Is Aging a Disease?
The following article delves into a somewhat controversial way of looking at aging.
For some people, the idea of “living forever” doesn’t seem all that appealing. Who’d want to live in a continued state of existence where aches and pains are part of the daily construct of your life.
For other people, the idea of living forever seems unnatural. Whether it’s a religious belief that causes them to think that way, or it’s just a general belief about the nature of life.
Then you have another group of people. People who don’t just want to live forever but think it’s entirely possible by treating aging as a disease.
Which brings up a very interesting question. Is aging a disease?
Up until very recently, it wasn’t even possible to think about aging in those contexts.
Humans have accepted aging as a natural part of life (and it is). But, as researchers at some of the leading institutions for higher learning have discovered, the way that aging affects the body is “attackable”. Meaning we’ve come to discover that some of the hallmarks of aging are things we can address with various therapies and in some cases we can slow down and even halt the process of aging.
There’s a lot more to learn about “aging as a disease” and I don’t personally believe that we’re ever going to reach a point where we’ll live forever.
Yet, I think there’s a great deal we can do to extend the quality and perhaps the number of years in our lives.
Here’s Why Some People Believe Aging Is a Disease
One of the leading advocates behind the idea that aging is a disease is David Sinclair, who is a geneticist from the Harvard Medical School.
Dr. Sinclair has been on the front lines of anti-aging research since discovering how resveratrol helps people live better lives (more on that later). In the past decade or so Dr. Sinclair has shifted his thinking from helping people live longer, healthier lives, and now believes if we can decode the pathology of age we could effectively live forever.
In an interview, Sinclair said: “Many of the most serious diseases today are a function of aging. Thus, identifying the molecular mechanisms and treatments of aging should be an urgent priority,” he says. “Unless we address aging at its root cause, we’re not going to continue our linear, upward progress toward longer and longer life spans.”
Dr. Sinclair’s research has driven him to study how some drugs and supplements affect our biology.
In an interview on one of the world’s most popular podcasts, the “Joe Rogan Experience” he talked a great deal about his beliefs behind why he doesn’t believe people must become older.
To sum it up, Sinclair believes that if we can change how genes express themselves and prevent them from declining in function over time, it would protect the body from advanced forms of aging.
This field of work is called epigenetics. Our bodies have their own epigenetic mechanisms at work. These mechanisms protect our cells from damage and also serve to repair DNA when damage to the cells does occur.
As with most processes within the body, they become less effective with age.
Sinclair believes that with targeted gene therapy we can keep these epigenetic mechanisms working flawlessly forever.
In clinical trials, Sinclair has said he and his team have used some form of gene therapy to effectively recharge these mechanisms in mice, and he says he can “make damaged optic-nerve cells young again to restore sight to elderly blind animals”.
So how does Dr. Sinclair accomplish these kinds of achievements?
In his clinical trials, they use targeted drugs to help with gene expression.
Many of these treatments aren’t available to us, as they are still in trial formats.
However, what Dr. Sinclair does daily to influence gene expression is that he takes the drug Metformin, along with the supplements NMN, Vitamins K-2 and D3, as well as resveratrol in an attempt to prolong his life.
In addition to that he also does the following:
- Running 1-2x/week low impact
- Intermittent fasting
- Weight lifting (ideally!) 1-2x/week
- Sauna weekly
- Coffee once in the morning then some kind of tea in the evening
He also takes a statin and Aspirin daily because of a family history of heart disease.
As you’ll no doubt notice, almost everything Dr. Sinclair said he does is something you can do without a prescription.
While he takes metformin, he did acknowledge that berberine is something his team is exploring.
What I wanted to do was take a brief moment to talk about resveratrol and how you can use it to help in the quest to halt aging as best as we know how.
Resveratrol: A Potent Anti-Aging Superstar
As I mentioned, Dr. Sinclair was one of the first researchers to discover how resveratrol helped to extend the quality of life for many individuals.
He helped pioneer the study that illustrated the “French Paradox” in which French people who consumed a lot of red wine had healthy hearts despite a diet rich in fatty foods like butter and olive oil.
You can get resveratrol from food-based sources, like grapes, blueberries, raspberries, mulberries, etc. But they aren’t very concentrated sources of resveratrol.
The available research that supports resveratrol’s use for anti-aging shows it functions as a “caloric restriction mimetic” which activates beneficial cellular pathways that help gene expression.
In essence, resveratrol makes your body think it’s in a fasted state, and as I’ve documented before, intermittent fasting and other caloric restriction modalities have anti-aging properties.
Resveratrol also functions as a potent antioxidant which helps to shield cells from free radical activity and allows them to function as intended.
When selecting resveratrol it’s critical to get the most bioavailable form.
Trans-resveratrol is better than the more common form of cis-resveratrol as the molecules of resveratrol are better absorbed than vis, which is what you want when taking a supplement for any reason.
Dr. Sinclair has noted that trans-resveratrol activated the sirtuin enzyme, but cis-resveratrol did not. And activation of the sirtuin enzyme is seen as one of the key components to expanding anti-aging sciences.