Keys to Longevity

Keys to Longevity

Let’s take some time to talk about a cool topic that’s getting a lot of media attention, which is how to live longer and what you can do to live longer and healthier for as long as you can. We’re going to talk about longevity a little bit. I recommend the book: Lifespan: Why We Age and Why We Don’t Have To, by David Sinclair. As an Orlando chiropractor, it was a fantastic read for me. It might be a little bit much for a lot of other readers unless you absolutely love this subject and you love some of the nitty-gritty biology and science that goes on in the book. It got me into the topic of what’s going on and the research out there.

First, we’ll delve into some of the cool longevity stuff that’s cutting edge. But then, more importantly, I’m going to put it aside because none of this matters to you yet. Unless you are an earthworm, or yeast, or maybe a hapless rodent running around a maze, you are not going to get the benefit of a lot of this new stuff that’s coming out, as far as longevity goes.

Understand that even if you wanted to do a lot of what these books claim is going to make people live longer in the future, you cannot do this yet. It is dangerous for you to try this even if you could get your hands on some of the stuff that they’re talking about. What really matters is the stuff that you can implement right now that will make you healthier for longer and probably live longer.

Why do we age?

So let’s jump right into it. A lot of people don’t even conceive of why we age. That’s the starting paradigm, is why do we age? Why do we get older, why do I have white hair coming in here, why do I have wrinkles on my face? How is this happening, and why does this happen? And it happens because your DNA doesn’t put itself together again, once it gets broken. You have about two trillion breaks in your DNA every single day from various causes. It’s just what happens. Your cells get damaged, the DNA gets damaged, it has to repackage itself back together to repair itself, and as that happens, your DNA doesn’t put itself together as well.

So, you have this DNA that was there before. When it gets put back together and repaired by your cells, it’s not as good as the original copy. And some of that breakdown is the wear and tear that turns into wrinkles and gray hairs and all kinds of other tissue damage and tissue decay that happens. It happens because this DNA doesn’t put itself together as well the second time around after it’s been injured. The good news is that if we can find a way for that DNA to put itself right back together like it was, you wouldn’t age at all.

Meet Sirtuins

The experimentation that’s happening now is on earthworms, and on yeast, and it’s on rats and mice, and it does not lend itself quite to humans just yet. But this testing is going to really allow us to do some of the more human clinical research. Something we round recently is sirtuins. Sirtuins are these protein enzymes that are in control of when your body goes to put that DNA back together. Does it do it in the right way, or does it do it kind of loosely and haphazardly? These sirtuins being flicked on allows your body to repackage that DNA a little bit better, a little bit tighter. You want these sirtuins to be working the best they can be. We’re trying to find the different chemicals that allow these sirtuins to upregulate and to do a better job packing DNA. What we found in the lab is that certain chemicals that we’re already using for other things helped to upregulate the sirtuin.


So one of the first that we came up with was Metformin. Metformin is a medication that a lot of Americans are on for Type 2 Diabetes because it helps to control your A1C numbers just a little bit better. What we also found is that Metformin helps to regulate these sirtuins, to help your DNA get repackaged a little bit better, and a little bit faster, and your body to go into this repair phase. A lot of researchers are taking Metformin right now to help with how their DNA is getting repackaged. It’s kind of crazy. We know that it’s safe. We just don’t know that it works here quite yet. But in the research, when you’re looking at mice, it works great.


This chemical is found on Easter Island, and there’s all kinds of uses for this stuff. Rapamycin is an anti-rejection medication that we use now for transplant recipients. What we’re finding is that it has a lot of other uses, and one of them is that it upregulates the sirtuins. Some longevity doctors, anti-aging doctors are starting to give this stuff to patients, but I do not recommend that you go find this stuff. The safety profile on this has not been completed yet. It’s not for you yet.

Resveratol and NR

Doctors have also found that resveratrol, the antioxidant that you find in red wine, upregulates sirtuins. We’ve also discovered another chemical called nicotinamide riboside, also called NR supplements, that you can get right now. It’s a derivative of B vitamins that upregulates these sirtuins. So your body needs this nicotinamide riboside to make these sirtuins work so that your body can repackage its DNA. And your body starts to run out of this nicotinamide riboside as you get a little bit older, so what we’re doing is we’re increasing the amount of that that you have in your system so that your body does its job. You can start taking this nicotinamide riboside now. In fact, I think we’re going to start carrying this at the office because that’s how strongly I believe in where the supplement is going, and it’s safe, and it’s easy enough to use.

HIIT Training

Another thing you can do right now is HITT training. High-intensity interval training is really important, and it’s been shown to shock the body back into that repair phase. If you do high-intensity training at least three times a week, your body is going to use these sirtuins to upregulate how much that DNA or how well that DNA is getting repackaged. High-intensity training is not froufrou stuff. It should be hard. It’s not supposed to be easy. It should be uncomfortable. Got to do it. Get in there and do it. I don’t care if it’s one of the gyms like Orangetheory or CrossFit, or if it’s just you flipping a tire through your own parking lot or your own yard. Do it. High-intensity interval, go hard at it, it’s going to make sure that not only are you stronger and fitter and ready to face the world, and you’re younger, as you’re older. It’s also going to maybe make you live longer. At least that’s what the research says.

Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting has been shown to increase longevity. Intermittent fasting helps to shock your body to think that it is actually fasting so that you get the benefit of your body turning on this switch to say, it’s time to repair things. So even better than intermittent fasting and the research is actual fasting, but I don’t really advocate that. It doesn’t lend itself to your day, most of the time, for most people. It doesn’t lend itself to the society that we live in for most people. So I don’t recommend full-on fasting, most of the time, I recommend this intermittent fasting. Pick a meal, skip that meal, crunch all of your eating into a shorter timeframe, and it’s going to do good things for you.

I know it’s hard because your body likes to be full. If it was so happy and nice to be starving, there would be a lot more thin people. Obesity would not be a problem here in the United States. It’s not that much fun to intermittently fast, but your body does get used to it very quickly. So I do recommend that if you try it, you’re going to find that after just a couple of short days,  your body’s going to get used to it, and it becomes much more tenable, much easier to stomach.

You need to avoid cellular damage as best you can. That’s smoking, that’s sunburns, that’s excessive X-rays and CT scans. Avoiding some of these things is going to be beneficial for cells to not be injured more. Also, I really talk about shocking your body in other ways. You can shock your body with a hot sauna, and you can shock your body with whole-body cryotherapy, or just a cold plunge. But doing that occasionally will also help your body to go into that repair phase.

In conclusion, there’s a lot that you can’t do yet, but there is also a lot that you can do right now. Intermittent fasting, high-intensity interval training, get good sleep, supplement with nicotinamide riboside, and resveratrol. And as always, hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.  And then the last thing that I do that also is kind of important is to maintain BMI. So I try and keep my BMI relatively tight. My bodyweight doesn’t fluctuate more than about three, four, or five pounds. And that’s good for you, as well. So I would recommend trying to get to a bodyweight that suits you, that keeps you happy. That keeps you somewhere in a good range for yourself and then keeping it pretty narrow in there. There are some studies that relate that to longevity. I encourage all of my Nightlight Chiropractic patients to take these steps to increase your personal longevity.

About Dr. Merrill

headshot of Dr merrill
Dr. Andrew Merrill is a passionate active clinician and owner of Nightlight Chiropractic Orlando where him and his team treat hundreds of patients each month. With a strong background in exercise science from Stetson University, clinical skills from Palmer College of Chiropractic, and continued postdoctoral training in spinal disc injuries and clinical nutrition, Dr. Merrill is very well versed in the healthcare landscape. With topics ranging from "what to do for common ailments" to "why the medical system is failing you" Dr. Merrill and this blog in particular aim to keep readers up to date on what the research shows and how you can put it into practice NOW to keep yourself healthy for a lifetime.