Posted By

Dr. Mercola
December 06 2010

may be able to extend your life and stay fit throughout your old age
with a simple change of diet that switches on your "youth" gene.

Cynthia Kenyon, whom many experts believe should win the
Nobel Prize for her research into aging, has discovered that
carbohydrates directly affect the genes that govern youthfulness and

By tweaking the genes of roundworms, she has been able to help them live up to six times longer than normal.

The genes that controlled aging in worms also do the same thing in
rats and mice, probably monkeys, and there are signs they are active in
humans, too. She found that turning down the gene that controls insulin
in turn switches on another gene which acts like an elixir of life.

The reports:

"Discovering the … [first] gene has prompted the professor to
­dramatically alter her own diet, cutting right back on carbohydrates.
That’s because carbs make your body produce more insulin (to mop up the
extra blood sugar carbs ­produce) … so the vital second gene, the
‘elixir’ one, won’t get turned on."


Daily Mail October 26, 2010

Dr. ’s comments:

Funny how conventional media can make something so foundational for
good health sound like a brand new insight. I’ve been warning my readers
to avoid carbohydrates in the form of sugars and grains for well over a
decade, in order to improve health and increase longevity.

Still, the fact that this is now getting some well-deserved attention
is great news.  As science catches up, perhaps more people will finally
see the light of truth.

As the Daily Mail reports above, research confirms that insulin-like growth factor is intricately linked to various , and that "raised insulin levels, triggered by high carbohydrate ­consumption, could be what ­connects many of our big killers."

If you’ve been reading this newsletter for any amount of time, this is already a familiar fact for you. 

But many still have not gotten the message. As Daily News states, this is a suggestion that "flies
in the face of 30 years of health advice to have a lower fat intake and
eat plenty of long-lasting complex carbo­hydrates to keep the body
supplied with ."

Indeed. And that standard health advice is a major reason why
and such as diabetes and have reached such epidemic
proportions in the US and other developed nations.

Insulin is in fact a MAJOR accelerant of the aging process, and also
affects many bodily processes, all of which can impact your longevity.

For example, insulin:

  • Alters the expression of numerous hormones
  • Stimulates your sympathetic nervous system
  • Promotes vasoconstriction

Research Now Shows HOW Carbohydrates Shorten Your Lifespan

The research that is now turning conventional dietary advice on its
ear was done by Professor Cynthia Kenyon, and it’s so revolutionary that
many experts think she should get a Nobel Prize for it.

She found that carbohydrates directly affect two key genes in your body that govern longevity and youthfulness.

Daily News reports:

"This work has revolutionized our understanding of ageing,
explains Jeff Holly, professor of clinical sciences at Bristol

‘Ten years ago we thought ageing was probably the result of a
slow decay, a sort of rusting,’ he says. ‘But Professor Kenyon has shown
that it’s not about wear and tear, but instead it is controlled by

I’ve previously written about how your diet can over-ride genetic predispositions to disease,
and this research further strengthens those claims, as the two key
genes in question can be turned on or off as a consequence of eating

Now, Professor Holly goes on to say that this opens up new vistas for
slowing down the aging process using drugs designed to turn these genes
on or off, but come on

The real answer is staring you right in the face!

Limit your intake of carbohydrates, primarily in the form of fructose
and grains, and you’ll achieve these results without any negative
drug-induced side effects!

Professor Kenyon worked with C. elegans roundworms, but her findings
have been successfully repeated in other labs around the world using
other animals, including rats, mice, and to some extent, monkeys. 
Humans also have these genes, indicating these results should apply to
us as well.

One of the most interesting details of her findings is that not only
did the roundworms live up to SIX TIMES longer than normal, but they
kept their health and youthful vigor until the end.

Previous research has shown that you can extend your lifespan by reducing your caloric intake, and I’ve written about this technique in the past.
The problem is that most people do not understand how to properly cut
calories, because in order to remain healthy, you have to cut out
calories from a specific source – namely, carbohydrates!

Kenyon’s research offers renewed support for this key point.

Daily News reports:

"… [W]hat Professor Kenyon found out was why ­drastically reducing calories has such a remarkable effect.

She discovered that it changed the way two crucial genes behaved.
It turned down the gene that controls insulin, which in turn switched
on another gene, which acted like an elixir of life.

‘We jokingly called the first gene the Grim Reaper because when
it’s switched on, the lifespan is fairly short,’ she explains. The
­second ‘elixir’ gene seems to bring all the anti-ageing benefits — its
proper name is DAF 16, but it was quickly nicknamed ‘Sweet Sixteen’
because it turned the worms into teenagers.
‘It sends out instructions to a whole range of repair and renovation genes,’ says Professor Kenyon.

… The Sweet Sixteen gene also ‘boosts compounds that make sure the
skin and muscle-building ­proteins are working properly, the immune
system becomes more active to fight and genes that are active
in cancer get turned off,’ she adds.

… Discovering the Grim Reaper gene has prompted the professor
to ­dramatically alter her own diet, ­cutting back on carbohydrates.
That’s because carbs make your body produce more insulin (to mop up the
extra blood sugar carbs ­produce); and more insulin means a more active Grim Reaper. So the vital second gene, the ‘elixir’ one, won’t get turned on.

… To test this, last year she added a tiny amount of ­sugary glucose
to the normal diet of some of her worms that had had their genes
engineered so they were living much longer, healthier lives.

‘The effect was remarkable,’ she says. ‘The sugary glucose
blocked the "youthful" genes and they lost most of the health gains.’"

Elevated Insulin Levels — The Leading Cause of Premature Aging and Premature Death

Increased insulin and leptin receptor sensitivity have clearly become the leading candidates for premature death.

This results from two primary conditions:

  1. Excessive amounts of sugar/grains and processed foods, combined with
  2. Insufficient exercise

Previous studies have also found that diets high in sugar and grains
are the primary culprit of obesity, and that leanness (more so than food
restriction in general) is a key contributor to a long life. One such
study was published in 2003 in the journal Science. This elegant study from Harvard confirms that insulin is the major mechanism through which this result is mediated.

Unfortunately, many health care practitioners are still ignorant of the profound influence that insulin has on health.

Please understand that a firm appreciation of insulin’s role is one
of the most important things you can do to optimize your health and
outlive the naysayers.

Fructose Wrecks Your Health and Kills You Prematurely

Aside from grains, fructose, typically in the form of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), is perhaps the absolute worst dietary culprit as it:

  • Destroys your insulin sensitivity
  • Metabolizes into fat far more readily than other sugars
  • Causes glycation and , which speeds up the aging process

We now know that fructose is a primary contributor to:

  • Insulin resistance and obesity
  • Elevated blood pressure, triglycerides, and LDL (bad cholesterol)
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Liver disease
  • Cancer
  • Arthritis
  • Gout

Fructose-Glycation-Inflammation – A Disease-Promoting Triangle

I’ve written extensively about the different ways fructose adversely affects your body and can lead to the health problems listed. However, one of the mechanisms that causes significant damage is glycation; a process in which the sugar bonds with proteins and forms so-called ‘advanced glycation end products’, or AGEs.

It’s a fitting acronym because – along with oxidation – it’s one of
the major molecular mechanisms whereby damage accrues in your body,
which leads to disease, aging, and eventually, death.

When sugar glycates, it creates inflammation, which activates your
immune system in a defensive maneuver. Macrophages are scavenger cells
that are part of your immune defense system, and as such they have
special receptors for AGEs, aptly called RAGEs (think: raging
inflammation). These RAGEs bind to the AGEs and get rid of them.

Unfortunately, this process can leave its fair share of battle scars.
Inside your arteries, for example, the scar tissue created from this
process is called plaque. This also explains why there’s such a strong
connection between diabetes and heart disease.

Lifestyle choices such as smoking, consuming processed foods laden
with trans fats and other harmful chemical additives, along with
pesticide- and other chemical exposures further add to your body’s free
radical burden.

Fructose Recommendation

As a standard recommendation, I strongly advise keeping your TOTAL
fructose consumption below 25 grams per day. However, most people would
be wise to limit their fructose to 15 grams or less, particularly if you
have elevated uric acid levels, which can be used as a predictor for
fructose toxicity. (For more information on this, please see this recent article.)

This includes keeping track of your fructose intake from whole fruits. For a helpful chart showing the fructose content of many common fruits, please see this link.
I recommend this lower level simply because if you consume processed
foods or sweet beverages at all, you’re virtually guaranteed to consume
"hidden" sources of fructose.

Limiting Carbs and Exercising are the Cornerstones of "the Fountain of Youth"

I’m glad the Daily News included exercise as a complementary way to
reduce your insulin levels. Physical exercise does indeed help you
regain insulin sensitivity.

In fact, exercise may in and of itself have the effect of "relative
calorie restriction" as it produces many of the same benefits you get
when cutting calories from your diet.

These benefits include:

  • Improved insulin sensitivity
  • Decreased fat mass 
  • Reduced risk of cancer

Studies repeatedly show that regular, moderate-to-vigorous exercise
can help prevent or delay your onset of , obesity and heart
disease, just to name a few of the diseases that significantly
contribute to premature death.

I’m also excited about the research showing how high-intensity, interval training like Peak 8 can increase longevity by promoting human growth hormone (HGH) production, which is yet another important aspect of the longevity puzzle.

But What Will Actually REVERSE Aging?

Clearly, limiting carbs and avoiding fructose will be very useful in prolonging your healthy lifespan, but it will NOT reverse aging.  Fortunately there are other strategies that involve lengthening your telomeres that can do that.

Last week Harvard researchers actually successfully implemented such strategies in rats.
It is likely that these strategies will be available for humans in the
not too distant future, so it will be KEY to stay healthy now and limit
carbs so you can use these tools to actually REVERSE aging.

I list other strategies below that will help slow down the aging
process so you can maximally benefit from the telomere lengthening
strategies when they become available.

The Anti-Aging Lifestyle

Of all the healthy lifestyle strategies I know of that can have a
significant impact on your longevity, normalizing your insulin and
leptin levels is probably the most important. There is no question that
this is an absolute necessity if you want to slow down your aging
process, and that means modifying your diet to avoid excessive amounts
of fructose, grains, and other pro-inflammatory ingredients like trans

That said, longevity is the result of an overall healthy lifestyle,
so in addition to curbing your carb intake and exercising, which I
already discussed above, these additional strategies can further help
you stay young and vibrant, longer:

  • Learn how to effectively cope with stress
    Stress has a direct impact on inflammation, which in turn underlies many
    of the chronic diseases that kill people prematurely every day, so
    developing effective coping mechanisms is a major longevity-promoting

    Meditation, prayer, physical activity and exercise are all viable
    options that can help you maintain emotional and mental equilibrium. I
    also strongly believe in using energy psychology tools such as the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) to address deeper, oftentimes hidden emotional problems.

  • Eat a healthy diet based on your nutritional typeMy nutrition plan,
    based on natural whole foods, is your first step toward increasing your
    chances of living a longer, healthier life. This is so important, I now
    offer the full nutritional typing program for FREE.
  • Optimize Your Vitamin D Levels to between 60 and 70 ng/ml.
  • Animal based omega-3 fats – Correcting the
    ratio of omega-3 to healthful omega-6 fats is a strong factor in helping
    people live longer. This typically means increasing your intake of
    animal based omega-3 fats, such as krill oil, while decreasing your
    intake of damaged omega-6 fats (think trans fats).
  • Get your antioxidants from foods –Good sources include blueberries, cranberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, cherries, beans, and artichokes.
  • Get your resveratrol naturally – Because
    resveratrol appears to be so effective at warding off many diseases
    associated with aging, it is often referred to as a “fountain of youth”
    that can extend lifespan. Good sources of naturally-occurring
    resveratrol include whole grape skins and seeds, raspberries and
  • Use coconut oil – Another excellent anti-aging food is coconut oil, known to reduce your risk of heart disease and Alzheimer’s disease, and lower your cholesterol, among other things.
  • Naturally increase your glutathione levels with high quality whey protein – Another exciting anti-aging discovery is related to the process of slowing down telomere shortening, as discussed in more detail in this previous article. There’s some evidence that this can be done nutritionally, by consuming high quality whey protein.
  • Avoid as many chemicals, toxins, and pollutants as possible
    – This includes tossing out your toxic household cleaners, soaps,
    personal hygiene products, air fresheners, bug sprays, lawn pesticides,
    and insecticides, just to name a few, and replacing them with non-toxic
  • Avoid pharmaceutical drugs – Pharmaceutical
    drugs kill thousands of people prematurely every year – as an expected
    side effect of the action of the drug. And, if you adhere to a healthy
    lifestyle, you most likely will never need any of them in the first

Incorporating these healthy lifestyle guidelines will help set you
squarely on the path to optimal health and give you the best shot at
living a much longer life. For even more anti-aging information, please
review the related articles listed below.


Related Links:

Top 7 Foods That Slow Your Aging