How to Become a Centenarian: What We Can Learn from Geroscienceby Skye Sherman - August 23rd, 2021
Have you ever heard of geroscience? It’s a relatively new field and it’s the study of aging. The National Institute on Aging defines it as the “intersection of basic aging biology, chronic disease, and health.”
The organization explains, “As we grow older, we are more likely to be diagnosed with one or more chronic ailments. These ailments include life-threatening diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer, as well as debilitating conditions like arthritis, fatigue, and frailty. These ailments rob us of our quality of life. The question is: How does the aging process affect the disease process and susceptibility—and vice versa?”
Do you want to become a centenarian (a person who is one hundred years old or more)? If you’re curious about the process of aging and want to slow down the process as much as you can for yourself, read our article to learn about recent findings in the field of geroscience.
Scientific findings of geroscience
Geroscience is changing and evolving the way we understand aging. It will help us continue to understand the best way to live in order to prolong our life and secure the highest possible quality of life, even as we grow older. As scientists continue to learn more about the aging process and how to improve our outcomes, we should continue to live better, longer lives.
One interesting compound that has generated a buzz in the field of geroscience is rapamycin. A recent report published in GeroScience: Official Journal of the American Aging Association (AGE) explains it this way:
“In 2009, rapamycin was reported to increase the lifespan of mice when implemented later in life. … Over the past decade, there has been an explosion in the number of reports studying the effect of rapamycin on various diseases, physiological functions, and biochemical processes in mice. In this review, we focus on those areas in which there is strong evidence for rapamycin’s effect on aging and age-related diseases in mice, e.g., lifespan, cardiac disease/function, central nervous system, immune system, and cell senescence. We conclude that it is time that pre-clinical studies be focused on taking rapamycin to the clinic, e.g., as a potential treatment for Alzheimer’s disease.”
In other words, rapamycin (also known as sirolimus, which is a prescription medication used as an immunosuppressant, usually with other medications to prevent rejection of a kidney transplant) may have a positive effect on aging, but further research is required. Could rapamycin treat Alzheimer’s disease? It’s a possibility, and one that could hopefully provide relief to sufferers of Alzheimer’s disease and their families.
Another report, published by the The Journals of Gerontology, shares the findings from a prominent American physician-geneticist who discovered the genes associated with a number of diseases and led the Human Genome Project. The doctor spoke at a summit and shared some of the findings of geroscience.
“Dr. Francis Collins (National Institutes of Health) opened the Summit noting that the new field of geroscience reflects two fundamental concepts related to health and disease that have been evolving over the past decade. First, although traditional research efforts focus on specific diseases in isolation (whether cancer, cardiovascular disease, or Alzheimer’s), it is equally important to understand the complex interactions between underlying processes of aging and susceptibility to chronic disease. Second, he noted the need to balance efforts to reduce the effects of chronic disease by also focusing on research to promote healthy aging to improve the health of the world’s aging population.”
The more we understand aging, the better lives we will live and the more we will want to extend them for as long as we can.
How to slow down aging
If you want to slow down the aging process, you’re going to need to take steps to reduce your stress levels, find happiness and fulfillment around you, and enjoy your life. Doesn’t sound too bad, does it? Staying active, eating a healthy diet, and living a life you love will all help to prolong your life and increase your overall happiness and satisfaction levels.
Try staying active every day, even if it’s just a brisk 30-minute walk. If you walk with a small group of friends or a loved one, even better. Another exercise that helps to keep people young and limber is yoga. If you stay flexible and strong and don’t slow down, you won’t even notice yourself aging!
Of course, sometimes our outward appearance gives us away. To look as young as you feel, make sure you regularly apply sunscreen. Applying sun protection any time you are exposed to powerful UV rays is important to maintain supple, healthy, young-looking skin. Sun damage doesn’t lead only to skin disease, it can also cause wrinkles and fine lines to appear early and in more severity. Instead, protect your skin to help keep it healthy and glowing.
How to become a centenarian: tips for a long life
If you want to live to be 100 (or even longer), you will need to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Eat right, stay active, and nourish a healthy community of loved ones around you. A thriving social life is a great way to exercise your mind and stay connected.
Diet can be a big part of long-term health. One simple switch is to eat less red meat. An article published on MSN explains, “You don’t have to become a strict vegetarian to live to 100—in fact, research has shown that swapping out some of your servings of red meat for high-quality plant protein (such as soy or legumes), can reduce your cholesterol levels. Other studies have found that making those healthy swaps can significantly lower your risk of premature death—especially from heart disease.”
Lowering your risk of disease is one of the surefire ways to slow down aging and live as long as possible. The Mediterranean diet is one style of eating that has been linked to long, healthy lives. People who live in “blue zones,” which are areas of the world where people tend to live longer, often consume a Mediterranean diet or something close to it. They fill up on healthy fats, fresh fruits and vegetables, and lean meats instead of overly processed foods.
One other tip that the article shares might surprise you: rethink retirement. “We’re not saying you have to deal with a nine-to-five grind forever, but there is great value in continuing to do something you love—it brings purpose to your life. Researchers were able to link a sense of purpose in life with an 83 per cent reduction in death from all causes and a significantly lower risk of cardiovascular trouble such as stroke or heart attack.”
If you’re stuck in a job you don’t love, then of course you might want to retire sooner! Keeping stress levels low is vital to living longer and avoiding disease. But don’t enter the retirement phase of life without a plan in place for what you will do with your time instead. If you sit at home, bored and feeling purposeless, then you might be heading toward an earlier demise.
Instead, fill your life with activities that interest you, challenge you (but not too much!), and engage your mind. Feeling a sense of purpose and motivation to get out of bed every day is essential to living a long and happy life.