Kevin Bae

Non-Social in a Socially Networked World

Science is creating vampires to stave off aging

First they started with mice.

The infusion of new blood led to a threefold increase in the number of new nerve cells generated in the brains of the elderly mice. But that was not the only revelation. He had already shown that the young members of the conjoined old-young mouse pairs generated far fewer new nerve cells than young mice left to roam free, untethered to their elderly cousins. And while the old mice grew more energetic, the younger mice suddenly behaved as if they were middle-aged.


Now they’re coming for the people.

In 2016, a former Stanford Medical School student named Jesse Karmazin, opened up Ambrosia, a clinic in Monterey, California, offering to infuse clients with the blood of donors between the ages of 16 and 25 for $8000 a liter.


How long until we’re harvesting baby blood!!

But seriously… this was part of a long article on aging and what scientists are doing to thwart its effects. The article goes through a litany of pharmaceutical interventions and research for new drugs but side stepped this gem in the middle of the story.

Emerging science now explains why there may be something to this method of bio-hacking. In humans, insulin is the hormonal signal that cues our cells to absorb sugar and convert it to energy. Along with a closely related hormone called Insulin like-Growth Factor 1 (IGF1), insulin affects a large number of other cellular processes, including the rate of cellular division, which many believe is directly related to aging. When the insulin and IGF1 in humans or analogous compounds in worms are dialed down—because we are starving, or the genes have been tweaked—a host of cellular repair mechanisms that are normally on standby kick into high-gear.

The adaptation makes sense from the perspective of evolution. Prehistoric times consisted of long periods of scarcity punctuated by precious windows of abundance. Since there was no telling how long the good times would last, our ancestors evolved the ability to grow and build fat and muscle as quickly as possible. A feast triggered the body to release insulin and IGF1, which allowed our cells to begin absorbing glucose and spurred them to pour energy into cellular reproduction and regeneration for as long as our insulin levels remain high.

When calories were no longer easy to come by, our bodies adjusted by lowering insulin and IGF1 levels—a cue for our cells to slow regeneration and reproduction, and instead divert energy into cellular processes most likely to facilitate our survival through cold, lean times. The human body protects cells it already has: it produces more enzymes to ensure proteins don’t misfold, it ramps up the machinery designed to repair broken DNA and it breaks down cellular debris and defective cells it might otherwise ignore, scavenging for parts it can use to feed its healthier cells through the lean days. In the process, it cleans up cellular garbage that, particularly as we grow older, likely promotes low-level inflammation.


Do you know what non-pharmaceutical interventions exist that directly addresses this problem? A low carbohydrate diet combined with intermittent fasting.

A low carbohydrate diet doesn’t trigger insulin and makes your body more sensitive to it over time. The lack of insulin in your blood tells your body to use the energy already stored and to go in to cellular repair mode. Intermittent fasting aids in that effort by not spiking your insulin levels several times through out the day.

Instead of buying pharmaceuticals in the quest to live forever why not exercise to maintain strength and flexibility and stop eating so much (especially sugars and carbohydrates) and so often to give your body a chance to repair. You won’t spend thousands on drugs and their potential side effects and you’ll save money on all the food you won’t be eating.

Image by OpenClipart-Vectors from Pixabay