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  • Healthy longevity is within reach say biologists but they (again) stop short of making any practical recommendations

    September 12, 2014: by Bill Sardi

    Hold your breath one more time before we put any new discovery into practice that could dramatically increase the human healthspan and lifespan. The latest study shows that activation of a gene that controls cell energy in key organs slows aging throughout the body and increases the lifespan of fruit flies by 30%. [UCLA Newsroom Sept 8, 2014] That is equivalent to adding another 20 healthy years to the human lifespan if this science is applicable to humans (and it is!).

    The medical and biological research community is piling up libraries of breakthrough basic research but putting the brakes on applied science. Almost every research paper involving longevity ends with the demand that more research needs to be done before proceeding ahead.   Why not activate the same gene in humans that was activated in fruit flies and figure out all the biological mechanisms later? You can enter the heavenly state of enduring health and longevity but not before the high priests of biology say so. The latest breakthrough in biology is an example.

    These UCLA biologists claim: “we are not there yet,” and “it could take many years.” They are essentially saying, hold your breath while we figure this all out before anything is done to promote healthy aging in humans (lab rats are OK). Of course, this is absurd. But most of these researchers are out of a job if an elixir against aging should be put into widespread practice anytime soon. And life insurance companies aren’t quite ready for this anyway. God help us all, when will it be the right time to halt the ravages of aging that now threatens ruination of populations in developed countries.

    Science is not likely to make a difference

    I could lead readers of this report also read the high science published in the journal Cell Reports that shows what happens when the gene that controls AMPK is activated. AMPK stands for adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase and is the body’s master controller of cellular and whole-body energy. [Cell Reports Sept 25, 2014] The genes that control AMPK are not only present in fruit flies, they are found in all mammals including humans. [Molecular & Cellular Biology Aug 2011]

    But you are likely to get lost in all the scientific lingo about gene expression and unfamiliar terminology like Drosophila (fruit flies) and autophagy (degradation of cellular components via cleanup enzymes produced in lysosomes within living cells) that you will never get beyond the first page of the 14-age report.  (I include links to these reports anyway, regardless of whether you can understand them or not, because you need to be able to check on what I am saying here.)

    This recent research says if you elevate the AMPK enzyme in the brain this will activate it in the intestines and visa versa. This means if you take an AMPK activating pill its ingredients don’t have to travel all the way to the brain to produce health and longevity. This is not the first time that this has been reported but authors of the report make it sound like that.

    In 2005 it was reported that alpha lipoic acid, a natural antioxidant internally produced in the body and also available as a dietary supplement, decreased AMPK in the brain and simultaneously increased it in skeletal muscle. [Nature Medicine 2004] Lipoic acid is identified as an anti-aging molecule heralded by Dr. Bruce Ames at the University of California Berkeley. [Discover Oct 2002] Notice Dr. Ames’ discovery was published over a decade ago now.

    Importance of cell signaling

    The reason this current experiment makes headlines in biology is that it underscores the importance of something called cell signaling. The AMPK cell signaling pathway that shows all the known genes and hormones that AMPK affects can be viewed online at

    AMPK diagram

    AMPK activators are widely available and affordable

    And the good news is that we don’t need to wait for Big Pharma to bring an AMPK booster to market. The anti-diabetic drug metformin (also described as an anti-aging agent) activates AMPK. [Diabetes Aug 2002] But you can also boost AMPK activity without a doctor’s prescription or spending a dime. Just exercise or put a fasting diet into practice.

    In fact, anything that is a mild biological stressor will activate AMPK to boost cellular energy. These biological stressors include mild oxygen insufficiency (high altitude), low sugar levels, radiation like radon gas, or oxidative stress. [Cell Metabolism 2005] The latter is a bit counterintuitive since most Americans have been taught to boost antioxidant levels, not to trigger mild oxidation.

    The pathway to longevity involves activation of AMPK. So a long healthy life is within reach and doesn’t cost a dime – even saves you money not only in medical bills but also in the cost of food should you choose to make fasting a part of your daily health regimen.

    But the objective of the scientific community is to file for patents and eventually commercialize these discoveries. Unfortunately, only a few savvy health seekers have chosen to disobey orders and venture to take an available non-prescription AMPK booster. The masses rely on their doctors to advise them on this issue and insurance to pay for the anti-aging pills. The need for doctoring would be drastically curtailed by such a pill.   So would the many medications for each and every age-related disease.

    Have the gumption to apply the science for yourself

    For those readers who would like to begin activating AMPK and living a long and healthy life, it would be helpful to know what particular foods or molecules activate AMPK.

    What we end up with is the challenge to develop elixirs that now must overcome unhealthy diets and health habits such as smoking. This is why most weight loss and anti-diabetic drugs fail. They can’t completely overcome a bad diet. Life expectancy and the number of centenarians in France rose dramatically in recent times when smoking was curtailed. Then the real benefits of French red wine could be realized. []

    More and more research points to a low carbohydrate diet (no bread, no rice, no pasta, no refined sugars in the strictest low-carb plans) as being the healthiest. [Reuters Sept 1, 2014]

    But be mindful that the Mediterranean Diet produces health benefits and longevity despite it being high in fat and calories. The Mediterranean Diet provides concentrated forms of small molecules that activate AMPK in olive oil, wine and garlic. [Cell Cycle Feb 15, 2013; Carcinogenesis Jan 7, 2011; Science Daily May 1, 2012; Journal of Nutrition Sept 14, 2011]

    Because food restriction activates AMPK a list of AMPK-boosting foods may lead people to mistakenly think consumption of more healthy foods will lead to longevity. AMPK plays a strong role in the control of appetite and food intake. [Journal Biological Chemistry March 26, 2004]   The most convincing evidence for superlongevity comes from food-restricted diets.  Less food, not more food, is the lesson.

    AMPK is primarily activated by individual molecules concentrated in certain foods (wine, tea, oils) and dietary supplements (aka nutraceuticals).   Molecules known to boost AMPK are resveratrol (red wine), quercetin (red apple peel), berberine (Oregon grape), catechin as EGCG (green tea), allicin (garlic), and vitamin D. [American Journal Clinical Nutrition April 2011; Cancer Research Society]

    Combinations of molecules known as polyphenols obtained in concentrated forms from wine, olive oil and tea leaves have been shown to work more powerfully than these individual molecules alone. [Molecular Food & Nutrition Research 2011]   A mild dose of polyphenols is required to activate AMPK. Many available polyphenolic dietary supplements provide mega-doses that are counterproductive. Only one brand of a polyphenolic combination polyphenolic nutraceutical mixture has been dose-tested.   [] — ©2014 Bill Sardi,

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