A recent report in The Sun USA spoke of how the super-rich — Kim Jong-un, Vladimir Putin, Steven Seagal, Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, etc. — are investing in projects to reverse ageing.
While Bezos is reportedly funding research to regenerate cells and slow the ageing process, Musk believes humans can store our minds in a computer or robot one day.
North Korea reportedly has a ‘Longevity Center’ setup by Kim Il-sung. Bezos as well as Russian Israeli billionaire Yuri Milner are investors in the Silicon Valley firm Altos Labs, which is working on anti-ageing research and biological reprogramming.
Awareness of healthy ageing is becoming increasingly popular around the world. Methylation patterns of our DNA give an idea of the ageing and disease-related resilience of our body. Hence, targeting an alteration of this DNA methylation may be one of the methods to halt or even reverse ageing.
Dr Sanjith Saseedharan, Consultant & Head Critical Care, Fortis SL Raheja Hospital, Mumbai, believes this could be possible at least experimentally with specific food supplements and phytonutrients. “Preliminary human experimental data suggest that thymus (a tissue that produces immune cells in our body) regeneration by combining some antidiabetic medicines and growth hormones, may also help reverse ageing,” he says.
Reversing the biological clock
Ageing begins after birth and to achieve extended healthy lifespan or slow down the ageing process, interventions must begin from a younger age. All interventions that promote extending healthy lifespan positively influence pro-ageing pathways.
Dr Prasad Kasturi, Assistant Professor, School of Basic Sciences, Indian Institute of Technology Mandi, tells us that limiting food intake in any form such as caloric restriction, alternate day fasting or intermittent fasting have proven health benefits with potential to lifespan extension. “Age-related deterioration of the biological clock can also be reversed by these methods. Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+) is a co-factor essential for biological processes. NAD levels naturally decline with age. Increasing its levels may result in reversing the biological clock and delaying ageing. Resveratrol, which has been shown to have lifespan extending properties, and is available from red grapes, red wine, peanuts and berries, also required optimal levels of NAD to be effective,” says.
Food as medicine has been advocated since ages. Irregular food habits and sleeping patterns that are misaligned with the biological clock result in its disruption, which in turn accelerate ageing and age-related diseases.
Urolithin A (UA) is a natural compound produced by gut bacteria from ingested foods such as pomegranate, berries, and nuts. UA offers health benefits for ageing and associated diseases. Foods rich in probiotics and polyphenols (such as yogurt, berries, nuts and green tea) are particularly helpful in maintaining healthy metabolism.
Dr Neetika Modi, Director, Studio Aesthetique, says, “For now, instead of the quest for immortality, let’s think of living healthily and disease-free. We can slow down ageing by eating fruits and vegetables. There are 20,000 different vital nutrients in fruits and vegetables and each fights ageing-related damages. Muscles stay stronger with great protein intake, so aim to get at least 25–30 g per meal. Do strength-training and aerobics or walk, run or bike — whatever you enjoy — for 40 minutes, 4 times a week.”
The balancing act
Most treatments we do to manage the ageing process are purely cosmetic, which dent the pocket. Hence, it automatically excludes a large portion of the population. However, Sumir Nagar, Motivational Speaker, SumirTheSeeker, sees a positive in the situation. “Where essential, such treatments will have positive outcomes and help people with disfigurement, etc. Looking good and presentable are great for one’s self confidence, so nothing wrong with that, provided it’s used when essential and wise. All technologies and processes available to repair damaged bodies and organs for valid reasons are good and must be made available, but only when there’s no other option,” he says.
The yoga angle
According to the vitality theory of nature cure, we’ve been provided with a fixed quantum of life energy (prana), determined at the time of our conception. Ankur Bhatia, Co-founder, Wellcure & Certified Yoga Expert, Bihar School of Yoga, asserts that yogic practices are inherently designed to slow down metabolism. “Yogic postures like inversion and forward-bend slow down the over-activity of adrenals,” he explains. “A slightly different perspective in yoga includes texts pointing out that age has been determined by breaths, not years. So by slowing down the breath, one can extend one’s age.”
Sadly, though, people damage cells through basic activities and mental work of daily life and consume so much energy that they lose the ability of cell restoration. Through practices of yoga (and practices of stillness), it’s possible to control the brain pathways.
According to Advait Yogbhushan, yogi, sacred science teacher and founder of A Himalayan Yogi Institutes, the simple thing is to understand the techniques to analyse and distribute prana within the body by using asanas, pranayama, and dhyana as a medium. “You can even control the brain pathways, which can unblock the hijacked amygdala due to unhealthy lifestyle and energy loss. You can nourish the pineal, pituitary and hypothalamus simultaneously.”
* Both physical and mental exercises promote health span
* Do regular physical exercises and learn new things
* Practice meditation, which is associated with reduced respiratory rate and may help in reducing psychological stress
* The quality of our surroundings where we live and perform our daily activities (both indoor/outdoor) greatly influences our health and longevity
* Socially connected and mentally wellbeing people are healthier and live longer than those who are depressed and isolated