New Year's Resolution: Stay Young

To summarize the major science of this month and my own New Year’s resolutions: Increase the functioning of your sweet -16 genes by choosing smaller portions, and add a little daily physical activity. The science is too solid to avoid.

Posted on | Mike Roizen, MD | Comments ()

To summarize the major science of this month and my own New Year’s resolutions: Increase the functioning of your sweet -16 genes by choosing smaller portions, and add a little daily physical activity. The science is too solid to avoid. 

I’m turning 65 (on January 7), so I thought I should do more to keep my RealAge as young as possible (current RealAge, about 45).  As I opened my Medicare card, a moment of reality hit; I used to call 65 old—now I think it’s midlife. The work I want to do to change the health of the nation (or world if we get lucky) will keep me busy for, maybe, 7 more years, so I need to keep well.  

I do all the things I know from repeated studies (it takes 4 studies for something to earn a RealAge effect), but I decided to examine two health choices I do not make that have some data: smaller portions and avoiding all animal protein. Now, I enjoy a great salmon, and even occasional chicken or turkey, so I went back to the data. The conclusion: smaller portions for me starting yesterday (no waiting till New Year’s Day) and less two-legged animal meat. The data are just iffy on the latter, but since I am over 64, I’ve got to get serious as the data will take too long to accumulate to change if I’m wrong. 

This past week, we took off from the cold of Cleveland to head to the warmth of Palm Springs. But my smaller-portions New Year’s resolution is too key to waist any of this blog on travel.

I tweeted (@YoungDrMike) the most important medical article of the week: a human growth hormone (HGH) antagonist (low dose) stimulated the DAF-16 gene complex (sweet-16 genes), resulting in increasing longevity and decreased chronic disease in mice. What does this have to do with my New Year’s resolution? Everything. You see, in 21 of 23 animal species tested (that’s better than the percentage of Republicans and Democrats in the Senate and House), including our closest primate relatives, calorie restriction – smaller portions and less sugar in your blood stream – lead to longer life with less disability. Calorie restriction and less sugar activate the DAF-16 (sweet-16 gene complex). And calorie restriction and less sugar also inhibit DAF-2 genes that cause aging and chronic disease disabilities in animals.

The official release: “A compound that acts in the opposite way to growth hormone can reverse some of the signs of aging. The finding may be counter-intuitive to some older adults who take growth hormone, thinking it will help revitalize them. The scientists studied a ‘growth hormone-releasing hormone antagonist.’ They found it improved cognition, increased an enzyme that protects DNA, and life span, while decreasing tumor activity.” I took all articles on this subject on the trip. Yes, the data are clear in all but humans (tough to do such a study in humans).

My take-home, 2 resolutions: a pill twice a week to decrease inflammation and smaller portions. “Smaller portions” means lower blood sugar … less turns off the DAF-2 aging genes. And less animal protein (really only demonstrated well for 4-legged protein and saturated fat of any source) means more DAF-16 activity and less DAF-2. So, if I really want to stay as close to sweet-16 as possible, I’ll change. (By the way, avoid HGH hucksters as that ages you long term … pretty clear from the data.) 

Moment of truth: a party celebrating the great patriarch and philanthropist of the development company Forest City. I did it: smaller portions only at that party. Next moment of truth: the flight home with plenty of goodies on board.

For now, my New Year’s resolution for 2011 is intact. May you make great resolutions, and may you keep them close to your heart—it and your brain and the health of a bunch of organs Dr. Oz talks about frequently may depend on it. Smaller portions in 2011. May the force be with YOU!!!

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Blog written by Mike Roizen, MD
Dr. Roizen is a past chair of a Food and Drug Administration advisory committee and a former editor for 6 medical journals with...