Fasting is one of my all-time favorite biohacks, partly because it does so many good things for you. Fasting burns fat[*], makes you live longer[*], turns your brain on[*], and reverses aging through autophagy — a process that replaces old or damaged parts of your cells with new versions, leaving you biologically younger[*].
I’ve spent the last year studying fasting and figuring out how to make it better. It turns out there are a lot of things you can do to make your fasts even more powerful, as well as ways to trick your body into thinking you’re fasting, even when you aren’t (you can read about all my fasting biohacks in my new book, Fast This Way).
In this article, I’m going to talk about one of the best ways you can mimic fasting, kick-off autophagy, and age backward. It’s called spermidine, and it’s as unusual as it sounds.
What is Spermidine?
First of all: yes, spermidine is found and was originally discovered in semen. That’s where it gets its name.
But it turns out spermidine is present in nearly all of your cells, and your body uses it to maintain cell growth and cell renewal.
Spermidine activates autophagy in your cells, cleaning out the parts that aren’t working and keeping your body young[*]. As you age, your cellular spermidine levels deplete, and you rely more and more on your gut bacteria to make enough spermidine to keep your cells strong[*].
The good news is that you can take spermidine precursors or supplements to boost your autophagy levels. Studies show that spermidine supplements reliably increase autophagy[*].
Spermidine is a powerful way to mimic fasting on days when you want to eat or to enhance your intermittent fast for even more benefits (personally, I use both fasting and spermidine supplements to maintain autophagy).
Benefits of Spermidine
Spermidine’s ability to mimic fasting comes with a variety of benefits. Here are some of the biggest ones.
Better Brain Function
Spermidine reduces inflammation in your brain cells and strengthens memory pathways in the brain[*]. A 2018 study found that older adults who took spermidine daily saw a significant improvement in memory and cognitive performance[*].
It also turns on autophagy, which clears out toxic proteins linked to neurodegenerative diseases like, Parkinson‘s and Alzheimer‘s[*][*][*].
Your mitochondria are the power plants of your cells, and if you make them stronger, your body will literally produce more energy. When you optimize your mitochondria, you become stronger, faster, smarter, and younger.
A 2020 study found that spermidine turns on mitochondrial biogenesis — in other words, it makes your body produce brand new mitochondria[*]. This particular study looked at mitochondria in heart cells. The researchers found that spermidine effectively reversed cardiac aging.
Stronger Cardiovascular Health
Spermidine is especially good for your heart.
A 2016 study found that spermidine protects against artery-blocking plaques that cause heart disease[*]. Spermidine activated autophagy, which decreased cholesterol and lipid formation on the surface of the plaques and prevented them from getting bigger.
Another study found that spermidine increases lifespan by protecting against age-related heart disease[*].
Spermidine may help you regrow hair, too.
A study found that spermidine prolongs the growth phase of hair follicles in both men and women, particularly in the case of genetic hair loss or hair loss due to hormonal changes (for example, after pregnancy or during menopause)[*][*]. This can improve hair growth and significantly reduce hair loss.
Spermidine also promotes keratin production, an essential part of hair growth[*].
Spermidine levels in your cells decrease with age, which decreases your cellular turnover and your cells’ ability to replace old or damaged parts[*]. Spermidine supplementation can replenish your spermidine levels and induce autophagy to reverse aging.
A 20-year-long study at the University of Innsbruck found that eating more spermidine-rich foods correlated with a 5-year increase in life expectancy and lower overall mortality[*].
Two other studies have found that spermidine supplements reduce markers of aging in animals[*] and decrease the risk of overall mortality, age-related cardiovascular disease, and age-related cancer in humans[*].
The Best Way to Take Spermidine
When I first began experimenting with spermidine, I couldn’t find any pure spermidine supplements. I tried a couple of synthetic compounds and several spermidine precursors but they were all either way too expensive, gross, or hard to obtain. They were also all intended for animal use, so I was taking a bit of a risk.
Then a few months ago, a friend in Switzerland sent me a new spermidine supplement from Austria called spermidineLIFE. The company recently expanded to the US (hopefully Canada is next on the list) and is the first to offer pure, natural spermidine in supplement form. They extract it from the non-GMO wheat germ and it’s the first spermidine supplement I’ve found that meets my criteria for clean ingredients.
Whether you fast, take a spermidine supplement, or do both like me, aging backward requires bringing your body to its full potential and youth, especially at a cellular level. Spermidine helps me maintain and enhance the benefits of fasting, even on days when I eat normally.
Spermidine is powerful stuff and I’ve been a big fan of it ever since I started taking it. The research behind it is excellent and it’s one of the most exciting new anti-aging compounds available.
If you’re in the US and you want to give it a try, I suggest spermidineLIFE (use code DAVE25 for 25% off your first purchase). It’s worth adding to your supplement routine, especially if you plan to live into triple digits as I do.