Detoxing Fat By-Products Could Increase Longevity

Detoxifying the body of harmful fat by-products that accumulate over the years may delay aging, a study in animal models finds.

Seeking to identify the mechanisms driving longevity, researchers at the University of Virginia (UVA) used microscopic worms called C. elegans that share more than 70% of human genes.

To improve worms’ health and lifespan, the researchers capitalized on a mechanism they discovered and named AMAR, which stands for "Alcohol and aldehyde-dehydrogenase Mediated Anti-aging Response."

The researchers discovered that putting the spurs to a particular gene, adh-1, prompts the gene to produce more of an enzyme called alcohol dehydrogenase. This prevents the toxicity caused by glycerol and, indirectly, glyceraldehyde — harmful fat by-products that accumulate naturally over time. As a result, the scientists improved the worms’ health and lifespan by 50%.

Because animal trial results don’t always translate to humans, the researchers tested the findings, published in Current Biology, in another lab model, yeast. They also looked at previous research on gene activity in creatures, including humans, who had undergone fasting or calorie restriction, both considered to improve longevity. The research showed increased levels of anti-aging enzymes in all the mammals tested, including humans.

The scientists suspect that levels of glycerol and glyceraldehyde naturally increase as we age. Therefore, AMAR may prevent fat-derived toxicity, extending health span and lifespan. In addition, this approach may help to lose weight.

"With age-related diseases currently being the major health burden for patients, their families and the healthcare system, targeting the process of aging itself would be most effective way to reduce this burden and increase the number of years of independent healthy living for all of us," says UVA researcher Eyleen Jorgelina O’Rourke, Ph.D.

People have always wanted to live longer and healthier lives. Currently, there is extensive research being done on ways to improve longevity. Existing evidence suggests that a diet rich of phytochemicals, fiber, and protein, as well as reducing alcohol and sugar intake, may increase lifespan.

Healthy sleep habits, such as going to bed around 10 p.m. or limiting screen time in the evening, can help to maintain levels of melatonin, a hormone crucial for longevity. Exercising is also an essential part of our well-being. Studies show that regular exercise in combination with other healthy lifestyle factors, can prolong life by over ten years.

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