Recently my colleague, David Watumull (CEO of Cardax) and I were interviewed on Hawaii Public Radio about the secrets of how the Healthy Aging Gene (FOXO3) impacts mouse longevity and and how this applies to the average person’s health.
I have been collaborating with Dr. Richard Allsopp at the University of Hawaii’s John A. Burns School of Medicine on this subject.
Not surprisingly everyone wants to live a long, healthy life. Here are some of the questions I’ve been asked about FOXO3, the healthy aging gene:
Question: Why the excitement about the FOXO3 gene?
Answer: In 2008, Dr. Tim Donlon, Dr. Kamal Masaki, our Kuakini Hawaii Lifespan Study team and I discovered that a version of the FOXO3 gene was strongly associated with human longevity. Long-lived people usually had a special version. About one in three persons overall carry the “longevity” version. It markedly enhances survival and healthy aging.
Q: How did you determine this?
A: The Kuakini Honolulu Heart Program, which began in 1965, has collected extensive health-related data from more than 8,000 men of Japanese and Okinawan ancestry. We compared the FOXO3 genotype of long-lived and average-lived men in the program. Longer-lived men usually had a particular version.
Q: What if I don’t have the “longevity” version of the gene? Does it mean I won’t live as long?
A: Not necessarily. All of us have the FOXO3 gene. If you don’t have the longevity version, you can activate it to make it act like this version by practicing good health habits.
Q: How do I do that? Is it just a matter of popping a pill?
A: Eating the right food and taking supplements may help. The evidence is growing. However, to live a longer, healthier life involves more than tweaking a single gene. You must actually take care of yourself! That means exercise, good diet, moderate drinking, no smoking, good sleep habits, etc.
Q: What kinds of foods do you recommend?
A: Health-promoting micronutrients found in Okinawan sweet potatoes, turmeric, marine-based carotenoid-rich foods (e.g., seaweeds and kelp), and green tea are particularly potent.
Q: What about supplements?
A: As I’ve written before, one supplement that holds promise is astaxanthin. Two astaxanthin products you can get locally are Bioastin or Zanthosyn.
Q: What kind of research are you doing at UH right now?
A: We’re focused on studying the impact of Astaxanthin on healthy aging. We found a near doubling of activation of the FOXO3 in mice fed the Astaxanthin compound CDX-085. We are planning a similar study on humans.
Question: Can I buy the CDX-085 for my own use?
A: No, it’s still in development.
In future columns, we’ll talk more about how the average person can apply the lessons I have learned from this research to their own lifestyle.