Switch on Your "Longevity Gene"

There’s a new anti-aging discovery you’ll want to know about…

Research – published in Nature – has uncovered a gene that can increase lifespan in laboratory animals by as much as 100 percent. Why should you care about genes in fruit flies, worms, and rats? Well, for starters, we humans carry the same gene. And we are discovering that natural substances found in certain foods have the power to activate it.

Scientists found evidence of this “longevity gene” about 20 years ago. Turns out that if you starve mice, giving them a diet with one-third fewer calories than they would like to eat, their lifespan increases by about 30 percent. Later studies revealed that this effect wasn’t limited to mice: Calorie-restricted diets produced similar results in many life forms, from single-celled organisms to plants and mammals.

Very recently, scientists found an explanation for this mysterious phenomenon: a family of genes called sirtuins (“silent information regulator proteins”). Sirtuins kick in under conditions of severe stress, bringing about an evolutionarily advantageous transformation. They transmit signals to every cell in your body, and the processes that lead to cell death slow to a crawl, buying your body more time to wait out the famine until things improve.

Most people think of genetics as written in stone. You have the genes you inherited, and that’s it. The discovery of sirtuins pointed to another amazing fact: Certain genes can be awakened and called upon to change your body in the course of your lifetime.

You’re probably saying to yourself, “Do I have to starve myself to live longer?” Good point. The problem of how to “wake up” sleeping sirtuin genes had scientists stumped for years. They had to find some other way to flip the aging “off switch.”

Benefts of Resveratrol
That’s where certain foods come in… because the natural compound resveratrol has been found to unleash the anti-aging power of sirtuins. Grapes, plums, blueberries, and cranberries contain resveratrol in the highest concentrations. Many other plants produce smaller amounts.

Wine Chart

Resveratrol’s power to enhance your life goes beyond anti-aging. Years of research have shown that it combats cancer, ramps up energy levels, limits the inflammation that causes arthritis, and benefits a number of major organs, including the heart, liver, and pancreas. It also has the remarkable capacity to halt cell “malfunctions” that can be lethal, like tumor generation.

As if that weren’t enough, resveratrol acts as a potent antioxidant, binding with “free radicals,” the molecules that cause cell damage and lead to death over time.

The list of resveratrol’s many health benefits is long indeed. Let’s start with the heart.

Meet One of Your Heart’s Most Potent Allies

I’ve been studying ways to boost heart health for 30 years, and resveratrol is one of the most powerful substances I have come across.

There are actually two kinds of resveratrol, “cis-resveratrol” and “trans-resveratrol.” It’s the second kind that appears to be the most beneficial.

One way it protects your heart is by preventing blood clots, a major cause of heart attack, particularly in older folks. In one study, published in the International Journal of Molecular Medicine, researchers gave healthy male subjects a blood-clotting factor along with high doses of trans-resveratrol. They found that trans-resveratrol prevented their blood platelets from sticking together. Not only does this help your heart – it also prevents strokes.

Another way it powers your heart involves a miraculous capability called “angio-genesis,” a fancy term for blood vessel growth. Trans-resveratrol acts a bit like bypass surgery by creating new blood vessels to deliver more oxygen to your heart when it’s not getting enough.

Finally, trans-resveratrol drives down levels of bad fats called triglycerides. These are the fatty acids that clog your arteries. Scientists have been able to lower triglyceride levels as much as 15 percent in pre-menopausal women by using concentrated grape powder.

A Natural Cancer Fighter – and More

Resveratrol is a major weapon in the battle against cancer – in both men and women.

Someday, doctors may turn to resveratrol instead of drugs or surgery as a first-line defense and treatment for prostate cancer. In mice, it’s been shown to reduce prostate cancer risk as much as 87 percent. And in those that had already developed prostate cancer, resveratrol slowed tumor growth by up to 49 percent.

For women, resveratrol may prove just as powerful in the fight against breast cancer. Another study on mice found that it slowed tumor growth and killed off cancer cells and the blood vessels they need to grow.

Resveratrol is truly amazing. It acts just like chemotherapy in mice, but naturally and without any of the horrific side effects. And while it stimulates blood vessel growth to benefit the heart, it kills the blood vessels that feed tumors. When it comes to preventing cancer and heart disease, it’s your guardian angel.

Plants use resveratrol to protect themselves from the harmful effects of too much sun. It may be able to do the same thing for humans. Scientists from the University of Wisconsin looked at resveratrol’s effects on skin tumor development in mice caused by harmful UVB rays. They used it just like a lotion, applying it to the skin twice weekly for 28 weeks. Not only did it prevent skin cancer; it also slowed tumor growth significantly.

Adding icing to the cake, the same study confirmed resveratrol’s power to enhance overall health and vitality: It boosted the immune system, protected the nervous system, and optimized liver, muscle, and fat cell function. It also prevented diabetes and obesity by lowering insulin resistance, the main cause of Type II diabetes.

Ramp Up Your Physical Strength and Vitality

Resveratrol may also turn out to be what spinach was for Popeye. In one study, it turned mice into Mighty Mice, granting them extraordinary strength and stamina. Once fed resveratrol, they ramped up their aerobic capacity, lengthened their running time, and burned more oxygen. Researchers also noticed that resveratrol enhanced their muscles’ ability to turn fuel into energy.

Resveratrol taps into your body’s natural, life-giving force, unleashing vitality, energy, strength, and stamina. It can literally add years to your life.

The problem is how to get enough of it.

Nearly all the experiments I mentioned used quantities of resveratrol well beyond what you’d be able to get from drinking a lot of wine or eating plums all day. So this is a case where supplements may be a better option. They’re inexpensive and safe. You can find them in health food stores or online. I recommend taking about 20 mg per day.

[Ed Note: Dr. Sears, a practicing physician and the author of PACE: Rediscover Your Native Fitness, is a leading authority on longevity, physical fitness, nutrition, and heart health. Find Dr. Sears’ practical solutions and get immediate access to more than 450 of his articles by visiting: www.alsearsmd.com.]
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