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The Secret to Longer, Healthier and Happier lives? 20% Less Food!

The Secret to Longer, Healthier and Happier lives? 20% Less Food!

In a recent study by Harvard Medical School, which used data going back to the 1970s, Professor of medicine Francine Grodstein concluded that “diet makes a difference”. Plain and simple.

Francine Grodstein

Francine Grodstein

“The higher our body weight and body mass index, the less likely we are to live older, happier, healthier lives,” she said.

Well you may have preferred to hear about a breakthrough in a longevity magic bullet, or transferring DNA from animals that live for over 150 years to humans, but there’s no getting away from it. If you reduce your food intake by just a fifth, you will live a longer life.  This has been shown in animals too- reducing bodyweight by 20% in mice increased their lifespans.

William Mair

William Mair

William Mair, HSPH assistant professor of genetics and complex diseases, said a study that has gained a lot of attention found that reducing body weight by 20 percent in mice increased their longevity. It is even true for insects such as the fruit fly.

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By cutting down our food intake and body mass, we won’t live forever, but the quality of life should be better for longer. In other words all the morbidities that can afflict us will be pushed back to the last years of our lives.

Turning to avoiding mental disease, a promising area in warding off dementia involves taking up a personal challenge such as learning to play an instrument or to speak another language, said Thomas Perls, a Boston University professor of medicine and director of the New England Centenarian Study. However building up these mental functional reserves that seem to stave off or delay dementia don’t seem to apply to everyone. The brainiest most mentally advanced people can still succumb to dementia.

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A Two Centuries Old Fish: Could it Unlock the Secret of Longevity for Man?

A Two Centuries Old Fish: Could it Unlock the Secret of Longevity for Man?

There has been a buzz in the “can we extend human lives to 200 years” department following the catching of a 200 year old Shortracker Rockfish off Alaska’s coast. That fish was born there two centuries ago- before Alaska was a US State. It is the oldest Shortracker ever caught. It must also have been very lucky because many are hunted and eaten by predatory fish and so never see out their full life-span.

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With advances in stem cell research and DNA, this is yet another animal, like the naked mole rat, that may harbour secrets as to how we could manipulate our bodies to reduce ageing and promote longevity. Like the mole rat, this fish is no beauty to look at. It looks like a bloated shimmering orange goldfish.

Rockfish are some of the world’s oldest living fish, matched only by equally long-lived fish like the sturgeon, an ancient fish found in North America that can live to be more than a century old. There must be something special in the fish’s make up, because even discounting accidental death and being eaten by other fish or caught for food, most species of fish only live 2-8 years.

The previous record age for a caught rockfish was about 175-years-old, and that fish, at about 32.5-inches-long, was smaller than this latest catch.

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Let’s hope the fish is donated now to scientific longevity research, and not end up in a fish pie!

The History of the Quest for Immortality

The History of the Quest for Immortality

There’s a lot in the news at the moment about the search for immortality. People are living longer, and they say that someone has already been born that will live to be 150-200 years old. In fact the main funders for the search for immortality are billionaires.  When you stop and think and think about it, the reasons is obvious. They have more to lose when they die. You can’t take it with you! The most you can do is bequeath it to your heirs.. and you won’t be able to see them enjoy it. So billionaires want to live longer so they can enjoy their wealth for longer. That’s why they spend so much on research, looking for the elixir of eternal life.

Was it always the way that the rich sought paths to immortality to longer enjoy their richness? Yes. But they got ripped off a lot more!

In ancient China many all-powerful emperors died from consuming mercury-based potions given to them under the promise that it would make them live forever. Mercury is indeed a strange-looking substance- a shiny silver liquid metal. Looks like it could be the elixir of life… but no. It gives a slow and agonising departure from this world.

Fast-forward to 1492. There on his deathbed was Pope Innocent VIII. Three 10 year old boys were paid a ducat each to donate their blood to try to keep the old god-botherer alive. The boys died. And of course so did the Pontiff- probably from blood poisoning. I wonder which of them went to heaven?

The History of the Quest for Immortality

During the next two centuries centuries, it was the turn of thousands of European alchemists to hoodwink and swindle rich aristocrats with bogus potions for eternal life.  These elixirs (which often included mercury and arsenic) often gave off noxious and poisonous vapours that would eventually kill the alchemist (as well as failing to prolong the life of the Aristo).

The History of the Quest for Immortality

After World War I, thousands of rich old men (probably the donkeys who led the lions) opted for a more biological and glandular fountain of youth. They arranged for chimpanzee testicles to be grafted into their scrotums at Sergei Voronoff’s exclusive medical clinic on the French Riviera. Ouch. Must have been an issue for the undertaker- whether to remove the clearly failed extra-testicular activity, or leave it for all to see as they lay naked in the coffin! In the picture below Sergei and his brother George perform their quad-gonads operation.

IThe History of the Quest for Immortality

In 1971,  researchers declared that science would unravel all the mysteries of ageing within five years.  All you needed was the appropriate injection of finance…  Alas, that didn’t come to be. In fact five years later all we got was the San Francisco Chronicle reporting that “human life could be extended to 800 years.”  That same year, an outfit called Microwave Instrument Co. in Del Mar, California, said they’d have immortality drugs on the market within three years. They saw a connection between agitating the molecules of blood through microwaves and immortality. Oops. Next!

Just imagine if a rich person funded the creation of an immortality drug, and it succeeded. Would he or she share it with the rest of us for free? Come on! The only people who would benefit would be fellow billionaires.
I guess the moral of this article is that if you want to live forever, you’d better start getting very rich very soon!

Accidental Death: The Bane of Immortality

Accidental Death: The Bane of Immortality

It would seem that, if scientists, researchers, biologists and clinicians are to be believed, we should have found cures for many, if not all, of the things that kills us, in about a century. That’s Alzheimer’s, cancers, degenerative diseases, and even ageing.  So in a 100 years time, there we all are, not growing old, not falling ill, and virtually immortal.  What will we do? Go out and enjoy the rest of our lives, secure in the knowledge that we will not die. Unless of course we suffer an accident.

Accidental Death: The Bane of Immortality

As good as surgery and medicine will be in 100 years time, it will not be able to bring you back from the dead if you suffer a fatal accident. Drowning at sea, a nasty pile-up on the motorway, a plane crash, a fire, a fall off of a ladder that cause brain trauma- the list is almost endless.  What would we do to avoid accidentally terminating our immortality? Here’s a (admittedly pessimistic) take on this:

We would try to avoid all situations where a fatal accident could occur.  Why risk shortening your never-ending life-span? We would become a world of  risk-avoiders. Why risk travelling to a foreign land? Just watch it on TV in your secure air-tight protected shell of a world. Why risk physical inter-action with other humans? Many of them are mad, or dangerous, so why risk it? Contact them solely through the internet video. Much safer.  Physical activity? No thanks! Cycling, driving, running, all could lead to an accident or some sort that threatens your one trillion tomorrows.

Accidental Death: The Bane of Immortality

We would all settle into comfy armchairs alone in a room secure from the perils outside the door. The future a lonely sedentary existence that is really half-life. A life without the potential for danger is a life without the potential for quality. A living death?

Accidental Death: The Bane of Immortality

Pill to prolong your Life to 150 Years?

Pill to prolong your Life to 150 Years?

 It’s long been recognised that red wine, when taken in moderation, has a good effect on the human body.  Indeed, there are a number of people in their 80’s who take a glass of red a day. The wine contains resveratrol, an organic chemical, which is believed to have an anti-ageing effect through  boosting the activity of a protein SIRT1.

Pill to prolong your Life to 150 Years?

A pharmaceutical firm, GSK, are preparing to launch a concentrated and synthesised version of resveratrol.  It is being tested on people with certain medical conditions such as Type 2 Diabetes and the serious skin condition; psoriasis. But it could have a life-prolonging effect on all of us.

David Sinclair

David Sinclair

David Sinclair, professor of genetics at Harvard University, has said that ageing might not actually be an “irreversible affliction”.

He said: “Some of us could live to 150, but we won’t get there without more research.”

It seems that increasing SIRT1 activity improves how well our cells operate, making them less sluggish. Mice, bees and flies have been given the SIRT1-boosting compounds and have lived up to 50% longer.

Writing in the journal Science, Prof Sinclair claimed to have performed experiments which showed these resveratrol-based compounds were having a direct effect on health.  There have already been promising results in some trials with diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease and heart failure, Type II diabetes, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, fatty liver disease, cataracts, osteoporosis, muscle wasting, sleep disorders and inflammatory diseases such as psoriasis, arthritis and colitis.

Current trials not only are looking at how the compounds might help treat these age-related diseases, but if they can prevent their occurrence in healthy people. This is where it is possible, by reducing the likelihood of them occurring, that people on the drug will stay healthy for longer, and double their life span.