- Laura Livington
- Introducing Click TV – BBC
Death is the inevitable end of all humans, but a growing number of experts believe that age may change how we feel in our later years (symptoms of aging and related diseases).
These experts now speak of “health extension,” meaning an increase in the number of healthy years in our lives.
The average human life expectancy may have doubled in the last 150 years, but many of us have seen the health of many of our loved ones deteriorate as we age.
To avoid this fate, a new industry is emerging, they say, in a long-term revolution in which technologies predict humans will lead to longer but healthier lives.
Business is booming with those in this field, nutritional supplements that fight human cell degeneration, as well as all kinds of hot and cold therapies to help reduce inflammation and disease risk in our bodies.
So I decided to take a trip to the center of the new field in California, not sure if I had come to a fundraiser or if we had really reached the pinnacle of medicine.
Here, tech entrepreneur Brian Johnson spends millions of dollars a year hoping to lower his biological age, meaning he looks younger than his actual chronological age of 45.
There is a good reason any of us do this. Whether it’s cancer, type 2 diabetes, heart disease or dementia, age is a risk factor for disease, so delaying aging overall can delay the risk of developing these conditions. It’s a game to him.
In Johnson’s luxury home in Venice Beach, a bedroom has been converted into a clinic where he spends hours.
He wakes up at 5 am and eats his first meal an hour later, followed by his second meal and his last meal at 11 am. In addition to this, he takes a combination of 54 medically selected pills, supplements and over-the-counter drugs, all of which are programmed based on the results of clinical trials.
He does rigorous exercise throughout his day, monitors his health and takes several treatments.
He told me that the whole skin laser treatment he underwent reduced the age of his skin by 22 years, the largest age reduction of any part of his body.
As Johnson reminds me that “our skin is our largest organ,” body aesthetics is only a small part.
Johnson was logical and friendly. I left his house and I want to be like him (a little). Maybe I’m really like him, I run 5km a day, I try to avoid sugar, I use fitness trackers for fun.
My colleagues consider Johnson unhappy, so his life is not for everyone.
Although his routine seems strict, every conversation is focused on lifestyle.
“Lifestyle is responsible for 93 percent of your longevity — only 7 percent is genetics,” says Eric Verdin, CEO of the Buck Institute for Aging Research.
Verdin told me: “Based on the data (if we live healthy lives), I would expect most people to live healthy to 95. So we’re all looking forward to 15 to 17 (extra) years of healthy life. .”
Now the big question, Verdin and others are investigating, is what constitutes a healthy lifestyle? Take exercise for example, should it be a daily walk or a regular exercise class?
The same goes for healthy eating. Is fasting as important as avoiding sugar? What about a good night’s sleep?
You cannot underestimate the sleep obsession you have encountered. I’ve met many people who set the alarm not to wake you up in the morning, but to remind you to go to bed on time for eight hours.
Well, each of us has our own way of organizing it at different levels.
Verdin practices what he preaches, and his regimen consists of “lots of exercise, some fasting, good sleep, lots of socializing and little alcohol.”
But what is his advice to others? “Try to go at least 14 in a 24-hour period without eating any calories because it has a profound effect on your metabolism,” says Verdin.
But there is disagreement about how healthy it is for some women.
Keeping track of our bodies helps as we age. Health risks can be communicated in advance and any new drugs can be used at the appropriate time.
It was interesting to see everyone in the longevity sciences wearing more than one body monitoring device, usually a smartwatch (sleep-friendly I can tell you, these guys are obsessed with prioritizing sleep).
For my part, the health tracker was useful. I’m not diabetic, but I’m curious about the consistent results of the glucose monitors I’ve been wearing for a while.
Although less spectacular than some believe, the assumption is that progress will be made in extending life.
Experts suggest that a drug may emerge that will make a difference for a year or two at first, then gradually increase the years with the next generation of medicine, so progress continues.
But with this progress come practical and ethical dilemmas.
One of the fundamental questions is whether aging can be defined as a disease. This may make it easier for regulators to approve drugs, but risks labeling people over a certain age as ‘patients’.
The cost of these treatments may or may not be an issue (for sophisticated medical systems).
Meanwhile, adopting a healthy lifestyle is likely to add a few extra years to life, so we may have to work longer hours.
During a research assignment on the topic of longevity, my expectations were turned upside down.
You’ve seen tech billionaires discuss their dreams of sailing around on their yachts, saving the world, going into space, or “curing” aging.
But that’s not really what I saw. Wealthy people have been donating money to medical research for years. It is a new generation of wealth and a new specialty for medicine.
And it is very interesting and affects us all.
But for now, work hard to extend your healthy life. “Exercise is hard, magic pills are easy, and that’s why everyone is so eager to get the pill,” says Silicon Valley journalist Danny Fordson.
So I came home more determined than ever to live my life healthy, sleep well, exercise without excuses, eat well, and cherish my social connections (yes, that’s the recipe for longevity).
With a little luck, I’ll have time to take advantage of any scientific breakthroughs.
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