Longevity

 

Since the beginning of time, the humankind has had the wish to live a long and healthy life. There have been many stories written about the search for a life elixir promising eternal life. Many tests have been fatal throughout the journey of research for everlasting life. Longevity stays the wish for most people and the research within this science has increased enormously the last 20 years and billions of Dollars are being invested to find out how to extend the healthy lifespan, how to stop the aging process, and even how to reverse the effects of aging.

How far has the science of longevity come? Can we, today living people, benefit from the life-prolonging methods, which scientists are working on? What can we do to extend our healthy lifespan ourselves? We are living in thrilling times, let’s dive into the possibilities of creating a long and healthy life.

 

What does longevity mean exactly?

 

The synonym of longevity is ”long life” or ”a great duration of life”. In general, longevity is understood as ”a longer than average life”. When speaking about longevity today, this term is also connected with thoughts and methods on how to extend life and in particular how to extend the healthy lifespan.

Longevity is not to be mixed-up with ”life expectancy”. The definition for the latter is the average number of years remaining at a given age. The Healthy Life Expectancy (HALE) is the average number of years remaining living in full health.

During the last century, the human lifespan has increased enormously, due to better healthcare, improved safety procedures and equipment at workplaces, and therefore less deathly accidents. The mortality rate for infants and mothers at childbirth has also decreased significantly.

Around 1900 the global average life expectancy was not more than 50 years. In 2015 the global average life expectancy has increased to 70 years, in the industrial countries it is as high as 77 to almost 84 years. Jeanne Calment, France, is the person who has lived the longest, known and accepted because of well-documented statistics. She lived for 122 years, from 1875 to 1997. There are more cases of persons who have reached this high age or older, but they have unfortunately not been able to get verified by any documentation.

 

Crucial factors which determine your longevity

 

Long life

The main factors for studies of longevity are gender and genetics, and lifestyle choices including nutrition, exercise, hygiene, and access to health care. Another factor is the toxins we are exposed to throughout our lifetime, which very much depends on where we live, work, and what we eat.

Twin studies show that the genetics only account for 20-30% as a longevity factor. The lifestyle, or the environmental factors, accounts for as much as 70-80%, which actually is good news. This means we have the possibility to live a long life, even if have inherited a less advantageous genetic blueprint from our ancestors.

 

Longevity research

 

It has long been thought that aging is an inexorable process and that nothing can be done about it. It has though been known for a century that dietary restriction increases the healthspan, proven by animal models, and can prevent us from getting these diseases too early in life. But still, age-related diseases, such as cancer, heart attack, stroke, Alzheimer’s’ and, diabetes, only the symptoms are getting treated by the physicians and not the root of the problem.

In recent years the geroscience – the science of aging, and of age-related diseases – and regenerative medicine is attracting increasing interest. Especially now because of the demographic aging and the related increase in chronic diseases, which threatens the global economic prosperity and social stability.

As the global educational level has been raised enormously within the last century, the health awareness of people is also increasing.

All this leads to a profound desire to find the cause of aging and age-related diseases and the possibility to reverse the aging process.

 

Body cellsThe main goals of the longevity research are to find out how to

 

– slow down the aging process
– prevent and delay, and even eliminate age-related diseases
– extend the healthy lifespan
– increase the human life expectancy

 

 

Areas of Longevity Research:

 

There are two main approaches to interventions:

 

1. To understand the root causes of aging and prevent damage and prevent the development of a disease.

2. To repair the damages, carry out preventive maintenance, and to reverse aging.

 

Causes of aging

 

Oxidative stress

Atom - nucleus with protons and neutrons, electrons in grey colour

The cells in our body get damaged from the day of our birth, and the cell damage accelerates as we age. To a certain extent the cells can repair themselves, but sometimes the damage goes beyond repair. Mostly this is due to oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is considered to be a prime cause of aging and age-related diseases.


Oxidative stress occurs when oxygen in the body splits into single atoms with unpaired electrons. These unpaired atoms are called free radicals and they want to react with other atoms so the balance of electrons gets restored. These reactions cause damage to cells, proteins, and DNA.

Antioxidants prevent free radicals from « attacking » and reacting with other atoms.  The antioxidants can give an electron to a free radical without becoming destabilized themselves, and in this way stop the free radical chain reaction. It may sound like you must buy medicine for obtaining antioxidants, but it is much easier than that. The good news is that fruit and vegetables are a great protection against oxidative stress as they contain antioxidants.

 

Telomere shortening

 

Telomere endingsTelomeres are the caps at the end of each DNA strand that protect our chromosomes, that contain all our genetic data. As we age the telomeres get shorter and shorter. Each time a cell divides, the length of the telomere gets reduced. When they become short, they can’t protect the chromosomes anymore. This can lead to premature aging and diseases.

The good news is that we can control this process. The premature shortening of the telomeres can be prevented by a healthy lifestyle. Stress, smoking and excess weight speed up the process of telomere shortening. The best prevention is to avoid stress, stop smoking and to maintain a healthy weight.

 

High calory diet

 

Diet composition and the amount of food eaten, are decisive factors, considering longevity.

This has already been proven in a study made on rats in the 1930’s The study showed that by letting the rats eat less than usual, made them live longer. Since then there has been done a lot of research on the caloric restriction. Studies on feeding mice a ketogenic diet show that this kind of low-carb diet has helped to extend their lifespan. Other studies on monkeys letting them do intermittent fasting – fasting more than 8 hours per day, or one/two days a week – have shown positive results for increasing the lifespan.

 

 

Rejuvenation

 

Stem Cell Therapy

 

Stem cellsWhen talking about stem cells, most people think of embryonic stem cells, but not all stem cells come from an early embryo. We actually have stem cells in our bodies all our lives.

A stem cell is a cell that can renew itself. Stem cells can repair and replace tissue in the human body – this means stem cells are sort of a repair system for the body and can heal various disorders.

 

There are different kinds of stem cells in humans:

1. Embryonic stem cells (natural pluripotent* stem cells): grown in the laboratory from cells found in the early embryo. This kind of stem cells is subject to a controversy targeting the methods used to derive embryonic stem cells, which causes the destruction of a human embryo.

2. Adult stem cells (tissue stem cells) – these are in our bodies throughout our entire life.

3. Induced pluripotent* stem cells (‘reprogrammed’ stem cells) – these are stem cells generated from adult stem cells.

4. Amniotic stem cells (cord stem cells) – are stem cells from the umbilical cord itself.

* Pluripotent stem cells can generate any kind of cell in the body, any kind of tissue.

 

Stem Cell Therapy (SCT) is the treatment of various disorders by using stem cells – mainly from bone marrow, the placenta and, the umbilical cord.

Bone marrow transplantation has been used effectively for some decades as a cure for some kinds of cancer. Stem cell therapy has been showing a lot of promising results all over the world. Various sources for stem cells are being developed, in order to be used on stem-cell treatments for neurodegenerative diseases and conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and for healing injuries.

 

Gene therapy

 

Cells are the basic building blocks of all living organisms; in the human body, there are trillions of them. Within our cells, there are thousands of genes that provide the information for the production of specific proteins and enzymes. Genes are made up of DNA, which is the blueprint of the body. DNA carries the genetic information, that means that DNA contains the instructions an organism needs to develop, live and reproduce.

Gene therapy is a treatment in which the genetic material, DNA, is used to treat disorders or diseases.

 

Genetics - DNA, Chromosome, CellThere are several approaches to gene therapy:

– Replacing a mutated gene with a healthy copy of the gene.
– Inactivating a mutated gene that is malfunctioning.
– Supplement a new gene into the body to help fight a disease.

 

Gene therapy is a very promising field of treatment possibility for numerous diseases, for example, disorders such as cystic fibrosis, Alzheimer’s disease, arthritis, cancer and, cardiovascular diseases. This kind of therapy is still under study and to date, it is being tested only for diseases that have no other cures.

 

 

Further Longevity Research Areas

 

There are many further research areas within longevity, such as gene silencing, mitochondria elimination, blood therapy, senescent cell elimination and more. The future looks bright, it may someday in the near future be possible to extend the human healthy lifespan with decades compared with today. We seem to stand on the threshold to a life expectancy of 120 years or even more sooner than we may believe.

 

 

What can we do today to extend our healthy lifespan ourselves?

 

Fresh vegetables

Here is in short what you can do already now by yourself to prevent diseases and extend your lifespan:

 

Exercise regularly

Studies show that aging damages can be reversed by exercising moderately.

 

Eat plenty of vegetables and fruits

The antioxidants help to fight against the free radicals, and therefore help against premature aging.

 

Stop smoking

Smoking accelerates aging and increases the risk of getting diseases, in particular, cancer and lung diseases. Smoking also speeds up skin aging. So if you not only want to live longer but also want to look younger, it is highly recommended to stop smoking.

 

Limit alcohol consumption

Drinking too much alcohol causes a lot of damage to body and brain. The risk of getting heart diseases, cancer and, liver diseases among other diseases increases heavily.

 

Sleep enough – 7-9 hours a night

During the sleep our body regenerates. If we lack sleep the body can’t repair itself as good and the damages cumulate.

 

Manage your stress

Stress is most unhealthy for our body. Toxic substances develope within the body which increases the blood sugar and also make inflammations occur. It increases the risk of arthritis, arthrosis, overweight and diabetes.

 

Spend time with your family and friends

Decreases stress and increase the feel-good hormones in our body.

 


 

Change habits, step by stepStart to change your life today.

 

Choose one habit and change one after the other, step by step.
You will feel fitter, you will feel happier, you will look younger.
Above all, you will increase your chance to live a long and healthy life,
enjoying the wonders of the earth.

 

Do you want to know how to extend your life in a comfortable and relaxing way? Check out this blog: Reading Books Extend Your Life

 


Healthy Life – Happy Life – Long Life


 

I’d love to hear your comments. Please, leave a message in the comment box below.

 

20 Thoughts on “What Does Longevity Mean?”

  • This is an incredible post. The amount of helpful information here is above and beyond anything I expected when I started reading. This is a thorough guide for how we can do the proper things that will enable us to help ourselves live longer and healthier. I look forward to reading more interesting and educational articles here as this author continues to inspire us to do a better job of getting healthy.

    • Hello Frank,

      I’m so delighted to greet you once again here at my website. Thank you for your very kind and motivating comment. It is very fulfilling to hear that you find the content of this blog interesting and useful. My aim and purpose are to draw the attention to people of the importance of living a healthy life. The body is a healing “machine” of itself if we treat it with care and give it, what it needs to function properly.

      We are living in exciting times, each day scientists find out new ways of curing diseases and rejuvenating the body. Still, we have to make healthy choices and not depend on rejuvenation treatments. The best way to expand your healthy lifespan is to prevent aches and diseases, by eating healthy, doing exercises and avoiding toxic substances.

      Wish you a happy & healthy life!

      Pernilla

  • This is a wonderful article, it is in-depth, highly informative and well written. Kudos to the author and site creator.

    You have mentioned that in a study a ketogenic diet fed to rats performed in the 1930’a extended life span. Recently I went on the “Keto” Diet and not only have I lost 14 pounds, but I feel more energetic and my mental acuity is stronger. Going on a high protein, low carb, no sugar diet has surprised me; I actually feel full and satiated with less food and healthier foods. And I feel more alive.

    Natural organic foods such as animal protein, green leafy plants, and fruits were how our bodies were originally designed to consume, but we have altered our cravings and changed our lifestyles for the worse by eating unhealthy processed foods. This has to be reversed, and studies prove it.

    Great post, and I look forward to reading many more of your future posts on this excellent informative site.

    • Hello Kaju!

      How wonderful that you like this article. I’m very happy if I can inspire and motivate you to keep up the healthy way of living. Thank you very much for sharing your experiences with the “Keto” diet. What a brilliant result you have achieved, you are on the best way to expand your life with many years.

      It is true the “Keto” diet has been proved to be one of the healthiest diets – eating organic food, lots of vegetables, berries, nuts, and protein – preferably lean meat and fish. Sugar is extremely detrimental, it contains only empty calories and causes innumerable diseases. Processed food is, like you mentioned, devastating for our body and brain, especially processed oils. If we, all people in the world, only would stop eating sugar and processed oils, mankind would stretch the life expectancy near an average age of 100 years, I’m convinced by having read many studies and books about this topic.

      I hope to greet you once again further on and if you have any questions around healthy living, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

      Wish you a happy & healthy life!

      Pernilla

  • Good afternoon Pernilla,

    When I had my stupid operation in 2008 it was an anti-aging doctor who helped me back on track.
    A “normal” doctor takes action when you have an ailment. He will try to get rid of it with chemical medicines addressing the symptoms, not the cause as you rightly state in your article.
    An anti-aging doctor will try so you do not get those ailments in the first place and practices preventive medicine with bioidentical treatments.
    I have been looking into stem cells myself and have come to the conclusion that if ever I should need an operation I will look into this possibility first. Even if at the moment the insurance companies do not cover it yet. When they realize that the cost is much lower, no side effects and no need of rehabilitation I am sure they will start paying for it.
    It seems that stem cell treatment is also good for your brain and that would mean no more Alzheimers, Dementia etc.
    We have of course to be intelligent and lead a healthy lifestyle. Not such an easy thing to do as we are surrounded by radiation, eat foods contaminated by pesticides and often drink unhealthy water to only name a few.
    Thank you for this good article, people have to be informed there is hope. You should not accept getting older but not be able to enjoy life anymore.

    Regards, Taetske

    • Good afternoon Taetske,

      What a pleasure to greet you once again. Thank you very much for sharing your thoughts and experiences. These are really valuable inputs and, you have done interesting observations. You’ve hit the point exactly, today’s physicians still only treat the symptoms by giving medication and doing surgery. The root of the problem is not getting treated. How good that finally, some people are working on a change, and that there are some doctors working from a holistic point of view. The whole society needs a wake-up call and start to think out of a preventive perspective instead of aftercare measures.

      We are, indeed, surrounded by uncountable toxic substances and we often eat contaminated food nowadays. Most food is processed and contains unhealthy and artificial additives. The food does not contain the nutrients our body needs for proper functioning.

      Yes, you named it, we may not accept anyone saying it’s normal getting sick when getting older. We must learn how to supply our body with healthy food and as far as possible avoid any toxic substances and radiation.

      Look forward to hearing from you again.

      Wish you a happy & healthy life!

      Pernilla

  • Wow Pernilla – what an amazing post, full of great information and tips to help us achieve longevity.

    Today people are living for much longer than before and while I want to enjoy a long life myself, I also want it to be a life of quality to the end. There can be no worse a situation to find yourself in than living a long life plagued by disease, both physical and mental.

    We can’t change our genes and sometimes it can be challenging to choose or change the environment in which we find ourselves, but we can always find better ways to look after ourselves.

    I love your suggestions for how to increase our lifespan in this way. I’m happy to say I do give all of those attention, although the one that I find most challenging, is getting enough sleep and also finding more time for relaxation and recreation.

    I always put this down to being too busy but I don’t think that’s a very good excuse. Unless we make an effort to change, nothing changes.

    Thanks for the inspiration Pernilla! I look forward to reading more of your wonderful articles moving forward.

    ~Mark

    • Hello Mark,

      I’m so delighted to receive your positive comment on this post. Thank you very much for sharing your insightful thoughts!

      My aim is to share my knowledge about what we can do to live a long and healthy life. Living a long life is not desirable when suffering from pain and/ or memory loss. Therefore it is most important to know how to prevent illness.

      The field of Epigenetics is incredibly interesting. Until recently, it was believed the genes you were born with are totally responsible for how your body works throughout your life. But now scientists have found out that your genes get turned on and off and are expressed to greater or lesser degrees depending on lifestyle factors. We can actually control our wellbeing to a great extent – we are not bound to get ill if we treat our body with care and give it what it needs to function properly. When leading a healthy lifestyle we can keep the DNA sequences for illness turned off as well as prevent damage to the DNA. Isn’t this fantastic news?!

      The diet can affect the DNA and, depending on what you eat, the DNA gets damaged or the damage can be slowed down or even reversed. So you see how important it is to eat healthy food.

      Another factor disrupting the genetic activity is inadequate sleep. Sleep scientists and genetics experts have together examined the influence of sleep on gene function and discovered that just a single week of insufficient sleep altered the activity of over 700 genes. Therefore I highly recommend you to find the time for enough sleep, which will make you more productive during the time awake. Meditation is also a life-prolonging method, which helps your body to relax and your brain to regenerate.

      Hope my answer has given you some more “food for thoughts” concerning longevity and quality of life. I sincerely look forward to greeting you once again. If you have any questions about healthy living and related topics, please contact me.

      Wish you a happy & healthy life!

      Pernilla

      • Thanks Pernilla. You wrote just about another blog post! 🙂 I can tell that this is a subject you are very passionate about and one that you know a lot about. You definitely have given me a lot to think about and thank you for reminding me about the importance of sleep. I do meditate every day and have done so for a long time but getting enough sleep is one aspect of my life I will work on improving, thanks to you.

        I look forward to seeing you here again soon,
        Mark

        • Hello Mark!

          Wonderful to hear from you again! I’m very happy if I can motivate you to get enough sleep. It is excellent that you meditate every day, it can compensate a bit of your lack of sleep. More of my website visitors have asked questions about this topic. I’m planning to write a blog about the importance of a good quality sleep and how to sleep smarter.

          I’m very much looking forward to hearing from you again!

          All the best,

          Pernilla

  • Wow loved your article very informative with a lot of great information. I believe stem cells may be the healing process of the future. Reducing our stress and doing the steps you explained in your article are sure to help prolong our lives. One thing I took out of the paragraph was inflammation, this is the thing that makes us sick and causes many ailments in our body. We have to get rid of that to be healthier and feel good.

    • Hello Fred!

      How very nice to greet you so soon again. I’m so pleased to hear that you liked this article. Stem cell therapy is a very promising therapy. Looking forward to seeing how it develops in the future.

      Inflammation is something that we have to take more seriously, that’s true. By eating the right food, exercise regularly and sleep enough we can do much by ourselves to avoid getting chronical inflammations. The many toxic substances for example in the air, in hygiene products and in the food are also causing inflammation. It’s my aim to share the knowledge of how to avoid the bad things for our health and show people a way how to change their habits to healthier ones.

      Looking forward to hearing from you again.
      Pernilla

  • Hi, Pernilla,

    There was such a song “Forever Young.” Believe me or not, your inspiring post made me listen to it today once again and think what can I do to live healthier and high-quality life, and not “to perish like a fading horse” as the poet says!
    Thank you for covering so many topics in an easy to understand manner! It is much more clear to me what happens to my body, why am I getting older, and what can I do to slow down the aging process.
    I was happy to read that not everything is predefined. Just the opposite – I have the power to change my lifestyle and feel younger longer!
    Another takeaway is though there are complicated and maybe expensive solutions, the change might start pretty quickly and for free – for example, by eating more vegetables and fruit, quit smoking and spend more time with family (the latter I liked very much:)
    That’s why I loved the way you write – logical, simple and led to easy to implement solutions!
    You’ve mentioned healthy diets that I could start using. I would appreciate if you can dig deeper into this food topic – with what ingredients, recipes I could start? Any tactics, tips, and tricks will be of help to me, as my diet is one of the things I will have to start changing.

    Thank you

    • Hello Tony,

      I’m so delighted to hear that you got inspired by this post. Thank you for sharing your insightful thoughts on this topic.

      In the future, maybe sooner than we now assume, it will be possible to rejuvenate the body in various ways. There are many different sorts of studies and researches ongoing in the field of longevity. The best solution though is to prevent the damages of the cells in our body at a young age. The best would be that already the children learn how to live a healthy life. Anyhow it is never too late to change habits to better ones. Any improvement will help to repair damages in the body and slow down the aging process a bit. By following the basic steps I listed in this post, will help you far on your way to a longer and healthier life.

      In coming blogs I’m going to talk about what kind of diet is healthy for us. To start with you can check my Habit Changer Tips and start implementing them. For example drinking water, adding nuts and chia seeds to your daily diet. These are three very simple and healthy steps to take.

      I recommend changing your habits step by step as it takes some time to adjust to new habits. Changing many things at one time is overwhelming and we may not be strong enough to follow our intentions. Hope these tips help to start with. If you have any further questions about healthy living, please contact me, I’d love to support you on your way to a healthier life.

      Wish you a happy & healthy life!
      Pernilla

  • I like the idea of changing one habit at a time. I can see from your well-written article I have many of the critical obstacles to longevity in my way. Some of which I could change with habit changes. The worse one for me is the smoking. I have smoked for over 30 years. That is no excuse by any means but it does make it my hardest habit to break. I implement many other healthy practices by eating clean and etc. yet add a chemical toxin to my body all the time. It is a tough one!
    Wish me luck!

    • Hello Christina,

      Thank you for telling me your thoughts about changing habits. It is a fact that smoking shortens the lifespan. Smoking is a significant risk factor for developing severe diseases, like cancer, pulmonary and heart diseases, just to name a few of them. I’m sure you already know about all this. The great thing is that once you stop smoking, your health will improve and your body will begin to recover, isn’t that good news?

      If you want to change a habit, you have to make the decision to do it. There are habits which are easier and other harder to change. Smoking is the latter and you may need some additional help to be able to break this habit. There are different methods, like for example, acupuncture, hypnosis and, nicotine replacement therapy.

      Here are a couple of easy tips you can start to use instead of smoking: Sip water (with fresh pressed lemon or orange) through a straw, put something else in your mouth like a chewing gum or a mint leave, brush your teeth often. The most important whenever you have got the craving is, to think about the Reasons Why You Are Quitting – to be there for your loved ones as long as possible, to stay healthy and avoid painful diseases.

      Wish you best of luck, great strength, and a long, happy life!
      Pernilla

  • Thank you for a very detailed and helpful article about longevity. Science has actually contributed much to extending our life spans. But I think what is more important is the Quality of Life.

    During the last few years of my late Dad’s life, he was bed ridden. It was sad to see him in that state. He could walk from the bed to the bathroom with his walker. But no further. Every day, he would have his earphone jacked to his portable radio, and that would be his connection with the outside world.

    I don’t mind living longer. But I hope it would be with good Quality of Life. No, let me change that. I expect Fantastic Quality of Life. I would still like to be healthy, mobile, alert, and still be able to travel, enjoy good food, and much more. I believe science will make all that happen. Stem Cell Therapy and Gene Therapy seems to indicate the possibility of it coming true. I hope it will.

    • Hello Timotheus,

      I appreciate your comment very much and thank you for sharing your thoughts on this topic. Yes, you are perfectly right, a long life suffering from pain or immobility is not desirable. I’m very sorry to hear about the sufferings of your dad.
      As you say, the most important is to have a good quality of life. If we eat healthily, exercise regularly, sleep enough and avoid stress there is a very good chance we will have a good quality of life. Healthy living helps to prevent chronical diseases to develop and will most probably make us live as long as our body allows.
      In the future, there will be miraculous ways to heal the body from diseases and all kind of pain, I’m sure. Anyhow, the best is to take care of yourself and prevent illness and disease to break out in the first place.

      All the best,
      Pernilla

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