Critical Health News

These days, most folks are aware that there are good and bad fats. Avocadoes, olives, nuts and seeds containing healthful Omega 3s and 6s are widely recognized as beneficial, while we've been told to avoid fried, hydrogenated and processed fats. For many, dairy is also verboten; Often patients are advised to stay away from milk and cheese, which are considered fodder foods for clogged arteries and heart disease. They are, we're told, high in so-called “saturated fat” (the “bad” kind), and they’re loaded with sodium, blamed for circulatory issues, hypertension and kidney problems.

But, as with all subjects that are “common knowledge”, things are not always so simple. Sure, it’s true that homogenized saturated fats are considered a cause of heart disease, the salt they contain may throw off electrolyte balances and swell blood volume burdening microscopic renal capillaries, but these foods also contain quality protein and beneficial minerals that are important for building muscles, bones and blood vessels, for strengthening the immune system, and for optimum functioning of the brain and nervous system.

Now, as it turns out, there’s a new dairy nutrient kid on the block. It’s found to be particularly abundant in cheese. According to a recent article published in the December 2016 edition of the journal Nature Medicine, eating enough of this nutrient may improve heart health and help you live longer too!

It’s called “spermidine”. Spermidine is a natural compound that has been found to extend the lifespan of lab rats even when the supplement was not given to them until middle age. Although scientists have long recognized that the substance can extend the life of simple organisms like fungi and fruit flies, this recent research represents the first time that anti-aging results have been reproduced in complex organisms.

Particularly copious quantities of Spermidine is found in various aged cheeses, including cheddar, gruyere, manchengo, Gouda and parmesan-type cheeses, as well as stronger variations like blue cheese and Roquefort. It is a naturally occurring molecule (scientists call a polyamine) that regulates many crucial cellular processes involving our DNA and genetic coding. It also plays a vital role in something called, “autophagy” (self-eating) . Autophagy is a biological mechanism responsible for the digestion and recycling of waste and toxins. This makes spermidine a biochemical Mr. Clean, helping to eliminate debris and toxins from each of the 100 trillion cells that compose our bodies. Polyamines like spermidine are also considered to be essential for cell growth, function and reproduction.

Spermidine also facilitates cellular communication. Healthy cells must be able to “talk” to each other, letting their neighbors know what they’re up to. As we get older however, our cell-cell rapport is less frequent and less clear; this makes it harder to create new, healthy tissue, and leads to many of the obvious signs of aging, including wrinkles, gray hair, deteriorating joints and failing organs. Communication between cells suffers, the cells and the bodies they make up are also less able to remove toxic and damaged material. The more toxic junk our cells accumulate, the faster our decrepitude and the more prone we are to disease. Growing research shows that many of these problems are due to the fact that, as the years go by, we produce less and poorer quality spermidine, but, by eating foods rich in spermidine, we can slow down the aging process and even help prevent certain illnesses, including cardiovascular disease.

While it is not yet 100% clear on how these findings translate to us, the authors of the study also surveyed 800 people about their diets. Participants reported how often they ate different foods, which contained different levels of spermidine. Those who ate more spermidine-abundant food had lower rates of heart failure and other cardiovascular diseases, as well as lower blood pressure. The study also found that spermidine may be able to mitigate the hypertensive effects of a high-salt diet, which has been linked to high blood pressure.

Another study done from University of Washington, Seattle at the Department of Pathology and published in the 2009 edition of Nature Cell Biology, showed how spermidine impacts cells and their gene expression. When yeast cells were treated with spermidine, they demonstrated lower stress levels and were able to rejuvenate faster. They also experienced less inflammation and proliferated at faster rates leading to a longer lifespan. These results were replicated in multiple organisms including worms, flies, and other insects. Researchers concluded that “Spermidine is a new longevity drug that can increase life span …possibly through an effect on…regulation of gene expression.”

So, go ahead and savor every bite of cheese. Feel secure in the knowledge that cheese is not the enemy of good health, but one of its close friends. Since one of the best defenses against premature aging and illness is to eat a broad diet containing all types of nutritionally- dense foods, consider enjoying other spermidine rich comestibles including:<

  • Wheat germ

  • Mushrooms

  • Meat

  • Leafy greens

  • Pears

  • Soybeans

  • Miso

  • Green peas

  • Shellfish

  • Broccoli

  • Cauliflower

  • Legumes

  • Potatoes

Spermidine found to lengthen lifespan in mice and to promote cardiovascular health

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