Fatty Acids, Gene Expression, and Increased Lifespan… Your Thoughts?
While many studies are currently going on regarding aging and increased lifespan, there is one in specific that caught my attention. The only thing I could think of was to write about it from my perspective. Coming out of college, my brother got me involved with the “Paleo” movement. I started out all in with the movement, but eventually shifted over to a modified version of it based on my studies of chemistry, nutrition, and physiology. When viewed through an unbiased “Paleo” lens most peer-reviewed articles and studies conclude that human nutrition is pretty simple to follow. Our ancestors ate the basic foods of wild or grass-fed meats and seafood, eggs, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, water, and healthy cooking oils. Having a deep understanding of why is where the difficulty lies. The reality is that you don’t need to know why, you just need to eat foods in their natural state, rather than “foods” that have been manufactured, produced, and tinkered with by man.
If we significantly limit the sugars, or carbohydrates, in our diets, you have no other option to increase your fats and proteins. According to the Greeks, the word protein means of highest importance. The current American standard way of eating speaks to the tune of the diet being a majority (more than 50%) of carbohydrates. This would mean proteins and fats are limited since they have to make up the rest of the diet.
Let’s say, currently it’s 60% carbohydrate, 25% fat, and 15% protein (probably not too far off from what it actually is in America). Wouldn’t this contradict the meaning of the word protein, according to the Greeks? Why are you disrespecting the Greeks like that? They’ve been around much longer than Americans. The “Paleo” movement would laugh at those numbers. So, let’s change them to something I believe is much more accurate to what our ancestors of 15,000+ years ago would have been consuming. It was probably more along the lines of 20% carbohydrate, 40% fat, and 40% protein. Now it’s of highest importance.
Fatty acids and protein helped provide long lasting energy for endurance events such as hunting and traveling as well as provide insulation for the colder temperatures throughout the year. Carbohydrates are only necessary for quick bursts of energy and there wasn’t a high demand for that. Therefore our genes were used to expressing themselves optimally under these conditions way back when. Today, we live in such a fast paced, up and down world, that we assume our food choices should reflect that, so we started eating a lot of sugars and carbohydrates. But there’s the problem…
When these sugars come in contact with Oxygen and get oxidized, or combusted, they produce AGEs (Advanced Glycation End products). AGEs speed up the aging process significantly by producing excess toxins that the body cannot eliminate quick enough. I find it ironic and pretty funny that the acronym for Advanced Glycation End products spells AGE… Naturally, it would make sense to limit your sugar and carbohydrate intake for this reason specifically.
Another way to think about AGEs is by picturing Crème Brulee. This dessert is made by putting high heat on sugars to make them caramelize and very sticky. The same thing goes on inside the body. Sticky things are hard to clean up, causing degeneration to occur at a faster rate because the body struggles to clean itself and eliminate toxins.
This brings me to my next point. Recent studies have found that cooler mice live longer. No studies have been done on humans, but genetically speaking, mice and humans are pretty damn similar. I’m going to say it probably has the same affect on humans as it does on mice. How do you cool your body down? Great question.
When we moved around a lot performing what we’ll call endurance exercise (long walks, with moderately intense bouts of resisted training every so often – lifting logs, rocks, animal meats) the human body responds by breaking down fat cells for energy. These fat cells are no longer “trapped” and end up circulating through the blood stream. The process of mobilizing fatty acids for energy has been linked to the up-regulation of a protein that causes the hypothalamus (the body’s internal thermostat) to over heat. This in turn forces the hypothalamus to send out signals to the body telling it to lower its core body temperature.
When humans have a lower core body temperature, it slows down the growth rate and ultimately slows down the aging process. If you think about it, logically it makes sense. Ever heard of cryogenics? Basically liquid nitrogen freezes things in time, where as Oxygen heats things up. Cryogenics freezes cells forever and when they get heated back to normal “living” temperatures the cells operate again. This same process is going to apply to the human body – if the core body temperature is lowered, then it slows down the “heating up” or “aging” process.
The bottom line here is that if we limit our sugars, and increase our proteins and fats through foods in their natural state, we will signal to the hypothalamus to slow down. The hypothalamus also controls the pituitary gland and therefore our hormones and many other processes in the body.
Increasing your intake of healthy omega-3s to regain a balanced Omega-3:Omega-6 ratio, plus having a sufficient amino acid pool for proteins such as the one that triggers the hypothalamus to over heat, will help you slow down your aging process and ultimately increase your lifespan. Now that’s what I’m talking about! If you keep your water intake at a sufficient level as well so that these fatty acids and proteins can perform their jobs, everything will naturally fall into place.
What are your thoughts on increasing your lifespan?