Your days of chasing anti-aging fads are over. Scientists have uncovered the basic components of longevity and youth, and the rat race to find safe supplements that can keep humans young forever is on. While they’re a long way from the fountain of youth or a magic pill, they do have nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide. Otherwise known as NAD, this molecule has the power to regenerate cells through the production of new mitochondria and other actions that keep the human body young and energetic.
Like most things that your body needs to thrive, NAD levels drop with age. Luckily, there are seven things that you can do starting today to keep your levels high. While none of these lifestyle changes will make you live forever, there’s a lot of research that says they can help extend your life.
1. Take a nicotinamide riboside supplement
Also known simply as NR, nicotinamide riboside serves as a precursor to the production of NAD. An extensive body of research utilizing mice and yeast has shown that it can reverse cellular decay and stimulate the production of new mitochondria, fighting signs of aging from within cells throughout the body. This research started with resveratrol and its ability to deliver anti-aging benefits similar to those obtained through strict calorie restriction.
Since the molecule in resveratrol that works the magic isn’t readily available on the market, attention has turned to NR. It’s readily available through Niagen supplements and is backed by a growing body of research that proves its ability to increase longevity safely. The research will only get more impressive as more clinical trials in humans are completed. Some studies are in the works right now, but NR supplements are already available.
2. Load up on dairy
Research has shown that NR is a natural component of cow’s milk, but the amount and quality of the molecules varies between products. While you can drink more milk or incorporate more dairy products into your diet, don’t count on this alone giving you enough NR to significantly enhance your NAD levels. You’re likely to receive less than a milligram of NAD from a glass of milk, but NR supplements can provide 250 milligrams or more.
If you do want to eat more dairy for this benefit, organic milk products that aren’t heavily processed are your best options. Most research studies use raw cow’s milk, so a gallon of organic milk is more beneficial than a processed food that contains a bit of milk.
3. Embrace the intermittent fasting lifestyle
The science currently supporting the use of NAD-enhancing supplements for anti-aging benefits originated from research into the benefits of calorie restriction. It turns out that the amount and types of NAD present in your body have a direct correlation to other lifestyle factors, including how much you eat, what foods you eat and how much you move your body.
NADH is utilized in the transport chain that turns nutrients you consume into energy that your muscles and organs can use. NAD+ is the oxidized form of NAD and is needed to breakdown fat and glucose. If your body has high levels of NADH, it’s a sign that you’re providing more nutrients than your body can process for energy. Instead of going through the transport chain, NADH molecules collect in your body because they simply aren’t needed.
Higher levels of NAD+ molecules are more beneficial because they stimulate positive change in your cells that helps you fight many health conditions that otherwise come with aging, including high blood pressure and heart disease.
The best way to use up your NADH molecules and optimize your NADH:NAD+ ratio is to go longer periods of time without eating. Specifically, giving your body a break from processing sugar and carbohydrates can improve your NAD+ levels.
One study published in the journal Cell in 2012 found that rodents significantly increased the amount of NAD+ in their cells by fasting for 48 hours. Even though many intermittent fasting schedules don’t require you to fast for two days straight, you can still boost your NAD levels by developing a lifestyle that includes consistent calorie restriction through fasting.
4. Add more exercise into your daily life
There is a reason that anyone diagnosed with type II diabetes, heart disease and other life-threatening illnesses are typically advised to start exercising. It’s due partly to research that has shown the direct impact that exercise has on the balance of NADH and NAD+ in the body. The resulting increase in NAD+ levels can combat decay at the cellular level while enhancing energy and combating disease.
Studies have shown that resistance exercise increases AMPK activity, which in turn enhances NAD+ levels. There are a lot of other benefits that scientists are uncovering, but the takeaway here is that exercising daily can give your NAD levels a boost. Resistance training is the focus of most studies to date, but high-intensity interval training, otherwise known as HIIT, offers many health benefits as well.
5. Jump on the fermented foods bandwagon
Does it seem like everyone you know is drinking kombucha? Fermented foods are making a comeback due to a variety of health benefits, and that includes improving NAD+ levels. Fermentation requires the presence of NAD, so it only makes sense to enjoy fermented foods and drinks when trying to elevate your NAD levels. If you’re brave, you may even try fermenting foods at home.
6. Fat-adapt your body through the Ketogenic Diet
The Keto Diet is more than an alternative to the Adkin’s Diet. It started as a therapeutic treatment for patients with epilepsy but is now embraced around the world by health-conscious people interested in living longer, more energetic and productive lives. The diet is often combined with intermittent fasting because fasting is one of the best ways to put the human body into a state of ketosis.
Once in this state, ketones are produced and the body starts burning fat for energy. Followers of the Ketogenic lifestyle refer to this as being “fat-adapted.” Ketones are produced when there isn’t enough glucose available to supply energy to the brain and other organs. Most medical professionals recommend a period of fasting or at least severe carbohydrate restriction to reduce the amount of glucose and encourage ketone production.
There is some scientific research proving that ketosis and ketones can mimic the health benefits received from calorie restriction. It’s also believed to help with NAD production, but there is currently no research that compares the benefits of intermittent fasting with and without ketosis. Many people now assume that combining this diet with fasting will maximize benefits, but further research is needed to prove this assumption.
7. Relax in a sauna
Sitting in a sauna will do more than get your sweat rolling. The heat opens blood vessels and gets your heart pumping faster, increasing circulation and enhancing blood flow to the skin. This often results in pain reduction for people with inflammatory conditions like fibromyalgia, and many people with psoriasis and other skin conditions often find relief from itching by sitting in a sauna.
What does this have to do with your NAD levels? Many people also believe that sitting in the sauna helps stimulate NAD production because it mimics some of the physical effects of exercise. There isn’t much scientific evidence to prove a connection between NAD levels and time in the sauna, but there are other health benefits that make it worth giving the sauna a try.
How to Get Started
The advice given on this list isn’t new. Doctors have been telling people to eat nutrient-dense foods and exercise for many years, but science is now catching up with that advice. Researchers are starting to understand what certain foods and forms of exercise do inside the body on the cellular level, and they’re using that knowledge to determine which lifestyle factors contribute most to the aging process. That information is the key to living longer and feeling better throughout your lifetime.
If you don’t currently have a healthy lifestyle, start by eliminating sugar from your diet and limiting your carb intake. When your system is loaded with sugar and carbohydrates, you’re overwhelmed with NADH and the NAD ratio is thrown off balance. Simple intermittent fasting schedules are easy to implement without much deprivation and are a great place to begin boosting your NAD levels.