We know the profound health benefits that come from consuming foods like blueberries, raspberries, green tea, walnuts, kale and other dark leafy greens. Did you know that there is much more than just the stunning colors and potent phytochemicals these foods possess? These foods embody something much deeper than the regularly known benefits. They are all sirtuin-activating foods.
We have heard of the connection of red wine and it’s supposed longevity enhancing benefits. Much of longevity boosting qualities stems from these compounds called sirtuin-activators. Some other famous foods containing sirtuin activators are foods like dark leafy greens, citrus fruits, olives, turmeric, onions, garlic, cilantro, parsley, raw cacao, goji berries and omega 3s. Now that we know what foods contain these sirtuin activators, then what exactly do sirtuins do to our biology?
Let’s geek out a little. Sirtuins essentially are the housekeeping genes in your body. What this means is that sirtuins help modulate various cellular and organismal functions like cellular death, inflammatory pathways in the body, metabolism and longevity. To go a step further, sirtuins are precise in that they target the activity of many critical genes involved in metabolism, cell defense, reproductive health and beyond. What is even more fascinating regarding the power of sirtuins is on the brain side of things. Did you know that a type of sirtuin called SIRT1 helps fine tune brain plasticity i.e. neurogenesis and boosting memory formation. Another cool sirtuin activator called SIRT6 seems to modulate telomere length in humans.
In fact, here is a rather interesting study showcasing the potential that sirtuin foods can have on longevity. This study out of the Nature Internal Weekly Journal of Science (2004) found that sirtuin activators seemed to encourage the survival of human cells and potentially boost the lifespan of yeast. The study states that certain sirtuin activating compounds like resveratrol, which you can find in red wine and blueberries, exhibit this anti-aging effect in humans at the cellular level.
This last study found in the Life Sciences Journal looked at the effects of food restriction and how that affects glucose metabolism and lipid metabolism. This study further explains that through calorie restriction, this hormesis like effect on the body seems to enhance glucose and lipid metabolism through the SIRT1 expression and up-regulation of GLUT2 expression. GLUT2 and GLUT4 are carrier proteins encouraging glucose movement across the cell membranes.
Keep in mind this study was done using a new rat model with obesity and hypertension. However, these promising results are encouraging and could potentially apply to human studies in the future!
Next time you find yourself drinking a glass of red wine, eating succulent blueberries or engaging in some intermittent fasting, then keep in mind that you are doing your mind and body a big sirtuin favor. It’s this idea of graceful aging and living a long and vibrant life for each of us that is incredibly important. Sirtuin is also about increasing health span rather than life span.