There are only two "proven" ways to extend human life.
Well sure, there's always "eat right, exercise, get plenty of rest and take your vitamins," blah, blah, blah. All good advice, of course.
Oh, and there's the "free radical" theory of aging.
Free radicals are unstable molecules that have unpaired ("extra") electrons in their outer orbit. They occur mainly due to chemical pollutants in the atmosphere (like cigarette smoke), especially around heavily industrialized areas. The theory is that this "unbalance" in these molecules leads them to bond with other, healthy molecules, creating havoc on those healthy cells, much the way radiation can. Bad cells lead to illness and premature aging.
The fix is to balance the free radicals with "antioxidants." These are certain food molecules (found mostly in fruits and vegetables) that contain extra electrons in their outer orbit. Thus they naturally combine with and neutralize the the free radicals.
So the solution is to consume large helpings of vegetables and fruits -- or take the lazy man's way of gulping down high dosages of vitamins thought to have antioxidant properties, namely, Vitamins A, C and E.
But the scientific community is still undecided on this topic. There are no long-term studies to suggest that antioxidants can extend human life.
What's one, scientifically proven way to extend human life? Stop Eating.
Well, not completely. But, to be precise, you must cut back on your calorie intake by 30-40%.
Writer Jason Pontin reports in a July 8, 2007, New York Times article, "An Age-Defying Quest," (www.nytimes.com/2007/07/08/business/yourmoney/08stream.html ), that "biologists have known for 70 years that mice will live much longer when they are fed a nutritious diet with 30 to 40 percent fewer calories than they would normally eat...This could be an ancient evolutionary adaptation to scarcity and starvation." Hunger turns on the survival gene.
A long-term study by the National Institute of Health has been on-going at the University of Wisconsin. Dr. Richard Weindruch is a University of Wisconsin Professor of Medicine and a scientist at the Geriatric Research, Education and Clinical Center at Madison's VA Hospital. For 26 years, he has studied the retardation of aging by caloric restriction (CR).
Caloric Restriction (or CR) is now practiced by organized groups of "true believers" across the country. The C.R. Society, as they call themselves, tend to be vegans -- eschewing meats, dairy products and artificial additives.
What's the other -- newly discovered -- way to extend human life? Drink 1,000 bottles of red wine per day.
Harvard scientists, Dr. David Sinclair, a biochemist, and Dr. Christoph Westphal have discovered the Fountain of Youth-- and it flows red. Sinclair, in 2003 as the director of the Glenn Laboratories for the Biological Mechanisms of Aging, discovered a class of proteins called sirtuins that play a large role in the aging process. He further discovered a chemical called resveratrol that could activate sirtuins, building a defense mechanism in the human body to ward off degenerative diseases.
Resveratrol occurs naturally in red wine from the grape' skin. But in very low concentrations.
Dr. Sinclair's studies found that resveratrol "extends the life span of mice by as much as 24 percent and the life span of other animals, such as flies and fish, by as much as 59 percent." He believes that "resveratrol works by activating a gene called SIRT1, which many biologists think plays a fundamental, if still obscure, role in regulating life span in mammals. Scientists have shown that increasing the activity of SIRT1 in animals slows down aging and postpones or eliminates diseases of old age."
Scientists believe that resveratrol may work because it apparently mimics caloric restriction. Great news for those of us who love beef and haven't been very successful in long-term dieting. Oh, the amount of resveratrol found effective to extend life in mice could be reproduced in humans simply by consuming a thousand bottles of red wine (your choice of vintage) per day!
But just a minute. Drs. Sinclair and Westphal are developing a pill (YES!) that contains a concentrate of resveratrol equivalent to those thousand bottles. Their company, Sirtris (now owned by GlaxoSmithKline), is well along in the FDA approval process. Expected availability date: 2014. Can you wait?
For a heavy scientific explanation of SIRT1, read the article by David Sinclair in the April, 2009 issue of SEED ("Science is Culture") magazine, "The Achilles' Heel of Aging" (www.seedmagazine.com).
In other news: "Add 5 Good Years to Your Life" (taken from the UCLA Division of Geriatrics newsletter, HEALTHY Years, Volume 4G). "The human body has the potential to live for 110 or even 120 years, according to some studies, so the question is, what stops most of us from approaching those numbers? Well, barring...acts of God...and the inescapability of your genetic background...the obvious answer is 'how we live.' In other words, no matter what else happens, the choices we make about how to treat our bodies as we grow older can make all the difference, not only in the length of our lives, but , perhaps more importantly, the quality of our lives."
"Genetics do play a role, and sometimes so does luck," says Michelle Eslami, MD, of the UCLA Department of Geriatrics, "but in my experience, patients who have led healthy lifestyles--no smoking, not over-weight, regular exercise, travel, regular reading, and even those who continue working past the normal retirement age--seem to age more successfully."
"To pursue longevity, use the following LIST: DIET (fewer calories of 'good' food) EXERCISE -- regular ...cardiovascular work, strength training, and exercises for balance and flexibility MENTAL ACTIVITY -- Studies have shown that people who exercise their brains by reading, doing puzzles, learning languages, and consciously maintaining their cognitive and analytical skills do better than others at keeping those skills intact longer. SOCIALIZATION --Isolation and loneliness pose definite risks for both mental and physical health, while regular company of friends and family tends to shore up your health...It's also important to break out of our routines to take in new vistas and experiences. MEDICAL SENSIBILITY -- It's obvious --if you catch a problem early, you stand a good chance of nipping it in the bud."
Name the Singer & the Song:
(#18) "Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I'm sixty-four?"
If you know this one, reply on our CONTACT US page.
CBS 60 Minutes, "Red Wine and the Aging Process" 6/24/2009
"The Retardation of Aging and Disease by Dietary Restriction," by Drs. Roy Walford and Richard Weindruch, 1988