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10 Molecules that could optimize your health span

Nutraceutical is a broad term to describe any product derived from food sources or fortified food products that provide extra health benefits in addition to the primary nutritional value found in food. It now includes products derived from enzymes or mimics enzymes and proteins involved in metabolic processes that improve health.

N-Acetyl Cysteine or NAC is a ubiquitous compound known as a precursor of glutathione, an antioxidant in plants, animals, fungi, and some bacteria. It was initially used in emergency rooms to reverse liver damage from poisoning from substances like acetaminophen overdose. Still, the use has been expanded as current suggests that it might also reverse aging and prolong life because of its powerful antioxidant properties.

Glutathione is a powerful antioxidant capable of preventing damage to important cellular components caused by reactive oxygen species such as free radicals, peroxides, lipid peroxides, and heavy metals. It is a tripeptide with a gamma peptide linkage between the carboxyl group of the glutamates side chain and cysteine. A standard peptide linkage attaches the carboxyl group of the cysteine residue to a glycine moiety giving it the ability to act as an antioxidant.

It has numerous uses, including cellular protective effects; hence, it is a possible candidate for a regimen to improve health span. In the laboratory, it is found to remarkably increase the lifespan of mice, potentially replicable in humans.

Resveratrol is a stilbenoid, a type of natural phenol, and a phytoalexin produced by several plants but found primarily on grapes in response to injury or when the plant is under attack by pathogens, such as bacteria or fungi. It is hence present in red wine.

Researchers found that longevity genes are up-regulated by resveratrol, which induces the production of a group of gene promoters called sirtuins, especially SIRT1, which is known to promote the reversal of the aging process by improving DNA replication and repair capacity.

Other agents converge their effects on the pathway involving sirtuins to provide the same anti-aging benefits. Some of these molecules are being studied in various ongoing clinical trials.

Metformin is one of those molecules researchers look at as a candidate for extending lifespan. Metformin is a known drug called 'Glucophage' for its glucose-reducing property and has been used for treating diabetes mellitus for decades.

It works by increasing fasting tolerance and the antioxidant glutathione levels while activating the upregulation of adenosine monophosphate AMPK and Sirtuins to mimic caloric restriction, just as inhibition of IIS and mTOR.

Metformin is versatile, as it also lowers the incidence of several age-related diseases, metabolic syndrome, cancer, and neurodegenerative disorders. Because of these broad beneficial effects and minimal side effects, in addition to the ability of metformin to provide protective effects against aging and aging-related diseases, the Targeting Aging with Metformin (TAME) study was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. It is a strong candidate as a medication for reversing the aging process.

Rapamycin, also called Sirolimus, was found in a landmark study to inhibit mTOR in the short-lived mutant strain of mice, extending their maximum life span nearly three-fold. It also prolongs life in normal mice and yeast, worms, and flies, prevents age-related conditions in rodents, dogs, and nonhuman primates, and can potentially apply to humans. mTOR stands for 'mechanistic targets of rapamycin.'

Rapamycin and its analog, Everolimus, are FDA approved for human use and have been used safely for decades. In 2006, it was suggested that rapamycin could be used to slow down aging and all age-related diseases in humans.

Nicotinamide Adenosine diphosphate NAD Boosters: Scientists identified that the metabolite NAD+ is a very important pyridine nucleotide that plays the role of electron carrier in cellular metabolism and serves in the maintenance of balanced redox homeostasis.

The ratios of both NAD+: NADH and NADP+: NADPH is essential to various cellular processes and is also crucial in nutrient-sensing pathways involving sirtuins. As humans get older, the efficiency of this balanced ratio begins to tilt, and the level of NAD+ in the body dwindles rapidly after 40 years of age. Hence, the level correlates with the rate of aging, from wrinkled skin to grey hair.

Mice treated with an NAD+ precursor, called Nicotinamide mononucleotide or NMN, improved the levels of NAD+ and hence cells' ability to repair DNA damage caused by radiation exposure or old age. They accordingly promise to be effective anti-aging molecules.

Pterostilbene is chemically similar to resveratrol and hence acts on the same pathways, but it has an 80% more bioavailability orally than resveratrol.

Ashwagandha from the plant Withania somnifera is commonly used as a medicinal herb in Ayurvedic medicine but is also used as an adaptogen, diuretic, and sedative. Hence is available in the United States as a dietary supplement. Animal experiments suggest positive effects on the immune, endocrine, and CNS systems and in the pathogenesis of cancer and inflammatory conditions.


Understandably, there is no single magical explanation for aging. Still, research has identified 8 'hallmarks of aging' based on understanding biological mechanisms involved in cellular regeneration and growth.

These research findings also demonstrate that the rate of aging can be slowed, suggesting interventional mechanisms that can slow aging, which will coincidentally slow the appearance and reduce the burden of numerous diseases like metabolic syndrome, hypertension, heart diseases, and diabetes mellitus, and neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer's.

Reducing these disorders will also improve the efficiency of health maintenance factors and hence increase healthspan, which is that period of a lifespan spent in relatively good health.

Therefore, this new science aims to develop specific and other interventions for reversing the aging process by preventing the identified cellular mechanisms that invariably lead to accelerated aging through aging-related diseases, disorders, and disabilities.

Research is also ongoing to identify the interactions among genetic, environmental, lifestyle, behavioral, and social factors and their influence on the initiation and progression of age-related diseases and degenerative conditions.

Specific factors, including molecules that resulted from these research findings, are relatively safe, inexpensive, and applicable as sustainable lifestyle modifications.

So, in summary, any activity or factor that puts the body under physiological 'stress' and hence 'survival mode is known to improve the regenerating capacity of the cells. These include denying the body food sometimes, 'forcing the muscles' to work, and relaxing the brain and mind. Then add some beneficial natural plant-based diet and nutrients to enhance the cell homeostatic mechanisms.

Caloric restriction, ultimately limiting or intermittently restricting the frequency of food intake known as fasting, improves healthspan and lifespan.

Diets high in vegetables, omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, and low in sugars that cause spikes in blood glucose extend life.

Exercises must be those that trigger adequate heart rate variability, thereby inducing improvement in mitochondrial efficiency as well as influencing epigenetic modifications for delayed aging. These usually will include aerobic, high-intensity interval training, and strength exercises.

Mindfulness through yoga, meditation, and other stress-relieving measures, including adequate sleep, are indispensable in the march towards improved wellbeing and a healthy lifespan.

Medications and nutraceuticals derived from natural substances can also slow the aging process and possibly reverse it. Some of these molecules influence the body's energy systems by mimicking caloric restriction and causing blood sugar control. like metformin and berberine

Others would influence the activation of DNA repair mechanisms and telomerase activators like astragalus and ashwagandha.

Senescence is an irreversible arrest of the cell cycle and replication, leading to the suicidal death of cells, which plays a crucial role in aging. Hence senolytics disrupt this mechanism and allow for continued repair and regeneration, delaying aging. Common senolytics include Quercetin and the active ingredients of Green tea.

Reducing chronic inflammation is known to influence aging by improving intercellular communication and mitochondrial efficiency; hence, drugs like low-dose aspirin and curcumin (in tumeric) Turmeric and Boswellia are complementary.

Nicotinamide monophosphate NMN and Pterostilbene, chemically similar to resveratrol, may also be listed here but are versatile in their activity in cellular regeneration.

Neuroprotective nutriceuticals include ashwagandha, Rhodiola, ginkgo Biloba, melatonin, Gotu kola, coffee, and cacao in chocolate.

These individual elements can be interwoven in different configurations but must include the 3 Ms (Mouth, Muscle, and Mind) with 2 Nutraceuticals for optimal benefit. The way they are incorporated into lifestyle modification regimes can influence the quest for a longer health span in a prolonged lifespan. Good luck

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