Oxidative stress is a term that refers to the deterioration of our cells and tissues due to an imbalance between the production of free radicals and antioxidants. Free radicals are highly reactive molecules with unpaired electrons, which can cause harm when they interact with other important molecules in our cells. Antioxidants, on the other hand, work by donating their extra electron to neutralize free radicals before they can do any damage. This balance between free radical production and antioxidant protection is essential for health because it has been shown that oxidative stress plays a role in many chronic diseases such as cancer, diabetes mellitus type 2, cardiovascular disease (CVD), Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) and Parkinson’s Disease (PD), and more. There are many risk factors for oxidative stress including genetics, diet, exercise habits and environmental pollution. In this blog post we will be discussing what oxidative stress is, how it affects our body, and more!

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Oxidative stress is a natural phenomenon that occurs through metabolic processes in the body. It’s made by the release of free radicals during the process of lipid peroxidation, which involves an enzyme called lipoxygenase producing ROS while breaking down fats under oxidative conditions.[i] In other words, oxidative stress occurs when the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) exceeds the body’s ability to protect itself with antioxidants. Reactive oxygen species refers to oxygen molecules that have unpaired electrons, making them “reactive”. ROS is made when oxygen interacts with other compounds; this can be caused by many external factors such as air pollution or cigarette smoke. When the produced ROS exceeds the body’s protection (antioxidants), it causes the oxidation of important molecules like DNA, proteins, and lipids (fats). These ROS include free radicals such as superoxide anions, hydrogen peroxide, and hydroxyl radicals, which form during normal metabolic processes. Superoxide anions refer to the combination of two oxygen molecules to form a free radical. This compound lacks an electron and can damage different types of biomolecules such as DNA, proteins, and lipids through oxidation. Hydrogen peroxide is made when superoxide anions break apart and are known as the primary toxic molecule of ROS. Hydrogen peroxide can also damage DNA, proteins, and lipids by oxidizing them. The hydroxyl radical is formed when hydrogen peroxide reacts with the superoxide ion, producing highly reactive OH-radicals that break down cell membranes and tissues in the body.

The release of these free radicals increases when there is damage to mitochondria in our cells, which is crucial for producing energy. Mitochondria (the part of our cells that turns food into energy) has to work harder during oxidative stress and requires large amounts of antioxidants.[ii]


Because oxidative stress involves the production of free radicals, it can damage many types of molecules in our cells such as lipids (fats) and DNA. This is important because cell membranes and DNA are largely made up of lipids and contain genetic information that tells our body how to function. A study found that when there is an imbalance between ROS and antioxidants, it can cause oxidative damage to lipids in our cells. This is important because lipids are the fatty molecules that form cell membranes and protect our cells from foreign objects. When lipid peroxidation occurs, free radicals attack the lipids in cell membranes damaging them. When the cell membrane becomes damaged, it increases permeability which allows molecules to leak into the cell causing further damage to proteins and other important molecules. Free radicals can also directly cause oxidative stress through DNA damage. [iii]This occurs when free radicals combine with oxygen in essential parts of our DNA such as the mitochondrial genome, which is crucial for producing energy within cells. The combination of these oxidative damages creates a domino effect throughout our body cells. Damage to DNA results in the inability of cells to divide properly, which leads to uncontrolled cell growth. This can cause tumors and cancerous tumor cells to form all over our bodies. Damages caused by oxidative stress on lipids (fats) is important because fats are part of the lipid bilayer that forms the outer membrane of every living cell. When the lipid bilayer is damaged by ROS it leads to improper functioning in cells throughout our body.

When our body is under oxidative stress, there’s an accumulation of free radicals in our cells which results in damages to molecules like lipids (fats) and DNA. This can cause many problems in different parts of the body including:

– Increased atherosclerosis, is where plaque build-ups form in arteries causing them to harden.

– Increased risk for developing cancer and tumors because of DNA damage caused by ROS.

– Damages to cell membranes that lead to improper functioning in cells throughout our body.


Oxidative stress can be caused by many factors including environmental pollutants such as cigarette smoke, ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the Sun, and chronic infections like hepatitis. There are several other common sources of oxidative stress including:

– Smoking tobacco

– Eating high-calorie meals that contain a lot of fat, which can lead to obesity and increase the risk for cardiovascular disease.

– Consuming caffeine or alcohol in excess, because these substances inhibit enzymes that produce antioxidants in our body.

– Consuming a poor diet which may lack the necessary vitamins and minerals needed to make antioxidants in our body.

– Living a sedentary lifestyle, because can lead to weight gain that results in cardiovascular disease.

– Exposure to pollutants, which can come from the workplace or even the local environment.

One of the biggest sources of oxidative stress is exposure to sunlight. [iv]UV radiation that comes from sunlight has many harmful effects on our body including skin cancer because it promotes free radical formation in our bodies. When we are exposed to UV radiation it causes oxidation reactions in the skin, which damage proteins like collagen. Collagen is what gives our skin its strength and elasticity. When it becomes damaged, these effects lead to wrinkles and sagging in our skin.

Oxidative stress is a term that refers to the deterioration of our cells and tissues due to an imbalance between the production of free radicals and antioxidants. But what does this have to do with longevity?  Studies show that people who experience high levels of oxidative stress during their lifetimes may be at greater risk for developing dementia or other age-related diseases later on in life. There are many ways in which we can help reduce oxidative stress, such as with antioxidant rich foods. What are some easy ways you have increased your antioxidant intake lately? Share with us in the comments below or follow us on next week’s blog for more information related to oxidative stress and longevity.





Disclaimer: The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Additionally, the information provided in this blog, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images, and other material contained on this website, or in any linked materials, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice and are for informational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Before taking any medications, over-the-counter drugs, supplements or herbs, consult a physician for a thorough evaluation. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this or any website.

Maryland Functional Medicine 

Maryland Functional Physician

Maryland Functional Doctor

Mitophagy is a process that occurs in cells, and it’s essentially the destruction of old or dysfunctional mitochondria. It’s important to know about mitophagy because as we age, our bodies lose their ability to carry out this process properly. When mitophagy does not occur properly it can lead to mitochondrial disease which has been linked to neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease. This blog post will provide an overview of what mitophagy is and why it matters.

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The word ‘mitophagy’ was coined in 2007 by the researchers who discovered this process. The prefix mit- means thread and phage means eat, so we define mitophagy as the destruction of mitochondria via a cellular mechanism called autophagy. Autophagy is a process that involves the degradation and recycling of cellular components. Mitophagy is the selective kind of autophagy mechanism that removes mitochondria.  A cell can digest its own organelles through this process, but it will only remove damaged structures and not healthy structures. This selective quality is what makes mitophagy so unique because most other forms of autophagy just degrade cellular components indiscriminately.

There are two other forms of autophagy: chaperone-mediated autophagy and micropexophagy. [i]

  1. Chaperone-mediated autophagy is a process that degrades damaged proteins and this type of degradation occurs in the lysosome or sac like structure.
  2. Micropexophagy on the other hand targets  mitochondria for degradation.


The mitochondria is an organelle that is responsible for converting energy into a form of molecules that our cells can use.[ii] Inside the mitochondria are enzymes called electron transport chains (ETCs) which take electrons and try to pair them with hydrogen atoms to produce chemical energy. This process also creates free radicals as by products, so our cells must have an enzyme called superoxide. Superoxide dismutase (SOD) eliminates superoxides and turns them into hydrogen peroxide. Hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) is broken down by catalase and glutathione peroxidase into water and oxygen gas.

This cellular structure is responsible for helping generate ATP (Adenosine triphosphate) which stores energy in the form of phosphate bonds. Cells need ATP to get rid of excess calcium ions that build up due to metabolism, and also to open up calcium ion channels for muscle contraction. Severing of the mitochondria from the rest of a cell triggers apoptosis, which is a programmed form of cellular death. The lack of a link to other organelles and its proximity to calcium ions makes it susceptible to damage. Because of this susceptibility, cells have developed a mechanism which allows them to dispose of defective mitochondria.


Mitophagy is a type of autophagy and there are three steps that must occur for this mechanism to carry out successfully:[iii]

1. The first step is the creation of an isolation membrane which surrounds the mitochondria, so the rest of the cellular components aren’t degraded.

2. The isolation membrane which elicits the form of selective degradation known as mitophagy is created by a multi-protein complex called PINK1 and Parkin.

3. The last step involves the elimination of the mitochondrion through fusion with lysosomes (the cellular structure responsible for degrading other organelles) via a double membrane structure called an autophagosome.


There are two types of mitophagy that exist: Macro-autophagy and Micro-autophagy.

Macroautophagy begins with the formation of an isolation membrane around the mitochondria from a multi-protein complex composed of several proteins such as Nix, Parkin, AIFm2 and FUNDC1.

This isolation membrane then fuses with a lysosome which creates an autophagosome. The autophagosomes carry the mitochondria to the cytoplasm for degradation into amino acids, fatty acids, and nucleotides.

Microautophagy is a process that creates a small isolation membrane around the mitochondria from a single protein called Ulk1. This process is often used in response to stress, but there hasn’t been direct evidence of this process occurring in mammalian cells.


A protein complex called PINK1-Parkin is believed to be the primary regulator of mitophagy.  This complex is required for creating the isolation membrane that leads to mitophagy.

PINK1 has been found to regulate this process by promoting mitochondrial fission, imparting an isolation membrane around the mitochondria, and recruiting Parkin which becomes phosphorylated in response. When PINK1 is degraded or loses function through mutations, it can lead to PINK1-associated Parkinson’s disease.

Parkin is also required for mitophagy, and it acts in a parallel pathway to that of the PINK1-Parkin complex by creating an isolation membrane around mitochondria through phosphorylation of proteins involved in fission which leads to the formation of an autophagosome.

This suggests that PINK1-Parkin play a major role in the regulation of mitophagy.


Mitophagy is often found to be defective in neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and Huntington’s disease[iv]. This is because faulty mitochondria are not properly eliminated, leading to cellular damage.

Since mitophagy is important in neuronal function, it follows that this process would be affected in cancer disorders. Cancer cells often have uncontrolled mitochondrial biogenesis, and this leads to extreme energy demands in cancerous cells which can be exploited. Mitochondrial biogenesis refers to the creation of new mitochondria from the division of existing ones.[v] This process is regulated by a protein complex that includes PGC1α and NRF1, which are often over-activated in tumor cells.

Cancer cells also need the ability to oxygenate themselves, so putting selective pressure on these cells through drugs that inhibit mitochondrial function can lead to their death. Inhibiting mitophagy could potentially decrease the effectiveness of such chemotherapy treatments, however research has shown that some chemotherapy drugs stimulate mitophagy so it may still have some use.

In addition, mitophagy is important for cardiovascular function and the development of stem cells. Mitochondrial biogenesis is a crucial process for stem cell formation and differentiation into progenitor cells. Mitophagy also ensures that damaged mitochondria are eliminated in cardiovascular cells.

Mitophagy is important to our longevity and healthspan because it allows the removal of faulty mitochondria that could potentially lead to cell death. Cell death leads to the death of the organism, so this process is critical for cellular health. Maintaining optimal cellular health is a key component in healthy aging, and efficient mitophagy is necessary for elimination of damaged mitochondria. We would love to see you next week on another blog post – Tune in then!

Disclaimer: The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Additionally, the information provided in this blog, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images, and other material contained on this website, or in any linked materials, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice and are for informational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Before taking any medications, over-the-counter drugs, supplements or herbs, consult a physician for a thorough evaluation. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this or any website.






When you are young, your brain has 100 billion brand-new cells called neurons, and they help your brain hum like a well-oiled machine. But as you get older, things start to change.

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Aging is the number one risk factor for chronic disease. Buck Institute asserts that maintaining cognitive function is the key to living better longer.

It is estimated that 45 million of currently living Americans will develop Alzheimer’s disease. One in three people will develop memory problems so severe they may die prematurely. Unfortunately, despite the billions spent every year on drug development, pharmaceutical companies have no drug that can cure severe memory loss at this time.

How the brain ages

A study published in Archives of General Psychiatry concluded that the minor memory lapses we have been told to accept as ‘normal’ age-related memory loss are actually signs of early-stage cognitive decline. Lifestyle factors such as lack of physical activity, excessive consumption of sugar, and stress can even accelerate this decline.

Typically after the age of 40, a certain protein called amyloid beta starts to accumulate in your brain. It forms into plaques that cause inflammation and damage your neurons from the inside. Some researchers have shown that this is a mechanism in the body to protect the brain from the effects of nutrient deficiency, chronic inflammation, and excessive toxin buildup, among other things. Yet there is general agreement that although this is this case, it still contributes to clinical cognitive impairment.

Another consequence of aging in the brain is oxidative stress. Your brain weighs only 2% of your body weight, but it uses 20% of your body’s oxygen, and oxygen is the primary catalyst of oxidation. Your brain also contains high levels of iron and copper, making it extremely vulnerable to oxidative damage. This slowly erodes your memory and makes you lose mental sharpness. Symptoms like forgetfulness, trouble concentrating, and brain fog have all been linked to oxidative stress.

Some say the main cause of oxidative stress is the consumption of refined carbohydrates from processed foods, like white bread, muffins, doughnuts, cakes, and so on. According to a study published in the journal, Behavioral Neuroscience, even otherwise healthy young people who ate lots of refined carbohydrates had impaired memory. Another study looked at folks over 65 and similarly found that the more refined carbohydrates were consumed, the worse their memory was.

An additional contributor to the aging brain is when your brain cells can’t communicate with each other, which threatens the brains of 95% of people over 50. Your memory neurons can’t just work by themselves – they have to be connected to other neurons, and it’s those connections that make your memory work.

One very important chemical your brain needs for these neuronal connections to work is acetylcholine (uh-seet-l-koh-leen). It acts as a communication line between your neurons and you need it to form new memories. If your brain is low on acetylcholine, your neurons can’t talk to each other, which means your memory recall will slow down, you’ll become forgetful, and lose the ability to focus. A study done at King’s College in London found that a lack of acetylcholine leads to severe age-related memory loss.

A cause for hope

Your brain has the ability to grow new neurons, which is a process called neurogenesis. Nerve growth factor (NGF) is one of a group of small protein-like molecules called neurotrophins that are responsible for neurogenesis. NGF acts like a protective bodyguard for all these new brain cells, as well as the ones you already have. Researchers at Johns Hopkins University found that NGF halts the breakdown and death of your brain cells as you age!

To help support this process in the body, I’ve developed a state-of-the-art cognitive supplement perfect for anyone looking to enjoy crystal clear thinking, rapid memory, and a clear memory that won’t let them down.

Puromind provides you with the nutrients you need to maintain healthy, sharp, lifelong cognitive health. You will find an improved ability to recall the things most important to you, enjoy a heightened sense of well-being and peace of mind, and benefit from your mind operating better than it ever has. If you want to learn a new language, have a sharper wit, or simply want to stop dealing with those annoying ‘senior’ moments that interrupt your life, Puromind can give your brain the fuel it needs to function at 100%.

We manufacture each premium batch in an FDA-compliant, GMP-certified facility right here in the USA, and every bottle is tested for both purity and potency, so you can know that you are putting only the most nutritious, beneficial ingredients into your body. Puromind is crafted with the following five powerful, brain-boosting nutrients:

·         LION’S MANE MUSHROOM: Lion’s mane mushroom supports the production of NGF, the fuel your brain needs to build new neurons. Researchers have found that Lion’s Mane mushroom is the only proven stimulant of nerve growth factor that Mother Earth gives us. In one Japanese study, researchers discovered that lion’s mane mushroom could replenish natural NGF levels, and it’s been shown to significantly improve the cognitive function of patients in just four months! In 2019, doctors and researchers at Johns Hopkins University reviewed eight different studies and three clinical trials. At the end of the review, they wrote that Lion’s Mane ‘may have a beneficial effect on cognitive impairment.’ There was also a clinical trial at Tohoku University in Japan, where researchers found that the group of people who received lion’s mane mushroom ‘showed significantly increased scores on the cognitive function scale compared with the placebo group,’ and had no side effects!

·       BACOPA MONNIERI: Bacopa can help extinguish the oxidative damage that is damaging your neurons. An animal study published in the journal, Phytotherapy Research showed that bacopa both crosses the blood-brain barrier and has powerful antioxidant effects. When you clean the inflammation out of your neurons, it’s like you’re peeling away the curtain that’s been holding your brain back for all these years. Researchers in Thailand took 60 volunteers around 62 years of age and gave one group bacopa monnieri and the second group a placebo. At the end of the trial, the group who took 300mg of bacopa extract scored 20% better in working memory tests and their attention improved 33%! In yet another study published in the journal, Neuropsychopharmacology, researchers revealed that of the 76 adults aged between 40 and 65 involved in the study, the group that received 300 mg of bacopa daily had improved their memory recall and retention by 100%!

·         ALPHA-GPC:  Together with huperzine A (see below), alpha-glycerophosphocholine (alpha-GPC) works to boost levels of acetylcholine and help your brain cells communicate with each other. A study at Sapienza University in Italy showed it has a unique ability to cross the blood-brain barrier and directly raise acetylcholine levels, which protects your memory and gives you laser-sharp mental focus. A study published in the journal, Clinical Therapeutics, found that patients who supplemented with alpha-GPC experienced a dramatic improvement in their memory and ability to perform cognitive tasks.

·         HUPERZINE A: Acetylcholine is easily broken down by your body, so adding more of it is only the first step. The second step is making sure it remains in your brain to do its job. That’s where huperzine (hoop-ur-zeen) A comes in. Huperzine A is extracted from Chinese club moss. It protects acetylcholine from being broken down by your body and can help you maintain healthy acetylcholine levels. A clinical trial performed at the Traditional Chinese Medicine Epicenter in Shanghai separated older patients with severe memory loss into two groups. All patients were given memory tests after one group was given a placebo, and another huperzine A. At the end of the trial, 58% of patients who took Huperzine A showed 36% memory improvements compared to placebo! And when you combine Huperzine A with alpha-GPC, you get a powerful combination that can both help increase acetylcholine levels and prolong its memory-boosting benefits.

·         GINKGO BILOBA: Ginkgo biloba is sometimes referred to as a ‘living fossil’ because it is the last surviving member of an ancient type of plant. It boosts cerebral blood flow and makes it easier for your brain to absorb Puromind’s other ingredients, magnifying their powerful effects and delivering maximum cognitive support potential. Clinical studies also show that ginkgo is able to dramatically boost blood flow to your brain and the rest of your body almost immediately after taking it. For you, that means lightning-fast thinking and quicker memory recall.

These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. Puromind is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

How can The Institute for Human Optimization assist me?

At The Institute for Human Optimization, my team and I leverage the most cutting-edge advances in genetic testing, nutritional, and functional medicine to help our patients treat the root biological imbalances that cause aging. I believe that a long healthspan – not just a long lifespan – is the most important thing you can cultivate. A long healthspan means you don’t miss out on life as you get older. It means remaining independent and having the vitality to travel and see the world.  A long healthspan means that you can be there – in full body and mind – for the people who need you the most and that every day will feel like a gift.

The Institute for Human Optimization provides the most comprehensive, data-driven, personalized approach to wellness. It is:

·         Predictive – We use genomics and advanced biomarker testing to risk stratification and empowerment.

·         Personalized – We use data-driven health information to curate actionable change for disease mitigation and prevention.

·         Preventive – We utilize highly individualized programs tailored to your unique genomic blueprint.

·         Participatory – We empower engagement in personal choices, which allows for improved outcomes and enhanced results.

Let’s work together to make a long healthspan your reality!

On the Institute for Human Optimization blog this week, we discuss the hallmarks of aging as described in the groundbreaking paper published by Carlos Lopez-Otin in 2013. It is important to understand that though these are normal changes the body goes through as it ages, we can take active steps to increase our health spans and allow these processes to happen more slowly. Here, we layout the difference between your chronological age and biological age, the nine hallmarks of aging and, a new technology that changes the way we look at the aging process.

How old are you, anyway?

Your age is not just the number of days, months, and years you’ve existed. There are two ways to think about your age: chronologically and biologically.

Your chronological age is an easy-to-determine figure as it is based on the number of years that have passed since you were born. It is characterized by age-related milestones and benchmarks that are celebrated with the passage of time. Your biological age, also referred to as phenotypic age, on the other hand, is based on lifestyle, genetics, physical and mental functions among many other factors. It is influenced by signals, inputs, and information that your body has been exposed to throughout your life.

Lifestyle factors such as poor nutrition, alcoholism, smoking, inactivity, insomnia, and stress to name a few can increase your biological age, influencing your genes and causing the effects of aging to happen faster.  Depending on your lifestyle and genetics your biological age can be much higher (or lower) than your chronological age.

While chronological aging is inevitable, biological aging is manageable and even reversible. It is also possible to be a 50-year-old person with a younger biological age due to a more active, healthy lifestyle. In contrast, it’s also possible to be a 50-year-old person with a younger biological age due to a more active, healthy lifestyle. This was most recently demonstrated in Dr. Gregory Fahey’s research publication that demonstrated a Reversal of epigenetic aging and immunosenescent trends in humans published in Aging Cell in September of 2019.

There are nine hallmarks of aging.

Throughout my medical career, I’ve been fascinated by the aging mechanisms of the human body. I believe understanding the hallmarks of aging can give us an insight into what is going on inside our bodies and how we can apply that knowledge to make educated decisions about our health.

There are nine hallmarks of aging which are completely natural and will happen to all of us eventually. They are:

Genetic Instability

Damage to your DNA is happening all the time (at a rate of 10,000 to 100,000 molecular lesions per day!). Thankfully, your body has systems in place for repairing the strands and making sure your body doesn’t break down completely.

As we age, however, the repair systems become less efficient at their job which results in creating tiny chromosomal errors that add up and can eventually lead to disease. Though this happens naturally, DNA repair systems can be negatively affected by lifestyle factors such as heavy alcohol consumption or poor sleep.

Some researchers, such as David Sinclair, have been working with molecular substances such as NAD and its precursor NMN, which may help your DNA repairers stay working for longer.

Telomere Attrition

Telomeres are little caps on the end of your chromosomes that protect your genetic data. Each time your cells divide, these telomeres get a little shorter until they wear away completely, causing genetic instability. Measuring your telomeres is how we can determine your biological age.

Many researchers have been concentrating on ways to improve telomere health, which in turn can extend people’s lifespans. RNA therapy is one method that is being discussed, though it’s still in the preliminary stages.

Epigenetic Alteration

If your genes are a CD, your epigenome is the laser that reads the information and plays the song. It has the power to turn genes on or off and controls protein production in certain cells.

As you age, environmental factors can modify your epigenome slowly, making it less effective at reading your DNA- like “skipping” on a CD. The good news is that these changes to the epigenome are not permanent so hypothetically, researchers could find a way to reverse the damage and this particular hallmark of aging.

Loss of Proteostasis

This is a decline in the quality of the proteins that keep our cells doing what they do. After decades of toxins from the environment and our food assaulting our cells, they become damaged. 

Your body has a natural defense against these damaged cells called autophagy. Autophagy is essentially the body’s housekeeping program, cleaning out the old dead cells so they don’t cause problems. But over time, the housekeeper becomes less effective, resulting in a build up of “zombie cells” that can produce age-related diseases like Alzheimers and Parkinson’s.

One way to accelerate autophagy and keep that housekeeper busy is by intermittent fasting- that is, going 16 or more hours a day without consuming calories. 

Deregulated Nutrient-Sensing

Your body has a built-in nutrient-sensing system that its only job is to make sure you’re eating enough healthy, nutritious foods. As you age, even these systems start to break down and have a hard time determining what you need.

Years of eating processed, unnatural foods put added stress on these nutrient sensors and cause us to age faster. Our hypothalamus can be affected, causing us to be hungrier than normal and eat too many calories, which further degrades the nutrient-sensing systems. 

Calorie restriction remains one of the leading age interventions related to these systems, keeping them working and determining correctly when you’ve had enough vitamin D or need a little more C.

Mitochondrial Dysfunction

Mitochondria are commonly called the “powerhouse” of the cell. It’s where they generate the energy to carry on with their job of keeping you going. Free radical damage over time degrades the mitochondria and less energy is produced, making your cells slower and more lethargic.

This decline is most often seen first in tissues with high energy demand: the brain and heart. This is one of the reasons our mental faculties decline as we get older. This hallmark has become a major focus of anti-aging research; If we can keep our cells powered, they can keep doing their jobs for longer and keep us healthier in the process.

Cellular Senescence

To keep your body refreshed and young, your cells have to constantly divide. This is why little kids grow so fast as their cells divide at a rapid rate during developmental years and then slow down as they become adults.

The truth is, your entire body is replaced with a completely new set of cells every 7-10 years, and more important organs are replaced even faster than that. There is an inner mechanism though, that acts like a biological clock; Your cells can only divide a certain number of times.

When a cell can no longer split itself into more cells, it is called cellular senescence. Through autophagy, the body cleans these dead cells out but as we get older, our bodies stop doing this as efficiently. The senescent cells pile up, causing inflammation and a host of problems.

Researchers have been diving into the world of senolytics, a fascinating set of compounds that were found to improve autophagy in mice, making them look and act younger. Perhaps one day we can use similar substances to mimic the effect in humans.

Stem Cell Exhaustion

Stem cells are the blank slates from which all cells are created. All the other hallmarks of aging as well as environmental factors eventually lead to stem cell exhaustion. This is when the body is unable to replace stem cells that have migrated, differentiated, or died. Fewer stem cells mean less regeneration, meaning we start to show signs of getting old.

Anti-aging scientists are obsessed with rejuvenating these stem cells through various means, hoping to increase the number of stem cells in the body and keep you rejuvenated well into your golden years.

Altered Extracellular Communication

Cells need to talk to each other to make everything work properly. How well would a factory operate if no one knew what was going on with everyone else? As we age our cells start to have problems communicating with each other- this can lead them to make bad decisions about regulating our hormones, hunger signals and sleep cycles.

Keeping cells healthy and well-nourished can keep them communicating longer, which in turn will keep your body running smoothly.

These nine hallmarks of aging will be an overarching theme for the future of this blog. Since the publication of the Lopez-Otin’s report, anti-aging scientists have been able to make amazing progress towards not only increasing our chronological age but our health spans as well.

We hope to continue to educate people about what happens to our body systems as we age and provide well-researched ways to postpone these hallmarks as long as possible.

How can you find out your biological age?

Until recently, there was no way to measure a person’s biological age. We are proud to be in collaboration with TruDiagnostics, a company on the cutting edge of anti-aging research. With this new test, we can look at almost 900,000 spots on the genome, which is 425 times more data than any other test on the market! By measuring these factors, we can determine your biological age and see if our anti-aging interventions are truly making a difference.

The Institute for Human Optimization will be offering this test to patients in an attempt to inform them about what’s going on at a cellular level and base our recommendations on this personalized data. 

ReferenceLópez-Otin C, Blasco MA, Partridge L, Serrano M, Kroemer G. The hallmarks of aging. Cell. 2013; 153(60):1194–1217.