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As you age, you might’ve started investing in anti-aging procedures to maintain a youthful appearance. These are undoubtedly effective, but there are things you can do that will improve your skin, hair, and nails from within. Not only that, but they can also enhance the results of your anti-aging treatments even further. That’s because if you’re not nourishing your health on a cellular level, chances are the external work you’re doing won’t be fully satisfied. Are we onto something here? In this Opinion Editorial, Leslie Kenny, Founder and CEO of Oxford Healthspan shares why she believes in spermidine.

What is spermidine?

You’re probably thinking, what on earth is spermidine? Why don’t I know about it already? It’s Japan’s best-kept anti-aging secret, the key word here being best-kept. Only recently has the mystery been brought to the market, and now… no one can stop talking about it and its miraculous anti-aging benefits.

Spermidine is a potent polyamine that is present in many Japanese foods like natto and long-fermented tofu. In fact, the long-lived Okinawans ferment theirs longer than anyone else in Japan. But you can also find it in shiitake mushrooms, certain types of aged cheese, amaranth grain, and highly concentrated wheatgerm. 

Your body naturally produces spermidine in your tissues and gut microbiome, but as with most things, you start making less and less as you age. So it’s important to make up this difference by increasing the amount you get from your diets or supplements. 

What makes spermidine an anti-aging ingredient?

Spermidine is essential for optimal cell health, with epidemiological statistics suggesting that increasing your uptake of it may delay aging (1) (2)

Autophagy: the mechanism behind spermidine’s anti-aging effects

Findings show spermidine can induce autophagy (3). In other words, it kickstarts your body’s cellular renewal. It’s important to know that cellular renewal inevitably slows down as you age. When your cells aren’t working at their optimum level, nothing is. Everything comes down to cell health, after all.

Autophagy is how your body “cleans up” your cells. It recycles what can still be used and gets rid of damaged, inefficient cells that can’t serve you any longer! As this process slows, telltale signs of aging begin to appear. These include wrinkles and fine lines, gray hair, hair loss, poor memory and disrupted sleep. 

As you can imagine, it’s no use preventing aging on the outside with cosmetic treatments like botox, filler, PRP facials and facelifts without optimising your health from within. If your cells are working efficiently and regenerating properly, you should see faster recovery times from these procedures too. 

Spermidine’s beauty benefits

Spermidine was found to act specifically on aging skin cells, increasing their elastin, collagen, and lipid production. This improves your skin’s overall barrier function and promotes a plumper, firmer appearance (4). Furthermore, spermidine doesn’t stop at the skin. It also benefits hair and nail health. Studies show that it potentially prolongs the first stage of the hair growth cycle and helps with hair loss (5)

Spermidine and weight loss

We can’t talk about autophagy and spermidine without mentioning their action as a calorie restriction mimetic (6). You see, autophagy also happens when you fast, and what does fasting do? It speeds up your metabolism and helps with weight loss. Another bonus! Weight loss is something most people struggle with in their mid-life. If you’re undertaking plastic surgery, spermidine can be very helpful, since it’s always recommended to be at your ideal weight for the best results. 

Spermidine and stem cells: Make your vampire facial last

Stem cells are no exception to the rule. They lose their ability to divide as you age and can’t be replaced when they’ve passed a certain point. This contributes to the outward signs of aging like graying hair, fine lines and wrinkles, and brittle nails.

Keeping your stem cells healthy can slow the ageing process down and prevent that new wrinkle you’ve been fretting about from forming! Not only this but having healthier stem cells can improve the effects of aesthetic procedures like PRP treatments.

A study has found that the use of polyamines, such as spermidine, can protect your cells from oxidative damage and improve their ‘stemness’ – their ability to differentiate into other cells. According to the study, “…these results support the idea that polyamines are able to manage both stem cell differentiation and cell oxidative damage, and therefore represent appealing tools for regenerative and cell-based applications”. (7)

Spermidine improves the quality of the stem cells by eliminating those that are dysfunctional, as well as cellular components such as mitochondria, through autophagy and mitophagy. 

Because these are the same stem cells that PRP isolates and injects into other parts of your body for rejuvenation, it stands to reason that having a healthier pool of stem cells to inject leads to better aesthetic outcomes. Theoretically, this should enhance the results of your PRP treatments, making it a potentially important tool for aestheticians and cosmetic practitioners as well as the customers themselves. 

Closing remarks

Whether you’re an aesthetician, visit the skin clinic frequently, or are looking to hack your age from the inside, you might want to add spermidine – either through food or supplements – to your anti-aging roster. We’d recommend increasing your spermidine uptake by a few months before undertaking any anti-aging treatment for the best results!

Leslie Kenny

Leslie Kenny

Oxford Healthspan was founded by Leslie Kenny, a Southern Californian entrepreneur and graduate of both Berkeley and Harvard, whose life was turned upside down when she was diagnosed with lupus and rheumatoid arthritis in her 30s. When her doctors told her lupus had a life expectancy of five years and that RA could only be managed, not cured, she set out to optimize her health as best she could with safe, natural solutions. She went back to school at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition in NYC, became a Bulletproof coach under health pioneer Dave Asprey, and took on health coaching clients worldwide. At the same time, she began helping life science academics at European universities, including Oxford (where she lives), to raise money for their discoveries. At a meeting with one such scientist, she learned about a natural compound called spermidine, abundant in nattō, a traditional Japanese dish that she had grown up with. Spermidine was showing great promise supporting health as we age. The science was compelling – one scientist even called it “an anti-aging vitamin” in a published scientific journal – and it was safe. Still, because it was natural, food-derived, and not a drug that would bring in more money, no one was interested in promoting it. Leslie immediately wanted her octogenarian mother back home in California to take it – especially since nattō is very hard to come by (it's pretty smelly, for one thing!) Unfortunately, spermidine wasn't available in the US (or really even known there). Spotting this unmet need, she decided to bring it to the US herself. Today, at age 56, Leslie is living proof that we can get better with age, so long as we take responsibility for our health and meet our doctors halfway. Spermidine is part of her anti-aging arsenal, and she hopes it will become part of yours too.


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