Many people when asked state that they would not like to live forever – that they’d find it boring or that they’d be sad to see everyone they love around them dying. Of course I take these points on board, but personally I could be quite happy living forever – the way I see it there are far too many things to do on Earth for me to ever get bored, and while other people you knew might pass away, you would of course be meeting new people all the time as you would still be active and out there and that would mean you’d never end up entirely alone. Anyway as this is a wholly imaginary scenario who’s to say that your friends and family can’t live forever too?
Anyway, it’s not an issue as you can’t live forever (yet). That said there are many ways you can help yourself to live for longer and to stay healthier and more alert as you do, and by following good health practices you can ensure that you are able to make the very most of the time you’ve been given and maybe squeeze out a little extra time to do the things you enjoy and spend time with the people you love. Here are some of the best ways to increase your lifespan.
Antioxidants are substances that combat free radicals in our system. Free radicals are substances that are lose in our system and which bombard our cells causing damage to the outside. This damage when focussed on our skin cells is what leads to the visible signs of ageing as we grow older – things like wrinkles and blemishes. However free radicals can also damage our DNA which occurs when they batter all the way through the cell walls in order to affect the nucleus. This is what results in imperfections in our genetic code as our cells split, leading to ageing and potentially cancer. By consuming antioxidants it’s possible to eradicate more of the free radicals and so limit this kind of damage. To get your antioxidants you should eat fruit and vegetables, oily fish, seeds and nuts.
Resveratrol is kind of like a ‘super’ antioxidant. The way this works is to improve the function of the mitochondria which are the parts which surround our cells and convert glucose into ATP for usable energy. While there’s a chance that resveratrol may be useful for enhancing energy levels, what we’re interested in it for here is the fact that it can further help to protect cells from free radicals.
In fact so effective is resveratrol, that it is believed to be the reasons that there is low incidence of heart problems in France. They eat a lot of fatty foods, and drink a lot, and yet they have healthy hearts and live for a long time (this is sometimes called the ‘French Paradox’) – and the reason is thought to be the high quantities of resveratrol in red wine (it’s found in red grapes). To get enough to notice any difference you’d have to consume huge amounts though, and unfortunately as a supplement it’s quite expensive.
Calorie restriction is essentially exactly what it sounds like – the process of eating fewer carbs. Many transhumanists and life extension enthusiasts follow this strategy surviving off of incredibly measly portions of food each day (less than you or I might eat for breakfast) in order to help themselves avoid age related diseases. This comes from a finding that the lifespan of mice can be increased by cutting their caloric intake in half (again due to increased mitochondrial function). Whether this applies to humans however remains to be seen, and there is unfortunately also a high risk of malnutrition which can lead to various other problems such as osteoporosis.
Growth hormone is a hormone produced by the pituitary gland which triggers the body to go into an anabolic and thus being repairing tissue and muscle. In childhood this is the hormone that triggers us to grow, but once our growth plates close over this is no longer possible and instead our bodies focus on repairing muscle and tissue. This can help to turn back the visible signs of ageing as it repairs skin cells damaged by the sun and general wear, but it may also be able to help reverse other age-related damaged. Unfortunately though growth hormone has not been properly studied when taken as a supplement and it does also carry with it potential risks such as dangerous growth of the heart.
Exercise can help to stave off many problems associated with ageing by increasing the production of natural growth hormone, improving circulation and respiration, increasing muscular strength and keeping the heart healthy. It’s also incredibly good for the brain and can help to keep problems such as obesity at bay which can have devastating effects on our health.
This is a rather broad category, but it would take a very long article to list every single thing that you need to avoid in order to avoid cutting into your lifespan. The most important things to avoid though of course are excessive alcohol, smoking, fatty foods and behaviours that put you at serious risk of injury.
Staying Mentally Active
Staying mentally active into old age has countless times proven to be one of the most important ways to stay youthful and avoid physical deterioration as well as mental. The link between the body and mind is a strong one, and it seems that once you decide to ‘give up’ your body takes the message.
These previous examples may help you to live longer, but living forever is impossible right? Well maybe not – and in fact it may be possible for you to live forever. That’s because of the amazing research and discoveries that are currently making immortality more and more of a possibility and there are several ways this might work. For instance recent research has illustrated the importance of ‘telomerase’ which are the ‘ribbon’ like structures at the end of DNA strands. Each time our DNA is copied during mitosis we normally lose the very end of the code in the process. The telomerase exist as a buffer – they are there in order to get chopped off each time so that the DNA doesn’t get affected. Eventually though these telomerase ‘run out’ and we start to cut into our actual genetic code resulting in the imperfections that start to creep in as we get older. Science then is looking at ways to increase the length of the telomerase and thereby extend the lifespan, or even ‘regenerate’ them entirely. This is one way in science may be able to help us achieve immortality, but there are many others. If you use the suggestions above to live a little longer, then who knows, maybe you’ll be around to take advantage of some of these techniques.