Sirtuins: Your New Best Friends in the Fight Against Aging

Sirtuins & Aging - two happy women launching after a workout

Sirtuins are one of the seven “longevity genes” found inside your cells. These tiny enzymes are essential for regulating cell cycles and protecting your DNA. They also play a major role in cellular processes that control inflammation and metabolism.

From deep within your cell, sirtuins influence the health of your entire body. High levels of sirtuins has even been linked to better overall health and longevity.

What makes Boulder Holistic Functional Medicine in Boulder, Colorado, unique is that we use a whole body approach to examine every aspect of your health, from the function of your cells to the influence of your environment. Each piece provides essential insights into your health and helps us to create a road map to bring you back to optimal health. 

This article looks at sirtuins and aging from a functional medicine perspective. We look at how sirtuins function in the body and answer the question, can sirtuins reverse aging? At the end of the article, we will also include ways for you to boost sirtuin production naturally to increase longevity and improve your health as you age.

What Do Sirtuins Do In The Body?

Sirtuins are an enzyme found in the cytoplasm, nucleus, and mitochondria of your cells. They are part of a protein family of seven “longevity genes” that regulates inflammation, metabolism, oxidative stress, apoptosis, and more within your cells.

When it comes to inflammation, sirtuins regulate the pathways of inflammation and suppress pro-inflammatory cytokines. They also influence the immune system by balancing anti-inflammatory and pro-inflammatory cells.

Sirtuins are responsible for spooling and unspooling DNA in response to environmental changes to protect your DNA from damage. Sirtuins also regulate cell cycles, DNA repair, and mitochondrial energetics.

Many studies have linked impaired function of sirtuins to pathologies like cancer, cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease, and other conditions. The link between sirtuins and life threatening diseases is part of what gives sirtuins the title longevity gene.

Sirtuins and Aging

While impaired function of sirtuins may cause life-threatening diseases, activation of sirtuins inside your cells can reduce inflammation and oxidative stress. 

This is what makes sirtuins the guardians of cellular aging. That and their influence on Fox-O genes.

Fox-O genes are associated with the process of autophagy – or the clearing of old or damaged cells, cellular waste, and debris from your body. Cleaning out old or damaged cells is important to proper cell function for the same reason that regular garbage pick up is important in cities – without it, waste and other harmful substances begin to pile up.

Inside your cells, the accumulation of old or damaged cells and waste can result in many different dysfunctions, from systemic inflammation to increasing levels of oxidative stress. 

Sirtuins enhance the expression of the Fox-O genes and therefore support autophagy. During autophagy, Fox-O genes also get rid of senescent cells which are old or damaged cells that may cause certain age-related diseases. Enhancing Fox-O production and the autophagy process therefore may prevent age-related diseases.

Can Sirtuins Reverse Aging?

Nothing can stop the turning of the clock. However, the connection between sirtuins and aging is what gave this protein a reputation for age reversal.

So, can sirtuins reverse aging? Yes and no.

Primarily, sirtuins act preventatively. By increasing sirtuin production, you support autophagy and decrease the likelihood that you will develop age-related diseases, inflammation, metabolic issues, and more. When you prevent these diseases and conditions, you not only increase your longevity, but improve your overall health as you age.

In some ways, sirtuins do reverse the signs of aging. Aging is a form of inflammation, a slow decline your cells get older or damaged and your systems no longer function at an optimal level. By increasing sirtuins, you decrease systemic inflammation and increase the overall health of your cells.

It’s important to note that sirtuins are not a magical ingredient that will turn back the hands of time. But they are an essential piece of cellular function and health. Their proper function keeps every system in your body running smoothly so you can age more gracefully and healthily. 

Sirtuins From The Functional Medicine Perspective

From a functional medicine perspective, the health of your cells is another puzzle piece we can use to get you back to optimal health.

While there are no specific signs or conditions related to poor sirtuin function, people who may benefit from increased sirtuin production often have:

  • Accelerated aging
  • Metabolic issues
  • Systemic inflammation
  • Neurological symptoms
  • Age-related diseases
  • And unhealthy cellular function

However, anyone and everyone can benefit from better sirtuin function. You can increase sirtuins to prevent premature aging and support healthy cells. Or you can use this knowledge to help your body heal from chronic inflammation, disease, and other conditions.

Does NAD+ Increase Sirtuins?

NAD+ (nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide) is a coenzyme involved in various cellular processes, including energy metabolism and DNA repair. Sirtuins are NAD+-dependent enzymes which means they rely on the presence of NAD+ to function.

High levels of NAD+ cause sirtuins to activate and start cellular maintenance processes like autophagy. Meanwhile, if you are low on NAD+, you have fewer sirtuins to undergo necessary cellular processes such as gene expression, DNA repair, and metabolism.

5 Ways to Boost Sirtuin Activity Naturally

While it’s helpful to know how these systems work in the body, the real magic comes when you apply them to your daily life. Over the years, Boulder Holistic Functional Medicine has found some easy ways for you to boost your sirtuin activity naturally, including NAD+ supplementation, intermittent fasting, and regular exercise.

NAD+ supplementation: While you can’t take NAD+, you can take the precursors, such as nicotinamide riboside (NR) and nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN). These help boost levels of NAD+ and activate sirtuins inside the cells. Boulder Holistic Functional Medicine offers products that support NAD production, IM injections, and Nutrient IV therapy with NAD.

Exercise: When it comes to exercise, endurance exercise like running or swimming are the best way to increase NAD+ levels. However, any aerobic or resistance training – including HIIT type workouts – are beneficial and support sirtuin activity.

Diet: A healthy diet can also increase NAD+. In particular, intermittent fasting, and calorie restriction are associated with better NAD+ levels and sirtuin activation. Calorie restriction may look like lowering the number of calories consumed in a day-week, or lowering a macronutrient like carbohydrates for a day-week-period of time. Always be mindful of your protein intake as protein is the most important macronutrient for muscle strength and longevity.

Flavonoids: Supplements like curcumin and quercetin have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Some studies show that quercetin may influence sirtuin activity and increase SIRT1 expression.

Resveratrol: Resveratrol is found in red wine, grapes, and berries. This stilbenoid may help activate SIRT1 and increase sirtuin activity for better metabolic health and longevity.

Always speak to a doctor before adjusting or changing your current supplements or meditations. 

Sirtuins & Aging: Image of food and how diet plays a role in the right against aging

Work with Boulder Holistic Functional Medicine

Sirtuins are a small, albeit valuable, piece of the puzzle when it comes to wellness. Their role in aging and cellular function are still being investigated, but the information currently available definitely suggests that better sirtuin production may improve your overall health and increase longevity.

If you are ready to heal your body starting with the cells, contact Boulder Holistic Functional Medicine in Boulder, Colorado, to schedule an appointment today!

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Dr. Amy Reidhead

Dr. Reidhead is a double board certified Chiropractic Physician and Family Nurse Practitioner. She is also a Fellow of the International Academy of Medical Acupuncture and holds a Bachelor of Science in both Nursing and Human Biology. She has spent the past 25 years honing her skills as a functional and integrative medical provider in Boulder, Colorado.

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