A key objective for many of the wealthiest people in Silicon Valley is extending the human lifespan. The search for technologies and can extend our lives is already well underway, but much work is needed to make these accessible to a wider audience. Until the cutting edge technologies are released, the best nootropics for longevity and anti-aging are going to be out best bet…and there is good evidence to back them up. By focusing on some of the latest research, we will show how valuable anti-aging nootropics can be in theory and which mechanisms we are fighting in order to combat the aging process.
Aging and Mitochondrial Health
For scientists or research oriented people, aging is an increasingly interesting problem. Getting to the root of the causes of aging has taken a long time and we still aren’t 100% certain yet. Each new discovery brings us a step closer to putting the puzzle together. Much of the evidence now suggests that the aging process is simply a faster deterioration of parts of the body than regenerative capacity. When we are young and fit, injuries are quickly healed because our regenerative stem cells are healthy and capable of fixing the damage. As we age, this becomes less true. This comes up specifically in the case of the smallest part of our makeup: cells. Each cell is powering part of the organism in a specific way. Some cells are designated for regenerating the skin, others the heart, etc. If we understand that cells are important at a foundational level, how can we aid this part of us to maintain our health? The answer for most anti-aging biohackers and nootropics lovers is the mitochondria. This is the powerhouse of the cell, which generates ATP (energy) for many processes (including cognitive output). The healthier we can make our mitochondria, the better off we will be in the long run. There are a number of ways to improve mitochondrial health and theoretically extend our lifespan, but the first may have nothing to do with nootropics at all.
Longevity: The Easy Win
Taking a supplement or product regularly to reduce aging sounds great, but what if we could do something that would substantially reduce the signs of aging… without doing anything at all? In theory, fasting is a great way to improve many aspects of cognition, but also to reduce the signs of aging at a cellular level. The way fasting helps our cells is through a process called autophagy. This process is essentially when our body cleans out old cells that are dead or no longer working properly. The problem is, we cannot increase autophagy if we are constantly eating because the body has new inputs to breakdown versus old organelles to remove. In one 2010 study in the journal Autophagy, scientists discovered that short-term fasting induced neuronal autophagy specifically. This means that by fasting, our brains are able to clear neurons of dead cells that aren’t working properly. This is a great first step in improving cognition and longevity. Another study found fasting could reduce several markers for diseases. The more scientists studying the effects of fasting, the more questions of our longevity come up. The biggest problem is whether or not the fasting and autophagy produces the same kind of life extension results in humans as it does in other animals. According to researcher Aubrey de Grey, PhD, the closer we get to humans, the less impact fasting has in the trial… but he’s still a believer that we can live to 130 - 150 years.
A Counterintuitive Approach to Anti-Aging
As scientific as the previous sections might be, sometimes the answers to longevity and anti-aging are clearer if we are willing to look. In the book Blue Zones: 9 Lessons for Living Longer From the People Who’ve Lived the Longest author Dan Buettner shows the characteristics of many communities across the globe that live to over 100 years old. The key (and yet counterintuitive) takeaways from these communities are the anti-aging benefits of doing the following:
- Life purpose
- Stress reduction
- Engagement in spirituality
- Engagement in family life
- Engagement in social life
Of the 9 most important things this author considered, 3 of them were related to relationships (to a higher power, to family, and to friends). The classic examples from the book include people from Sardinia, Italy sipping on wine and enjoying the company of their friends and family. It’s impossible to drill down on what specifically is causing the people in these regions to live to over 100 years old, but it is clear that things “outside the scientific box” are causing positive health effects. Humans are social creatures, which means that putting yourself around people regularly will go a long way in helping with aging.