For years, resveratrol looked to be the big longevity breakthrough. In simple creatures, it mimics calorie restriction, which extends life span. But we haven’t yet seen the same reaction in humans
Now pterostilbene – a close relative of resveratrol – is all the rage. Its effects are like resveratrol’s, but your body absorbs it more readily. So it’s more potent. Still, no one’s proven it extends human life yet.
But there’s another substance already in your body that’s being overlooked. It mimics the effects of calorie restriction. And in at least one study, it resulted in a 15% longer life.
So what is this substance? It’s the enzyme AMPK – adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase. And it could be the easiest way to boost your chances of living a longer, healthier life.
The “Miracle” Hidden in Every Cell
Every cell in your body contains AMPK. Inside those cells, one of its main jobs is to balance energy levels. Here’s what I mean…
ATP (adenosine triphosphate) fuels your cells. Burning ATP creates a waste product called AMP. When a cell has too little ATP on hand – and too much AMP – AMPK kicks in to reestablish balance.
- AMPK tells the cell to make more mitochondria, your cells’ “energy factories.”
- It switches cells to burning more fat, to make up for the shortage of ATP.
- AMPK signals for fat storage – and the generation of fat cells – to stop.
- It also calls for waste to be transported out of the cell.
These are just a few of AMPK’s jobs. But you can already see how it could boost your health.
First, having more mitochondria makes cells function more like young cells. (Young cells have more mitochondria than old cells. They’re also more energy efficient.)
Then there’s the burning of fat. And shutting down fat storage and production. These actions promote a slimmer, healthier body.
Plus, AMPK improves glucose (sugar) transport, lowers insulin resistance, lowers cholesterol and triglyceride levels, and lowers levels of fat in your liver.
Activating AMPK is almost like turning the clock back on your health. Of course, the question then becomes, how do you activate AMPK?
Simple Ways to Ramp Up AMPK Levels
Researchers at McMaster University tested AMPK levels in a group of cyclists. They took samples from their volunteers before and after a short, intense “interval” workout.
The workout itself consisted of 4 30-second sprints on a cycle, with 4 minutes of rest after each sprint.
At the end of this brief workout, the volunteers’ AMPK were much higher. And even though the workout was very short, it was enough to trigger fat burning and a jump in the number of mitochondria in muscle cells.
In animal studies, tiliroside – a compound found naturally in strawberries, raspberries and rose hips – also activates AMPK.
Japanese scientists gave tiliroside to a group of overweight mice suffering with diabetes for 21 days. The subjects’ triglyceride (blood fat) and insulin levels dropped… fat build-up in their muscles and liver was blocked… and their levels of AMPK went up.
A recent Chinese animal study also found tiliroside leads to improved glucose metabolism and cholesterol levels. The changes were triggered by AMPK activation.
The herb Gynostemma pentaphyllum may also activate AMPK. And this herb – also called jiaogulan – has been tested on humans.
In one study, obese adults took 500 mg of G. pentaphyllum extract for 12 weeks. At the end of the study, the volunteers showed big drops in belly fat, all fat, total cholesterol, and triglycerides. A matched placebo group showed very little change over the 12 weeks.
Getting Your Own AMPK Boost
Studies prove short bouts of high-intensity exercise activate AMPK. So using interval-style workouts is your surest bet for taking advantage of AMPK’s benefits. As the McMaster study shows, the workouts don’t have to be long to get the process started.
But you need more than 2 minutes of activity to get the most overall benefit… so don’t be fooled into thinking that’s all the activity your body needs. Shoot for 30 minutes of exercise, 5 days per week… and do interval-style workouts on at least 2 days.
As far as tiliroside goes, I haven’t seen any human studies… yet. But, unless you have a berry allergy, eating more strawberries and raspberries can’t hurt. With all their other health benefits, they’re already solid anti-aging foods.
G. pentaphyllum is available in supplement form. I’ve seen both 250 mg and 500 mg options online. The study above used 500 mg. So the larger dose is fairly close to what’s proven to work well.
About the Author: Jason Kennedy is a celebrated investigative health writer and the author of The X-Factor Revolution and Beyond the Blue Zone. With over 10 years of experience working with today’s leading alternative and anti-aging doctors, Jason shares his insider status and access to the latest breakthroughs with thousands of readers from around world.
Gibala, M.J., et al, “Brief intense interval exercise activates AMPK and p38 MAPK signaling and increases the expression of PGC-1alpha in human skeletal muscle,” J Appl Physiol (1985). Mar 2009; 106(3): 929-934.
Goto, T., et al, “Tiliroside, a glycosidic flavonoid, ameliorates obesity-induced metabolic disorders via activation of adiponectin signaling followed by enhancement of fatty acid oxidation in liver and skeletal muscle in obese-diabetic mice,” J Nutr Biochem. Jul 2012; 23(7): 768-776.
Chen, Y., et al, “Flavonoid derivative exerts an antidiabetic effect via AMPK activation in diet-induced obesity mice,” Nat Prod Res. Sep 2016; 30(17): 1988-1992.
Park, S.H., et al, “Antiobesity effect of Gynostemma pentaphyllum extract (actiponin): A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial,” Obesity. Jan 2014; 22(1): 63-71.
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