Healthspan extending tips for dogs and people
Swimming is my lifeline. Wherever I go, I am compelled to find a lake, swimming beach, or a pool. About a month ago, I happened to arrive at the public pool at the wrong hour, as it was fully reserved for a seniors aqua-fit class.
Not being able to use the pool, I hopped into the whirlpool where I was able to observe the aqua-fit class from a distance. As I watched the lovely, but rather immobile, seniors shuffle around in the water, I wondered if one day I will have to switch from the crawl and butterfly stroke to doing a water shuffle and using a walker.
I also thought of my first dog Skai, who despite having a great 16 years, eventually ended up with an old, injury-prone body that lost its ability to repair and heal.
Of course, aging and dying are natural parts of life, but I do not believe that the last 10-20% of life needs to be tainted by pain, depression, and immobility.
Is aging a process or a disease?
Most people see aging as an inevitable process, because no one can escape nature’s cycle of birth and death. Perhaps in the future science will provide a means for us to stop the aging process. However, some experts have been suggesting that aging is a complex of diseases that can be delayed, or even avoided, with the advances of science and the right knowledge.
Ideally, life should be happy and healthy, happy and healthy, and then over.
For the past 20 plus years I have witnessed healthy food, essential supplements, fitness, and spinal health making a clear difference in the lives of both dogs and people. At the same time, I know more can be done to make the last 25% of our lives more mobile, as well as pain and depression free. I am convinced that most people have the capacity to live a full and healthy life without the need for hip replacements, triple bypasses, and chemotherapy. We just need to focus on the biology of the aging process rather than inventing new toxic drugs that help people survive but don't make them thrive.
The definition of aging and when it begins
It is kind of surprising to read that some biological signs of aging start to appear as early as two years of age in dogs, and around 25-30 years in people.
There is a constant process of repair and renewal taking place within the body which includes the transcription of DNA and RNA when old cells are replaced by new ones. This process is analog, meaning it is similar to audio or videotape of the past; the more copies made, the more errors and noise that will occur.
These transcription errors may be represented as wrinkles, weaker muscles or tendons, and a loss of organ function.
As the body ages there are other changes that lead to a decline in organ function and one of them is a decrease in the level of NAD (Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide).
NAD is an energy source that is required for proper cell, muscle, and organ function. People, dogs, and other mammals lose 50% of NAD by the time they reach middle age.
As a substance, NAD is unstable and impossible to supplement directly, however, many prominent scientists, including Harvard professor Dr. David Sinclair, suggest supplementing with NMN (Nicotinamide mononucleotide), which is then converted into NAD within the body.
The age to start taking NMN is at around 40 years in humans and 5 - 7 years in dogs — depending on the breed's average lifespan.
The effects of NMN supplementation
- Increased activity of sirtuin enzymes that slow down the aging process
- Improved mitochondrial function
- More efficient DNA and tissue repair
Reduction of inflammation and cancer prevention
Here is the NMN I take, and Pax will get the same when he is around 5-7 years of age.
What is mTOR and why you need to know about it
The acronym mTOR stands for mechanistic target of rapamycin, an enzyme that binds with proteins and creates mTOR1 and mTOR2 complexes.
mTOR plays a central role in cell growth regulation, cell survival, protein synthesis, autophagy (removal, recycling, and orderly degradation of cell components) and transcription (the process of copying DNA and RNA and producing proteins).
mTOR is a regulator of the metabolism in mammals, especially within the liver, muscles, fat tissue and the brain. It also appears that mTOR is poorly regulated in diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, obesity, depression, cancer and aging.
When it comes to aging, inhibiting mTOR function appears to prevent or reduce the occurrence of the above-mentioned health problems in people and animals — including dogs. Researchers have also confirmed that rapamycin, an mTOR inhibitor, is capable of increasing health and lifespan.
At this point, I find many veterinarians are still rather reluctant to prescribe rapamycin to reduce some signs of aging and attempt to extend older pets’ lifespans, but I believe such practice will soon be commonplace. If you have a pet that is 10 years and older, it may be worthwhile to talk to your veterinarian and getting a rapamycin (mTOR inhibitor) prescription.
There is one more note I would like to add. In the past, rapamycin was labeled as an immunosuppressant drug used for organ transplant patients, but top experts now believe that rapamycin and mTOR inhibitors are not immunosuppressants, they are immunomodulators that calm and increase the efficiency of the immune system.
Can we be optimistic?
When it comes to finding new ways of addressing age-related diseases and extending lifespan in people and animals I am cautiously optimistic.
In the past 30 years, we have been able to make huge advances in our understanding of health and disease, and the results are obvious.
- The nineties was the decade of learning about healthier food.
- In the 2000’s we learned about the health benefits of exercise, spinal alignment, and conditioning.
- The 2010's brought us a deeper understanding about the importance of essential nutrients for dogs and people.
The 2020’s appear to be the era of supporting and boosting cellular metabolism, immunity, and slowing down the aging process.
Practical steps for extending healthspan
- Feed a natural raw diet.
- Avoid processed dog food.
- Add essential supplements to correct deficiencies.
- Detox your dog at least once every 6 months.
- Ensure proper spinal health and alignment.
- Allow your dog to exercise daily, and give them the freedom to play and interact with other dogs and people to ensure good mental health.
- Consider supplementing with NMN at 5-7 years of age.
Ask your veterinarian about mTOR inhibitors, such as rapamycin, for animals who show signs of age-related disease (starting around the age of 10 years). Please note, this is a prescription drug that has been misclassified as an immunosuppressant, but given once per week it appears to modulate the immune system function and increase T-cell activity.
- Ideally, eat a predominantly plant-based diet with an emphasis on whole vegetables, whole grains, legumes, whole fruits (not juices), fermented foods, and a diet high in fibre. Dr. Greger’s book How Not to Diet is, in my opinion, one of the most comprehensive science-based reads on the topic. There is also an audiobook if you prefer that format.
- Beware of toxic foods such as fish and fish oil, as well as rice grown in Asia.
- Avoid foods with high levels of pesticides, and eat organic whenever possible.
- Minimize alcohol, soft drinks, sugar, starchy, fried, and processed food.
- A moderate amount of healthy exercise is the best; too much or too little can both be damaging.
- Yoga, stretching, and strengthening should be in balance.
- Regularly spend time with friends and family.
- Set apart time for hobbies, holidays, and time off.
- Choose a job you enjoy and love.
- Add high quality essential supplements, ideally fermented or whole food, to your diet.
- Consider taking an NMN supplement if you are 35 years and older.
- Do more reading on rapamycin, and continue learning from reputable resources and professionals. Here are a few of my favourites:
In the field of human aging:
- Online Yoga Teaching (YouTube)
And that is all for today. If you have not subscribed to my newsletter, you can join our community here. I usually send a short email once a week to give you an update on how to keep your dog and you healthy for many years to come.
Wishing you health and happiness in 2022! ❤️