Acarbose: Benefits in Anti-Aging
Published by Dr. Venn-Watson
Dr. Eric Venn-Watson’s Highlights
Acarbose is an antidiabetic drug that may also have anti-aging effects.
The use of acarbose is limited to individuals who have type 2 diabetes.
You can support aging cells by taking a once-a-day cellular health supplement, like fatty15.
We all know aging is inevitable. Scientists and researchers have begun studying the process of aging as though it were a disease to be treated. While studying it this way, we can assess the specific biological and chemical events that lead to aging and attempt to treat them with anti-aging therapies.
One medication that has gained attention from researchers studying longevity is acarbose. This medication is usually sold under the brand name Precose®*. We’ll explore what this medication does and how it relates to longevity. First, it’s important to understand the medical condition it treats: high blood sugar in people with type 2 diabetes.
What Is Type 2 Diabetes?
Type 2 diabetes is a chronic illness affecting close to 40 million Americans. The average lifespan of someone with type 2 diabetes is about six years shorter than someone who does not have diabetes, and this refers to people whose diabetes is well managed with medication.
Type 2 diabetes is a disease in which blood sugar levels become too high. Two things happen in the body of a person with type 2 diabetes.
Insufficient Insulin Production. The pancreas removes glucose from the bloodstream and sends it to cells that need it for fuel. In a person who has type 2 diabetes, the pancreas cannot produce enough insulin to remove the high levels of glucose from the bloodstream.
Insulin Resistance. When insulin picks up glucose from the bloodstream and carries it to the cells that need it, the cells need to be able to receive it. In a person with type 2 diabetes, the cells have become resistant to insulin and don’t readily accept the glucose being delivered.
Before these two events occur, a person may become prediabetic, a condition in which they have impaired glucose tolerance but are not yet considered diabetic.
What Causes Type 2 Diabetes?
The exact reason cells become insulin resistant is not completely understood, but several factors commonly precede a type 2 diabetes diagnosis. These are:
- Being Overweight or Obese. Obesity is defined as having a BMI over 30. You are considered overweight if you have a BMI of 25 or over.
- Leading a Sedentary Lifestyle. A lifestyle of inactivity is also a precursor to developing diabetes.
Diabetes can shorten your lifespan and place you at a much higher risk of developing other negative health conditions, like high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and cardiovascular disease.
Diabetes is manageable through medications, diet, and exercise. It usually takes a combination of all three therapies for proper glycemic control. Acarbose is one such medication.
What Is Acarbose and How Does It Work?
Acarbose is a complex carbohydrate called an oligosaccharide. It reduces postprandial glucose levels (your blood sugar levels after eating). This means it helps your body establish a healthier blood glucose baseline.
How Does Acarbose Work?
Understanding acarbose’s mechanism of action involves understanding a little bit about how the gut works. The gut (the lower portions of the digestive tract like the intestines) is home to a microbiome of healthy bacteria. Interestingly, most of the body’s immune cells are also located in the gut.
The gut plays an important role in many bodily processes, including those that could help us live a longer, healthier life. Acarbose is a medication that works primarily in the gut.
When you take acarbose, it modulates the chemicals that break down carbohydrates in your bloodstream. To get a little scientific, acarbose is known as an alpha-amylase inhibitor. Alpha-amylase is an enzyme that breaks down carbohydrates into glucose. This helps keep your blood glucose levels lower.
Acarbose is an alpha-glucosidase inhibitor and regulates how a particular glucagon (glucagon-like peptide 1, or “GLP-1”) works. In the gut, acarbose increases levels of this glucagon.
This glucagon belongs to a group of hormones that enhance insulin secretion from the pancreas. Most of the cells that produce GLP-1 are found in the lining of the small intestine, which is why acarbose is effective in modulating them.
Increasing levels of GLP-1 can help regulate blood sugar levels. They can also work as an appetite suppressant for weight loss by interacting with receptors that control appetite and feelings of fullness. Too little of this hormone has been linked with increased rates of obesity.
We’ve established that acarbose is successful in helping regulate insulin dysfunction and hyperglycemia, but let’s examine why it is being studied for its effects on longevity.
Acarbose: The New Anti-Aging Drug?
Aging begins in our cells. Scientists have identified twelve hallmarks of aging, all of which relate to how cells age and eventually lose function.
In animal studies, acarbose is thought to extend life span by altering the gut microbiota. Unregulated glucose levels are associated with life-shortening illnesses, and acarbose helps improve the way blood glucose levels are regulated in the body, which is why it gained the interest of longevity researchers in the first place.
But there’s more. Scientists are further studying how changes in the gut microflora can affect cellular senescence, mitochondrial function, telomere attrition, and inflammation in the gut (several of the cellular hallmarks of aging).
It’s theorized that by modulating gut microbiota, acarbose could have the ability to modulate some of the cellular hallmarks of aging. Further testing will be needed to determine whether or not acarbose is relevant to anti-aging and suitable for being used for this purpose.
Can Acarbose Be Used Off-Label?
If you’re hoping to get a script for acarbose to lengthen your lifespan, you won’t have access to it unless you have type 2 diabetes mellitus. The FDA only approves this medication for type 2 diabetes treatment.
Are There Any Side Effects of Acarbose?
Because acarbose works in the gastrointestinal system, it carries a risk of gastrointestinal symptoms, like bloating and flatulence.
Hypoglycemia can occur if you are taking other antidiabetic drugs. Because acarbose is not typically useful as a monotherapy, you might be taking other medications or using it in connection with a diet and exercise routine. Your healthcare provider can help you understand whether or not it is a good option for you based on your biology and current medications.
Are There Known Drug Interactions With Acarbose?
Acarbose shouldn’t be taken with certain medications, like digoxin. It may increase hypoglycemic risk when you take it with other antidiabetic medications. Digestive enzyme supplements may decrease the effectiveness of acarbose.
Who Should Avoid This Medication?
Acarbose is not recommended for people with diabetic ketoacidosis, cirrhosis of the liver, inflammatory bowel disease, and colonic ulceration. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, talk to your healthcare provider before deciding to take acarbose.
As our cells age, we age. The health of our cells determines our biological age.
While acarbose may support certain cellular health markers, you probably won’t have access to it unless you suffer from type 2 diabetes and even if you do, there are some fairly unpleasant side effects. In the meantime, there are other ways you can support your cells and increase your longevity.
What Else Can You Do To Support Cellular Health?
Most of us have some kind of health plan to keep our bodies functioning properly. This might include a healthy diet, plenty of exercise, and managing stress levels well. There’s more we can do to keep our cells protected as we age.
One compound studied in connection with cellular health and longevity is pentadecanoic acid, or “C15:0.”
C15:0 is an essential, odd-chain, saturated fatty acid that has the ability to clear zombie cells, restore mitochondrial function, reopen the lines of cellular communication, and combat inflammaging, and as a result, has the ability to effectively reverse cellular aging.
How C15:0 Works
C15:0 helps keep your cells strong and rescues them from dysfunction by:
- Creating Stronger Cell Membranes. Cell membranes wear out as we age, causing our cells to become misshapen and weak. C15:0 is a sturdy fatty acid that integrates into cell membranes, improving their cellular strength by 80 percent.
- Clearing Damaged Cells. Zombie cells are no match for C15:0. By activating a protein called AMPK, C15:0 helps clear out damaged cells. AMPK also regulates glucose uptake and helps calm the immune system.
- Regulating Inflammatory Response. C15:0 significantly calms and lowers proinflammatory cytokines, a molecule directly linked to aging.
- Repairing Mitochondrial Function. C15:0 rescues our cells’ energy-generating pathways by increasing their ATP (energy) output by up to 350 percent and decreasing the reactive oxygen species they produce by 45 percent. Supporting the cells’ mitochondria can help ensure that cells carry out their functions.
- Activating PPARɑ and PPARẟ Receptors. These receptors play a role in regulating functions like sleep, appetite, and mood. C15:0 interacts with them, helping bring back the balance where it is needed.
Supporting your cells with a simple fatty acid? That’s a natural solution anyone can agree is a good idea.
How To Get C15:0
Chances are you aren’t getting C15:0 in your diet. Found primarily in whole dairy products, it would take added consumption of these foods (like full-fat butter and whole milk) to increase your circulating levels of C15:0. This would also mean taking in a lot of added calories and sugar (lactose).
A solution? Fatty15.
Fatty15: The C15:0 Supplement Your Cells Need
Taking fatty15 allows you to skip the cows and the calories. It’s the first and only supplement that contains the pure, vegan-friendly version of C15:0. Born from scientific research and carrying only one known side effect (less snacking between meals), it’s an easy and convenient way to improve your cellular health and enhance both your healthspan and lifespan.
Take Care of Your Cells, Take Care of Your Body
We’re just beginning to understand how increasing our lifespans exponentially might be possible. While we probe into the mechanics of certain drug therapies and lifestyle biohacks, there’s one thing you can do right now to support your cellular health. Taking fatty15 each day is an easy and safe way to improve your long-term health and wellness.
*PRECOSE® is a registered trademark of Bayer Pharmaceuticals.
Broader and safer clinically-relevant activities of pentadecanoic acid compared to omega-3: Evaluation of an emerging essential fatty acid across twelve primary human cell-based disease systems | PLOS ONE
Eric Venn-Watson M.D.
Senior Scientist, Co-Founder
Eric is a physician, U.S. Navy veteran, and Co-founder and COO of Seraphina Therapeutics. Eric served over 25 years as a Navy and Marine Corps physician, working with the special forces community to improve their health and fitness. Seraphina Therapeutics is a health and wellness company dedicated to advancing global health through the discovery of essential fatty acids and micronutrient therapeutics.
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