Juvenon Health Journal volume 5 number 10 october 2006
By Benjamin V. Treadwell, Ph.D.
What do disease and old age have in common?
From the entire organism down to the individual cell, one can certainly accelerate the other. Moreover, at the cellular level, experimental data, examining biochemical and structural properties, reveals remarkable similarities between cells under diseased (or unhealthy/pre-disease) conditions and those from aged, but apparently healthy individuals.
What makes cells old before their time?
Recent animal studies have shown, for example, that heart stem cells can age prematurely as a consequence of disease, namely Type 2 Diabetes. The heart, for the most part, contains cells that don’t divide, and, therefore, can’t be replaced or renewed by the process common to many other organs of the body. Under certain conditions, however, if a cell dies it can be replaced by heart progenitor cells known as stem cells.
Study results indicate that diabetic animals produce large amounts of free radicals which damage/age cellular structures, including the heart stem cell, even before it actually functions as a heart cell. This may at least partly explain the association between diabetes and a failing heart or cardiomyopathy.
Obesity, perhaps more a promoter of disease than a diseased state, also has dramatic negative effects on cellular aging and health. Bloated fat cells produce cell-destructive inflammatory agents. Energy production is inefficient, especially by the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas, due to elevated levels of plasma fats. Cells also suffer from poor nutrition; the obese person often thrives on nutrition-deficient junk food.
Inadequate nutritional intake is not limited to the obese, however. It is also prevalent among the poor, teenagers, and the elderly whose digestive system functions less effectively. Epidemiological studies of these groups have demonstrated a deficiency in one or more micronutrients like vitamins, minerals, and essential amino acids.
Research by Bruce Ames of the University of California, as well as others, has revealed a clear cause and effect relationship between micronutrient deficiency and damage to vital cellular structures and biochemical pathways. Although the damage from micronutrient deficiencies may take years to express itself, inevitably the cells of the body and the organs they comprise will age prematurely. The incidence of disease, including cancer, will increase.
In all of the above scenarios, cellular garbage accumulates as a result of the damage/premature aging. The cell’s capacity to produce energy and maintain metabolic balance is impaired. For a cell to be effective, in other words, it must clean house on a regular basis, which requires a steady-state metabolism and production of energy.
Recycling cellular garbage
Normal everyday cellular activity involves numerous biochemical pathways and cellular machinery. Parts wear out, but the healthy cell has elaborate “recycling” capabilities, digesting what needs to be replaced into constituent building blocks (amino acids, fats and nucleic acids) and often using the end-products for energy production and/or to build new machinery. In fact, when food is scarce, the cell depends on this process to provide fuel to keep itself running, alive and healthy. Increasing the cell’s utilization of old parts for cellular fuel can significantly benefit cellular health as well as longevity.
Helping your cells help themselves
Consuming just enough calories to maintain a constant healthy weight is one method of promoting cellular health. High nutritional value and all the essential micronutrients are emphasized in “caloric restriction,” as it is commonly referred to in the nutrition and aging fields. A calorie restricted diet assists the cell in “garbage control” by decreasing the production of cellular garbage and/or helping the cell remove worn-out components. In fact, there are experimental results to support using a restricted diet to actually activate the cell’s recycling process.
Most of us would not choose to follow such a harsh, limited diet. Luckily, a highly nutritious diet of fruits, vegetables, legumes, fish and lean meat (avoiding all sugar-laden junk food) can achieve many of the same benefits. If a highly nutritious diet on a regular basis is not always possible, a multiple vitamin can also ensure that you are getting the full complement of micronutrients required for a steady-state metabolism.
Regular exercise is as important as diet to maintaining a constant healthy weight. Daily exercise will also help improve cellular energy production. People who exercise have many more healthy mitochondria per cell. It is the mitochondria that produce virtually all the energy required by the cell for various functions, including removing and recycling biological garbage to keep the cellular house clean and efficient.
The moral of the naked mole-rat
A recent study found that the naked mole-rat has a life span nearly 10 times that of its rodent relative, the mouse: 28 years versus three. Both produce equivalent amounts of biological garbage over the same period of time. One possible explanation for the naked mole-rat’s longevity advantage? Cellular house-cleaning that kicks into high gear to recycle the garbage when it accumulates to a critical mass or builds up under excess stress. In other words, the naked mole-rat seems to have healthier cells, which may be a consequence of more robust house-cleaning machinery.
Related to cellular health obstacles, a recent article in Antioxidants & Redox Signaling discusses the connection between normal metabolism and aging. Professors Alexei Terman and Ulft Brunk; Faculty of Health Sciences, Linköping University, Sweden; examine the role of reactive oxygen species (ROS) in triggering aging as well as the involvement of other factors.
According to Terman and Brunk, normal metabolism is associated with unavoidable mild oxidative stress, resulting in damage that cannot be totally repaired or removed by cellular degradative systems (cellular “recycling”).
Consequently, irreversibly damaged and functionally defective structures (biological ‘garbage’) accumulate. Intralysosomal ‘garbage’ is represented by lipofuscin (age pigment), while extralysosomal ‘garbage’ includes modified cytosolic proteins, altered biomembranes, defective mitochondria and other organelles.
The accumulation of biological waste leads to progressive loss of adaptability and increased probability of death, characteristics of the process called aging, or senescence. To read more about this, click here.
“Oxidative Stress, Accumulation of Biological ‘Garbage’, and Aging”
Antioxid Redox Signal. 2006 Jan-Feb;8(1-2):197-204.
This Research Update column highlights articles related to recent scientific inquiry into the process of human aging. It is not intended to promote any specific ingredient, regimen, or use and should not be construed as evidence of the safety, effectiveness, or intended uses of the Juvenon product. The Juvenon label should be consulted for intended uses and appropriate directions for use of the product.
Dr. Treadwell answers your questions about Juvenon™ Cellular Health Supplement
QUESTION: I am a 64 year old very healthy man who has recently started taking Juvenon. In about the same timeframe I have experienced problems sleeping, and feeling “wired” during the day. Is there any information or data linking this as a possible side effect of Juvenon? Thank you. j, via email
ANSWER: We have had a few people mention that they had trouble sleeping after starting on the Juvenon™ Cellular Health Supplement. I have two suggestions: First if you are taking two tablets per day, lower the dose to one per day, and take it early in the day (breakfast). Second, if this solves the problem and you want to increase your dose back to two per day, take the second tablet at lunch or at least 6 hours before bed time.
However, you might find that one tablet is all you need for maximum positive effects. Genetics plays a major role in how we respond to different compounds, and you just may need less than most.
Benjamin V. Treadwell, Ph.D., is a former Harvard Medical School associate professor and member of Juvenon’s Scientific Advisory Board.