The search for the fountain of youth is as old as human civilisation itself. Tales of a magical spring that could reverse ageing appeared in writings as early as the 5th Century BC. Since then, every year more and more people search for eternal youth, whether to feel better, look better or both.
Aging is a normal, natural process of deterioration and cell death in our bodies. It is unavoidable. When our bodies can no longer repair themselves, they consequently wear out. However, there are things that we can do to slow down the aging process.
Intrinsic factors such as age and genetics that affect ageing are unchangeable. However, we have a certain amount of control over extrinsic factors including exposure to skin-damaging UV rays, smoking, poor diet, lack of exercise, inadequate sleep, poor skin care practices and alcohol consumption.
Today, thanks to advancements in the fields of geroscience – the study of mechanisms that make ageing a major risk factor for common chronic conditions and diseases – the search for longevity does not involve epic quests, but rather the exploration of the interplay between nutrition, exercise, sleep, stress management, and smart supplementation. On-going human clinical studies back all these elements, culminating in a holistic approach to enhancing human longevity.
Ali Tarqi, the CEO of Fivescore Labs – the first homegrown longevity consumer brand in the UAE – tells The Ethicalist we should take a multifactorial approach towards all these factors if we want to hold back the hands of time.
Nutrition: The Foundation of Longevity
Longevity begins with the food on your plate. A Harvard study found that a high intake of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and healthy fats like omega-3 fatty acids can extend lifespan. Moreover, research suggests that caloric restriction without malnutrition – essentially eating fewer calories but more nutrients – can also boost longevity. Incorporating Mediterranean-style diets, rich in nutrient-dense plant foods, can lay the groundwork for a long and healthy life.
Exercise: The Longevity Enhancer
Regular physical activity reduces the risk of various health conditions including heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers, thereby promoting longevity. The American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity per week. Variety is also key. Mix cardio, strength training, and flexibility exercises to optimise health benefits.
Sleep: The Regenerative Powerhouse
Sleep, often overlooked, is crucial for longevity. Chronic sleep deprivation can lead to health issues like obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night to support optimal brain and body functions. Sleep hygiene practices like a cool, dark room and a consistent sleep schedule can improve sleep quality.
Stress Management: The Secret to Healthy Ageing
Chronic stress accelerates biological ageing by damaging DNA over time. Mind-body practices such as meditation, yoga, and mindfulness can help manage stress levels. These practices not only enhance mental wellbeing but also contribute to lower blood pressure, better sleep, and reduced inflammation – all important for longevity.
Supplements: The Longevity Boosters
A key compound to remember is NAD+ (nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide). NAD+ is a critical coenzyme found in every cell in your body. It plays a fundamental role in cellular metabolism and energy production. Ageing is associated with a natural decline in NAD+ levels, and this decline has been linked to a variety of age-related health issues such as metabolic disorders, neurodegenerative diseases, and decreased lifespan. Thus, it is believed that increasing NAD+ levels in the human body can be effective in combating age related decline.
You can increase NAD+ levels naturally through exercise and intermittent fasting. When considered as part of a comprehensive regimen, supplementing with evidence informed compounds has also shown to increase NAD+ levels.
Combined with a holistic approach towards longevity, certain supplements have gained attention for their potential to support health span. Nicotinamide Mononucleotide (NMN) and Resveratrol are two such supplements.
Resveratrol, a compound found in grapes and blueberries, has shown promise in activating certain longevity genes. It’s believed to mimic the beneficial effects of caloric restriction without the need to reduce caloric intake. According to studies conducted at the Paul F. Glenn Center for Biology of Aging Research at Harvard University, Resveratrol, when ingested, binds to sirtuins – a family of proteins involved in metabolic regulation – altering their affinity for NAD+ and their protein substrates, thereby increasing sirtuins’ activity and helping promote longevity.
Sirtuins are a family of seven SIRT enzymes found in human cells. These enzymes exist in nearly all species and perform many functions that are associated with increased longevity. Studies are still ongoing to fully understand its potential, but early findings are promising.
NMN is a molecule that is naturally found in broccoli and avocados. NMN is an important precursor to NAD+ which also serves as a substrate for sirtuins, thereby potentially working synergistically with resveratrol in promoting health span.
Alongside a natural approach encompassing regular exercise and a nutritional diet, supplementing with NMN is viewed as a promising strategy to maintain healthy NAD+ levels. A 2020 clinical trial led by researchers at Keio University, Japan showed that NMN supplementation improved various biochemical parameters associated with ageing. Clinical studies are on-going as NMN continues to attract significant interest in the scientific community.
A balanced nutritional diet, regular exercise, adequate sleep, and effective stress management form the basis for a longer, healthier life. When supplemented with the right evidence informed compounds like NMN and Resveratrol, the potential for improving human longevity can be improved. However, it is important to note that supplements are not substitutes for a healthy lifestyle but rather additions to it.
As research continues to unlock the secrets of longevity, we can take proactive steps towards a longer, healthier life using the knowledge we already have at hand. After all, the best approach to longevity is a holistic one.
Ali Tariq is the Founder & CEO of Fivescore Labs. For more information you can visit their website here.