Is Elysium Health Basis the New Fountain of Youth?
Humanity has been searching for a remedy to fight the onset of aging since Ponce de León. In an industry historically filled with snake oil salesmen, it’s difficult to trust anyone pitching a drug promising to curtail the inevitable effects of father time. Now a group of Nobel laureates and recognized scientists are putting their name behind a supplement, called the Elysium Health Basis, which they believe can slow the process.
A True Anti-Aging Supplement
Elysium Health Basis is a daily supplement that combines two precursors to NAD+, a coenzyme that fights inflammation, disease, and physiological decline. NAD+ levels decrease as we age, especially in the skin and brain. This co-enzyme is known to help repair DNA and activate Sirtuin, or SIRT enzymes, known to play a role in a number of bodily functions ranging from circadian rhythm, to metabolism, and fat storage.
There are currently a number of supplements out there, like Niagen, that contain nicotinamide riboside, NR, the precursor to NAD+. These supplements promise to activate this coenzyme and are the result of the latest scientific discoveries that will supposedly help us achieve vitality or at least extend the healthy period of your life.
The Elysium Health Basis adds another NAD+ precursor known as pterosilbene (PT) to its mix, which is a derivative of reservatrol, a phenol often recognized in the health supplement world due to its natural prominence in red wine.
These two simple ingredients are the primary components of the Elysium Health Basis supplement that is backed by seven Nobel Laureates and 13 leading names in science and medicine; all of whom are backing a product with ingredients found in blueberries and milk. But have they really discovered an effective anti-aging drug or just another devious nostrum?
One of the more profound understandings recently made in aging involves telomeres, or the caps on the ends of our chromosomes that begin to unravel and shorten as we age.
With only a few exceptions, the cells in our bodies divide, replicate, and replace themselves on a regular basis throughout our lives. As this happens our telomeres grow progressively smaller and once they get too small, our cells start dying.
Skin cells participate in this process of replication and replacement every few weeks, so they are most susceptible to shortening telomeres – one of the reasons why aging can be so distinct in our appearance.
The good news is that scientists have pinpointed an enzyme called telomerase, that mitigates this process. Telomerase slows this decaying process and can potentially even lengthen telomeres to function as if they were younger.
But messing with telomerase is tricky, too much can give immortality to certain cancer cells and increase the likelihood of getting cancer, while too little telomerase can leave one susceptible to getting cancer by diminishing that which allows our cells to regenerate; it’s a fine line.
Some of the factors that were found to be beneficial to telomeres were commonly known healthy routines like antioxidants, exercise, and reduced exposure to harmful agents like carcinogens and stress.
Though, one of the bigger takeaways was that a calorie restricted diet positively impacted the life of telomeres. This concept had already been proven in rodents, whose lifespan had been shown to increase by as much as 66 percent in studies involving calorie restriction or CR.
Before founding Elysium Health, Leonard Guarente studied the effects of CR on sirtuin enzymes in relation to these studies showing longevity in rodents. Sirtuin enzymes act as nutrient sensing regulators in the body’s metabolic system.
This eventually led to the discovery of reservatrol, an antioxidant found in the skin of grapes that has a multitude of health benefits. Reservatrol happens to activate these sirtuin enzymes that are necessary for longevity, but are typically only activated when the body experiences CR.
What Guarente discovered was that this process tricks the body into thinking that it is in starvation mode. The same concept of metabolic austerity leading to cellular longevity was found in response to an exotic bacterium found on Easter Island known as rapamycin.
But drinking red wine alone won’t give you a large enough dose unless you drink liters of it, or happen to live in France. And the negative impact of drinking that much wine will probably cancel out the positive effects.
Guarente’s supplement contains a highly condensed source of reservatrol, so you can activate those sirtuin enzymes without consuming large quantities of alcohol. This, combined with NAD+ activators, is the Nobel laureate backed key to longevity.
One thing that lends credibility to the Elysium Health Basis is that it is in the process of undergoing a clinical study on 120 human subjects, a process that is not required by the FDA to allow a supplement on the market.
Elysium originally skipped the FDA-approval process by marketing the product as an aging supplement. Since age isn’t a disease, the FDA doesn’t regulate supplements that claim to treat it.
One might also look at the dietary and lifestyle habits of those who live in Blue Zones, areas of longevity that defy global and national statistics. These diets often include high concentrations of polyphenols containing reservatrol.
At $50 for a month’s supply, the Elysium Health Basis isn’t cheap, but if it could be definitively shown to improve health or longevity it may be worth it. Some in this field of study have said that instead of focusing on an extended lifetime, the focus of these drugs should be on extending the healthy part of your life. That sounds more feasible.
How to Live Longer -- Secrets of the Blue Zones
Eating well and exercising are obvious necessities for maximizing one’s lifespan, but many believe that genetics are actually the biggest determinant. But according to the Danish twin study, only 20 percent of longevity is due to hereditary causes. Based on this knowledge, Dan Buettner decided to figure out what it was exactly that contributed to a longer, healthier lifetime. He found there are “Blue Zones,” or areas throughout the world with high concentrations of healthy people living longer than most, due to specific lifestyle and environmental factors.
Where Are the Blue Zones?
Based on demographic research of global populations, Buettner identified five disparate regions having concentrations with health statistics that defied national or world averages. Things like lower rates of cardiovascular disease and cancer were defining factors, as well as abnormally high concentrations of centenarians – people who have lived past the age of 100.
Upon this realization, Buettner published his findings in National Geographic, and subsequently developed a set of guidelines emulating the intrinsic elements of these blue zone lifestyles, that could be applied to anyone.
In the United States, the average life expectancy is just over 78 years for the general population. Women have a higher expectancy than men by almost five years, which is pretty common across most cultures, but in certain “blue zones” life expectancy is significantly higher for both sexes, with residents consistently living into their 90s and beyond.
Sardinia, Italy is home to a region that, at the time of Buettner’s study, boasted the highest concentration of male centenarians in the world. Though mostly concentrated in one area of the island, the statistic was most prominent in a village called Seulo, part of a small mountainous region that was home to 20 blue zone centenarians from 1996-2016. But Seulo has barely maintained its top rank, often trading the title with Okinawa, Japan and the Nicoya Peninsula of Costa Rica.
Buettner visited these regions and studied the lifestyle habits of its denizens. In Sardinia, he noticed that the community was still living a Bronze Age lifestyle, where labor was intertwined with daily life and old age was celebrated.
One of the oldest men in the village was 104 years old and still able to beat Buettner in an arm-wrestling match. The man would wake up at 9 a.m., chop wood, drink a glass of wine, and give advice to a line of townspeople throughout the day, waiting for his wisdom.
This sense of community, regular, but moderate alcohol consumption, and physical activity were three important factors contributing to the Sardinians’ longevity. Their diet included high levels of Omega-3 fatty acids, vegetables, legumes and whole wheat, unleavened bread, and the wine they drank had three times the normal levels of polyphenols, their secret eau de vie.
The Blue Zones Longevity
The blue zone diet that was so beneficial to the Sardinians is a common theme across analogous communities. In the U.S., there is a blue zone just outside of Los Angeles in an area called Loma Linda. The town is home to a group of 7th Day Adventists, a conservative group of Christian Methodists. This community ascribes to a diet mentioned in the Bible that recommends eating mostly legumes, seeds, and green plants.
This is the foundation of the blue zone diet, a relative commonality between all of the communities Buettner studied. He found these people eat nutritious food at least 80 percent of the time, and they also make it a point not to overeat. In Okinawa there is a ritual prayer to remind themselves of this, recited before every meal. This anti-overindulgence mantra has been performed for 3,000 years since it was first uttered by Confucius.
Another secret to longevity that Buettner identified was that all of these communities had some sort of involvement in their community and participated in some type of sacred practice.
Whether it was religion or spirituality, these practices of faith typically lead to communal activity and a time set aside for a reprieve from life’s stresses. In Loma Linda the Christian community would celebrate their Sabbath from sunset on Friday to sunset on Saturday, allowing for a full 24 hours of what they referred to as a “sanctuary in time.”
Buettner said this slowing down, or taking time to downshift from life’s daily bustle, reduces an inflammatory response that our bodies kick into gear when we put stress on them. That inflammation has been linked to diseases like Alzheimer’s and heart disease, so when we regularly take action to reduce or eliminate that response, the results are overwhelmingly beneficial.
In Japan, friend groups were designated for an entire lifetime with groups of blue zone centenarians who got together regularly since their youth. These groups also helped in the anti-inflammatory unwinding process, while also providing a social outlet. They call these associations “Moais” which provide not just camaraderie, but support for times when they feel down or have something big going on in their lives.
Buettner recognized this across all of the blue zones and said that he believed this was the primary factor for achieving longevity, the foundation upon which every other lifestyle choice was built.
And nearly tantamount in its efficacy for a long, healthy life, he identified what the Okinawans call “Ikigai,” and the Costa Ricans call a “plan de vida” – a lifelong purpose. He found that devoting oneself to a passion or duty, not only provides a sense of direction and pride, but keeps your mind active and functioning.
You don’t have to move to these blue zones to dip into their fountain of youth tactics when Buettner has done the hard work of uncovering their secrets. By implementing some of these conscious lifestyle choices you too can reduce your risk of disease, live a healthier life, and maybe last long enough to join the centenarian club.