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Dr. Greger discusses eight anti-aging interventions.

Dr. Greger’s Anti-Aging Eight

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Dr. Greger’s Anti-Aging Eight

This is Dr. Michael Greger. We’ve featured him before: Brain Food? The Eyes Have It!

This time, we’re working from his latest book, the excellent “How Not To Age”, which we reviewed all so recently. It is very information-dense, but we’re going to be focussing on one part, his “anti-aging eight”, that is to say, eight interventions he rates the most highly to slow aging in general (other parts of the book pertained to slowing eleven specific pathways of aging, or preserving specific bodily functions against aging, for example).

Without further ado, his “anti-aging eight” are…

  1. Nuts
  2. Greens
  3. Berries
  4. Xenohormesis & microRNA manipulation
  5. Prebiotics & postbiotics
  6. Caloric restriction / IF
  7. Protein restriction
  8. NAD+

As you may have noticed, some of these are things might appear already on your grocery shopping list; others don’t seem so “household”. Let’s break them down:

Nuts, greens, berries

These are amongst the most nutrient-dense and phytochemical-useful parts of the diet that Dr. Greger advocates for in his already-famous “Dr. Greger’s Daily Dozen”.

For brevity, we’ll not go into the science of these here, but will advise you: eat a daily portion of nuts, a daily portion of berries, and a couple of daily portions of greens.

Xenohormesis & microRNA manipulation

You might, actually, have these on your grocery shopping list too!

Hormesis, you may recall from previous editions of 10almonds, is about engaging in a small amount of eustress to trigger the body’s self-strengthening response, for example:

Xenohormesis is about getting similar benefits, second-hand.

For example, plants that have been grown to “organic” standards (i.e. without artificial pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers) have had to adapt to their relatively harsher environment by upping their levels of protective polyphenols and other phytochemicals that, as it turns out, are as beneficial to us as they are to the plants:

Hormetic Effects of Phytochemicals on Health and Longevity

Additionally, the flip side of xenohormesis is that some plant compounds can themselves act as a source of hormetic stress that end up bolstering us. For example:

Redox-linked effects of green tea on DNA damage and repair, and influence of microsatellite polymorphism in HMOX-1: results of a human intervention trial

In essence, it’s not just that it has anti-oxidant effect; it also provides a tiny oxidative-stress immunization against serious sources of oxidative stress—and thus, aging.

MicroRNA manipulation is, alas, too complex to truly summarize an entire chapter in a line or two, but it has to do with genetic information from the food that we eat having a beneficial or deleterious effect to our own health:

Diet-derived microRNAs: unicorn or silver bullet?

A couple of quick takeaways (out of very many) from Dr. Greger’s chapter on this is to spring for the better quality olive oil, and skip the cow’s milk:

Prebiotics & Postbiotics

We’re short on space, so we’ll link you to a previous article, and tell you that it’s important against aging too:

Making Friends With Your Gut (You Can Thank Us Later)

An example of how one of Dr. Greger’s most-recommended postbiotics helps against aging, by the way:

(Urolithin can be found in many plants, and especially those containing tannins)

See also: How to Make Urolithin Postbiotics from Tannins

Caloric restriction / Intermittent fasting

This is about lowering metabolic load and promoting cellular apoptosis (programmed cell death; sounds bad; is good) and autophagy (self-consumption; again, sounds bad; is good).

For example, he cites the intermittent fasters’ 46% lower risk of dying in the subsequent years of follow-up in this longitudinal study:

Association of periodic fasting lifestyles with survival and incident major adverse cardiovascular events in patients undergoing cardiac catheterization

For brevity we’ll link to our previous IF article, but we’ll revisit caloric restriction in a main feature on of these days:

Fasting Without Crashing? We sort the science from the hype!

Dr. Greger favours caloric restriction over intermittent fasting, arguing that it is easier to adhere to and harder to get wrong if one has some confounding factor (e.g. diabetes, or a medication that requires food at certain times, etc). If adhered to healthily, the benefits appear to be comparable for each, though.

Protein restriction

In contrast to our recent main feature Protein vs Sarcopenia, in which that week’s featured expert argued for high protein consumption levels, protein restriction can, on the other hand, have anti-aging effects. A reminder that our body is a complex organism, and sometimes what’s good for one thing is bad for another!

Dr. Greger offers protein restriction as a way to get many of the benefits of caloric restriction, without caloric restriction. He further notes that caloric restriction without protein restriction doesn’t decrease IGF-1 levels (a marker of aging).

However, for FGF21 levels (these are good and we want them higher to stay younger), what matters more than lowering proteins in general is lowering levels of the amino acid methionine—found mostly in animal products, not plants—so the source of the protein matters:

Regulation of longevity and oxidative stress by nutritional interventions: role of methionine restriction

For example, legumes deliver only 5–10% of the methionine that meat does, for the same amount of protein, so that’s a factor to bear in mind.

NAD+

This is about nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide, or NAD+ to its friends.

NAD+ levels decline with age, and that decline is a causal factor in aging, and boosting the levels can slow aging:

Therapeutic Potential of NAD-Boosting Molecules: The In Vivo Evidence

Can we get NAD+ from food? We can, but not in useful quantities or with sufficient bioavailability.

Supplements, then? Dr. Greger finds the evidence for their usefulness lacking, in interventional trials.

How to boost NAD+, then? Dr. Greger prescribes…

Exercise! It boosts levels by 127% (i.e., it more than doubles the levels), based on a modest three-week exercise bike regimen:

Skeletal muscle NAMPT is induced by exercise in humans

Another study on resistance training found the same 127% boost:

Resistance training increases muscle NAD+ and NADH concentrations as well as NAMPT protein levels and global sirtuin activity in middle-aged, overweight, untrained individuals

Take care!

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