In 2009, the Nobel Peace Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded to three scientists, who uncovered the physiology behind a longer lifespan – telomeres. A detailed explanation of DNA, chromosomes and telomerase could describe the science behind longevity; however, all that complex jargon, won’t tell you what you really need to know – how to live longer and, of course, healthier.
Dr. Roger Garcia, Medical Director of BodyLogicMD of Columbus says extending your life is as easy as changing your diet, “We know that we can increase the life of the telomeres through various nutraceuticals.” Several research theories suggest that these foods can play a role in lengthening telomeres and, therefore extending your life:
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
The benefits of omega-3 fatty acids go well beyond extending your lifespan. Omega-3s have been shown in several studies to play a role in reducing the risk of heart disease, asthma, ADHD, depression and Alzheimer’s. Studies have also linked this powerful nutrient to lower triglyceride levels, reduced joint pain with arthritis and improved prenatal health. Most doctors recommend supplementing omega-3s, in addition to consuming foods with high levels of EPA, DHA and ALA – the three types of omega-3s. DHA and EPA are easily obtained from fatty fish, like bluefish, herring mackerel, wild salmon and tuna. ALA is best sourced from nuts and plant oils, such as walnuts, flaxseed, canola oil, olive oil and soybean oil. Exercise moderation when consuming these foods, although a rich source of this valuable nutrient, these foods are high in calories.
Experts rank vitamin C among the safest, most effective antioxidant nutrients available. Vitamin C is a potent free radical fighter because it can donate electrons to not one, but two free radicals, including converting vitamin E back to a free radical fighter after it donates an electron. This function contributes to vitamin C’s ability to protect against immune system deficiencies, cardiovascular disease, cancer, eye disease and wrinkles. Vitamin C is a water soluble vitamin, so the upper limit is 2,000 milligrams. You can safely supplement 500 milligrams a day and consume foods rich in vitamin C, such as cantaloupe, citrus fruits, broccoli, red cabbage, green and red peppers and kiwi. Remember that vitamin C is very heat sensitive – meaning high temperatures or long cooking times can reduce the amount and bioavailability of vitamin C in each food source.
N-acetylcysteine (NAC) is a modified form of the nonessential amino acid, cysteine, which is manufactured by the liver. The amino acid is essential for the body to make glutathione, an enzyme essential to fighting free radical damage inside the body. Dairy products, whole grains, fish and most meats contain NAC. Although NAC supplements are available, whole foods provide greater bioavailability, safe levels and a more complete nutritional profile.
Statin drugs, well-known for the treatment of high cholesterol, have been shown to effectively lengthen telomeres, but they often come with unfavorable side effects. The good news is that several foods can act as natural statins – you get all the benefits without side effects. Onions and garlic are the most potent food sources for statin-like activity. Onions contain nonsulphur compounds that have been shown to decrease LDL oxidation and decrease dietary fat and cholesterol absorption. Garlic has a similar effect. It has been shown in studies to reduce total cholesterol by a few points; however, individuals with blood clotting disorders or taking blood thinners should limit intake of garlic.
Dr. Garcia also recommends vitamin D, folate and B12, nicotinamide, alpha-tocopherol, gingko biloba, Chinese ginger root, astragulus and multivitamins as part of a longevity diet. Although your goal may not be eternal life, you certainly want a longer, healthier life. Choosing to consume a balanced diet, rich in valuable nutrients ensures a long life for healthy cells, reducing your risk of disease and suffering ailments as you age. Imagine living to an old age, but with all the vibrancy of youth – that’s what a healthy lifestyle can achieve for you.
Dr. Roger Garcia is a board-certified physician, specializing in preventive medicine, anti-aging and bioidentical hormone therapy. He is the Medical Director of BodyLogicMD of Columbus and author of Aged to Perfection: Anti-aging, Wellness and Weight Loss with Natural Hormones. He focuses his practice on helping men and women discover health and longevity through wellness practices, including nutrition, fitness, sleep, stress management and hormone balance. Learn more about Dr. Garcia at BodyLogicMD.com. You can also view more videos on longevity and optimizing health at TheDoctorsChannel.com – registration is free.