Al Sears, MD – Kane Tanaka is the oldest person on the planet. At 118, she’s defying the “experts” who insist that genes determine your lifespan.
This summer, when the Olympic torch travels through her hometown of Shime, Japan, Kane will carry the flame. Imagine that, a 118-year-old torch bearer!
Most doctors attribute her longevity to “good genes.” But despite thousands of studies over the past 50 years, no researcher has been able to identify a single gene explaining the longevity of supercentenarians like Kane.
As a regular reader, you’ll know that I believe your genes don’t determine how long, or how well, you can live. And it looks like the geneticists are finally coming around to my point of view.
As a matter of fact, many of them now agree that genes only account for about 25% of your longevity.1The remaining 75% is determined by your nutrition, activity level, and lifestyle.
Despite the realization that non-genetic factors are much more important, Cornell University researchers wanted to give one unique gene a closer look…
A “FOX Hunt” for Longevity…
The FOX03 gene plays a key role in regulating metabolism, fighting free radicals, and calming inflammation – three major pathways to aging.
Researchers wanted to know how it functions. So they flooded mice brain cells with free radicals and watched FOX03 go to work.
FOX03 responded by signaling brain stem cells to halt their usual journey to becoming full-fledged neurons.
Now the brain needs a constant supply of new cells to keep you sharp as you age. So the obvious question: Why did FOX03 stop the assembly line?
Stem cells are extremely vulnerable as they morph into brain cells. By signaling them to suspend their development, FOX03 was conserving the brain’s limited supply.2
That’s pretty impressive. But even more significant is this: There are several ways you can activate your FOX03 gene to make it twice as powerful.
In a sense, you can build your own “longevity gene.”
Energize FOX03 to Hunt Free Radicals
Energizing FOX03 to hunt down free radicals helps preserve the vital telomeres that protect the integrity of your DNA. Here are three ways to do it:
- Astaxanthin – My regular readers already know that astaxanthin, nature’s most powerful antioxidant, guards your retinas and staves off macular generation. But recent studies show it nearly doubles FOXO3 activity.3,4 I recommend wild-caught food sources such as salmon, shrimp, and crawfish. But you should also supplement with up to 50 mg of astaxanthin daily. I tell my patients to look for a supplement derived from the best natural source. That’s Haematococcus pluvialis algae.
- Calorie restriction/fasting – There’s growing evidence FOXO3 and various forms of fasting work to accelerate apoptosis, ridding your body of the dysfunctional cells that contribute to inflammation. Calorie restriction lowers the body’s production of insulin-like growth factor 1 [IGF-1], and as IGF-1 declines FOX03 activity ramps up.5
- EGCG – Consider it another reason to make green tea part of your health routine. Already highly regarded for its anti-inflammatory and heart-health benefits, there’s growing evidence the green tea extract EGCG activates the FOX03 gene as well. Most of the studies so far are on animals.6But EGCG-activated FOX03 inhibited the growth of human breast cancer cells.7 A cup of green tea contains about 100 mg of EGCG. I recommend you supplement with up to 1,500 mg of the extract daily.
1 Passarino, G., De Rango, F., & Montesanto, A. (2016). Human longevity: Genetics or Lifestyle? It takes two to tango. Immunity & Ageing, 13(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12979-016-0066-z
2 Study Reveals How a Longevity Gene Protects Brain Stem Cells From Stress. (2021, February 19). Retrieved April 5, 2021, from WCM Newsroom website: https://news.weill.cornell.edu/news/2021/02/study-reveals-how-a-longevity-gene-protects-brain-stem-cells-from-stress
3 Research: University of Hawaii reports Astaxanthin can activate the FOX03 “Longevity Gene” in mammals. (2017, March 28). Retrieved April 5, 2021, from John A. Burns School of Medicine website: https://jabsom.hawaii.edu/research-university-of-hawaii-reports-ability-of-astaxanthin-to-significantly-activate-fox03-longevity-gene-in-mammals/
4 Astaxanthin compound found to switch on the FOX03 “Longevity Gene” in mice. (2017, March 28). Retrieved March 26, 2021, from ScienceDaily website: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/03/170328092428.htm
5 Komatsu, T., Park, S., Hayashi, H., Mori, R., Yamaza, H., & Shimokawa, I. (2019). Mechanisms of Calorie Restriction: A Review of Genes Required for the Life-Extending and Tumor-Inhibiting Effects of Calorie Restriction. Nutrients, 11(12), 3068. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu11123068
6 Bartholome, A., Kampkötter, A., Tanner, S., Sies, H., & Klotz, L.-O. (2010). Epigallocatechin gallate-induced modulation of FoxO signaling in mammalian cells and C. elegans: FoxO stimulation is masked via PI3K/Akt activation by hydrogen peroxide formed in cell culture. Archives of Biochemistry and Biophysics, 501(1), 58–64. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.abb.2010.05.024
7 Belguise, K., Guo, S., & Sonenshein, G. E. (2007). Activation of FOXO3a by the Green Tea Polyphenol Epigallocatechin-3-Gallate Induces Estrogen Receptor Expression Reversing Invasive Phenotype of Breast Cancer Cells. Cancer Research, 67(12), 5763–5770. https://doi.org/10.1158/0008-5472.can-06-4327