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Longevity gas

Joyce Hollman

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March 2021

The smelly secret to living longer

Here’s a riddle for you:


There’s a gas that smells like rotten eggs and is poisonous if inhaled. But when naturally produced in the body, researchers say it could be a smelly cure for Alzheimer’s and it may boost longevity.

Can you name the gas? Give up?


It’s hydrogen sulfide (H2S).


Strange, but true. When inhaled in large amounts, H2S is poisonous, but inside the body, it acts as a vital chemical messenger, one that we’re now finding out can help guard against life-threatening illnesses.


And we can help our bodies to produce more of this life-granting gas, simply by adjusting our diet.

Restricting amino acids protects against heart and liver disease

Dr. Rui Wang is a physiology researcher and is Dean of the Faculty of Science at York University in Canada. Dr. Wang has written extensively on hydrogen sulfide and its role in biology and disease prevention.


Last month, Dr. Wang, along with a group of Harvard researchers, performed a series of animal studies in which they restricted the intake of two sulphur amino acids — cysteine and methionine — to study what effects this had.

Restricting those two amino acids caused the animals to produce more H2S in their tissues, leading to a series of beneficial health effects.
They generated more new blood vessels, which improved their cardiovascular health, and showed greater resistance to oxidative stress in the liver, making them more resistant to liver disease.


But would this hold true for humans?


Amino acids in red meat linked to heart disease and diabetes

As it turns out, about a year ago, a group of researchers from Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine had already answered that question, and the answer was a resounding “yes.”


Using data from the nearly 12,000 adults in the NHANES III, a U.S. national nutrition survey, the study found that reducing dietary intake of sulphur amino acids was linked to lower cholesterol and blood glucose levels, and in turn, to a lower risk for heart disease, stroke and diabetes.


And, guess what? Cysteine and methionine — those two sulphur amino acids restricted in Dr. Wang’s research — are found in large quantities in red meat.

Hydrogen sulfide: Another reason to eat a plant-based diet

The upshot of all this research is that we should be limiting our intake of foods containing high levels of sulphur amino acids.


But since they’re most abundant in red meat, dairy products and eggs, it’s estimated that we eat about 2.5 times our daily requirement of them.


So, along with all the other good reasons to switch to a plant-based diet, we now know that it can have a direct impact on how long, and how healthfully, we get to live.


The irony of aging and protein

As our bodies age, they naturally produce less of their own protein, leaving our diet to pull more of the weight.


For non-meat eaters, the result can be a protein deficiency that, ironically, resembles many of the symptoms we usually write off as signs of the aging process:

  • Fatigue and sluggishness

  • Trouble building muscle mass

  • Muscle, bone and joint pain

  • Moodiness

  • Pre-diabetic blood sugar changes

  • Slow wound healing

  • Low immunity


As our bodies age, they naturally produce less of their own protein, leaving our diet to pull more of the weight.


For non-meat eaters, the result can be a protein deficiency that, ironically, resembles many of the symptoms we usually write off as signs of the aging process:


10 protein-rich vegetables

By selecting the right vegetables and consuming them in sufficient portions, you will get all the protein you need.


1. Soybeans


A cup of boiled soybeans contains 22g of protein, about as much as a 2-ounce serving of chicken. Dry-roasted soybeans, lightly salted, are a great snack, and have 37g of protein. Always choose non-GMO soybeans.


2. Tempeh


Tempeh is nothing more than fermented soybeans, sold in blocks similar to tofu, but protein-rich (tofu is made from soybean milk).

A 3-ounce tempeh ‘burger’ has about 19g of protein with none of the fat!


3. Lentils


Rich in selenium, zinc, copper and magnesium, lentils are versatile enough to be eaten in soups, stews, in burger form, and in salads. Half a cup of cooked lentils has about 9 grams of protein.


4. Sugar snap peas


Protein isn’t the first thing you think of when it comes to a green vegetable, but delicious sugar snap peas are an exception. Stir-fry them with tofu, tempeh, onions and peppers for 5 grams of protein per cup.


5. Potatoes


A large baked potato has about 8 grams of protein. Just watch the butter and sour cream! Top your potato with vegetarian chili that includes beans and tempeh for even more protein.


6. Broccoli rabe


More closely related to the turnip than to broccoli, this well-known superfood has an ounce of protein per ounce of vegetable.

But that’s not all. It’s packed with vitamins and minerals that support the heart, protect eyesight, and improve digestion. A half cup of broccoli rabe has over 100% of the RDA of Vitamin K, essential for blood clotting and bone strength.


7. White mushrooms


A cup of cooked white mushrooms has 2-3 grams of protein. Enjoy them sautéed with garlic and onions, in omelets or salads.


8. Corn


An ear of corn can net you 2-3g of protein. The protein in corn is incomplete protein, meaning it’s lacking in a few amino acids. Not a problem! Just pair it with some lentils and brown rice for a protein-rich meal or side dish. Try to get yours at the farmer’s market.


9. Artichoke


The easiest way to prepare this unique vegetable is to boil it whole, sprinkle with salt and drizzle with olive oil. You’ll be getting around 3.5g of protein.


10. Brussels sprouts


Roasting Brussels sprouts with garlic, onions and olive oil softens the naturally bitter flavor that puts some people off. A half cup will give you about 2g of protein.


The bottom line

Research shows that a plant based diet is beneficial to your health but if your a die hard meat eater just limit your intake of red meat and consume more veggies. Just doing this is a step to better health and longevity. 


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