Dr. Yurth hears it all the time, a phrase most of us have heard at least a few times in life: “I don’t want to get old.” The common thinking behind that utterance is likely based on the fact that while an average person might live for 30,000 days (around 82 years), they could spend 6,000 of those days (nearly 16 ½ years) feeling decrepit.
Longevity is ideally approached with an eye toward prevention. The goal is to be a healthy 90 year old who can do everything they want to do. Everyday thinking has most people believing this is just impossible or is totally up to chance.
Sure, we are all “dealt a hand” of genes that have sway in our health and longevity. We can take that hand and make the best of it using whatever techniques we can – exercise, nutrition, supplements, or peptides – to reach the highest gains we possibly can.
The Longevity Toolbox of Tomorrow Course is a four-part series looking at peptides and how they impact healthy aging.
What Is a Peptide?
Peptides are short chains of amino acids (between 2 – 50 amino acids in the chain) that are essentially tiny proteins. Almost all communication in the human body is a result of peptide signaling. Over 7,000 peptides have been discovered. Peptides provide an array of beneficial impacts and can impact healthy aging.
These little proteins are unique in that they have a short half life. Peptides get to work, not hanging around for long periods. This means they can be used to do specific actions without lingering effects like side effects or complications. Simply put, peptides are potent, safe, and specific.
Given their presence in nearly every human cell, peptides are involved in almost every function in the body. Peptides are involved in processes like ensuring appropriate brain function, managing glucose, signaling hormone metabolism, and telling our bodies when to store fat versus gain muscle mass.
Peptides can improve longevity by burning fat, protecting organs, improving exercise performance and cognitive function, increasing immunity, promoting restful sleep, and in many more ways.
Just like many hormones, peptide levels begin to drop in our bodies as we age. Like hormones, however, we can get many important peptides back safely, in ways that can improve longevity and promote healthy aging.
Improving Performance Now and In the Future
Attaining Top Form At Any Age: How to Use Peptides for Superhuman Performance Gains
The Fountain of Youth has been sought after since early in human history. Alas, it has not been discovered. It is the ultimate dream to find a magical supplement or drug that makes us superhuman in every fact of physical, mental, and emotional strength.
Even with the help of some novel peptides and other forms of supplementation, achieving top form at any age requires some help from good genetics and a lot of work. With that said, regardless of circumstance, we can all make ourselves considerably stronger and healthier with appropriate efforts.
The impacts of the natural drop of growth hormone (GH) levels as we age are profound. There is not an organ or system in the body that GH is not involved in. Fortunately, peptides can effectively target your own production of GH without the typical challenges faced by those who supplement growth hormone directly.
Growth hormone releasing peptides (GHRPs) promote the natural release and production of human growth hormones. This allows for the natural benefits without the downsides like unnaturally high levels of GH in your system.
GHRPs are effective, safe, and cost less than supplementing growth hormones. They are readily available and legal. The expertise of a Certified Peptide Specialist can help find the balance of appropriate peptides (e.g. CJC-1295, Ipamorelin, Tesamorelin) and hormones to avoid dangerously high levels and produce results.
Improving growth hormone levels in the elderly results in a 9% muscle mass increase and a 15% body fat percentage drop. Studies show that bringing GH levels up safely results in the improvement of nearly every “symptom” of old age.
Using peptides like Tesamorelin to improve growth hormone levels has been shown to reduce cardiovascular disease and improve cognition in people over 60.
Now back to that fountain of youth and the miracle drug. While not available yet, MOTS-c (a mitochondrial derived peptide) is showing signs of being “exercise in a pill.” A study in mice showed that a mouse fed a high-fat diet with no exercise, supplemented with MOTS-c, remained insulin sensitive and never got obese.
The same peptide also reversed age-dependent insulin resistance, and inhibited human prostate and breast cancer tumor growth in mice.
Peptides represent an opportunity to turn back the tide on aging. Combined with a commitment to exercise and an appropriate diet, peptides can improve your current and future physical performance.
Protecting the Mind
Building Your Sharp, Durable Brain: How to Use Peptides for Cognitive Protection and Recovery
Dr. Yurth describes common complaints from her clients as often relating to weight, fatigue, and sex. Surprisingly, she very rarely has someone ask for help keeping their brain sharp. As Dr. Yurth puts it, “Everything else can be good but if the brain is off – life sucks.”
Ideally, we should be approaching brain health with a preventative mindset. It is much easier to prevent cognitive decline than it is to reverse the impacts of brain disease.
Every organ has messages sent to and from the brain. This leaves a lot of room for things to “go wrong” in these processes. If everything worked to a tee and the blood brain barrier (the barrier that protects the brain from toxins and other harmful substances) stayed intact, we would rarely see brain issues.
The first step to treating disease is knowing its cause. This makes neurodegenerative diseases (e.g. Azlheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Huntington’s, MS) challenging to treat. While these diseases impact different parts of the brain, they have plenty of overlapping qualities.
Alzheimer’s represents the only cause of death of the top ten causes in the United States without a real treatment available. The disease kills more than half a million seniors per year – more than breast and prostate cancers combined.
Plaques and tangles are often blamed for the devastating symptoms of Alzheimer’s, including eventual death. Unfortunately, there is a lack of understanding of what causes these structures that damage and kill nerve cells, leading to the memory, thinking, and behavioral issues associated with Alzheimer’s.
Genetic dispositions are clearly problematic when it comes to neurodegenerative diseases. Another primary risk factor is aging – the combination of mitochondrial mutations and oxidative stress marked by aggregation of various misfolded proteins.
There are common treatments on the market that are, quite frankly, just not working. One breathtaking example, Memantine (commonly prescribed to combat the symptoms of Alzheimer’s), has shown to cause a greater rate of cognitive decline in users than in those who were never put on the drug.
We have a firm understanding of the detrimental impacts of inflammation in the body. Notably, the number of elevated inflammatory markers relates to reduced brain volume and episodic memory. Chronic inflammation leads to the upregulation of inflammatory markers. There is also some thought that neuroinflammation results in the aforementioned plaques and tangles.
The assumption that reducing or calming inflammation would positively affect brain protection seems reasonable. Thymosin Alpha-1 and Liraglutide represent two peptides that are useful for reducing inflammation, while being involved in neuro-repair and neuro-regeneration.
Peptide drugs like Cerebrolysin and Dihexa are becoming undeniably beneficial for those hoping to protect and repair the brain. GH secretagogues play a role in increasing IGF-1 and can improve brain power (increased brain volume) and have been associated with a decreased risk of Alzheimer’s.
There are things we can be doing now, at home that can increase the brain’s ability to protect itself. Avoiding certain drugs on the Anticholinergic Cognitive Burden List, eating beneficial foods, intermittent fasting, getting enough deep sleep, and maintaining a high heart rate variability are all simple ways to impact current and future brain health.
With the aim of being a healthy 90 year old in mind, protecting the brain and repairing current damage is imperative to longevity. While genetics do play a role in some neurodegenerative disease that can be hard to counteract, setting yourself up with a healthy, resilient brain can protect your most valuable resource – your mind.
Living and Aging Well
New Tools in Lifestyle Design: How to Use Peptides for Weight Loss, Improved Libido, Appetite Control, and Great Skin
Those who claim to not want to get old probably picture an unfortunately common depiction of the elderly – decrepit, tired, or reliant on others. Dr. Yurth likes to remind folks who have that perspective that there is a big difference between lifespan and healthspan.
A big picture aim in life would ideally be to die ‘young’ as late as possible. While this is no simple feat, we can take relatively simple steps to work toward such a goal. Importantly, it is never too early to get a jump on the task of extending your healthspan.
Peptides offer some novel tools for taking control of areas previously thought to be impossible to change. We know that aging, even for those who are considered fit, results in an increase of body fat both by weight and body fat percentage. This is because peptides and hormones decline as we age.
Focusing on certain areas, like low IGF levels which correlate with obesity, can drastically change your overall health (abdominal fat is correlated with neurocognitive impairment.) Peptides, like Tesamorelin, can decrease extra fat in the stomach area and has been shown to markedly improve visceral fat related to fatty liver disease.
While keeping the body and mind sharp are key attributes of successfully extending your healthspan, there are benefits to cosmetic peptides, as well. While taut skin and beautiful hair can certainly be attractive results, peptides like GHK-Cu copper can be used for repair, protection, and even the reversal of skin sun damage.
Peptides are now being shown to improve mental health. With a rapid onset (unlike standard antidepressant drugs), lack of side effects, and strong safety profile, peptides could represent a more accessible, sustainable path to balancing the mind.
We know that peptides have the power to truly change our healthspan. It is well past time to understand that the natural declines in peptides and hormones are keys to diseases of aging. Prioritizing health includes getting outside the box of standard, old school healthcare and taking advantage of the rapidly, exponentially evolving landscape of longevity medicine.