Xenohormesis: What Doesn’t Kill Plants May Make Us Stronger

Xenohormesis: What Doesn’t Kill Plants May Make Us Stronger
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A new concept in biology tries to explain why the consumption of certain natural compounds in plants may mimic the lifespan-enhancing benefits of caloric restriction.

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Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

A whole new theory has arisen to explain the mystery as to why so “[m]any plant molecules interact with and modulate key regulators of [our] physiology in ways that are beneficial to [our] health”—a theory called xenohormesis.

I touched on hormesis in my liquid smoke video. Basically, it’s the biological principle of no pain, no gain. Mild stresses, like exercise, can trigger a protective response that leads to strengthened defenses in the short term. But instead of exposing ourselves to the stressor to trigger our body’s defenses and shore up protection against future stressors, why not just let plants take the hit? Let the plants get stressed, because, incredibly, the stress-response molecules in plants may activate the same protective responses in humans. “Xenohormesis…explains [why] environmentally stressed plants produce bioactive compounds that can confer stress resistance and survival benefits to animals that consume them. [We] can [then] piggyback off [of their] sophisticated stress response.”

“Indeed, the majority of known health-beneficial effects of edible plants are attributable to the pharmacologically active substances of plants’ stress response.”

Hormesis may be why dietary restriction can lead to lifespan extension. The mild stress placed upon the body by not eating enough may activate a wide variety of protective pathways within the body, a whole cascade ramping up anti-inflammatory and antioxidant defenses. Our body is preparing itself for the coming famine it thinks is about to occur.

So, “[i]s there a way to exploit the benefits of [dietary restriction] to prevent chronic disease…?” Obviously, chronically restricting food intake is not a realistic health strategy for the majority of people…” It’s hard for most people to even cut food intake 10 or 20%, given the powerful evolutionary..drive..to eat… As a more feasible alternative, we may be able to activate [dietary restriction] induced stress response pathways by other means.” In other words, xenohormesis.

If you starve plants, they do the same thing—activate preservation pathways. So let’s let the plant face the adversity to create the molecules that trigger cell-stress resistance, altered metabolism, and disease resistance, then just come along and appropriate them for the same uses in our own bodies.

The reason phytonutrients like resveratrol in grapes, curcumin in the spice turmeric, and ECGC in green tea are called “dietary restriction mimetics” is that they mimic the physiological effects of dietary restriction. And. this may be no coincidence, because that’s why the plants produced these compounds in the first place—to save their own green butts from scarcity. So, instead of having to walk around starving all the time, thanks to xenohormesis, we may be able to let plants bear the brunt, and “enable us to harness other species’ hardships as a means to promote our own health.”

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to Stannered via Wikimedia

Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

A whole new theory has arisen to explain the mystery as to why so “[m]any plant molecules interact with and modulate key regulators of [our] physiology in ways that are beneficial to [our] health”—a theory called xenohormesis.

I touched on hormesis in my liquid smoke video. Basically, it’s the biological principle of no pain, no gain. Mild stresses, like exercise, can trigger a protective response that leads to strengthened defenses in the short term. But instead of exposing ourselves to the stressor to trigger our body’s defenses and shore up protection against future stressors, why not just let plants take the hit? Let the plants get stressed, because, incredibly, the stress-response molecules in plants may activate the same protective responses in humans. “Xenohormesis…explains [why] environmentally stressed plants produce bioactive compounds that can confer stress resistance and survival benefits to animals that consume them. [We] can [then] piggyback off [of their] sophisticated stress response.”

“Indeed, the majority of known health-beneficial effects of edible plants are attributable to the pharmacologically active substances of plants’ stress response.”

Hormesis may be why dietary restriction can lead to lifespan extension. The mild stress placed upon the body by not eating enough may activate a wide variety of protective pathways within the body, a whole cascade ramping up anti-inflammatory and antioxidant defenses. Our body is preparing itself for the coming famine it thinks is about to occur.

So, “[i]s there a way to exploit the benefits of [dietary restriction] to prevent chronic disease…?” Obviously, chronically restricting food intake is not a realistic health strategy for the majority of people…” It’s hard for most people to even cut food intake 10 or 20%, given the powerful evolutionary..drive..to eat… As a more feasible alternative, we may be able to activate [dietary restriction] induced stress response pathways by other means.” In other words, xenohormesis.

If you starve plants, they do the same thing—activate preservation pathways. So let’s let the plant face the adversity to create the molecules that trigger cell-stress resistance, altered metabolism, and disease resistance, then just come along and appropriate them for the same uses in our own bodies.

The reason phytonutrients like resveratrol in grapes, curcumin in the spice turmeric, and ECGC in green tea are called “dietary restriction mimetics” is that they mimic the physiological effects of dietary restriction. And. this may be no coincidence, because that’s why the plants produced these compounds in the first place—to save their own green butts from scarcity. So, instead of having to walk around starving all the time, thanks to xenohormesis, we may be able to let plants bear the brunt, and “enable us to harness other species’ hardships as a means to promote our own health.”

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to Stannered via Wikimedia

Nota del Doctor

If this subject interests you, be sure to see my last video, where I introduce the topic: Appropriating Plant Defenses.

I previously introduced the concept of hormesis in Enhanced Athletic Recovery without Undermining Adaptation and Is Liquid Smoke Flavoring Carcinogenic?

How else might we get the benefits of dietary restriction without starving ourselves? See:

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

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