Surveys show most people do, but only a little bit longer. 75% do not wish to live to 100 and very few want to live to 120 even if that were possible. I am among the minority who want to live as long as is possible.
I think the key is where the emphasis lies; whether it is on the word live or on the word longer. People are concerned about quality of life in old age; things like losing their health, losing their mind, and losing their ability to live independently. I don’t want to live like that either. Those humans who live to a very advanced age, like the current record holder Jeanne Calmet who died in 1997 at the age of 122, don’t just live longer; they age slower. They stay healthy, vibrant, alert, and independent into advanced ages. Jeanne was still riding her bicycle at 100, a good 20 years after the average woman has already died.
Researchers are beginning to understand the mechanisms of aging and this makes it very likely they will uncover ways to slow it down; anti-aging drugs for example. At the end of this article I will list some natural substances that may affect gene expression and offer promising possibilities while research continues.
The Naked Mole Rat
The naked mole rat is an interesting creature when it comes to aging. First of all, they are very long-lived for animals of their type and size. But even more interesting, is that they don’t seem to show signs of aging. They live healthy and active lives into their third decade and then often just drop dead with no obvious cause. That is the way I want to do it. That’s the kind of aging that I think most people want, and while it is not likely we will be able to achieve it exactly, I certainly believe we can age much more gracefully than we do now.
Experts currently believe that the way we age is about 1/3 genetic and about 2/3 lifestyle. Jeanne Calmet obviously was dealt a very good genetic hand and that is likely the case for about all people who get past 100. About twenty years ago I told my doctor that I was concerned about my low body temperature and that maybe it was the sign of some metabolic problem. He told me the only thing I had to worry about was a long life because low body temperature was found in many long-lived men. I have since learned the other common biomarker is low insulin levels.
There is a known correlation between versions of the APoE gene and longevity. Various alleles are also known to be positively or negatively correlated with heart disease and neurological disease like Alzheimer’s. There are a set of genes called SIRT that are likely involved in aging. Given the complexity of human disease and aging there are likely many, many genes involved.
Regardless of your genetic makeup, most people can significantly impact the way they age through lifestyle choices. Most of the major disease of aging like cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and bone loss are significantly impacted by lifestyle. Just as importantly it also appears that loss of physical and mental function are just as sensitive to lifestyle choices as disease.
In a nutshell for physical health:
- Eat a low calorie diet
- Eat natural foods rather than man-made or processed foods
- Get most of your carbohydrates from low-glycemic fruits and vegetables
- Raw is better than cooked, because cooking destroys enzymes
- Get plenty of protein but try to avoid too much grain-fed meat; grass-fed and free-range are best
- Eat nuts and berries which are loaded with phyto-nutrients and antioxidants
- Eat plenty of the good fats from small fish, olive, coconut, and canola oils, nuts, and seeds
- Restrict sodium intake
- Supplement with non-contaminated fish oils, potassium (you don’t get enough), vitamin D (if you don’t get sunshine), selenium, and a good all-around vitamin and mineral mix. I recommend Life Extension Mix as I think it is unparalleled and is much cheaper than all the ingredients separately.
- Move, don’t sit. The human body is made to walk and move so walk and move as much as you can.
- Strengthen your muscles as muscular atrophy is the main reason for loss of physical function as you age
- Increase your maximum heart and lung capacity by short bursts of intense activity followed by rest. This is something like interval training but it consists of very intense intervals. Maximum heart and lung capacity are correlated with mortality. Constant aerobic activity does not increase maximum capacities and is less beneficial.
In a nutshell for brain health:
- Do everything listed in physical health because your brain is part of your physical body.
- It appears in the case of brain health, sustained aerobic activity increases nerve growth and reduces age-related loss of brain matter.
- All forms of exercise, including strength training, seem to protect brain health
- Be socially active. For whatever reason, it appears that maintaining an active social life (friends and family), confers a strong protective effect on the brain function.
- Cognitive exercise unambiguously reduces the risk and amount of cognitive decline associated with aging. Combining cognitive activities in a social setting seems particularly helpful (playing bridge with friends for example).
If there is any universally agreed upon way to extend life-span and enjoy healthy aging, it is calorie restriction. Calorie restriction is a semi-starvation diet that amounts to eating 30% fewer calories than you would normally eat to maintain weight. There is recent evidence that an alternate day calorie restricted diet in which every other day you eat 50% fewer calories may also provide the same benefit. There is a lot of research going on right now to uncover what genes or other processes are being activated in calorie restriction. Some genes known as SIRT are prime candidates. The goal is to come up with a way to mimic the effects of calorie restriction without having to half-starve yourself.
Resveratrol may be a miracle molecule. It is found in grapes and peanuts. There are indications it has anti-aging, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, anti-viral, neuro-protective, and cardio-protective effects. It can reduce both insulin and blood glucose, which are both markers for improved health and longevity. It seems to dramatically increase physical endurance if given in high enough doses. It is believed to be an activator of the SIRT longevity genes.
How much humans need to trigger these effects is disputed as is almost anything new. It may be more potent in sub-lingual form so it can be absorbed into the blood stream without being metabolized. Twinlab vitamins has just introduced a sub-lingual version. I am not waiting for further studies to get more evidence and judging from the shelves at vitamin shops neither are a lot of other people. It appears to be perfectly safe in massive doses far exceeding what anyone takes.
Quercetin has gotten a lot less attention, but it may also be another potent activator of the SIRT genes. There are many promising indications of various benefits in initial studies of this substance. It is found any many plants that are good for you like tea, green leafy vegetables, cruciferous vegetables, onions, and apples.
Fisetin is another activator of the SIRT genes and is found in strawberries. Some studies have shown it to be synergistic with resveratrol.
CR Mimetic Longevity Formula contains all three of these nutrients and more.
What do YOU think? Leave a comment and join the conversation.
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