How to promote longevity via cellular health?

Maastricht, 21st June, 2024

Longevity refers to living a longer and healthier life. While aging is a natural process, it is possible to minimize the physical and cognitive decline that comes with it and reduce the risk of certain diseases. The question is: how to achieve this?

astaxanthin for cellular health

The body is a complex network of cells and tissues that communicate with each other to perform all its functions. This article will how longevity can be promoted at three levels:

  • Cellular health, notably by combatting oxidative stress and making the mitochondria work better
  • Organ health, notably by preventing arterial stiffness and by gut microbiota
  • Whole body health by enhancing mobility, brain fitness and mental wellness.


What is oxidative stress?

Oxidative stress occurs when there is a physiological imbalance between the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and the cell’s ability to neutralize them.

Mitochondria, the organelles that produce energy for cellular functions, are also a production site of ROS. That is because cellular respiration, the metabolic pathway in mitochondria that produces energy, also generates ROS (1).

ROS are oxidants that can cause damage to cellular components like proteins and DNA, leading to the formation of toxic compounds. One such compound is 4-hydroxy-2-nonenal (4-HNE), which amplifies oxidative stress by damaging cell membranes (2).

Although our bodies have endogenous defense systems to combat oxidative stress, their efficiency decreases with age. Therefore, it is crucial to support mitochondria for longevity and overall cell health by including antioxidant-rich foods in our diet.

For instance, vitamin C contributes to mitochondrial well-being (3). Therefore, consuming vitamin C-rich foods, such as citrus fruits, help maintain mitochondrial health and cellular homeostasis. Another example is Haematococcus pluvialis, a type of microalga, naturally produces one of the strongest antioxidants: astaxanthin.  Astaxanthin protects cell membrane by scavenging ROS in both the inner and outer layers (4).

quality of life and longevity

What is the effect of aging on tissue health?

The tissues in our body are composed of groups of cells that share similar features and functions. Tissues are prone to deterioration with age. For example, aging is a major risk factor for vascular dysfunction and the development of vascular diseases.

Elastin and collagen are proteins that provide mechanical properties to blood vessels, with elastin contributing to their elasticity and collagen to their rigidity. As blood vessels age, they tend to become stiffer due to a decrease in elastin fibers and an increase in collagen fibrils.

A metabolic reaction that can amplify vessel stiffness is glycation. This reaction occurs between sugars and amino groups from proteins, lipids or nucleic acids, resulting in the formation of advanced glycation end products (AGEs). While the formation of AGEs is a normal part of metabolism, high levels of AGEs in tissues and circulation can be harmful (5).


How to prevent cognitive and physical decline with age?

Changes at cellular and tissue levels are perceptible in the physical and mental state of the body. As we age, the loss of muscle mass leads to general mobility issues and reduced strength. By the age of 80, 30% of muscle mass is lost, and this percentage can be higher if physical inactivity is combined with poor nutrition (6).  This decline in muscle capacity is partly due to a decrease in both the number and functionality of mitochondria, resulting in less energy being produced for muscle tissues.

Additionally, aging makes problem-solving and memorization more challenging. Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is a protein crucial for neuronal cell survival and plasticity. It plays a key role in the generation of neurons in the central nervous system.

A balanced diet rich in red fruits is beneficial for cognitive health because of their high anthocyanins content, molecules known for their positive and protective effects on the nervous tissues (7).  Studies have shown that a one-week supplementation of 180mg anthocyanin per day increased BDNF levels in healthy young adults (8).


Therefore, to promote longevity, it is important to include antioxidant-rich foods, stay mentally active, consume enough protein to support muscle mass, stay well-hydrated, and get sufficient sleep. Moreover, specific supplementation with nutrients that stimulate mitochondrial efficiency, protect arteries, promote brain fitness, mobility and mental wellness will further boost cellular health and overall longevity.