Antioxidants in certain fruit may activate ‘longevity gene’ seen in centenarians – expert

Lifestyle is central to healthy ageing, but the contribution of genetic factors is also important. Studies on some of the longest-living populations have shed light on the critical role of FOX03 in lifespan, dubbed the “longevity gene”. By activating this gene, one fruit may offer unparalleled protection against the damaging effects of free radicals.

A great portion of longevity research has been done in populations of centenarians whose lifespan is almost twice the predicted length of the relevant population at the time of birth.

This research has determined that a great number of centenarians carry a special variation of the FOX03 gene.

This gene works by encoding a factor that has a significant impact on ageing and age-related phenotypes.

More specifically, the FOX03 gene affects lifespan by regulating the stress response.

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Dietary habits like caloric restriction and prolonged fasting have both been linked to the activation of FOX03.

The addition of some dietary compounds may also be helpful in activating the gene too, as it transpires.

Doctor Sanjay Gupta explored these dietary components in his TV series Chasing Life with Doctor Sanjay Gupta.

In the series, the expert travelled to Okinawa Japan, which is a key member of the Blue Zones as it contains the world’s healthiest and longest-living populations.


“Hidden in all of our DNA is a gene called FOXO3. It can delay the ageing process, but it has to be activated by the right foods,” explains Doctor Gupta.

According to the expert, seaweed, and algae are touted as key components of the Okinawan diet that activate the body’s genes.

Another beneficial fruit is the bitter melon, adds the expert.

Doctor Gupta says: “There is a reason why foods like bitter melon have been preserved and passed down for generations in a place like Japan. They intuitively knew that this food was somehow good for you.”

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Bitter melon is a tropical vine that belongs to the gourd family and is cultivated around the world for its edible fruit.

It is rich in several micronutrients necessary for the prevention of weak bones, wound healing and disease prevention.

Astaxanthin found in seaweed has also displayed some of the highest antioxidant activity against free radicals.

These findings have emerged from the Kuakini Honolulu Heart Programme, which started in 1965 and has collected health-related data from more than 8,000 men in Okinawa.

The FOX03 has been measured in these subjects living both long and average-length lives, with longer-living men showing a particular version of the gene.

Other ways to extend lifespan

Healthy ageing occurs when the body’s biological processes remain stable in the face of different environments and physiological signals.

Under stressful conditions, the telomeres inside human cells shorten faster, contributing to accelerated ageing.

Inflammation is another component of stress that contributes to this process in significant ways.

Fortunately, both these factors can be managed through relaxation and a healthy diet.

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