I used to be a competitive athlete and have been an avid exerciser for the better part of 15 years. Only recently has my world view opened up to seeing fitness as more than numbers on a bar or HOW MANY abs I can see. I am in no way saying that attitude is wrong, but it’s an amazing feeling knowing that with a little education and a lot of dedication you can do wonders for your body and even affect how it will work in the future. So where are we going with this?
Let’s get into a bit of science here… Our body is made up of MILLIONS of cells, with each different body system having its own unique cellular make-up. The health of these cells is what truly determines how well the organ functions and, in a more holistic view, our health. Each one of these cells has an energy power plant called mitochondria. These little cellular components convert the food we consume into cellular energy (ATP). Funny coincidence, isn’t it? These mitochondria, which can number in the thousands PER CELL, are electrified in order to make energy, which essentially makes us the equivalent of a walking power station. The most profound concept in this whole article is that the status of our mitochondria—meaning their health—is one of the MOST important factors in determining how we age. Looking at from a different angle, mitochondrial health has an enormous impact on our chances of developing disease.
Every cell also has genetic material that we commonly refer to as DNA. DNA instructs our cells how to replicate and coordinate proper functioning. When this coding goes wrong, we develop errors (improper genetic sequencing), which can make certain genes turn themselves “on.” If this happens over and over again, we can change the expression of how our body functions and ages. Why does this matter? Well, the more we experience this change in genetic expression, the more we start to affect the little cellular power plants in our cells. Once we compromise their integrity, it’s very hard to reverse the damage that has been done. This is where performance will start to suffer in any context (think how premature aging would negatively impact a pro athlete), and we have no choice but to try to find a way to improve our health. Optimal performance is impossible without optimal health!
You might be reading this and wondering how complicated it would be to resolve this? It would be very complicated if we got deep enough into the science of how it works. The easy part is that small dividends (actions) can play a HUGE role in how we age. I am going to assume that since you are reading this you are a fan of ATP products, care about your health and most likely exercise regularly. You are already on the right track, because nutrient optimization and exercise are both MASSIVE weapons in the fight against aging, as both stimulate proper functioning of how the body breaks down energy and develops new mitochondria, in a process called biogenesis. Another thing that can be done from a dietary perspective is intermittent or therapeutic fasting, where the body recycles old cellular material and repurposes it. This is also a powerful fat-loss technique when done with the guidance of a nutrition practitioner. Finally, we have specialized nutrients that can stimulate specific adaptations when taken as supplements on a regular basis.
Enter trans-resveratrol This compound is only found in nature, in plant foods like red grapes (and wine), the most well-known sources. It has been said that the benefits of drinking wine are similar to that of exercise, but that is not even close to being true. Wine contains sugar, alcohol and sulphites, which, in high concentrations, directly compromise mitochondrial function. It’s really the resveratrol component we are after anyways, and it has been reported to have some very POWERFUL effects on the body.
In research models, mice treated with resveratrol significantly increased their aerobic capacity, as evidenced by their increased running time and consumption of oxygen in muscle fibers, which is directly correlated with slowing the aging process (think better functioning mitochondria). In laboratory studies, resveratrol was shown to stimulate a change in genetics, in which the effects were associated with turning on genes that both stimulated improved energy metabolism and the creation of new mitochondria! Although these findings are relatively new (from a research perspective), it is an exciting area of study to watch to find out exactly how we can learn to incorporate all the factors of optimizing our biology to prevent premature aging.
Besides being involved in helping to ensure that our DNA doesn’t promote coding errors, resveratrol might also be able to modulate cellular signalling. This is important because some of the most important cellular messengers are hormones! One particular hormone that has shown a greatly improved level of sensitivity in the presence of resveratrol is insulin. These findings have MASSIVE implications on how our mitochondria age, as diseases like insulin resistance and diabetes are linked to shorter life span due to insulin dysregulation! If we can optimize hormone signalling and promote optimal energy metabolism, then we can optimize cellular energy metabolism and long-term health.
ATP is always at the forefront of new research, and if your goal is to not only perform at a high level, but to do it into the coming decades, consider adding resveratrol to your supplemental regime and learn to optimize those mitochondria!