HEALTH Q&A

Amazing Wellness - - CONTENTS - — B. Wil­liams, Los An­ge­les

Liv­ing Younger Longer Strate­gies for liv­ing a longer, health­ier life.

Q: Get­ting older is a fact of life, but is there any­thing I can do to slow or pre­vent the signs of ag­ing?

A: I hate the term “an­ti­ag­ing.” It’s come to mean skin creams, wrin­kle treat­ments, and fly-by-night “Low-T” clin­ics. What I do like is the no­tion of in­creas­ing our health span, which refers to the num­ber of years you’re healthy and dis­abil­ity-free, as op­posed to just the num­ber of years you’re alive. That’s the kind of “anti-ag­ing” medicine I care about. As Dr. David Wil­liams writes, “When it comes to our bod­ies, per­for­mance takes a back­seat to aes­thet­ics. We tend to place more im­por­tance on how we look than how we feel or func­tion.”

Hap­pily, when you do the things that in­crease your health span, you of­ten wind up look­ing a lot younger as well. So let’s fo­cus on how you can in­crease the per­cent­age of your life that you feel great and per­form well.

We have good rea­son to be­lieve that these tech­niques, treat­ments, and life­style choices can make a huge dif­fer­ence in your over­all health, vigor, and en­gage­ment in life. Wel­come to the field of what’s now called age-man­age­ment medicine.

WHAT ABOUT GENES?

I know you’re prob­a­bly think­ing, Don’t genes mat­ter? Sure they do, but not nearly as much as you’d think. Take heart dis­ease, for ex­am­ple, one of three dis­eases that ac­count for more than 60 per­cent of the deaths in the United States. Ge­net­ics are a fac­tor in 10 per­cent of your risk for heart dis­ease, but life­style choices con­trib­ute to the other 90 per­cent. In the Nurses Health Study, for ex­am­ple — which in­volves more than 84,000 women — these five be­hav­iors re­sulted in an as­ton­ish­ing 83 per­cent re­duc­tion in the risk for ma­jor coro­nary events (in­clud­ing those that typ­i­cally re­sult in death):

1. Not smok­ing 2. Con­sum­ing al­co­hol in mod­er­a­tion 3. Mod­er­ate ex­er­cise (like walk­ing) 4. Eat­ing health­fully 5. Main­tain­ing a healthy weight

That takes care of the “liv­ing longer” part of the equa­tion. But what about the “liv­ing well” part?

SUP­PLE­MENTS AS LIFE HACKS

Ag­ing starts at the cel­lu­lar level. There are about 37 tril­lion cells in the body, and these in­cred­i­bly com­pli­cated struc­tures have dozens of im­por­tant roles to per­form, from detox­i­fi­ca­tion and en­ergy cre­ation to fat burn­ing and DNA pro­tec­tion. Here are three cat­e­gories of sup­ple­ments that work on the cel­lu­lar level to pro­tect your health and add years to your life.

AMPK Ac­ti­va­tors

AMPK, an en­zyme that’s pro­duced in the cells, in­creases me­tab­o­lism and helps burn fat. It also im­proves in­sulin sen­si­tiv­ity (a marker for di­a­betes and other metabolic dis­or­ders), ben­e­fits the heart, and helps de­crease in­flam­ma­tion.

AMPK ac­ti­va­tion de­clines as we age, so keep­ing AMPK ac­ti­vated goes a long way to­ward pro­mot­ing healthy ag­ing. Some com­pa­nies now mar­ket AMPK ac­ti­va­tors as an oral sup­ple­ment.

SIRT Gene Stim­u­la­tors

One of the most ef­fec­tive ways to ex­tend life is to re­duce calo­ries. For years, the search was on to find some­thing that could ac­com­plish this feat. They found it: resver­a­trol.

Calo­rie re­stric­tion ac­ti­vates genes as­so­ci­ated with longevity. These genes — known as the

SIRT (or sir­tuin) genes — could also be ac­ti­vated by a sub­stance found in red wine called resver­a­trol, which be­came known as an “anti-ag­ing” sup­ple­ment.

NAD Stim­u­la­tors

Even more ex­cit­ing than AMPK ac­ti­va­tors and SIRT gene mod­u­la­tors is a re­cently dis­cov­ered form of vi­ta­min B3 called nicoti­namide ri­bo­side. It’s been clin­i­cally shown to boost NAD, a sub­stance in ev­ery cell with­out which we ba­si­cally fall apart.

In the cell, NAD is needed for ev­ery sin­gle one of the cell’s metabolic op­er­a­tions, in­clud­ing fat burn­ing, detox­i­fi­ca­tion, en­ergy pro­duc­tion, and pro­tec­tion of DNA. We make less NAD as we age, slow­ing down cel­lu­lar op­er­a­tions.

Un­for­tu­nately, NAD sup­ple­ments don’t work very well, so we need to “trick” the body into mak­ing more NAD on its own. About 10 years ago, a pro­fes­sor of bio­chem­istry named Charles Bren­ner, PhD, dis­cov­ered nicoti­namide ri­bo­side, which has been clin­i­cally shown to sig­nif­i­cantly boost NAD stores.

HOR­MONES

Hor­mones have been wrongly blamed for ev­ery­thing, but the idea that “it’s all about hor­mones” has some ground­ing in fact. Hor­mones are ab­so­lutely es­sen­tial mes­sen­gers that tell cells, or­gans, tis­sues, mus­cles, and bones what to do. They are driv­ers of be­hav­ior and phys­i­ol­ogy. And they in­flu­ence ev­ery­thing from your sex drive to your abil­ity to burn fat. They are pow­er­ful mod­u­la­tors of the whole ag­ing process. And, as you might have guessed, they change a lot as you age.

You have more con­trol over some im­por­tant hor­mones than you might think — in­sulin and cor­ti­sol, for ex­am­ple. Want to re­duce in­sulin? Stop eat­ing so many foods that drive it up (like sugar, bread, pota­toes, corn, rice, and pro­cessed carbs).

Want to re­duce your main stress hor­mone, cor­ti­sol? Chill out! Cor­ti­sol is deeply af­fected by your mood and is raised ev­ery time you’re stressed. You can lower it with deep breath­ing or med­i­ta­tion.

But when it comes to the sex hor­mones — testos­terone, es­tro­gen, and pro­ges­terone — and the big metabolic reg­u­la­tors like thy­roid, it’s a whole other ball­game.

HOR­MONE THER­APY

For women, the wildly fluc­tu­at­ing lev­els of es­tro­gen and pro­ges­terone dur­ing menopause and de­creas­ing lev­els of sex hor­mones in gen­eral can af­fect ev­ery­thing from mood to en­ergy to sex drive to bone mass. Women are also deeply af­fected by de­clin­ing lev­els of testos­terone, which is a pow­er­ful mod­u­la­tor of phys­i­ol­ogy and mood for women. Di­min­ish­ing lev­els of testos­terone for men af­fect mus­cle, fat, sex drive, and en­ergy. And in men, very low lev­els of testos­terone are as­so­ci­ated with higher risk for car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease.

This is why many peo­ple choose to go on hor­mone re­place­ment ther­apy. Done cor­rectly, it can make you feel decades younger.

RE­LA­TION­SHIPS

Dan Buet­tner, an ex­plorer and re­porter for Na­tional Geo­graphic, wanted to learn the se­crets of the health­i­est and long­est- lived peo­ple in the world. He found five ar­eas around the globe that had dis­pro­por­tion­ately high num­bers of peo­ple who were func­tion­ing in so­ci­ety at the age of 100. The sin­gle fac­tor that all these ar­eas had in com­mon was re­la­tion­ships. The fab­ric of so­cial con­nect­ed­ness may be one of the most pow­er­ful pre­dic­tors of long and happy lives that we cur­rently have.

Do­ing all or some of these things won’t turn back the clock, but they will in­crease the chances that your later years will be healthy, vivid, ex­cit­ing, and em­pow­er­ing.

Jonny Bow­den, PhD, CNS, is a board-cer­ti­fied nu­tri­tion­ist and the best-sell­ing au­thor of 14 books. His lat­est is Smart Fat: Eat More Fat, Lose More Weight, Get Healthy Now (writ­ten with Steven Masley, MD). Visit him at jon­ny­bow­den.com. Have a ques­tion fo

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