Human lifespan may be limited, but there are ways to maximize it
As a species, we humans get along pretty well. Species recognizable as humans have been around for at least millions of years, and Homo sapiens outlived other humans by hundreds of thousands of years. We have developed the tools and skills to rise to the top of a world once ruled by giant reptiles. As individuals, we live longer. The agricultural revolution, basic hygiene, and advances in medicine combined during these two centuries to actually increase life expectancy.
In the last few decades some of us have become very interested in extending our lifespans as much as possible. Others are more laid-back about everything and prefer to embrace life. I am choosing. People who want to challenge the limits of aging don’t just want to live longer, they want to live longer and healthier. There are ways to extend your lifespan, but research suggests that lifespan may have an upper limit no matter what you do.
nature vs medicine
If we could simply get rid of disease (cancer and heart disease, the two biggest threats) and other stressors, we would live longer. But Singapore-based Gero Blood Count and step count studies found that these decreased over time, even in the absence of major stressors. Your ability to bounce back fades over time and you lose a step. The study puts the maximum human lifespan between his 120 and his 150 (the oldest person on record died when he was 122). A 2016 Nature analysis found that although Jeanne Calment (her 122-year-old French woman who died in 1997) makes occasional appearances, the odds of one person being 125 or older in a given year are less than her. is 1 in 10,000 and the “natural limit” is about 115 years.
“While the results of this paper are absolutely correct, they say nothing about the future potential of medicine. Just the performance of medicine today and yesterday,” said Aubrey, a biomedical geriatrician at the SENS Research Foundation. de Gray told Scientific American.
Over the past few years, devices have become widely available to help us live healthier lives. Fitness trackers and health trackers track your workouts and even give you an EKG. Fall detectors help seniors get instant help when they are alone, and social media connects seniors with friends and loved ones.
Medical facilities have equipment that can detect and treat potentially life-threatening conditions early. Originally tried as a diabetes drug, metformin has been hailed as a wonder drug that enables longer life. He is betting on “Moonshot Medicine” to push the average human lifespan to over 100 years old.
The same ideas that make people want to live longer may help them live longer. The type of people who are determined to overcome aging are very ambitious.
“Goals are states that people personally deem desirable and want to achieve,” she explains. “They provide direction and meaning, motivate us to acquire new skills or maintain functioning, and give us a sense of agency and control to shape our lives according to our values. Alexandra Freund, Ph.D., Journals of Gerontology, tells Very Well Mind.
This supplement focused on the importance of motivation for longevity. It drives people to eat well, exercise, connect with others and look forward to milestones. As we change, so do our motivations, but setting goals is still life-giving. It takes time.
Ann Greybeel, a research professor at MIT and a member of the McGovern Brain Institute, says, “As we age, it becomes harder to be proactive about things.” It’s important to our social well-being and learning, and it’s hard to learn if you’re not present and involved.”
She and her fellow researchers are working on drug treatments that stimulate striosome activity in the brain and may make it easier to stay motivated as we age.
If you want to live longer now, there are few habits you can develop and some you can break.
- Count your calories – Reducing your calorie intake by just 10% can extend your life. Hara Hachibu (“eating until you’re 80% full”) is a technique many people employ in Okinawa, where there are four times as many centenarians as anywhere else in the world.
- Eat more plant-based foods – A vegetarian or vegan diet can lower your risk of premature death by 12-15%. Vegetarians and vegans are less likely to have heart disease, cancer, depression, and brain decline. You don’t have to give up meat completely. Mix in more salad and nuts.
- Exercise – Not surprisingly, staying active for even 15 minutes a day can extend your life.
- Make Friends – Building and maintaining connections with other people can make you happier and have more fun. You can live up to 50% longer than you. And what good is it to live a long life if you’re not sharing your life with friends?
On the other side of the coin are vices that can be discarded in order to live longer.
- Sitting still – Sitting for long periods of time is associated with obesity, high blood pressure, high blood sugar and high cholesterol. For people who work long hours, a standing desk allows them to take their feet off regularly.
- Relieve Stress – Stress and anger cause our bodies to produce cortisol. Cortisol can negatively affect your heart, immune system, and metabolism.Yoga and breathing exercises are great tools for staying calm amidst the stress life throws at you.
- Burning the Midnight Oil – People who get less than 6 hours of sleep a night are at a higher risk of premature death than those who get between 6 and 9 hours (yes, sleeping too much is bad, too). Setting the right atmosphere with darkness, meditation, and white noise can work wonders.
- Eat Processed Foods – We all get so busy that sometimes we need to stuff our faces with something to get back to work. Another reason to eat more plant foods.