While advances in modern medicine have considerably extended the human lifespan, those same advances don’t necessarily ensure one’s quality of life in later years. As a result, there is an ongoing discussion within the medical community around issues of quantity vs. quality of life. Many respected researchers are beginning to differentiate between lifespan and healthspan, a term used to denote the longevity of one’s ability to have full or nearly full cognition and vigor throughout one’s existence. In the quest for a greater healthspan, these same scientists are looking for substances that can ameliorate the aging process. One of the most promising substances seems to be alpha lipoic acid.

As it turns out, alpha lipoic acid has a wealth of health benefits. As a triple antioxidant, it is even viewed by some as an anti-aging formula. Interestingly, alpha lipoic acid does not appear to directly impact cells, but instead triggers the body’s own regenerative mechanisms so that the body can repair itself. Because it has what can truly be termed a holistic effect, the benefits of alpha lipoic acid are far reaching. For example, our glutathione levels lower as we age, which makes our bodies decay in response to free radicals and other environmental factors. Alpha lipoic acid appears to jump start glutathione production, thereby reversing that part of the aging process.

But beyond general antioxidant benefits, researchers are also discovering that alpha lipoic acid can impact and reverse the effects of many diseases, particularly those affecting the liver. Liver disease is often overlooked by the public and the mainstream media, but it is rampant throughout the U.S. Most people think of liver disease as it’s related to alcoholism or hepatitis C, but something called non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is reaching epidemic proportions in this country. Caused by diabetes, insulin resistance, and obesity, those who have NAFLD are often asymptomatic, and thus don’t get the medical care they need. Indeed, the only way NAFLD is readily detected is through a liver enzyme test – one that is not routinely administered.

Because alpha lipoic acid can help reverse the aging process and maintain our liver function, it is important that we make sure that our diets are rich in ALA. That’s easier said than done, however. Alpha lipoic acid is found in leafy green vegetables, as well as in organ meats (liver, kidney, and so forth) of animals. The easiest way to make sure you consumer the ALA you need, however, is through taking supplements.

Like many things in life, not all ALA supplements are created equally. When you’re in the market for a supplement, make sure to find one that is a triple antioxidant; in other words, it should contain not only alpha lipoic acid, but should also contain slymarin and selenium. Furthermore, make sure that the supplement is solubilized. Because our bodies contain so much water, our supplements need to be water-soluble. If you buy a supplement that isn’t solubilized, it is likely to pass right through your system and your body won’t reap any of its benefits.

There’s little doubt that alpha lipoic acid can help reverse the aging process and keep your liver healthy. When you take the right supplement, you’ll gain both lifespan and healthspan – a winning combination!

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