Sir2 and You: Natural Lifespan Extension

Sir2 and You: Natural Lifespan Extension

There are a lot of things that influence how quickly one ages. Aging in itself is, with present levels of medical science, universally inevitable, but exactly how fast we age, and how gracefully, is entirely within our control. We have the power to not only stave off the worst signs of aging, but settle into age with grace and contentedness, and live a long, happy, healthy life. Interestingly, there’s a particular gene, coding for a particular protein, whose expression and activation may play a key role in aging.

Sirtuin Genes
Researchers have found a gene labeled SIR2 in budding yeast, which stands for Silent Information Regulator 2 (presumably, there was another similar gene discovered first, but sir2 was the one to garner attention for the family of genes). It codes for a protein that appears to break down harmful compounds and promote cellular health. Specifically, sirtuin genes are thought to play an important role in how an organism responds to stresses. Of course, the details are much more complex than that, but the important bit is that overexpression of sirtuin genes—that is, causing the gene to be activated more than it would naturally, can theoretically increase one’s lifespan by approximately 30%, or roughly one third. While the Sir2 gene and the protein it codes for are only naturally found in a limited number of organisms like yeasts, many other organisms, including humans, have very similar genes in the sirtuin family. The primary human sirtuin gene is SIR1T.

How to Activate Them
So, if sirtuin genes can help us live longer and healthier when activated more, how can we activate them? It’s hard to say for sure yet. Further research may well reveal further information and effective ways to utilize this information for the good of all. For now, though, there are at least a few ideas that might help.

For one, having a healthy diet and avoiding over-eating is thought to help boost the rate of expression of sirtuin genes. This does not mean starving yourself. Starting oneself is always counterproductive and very dangerous. However, eating a moderate amount of food and having plenty of dark, leafy greens, not very much meat, moderate exercise, etc, etc, can do wonders. Of course, you probably already knew that eating right and exercising moderately were good for you, but now there’s even more reason to do it.

Resveratrol—and potentially antioxidants in general, but especially resveratrol—is specifically noted to interact with sirtuin genes in a beneficial way, increasing their activity and effectiveness. This is theorized to be the reason for the number of lifespan-extending properties resveratrol has been observed to have.

All that said, we don’t know all that much about sirtuins just yet, but the field of medical research is advancing rapidly. So sit tight, eat right, enjoy a single glass of red wine in the evenings, and wait for even more to be uncovered on this promising little bit of genetics.

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