In Functional Medicine, longevity is not just about reaching 110. It’s about getting older in the best health possible: that is, mentally, physically, and emotionally. We like to say: “it’s about healthspan NOT lifespan”.
1. Chronological Age vs. Biological Age
2. Longevity Boosting Tools
3. Longevity Supplements
To get started, let’s dive into the difference between biological age and chronological age.
Chronological age refers to the number of years you have been taking in oxygen and your heart has been beating. With every birthday, your chronological age increases by one year, which means it increases at the same rate for everyone.
Biological age, on the other hand, doesn’t work the same way.
Biological age is the speed at which our cells deteriorate: their progressive decline in maintaining biochemical and physiological function. This is due in part to numerous factors, ranging from your genes to environmental influences & lifestyle choices.
In some opinions, your biological age reveals how healthy your body is. It’s also a seemingly better and more accurate indicator of your true age, and thus, longevity. The younger your biological age is, the better condition your body is in. We’ll dive into the specifics later in this article.
Research published in the Journal of Applied Physiology suggests that aging occurs with changes to epigenetic mechanisms of gene regulation, such as DNA methylation and non-coding RNAs. By manipulating these mechanisms, we may be able to delay the aging process.
Now, let’s dive into ways to be proactive in improving your healthspan!
Longevity Boosting Tools
Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD) is an essential coenzyme that supports cellular function by keeping DNA healthy, converting food into energy, regulating sleep/wake cycles, and many other functions. NAD+ levels naturally decline as we age, and low levels are linked to the physiology of aging as well as an increased risk of heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease.
The precursors for NAD include nicotinamide riboside (NR) and nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN). A growing body of evidence shows that supplementation with these substances may help to boost NAD and treat a number of cardiovascular, neurodegenerative, and metabolic disorders.
In my practice we can provide the best source of NAD+ for you based on your bio individuality. We can provide NAD+ IV’s, Sublingual NMN, oral NR & transdermal and/or NAD patches.
Keep Your Mitochondrial Health In Check
Your mitochondria are the “powerhouse” of every cell in your body. These tiny organelles take in nutrients, break them down, and use them to create molecules of energy for the cell known as ATP. ATP is the fuel that every one of our cells needs to keep us alive and functioning properly.
Any problems with your mitochondria can have a direct effect on your overall health.
Defects in energy metabolism have been linked to a long list of age-related diseases, from age-related macular degeneration (AMD), glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy, to Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s and Parkinson’s.
Because the efficiency of mitochondria declines as you age, all aspects of cellular functioning begin to decline, too. Autophagy is the cellular process by which ineffective or inefficient cells are cleared out, either through degradation or release. Autophagy may be crucial for longevity by specifically targeting these ‘broken’ cellular components and preventing them from building up in the body. This can have beneficial effects on lifespan. Intermittent fasting has also been shown to upregulate autophagy in the liver, fat, brain, and muscle, which is fantastic for longevity. This, in turn, helps to increase the availability of substrates and precursors for other essential biochemical reactions
Longevity Peptides & Supplements To Explore
Peptides are the building blocks of proteins made from amino acids. Peptides play valuable roles as hormones, delivering messages around the body, reducing inflammation, facilitating nutritional absorption, and slowing the aging process. Peptide therapy can help to replace what is missing or in short supply in the body. Thymic (Thymalin) and pineal (Epithalamin) peptides have geroprotective effects for the cardiovascular, endocrine, immune and nervous systems, as well as homeostasis and metabolism. Several clinical trials from Russia have suggested that epithalamin may reduce mortality in older adults with cardiovascular disease.
Peptides GHK-Cu and BPC157 are required for the formation of granulation tissue, angiogenesis, and collagen production. GHK-Cu helps to stimulate the activity of fibroblasts, boosting collagen production and promoting firmer, younger-looking skin. Anti-aging skincare formulas often blend peptides with antioxidants and other skin-replenishing ingredients to address visible signs of aging. When it comes to hair, there are quite a few peptides to stack, but one to explore is ZnThymulin (Zinc and Thymulin). Studies showcase its positive effect on follicle growth and have been found to regenerate hair loss due to aging and alopecia.
SS-31 is a cell-permeable peptide concentrated in the inner mitochondria membrane, which is where reactive species are generated. By scavenging ROS and reducing their production in the mitochondria, SS-31 helps to prevent mitochondrial permeability transition, and the release of cytochrome C. SS-31 was shown to significantly improve spatial working memory, motor skill learning, and gait coordination in aged mice.
MOTS-c is an amino-acid peptide within the mitochondria that supports muscle mass and regulates metabolism, while also regulating mitochondrial influence on insulin and metabolism. MOTS-c appears to prevent age-dependent and high-fat-diet-induced insulin resistance in mice, as well as diet-induced obesity.
The polyamine spermidine appears to provide similar benefits to caloric restriction including autophagy and protein deacetylation, allowing cells to regenerate and rejuvenate! Spermidine may also protect against metabolic disease, heart disease, and neurodegeneration. DM me on IG to learn which brands I like the best.
Alpha-ketoglutarate (CaAKG) is an important molecule in the Krebs cycle that determines the overall rate of the citric acid cycle. Alpha-ketoglutaric acid is known for enhancing athletic performance and boosting metabolism. Studies in mice suggest that CaAKG significantly reduces levels of systemic inflammatory cytokines, which in turn suppresses chronic inflammation and promotes longer, healthier life.
Regulate mTOR and AMPK
mTOR (mechanistic/mammalian target of rapamycin) is a serine/threonine kinase which has been implicated in many of the processes associated with aging. This typically includes reduced nutrient status, poor maintenance of biological pathways, autophagy, mitochondrial dysfunction, and cellular deterioration.
AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) is known as the “energy sensor” of a cell and plays a crucial role in cellular energy homeostasis. It is active when the nutritional status is low, and inactive when the nutritional status is adequate; mTOR is activated by the opposite conditions. AMPK is also known to support some of the most crucial factors involved in aging and lifespan: resistance to stress, cell survival and growth, cell death, and autophagy. Specific AMPK activation was found to delay aging and increase lifespan in insects.
Take Care Of Your Telomeres
Telomeres are the “caps” at the end of each strand of DNA, like the plastic tips on shoelaces. Telomeres protect our chromosomes from damage. Unfortunately, telomere length decreases with age, which can lead to dysfunction or death of somatic cells, affecting our health and longevity. Shorter telomeres have also been linked to increased incidence of diseases. Studies show an association between maintaining a healthy weight, eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and managing stress are associated with longer telomeres. One could say that living an intentional and healthy lifestyle is associated with maintaining telomere length.
Senescent cells accumulate in organs during aging, which can lead to tissue dysfunction and other aging-related diseases. Senolytics are substances that can selectively remove senescent cells from human tissues. Depending on pre-conditions and goals, I like to can stack senolytics alongside fasting to support autophagy and senescence of cells. To start, feel free to explore finestin and quercetin.
Reduce Systemic Inflammation
Inflammation is commonly associated with a higher risk of disease and, subsequently, a reduced lifespan. Circulating levels of inflammatory cytokines (including TNF-α, IL-6, CRP, and serum amyloid A) are more often seen in older people than young.
However, when the inflammatory response shifts from short- to long-term, it is accompanied by a myriad of negative health effects including the breakdown of immune tolerance and major alterations to normal cellular physiology. These effects can increase the risk for various diseases regardless of chronological age. Other major consequences of inflammation include tissue dysfunction, metabolic syndrome, immune dysfunction, and neuronal problems.
Diet is one of the most important influences in systemic inflammation. Trans fats, dairy, sugar, and processed foods are known to be pro-inflammatory as they can negatively affect the mitochondria, impairing their function and role in autophagy. These can be replaced with anti-inflammatory foods like omega-3 rich fish, brightly-colored fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and leafy greens.
Control Your Sugar Intake
Staying vigilant of your sugar intake is vital for longevity. Yes, natural sugars (like fruit) versus artificial sugars are preferred; and your level of physical activity impacts your ability to burn through sugar, but regardless, there are better nutrients to put in the body. As we age, insulin secretion decreases, possibly due to beta-cell dysfunction. This could explain a high prevalence of type 2 diabetes and post-challenge hyperglycemia in older people, although the traditional American diet and food deserts could also be major contributing factors. I like Metformin and Berberine to keep blood sugar levels in manageable ranges.
Blue Zones show a strong correlation between those who live well into their 100s with active and positive experiences with family and community. I know you see it too. In general, those who have strong connections with family, friends, and the community are happier, healthier, and live longer than people who are less social. People who are more isolated are generally found to be less happy, show cognitive decline earlier in midlife & live shorter lives. Some research suggests that the effect of social isolation on blood pressure exceeded that of clinical risk factors, such as diabetes in old age. Social isolation has a downstream effect on mental fortitude, hormones, increased the risk of inflammation & more.
The lower temperature has long been associated with longer lifespans, both in wild populations and in laboratory conditions. Although once thought to be due to reduced oxidative and/or DNA damage, it now known neuroendocrine mechanisms in response to low temperature have an impact on aging and longevity. Focused cold therapy has been found to be an effective, safe, and non-toxic treatment for reducing wrinkles.
Cold water exposure (whether it’s taking an ice bath or swimming in winter) activates AMPK (mentioned more indepth above). This includes using stored fat for energy, reducing blood sugar levels, increasing the number of mitochondria (the energy producers in cells), and decreasing inflammation.
Improve Your Grip Strength
Perhaps the most surprising indicator of longevity is handgrip strength. Handgrip is used to gauge overall body strength, and maintaining muscle mass is crucial for mobility and strength. The stronger your grip, the more likely you are to survive serious diseases such as cancer. One study even found that for each 11-pound reduction in handgrip strength, one’s risk of death (from any cause) increases by 16 percent.
Living a long, healthy life depends on an enormous range of factors. While some of these – such as genes and environment – cannot be changed, there are many that can. Diet, exercise, exposure to stress, and certain lifestyle choices are largely our own choice. By making intentional and healthy changes to our lifestyle – and supporting our biochemistry – we can certainly improve our chances of looking and feeling better, despite our choronological age.
If you’re seeking a personalized longevity plan that supports the 360-degree you.
Schedule a consult with Dr. Paulvin today
The Information in this guide is designed to complement, not replace, the relationship between a patient and his/her own physician and is for informational purposes only. The information is not intended to be medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you saw or read on my website.