Aging and Mitochondrial HealthFor 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 are 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 WinTaking 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-AgingAs 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
Best Nootropics for LongevityNow that you have hopefully understood the basics of longevity, anti-aging, and how to achieve it on a smaller scale, there are plenty of nootropics and smart enhancers that we can explore to get an added advantage.Before jumping into these nootropics, consider what your goals and desires are. For many people, aiding in mitochondrial health can not only improve signs of aging, but also leads to better short-term health outcomes as well.Creatine monohydrateSurprise, surprise! Creatine monohydrate typically has a reputation for being a supplement for bodybuilders, but there is ample evidence it is a powerful mitochondrial booster. Creatine, typically found in meat products, is used at a cellular level to produce ATP (energy). The more energy you have, the more weights you can lift! More importantly, it holds true for every cell so creatine is helping all cells improve their energy production.Nicotinamide RibosideNicotinamide riboside is a derivative of niacin (vitamin B3), which helps to produce NAD+, which is currently one of the ultimate anti-aging supplements available. Nicotinamide riboside helps to increase the health of our mitochondria, but goes way beyond that. Nicotinamide riboside can help delay the death of brain cells and the decline of NAD+ during the aging process is said to be “...an Achilles’ heel, causing defects…” SulforaphaneThe number of benefits from sulforaphane is astounding, which is one of the reasons Dr. Rhonda Patrick is so vocal about it. Studies on this compound (found in broccoli sprouts and cruciferous vegetables) suggests it can aid in the NRF2 pathway and stimulates heat shock proteins, both of which have anti-aging benefits. Finally, there is evidence that red flour beetles see a 15 - 32% jump in mean lifespan with a broccoli heavy diet. Not a direct 1 to 1 obviously, but something to consider in addition to all the other benefits. CoQ10Found in all mammals and cells, coenzyme q10 is a powerful antioxidant, but is most important for mitochondrial support. Just about any product you buy that aids in mitochondrial health will have CoQ10 because it is such a well-researched compound.GlutathioneAccording to Dr. Mark Hyman, glutathione is the “mother of all antioxidants”, which is more powerful than any other. It helps clear free radicals and reduce oxidative stress, but the problem is how hard it is to find a supplement that actually works. If you are planning to buy a supplement, search for liposomal glutathione so it is more readily absorbed.Rhodiola roseaThis is probably the least promising of the bunch, but has many other benefits as an adaptogen so it’s worth mentioning. The main reason rhodiola may help with anti-aging comes from a study published in 2009 showing that rhodiola rosea could extend the lifestyle of nematodes by 24%. Nematodes are far from humans so there definitely is no 1 to 1 correlation, but it is an interesting theoretical benefit on top of all the true benefits of this adaptogen.