Most people fear aging and if there was an “opt-out” button would select it. Most people, including science, approach the question “Why do we age?” from a biological perspective. Why does the body age? If science could identify the cause of aging I believe most people would choose to live youthfully.
Most people would agree to remove the affects of aging but perhaps not death. I’m not sure I’d like to live forever. I think I’d like to experience life after death. I personally think it is better. But aging, growing old, I would like to eliminate.
My good friend and running lover is William H. Andrews, PhD. I call him Bill. He is one of the leading aging research scientists in the world and has devoted his entire life to stop aging. He believes as I do that stoping aging would be good but not stopping death.
This is the first article of several over the next few blog posts devoted to aging and much of the content I’ll share is from Bill.
What Aging is Not
Aging is not an inevitable breakdown of order
If you really think about it, things never age, they just wear out. They just need maintenance to stay new. Look at classic cars. Most cars last about 10 years and 100,000 miles before they become to expensive to maintain. Yet absent the cost, classic cars made over 50 years ago can be made to look better than when they rolled off the assembly line.
What does this mean for the human body? If the body could be made to renew itself automatically is could be “new” it’s entire life.
Aging is not a slow build up of environmental damage
There are many scientist who believe that we age because we start the process of “wear” and “tear” as soon as we are born. Many also believe that because we are bombarded with a harmful environment we prematurely age.
Some use the analogy of a car as if it were like our body. That if the car sit in your garage from the date you bought it new, leaving the gas tank empty and disconnecting the battery, that in 10 years the car would be unchanged. Just like new. But if you drove the car 100 miles a day it would soon have “wear” and “tear” and be useless.
That’s not true with the human body. If it were, people who sit indoors all day, living a sedentary lifestyle, not being exposed to the harmful environment, would live way longer than a person who was active their entire life. We know that active people tend to live a much longer and healthier life. Thus aging is not slow wear and tear.
Aging is not our way of keeping the population in check
Intuitively many believe that aging and subsequent death is a way to keep the population in check so that the earth never runs out of supply to care and feed all it’s inhabitants. Yet upon careful analysis, there are so many other factors that contribute to the population growth or decline than aging and death. Mostly choice and economic variables. You’d expect perhaps that in developed nations, where there is more wealth, to have a plus population growth. However that is not true. In many developed nations, like Japan, there is actually a negative population growth and to complicate your thinking more, Japanese live longer!
Thus aging has nothing to do with population checks and balances.
Aging is not an inherent feature of life
Some people believe that all living things age. Well that’s not entirely true. There are some species that don’t age. There is a jellyfish called Turritopsis nutricula that can revert to its birth state and simply starts over. Not sure I’d want to go through middle school again. Would you?
Did you know the only way to tell a lobster’s age is by weight. The largest lobster ever captured weighed 20 pounds and was estimated at 140 years. I’m sure that lobster made a large and tasty meal.
Some turtles are really old. Charles Darwin owned a tortoise and it recently died. They figured it was 175 years old.
What is aging?
Aging is simply adaptation. Over time we can’t adapt anymore to our environment, to stress, lack of want, love or whatever and we quit adapting and gain wear and tear. In time the body can’t repair itself anymore and it dies.
The mechanism of aging
Bill has the best answer to why we age. We simply age because our telomeres get short and as he says, “Bad things happen when telomeres get short.”
What’s a telomere? It is the tips of our DNA (chromosome) strands. They are in every cell. When our cells need repair they are replicated into a new cell. The DNA that codes the cell to be the correct cell (color of eyes, hair, skin color, etc) must also be replicated. A telomere protects the DNA from unravelling so that it can reset the new cell. In time the telomeres get shorter and shorter and over a lifetime of cell replication, become so short they can’t replicate anymore and then aging and death occurs.
A telomere is like the tips of our sneaker shoe laces. The more you tie your shoes the more those tips wear out. In time the tips are gone and the shoe laces wear out.
There is a way to actually support the telomere and stop and reverse aging. There is a gene, the telomerase, that is the savior of the telomere. When this gene is active, the telomeres do not get short. If you could keep you telomeres long, you would simply not age.
My experience with telomere health
Bill working with a large health and wellness company has developed a product that supports telomere health and it turns the telomerase gene on. I love this product! In the next blog post I’ll talk more about it. While I’m 59 years old, I certainly don’t feel it. I feel the same as I did when I was 30.
Would you reverse aging if your could? What age would you like to live your life? Would you want to live forever?
Yes, I want to reverse aging. Think of the world wide benefit of a young population!!!! I’d like to live about age 25. As I said earlier, I want to die and experience life after death.