Metabolism has been shown to affect aging, longevity and mortality. New research from the American Chemical Society can better help us understand longevity. Their study was conducted on worms, and researchers believe they can accurately predict longevity at middle-age.
Being able to predict longevity is useful for insurance companies, retirement investing and health care planning. Current techniques that estimate longevity base results on geographical location, family history and lifestyle choices. To make predication more reliable researchers began looking at genes – but even DNA only tells one part of the story. Researchers then turned to the metabolism of worms for further insight.
Researchers compared metabolic changes in normal worms and long-living worms with a genetic mutation. They profiled 26 metabolites, which allowed them to predict the worm’s lifespan. Researchers also found that when normal worms were middle-aged they began aging 40 percent faster. This was confirmed by their metabolic profiles.
The researchers feel further study needs to be conducted to properly understand how the metabolism can reveal aging and longevity. The findings were published in the Journal of Proteome Research.
Metabolism is a chemical process that allows life and proper functioning. Some aspects of the metabolic process include the breaking down of food and nutrients as well as building and repairing the body. Many metabolic processes require energy, which comes from our food; it’s important to eat healthy so our metabolic processes can function correctly.
There are two different kinds of processes of the metabolism: catabolism and anabolism. Catabolism is when food is broken down into simple forms, which can become energy and be used for building and repairing. Anabolism is when the body needs to be built or repaired. Once again energy is required, which comes from the food we eat.
Additional to our metabolism processes is our metabolic rate. Metabolic rate refers to the amount of energy expelled during the metabolic process. There are three components to the metabolic rate: basal metabolic rate (BMR), energy used during physical activity and thermic effect on food.
Basal metabolic rate is the amount of energy that is burned at rest – this is measured in kilojoules. BMR accounts for 50 to 80 percent of energy used throughout your day, making it the largest amount of energy expended. Energy used during physical activity for a person who is moderately active will account for 20 percent of energy used in a day. Thermic effect on food is the energy used to break down food. This accounts for five to 10 percent of your daily energy.
Previous research from the Endocrine Society found that an accelerated metabolism could predict early natural mortality. Lead author of the study, Reiner Jumpertz, M.D., said, “We found that higher endogenous metabolic rate, that is how much energy the body uses for normal body functions, is a risk factor for earlier mortality. This increased metabolic rate may lead to earlier organ damage (in effect accelerated aging) possibly by accumulation of toxic
substances produced with the increase in energy turnover.”
“It is important to note that these data do not apply to exercise-related energy expenditure. This activity clearly has beneficial effects on human health,” Jumpertz added.
Researchers looked at 652 non-diabetic healthy Pima Indians. 24-hour energy expenditure was measured along with resting metabolic rate. There was a follow-up period of 11.1 years and data for energy expenditure was taken in a respiratory chamber.
After the study 27 participants died of natural causes. The researchers found that while energy expenditure rose, so did the risk of natural mortality. Jumpertz concluded, “The results of this study may help us understand some of the underlying mechanisms of human aging and indicate why reductions in metabolic rate, for instance via low calorie diets, appear to be beneficial for human health.”
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