Sirtuins - Anti-Aging Mystery

The greater our comprehension of the aging process, the more ways scientists find to extend the average life span. Ironically, the most effective means of anti-aging intervention have been the same for the past 50 years; eating less!!

The results of humans eating a low-calorie diet is less dramatic in humans than it is in animals. Still, most experts agree that a well-balanced diet with a low caloric level is likely to be beneficial to most people's health and longevity.

Needless to say, there is a catch. People tend to avoid doing things that are not easy to do even if they are good for us. Thus, for most of us, dramatically reducing our food intake makes life too unpleasant to be worth prolonging. To counteract this problem, research is being conducted to understand why the caloric restriction is life-enhancing and if the same mechanism can be produced by other means.

The starting point for this study is the idea that caloric restriction extends the lifespan by lowering levels of cell damage by free radicals, which are produced when the cells use nutrients from the mitochondria to make energy. The slowing of the production of free radicals does indeed play a role in this. Additionally, caloric restriction seems to set certain cellular mechanisms of self-preservation which extends the lifespan of the organism until the amount of food consumed is increased to a sufficient level to ensure reproduction.

Caloric restriction and sirtuins

Sirtuins are the class of enzymes that are produced by caloric restriction. The main role of sirtuins is the regular activity of the many genes responsible for metabolism, cell defense, reproduction, and other bodily functions. Sirtuins switch the body from one mode to another - from self-preservation to stress resistance or from reproductive mode to survival mode. Sirtuins are NAD dependant enzymes that slow the activity of the genes by tightly packing the DNA and are therefore less vulnerable to the cell's gene copying machinery).

Sirtuins are partially responsible for the life span, and effects on the health of caloric restriction have led to the search for a substance that will stimulate sirtuin in the body. Therefore, an effective sirtuin activator would theoretically provide the multiple benefits of caloric restriction without the hardships.

Resveratol, a sirtuin activator

A possible sirtuin activator has been developed. Unfortunately, we don't yet know if it will be good for use in humans. It is called resveratrol and is a common substance found in grapes and red wine. Multiple studies have shown that resveratrol can affect sirtuins and lengthen lifespan in various species, including worms and rodents.

One study published in Nature in 2006 described the work of a group of Harvard scientists who studied the effects of resveratrol on obese mice. They used two groups of mice who were both fed a high-calorie, high-fat diet. One of the groups was given resveratrol. The diet began when the mice were a year old (middle-aged for mice). The first group rapidly gained weight, and many of them developed diabetes and other health issues. The group on the resveratrol fared better. While they did gain weight, they did not develop the health issues that the first group did. They also had a longer life span. Basically, this antioxidant acted as a neutralizing force for the excessive caloric intact.

So far, resveratrol has not been tested on humans, so we do not know if it would have the same effects that it did on the mice. An optimal human dosage would have to be calculated. We are still unsure as to whether or not high doses of resveratrol would be safe for human consumption or not. One of the other issues with this antioxidant is that it is not a stable substance and can oxidize relatively easily, which means that producing a bioactive, high-dose supplement would be an expensive and complex process. These issues need to be dealt with before high dose resveratrol can be a viable option for sirtuin activation in humans. Other studies are going on to find different, more effective, and more stable sirtuin activators.

In the meantime, there is no particularly effective way to activate your sirtuins. There are several resveratrol supplements available on the market today, but the levels are more than likely too low to be particularly effective. In addition, the quality and stability of these products are also questionable.

Resveratol is a skincare ingredient

It has been argued by various experts that despite the questions that remain around the use of resveratrol to activate sirtuins that if applied topically to the skin, it can be beneficial. We know that small doses of this antioxidant taking orally are safe, as we have been eating grapes and consuming red wine for thousands of years. It seems that this is a possibility that when applied directly to the skin, even in low dosages, there may be enough concentration to set off sirtuin activity in the skin cells. If this is true or not is still open to question.

There are additional uncertainties in the use of topical resveratrol aside from the effects on sirtuins. Resveratol is an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant, both of which are usually beneficial to the skin. In one study using mice, resveratrol lowered some of the signs of free radical damage caused by exposure to ultraviolet light. On the other hand, in another study on human epidermal cells that had been exposed to the same UV light, the resveratrol actually increased the level of dangerous DNA mutations. Further research is necessary to understand what the net effect of this antioxidant is on the skin as well as what the proper way to apply it is. If you want to try topical resveratrol despite the concerns expressed previously in this article, you will need to be very careful to stay out of the sun, at least until we have a better understanding of resveratrol's likelihood to raise the level of UV induced mutations.

Creams with resveratrol are available on the market, although the choice isn't extensive. In addition, the amount of resveratrol in these products is generally unknown. Therefore, it is challenging to make an effective cream with a reasonable shelf life. The do-it-yourself method is probably just as viable. It is possible to buy a stabilized resveratrol extract and then add the required amount to a topical cream just before you use it, thereby reducing the risk of deterioration of the active ingredients.

Topical sirtuins

Some companies claim to produce creams containing sirtuins; this would presumably bypass the need for a sirtuin activator. However, considering that sirtuins are fairly unstable and very large proteins, it would be challenging to make this sort of cream effectively. Therefore, there is no viable evidence that these products claiming to contain sirtuins are effective at this juncture in time.

Aging is a complex set of processes that involve a diverse group of conditions and reactions. This is why the aging process has been challenging to define; it is also why there are multiple theories on it. However, aging processes can be divided into two groups: the amassing various degrees of damage to the cells and the genetically programmed process.
Free radicals are the chemicals in the body that have an unpaired electron. This means that they are very dangerous as they can behave in an erratic manner which can be very damaging to the effective functioning of the body.
DNA is the critical molecule of life: it is the blueprint of the creature encoded in the genes. DNA is an indispensable part of the cell. Other parts of the cells, such as proteins, lipids, and RNA, can be replaced if need be. DNA, if lost or damaged, cannot be replaced.
Cells of higher organisms like birds or mammals work slightly differently. Until the middle of the 20th century, it was believed that cells in all species could also live forever.
Is there a centralized aging clock in humans that dictates the pace at which all bodily systems run? Yes and No... Studies have not yet found a specific central mechanism that is solely responsible for aging.
Certain substances that contribute to the aging process can be avoided. A good example of this is tobacco tar. Other contributory substances are not as easily avoided as they are key parts of the metabolism. The best example of this is glucose.
The majority of energy that is produced in the cells is done by the mitochondria. Cell function is dependent on the mitochondria providing energy to the rest of the system. Mitochondria are also the main factor behind free radical damage.
One of the most important defense mechanisms in the body is inflammation. It is a key to survival but at the same time appears to add to the pace of aging and the speed of the onset of degenerative diseases.
The body's metabolism produces waste regularly. The majority of bodily waste is expelled through breathing, urine, feces, and sweat. The most easily disposable waste is composed of small molecules like urea, carbon dioxide, and electrolytes.
Stress has been closely linked to the development of age-related diseases and the aging process as well. The stress response is basically a complicated adaptive reaction in the body.
There are two commonly asked questions about the lifespan of humans. The first is why does the rate of aging differ so dramatically among different species of animals? The second one is why are there more short-lived species than long-lived ones?
Wellness gurus will tell you that many herbs and supplements can slow down the aging process. But, unfortunately, the media and advertisers can't tell you much of anything.