We were designed for growth, maturity, aging and death. But according to ongoing studies, it may be possible to stay “forever young.” Realistically not forever, but significantly longer than we do today.
Imagine, in the future, that your mother-in-law is as youthful looking as your wife. Where dating older men take on a whole new meaning. A sixty year old man will have a body resembling that of a guy in his 30’s. Cougars could easily form relationships with much younger men. Job interviews would no longer bias against the middle-aged.
A brilliant biochemist wants to make these dreams come true. Her name is Cynthia Kenyon. Ms. Kenyon was observing the longevity of living things. If you look at a koi (Japanese) fish, its life exceeds 200 years. Macaws (parrots) age span is at least 80 years. Many turtles and sharks stay alive longer than a century. So why does the average human succumb after only seven decades plus?
Differences between DNA of these creatures and us are the genes. Instructions within the DNA of cells is responsible for both longevity and mortality of a species. What if one was able to manipulate a single part of a gene that is responsible for causing death? Could we stay younger for a longer period of time?
This is what drove Cynthia to research these questions. She started with a very simple organism called C. elegans. It’s a small round worm that you can barely see with the naked eye. Altering a gene in the worm increased it’s lifespan by 200%. This creature normally lives a maximum of 30 days. The worm, with this mutated (changed) gene can live for 60 days or more. She found that the same process of mutation would cause other living things to significantly stay younger longer. In addition, age-related diseases didn’t appear because the worms had remained young.
She then moved to more complicated life forms like a fly. The results were similar. Then studies were done with mice. Results were again positive. Interesting because this rodent is not only mammalian (like us) but shares 99% of our genetics.
How does this relate to you and me? This specific gene called Daf-2 is ubiquitous within living things including us. They relate to insulin and growth factors. This is the ability to take in nourishment utilizing the energy for growth, maintenance and repair.
When the Daf-2 gene (receptor) is damaged, a protective process kicks in that allows our youth to stick around longer. A protective protein called FOXO is absorbed into the middle of the cell called the nucleus. This triggers four protective factors throughout the body. It stimulates the immune system, generates antioxidants, gets rid of parts that may turn cancerous and repairs what can be fixed.
The Daf-2 receptor allows insulin to function and other hormones to promote growth. It may also speed up aging. When the receptor is damaged, it allows FOXO to work within the cell hastening aging and age-related disease.
Researchers are currently looking at various chemicals that may damage some of the Daf-2 receptors in the body. This way medications may be designed to be taken daily to slow down aging.
In the next 3-5 years, we should be able to better predict if these “youth drugs” can work in humans. The problem always remains with the potential of long-term side effects. This therapy may be like causing cells to tread carefully over thin ice. Slipping through could have the resultant potential of submergence into a cancerous realm.
What can we do today to help slow down aging?
When you overload the system with highly processed foods, genes are triggered that are likely to speed up the process of aging. This early aging brings with it age-related diseases such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes. That is why high blood glucose levels may decrease both quantity and quality of life.
Keeping blood sugar in the normal range may help protect against early aging. Simply cut out convenience and junk foods. Lower the amounts of food consumed in your daily diet. Do not overeat and stuff yourself. It creates abnormalities all over the body speeding up the aging process.
Eat to live, do not live to eat.
Believe it or not, we are moving so fast into the future that age regression may be next step in erasing all wrinkles. Imagine going from drinking wine back to breast milk.