healthy weight and taking blood pressure or cholesterol medicines, if needed.
  • The findings also suggest that treating anxiety disorders may lower cardiometabolic disease risk.

“While the participants were primarily white men, our findings indicate higher levels of anxiousness or worry among men are linked to biological processes that may give rise to heart disease and metabolic conditions, and these associations may be present much earlier in life than is commonly appreciated – potentially during childhood or young adulthood,” said Lewina Lee, Ph.D., lead author of the study, an assistant professor of psychiatry at Boston University School of Medicine, and an investigator and clinical psychologist at the National Center for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, both in Boston.

To track the relationship between anxiety and cardiometabolic disease risk factors over time, the investigators analyzed data on participants in the Normative Aging Study, which is a longitudinal study of aging processes in men, founded at the U.S. Veterans Affairs outpatient clinic in Boston in 1961. The study includes both veterans and non-veterans. This analysis included 1,561 men (97% white), who were an average age of 53 years in 1975. The men completed baseline assessments of neuroticism and worry and did not have cardiovascular disease or cancer at that time. A personality inventory assessed neuroticism on a scale of 0–9. In addition, a worry assessment tool asked how often they worried about each of 20 items, with 0 meaning never and 4 meaning all the time.

“Neuroticism is a personality trait characterized by a tendency to interpret situations as threatening, stressful and/or overwhelming. Individuals with high levels of neuroticism are prone to experience negative emotions – such as fear, anxiety, sadness and anger – more intensely and more frequently,” said Lee. “Worry refers to our attempts at problem-solving around an issue whose future outcome is uncertain and potentially positive or negative. Worry can be adaptive, for example, when it leads us to constructive solutions. However, worry can also be unhealthy, especially when it becomes uncontrollable and interferes with our day-to-day functioning.”

After their baseline assessment, the men had physical exams and blood tests every 3-5 years until they either died or dropped out of the study. The research team used follow-up data through 2015. During follow-up visits, seven cardiometabolic risk factors were measured: systolic (top number) blood pressure; diastolic (bottom number) blood pressure; total cholesterol; triglycerides; obesity (assessed by body mass index); fasting blood sugar levels; and the erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR), a marker of inflammation.

A risk factor for cardiometabolic disease was considered in the high-risk range if the test results for the risk factor was higher than the cut-point established by national guidelines, or if the participant was taking any medicines to manage that risk factor (such as cholesterol-lowering medications). Cut points for ESR as a risk factor are not standardized, so the participant was ranked as high-risk if they were in the top 25% of those tested. Each participant was assigned a risk factor count score, one point for each of the seven risk factors classified as high-risk. The men were then stratified based on whether they did or did not develop six or more high-risk factors during the follow-up period.

“Having six or more high-risk cardiometabolic markers suggests that an individual is very likely to develop or has already developed cardiometabolic disease,” said Lee.

The researchers found:

  • Between ages 33 to 65, the average number of cardiometabolic high-risk factors increased by about one per decade, averaging 3.8 risk-factors by age 65, followed by a slower increase per decade after age 65.
  • At all ages, participants with higher levels of neuroticism had a greater number of high-risk cardiometabolic factors.
  • Higher neuroticism was associated with a 13% higher likelihood of having six or more cardiometabolic disease risk factors, after adjusting for demographic characteristics (such as income and education) and family history of heart disease.
  • Higher worry levels were associated with a 10% higher likelihood of having six or more cardiometabolic disease risk factors after adjusting for demographic characteristics.

“We found that cardiometabolic disease risk increased as men aged, from their 30s into their 80s, irrespective of anxiety levels, while men who had higher levels of anxiety and worry consistently had a higher likelihood of developing cardiometabolic disease over time than those with lower levels of anxiety or worry,” Lee said.

The researchers did not have data on whether participants had been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. Standard evidence-based treatment for anxiety disorders includes psychotherapy or medication, or a combination of the two.

“While we do not know whether treatment of anxiety and worry may lower one’s cardiometabolic risk, anxious and worry-prone individuals should pay greater attention to their cardiometabolic health. For example, by having routine health check-ups and being proactive in managing their cardiometabolic disease risk levels (such as taking medications for high blood pressure and maintaining a healthy weight), they may be able to decrease their likelihood of developing cardiometabolic disease,” said Lee.

It is unclear to what extent the results of this analysis are generalizable to the public since the study participants were all male and nearly all white. In addition, although participants were followed for four decades, they were middle-aged when the study began.

“It would be important for future studies to evaluate if these associations exist among women, people from diverse racial and ethnic groups, and in more socioeconomically varying samples, and to consider how anxiety may relate to the development of cardiometabolic risk in much younger individuals than those in our study,” Lee said.

Harvard Neuroscientists Explore the Science of Acupuncture

Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese technique that has been used for millennia to treat chronic pain and other health problems associated with inflammation, yet the scientific basis of the technique remains poorly understood.

This article is a repost which originally appeared on SciTechDaily
 
Edited for content and readability - Images sourced from Pexels 
DOI: 10.1038/s41586-021-04001-4

Now, a team of researchers led by neuroscientists at Harvard Medical School has elucidated the underlying neuroanatomy of acupuncture that activates a specific signaling pathway.

In a study conducted in mice and published October 13, 2021, in Nature, the team identified a subset of neurons that must be present for acupuncture to trigger an anti-inflammatory response via this signaling pathway.

The scientists determined that these neurons occur only in a specific area of the hindlimb region—thus explaining why acupuncture in the hindlimb works, while acupuncture in the abdomen does not.

“This study touches on one of the most fundamental questions in the acupuncture field: What is the neuroanatomical basis for body region, or acupoint, selectivity?” said lead investigator Qiufu Ma, HMS professor of neurobiology at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

One area of particular interest to the research team is the so-called cytokine storm—the rapid release of large quantities of cytokines that frequently drives severe, systemic inflammation, and can be triggered by many things, including COVID-19, cancer treatment, or sepsis.

“This exuberant immune response is a major medical problem with a very high fatality rate of 15 percent to 30 percent,” Ma said. Even so, drugs to treat cytokine storm are lacking.

Adapting an ancient technique to treat aberrant inflammation

In recent decades, acupuncture has been increasingly embraced in Western medicine as a potential treatment for inflammation.

In this technique, acupoints on the body’s surface are mechanically stimulated, triggering nerve signaling that affects the function of other parts of the body, including organs.

In a 2014 study, researchers reported that electroacupuncture, a modern version of traditional acupuncture that uses electrical stimulation, could reduce cytokine storm in mice by activating the vagal-adrenal axis—a pathway wherein the vagus nerve signals the adrenal glands to release dopamine.

In a study published in 2020, Ma and his team discovered that this electroacupuncture effect was region specific: It was effective when given in the hindlimb region, but did not have an effect when administered in the abdominal region. The team hypothesized that there may be sensory neurons unique to the hindlimb region responsible for this difference in response.

In their new study, the researchers conducted a series of experiments in mice to investigate this hypothesis. First, they identified a small subset of sensory neurons marked by expression of the PROKR2Cre receptor. They determined that these neurons were three to four times more numerous in the deep fascia tissue of the hindlimb than in the fascia of the abdomen.

Then the team created mice that were missing these sensory neurons. They found that electroacupuncture in the hindlimb did not activate the vagal-adrenal axis in these mice. In another experiment, the team used light-based stimulation to directly target these sensory neurons in the deep fascia of the hindlimb.

This stimulation activated the vagal-adrenal axis in a manner similar to electroacupuncture. “Basically, the activation of these neurons is both necessary and sufficient to activate this vagal-adrenal axis,” Ma said.

In a final experiment, the scientists explored the distribution of the neurons in the hindlimb. They discovered that there are considerably more neurons in the anterior muscles of the hindlimb than in the posterior muscles, resulting in a stronger response to electroacupuncture in the anterior region.

“Based on this nerve fiber distribution, we can almost precisely predict where electrical stimulation will be effective and where it will not be effective,” Ma explained.

Together, these results provide “the first concrete, neuroanatomic explanation for acupoint selectivity and specificity,” Ma added. “They tell us the acupuncture parameters, so where to go, how deep to go, how strong the intensity should be.”

He noted that while the study was done in mice, the basic organization of neurons is likely evolutionarily conserved across mammals, including humans.

However, an important next step will be clinical testing of electroacupuncture in humans with inflammation caused by real-world infections such as COVID-19. Ma is also interested in exploring other signaling pathways that could be stimulated by acupuncture to treat conditions that cause excessive inflammation.

“We have a lot of tough chronic diseases that still need better treatments,” he said, such as inflammatory bowel syndrome and arthritis. Another area of need, he added, is excessive immune reactions that can be a side effect of cancer immunotherapy.

Ma hopes that his research will ultimately advance scientific understanding of acupuncture and provide practical information that can be used to improve and refine the technique.

A gut feeling: Understanding how our gut microbiome communicates with our immune system

An international team of scientists has identified a new connection between certain molecules produced by the microbiome and the function of a protein that impacts gut inflammation.

This article is a repost which originally appeared on ScienceDaily
University of Bath - October 26, 2021 
Edited for content and readability - Images sourced from Pexels
DOI: 10.1186/s40168-021-01137-3

This finding takes researchers from the University of Bath and the University of Massachusetts Chan Medical School (UMass Chan) closer to understanding how a good balance of microbes in our guts is linked to the body’s immune system and intestinal health. It also raises the possibility of new treatments being found to manage debilitating inflammatory diseases of the gut, such as Ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.

The two classes of molecules identified by the study’s authors are short-chain fatty acids and secondary bile acids. The researchers have not established exactly how these molecules influence the production of P-gp. They plan to examine the role these molecules play in gene and protein regulation in future work.

Both molecules exist in the gut in healthy quantities only when certain microbes are given the right conditions to thrive in the microbiome. These microbes contribute to the digestion of food elements, such as fiber and green leafy vegetables. The researchers’ findings support the growing bank of evidence that the health of a person’s microbiome, and therefore their overall wellbeing, is closely linked to diet.

The intestinal microbiome differs from person-to-person, but overall, an appropriate balance of key microbes is known to be linked to a healthy intestine. This balance can be disturbed by changes to the diet. In particular, a western diet high in simple sugars and fats, and low in plant-based protein, has been associated with a decrease in the quantities of bacteria in the gut that produce short-chain fatty acids and secondary bile acids.

The protein that gets the gut speaking to the immune system

P-glycoprotein (P-gp) — the protein studied in this work — allows the intestine to communicate with the immune system through the gut wall.

For some years, this has been a protein of concern in cancer research because of its capacity to pump chemotherapy drugs out of cancer cells, thus reducing the drugs’ ability to fight tumors. However, the very mechanism that makes P-gp problematic in treating certain cancers makes it beneficial in helping the intestine maintain homeostasis — that is, a state of equilibrium where chronic inflammation is subdued.

For the past 10 years, scientists have been aware that through its action of pumping out foreign substances, including toxins, P-gp plays a critical role in protecting the surface of the gut. High levels of the protein correlate with a healthy intestine. In inflammatory diseases, such as inflammatory bowel disease, expression of P-gp appears to be reduced.

Yet, despite an understanding of the role of P-gp, until now the mechanisms controlling its expression and regulation have remained unknown. The findings of the new study, combined with earlier work at UMass Chan, explain how the microbiome can affect P-gp expression. This gives important insight into a key aspect of the microbiome and how it regulates health and disease in the gut.

Inflammatory bowel disease

In earlier research, the team of scientists from the US and UK demonstrated that P-gp releases anti-inflammatory compounds into the gut. These molecules, known as endocannabinoids, are chemically similar to cannabis but produced by the human body, and are key to keeping inflammation in the gut in check. If these endocannabinoids are reduced or not present, inflammation can flare up. The molecules identified in the new study prompt P-gp to release those all-important endocannabinoid molecules.

The research, led by graduate student Sage Foley and Professor Beth McCormick at UMass Chan in collaboration with graduate student Merran Dunford and Professor Randy Mrsny from the Department of Pharmacy & Pharmacology at Bath, builds on previous research by the team that demonstrated how the anti-inflammatory P-gp pathway is constantly balanced with a pro-inflammatory process. These opposing pathways communicate to keep the gut healthy: in the absence of an infection, the anti-inflammatory P-gp pathway is active to suppress unnecessary inflammation, while the pro-inflammatory pathway is poised ready to launch an immune response to protect against intestinal infection.

In inflammatory diseases, such as inflammatory bowel disease, this balance is poorly managed.

The team’s findings provide exciting new opportunities for the management of inflammatory intestinal diseases. Potential future treatments could include the delivery of specific bacteria or bacterial products to a person’s gut, or dietary changes that would support a microbiome to promote or sustain P-gp expression in the intestine, thereby protecting against unwanted inflammation.

Inflammatory bowel disease is linked to genetics and environmental conditions that include (but are not limited to) diet, exercise, lifestyle and antibiotic use. Ulcerative colitis, the most common form of inflammatory bowel disease worldwide, is a chronic, debilitating disease with no cure. Symptoms include abdominal pain, severe cramps, persistent diarrhea or constipation, weight loss and severe intestinal inflammation. While current treatments can reduce inflammation and symptoms, there is nothing available today to treat the underlying disease.

Ms Dunford said: “The upshot of this research is that we now know the specific molecules produced by the microbiome bacteria that are linked to P-gp, and hence, a healthy intestine. These molecules work in concert to stimulate P-gp to increase the release of endocannabinoid molecules, which suppress intestinal inflammation.”

Ms Foley added: “We are excited to find that not only is there a link between the gut microbiome and P-gp regulation in the intestine, but that two classes of microbial molecules actually work together to trigger expression of P-gp.

“This highlights the importance of a functioning core microbial community to have maximal impact on the human body. While even within an individual the relative abundance of microbes can fluctuate, we’re beginning to understand the importance of nourishing the microbial community as a whole. Though there is still much to explore, we suspect this may be possible through changes to the diet or through the delivery of groupings of microbes.”

Commenting on the research, Ruth Wakeman, director of services, advocacy and evidence at Crohn’s & Colitis UK, said: “We welcome research that helps increase understanding of how environmental factors, diet and gut microorganisms may influence conditions such as Crohn’s and colitis. We hope that research such as this will lead to new and improved methods of managing the conditions in the future.”

Background

What is the microbiome?

The human microbiome is a hot topic for research worldwide. Research in this area has surpassed $1.7 billion in the past decade.

The microbiome is the name for the population of microorganisms (including bacteria) that live in a person’s intestine. We have over 100-trillion different microbial organisms in our gut — that’s 10 times more than all the human cells in a body. The intestinal microbiome is vital in keeping us healthy. The new research shows for the first time the core microbes that are important for regulating levels of P-gp in the gut and its ability to function.

Distinct microbial communities live in and on nearly every part of the human body, including on the skin, in the nose and in the gut. These microbes live symbiotically with the host and are essential for our bodies to function. No human has the same microbiome. Our gut microbiome changes throughout our lives and is largely dependent on the microbes passed on to us from birth and diet.

Disturbances to the microbiome are linked to diseases including inflammatory bowel diseases. Understanding how the microbiome communicates with the cells lining our intestine and how that process is affected in disease is important. Moreover, as part of the symbiotic relationship between the microbiome and the human body, bacteria of the microbiome depend on components of the diet, such as fermentable fiber, for their growth.

Dietary changes such as alterations in fiber, protein or fat content have been linked to shifts in the relative amounts of bacterial species in the microbiome. Therefore, it is possible that certain alterations to the diet may drive beneficial bacteria to promote P-gp in the intestine, thereby promoting health. Conversely, a loss of these microbes may trigger or exacerbate inflammation.

Ms Dunford said: “Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a lifelong, debilitating disease that affects at least one in 250 people in the UK alone. Prevalence is increasing, especially in western countries. In diseases such as IBD, the body’s immune response, which is normally helpful in fighting infection, is massively over promoted. This aggressive immune reaction in the gut damages the lining of the patient’s intestine, causing symptoms such as severe abdominal pain and diarrhea.”

100 Ways to Live to 100: A Definitive Guide to Longevity Fitness

At this point, we’re all familiar with the trope. A local news station visits a retirement home to celebrate Muriel’s 106th birthday. She’s deaf or blind or both or neither, sitting in a wheelchair in the “good spot” next to the TV set, and a reporter asks her her secret. You’ve lived through both World Wars?! How’d you do it? Then Muriel gets to flash a mischievous grin and tells us she smoked a pack a day for 50 years.

This article is a repost which originally appeared on InsideHook
Tanner Garrity - October 21, 2021 
Edited for content and readability - Images sourced from Pexels

Interacting with centenarians in this way has long made them seem like circus oddities. It trivializes the concept of lifespan and longevity, reducing the science to a throw-your-hands-in-the-hair “Who the hell knows!” It reinforces the idea that our time on this planet isn’t necessarily under our control. If my dad had a stroke and his dad had a stroke then one’s probably coming for me too, right? If I make it to 80, or — god forbid — 90, I’ve just beaten the odds. Right?

Not exactly. Since the mid-1990s, in fact, following the infamous Danish twins study, researchers have understood longevity to be “only moderately heritable.” For a while, this spawned estimates that genetics accounted for somewhere between 20 and 30% of one’s longevity. More recently, scientists have concluded that the true heritability of human longevity at birth is closer to just 7%.

Where does that other 93% come from? Your lifestyle. Your decisions. Your everyday habits, big and small. It’s possible to put years on your life, to surge past both average life expectancy and your own expectations, by resolving to live a certain way. The crazy part? This doesn’t involve some complex Ponce de Leónian quest. You don’t even have to search far and wide for the answers.

Thanks to the efforts of vanguard sociologists, geneticists and historians, we know where the world’s largest concentration of centenarians live and how they spend their days. (They’re called Blue Zones, and the way people cook, move and even happy hour in them is truly revelatory.) We also know, courtesy of a renowned doctor with whom we spoke last year, that certain behaviors can decelerate cellular aging and push the human lifespan into hitherto uncharted territories, and also that we should probably stop eating hot dogs.

You might wonder: Why would I want to live longer? Doesn’t the end of life look drawn out, expensive and horrible? Why would I sign up for decades of suffering? Well, the latest wave of longevity research isn’t focused on living years for the sake of years. It’s concerned with quality years.

Think about it. More years to travel, to exercise, to spend time with your family and whatever new family comes along. An entire life of creativity and challenges to enjoy after retirement. And consider this: those who make it to 100 are no more likely to die at 108 years old than 103. Genetics do start to factor in a bit more once you get way up there in age (hence how the Muriels of the world make it to 106), but overall, your risk of dying from any of the usual diseases plateaus. Longevity wizards only really suffer in the last couple years of their lives.

Take note — this movement is going to happen, with or without you. With an assist from modern medical care, scientists project there will be 25 million centenarians scattered across the world by 2100. (There are currently just 573,000.) But you don’t need to wait for Benjamin Button patents from the big pharmaceuticals. You can start living in the name of longevity today.

Below, 100 ways to live to 100, broken down by how you optimize your lifespan through diet, fitness, good choices and some truly wild wild cards. Before diving in, understand that you can’t do all of them; some of them are likely even incompatible. But the idea is to cherrypick those that work for your life. Ultimately, if nothing else, know this: making the call right now to act in the name of longevity — whether your “right now” is 35 or 65 — won’t just add life to your ledger. It’ll enrich and lighten every year along the way.

DIETARY DECISIONS

1. Eat fresh ingredients grown nearby

The planet’s longest-living communities all have access to food from farms and orchards down the road — that’s to say, within a 10-mile radius of their homes. These ingredients aren’t treated with pesticides or pumped with preservatives; they’re their original nutrient-dense, fiber-rich selves. Sound expensive? So are late-life medical bills.

2. Eat a wide variety of vegetables

So you’ll eat carrots, beets and cucumbers and that’s it. Okay. But if you want to unlock your true longevity potential — and lower your risk of everything from cardiovascular disease to macular degeneration — you need to regularly cycle through the whole menu: cruciferous veggies, dark leafy greens, edible plant stems, roots and marrows.

3. Eat until 80% full

Hara hachi bu is a Japanese saying that translates to “Eat until you’re 80% full.” It’s an alien concept in America, where portion sizes are the biggest in the world and somehow getting larger. But finding your “slightly full” will directly reduce your risk of cancer, heart disease or stroke while giving your body more energy and less bloating in the short term.

4. Eat home-cooked family dinners

As the godfather of nouvelle cuisine, Chef Fernard Point, once famously said: “Butter! Give me butter! Always butter!” Restaurants want customers to leave happy, so they use lots of flavor — salt, sugar and fat. It all adds up. According to one study, eating out twice a day increases your chance of an early death by 95%. Cooking is your best bet.

5. Embrace complex carbohydrates

The bread aisle is a starting point for understanding the difference between foods rich in simple carbohydrates (Wonder Bread) and those rich in complex carbohydrates (100% whole-wheat breads). The latter, for instance, rocks a ton of fiber and fuels the body in a sustainable way. Seek out more complex carbs like brown rice, oats and barley.

6. Consider a plant-based diet

You don’t have to give up meat. But you should know that societies full of centenarians don’t eat very much of it. While meat dominates most American meals, it only appears in Blue Zone diets at a rate of five times a month, two ounces per serving. And when it does, it comes sourced from free-range animals that weren’t treated with hormones or antibiotics.

7. Substitute meat with fish

Keeping fish in the rotation not only takes pressure off your veggie cooking skills — it’s also a huge life-expectancy boon. One study found that “pesco-vegetarians” (who eat up to three ounces of fish daily) live longest, aided by omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins and minerals. If you can, aim for non-farmed, mid-chain fish like trout, snapper and sardines.

8. Try not to eat just before bed

Your last meal of the day should be your smallest, and shouldn’t be eaten within three hours of heading to sleep. If you’re constantly pining for a huge dinner or bedtime snack, you’re probably not fueling properly throughout the day. It’s stress-eating dressed up as a reward, which leads to indigestion in the near term and weight gain over time.

9. Let yourself feel hunger

Don’t get bogged down with YouTube videos on “the right way to intermittently fast.” As renowned Harvard geneticist Dr. David Sinclair told us: “We don’t know the best method. We do know that if you’re never hungry,  if you’re eating three meals a day and snacking in between, that’s the worst thing you can do. It switches off your body’s defenses.”

10. Eat dark chocolate

Most people have heard this one. Dark chocolate is no elixir on its own, but cacao tree seeds are part of a family of environmentally stressed plants that “activate longevity pathways in other organisms when consumed.” Replace your cookies and cupcakes with a little square from time to time to reap the rewards of flavanols and resveratrol.

11. Make more PB&Js

Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are having a moment. A few years ago, ESPN devoted a profile to the NBA’s “secret addiction.” Tom Brady revealed not long after that the PB&J is his pregame meal of choice. And this year, a study concluded that the sandwich can add 33 minutes to your life. Remember to use whole-wheat bread and all-natural jelly.

12. Eat more beans

The backbone of the centenarian diet. Beans are high in fiber, protein, iron, magnesium, potassium and B-vitamins, and low in fat and calories. They fill you up as well as meat and cook easy (serve them on their own with olive oil and a bit of sea salt, or put them in a burrito or salad). David Buettner calls beans “the world’s greatest longevity food.”

13. Eat more nuts

Sure, you’ve heard it forever. That doesn’t make it any less true. One massive study that assessed nut consumption in approximately 119,000 Americans over 30 years found that regular nut-eaters (think a handful or two of almonds a day) reduced their risk of dying from cancer, heart disease and respiratory disease by 20%.

14. Cook with olive oil instead of butter

Olive oil giveth, butter taketh away. While butter increases “bad” cholesterol levels in the blood (low-density lipoproteins), olive oil is a longevity rockstar — in one study, people in the highest quintile for ingesting olive oil’s polyphenols lived an average of 9.5 years longer after the age of 65. Just make sure you’re buying extra virgin olive oil.

15. Put a cap on fun foods

You don’t have to ban salty and sugary treats from your life forever, but recognize that — in order to avoid empty calories and reduce your risk of heart disease — they can’t happen every time you have a tough day at work. That’s a self-defeating choice. Save them for the right time and place, like special celebrations, when you’ll appreciate them the most.

16. Eat slowly

For one, choking to death would really hamper your longevity goal (about one in 2,500 people die each year from choking). But slowing down while eating is also a great way to avoid overeating. Remember — it takes up to 20 minutes for the stomach to process what you’ve eaten. Take deliberate bites. Honor the meal and the effort it took to make it.

17. Drink more water

Here’s the rule: your optimal H20 per diem is one-half ounce to one ounce of water per pound of body weight. A 180-pound male, then, should aim for a little over 11 cups of water over the course of his day. There’s no need to exceed that (you’ll just piss it out), but reach it with regularity and your body’s command centers will repay you in kind.

18. Drink red wine at 5:00 p.m.

Like dark chocolate, red wine comes from a plant source that is rich in cholesterol-lowering flavanols. Some are wary of linking longevity to alcohol, but learning to moderately drink red wine can also recalibrate your relationship to the drug. Having a glass (keep it under three) at the end of the day, preferably with friends, is a stress-relieving behavior.

19. Drink tea every day

Green tea pops up everywhere in lifespan research. One famous study found that drinking the stuff three times a week pushes back your risk of “atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease and all-cause mortality.” If you’re a fan, take up to two cups a day. It makes sure those “cardioprotective” polyphenols stay in your body long-term.

20. Coffee is also a good idea

A stimulant with side effects like jitters and trouble sleeping can help us live longer? Indeed. The chemical compounds in coffee aside from caffeine — a wealth of antixodiants — have a positive impact on mortality, especially when consumed in copious amounts. Drinking multiple cups of coffee each day can help stem chronic diseases from Type 2 diabetes to Parkinson’s.

21. Try the Mediterranean Diet

If you pick up some of the dietary habits above — eat locally, sub fish, use olive oil — you’re already well on your way. Nutritionists are rightfully skeptical on today’s litany of fad diets, but the Mediterranean diet remains well-respected for its capability to alter microbiomes, improve cognitive function, limit risk of heart disease and promote longevity.

22. Let food be

We want food that fits our wacky preferences (separating yolks to make egg whites), has a lot of flavor (peanut butter with added sugar) or would look good on TikTok (deep-fried macaroni and cheese casseroles). But these concepts don’t square away with the traditions of long-living communities, who treat and cook whole foods as they’re naturally cultivated.

23. Stop drinking cow’s milk

Why can’t 68% of the global population digest cow’s milk? We’re not supposed to drink it. Milk — and dairy, at large — is too high in fat and sugar to justify its long-time anointment as the best place to turn for protein and calcium. At the very least, cow’s milk has no impact on longevity, so feel free to sub it for a more environmentally friendly alternative.

24. Know it’s never too late

One month of healthy eating will confer immediate results in the realms of cell regeneration, decreased inflammation and improved digestion. Starting young is great, but it doesn’t matter how old you are. Meet with your doctor beforehand to get your bloodwork done. Then come back after and note the changes, specifically in vascular health.

25. Stick to your dietary changes

Your body will rebel once you ditch your unhealthy ways for a few days. It will undoubtedly feel easier to go back to butter, processed foods and the two vegetables that you actually like. But note all the positive little changes — from your trips up the stairs to your trips to the bathroom. Eating healthy will change your life, then let you live more of it.

BUILD THE BODY

26. Sleep more than seven hours a night

Quality sleep is non-negotiable if you want to live a long, healthy life. Entertain a pattern of undersleeping, and exhaustion will seep into everything you do: exercise, diet, interpersonal relationships. Sleeping five hours a night doubles your risk of death. Try to log seven, and keep it right thereToo much sleep isn’t great for longevity, either.

27. Practice yoga

No surprises here. Yoga slows down the effects of stress on cellular aging. Multiple studies (see here and here) have sung the praises of just three months of dedicated yoga. The combination of physical effort, breathwork and meditation slows the tide of inflammation while balancing hormones (like cortisol) that cause chronic stress.

27. Meditate for 15 minutes a day

Even if you can’t commit to an intensive yoga practice, finding time each day to “quiet” your brain is likely a life-extending habit. When we stage personal interventions to decrease brain activity, the brain increases activity of RE1-Silencing Transcription factor, a protein that “allows the brain to function at a higher capacity with less strain.”

28. Schedule an annual physical

“Physician-dodging” is a disturbing status quo for men between the ages of 35 and 54. Only 43% of that middle-aged cohort reported seeing their doctors for annual physicals. Blame it on busy-ness (or more likely, a mix of toxic masculinity and unacknowledged vulnerability), but too often men are late to diagnoses and die earlier because of it.

29. Start strength training

“Functional fitness” takes on an entirely new meaning by age 70, at which point most of us have a lost a quarter of the strength we had at 30 and struggle to perform basic tasks. In fact, people with low muscle strength are 50% more likely to die earlier. Start strength training early and focus particularly on grip strength, which will aid you best in old age.

30. Move every day

Walking for just 11 minutes each day can tangibly protect the body from the mortality risks of hours spent sitting in front of a computer. Leaving the house for a walk each day — like drinking tea and eating beans — is something all Blue Zone communities share. Find a time of day that works for you and pencil in a daily constitutional, rain or shine.

31. Optimize your workplace

A dose of reality on all the longevity chat: most of us aren’t herding goats on a bluff over the Aegean. We spend most of the day answering emails. Within that less-than-ideal situation, make sure your screen is raised to eye level, your back is set against an ergonomic chair and your feet are planted against the floor. Spinal health is critical as you age.

32. Keep an active sex life

Or at the least, an active orgasm life, especially as you age. One Welsh study of men between the ages of 45 and 59 discovered that a “high orgasmic frequency” can lower mortality risk by as much as 50%. Regular sex with a partner, meanwhile, reduces stress and risk of prostate cancer, while lowering blood pressure and improving mood.

33. Hang from a bar for one minute a day

In the “text neck” era, a daily dead hang will bring mobility back to your shoulders. The practice decompresses the spine and builds strength in the upper back. One minute at a time is really hard, so feel free to break the challenge into multiple increments. Oh, and don’t be surprised when the move improves your grip strength, too.

34. Turn the volume down

Damage done to the ossicles is irreversible. Train yourself to listen to AirPods and the like on low volume. Pumping 90-decibel noise (80% of an iPhone’s allotted volume) into your ears for just 10 minutes will put you on the path to tinnitus. The effect this has on quality of life is likely why people with extensive hearing loss die earlier.

35. Breathe through your nose

When we breathe through the nose, the nasal passageway humidifies and pressurizes the air. It produces nitric oxide, a molecule that “screens” air particles before they make it to the lungs. Once there, the lungs have an easier, more efficient time circulating oxygen throughout the body. This isn’t an easy switch (more than half of Americans breathe through their mouths), but it’s worth it — the practice can increase lung capacity, which improves cardio-respiratory function.

36. Relax your jaw

“Bruxism,” also known as teeth grinding or jaw clenching, is a natural response in an age of constant anxiety, but it leads to terrible sleep and even tooth fractures. When you’re stressing, take extra care to put space between your teeth and focus on your breathing. And while sleeping, consider a nighttime mouth guard.

37. Exercise in the cold

Cold-temperature exposure turns white fat (the inflammatory fat linked to heart disease) into brown fat (the naturally occurring fat that produces heat) though a process called thermogenesis. Basically, your body has to burn more energy to stay warm, which jumpstarts your metabolism. Norwegian research suggests 120 minutes outside a week in winter.

38. Get off the toilet

According to the “hydromechanics of defecation,” it takes the average person only 12 seconds to do his or her business. But men often linger in the bathroom, to the point that it’s played for laughs in sitcoms. The habit is less than ideal: stretching across the seat inflames the veins of the anal canal and over time can lead to hemorrhoids.

39. Use sunscreen

When melanoma metastasizes, the five-year survival rate nose-dives from 99% down to 25%. Here’s an even crazier statistic: between 1995 and 2014, 60% of those who died from head or neck melanoma were men between the ages of 15 and 39. The sun is no joke; it can snatch life away early if you aren’t using sunscreen and scheduling regular screenings.

40. Take power naps

Careful — napping for more than an hour in the middle of the day has been linked to all-cause mortality. But a 15- to 30-minute “power nap” actually increases cognitive ability and alertness. It solidifies memories in the brain, relieves stress during an exhausting day and energizes afternoons for exercise or social interaction.

41. Pick up HIIT

One of the beauties of modern exercise? It can be quick. Like, really quick. In the past decade, studies have extolled the benefits of exercising for 15 minutes, four minutes … even four seconds. The rationale remains the same throughout: high-intensity, “all out” bursts of physical effort foster muscle growth, clean up arteries and put years on your life.

42. Learn to play again

The only thing that’s inherently “childish” about playing is that children are more likely to do it.  Playing, in whatever form it may take — tennis, pick-up hoops, chasing your kids with a super soaker — is essential for mental health at all ages, and a crucial deviation from exercise measured solely in pain and progress.

43. Worry less about weight loss

Wait, shouldn’t we make weight loss a priority? The issue’s a bit more nuanced. Studies indicate that overly stressing about weight loss often leads to “weight cycling,” defined as a process of losing weight only to regain it all over again. This strains the body. Focus on building sustainable practices instead of aiming to shed fat from your frame.

44. Screen for cancer regularly

This one piggybacks on both the issue of physician-dodging and the need for sunscreen. Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States, with lung, colon and liver cancer accounting for the most deaths. It’s imperative that you take it seriously. Start screening regularly at age 45.

45. Make sure to floss once a day

There’s a reason dental hygienists get so terse when you admit to only flossing “once in a while.” Flossing doesn’t just prevents gum disease. It can stop heart disease. When bacteria gets into the bloodstream through the mouth, arteries narrow in an immune response. This taxes vascular health. Flossing for two minutes directly influences life expectancy.

46. Practice sleep hygiene

That doesn’t refer to washing your sheets once a week. Sleep hygiene is “an upkeep of behaviors that help you sleep.” Essentially: treating the process around sleeping as sacred. Learn to keep a calm, cool, uncluttered, sleep-only bedroom and follow methods (from shutting down caffeine intake to getting blackout curtains), that shorten your sleep latency.

47. Start running

Running helps people live longer. That much is clear. But researchers concluded recently that the pace and distance of your run doesn’t necessarily matter. Any sort of running routine (up to four-and-a-half hours total per week) will lead to a 30% reduced risk in all-cause mortality. FYI: going over that amount won’t cause any harm. Just be wary of injuries.

48. Get into swimming

In the battle of cardio routines, though, swimming might take the cake. The activity is perfect for aging: it’s low-impact, burns a ton of calories, works the whole body and encourages flexibility. No wonder that over one 32-year study, swimmers were an amazing 50% less likely to die than regular walkers and runners. Time to fish out the goggles.

49. Forget the six-pack

Listen: chasing a six-pack is a waste of time that has no bearing on how long you’ll live on this planet. Overworking “show muscles” too often comes at the expense of a functional, full-body routine. Double down on a diverse workout scheme and a diet without non-processed ingredients and you’ll naturally arrive at a tighter core, anyway.

50. Ask for help

Recruiting a family member or friend for advice on your fitness journey — or hiring a personal trainer or scheduling a consultation with an exercise physiologist — is not a sign of weakness. It’s the ultimate sign that you’re ready for change, committed to turning your life around and determined to get more life out of it in the process.

THINGS TO AVOID AT ALL COSTS

51. Don’t ride a motorcycle

Motorcycles look great, but their mortality numbers don’t. According to the NHTSA, motorcyclists are 35 times more likely to have a fatal accident than car drivers. Even survival comes with a cost: 96% of motorcycle accidents result in injury.

52. Don’t take up BASE jumping

One of the bleakest databases you’ll ever see? The BASE fatality list. BASE jumping carries a risk up to eight times greater than skydiving. Its even more dangerous cousin, meanwhile — wingsuit flying — has a rate of one death per 500 jumps. Unsurprisingly, virtually everyone involved with the sport has a friend who died young.

53. Don’t eat processed foods

Foodstuffs with added sugar, sodium and fat are killing us all. Processed food isn’t supposed to be easy to give up (it comprises over half the “dietary energy consumed” in the United States and United Kingdom). But it’s critical that you cut back. Frozen pizzas, mayonnaise, Oreos and the like drastically increase your risk of cardiovascular disease.

54. Don’t take hard drugs

Aside from the obvious in-moment risk of overdose (deaths from opioids and psychostimulants have been going up since 1990), chronic and high-dose drug use decelerate dopaminergic function. In simpler terms: most of the things you rely on for healthy living — motor control, motivation, arousal, etc. — become seriously compromised over time.

55. Don’t ingest tobacco

Not to sound like an elementary school health teacher, but it really is this simple. Right behind diet, tobacco use is the leading cause of “premature, preventable death” in the United States. And while we normally associate cigarettes with lung cancer, nicotine use can also cause cancer in the throat, esophagus, stomach, pancreas, kidney, bladder and cervix.

56. Don’t smoke e-cigarettes

The majority of e-cigarettes have nicotine in them, but all of them have chemicals that will irritate your lungs. Consider: they contain propylene glycol and vegetable glycerin (which are toxic to cells), acetaldehyde, formaldehyde (which can cause lung or heart disease) and acrolein (a herbicide that’s usually used to kill weeds).

57. Don’t binge drink

The CDC: “A a pattern of drinking that brings a person’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to 0.08 g/dl or above.” Think seven drinks or so per binge, with several binges a month. Health experts unilaterally agree that this is a bad idea. One study even determined that drinking 25 drinks per week at age 40 can shorten life expectancy by up to five years.

58. Don’t eat hot dogs

Twitter had a lot of fun with this one, but it’s actually true — according to a recent University of Michigan study, eating a hot dog takes 36 minutes off your life. That doesn’t exactly compare to a single hit of heroin (24 hours off your life!), but it could put you in a bad cycle of salty, highly processed “meat.” Avoid them, or save solely for the odd ballgame.

59. Don’t have unprotected sex

While STIs are most definitely not more fatal than traveling in a car (as one group of volunteers misestimated in a study), they can cause infertility, urinary tract problems and half a dozen different cancers. Not to mention: unprotected sex can bring overwhelming mental stress to an activity that otherwise helps us stay healthy and happy.

60. Don’t drive under impairment

Every hour, someone dies from a drunk-driving incident in America. That’s over 30% of annual road deaths in the country. Even if you’re a responsible driver, remember to prepare for those who aren’t (always wear a seat belt!) and assess other ways you engage in distracted driving. Sending one text takes your eyes off the road for five seconds.

61. Don’t live in the middle of nowhere

Living close to nature decreases your risk of depression and obesity, indirectly adding years to your life. But there’s such a thing as too much solitude. Rural living can also mean a repressed social life, too much time in the car, relying on Walmart for food, fending for yourself during natural disasters and traveling over an hour for emergency medical care.

62. Don’t blindly pop OTC pills

We’re so accustomed to taking corner-store drugs like Tylenol and Advil that we can forget they’re, well, drugs. Always follow capsule instructions to a tee. The former contains Acetaminophen (which can cause liver issues in high doses), while the latter is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory (which can cause gastrointestinal bleeding when taken improperly).

63. Don’t overeat

Calorie restriction can play a small part in adding years to your life, but unchecked calorie intake plays a very loud role in taking them away. The average American eats 3,600 calories a day (up nearly 25% from the 1960s), and the national obesity rate sits at 42.4%. Obesity coincides with common comorbidities like Type 2 diabetes, hypertension and cancer.

64. Don’t eat more protein than you need

The scientific research on this is pretty clear, as much as it may shock the biggest guy at your gym. A reduced protein intake “plays a critical role in longevity and metabolic health.” Most American men currently average twice the amount of protein they actually need in a day. That comes with too much IGF-1, a growth factor that accelerates aging.

65. Don’t stay in a stressful job

A study published in 2015 found that sticking with a tough job — with an unreasonable boss, little social support or looming layoffs — can literally take two years off your life. A paycheck is a paycheck, but when a job starts exerting massive mental stress over you, the body can’t tell if the initial trigger is mental or physical. It’ll fall apart either way.

66. Don’t hold a grudge

Happy people live longer. Improve your happiness by practicing “epistemic humility,” an intellectual virtue predicated on the idea that one can ever know something for sure. It’s meant to help us admit our imperfections and forgive others. Sounds too good to be true in the 2020s? All the more reason to give it a try.

67. Don’t blame your genes

When just 25% of your genetics are accountable for your personal longevity, it doesn’t make much sense to deterministically pin your fate (or blame your behaviors) on what happened to your parents or grandparents. Learn your familial risks, yes, but approach your daily actions and decisions with confidence and hope.

68. Don’t sit around all day

Online publications really ran with the “sitting is the new smoking” tagline. Not quite, but sitting should be taken seriously as a public health issue. American adults sit seven hours a day, which disrupts the body’s ability to break down body fat, slows metabolism and elevates blood pressure. Get moving, even if it’s just for 10 minutes.

69. Don’t doomscroll

New phrase for you? Doomscrolling is “excessively scrolling through news or social media feeds looking for negative updates.” It’s at the intersection of smartphone addictions, a terrible news cycle and our primordial need to anticipate danger. But this sort of behavior wreaks havoc on your mental health and (unsurprisingly) never solves anything.

70. Don’t binge-watch Netflix

A full eight years ago, 61% of Netflix users admitted to binge-watching content on the platform. We’ve added five major streaming services since then; each has a revolving door of content and most employ hyped full-season releases. While cranking through episodes feels like a reward, it causes eye strain, backaches, weight gain and sleep deprivation.

71. Don’t binge on screentime

American adults spend up to six hours on their phones each day. Some of those hours are spent doomscrolling, others pushing back sleep (66% of adults bring their phones to bed), and far too much of it involves poring over the airbrushed life updates of others. Little wonder Instagram has been likened to addictive painkillers by reputable researchers.

72. Don’t play American football

The “Should you let your kids play football?” became a culture war topic in the early 2010s on the heels of unprecedented CTE research. Honest answer: probably not. At least, avoid the full-contact version of the game, which has the highest concussion rate outside of rugby and can cause irreversible damage to the brain.

73. Don’t fool around in National Parks

Or state parks. Or the woods behind your house. Or any public lands where you can hike, swim and camp without a professional ranger on hand to help at a moment’s notice. People die constantly from drowning, falls, exposure, animal encounters … selfie sticks. The issue is more relevant than ever, as novice hikers flock to nature in the pandemic era.

74. Don’t mess with firearms

There are 120.5 guns for every 100 people in America. An insane 73% of homicides involve a gun.The disturbing truth is you can easily find yourself in the wrong place at the wrong time in this country. Still, the least you can do is keep guns out of your home: 27,000 people go to the hospital for accidental firearm injuries each year.

75. Don’t ignore air quality

Dirty air kills more people than all transportation accidents and shootings combined, accounting for the premature deaths of one in every 25 Americans. Train yourself to check the Air Quality Index (AQI) in the weather app on your iPhone. Anything over 100 means the air “is considered unhealthy for sensitive groups.” Your run can wait until tomorrow.

THE WILD CARDS

76. Check your household products

We knew we hated shampoo. Chemicals called phthalates are found in shampoos, fragrances, cleansers and plastics. When they get into the body, they reduce the body’s stress hormone cortisol, meddle with metabolism, negatively affect the reproductive system, and can lead to extremely preventable premature deaths.

77. Live with a purpose

The Okinawans say ikigai, the Nicoyans in Costa Rica say plan de vida. Each phrase translates to “why I wake up in the morning.” Finding that “why” can feel random and frustrating, but it often brings people to pursuits and causes outside of themselves. And — science backs this up — once you believe your life matters, you get to live more of it.

78. Manage negative thought loops

Negative thought loops trick us into thinking we’re being productive (we psychoanalyze uncomfortable memories, prepare for imaginary dangers, relitigate life decisions), but in reality we’re just willingly drowning ourselves in a puddle of anxiety, activating a hormone-fueled “fight or flight” response that can’t be addressed in the given moment.

79. Have a plan after retirement

Not necessarily a financial plan, though that’s also a good idea. One surprising study displayed that working longer can help people live longer. Remember, jobs can be real-world lifelines for many — they offer social engagement, days out of the house, challenging projects. It’s important to have goals and communities for filling your time after retiring, too.

80. Pick up “forest bathing”

In Japan, shinrin-yoku refers to “forest bathing,” or the act of taking in nature using all of your senses. Recent studies show adults spend 93% of their time indoors, which takes a toll on mental health (“stir crazy” is scientific). But the exact opposite is true for spending time outdoors. A single forest “bath” decreases scores for depression, fatigue, anxiety.

81. Settle down near a body of water

Take a look at a map of the world’s Blue Zones. Each is concentrated along a coastline. Settling down by the sea — in a so-called “blue space” — has been linked to a 17% reduction in mortality rate. One study suggested that living within 250 meters of a seaside environment helps reduce stress levels, with the smell and sounds offering a “wonderful tonic.”

82. Play board games

People who regularly play non-digital games are more likely to score well on memory and thinking tests in their 70s, a study determined in 2019. Games like cards, chess and crosswords aren’t just stress-relievers; they aid in cognitive function and slow down cognitive decline. Fortunately, that holds true if you come to them later in life, too.

83. Join a team

Team sports are a longevity motherlode. They combine consistent social interaction, vigorous exercise and play, all of which convey dynamite benefits for your physical and mental health. One study even discovered that making an adult soccer league your primary mode of exercise (over solo activities like jogging) could add five years to your life.

84. Tell the truth

Another reason not to get into politics — lying takes years off your life. The emotional stress that comes from telling mistruths often manifests as physical stress. Whatever the momentary reward, lying increases your risk of anxiety and depression, can sabotage relationships over time and shatters your self-esteem.

85. Listen to live music twice a month

Take the fortnight frequency with a grain of salt (it comes from a study commissioned by British entertainment operator O2), but we do know that live concerts are mindful, socially rich experiences. Assuming you don’t need to binge drink or trip on acid every time you attend one, plugging concerts into the calendar each month is a great idea.

86. Take colder showers

Make like Ian Fleming’s James Bond and finish your showers with an ice-cold “Scottish” rinse. Up to a minute (after a morning workout) is best, if you can handle it. The ritual will lower blood pressure, stimulate your immune system and can even hack your mood, releasing happy neurotransmitters like dopamine, adrenaline, norepinephrine and serotonin.

87. Read before bed

According to one study from the Yale University School of Public Health, “people who read books for at least 30 minutes a day live nearly two years longer than non-readers.” Reading lowers heart rate and eases tension in the muscles, fosters empathy (especially if you’re reading fiction) and helps defeat insomnia. Start with a chapter a day.

88. Keep a journal

Personal journal-keeping can predict an astonishing 53% reduction in all-cause dementia risk. The action boosts your “cognitive reserve” in the long term while sharpening memory in the short term. Oh, and, taking notes with pen and paper is crucial; it makes it easier to summarize and retain information than taking notes with computers.

89. Embrace behavioral activation

The phrase refers to performing an activity that necessitates  presence of mind. Think: cooking, gardening, walking the dog. While these sound like chores, they’re actually back doors to positive thinking and productivity. It’s an effective treatment for depression and other mood disorders, whereas languishing only worsens symptoms.

90. Avoid social jetlag

Social jet lag occurs when the body’s sleep-wake cycle is suddenly thrown out of whack. When you choose to stay up late on a Saturday, you’re pushing the “midpoint” of your sleep forward. You then have to scramble back to your usual internal clock in time for Monday morning, which affects everything from body temperature to metabolism.

91. Learn a language

Similar to “eat a bowl of almonds,” we’ve all heard this one. But it’s also absolutely true. Bilingual brains age slower than monolingual brains, delaying neurological diseases like dementia and Alzheimer’s. It’s never too late, and don’t stress if fluency feels out of reach — the simple act of learning and studying a second language has a positive impact on the brain.

92. Show up to events

Researchers are convinced: “Social connections are probably the single-most important feature of living a long, healthy, happy life.” Showing up to functions with family and friends (as opposed to stressing out and skipping them) proves you can be a light, reliable presence in other people’s lives. The invites will keep coming, and you’ll be better off for it.

93. Maintain friendships

Swimming in centenarians, Sardinia was the first Blue Zone region ever identified. The island’s men have a habit of finishing each day at a local bar to talk with lifelong friends. In America, where 15% of middle-aged men report having no close friends, that sort of dynamic everyday interaction (whether at a bar or book club) could prove revelatory.

94. Make time to travel

Make time for vacation, first off — overworked Americans leave hundreds of millions of vacation days on the table each year in fear of looking replaceable to employers. Then use that time to actually go and see the world you’ve read so much about; taking just two trips a year raises feelings of contentment while lowering your risk of heart disease.

95. Visit museums

Or visit the ballet. Or visit some experimental art show that your friend’s friend is putting on (even if you have no interest). Those who afford themselves a regular “culture fix” have a 14% lower risk of passing away earlier than a typical lifespan. There is a correlation-over-causation argument to be made, but taking in art is always beneficial.

96. Find your spiritual side

You may want nothing to do with religion. But the findings are indisputable. People of faith people live longer, and in some cases, by up to four years. Congregations show up at the same time each week, they tell stories, they volunteer in their communities. From a longevity perspective, these rituals are extremely potent. It’s worth finding your equivalent.

97. Change your mind

Never in the history of the internet has anyone said “My bad, I’ve changed my mind.” Perhaps people should start. Challenging yourself to look past your imperfect point of view is a next-level stress-reliever that unshackles your entire mindset. Stop arguing in circles. Embrace that other people know things. Then live longer for it.

98. Have a family

It’s a good idea to grow old around younger people. Adults with at least one child tend to have more social interactions and lower mortality rates. On a somewhat less wholesome note, men who end up with younger partners also live longer, too. Younger spouses are a positive psychological influence, and more capable caretakers in the twilight years.

99. Summon some empathy

The whole of society is in an “empathy crisis” right now, so it’s okay if thinking of others takes a little extra effort. But monitoring and augmenting your empathic capacity isn’t just beneficial for your friends, family and colleagues — it’s associated with with life satisfaction and positive “interaction profiles” (how you do with others), regardless of age.

100. Celebrate aging

Not just in the birthday cake sense. Those who approach aging with a positive outlook end up aging easier than others. Proactively acknowledge what’s to come instead of fretting about the wrinkles under your eyes. Maybe you’ll make it to 100. Maybe you won’t. But your absolute best chance comes from living your best life along the way.

Glucose Level Detector Will Help You Check Blood Sugar Using Perspiration; Here’s How It Works

Have you been apprehensive about pricking your fingers to know your glucose level? Fear no more as American scientists have recently developed the model of a portable glucose monitor.

This article is a repost which originally appeared on The Science Times
Marie Morales - October 18, 2021
Edited for content and readability Images sourced from Pexels
DOI: 10.1016/j.bios.2021.113606

In the study, Laser-induced graphene non-enzymatic glucose sensors for on-body measurements, published in the journal Biosensors and Bioelectronics, a team of researchers from Pennsylvania State University initially developed a device with laser-induced graphene or LIG, a material comprising layers of carbon and thickness of an atom in various types.

While the said LIG seemed to be an ideal setting for the monitoring or detecting device, the report specified that it was “not at all sensitive to glucose.”

People apprehensive about pricking their fingers to monitor their glucose level will fear no more as American scientists have recently developed the model of a portable glucose monitor.

Nickel for Strong Sensitivity to Glucose

Addressing the flaw, the team then opted for nickel due to its strong sensitivity to glucose and combined it with gold to lessen the possible risk of an allergic reaction.

While the glucose concentration in sweat is roughly 100 times lower than the concentration in blood, this new device of the team is sensitive enough to measure glucose accurately in the seat and have the concentration reflected in the blood.

According to Huanyu “Larry Cheng,” a Penn State Department of Engineering and Mechanical Sciences professor, the sensitivity of the nickel-gold alloy enabled the team to rule out enzymes, which are frequently used to measure glucose in more invasive, not to mention commercially available devices.

Nevertheless, non-enzymatic sensors necessitate an alkaline solution, which can impair the skin, and in general, limits the device’s portability.

Microfluidic Chamber Attached to the LIG

To control the possible damage, the researchers attached a microfluidic chamber to the LIG allow, which is linked to a collection inlet that enables sweat to pass through the solution minus enabling it to touch the skin.

The basic solution is interacting with the glucose molecules to generate a compound that is reacting with the allow.

Such a reaction is activating an electrical signal that indicates the concentration of glucose in sweat, explained Cheng.

Conducting a proof-of-concept test, the study authors used an adhesive that’s safe to use in skin, to attach to the wearable device, specifically worn over the arm of a person, one hour and three hours following a meal.

A Decline in Glucose Concentration

Before every measurement beat, the subject was tasked to perform a brief training session, just adequate to generate sweat.

After a few minutes of collecting the seat, the researchers discovered that the detected concentration of glucose dropped from the initial measurement to the succeeding one.

Essentially, glucose readings from the device were validated by measurements made using a glucose meter that’s commercially available.

Commenting on the invention, Cheng said they want to work with doctors, as well as other healthcare providers to find out how their technology can be applied for the patient’s daily monitoring. He added this glucose sensor serves as an ultimate example to show that the detection of biomarkers in sweat can be enhanced at very low concentrations.

Related information about non-invasive glucose monitoring devices is shown on TechCrunch’s YouTube video below:

Want to Halt Aging? Hold the Fries

You won’t find any junk food in the legendary fountain of youth. New research has linked a diet low in processed foods to a slower aging process. A study of nearly 2,000 individuals published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that the more wholesome their diet was, the more slowly they aged.

This article is a repost which originally appeared on Life Extension
Dayna Dye, Certified Medical Assistant - October 4, 2021
Edited for content and readability Images sourced from Pexels

“Our findings demonstrate that better diet quality was associated with decelerated biological aging, providing a promising avenue to explore the beneficial effects of diet on prolonged lifespans,” the authors of the article wrote, adding that “adopting a healthy diet is crucial for maintaining healthy aging.”

DASH diet linked to slower aging process

Top view of fresh ripe banana and green and red apples arranged as smile on pink background

Published in June 2021, the study measured how closely participants adhered to the DASH diet, while also looking at how quickly their biological ages advanced over a 10-year time period. DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, and it is a largely plant-based diet that emphasizes whole foods and discourages the intake of processed foods.

While the goal of DASH is to fend off high blood pressure and other cardiovascular diseases, evidence suggests it also helps protect against kidney and liver diseases, cancer, osteoarthritis, gout, metabolic syndrome, obesity, and other disorders—so these new findings may not be surprising to advocates of DASH.

Measuring the rate of aging

How did researchers determine that study participants who adhered to a DASH diet aged at a slower rate? They looked at how methylation affected the subjects’ DNA.

Our genes are composed of DNA, which is a molecule that provides the instructions needed for our development, survival and reproduction. DNA methylation occurs when a methyl group consisting of carbon and hydrogen is added to certain parts of DNA, which can affect gene function and expression. During aging, some DNA regions become overmethylated while others are undermethylated.

“Diet-associated differential DNA methylation can be linked to metabolic and inflammatory pathways, which indicates the importance of diet-induced epigenetic changes on health outcomes,” the study authors remarked. Epigenetics is the science of the processes that help determine when genes are turned on or off, without altering the genes themselves.

This study isn’t the first time DNA methylation status has been used to predict life span. Other studies have linked it to disease progression and death. Ultimately, this measurement can help you understand your biologic age, which, depending upon how healthy your lifestyle is, might be younger or older than your chronologic age.

Why your chronologic age is less important than your biologic age

Chronologic age refers to the number of years someone has lived, whereas biologic age provides a more accurate estimation of a person’s age based on the measurement of various markers. As an example, someone who smokes, rarely exercises, is overweight and has bad eating habits may be determined to be biologically “older” than their chronologic age and runs the risk of failing to attain the average human life span.

This new study suggests that diet is an especially important factor when it comes to staying biologically youthful, no matter the date of birth on your driver’s license.

What foods should you avoid to stay biologically young?

Adhering to the DASH diet naturally limits your consumption of processed foods, which are, as the name implies, foods that have been processed in ways that change them from their natural state.

While foods that are minimally processed, such as chopped, roasted, canned or frozen foods may still be nutritious, heavily processed foods provide less in the way of beneficial nutrients and more saturated fat, sugar, salt and other unhealthy ingredients.

Partial list of processed foods

  • Most packaged breakfast cereals
  • Cakes
  • Candy
  • Cheese
  • Crackers
  • Donuts and pastries
  • Fast food
  • Deli meat
  • “Fruit drinks”
  • Pizza
  • Potato chips
  • Soft drinks

Sugar and Aging: What You Need to Know

People looking to extend their lives have a particular interest in sugar and aging, but what does the science actually say?

This article is a repost which originally appeared on Longevity Advice
Rachel Burger - September 13, 2021
Edited for content and readability Images sourced from Pexels

In a lot of diets, from the Mediterranean diet to the low-carb diet, all uniformly advocated for removing processed foods and refined sugar.

But mechanistically, why is sugar a problem? Does sugar contribute to aging? Are there nuances to the sugar-is-always-bad narrative?

In this article, I aim to answer all these questions. But first, I want to address a larger question: why is sugar talked so much in relation to health, nutrition, and aging?

Why is sugar a focus?

Humans are hardwired to love sweet foods.

You might meet the occasional adult who claims to hate sugar, but you’ve likely never met a kid who turned their nose up at a sweet. In fact, there’s a general consensus that sugar preferences in children are not a byproduct of advertising or food manufacturing, but of biological desires. A review published in the journal Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care explains, “Heightened preference for sweet-tasting foods and beverages during childhood is universal and evident among infants and children around the world.”

While “too sweet” is a concept adults are familiar with (they tend to max out at about what you’d get in a 20 oz Gatorade), there is no known upper limit to how much sweetness—sugar, by extension—kids like.

“Sugar” is shorthand for “simple carbohydrates.” There are two natural categories of sugars:

  • Monosaccharides: Simple carbs with a single sugar molecule. Glucose, fructose, and galactose are monosaccharides.
  • Disaccharides: Simple carbs with two sugar molecules joined together.

There are only three disaccharides that are naturally occurring. Sucrose, which you can find in table sugar, honey, and dates, is a combination of glucose and fructose. Lactose, or the combination of glucose and galactose, is natural milk-derived sugar, found in cream, butter, and human breast milk. Finally, there’s maltose, which has two bonded glucose molecules, which is found in germinating grains. Foods with maltose include beer and bread.

(Other sweeteners, like high fructose corn syrup, are man-made disaccharides [any of a class of sugars whose molecules contain two monosaccharide residues].)

Carbohydrates, regardless of if they’re simple or complex carbs, are used for four functions in the human body. As this is an incredibly dense topic, please use the links provided for further reading if you’re interested.

  • Producing energy: Most human cells prefer or require carbohydrates to produce energy and work as they’re supposed to.
  • Energy storage: Carbohydrates that aren’t immediately used are stored as glycogen.
  • Building macromolecules: Carbohydrates are used to make ribose and deoxyribose, the foundations of macromolecules like DNA and RNA.
  • Preserving fat and protein: Blood glucose spares the body from having to use fat and protein as the body’s main source of energy.

In other words, carbohydrates are an essential part of a functioning human body. Because simple carbs have a shorter chain of molecules, they’re easier to digest in the body. Over email, Julie Olson, BSc., CN, BCHN, CGP, of Fortitude Functional Nutrition, elaborates: “Carbohydrates are a main source of energy, converted by the body to power our cells. We need some sugar for some brain cells, some kidney cells, red blood cells, and testes cells” to function properly.

Simple carbs are a subject of conversation in nutritional circles because humans generally rely on carbohydrates to function, and humans particularly like sugar and its sweetness.

Unfortunately, our preference for sweets has led to an excess of added sugar in the Western diet.

Added sugar versus natural sugars

When I say “added sugar,” I mean simple carbs that have been mixed into foods during food processing. Natural sugars, by contrast, are simple sugars found in whole foods, like sugars found in fruits and vegetables.

Some sugars found in nature, like honey and maple syrup, are also considered added sugar.

The American Heart Association recommends consuming no more than 100 calories, or six teaspoons, of daily added sugars for females and children. Males can consume up to nine teaspoons, or 150 calories, of added sugars daily.

Unfortunately, the average American consumes 17 teaspoons of added sugar every day—that’s a 183% increase and an 89% increase from recommended daily intake for females and males, respectively.

And that excess sugar consumption has huge health consequences.

Sugar and aging

Added sugar increases the rate of biological aging. It does so in several ways. In 2018, the Annual Review of Nutrition published a systematic review of longitudinal studies on the correlation between high sugar consumption and cancer. They produced an infographic that aptly demonstrates just how much of the body added sugar ages and points to mechanisms as to why it does so:

This next section will drill down into three documented ways sugar and aging are intertwined: AGEs, inflammation, and diabetes. I’ll also cover a quick study on sugar’s effect on telomeres at the end.

Sugar and aging: a close look at AGEs

 

Let’s talk a bit about “advanced glycation end products,” or AGEs. AGEs are a diverse group of molecules that build up in human cells, particularly in muscle tissue and plasma. They’re created as a reaction between glucose and the amino acid glycine—when sugar meets fat or protein in the body. AGEs have a particularly resistant structure to degradation.

Emerging research suggests that AGEs form endogenously at an even higher rate with fructose than glucose—sweeteners like high fructose corn syrup, apple juice, honey, molasses, caramel, and agave syrup all contain fructose.

In other words, AGEs make your skin appear dry, saggy, and wrinkled—old. While AGEs age your insides, they also quickly age your exterior as well.

Diet is a major source of AGEs—barbecued meats, in particular, are full of them. They can also form while humans metabolize their food. AGEs formed in vivo tend to particularly affect “long-lived proteins, such as hemoglobinalkaline phosphataselysozymecollagen [and] elastin.”

There’s a general consensus in the scientific community that accumulated AGEs “are an inevitable component of the aging process in all eukaryotic organisms, including humans.” The more you have, the quicker you age.

Here’s why AGEs are a problem in large quantities: they’re linked to diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and renal disease. They’re also connected to Alzheimer’s disease and kidney disease. A whole host of studies demonstrate that AGEs trigger oxidative stress and excessive reactive oxygen species (which also cause oxidative stress).

Sugar and aging: chronic inflammation

Source: “Epigenetic signatures underlying inflammation: an interplay of nutrition, physical activity, metabolic diseases, and environmental factors for personalized nutrition

Inflammation is a biological defensive response to an irritant, like bacteria or viruses. If you skin your knee, the area around the cut will inflame, as a part of your immune system, to combat infection and to promote healing. Concentrations of white blood cells cause inflammation.

Inflammation can be short-term, or “acute.” If you’re like me and allergic to hay, your body will have an acute inflammatory response—an itchy, watery nose, a puffy face—until the irritant goes away. Inflammation can also be long-term, or “chronic,” and you can stay inflamed regardless if the trigger is still present.

There are a lot of age-related diseases connected to chronic inflammation. To name just a handfulthey include:

  • Diabetes
  • Cardiovascular diseases
  • Arthritis and joint diseases
  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
  • Certain kinds of cancer

Chronic inflammation can also help form AGEs.

Several studies have established that sugar, in all its forms, correlates with inflammation. Some studies have found that fructose appears to cause the most inflammation out of all of sugar’s forms, but that hasn’t been a consistent finding across all studies.

While it’s a mystery why some inflammation remains acute and other inflammation becomes chronic in some people and not others, sugar consumption is a significant precursor to chronic inflammation in many people.

Sugar and aging: diabetes

If you want to see a complicated cocktail of fact and misinformation, look closely at the relationship between sugar, obesity, and diabetes.

There is no known cure for diabetes, though diabetics can go into remission. Diabetes is the seventh-leading cause of death in the United States as of 2019.

Obesity is also a chronic disease. Obesity is defined as having a BMI, or a person’s weight in kilograms divided by the square of height in meters, of 30.0 or higher. According to Harvard Medical School, there are “genetic, developmental, hormonal, environmental, and behavioral factors” that contribute to who does and doesn’t have obesity.

Like diabetes, there are many treatments for obesity, but no known cure. One study suggests that if trends continue, all American adults will be either overweight or obese by 2048.

I choose to mention obesity and diabetes together because they have a significant causal relationship—obesity is an independent risk factor that can lay the groundwork for diabetes to developAlmost all (89%) of people with diabetes are obese or overweight. I found a massive range of estimates of how many obese individuals develop diabetes, from 2.9% to 30%. Many of the studies cited here look at both obesity and diabetes together as comorbid conditions. For example, hypertrophic obesity—what happens when fat cells enlarge more than normal—directly leads to insulin resistance.

Researchers have formally tied added sugar consumption to obesity and diabetes several times over. Though the relationship is complex and researchers don’t fully understand all mechanisms involved, it’s clear that added sugar consumption, particularly fructose, raises the risk of developing obesity and diabetes.

For example, foods high in fructose stimulate ghrelin while suppressing leptin—hormones responsible for hunger and satiety. Sugar can promote chronic hyperglycemia, which can both lead to weight gain and is another risk for diabetes. And sugary drinks, especially, are tied directly to obesity.

Sugar and aging: a bad combination (so what should we do?)

People looking to stay young for a long time should limit their sugar consumption. While how added sugar works in the body isn’t simple or predictable, there are literally thousands of studies tying added sugar to diseases of aging.

With all that said, it’s natural for humans to crave and eat limited amounts of sugar.

Sugar and aging is a massive topic with a lot of nuance—so much so that I didn’t even get a chance to cover alternative sweeteners.

What are your takes on sugar? What do you do to avoid them or to add them mindfully to your diet?