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Several factors determine longevity, but none are more influential than genetics and lifestyle. A good genetic make-up has the ability to boost the body’s defences against several ageing factors; most importantly illness. When food containing polyphenols is consumed, these innate defences are boosted. Certain antioxidants, however, have a unique ability to activate unique genes associated with a longer lifespan.
Quercetin is a plant-derived flavonoid found in fruits, vegetables and teas, particularly apples, onions, parsley sage, and citrus fruits.
It is known to possess multiple bioactive properties that act as an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-cancer agent.
To confirm the influence of these factors on longevity, some studies have probed the effects of quercetin on human genes, namely the FOXO3 gene.
Put simply, the FOXO3 gene promotes a longer lifespan in humans.
One of the most reliable ways to activate the longevity gene is through caloric restriction and intermittent fasting.
However, Doctor Bradley Willcox, MD, Professor and Director of Research at the Department of Geriatric Medicine, JABSOM, has previously shown that certain antioxidants may also switch on the gene.
The expert explained in a 2017 report that all humans carry the FOXO3 gene, which exists in multiple variations.
One in three people carry a version of the FOXO3 gene that is associated with longevity, explained doctor Willcox.
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He noted: “By activating the FOXO3 gene common in all humans, we can make it act like the ‘longevity’ version.”
The expert’s preliminary research showed that consuming foods rich in astaxanthin could help achieve this.
Last year, a report published in the journal Molecules claimed that the antioxidant quercetin may exert comparable effects.
The authors stated that the antioxidant activity of the compound rendered it useful in the treatment of various health-related issues.
This was confined by research published in the Korean Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology, which showed quercetin reduced the viability of breast cancer cells.
During their study, researchers discovered that effects occurred through the activation of the FOXO3 gene, suggesting it may have a role in longevity too.
For the research a quercetin derivative was used to study cardiac dysfunction, scavenging free radicals and reducing lipid oxidation.
The researchers found that quercetin activated the signalling pathway JNK after three to 12 hours of quercetin treatment.
“However, the other signalling pathway activation showed no significant alteration by quercetin,” they noted.
This led the researchers to conclude that “quercetin increased FOXO3A activity via activation of JNK signalling pathway”.
Aside from prolonging the human lifespan, this may give quercetin a role in lowering coagulation, hyperglycemia, inflammation and hypertension.
Though the antioxidant can be taken as a supplement, there are ample amounts of it available in plant-based foods.
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