For as long as people have been living and dying, explorers have searched for a mythical “Fountain of Youth.”
While nobody ever found that, medical experts believe they’ve found longevity clues much closer to home: in our blood.
New research reveals that the blood of people who’ve lived over 100 years has certain similarities: specifically, they have lower levels of three key compounds.
“Those who made it to their hundredth birthday tended to have lower levels of glucose, creatinine and uric acid from their 60s onwards,” co-author Dr. Karin Modig, associate professor at Sweden’s Karolinska Institutet, wrote in the Conversation.
“Very few of the centenarians had a glucose level above 6.5 earlier in life, or a creatinine level above 125,” she added.
High creatinine levels can indicate kidney problems, and uric acid is linked to inflammation. High levels of glucose (or blood sugar) can lead to diabetes.
The study, published in the journal GeroScience, included data from 44,000 people in Sweden — born between 1893 and 1920 — who had health assessments at ages 64 through 99.
Researchers then followed up on these people for up to 35 years. Over 1,224 of them (2.7%) lived to be 100 years old.
Interestingly, the vast majority (85%) of the centenarians were female.
In addition to uric acid, glucose and creatinine, the researcher looked at levels of total cholesterol and iron.
“The people in the lowest out of five groups for levels of total cholesterol and iron had a lower chance of reaching 100 years as compared to those with higher levels,” Modig wrote.
The study stopped short of making specific lifestyle recommendations, but points toward certain factors and biomarkers in the blood that may influence longevity.
“It is reasonable to think that factors such as nutrition and alcohol intake play a role,” Modig wrote. “Keeping track of your kidney and liver values, as well as glucose and uric acid as you get older, is probably not a bad idea.”