Man has always been enamored of eternal youth. Mythology and folklore are full of stories about characters, elixirs, and even fountains that will never let you age.
Dr. Nir Barzilai is the pioneer researcher of our times. He heads multiple research teams across the globe trying to understand what extends quality aging. His scientific studies are about the process of aging, the genes behind it, biomarkers that accurately identify the age, and most importantly how we can target it.
What is Age anyways ? - Chronological vs Biological Aging
Chronological age or simply age as we all know it - was always defined as the time we spent from the moment we were born. Scientists recognized "How different people age", and they discovered that surprisingly, your cells and organs might not be as old as you after all !
The need for a true reflection of the actual age of our cells motivated scientists to develop what's known as biological age. Biological age is a more accurate representation of what is happening inside the body.
Scientists have been researching deeply about how to calculate biological age. The American Federation for Aging Research has proposed criteria for the hallmark of biological age. These now include Telomere Length, DNA mAge, Inflammation parameter through interleukin (IL-6), and many more. These hallmarks are your current status of biological age. The interesting thing is that all hallmarks are interconnected and are in sync. Changing one will change the others.
If you intervene in one hallmark or two in combination, for additive effect, the hallmarks start showing the signs of age reversal !
Video Chapters from the Conversation(Click)
- Introduction - Can we target Aging ?
- Managing Longevity through Drugs, Environment and Genetics
- Aging: Mother of all Conditions ?
- Centennarian Paradox
- Genes: A risk factor?
- Peter Pan vs Dorian Grey
- Biological vs Chronological Age ?
- Biological Hallmarks of Aging
- Lifestyle Choices and Diet
Managing Age: Studying the Centenarians
Managing age seems like science fiction but Dr. Nir Barzilai points out that in the past humans as species were having a life expectancy of only between 25 to 35 years. Over the ages, humans were able to figure out freshwater, sewers, surgery, vaccinations, and extended their average lifespan. We are now at the cusp of extending it even more by understanding the biology of aging.
We made a deal with the Devil. We figured out fresh water, surgery, vaccines to extend our lifepan. In return we received alzheimer's, cancer, diabetes - diseases that did not exist before. But now we are forging a new deal !
Genes seem to be a lottery affair. A common conception is that much of longevity is driven through genes. But Dr. Nir points out that many centenarians inherit bad genes and never see them get activated! Additionally, those who do suffer, do not see any signs till they reach a certain age even though they carry the genes from day one.
It is thus evident that age acts as a trigger mechanism and activates inherited genes. The hypothesis is that if the aging mechanism is targeted and never lets your body reach to certain biological age, we may never see the diseases in action. Dr. Nir's team has identified several drugs that can be repurposed as longevity drugs and are available after physician consultation.
We are finding mechanisms that can immediately be translated into drugs and therapies on the basis (in part) of our centenarian studies
Dr. Nir is running a study with 750 centenarian families and they have found that living 100 years does not equate to more sick years. In fact, they have 20 to 30 healthier lifespan years in comparison. They also exhibit compression of morbidity meaning they are sick but they are sick for a very little amount. That adds a lot of benefit to the society
CDC data shows the cost of medical in last two years for people who live till 100 years is only one-third to the cost of people who die in their 70s
Apart from medical costs, people who live longer tend to contribute extensively through their economic activities such as shopping, traveling, leisure, etc. It thus makes a lot of sense for society to invest in the research of developing longevity therapies.
Future of Longevity
Dr. Nir discusses three scenarios of the future - Dorian Gray's scenario in reference to the famous Oscar Wilde story where you are not able to stop the biological age but are able to keep the outward age constant. The second scenario is the one with Fountain of Youth wherein we take old people and put them into a potion and they have regained their youth. Dr.Nir's experiment with animals for this scenario is that age-reversing may not increase longevity, the animals tend to live shorter after such therapy although they do live healthier.
The final scenario and a more likely future is the Peter Pan scenario where after a certain age people will go for monthly or annual injections and that will keep them youthful or at least delay their aging.
The final scenario and a more likely future is the Peter Pan scenario where after a certain age people will go for monthly or annual injections and that will keep them young or atleast delay aging.
Together with the drugs and gene study, Dr.Nir's research team also tries to analyze the environmental and lifestyle factors. Their team has been doing extensive study on the centenarians and has found that physical exercise is the most important lifestyle habit that affects aging.
Even just walking every day is going to have a major effect on your health.
The other emphasis is on diet. Obesity is one of the most potent negative factors and adversely impacts longevity. Additionally, scientists are also seeing immense benefits from intermittent fasting. Dr. Nir's team has recorded benefits in mice experiments when equal calorie was consumed intermittently vis-a-vis in a regular manner.
It is thus more about pattern of eating versus the calorie restriction itself
We at Oseterics, wish Dr. Nir Barzilai and his team our best wishes for their conquest to decode longevity and bring it to the common man. The future seems bright and aging will be a far more comfortable journey with this progress.
Oseterics is on a mission to inspire you for active and graceful aging. A regular Yoga regimen has been proven to aid both physical and mental health.
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