There are a number of relatively simple methods to lengthen life. Calorie restrictions via methods such as fasting and dietary restriction are highly accessible techniques, which can easily be done by anyone. Another method is to use anti-oxidant rich foods and supplements in your diet, such as fresh raw vegetables.
Now a new method has been discovered, which extends the anti-oxidant technique already in use. This method utilizes heavy water, which has anti-oxidant properties. According to the research already done on fruit flies, it doesn’t take much to have a major life-extending effect.
Could Drinking Heavy Atoms Lengthen Your Life?
In a back room of New Scientist’s offices in London, I sit down at a table with the Russian biochemist Mikhail Shchepinov. In front of us are two teaspoons and a brown glass bottle. Shchepinov opens the bottle, pours out a teaspoon of clear liquid and drinks it down. He smiles. It’s my turn.
I put a spoonful of the liquid in my mouth and swallow. It tastes slightly sweet, which is a surprise. I was expecting it to be exactly like water since that, in fact, is what it is – heavy water to be precise, chemical formula D2O. The D stands for deuterium, an isotope of hydrogen with an atomic mass of 2 instead of 1. Deuterium is what puts the heavy in heavy water. An ice cube made out of it would sink in normal water.
My sip of heavy water is the culmination of a long journey trying to get to the bottom of a remarkable claim that Shchepinov first made around 18 months ago. He believes he has discovered an elixir of youth, a way to drink (or more likely eat) your way to a longer life.
Many anti-aging medications are based on supplementing your body’s own defenses with antioxidant compounds such as vitamin C and beta-carotene, though there is scant evidence that this does any good.
Shchepinov realized there was another way to defeat free radicals. While he was familiarizing himself with research on aging, his day job involved a well-established – if slightly obscure – bit of chemistry called the isotope effect. On Christmas day 2006, it dawned on him that putting the two together could lead to a new way of postponing the ravages of time. Read the rest of this entry Â»