Sports Medicine, Space Medicine, Longevity – Part 3 Is Ageing a Disease?
This series chronicles my journey from bumbling health newbie, to discovering what is on the cutting edge of health science.
In the last episode (Sports Medicine, Space Medicine, Longevity – Part 2 Fad or Fact?), I arrived at a big takeaway:
IF Intermittent Fasting and Keto improve virtually all conditions, rather than being specific to particular germs, bacteria or viruses – then they must be acting on some higher level to affect health.
So what is meant by “higher level”?
Imagine before they recognised AIDS (or more recently COVID), doctors would treat sufferers for pneumonia, or sarcoma, or whatever else was allowed to run wild with a weakened immune system. It didn’t matter how well these were treated, if the higher level issue wasn’t addressed.
We consider it inevitable that with age we progress towards heart disease, cancer, dementia and diabetes. Also, whilst that happens we become weakened by muscle loss and any number of aches and pains.
BUT what if ageing simply means that the linear loss of testosterone and other key chemicals lower the protection of our immune systems and open the doors for these illnesses to get to critical mass. Things that in our youth would be kept under control.
In that case we wouldn’t need medical “whack-a-mole”, to be mollified by an ever increasing range of “take until you die” big pharma products.
Not only would that mean a longer life, but most importantly, a more healthy, active and productive one.
Dr David Sinclair, who runs the Longevity Lab at Harvard University Medical School is championing exactly that with the “Information Theory of Ageing”. You can listen to him firsthand at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X1kLizzdb2c or below is my summarised understanding of his views:
Different animals age at different rates, with some living much longer than others.
It is possible to learn from animals such as naked mole-rats to engineer ourselves to live longer. This can be done by studying the genes, pathways, hormones and proteins that regulate their life span, as well as the activity of the mTOR pathway. By studying organisms such as the bristlecone pine, naked mole-rat, bowhead whale and banana, we can learn about the genes and mTOR pathways which protect the body from aging. These organisms all have multiple copies of longevity genes which are activated by adversity and are present in humans.
Understanding the biochemistry of these species allows us to engineer ourselves to live longer and healthier lives. AMPK is a gene that can influence aging across species. Matt Kaeberlein has been working on AMPK for a long time and has found that when Rapamycin is given to dogs, it protects their heart and extends their lifespan. AMPK can be activated by fasting, and this will make the body more sensitive to insulin, regulate sugar levels, and activate the energy-producing centres of the body. By understanding the effects of rapamycin and AMPK on aging, we can develop therapies to help us live longer, healthier lives.
Cell, genes, and cells play an important role in the regulation of longevity. There are three sets of genes that help regulate longevity – AMPK, mTOR, and Sirtuins. AMPK is a sensor of energy and low energy is good for longevity. mTOR is activated by stress and Sirtuins, a family of seven genes, have been linked to aging. Lifestyle choices such as diet and exercise can activate these genes and increase longevity. To maximize the life-extending benefits of these genes, one should strive to “trick their body” into thinking it is under threat of survival. This text discusses how genes are tightly packed and packaged into cells and how epigenetics is involved in the process.
Cells use their DNA to remain a certain type of cell (e. g. a skin cell or a brain cell). As we age, the packaging of DNA can become lost and cells can become confused, leading to a phenomenon called differentiation. To understand this process, one must look at the cell, genes, and cells. he same process that’s happening in Alzheimer’s, is happening in Type 2 diabetes, and we can slow it down, and even reverse it, by reversing the age of cells. Cell, genes, and cells play a major role in the aging process and in many diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and Type 2 diabetes. The DNA in our cells unspools over time, which causes the cells to lose their identity and become a generalized cell type. This makes the code more readable and can lead to the brain cells becoming part skin cell or part kidney cell.
High levels of blood sugar can also be attributed to this process, which can be measured by an HbA1c test. The process involved in aging and diseases can be slowed down and even reversed by reversing the age of cells.
Sirtuins are proteins that play a key role in controlling aging, both forwards and backwards, in mice. Clinical trials in humans are underway, with experiments showing that disrupting the spooling of the DNA, which can be done by reducing Sirtuins or by creating extreme stress on the cell, can accelerate aging and cause diseases such as heart disease in mice. Now, it is possible to measure aging through a process called DNA methylation. This involves reading the DNA methylation patterns across the genome and plugging this data into a program to get a biological age. Scientists are now able to do this quickly and cheaply, and it is becoming increasingly accessible with the help of technology. And there are these things called Sirtuins, which are the key to that process. We now can measure the aging process with accuracy and this provides us with the potential to slow down and even reverse the aging process, potentially delaying or preventing certain diseases. Sirtuins are regulators that respond to amino acids, blood sugar, energy and more, and can slow down the process of aging.
80% of the factors that determine our health and longevity in later life are in our own hands. Sirtuins, specifically, control the spooling process and the packaging of the genome, and malfunctions in Sirtuins can cause aging. Exercising, dieting and being hungry can help maintain their function, and maximize longevity.
Along with a less stringent option…
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Watch out for the next episode:
Sports Medicine, Space Medicine, Longevity – Part 4 Taking Action
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The information in this article is intended for the sharing of personal experience information only. It should be noted that the Author is not in any way whatsoever involved in a medical field, and that the content is based solely on his own experience (which may differ to yours). Always consult with a qualified healthcare professional for diagnosis and treatment, and before making any decisions regarding your health. The information provided is “as is,” without any warranties, express or implied, and the Author disclaims any and all liability whatsoever for any direct, indirect, or consequential damages that may arise from using any information in the article.
Please be advised that the discount code provided in this post may result in a small commission for me. Additionally, I would like to disclose that DoNotAge.org has provided me with free products in order to test and gain personal experience for my series.