The function of our cells naturally declines as we age. This means that their ability to make cell energy (called ATP) becomes less effective, while their ability to protect against or repair cell damage goes down. They become more susceptible to damage from things you expose your body to, including the foods and beverages you consume.
The consequence is that those cells can’t divide and replicate as well as they used to, their function is compromised and meanwhile, your body will have a harder time clearing out damaged cells. This leaves you more susceptible to metabolic disorders, like type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, neurodegenerative diseases like dementia and Alzheimer’s, and cancers.
Improving cell function by increasing their ability to make energy, while protecting cells and their internal parts from damage can help slow the effects of aging while lowering the risk of developing age-related disorders. So how do you do this?
One of the most important factors is the function and health of your cell’s mitochondria. Mitochondria, known as the “powerhouses of the cell,” are the organelles inside all of your cells (except red blood cells) that make energy. They are special enough to have their own DNA (in addition to the cell carrying your DNA inside the nucleus) which are also susceptible to damage as you age.
What causes cell, mitochondrial and DNA damage? Inflammation, glycation, and oxidative stress. Okay, stay with me here – these are cellular processes but are directly related to your diet and lifestyle choices, as well as your environmental exposures. So you can actually have some control over your rate of aging. It’s the same reason why chronic sun tanning can make your skin look old – UV radiation causes oxidative damage to your skin. Protecting your skin from UV radiation with sunscreens can help keep skin healthier and looking younger.
What is Oxidative Stress and Glycation?
Oxidative stress happens when there is an increase in the amount of free radicals or reactive oxygen species (ROS) in your body. These come from normal metabolism, as well as from the things you expose your body to, including air pollution, smoking, consumption of sugar, charred or grilled foods, exposure to toxins, pesticides, fertilizers, infections, stress, UV radiation and even some pharmaceutical drugs.1
Your body tries to manage these free radicals with antioxidants that “neutralize” or deactivate those ROS, preventing oxidative stress and protecting your cells and tissues from damage. But when the body is lacking in antioxidants, and/or when the amount of ROS are overpowering, it’s a losing battle that can affect your DNA, your mitochondria and the overall function of your cells. When this continues for months, years, or decades (depending on the types of cells affected) it presents with chronic diseases.
Another damaging process is glycation. Glycation can happen when sugar molecules (glucose or fructose) bind to proteins, lipids or nucleic acids, creating “advanced glycation end products” or AGEs. When sugar binds to your body’s molecules like this, it prevents those molecules from functioning properly. AGEs then increase the formation of ROS, while the presence of ROS themselves can accelerate the process of glycation. Like a vicious cycle of creating ammunition against your body’s cells and tissues.
A great example of these processes is the complications of having type 2 diabetes. High blood sugar and insulin does more than just encourage your body to pack on extra fat tissue. Those excess sugars in your bloodstream can cause AGEs to form while significantly increasing oxidative stress in multiple organ systems. This is why diabetics have a higher risk of kidney damage (nephropathy), ulcers (poor wound healing), vision loss (diabetic retinopathy), cardiovascular diseases (blood vessel damage and/or dysfunction), and dementia.2
A similar increase in chronic disease risk occurs as we age, but that can be accelerated or slowed down depending on how you treat your body, and what reinforcements you supply it with.
Oxaloacetate for Cell Energy
Now you understand what kind of damage accelerates aging. Aging healthily includes the need to protect cells from damage, while giving them the support they need to function more efficiently, like younger cells. How can you increase cell energy production? By giving your mitochondria the fuel it can use to make energy with, but without loading the body with dietary sugar and simple carbohydrates. One way to do this is to supplement with the intermediates of the energy-producing pathway, the Kreb’s cycle, including one called oxaloacetate.
Oxaloacetate is an antioxidant that is used by your cell’s mitochondria to make ATP energy. Being an antioxidant, it can help protect mitochondrial DNA from damage, but in diabetics it also increases the uptake of sugars from the blood stream, helping them get into your cells, and therefore lowering high blood sugar levels.3
Due to its actions, oxaloacetate has also been researched in longevity (extending lifespan) studies. Keep in mind that scientific studies on aging typically start with smaller and more “simple” organisms that have much shorter lifespans than humans, such as worms, fruit flies and zebrafish. In one early preliminary study, supplementing roundworms with oxaloacetate significantly increased their lifespan by about 25% and increased maximal lifespan by 13%.4
Although the idea of extending your lifespan by 25% sounds incredible, we can’t translate that directly to humans. Instead, the takeaway is that it likely extends the health span of your cells.
With your cells making more energy and working more effectively you might notice benefits to your own subjective feeling of energy. In one preliminary study, supplementing chronic fatigue patients with 1000mg to 3000mg of anhydrous enol-oxaloacetate daily for six weeks led to improvements in physical and mental fatigue.5 This same study found a benefit in “long COVID” patients, decreasing fatigue by up to 46% in six weeks.
Resveratrol and Anti-Aging
Resveratrol is the polyphenol (antioxidant) compound found in the skin of grapes (remember when everyone was talking about red wine being full of antioxidants and keeping you young?). More than 70 species of plants contain resveratrol for the purpose of protecting them from infections (bacterial and fungal), stress, injuries and UV radiation.2
Resveratrol provides many benefits including protection against glycation, oxidative stress, inflammation and their effects on aging and cell degeneration.2 It also modulates the processes of apoptosis (hitting the “auto-destruct” button on a diseased or damaged cell when appropriate) and autophagy (when the body clears away damaged or dead cells to make room for new healthy ones). Both these processes are critical for tissue function.
Due to its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, immune-modulating and cell-regulating properties (it can induce autophagy among other processes that affect cell function), resveratrol has been extensively studied in the realm of anti-aging. It’s been shown to extend the lifespan of species such as worms, fruit flies and mice.6,7 Meanwhile in humans, resveratrol has been shown beneficial in the prevention and management of cardiovascular diseases, neurodegenerative diseases and obesity,7 as well as type 2 diabetes and its resulting health complications.2,6
Its anti-aging properties also make it a promising treatment for age-related infertility since it can help promote greater egg quality and help protect aging follicles in the ovaries.8
Aging is something that all humans experience, but there are ways to slow cellular damage and dysfunction associated with aging. Supplementing with substances such as oxaloacetate found in AOR’s benaGene® and resveratrol are just two known examples for preventing the severity of age-related chronic diseases, and may be particularly helpful in conditions that accelerate damage such as type 2 diabetes. Of course, you can also assist your body by decreasing or avoiding things that cause damage. That includes following a low glycemic load diet (less simple carbohydrates and processed sugars), avoiding grilled and charred foods, increasing fiber intake, and avoiding smoking and smoke exposure.
1. Pizzino G, Irrera N, Cucinotta M, et al. (2017). Oxidative Stress: Harms and Benefits for Human Health. Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2017:8416763
2. Galiniak S, Aebisher D, Bartusik-Aebisher D. (2019). Health benefits of resveratrol administration. Acta Biochim Pol. 66(1):13-21
3. Cash A. (2009). Oxaloacetic Acid Supplementation as a Mimic of Calorie Restriction. Open Longevity Science. 3: 22-27
4. Williams DS, Cash A, Hamadani L, Diemer T. (2009). Oxaloacetate supplementation increases lifespan in Caenorhabditis elegans through an AMPK/FOXO-dependent pathway. Aging Cell. 8(6):765-8
5. Cash A, Kaufman DL. (2022). Oxaloacetate Treatment For Mental And Physical Fatigue In Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS) and Long-COVID fatigue patients: a non-randomized controlled clinical trial. J Transl Med. 20(1):295
6. Pyo IS, Yun S, Yoon YE, et al. (2020). Mechanisms of Aging and the Preventive Effects of Resveratrol on Age-Related Diseases. Molecules. 25(20):4649
7. Zhou DD, Luo M, Huang SY, et al. (2021). Effects and Mechanisms of Resveratrol on Aging and Age-Related Diseases. Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2021:9932218.
8. Bahramrezaie M, Amidi F, Aleyasin A, et al. (2019). Effects of resveratrol on VEGF & HIF1 genes expression in granulosa cells in the angiogenesis pathway and laboratory parameters of polycystic ovary syndrome: a triple-blind randomized clinical trial. J Assist Reprod Genet. 36(8):1701-1712