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9 Ways to Biohack Your Healthspan and Improve Longevity

2 - 1 Lifestyle F - Top section-2Advancements in Western medicine and technology have extended the average American lifespan, but a longer lifespan doesn't always translate to an increase in healthy years. In fact, your chronological age may not accurately represent your body's biological, or your InnerAge, at all. InsideTracker’s new InnerAge 2.0 is an innovative tool that reveals your biological age—a measure of how well your body is aging internally. What’s more, research shows that we have the power to slow down the aging process through certain lifestyle factors like diet, exercise, stress management, and sleep.

InnerAge 2.0 doesn't just calculate your biological age—it also guides you through an action plan to biohack your overall health and longevity. This action plan combines peer-reviewed science with your blood data to deliver ultra-personalized nutrition and lifestyle recommendations. These recommendations target (1) general factors that significantly impact longevity, and (2) specific biomarkers (e.g., glucose, cholesterol) most strongly correlated with aging. Learn how we’re redefining aging by understanding the research and impact behind some of our recommendations. 

What exactly is biohacking? Biohacking is the process of implementing scientifically-driven lifestyle interventions to achieve optimal health throughout your lifespan.

biohack your health and longevity

Biohack your lifespan

  • If you choose to prioritize InnerAge in your action plan, you can select our new InnerAge goal. This advanced feature leads you through a science-backed action plan that incorporates recommendations targeting overall health and longevity. To determine these recommendations, we continuously scour the literature for a few key types of studies. We primarily look at large cohort studies that examine health outcomes longitudinally, or overtime. These studies provide insights into factors that contribute to mortality and/or reduce the risk of developing age-related diseases (e.g., cognitive decline, CVD, diabetes). Below are three recommendations you may encounter after selecting the InnerAge goal.

Playing brain games improves cognitive abilities

  • As we age, certain cognitive abilities decline and we become more susceptible to neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia. Research also indicates that cognition has an inverse association with mortality—meaning, as cognition declines, our risk of death increases.[1] Fortunately, regularly engaging in activities that challenge memory and cognitive awareness may decrease the risk of age-related cognitive diseases and improve cognitive processing speed as we age. In one randomized control trial, researchers compared the cognitive effects of a brain game, Brain Age, to a non-brain game, Tetris. Young, healthy adults played either game for 15 minutes per day, five times per week. After four weeks, the Brain Age group displayed significant improvements in executive functions, working memory, and processing speed. The researchers conducted the same study design in elderly adults who also showed improved executive functions and processing speed.[2] To keep your cognition sharp as you age, try activities that challenge your brain, such as Sudoku puzzles, crossword puzzles, or games like Brain Age.

Eating less red and processed meat is associated with a longer life expectancy

A plethora of research shows a strong relationship between nutrition and healthy aging, and this includes the intake of red and processed meat. One study examined the relationship between dietary protein, their sources (animal vs. plant-based), and the risk of mortality. After investigating the diets and death rates of over 2,000 participants, the researchers concluded that (1) a higher ratio of animal to plant protein and (2) an overall higher meat intake were both associated with an increased risk of mortality. biohack your health and longevity

Another 2019 study analyzed mortality rates in Seventh-Day Adventists, a population that eats low to moderate amounts of meat. The results indicated that Adventists with the highest intakes of red and processed meat had a greater risk of all-cause mortality and mortality from cardiovascular disease (CVD) compared to participants who ate no meat at all.[3]  Furthermore, processed meat intake is also associated with an increased risk of CVD, the number one cause of death in the United States.[4] Reducing meat intake and replacing it with more plant-based proteins has been shown to reduce CVD risk and many biomarkers related to it, including cholesterol, triglycerides, and glucose.[5-6]. 

Drinking coffee or green tea is associated with lower mortality

Your morning ritual may be contributing to longevity already! Both coffee and green tea are associated with a longer lifespan and a reduced risk of age-related diseases. Drinking three cups of coffee each day is associated with a 12-17% lower risk of death from all causes when compared to people who don’t regularly drink coffee.[7-8]  Coffee contains many phenolic compounds (e.g. chlorogenic acids, diterpenes, and kahweol) best known for their antioxidant-like properties. These phenols protect your cells by slowing and preventing oxidative-damage of healthy cells—a possible explanation for coffee’s longevity effects.
 
If you prefer a morning tea, consider drinking green tea.[9] Research shows that drinking three to four cups of green tea per day is associated with a 5% reduction in all-cause mortality compared to non-tea drinkers.[10-11] More recently, this study found that green tea reduced the risk of cognitive decline in older adults; as tea intake increased among participants, the likelihood of showing signs of cognitive decline decreased. Like coffee, green tea also contains antioxidants, specifically the catechin epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG). EGCG can reduce cellular damage and plays a fundamental role in glucose and lipid metabolism. Of note, decaffeinated coffee and green tea still elicit antioxidant-like properties sans the jitters that caffeine may provide. 

 

Biohack your age-related biomarkers

Compared to InnerAge 1.0, we increased the number of biomarkers in InnerAge 2.0 by over three times, providing more personalized and accurate estimates of biological age. After establishing these updated biomarkers, our research team conducted comprehensive literature reviews covering topics on nutrition, exercise, lifestyle, and dietary supplements. And by carefully scrutinizing each study, we learned how different interventions impact each biomarker (i.e. increases, decreases, or non-significant). Combining this knowledge with your blood data, we can deliver personalized recommendations to improve any out-of-range biomarkers. Here’s a glimpse of three examples you may encounter and the research behind each one.

Resveratrol supplements can reduce blood glucose, a key biomarker connected to aging

Our research and data show a strong correlation between blood glucose and age—a lower glucose level is associated with younger age and vice versa. While there are many ways to reduce glucose levels, we’ll highlight one of the InnerAge 2.0 supplement recommendations—take 1000 mg of resveratrol daily to improve your high glucose. Resveratrol is a polyphenol found in red wine, grapes, cocoa, peanuts, and blueberries, and has gained recent attention for its role in aging. To date, no studies have examined resveratrol's effects on lifespan in humans. However, many clinical trials demonstrate its impact on metabolic health outcomes, especially glucose. According to numerous well-designed studies, consistent supplementation of 1000 mg of resveratrol can reduce glucose levels by up to 35mg/dL, improve insulin sensitivity, and reduce inflammatory markers in the body.[12-18]
biohack health longevity

Implementing intermittent fasting can help decrease elevated LDL cholesterol

It’s well established that lower cholesterol levels, particularly LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, can be predictive of healthy aging, earning its place in InnerAge 2.0.[19] If your LDL cholesterol levels are high, we may recommend that you consider intermittent fasting, a food pattern that cycles between periods of fasting and eating.[20] One type of intermittent fasting is time-restricted feeding, which involves eating all meals and snacks within an eight to ten-hour window and fasting for the remaining fourteen to sixteen hours each day. Intermittent fasting has been shown to decrease body weight, total fat mass, LDL cholesterol, and other lipid markers.[21-23]

Curcumin, a key component of turmeric, can reduce hsCRP inflammation levels

  • Research points to a connection between high inflammation levels, measured by the biomarker hsCRP, and age-related conditions such as metabolic syndrome and diabetes. An ancient method of reducing inflammation has caught the attention of researchers—curcumin supplementation. Curcumin is a unique polyphenol found in turmeric that has powerful properties that can reduce inflammation. Supplementation of up to 1000 mg per day can reduce inflammatory cytokines, oxidative stress, and hsCRP.[24]  

 

Biohack your cells

  • Scientists have proposed various theories for the reason we age, inferring that it starts in our cells and results in a gradual functional decline of the body’s larger systems. Because research on cellular aging is still in its infancy, there is insufficient evidence to formulate strong recommendations for InnerAge 2.0 at this time. However, we are continually analyzing emerging research to ensure our recommendations represent the absolute best and newest science available. Below, you’ll find some examples of cutting-edge research we’ve been following.

Sulforaphanes may improve mitochondrial damage caused by environmental toxins

We are constantly exposed to toxins that stress our body, from those we breathe in (like benzenes, common in exhaust), to those we consume in our food (like pesticides). These stressors affect our bodies at the cellular level, ultimately causing damage to our mitochondria (the "powerhouse of the cell"), contributing to aging over time. But our bodies have a stress-response pathway, known as NRF2, which controls over 200 genes responsible for anti-inflammatory and antioxidant processes. When this pathway is activated, the body suppresses inflammation, activates detoxification, and promotes antioxidants to exert their effects. In vitro studies show that a compound called sulforaphanes potently activates the NRF2 pathway—more than any other compound![25] Sulforaphanes, therefore, should allow us to cope with the stressors and harmful compounds we are exposed to daily. Foods high in sulforaphanes include the cruciferous vegetable family, particularly broccoli sprouts, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts.

Folate may increase telomere length, a factor with connections to survival and lower disease incidence

Research demonstrates an intriguing connection between folate, telomere length, and aging. Telomeres, the structures at the end of chromosomes, tend to decrease with age—shorter telomeres are associated with lower survival and higher incidence of disease. However, dietary and lifestyle factors can impact their rate of attrition. Older individuals with healthier diets tend to have longer telomeres, while those with chronic diseases often have shorter ones.[26]  What’s more, folate, an essential B vitamin found in food, may play a role in protecting telomeres. Some studies demonstrate that individuals with adequate folate levels have longer telomeres, while a deficiency in the vitamin can lead to DNA damage and shorter telomeres.[27-28] Spinach, asparagus, artichoke, broccoli, most legumes, and liver all supply folate in the diet.

Glutathione may reduce oxidative stress and damage from free radicals

Cellular oxidative stress is another proposed theory for why we age. Oxidative stress stems from an imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants in the body. Free radicals can damage cells, proteins, and DNA, while antioxidants help neutralize and negate their detrimental effects. Glutathione, often referred to as the ‘master antioxidant’ in humans, works by protecting cells from damage and stress; a deficiency in the antioxidant has been associated with an increased risk for cellular oxidative damage.[29] Moreover, adequate glutathione levels may also help ward off many aging-related diseases, as low levels are often linked to a higher incidence of cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. In a recent study, centenarians (those who live to be over 100 years old) presented significantly higher glutathione reductase activities than elderly controls. As we continue to examine the research, in the meantime, include mushrooms and asparagus in your diet, as both are good sources of the antioxidant.

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  • A summary of 9 ways to biohack your healthspan and improve longevity:

  • InnerAge 2.0 combines high-quality science with blood data to deliver personalized recommendations on how to extend your healthspan. 
  • Playing brain games can decrease the risk of age-related cognitive diseases and improve cognitive processing speed as we age. 
  • Eating less red and processed meat and including more plant-based proteins into your diet can significantly increase longevity and markers related to chronic disease. 
  • Coffee and green tea contain antioxidants associated with longevity and can delay the progression of age-related diseases.
  • Supplementing with resveratrol can help improve high glucose levels—a marker strongly linked to aging.
  • Curcumin supplements can reduce hsCRP, an inflammatory biomarker that is associated with aging.
  • Intermittent fasting is associated with reductions in cholesterol markers, namely LDL cholesterol, which contributes to aging. 
  • Emerging research suggests that sulforaphanes, folate, and glutathione may play a role in the aging process on a cellular level.

 


Michelle Darian photo
Michelle Darian, MS, MPH, RD
Michelle is a Nutrition Specialist at InsideTracker. As a Registered Dietitian, you’ll find Michelle analyzing the research behind recent nutrition trends, bringing actionable food and supplement recommendations to the platform. When she's not myth-busting, Michelle can be found exploring new restaurants and getting creative in her kitchen.

20170517 Diana Licalzi0312 (1x1)

Diana Licalzi, MS, RD 
  • Diana is a Content Strategist and Team Nutritionist at InsideTracker. As a Registered Dietitian and self-proclaimed "biohacker," Diana enjoys researching and testing the latest trends and technology in the field of nutrition and aging. You'll often find Diana , completing a 24-hour fast, conducting self experiments, or uncovering strategies to increase longevity. Follow her on Instagram at @dietitian.diana.

 
 
References

[1] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26803665/

[2] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22253758/

[3] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6470727/

[4] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20479151/

[5] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26853923/

[6] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29618018/

[7] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23934579/

[8] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29167102/

[9] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32635492/

[10] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16968850/

[11] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19628408/

[12] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25138371/

[13] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24695890/

[14] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31475415/

[15] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29914666/

[16] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31065943/

[17] https://europepmc.org/article/med/31486447

[18] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24073011/

[19] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27045039/

[20] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30202677/

[21] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24739093/

[22] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26374764/

[23] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32365676/

[24] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25618800/

[25] https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-017-14520-8

[26] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3370421/

[27] https://academic.oup.com/jn/article/139/7/1273/4670470

[28] https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0955286311000052

[29] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30342710/