The quest to find a cure for aging and prolong an active lifestyle has permeated our thoughts as long as written records have existed. Humans spend billions of dollars yearly on ant-aging treatments, creams, elixirs and other “promising” treatments in order to discover the formula for age reversal. And yet, a recent poll of scientists, innovators and thought leaders attending a conference in California showed that most of them did NOT want to live forever. This reaction is generally representative of the general population. Collecting more than 30,000 responses to the “living forever” question, researchers have concluded that 85% of the population polled did not want to live past 120 years of age and more than half agreed that 80 years was about how long they would like to live. The number of people who would want to live forever? About 5%! Yet one point the pollsters did not account for was the fact that if we lengthened our lives, if we lived longer, this longevity should be an ACTIVE life free of chronic disease and free of aging. Under these circumstances, that 5% would certainly increase. And in this line of thinking, there are some promising lines of research that could prolong an active lifestyle for…ever or at least for a few decades!
Number one on the list is nutrition. Michael Pollen is an award winning journalist and author who wrote the book “Food Rules” and states that rule number one is to eat real food, not too much and mostly plants. I have written extensively about the role of nutrition in longevity and chronic disease and this drives home the point. Eating “not too much” implies a sort of caloric restriction and we know from studies that caloric restriction does boost longevity by turning on a group of genes called “sirtuin”. This promotes different metabolic reactions which can lead to an increased lifespan by at least 25%. But one needs to take care to avoid malnutrition as it has been shown that to achieve this state, a caloric restriction of 40% is needed. Instead, as I have outlined in a previous post, use a combination of exercise and 2-3 twelve hour fasts (6pm-6am) weekly, along with 250mg Resveratrol to mimic the 40% caloric restriction. You will engage your sirtuin genes and promote longevity!
Number two is the drug METFORMIN. This is actually a treatment for type 2 diabetes but shows promise in terms of increasing longevity. Diabetics on metformin are living longer than non-diabetics who are not taking it. Taking metformin provides some of the benefits of caloric restriction. Metformin actually increases antioxidant protection and reduces chronic inflammation, the mechanism by which aging ravages our bodies.
Number three is to exchange old blood for new. As we age, our ability to recover from injury and protect against illness declines. In ongoing research, older mice were infused with the blood of younger mice and the result was that the older mice were indeed rejuvenated! Their brains became more plastic and malleable- a hallmark of youth. They learned and remembered information like their younger donors! Food for thought….
Number four is…well, if you were told there was an absolutely free treatment backed by hundreds of scientific papers that had shown to be effective in combating many different chronic diseases of aging, would you believe it? This miracle drug really exists and it is called EXERCISE! At age fifty we start to lose about 15% of our lean muscle mass and this increases to 30% per decade. And this muscle turns to fat! Exercise is very effective at reversing this phenomenon. Exercise decreases insulin resistance, protects against dementia, cancer and cardiovascular disease including hypertension and maintains lean muscle mass (decreases body fat). And YOU ARE NEVER TOO OLD TO START!!!!
Finally, it is wise to be small. Your height may give you advantages during your working years but it may contribute to an early demise. The taller you are, the more likely you are to develop cancer. The reasons remain unclear, but the association is documented.
So there you have it…your blueprint for living a bit or a lot longer. And an active lifestyle where your contributions to society are needed, at that! Thanks for reading. Comments are enjoyed and welcomed!