Bad habits can impair cellular energy but diet, and particularly supplements may give your body the longevity boost it needs.
Cellular energy and aging
According to some of the more hopeful longevity experts out there, the wonders of medical science could soon mean that people are living for up to 150 years. The problem is that health span is not keeping pace which means many of us face the prospect of living on for decades as elderly and frail versions of our former selves. To prevent this from happening, people are looking for ways to slow the process of aging.
One way to do this is to support the ability of our cells to produce energy. This naturally declines with age, but it is possible to do things which keep energy levels high and help us live healthier as well as longer lives. Equally, though, there are a number of things you might be doing which could be prematurely reducing your cell’s energy and shortening your lifespan.
Lifestyle habits that limit longevity
Here are five things that could be reducing your longevity for starters:
- Stress: Our hectic work schedule is literally killing us. Stress has been shown to shorten the length of telomeres resulting in the premature death of cells.
- Insomnia: According to various studies, we’re not getting nearly enough sleep. This is the time when the body rests and regenerates. A lack of sleep will leave you with less energy and will, over time, shorten your life.
- Diet: Poor diet has become an epidemic in most western countries. Among the many negative effects of a bad diet is impaired mitochondria function. These are essential to cellular health and, if they are stopped from doing their jobs, cells lose the ability to generate energy and die prematurely.
- Alcohol and caffeine: If you start your day with a coffee and end it with some wine, you won’t be doing your cells any good. Both can impact on the function of your mitochondria which can reduce cellular energy levels.
- Environment: Pollution affects cellular respiration which impairs function and can lead to premature cellular death.
Now to the good news – we can solve these longevity problems. To do that we first need to understand cellular energy. Cells convert glucose and oxygen into energy in a process known as respiration, which fuels your body, and builds muscles. Mitochondria are critical to this process. They are microscopic organelles found in the cytoplasm of cells and are involved in all sorts of functions including cellular growth and energy consumption.
Unfortunately they decrease as we age, which makes it more difficult for cells to produce energy, and accelerates all the conditions we associate with aging such as weaker bones, reduced muscle mass, slower metabolisms and increased susceptibility to disease.
While the aging process is still unavoidable it happens at different rates for different people. This is why were hear about biological versus chronological age. The latter is how old you are in years and the former is what impact those years have had on your body.
As Indiana Jones once said: ‘it’s not years, it’s the mileage.’
Just as there are things you can do which accelerate this, you can also improve longevity by giving your body the fuel to power mitochondria, boost cellular energy levels and keep your body operating at full capacity for as long as possible. One which has been attracting growing attention recently is urolithin A.
This is a metabolite generated by your gut’s microbiome from types of polyphenol called ellagitannins. It plays a role in helping your cells replace worn out mitochondria to support the process of energy production.
It can be sourced from foods such as pomegranates, strawberries, blackberries, brewed tea, barrel aged wines and spirits. However, people produce urolithin A at different rates and not everyone will be able to produce enough. Indeed, estimates suggest around one in three people aren’t producing it in sufficient levels.
The answer may lie in longevity supplements. These are being promoted both as ways to slow the aging process, boost fitness and muscle endurance. Recent research appears to show that people given a urolithin A supplement showed better endurance in tests conducted by University of Washington researchers.
Studies in animals have suggested urolithin A can stimulate a process called mitophagy which tears down worn out mitochondria turning it into components which the body can use. Scientists had predicted that, if it repeated this effect in the study, it would result in increased muscle endurance in the test subjects.
Research is ongoing, but as our understanding of how cells produce energy increases, the longevity supplements sector is finding new ways to give our body the energy it needs to ensure healthspan starts to match our growing lifespan.
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