A group of scientists who study what makes some people live longer than others are now saying that one unique protein could be an important key to increased life expectancy.
They’ve made this discovery by investigating areas of the world where people tend to survive to an older age than in the rest of the world – locations that have been designated as “blue zones.” Within the category of blue zones, one little village named Ogimi, located in Okinawa, seems to be just about the bluest of all since its residents live to age 100 and more at a remarkable rate.
And in studying the impressive life expectancy of people in Ogimi, researchers have focused on a protein in their diet that appears to be crucial for supporting better health and postponing death.
And if it works for the folks of Ogimi, it might work for you…
Even though the people of Okinawa, a section of Japan, are well-known for living long and healthy lives, the longevity of the residents of the small village of Ogimi causes people in other parts of Okinawa to refer to it as the “longevity village.”
Consequently, researchers have focused on the residents of Ogimi to better understand why they’re living lives that are even healthier and more prolonged than the rest of the people in Okinawa.
In this research, one factor that has stood out is the unique diet of Ogimi which contains large amounts of seaweed and fermented soy foods that are particularly rich in a protein called l-serine.
L-serine promotes long life
L-serine is classified as a “non-essential” amino acid. That means your body can manufacture this compound, so you don’t necessarily have to consume it in food. But taking in extra amounts through your meals or with supplements is shown to produce solid support for improving your odds of living longer.1
Studies of l-serine continue to uncover remarkable health benefits. A review study in Asia that examined all the ways this protein can support the brain and central nervous system as you age resulted in an amazing discovery. Researchers found that, along with promoting the repair of neurons by neural stem cells, l-serine can improve blood flow to the brain and thereby help improve cognitive functions in seniors. At the same time, it can lower brain inflammation and help the brain maintain its process of “remyelination” – the reconstruction of the sheaths around neurons that ensure faster and more efficient communication among brain cells.2
Added to that, researchers in Mexico who have studied the benefits of l-serine and its close molecular cousin d-serine say they are so effective for brain support they might “reverse aging associated cognitive decline.”3
Looking deeper into how l-serine can protect nervous tissue, lab tests at the University of Miami show that this protein might be able to slow down the progression of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) – also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.4 You may recall that ALS is a progressive nerve disease that causes weakness in muscles and eventually becomes paralyzing. It is always fatal and there is no cure.
Essential for a healthier old age
A review study in Europe recently revealed many other l-serine benefits including:
- Lowered blood sugar and reduced damage from diabetes:As we age, our risk of high blood sugar climbs and so does our risk for diabetes. Studies show, however, that l-serine can boost insulin sensitivity and help the body lower blood glucose.5
- Improved sleep:One of the main complaints of older adults is poor sleep, and disturbed sleep is linked to a host of ills including an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease. But a study in Japan shows that taking l-serine supplements about 30 minutes before bed can help you sleep more peacefully and stay asleep through the night.6
- Reduced risk of heart disease:Lab tests show that l-serine may lower the chances of elevated homocysteine, a compound that raises your risk of heart attack and stroke. In one test, l-serine lowered homocysteine even when the liver had been damaged by alcohol consumption.7
“At 80 you’re merely a youth”
Researchers have noted that not only does the daily diet in Ogimi include significant amounts of l-serine, but their religious events and ritual meals also include foods rich in this protein.
Those foods are apparently an important factor in making Ogimi and its people remarkable when it comes to producing centenarians. It’s per capita rate of inhabitants who live past 100 is triple that of the U.S.
It’s also the reason that as you enter Ogimi, you pass a marker in Japanese that, translated, reads: “At 80, you’re merely a youth. At 90, if your ancestors invite you into heaven, ask them to wait until you are 100—then, you might consider it.”8
While more research is needed before we can say with certainty that l-serine is the anti-aging breakthrough these researchers think it is, the supplement appears to be safe. What’s more, it’s readily available and affordable if you’d like to add it to your anti-aging regimen.