We've all seen interviews with centenarians who have what seems to be truly absurd advice for enjoying a long life. Drink three sodas a day? Go skydiving in your 90s? Smoke good cigars and drink a shot of brandy every day? I don't think those are the secret. Lifestyle choices are certainly important, but some of the people who live remarkably long lives may have an extra advantage in their genes that the rest of us can take advantage of and protect our eyes at the same time.
We all have a gene called FOXO3, which helps protect us from aging. But some people (about one in three) have a more powerful version. And, if you have that version, you're going to live longer. Up until now, whether you get this version or not has just been luck of the draw and your family tree. But researchers at the University of Hawaii may have found a way to activate the longevity version of FOXO3, even if that wasn't your default setting.
The researchers have been investigating a compound called astaxanthin. This is a nutrient found in shrimp, lobster, and salmon. It's a powerful anti-inflammatory nutrient, lowers cholesterol and triglyceride levels, and has been shown to decrease heart and liver disease risk and risk of stroke. And new research shows that it can activate the FOXO3 longevity gene.
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For the study, the researchers compared three groups of mice: one group ate normal food, the second took a low dose of astaxanthin, and the third received a high dose. The third group experienced a nearly 90% increase in gene activation in their heart tissue. This success in mammals is an exciting step in the process of determining whether astaxanthin can benefit humans.
So what does this have to do with your eyes? I've mentioned several ways that astaxanthin benefits your cardiovascular system, so we know it's worth taking. But it's also great for your eyes. That's because it's one of the few antioxidants that can cross the blood-retina barrier. This barrier does a great job of keeping fungi and bacteria out. However, that means it often keeps antioxidants out as well. Astaxanthin can get through and deliver its anti-inflammatory benefits straight to the retina.
This could be why astaxanthin is a powerful activator of the FOXO3 gene. It's able to get into places that need an added boost. So if you want to live to see your 100th birthday, astaxanthin could be the nutrient that makes it possible. You can find astaxanthin in Advanced Vision Formula, along with several other nutrients to support eye health.
Yours for better health,
Frank Shallenberger, MD