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Reverse biological aging by naturally balancing cellular pathways

Billions of dollars are spent every year with one goal in mind — to maintain youth. Creams are applied, surgeries undergone, and extreme exercise or calorie restriction executed to maintain a youthful glow and youthful function. Knowing this, scientists have performed thousands of hours of research in search of the next miracle drug, molecule, or supplement to extend healthy human lifespan. Recent discoveries of cellular pathways — AMPK and mTOR — make this dream more of a reality.

What is AMPK?

Adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase (AMPK) is an important enzyme found inside every cell in the body. It serves as a master regulator of energy metabolism. AMPK detects energy levels (the number of ATP molecules) inside cells and controls responses when ATP levels are too high or too low. When activated, AMPK speeds metabolism, accelerates fat burning, and even influences how long you live.

Its activity level also closely regulates aging. The enzyme is most active in days of youth but its activity gradually decreases with each passing year. (1) This decreased activity is partially responsible for the buildup of visceral (belly) fat and muscle loss that occurs during the aging process. Excess weight, and the accumulation of fat around the waistline, accelerates aging. (2) Abdominal fat also generates an abundance of inflammatory chemicals. Indeed, deep abdominal fat transforms into an inflammation-promoting factory, leading to metabolic diseases. (3)

What happens when AMPK activity decreases?

Given that AMPK is the master cellular regulator of metabolism, it’s not surprising that a whole host of adverse effects can occur when its activity slows down.

  • Chronic inflammation
  • Increased visceral fat
  • Neurodegeneration
  • Accelerated aging
  • Dyslipidemia (high LDL cholesterol and triglycerides; low HDL)
  • Mitochondrial dysfunction
  • Poor blood glucose control

AMPK promotes cellular renewal and clean-up

Your cells continuously generate energy to remain viable. The process of energy creation produces toxic debris and metabolic waste that must be carefully managed by your body. Autophagy is the primary process cells use to clear damaged proteins and mitochondria, and other metabolic waste products. It is your cell’s internal housekeeping process.

The easiest way to think about this process is to consider fireplaces and a chimney sweep. Fireplaces are your cells. Inside these fireplaces, a series of oxidation reactions occur to convert food molecules into energy. As a result, the inside of the cell accumulates debris (like soot). The chimney sweep is autophagy, which cleans out the debris so the cell can operate more efficiently. Maintaining optimal autophagy is critical to cellular health and function.

Emerging scientific research suggests that autophagy is involved in virtually every intervention proven to extend healthy lifespan. (4) This discovery is a major advance in the quest to slow and reverse the aging process.

mTOR: AMPK’s partner in longevity

AMPK regulates autophagy and fat-removal partly by modulating a protein, and its partner in crime, called mTOR. mTOR stands for mechanistic target of rapamycin (an immunosuppressive drug that targets mTOR activity), and when properly balanced, triggers the breakdown of fat stores to produce cellular energy. (5) Indeed, scientists have discovered that mTOR functions as a central coordinator of metabolism and cellular growth in response to environmental and hormonal signals.

In essence, mTOR is the master conductor of your cellular symphony of processes. mTOR responds to stimuli such as amino acid levels, cellular energy status, oxygen level, and insulin growth factors. Its two complexes (mTORC1 and mTORC2) serve as a communication hub that integrates cellular nutrient and stress statuses and then formulates an appropriate response.

Like AMPK, mTOR activity is directly associated with the aging process. Animal research demonstrates that decreasing mTOR activity extends lifespan. (5) Conversely, mTORC1 signaling activity is increased in a number of diseases, including cancer. (5) The discovery of mTOR’s involvement in aging and age-related diseases creates an exciting prospect to not only delay aging, but reduce the risk of age-related diseases like cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.

The role of exercise and eating in AMPK activation and mTOR regulation

Before we explore proven natural solutions to slow aging at the cellular level, it is important to emphasize the importance of regular exercise and eating better. It’s no revelation to those who live a healthy lifestyle that vigorous activity and reducing caloric intake are two well-established strategies to active AMPK activity and regulate mTOR. (6)(7) Calorie restriction triggers mechanisms that improve metabolism efficiency and protect against cellular damage. Many of the health benefits of exercise are linked to mTOR activity in muscle, brain, fat, and liver tissue. (8) Achieving optimal AMPK and mTOR activation is therefore critical for overall health and healthy lifespan.

Health really is a product of what you eat, how you move, environmental factors, and your thoughts and emotions. You simply can’t outpace the effects of poor eating, inactivity, or chronic stress. Nutrition and regular activity are foundational and the longevity results achieved with other natural measures will be amplified when they are properly established.

Natural methods to increase autophagy and AMPK activation and regulate mTOR

  • Gynostemma pentaphyllum (Jiaogulan). Dubbed the immortality herb for good reason, jiaogulan is prized for its ability to promote youthfulness and longevity. Its health benefits are often attributed to its effects on AMPK activity. Laboratory research demonstrates that GP potently increases AMPK activation almost seven-fold (660%). (9A)(9B)(9C) Remarkably, that is far greater than increases achieved with the diabetes drug metformin (1.3–1.6-fold increase) — metformin’s best-studied mechanism of action is through AMPK activation. (10) A randomized clinical study showed GP busts abdominal fat. Scientists observed an 11% reduction in visceral fat when individuals took 450 mg daily. (11)
  • Hesperidin. The citrus bioflavonoid hesperidin also significantly increases AMPK. Clinical research suggests that hesperidin benefits people with metabolic syndrome (high blood sugar, high blood pressure, dyslipidemia, systemic inflammation, and excess abdominal fat). What scientists found was that hesperidin (400 mg to 500 mg daily) reduces systemic inflammation and abdominal fat. (12)(13)
  • Nicotinamide riboside. Preliminary research suggests that the NAD precursor nicotinamide riboside potently triggers autophagy, and improves mitochondrial function to extend lifespan. (14)(15) Typical doses are 100 mg daily.
  • Citrus bergamia (Bergamot) essential oil. Both bergamot essential oil and one of its primary constituents (limonene) stimulate autophagy according to laboratory research. (16)
  • Boswellia species (Frankincense), Pinus densiflora (Pine), and Pelargonium graveolens (Geranium) essential oil. Researchers discovered that three essential oils modulate the activity of the AMPK/mTOR signaling pathway. (17) Regulation of the AMPK/mTOR pathway is likely best achieved through ingestion of the essential oils. Perhaps as few as 1-3 drops daily may be effective. This will need to be determined by clinical research.

Caution

Turning down mTOR and activating AMPK (and therefore autophagy) is not for everyone. Those with sarcopenia (degenerative loss of muscle tissue) or other frailty-associated conditions could experience aggravation of symptoms through chronically decreased mTOR and elevated autophagy. (18)

Conclusion

Emerging evidence surrounding the AMPK/mTOR signaling pathway is an exciting cellular pathway to slow down the aging process and reduce age-related disease burden. Even more exciting is the possibility of influencing aging and age-related diseases with natural products. Don’t take your chances with expensive and risky surgeries to look and feel younger. Mother Nature prepared multiple solutions that you can give a try instead.

 

This one habit could take years off your appearance

Most everyone wants to maintain their youthful appearance for as long as possible. So much so that the average American woman reportedly spends about $8 per day on facial care products. A variety of natural skin care products do indeed improve your skin’s appearance, but what if there was a cost-free habit that could promote healthier skin?

The visible signs of aging

Anyone who looks in a mirror regularly knows that there are certain signs of aging — wrinkles, crow’s feet, sagging — that appear as the years advance. These changes in the skin’s appearance are due to modifications to the layers of the skin. A thickening of the outer layer (stratum corneum) of the skin combined with a thinning of the deeper layers of the skin (due to collagen and fibrin loss) produce the tell-tale signs of aging.

Fine lines, dark spots, and drooping that occur as a result of aging — independent of sun exposure — have been accepted as inevitable. Potentially harmful plastic surgery was viewed as one of the few viable ways to reverse these age-related skin changes.

Exercise: The ‘Fountain of Youth’

Most studies focus on the benefits of cardiovascular (endurance) exercise to the heart, lungs, overall health, and even mood.  Scientists at McMaster University set out to determine if youthful skin could be maintained — or even reversed — by something as simple as aerobic exercise. The first arm of the study included 29 male and female volunteers aged 20 to 84 that performed at least three hours of moderate to vigorous physical activity every week. These individuals were compared against a group that exercised less than one hour per week.

The second half of the trial focused on sedentary elderly (65 to 86 years old) adults that participated in an acute exercise trial. This arm of the trial was intended to limit factors — nutrition, lifestyles, and genetics — that may skew study results. Elderly participants started with 30 minutes of cycling at 65% of their maximum heart rate (HRmax). The training program progressively increased 5% HRmax every other week until 75% HRmax was achieved, at which point exercise duration was increased 5 minutes every other week, peaking at 75% HRmax and 45 minutes.

Skin samples were taken from the participant’s buttocks in areas not exposed to sun before and at the completion of the training program. After analyzing the skin samples, the scientists observed a decrease in the thickness of the stratum corneum. Indeed, men and women over the age of 40 that exercised frequently had significantly healthier skin that more closely matched the composition of adults in their 20s and 30s. Remarkably, this marked reduction in skin aging (10+ years reduction) held true even for those in their mature years (over age 65).

Get moving to improve your appearance

The results of the study clearly demonstrate that aerobic exercise protects against the visible signs of aging and promotes a more youthful skin composition. You may be thinking about more than calories expended, but how much younger your skin will look, the next time you are on that treadmill at the gym.

Do you know the anti-aging benefits of essential oils?

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We are just beginning to understand the anti-aging benefits that essential oils provide. Discover 5 scientifically proven anti-aging benefits of essential oils in this short quiz.

1. Telomere length is a key to the healthy lifespan of cells. Which of the following essential oils are known to elongate shortened telomers?

 
 
 
 

2. Which of the following essential oils are known to preserve telomere length, therefore expanding the cells healthy lifespan?

 
 
 
 

3. Which common compound widely distributed in essential oils activates the Nrf2 protein, which can determine longevity and protect against age-related diseases?

 
 
 
 

4. Elastase is an enzyme involved in the breakdown of elastin. Which of these essential oils is known to inhibit elastase activity, which may lead to tighter, more supple and flexible skin?

 
 
 
 

5. Which of the following essential oils reduces the appearance of wrinkles and aging according to preclinical research?

 
 
 
 


How to increase longevity in only 13 minutes per day

Countless explorers have searched for the fountain of youth, kings have sought to live forever, and people today do whatever it takes to look and feel younger, but what if you could increase your longevity by doing something for about 13 minutes daily. Would you do it? Well you may be able to add three years to your life and reduce your risk of death through participating in about 13 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per day.(1)

While Americans are advised to get 150 minutes (about 21 minutes daily, seven days per week), it may not take that much to increase longevity and reduce all causes of death according to a 2011 study published in The Lancet. To determine the longevity benefits (not the health benefits) of 150 minutes of physical activity per week researchers evaluated more than 416,000 Taiwanese individuals from 1996 to 2008 (average follow-up of 8.05 years). The amount of weekly exercise was recorded by self-administered questionnaires and then individual’s activity levels were categorized as: inactive, or low, medium, high, or very high activity.

What researchers found was that even those in the low-volume activity group who exercised for 92 minutes per week reduced their risk of all causes of death by 14 percent and increased their life woman-1426435_1920expectancy by three years when compared to the inactive group. Those who exercised for an additional 15 minutes per day further decreased their risk of all causes of death by 4 percent and cancer mortality by 1 percent. Inactive individuals had a 17 percent increased risk of mortality compared to the low-activity group.

With the busy schedules and sedentary lifestyles of many people, making time for the recommended 150 minutes of exercise can be a daunting task. However, the results of this study suggests that even minimal exercise – as little as 15 minutes per day – can have a significant impact on your overall health, with increasing returns with longer exercise intervals.

If 15 minutes seems like too long to commit to then you’ll love what other researchers discovered. They found that it only takes 60 seconds of strenuous (high-intensity) exercise daily to get the same physiological effects (improved health and fitness) as 45 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise (traditional interval training).(2) Participants committed 10 minutes to exercise that involved three 20-second sprints on a bike, separated by two minutes of low-intensity cycling. A 2-minute warmup and 3-minute cool-down session were also included, equaling 10 minutes total exercise time.

It is remarkable, but not surprising to those of us who have been advocating high-intensity interval training for years, that 10 minutes equates to 45 minutes of steady-state cardio training. While the authors didn’t evaluate longevity as part of the study, the improved cardiovascular indices do suggest the possibility of an increased healthy lifespan.

Personally, I have been using high-intensity interval training (or metabolic resistance training) for years because of the fantastic benefits achieved with this style of activity. Essentially, you have periods of near maximum effort (say 1 minute) followed by short periods (15 seconds) of rest or light activity like jogging in place completed as a series or circuit. This style of exercise has vast benefits to human health as I report in my book TransforwmWise.Wen CP, Man Wai JP, Tsai MK, et al. Minimum amount of physical activity for reduced mortality and extended life expectancy: a prospective cohort study. 2011 Oct;378(9798):1244-53.

(1) Wen CP, Man Wai JP, Tsai MK, et al. Minimum amount of physical activity for reduced mortality and extended life expectancy: a prospective cohort study. 2011 Oct;378(9798):1244-53.

(2) Gillen JB, Martin BJ, MacInnis MJ, et al. Twelve Weeks of Sprint Interval Training Improves Indices of Cardiometabolic Health Similar to Traditional Endurance Training despite a Five-Fold Lower Exercise Volume and Time Commitment. PLoS One. 2016 Apr 26;11(4):e0154075.