The search for the fountain of youth has been a pursuit throughout human history, and while we may not have found the secret to eternal youth, recent research has uncovered a set of genes that, when activated, can significantly extend our healthspan. These genes are known as the sirtuins, and there are seven of them in total. I first learned about the sirtuins in college, but got an in depth awareness of how they function, from the work of Dr. David Sinclair, one of the leading researchers in the field of longevity science and life extension.
We are the first generation of people who will be able to hack our way to a healthy 100 years and beyond. All of our current centenarians arrived there more or less as a result of winning the genetic lottery. Modern science is showing us that our choices add up over time, and greatly influence the cellular environment inside of our bodies. So, even those of us with average genetics can live a long healthy life, if we play the lifestyle game appropriately, and activate our sirtuins.
The Role of Sirtuins
Sirtuins are a class of enzymes that play a vital role in regulating the aging process. They are found in all living organisms, from bacteria to humans, and have been shown to have a wide range of beneficial effects on the body. These effects include improving insulin sensitivity, reducing inflammation, and promoting the repair of DNA damage.
One of the most well-known sirtuins is SIRT1, which has been found to play a key role in regulating the aging process by promoting the repair of DNA damage and increasing the production of antioxidants. Another important sirtuin is SIRT6, which has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity and reduce inflammation.
The sirtuins have been found to be activated by a variety of different factors, including calorie restriction, physical activity, and certain compounds found in foods such as red wine and dark chocolate. Some researchers have even suggested that activating these genes could be a key to extending the human lifespan.
While more research is needed to fully understand the mechanisms behind the sirtuins and how to best activate them, there are a few things that you can do to increase your chances of activating these longevity genes. One is to maintain a healthy diet, with a focus on nutrient-dense foods such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Another is to engage in regular physical activity, as this has been shown to increase the production of sirtuins.
A remarkable method for activating sirtuins is through specialized exercise routines called hormesis training. Hormesis is a biological phenomenon where a mild stressor, such as exercise, can trigger a beneficial response in the body. Hormesis training is a type of exercise that utilizes this principle by exposing the body to short, intense bursts of stress, such as high-intensity interval training (HIIT). This type of exercise has been found to activate sirtuins, leading to a wide range of health benefits, including improved insulin sensitivity, reduced inflammation, and increased muscle mass. Studies have shown that hormesis training can also increase the production of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a protein that is important for the growth and survival of nerve cells. This suggests that hormesis training may also have cognitive benefits. So consistently challenging yourself has some great benefits! Do hard things folks!
With hormesis training you can strengthen sirtuins, which boosts your resistance to disease and promotes longevity. It seems that every type of exercise, including strength, endurance and yoga have some positive hormetic effect on our cells, tissues, organs and overall health.
Choose Wellness over Your Lower Drives
While more research is needed to fully understand these genes, there are a few things that you can do to increase your chances of activating them, such as maintaining a healthy diet and engaging in regular physical activity.
Bruce Lee used to say “mastery is a trimming away of the unessentials.” I love this phrase, and I relate more to it now that I am 47 years old. At this life stage, having tasted all the world has to offer, I can prioritize reducing my intake of sugar, processed foods, and alcohol, while maintaining my focus on training, proper nutrition and rest.
By taking care of our health and activating these longevity genes, we can extend our health span and live longer, healthier lives.