Since the beginning of human history, ageing has been inevitable. However, what if it were possible to stay younger for longer and prevent the disease and frailty of old age. As more and more research into ageing is being undertaken, will living forever one day be a possibility?
Ageing is the process during which structural and functional changes accumulate in an organism as a result of the passage of time. The changes manifest as a decline from the organism’s peak fertility and physiological functions until death. If you could zoom into the molecular level, you would see small, incremental amounts of damage that spreads to the cells, the tissue and the organs. When we can’t keep up with the repairing, the ageing starts.
In an industry worth $110 billion, scientists have spent decades attempting to find a way to prevent or even reverse ageing. Ageing research is delving into areas such as genetics, molecular and cellular biology, biochemistry and behaviour, all in the hopes to extend lifespan and prevent disease.
Diseases related to ageing – like cancer, rheumatism and Alzheimer’s – kill 100,000 people every day around the world. But a growing number of scientists say it doesn’t have to be this way.
Ageing is a multidisciplinary field with research being done into stem cells, organ printing and rejuvenation, senolytic therapies, telomerase and energy and oxyradical metabolism to name a few. While I admit that most of the research papers into ageing I’ve read go way above my head, what little I managed to comprehend left me with no doubt that we are entering an exciting new era into ageing research.
Reversing the aging process has been shown to be possible in some scientific experiments using human cells and simple organisms. But it’s still not possible to reverse ageing in humans yet due to biological constraints. For some researchers the end goal is to hack human biology to bypass these restraints. They believe biological reprogramming to rejuvenate the entire human body on a cellular level and therefore postponing death will one day be possible.
But will science really stop ageing? Based on the huge investment being undertaken into the field and the promising results already yielded, I’m certainly not ruling it out as a possibility. However, I am doubtful I’ll still be around if we one day do succeed.
While we wait for actual solutions, there are some straightforward changes we can implement into our daily life to reverse ageing, improve our health and lower the risk of dying early from common but preventable diseases.
Leading a healthy lifestyle, incorporating plenty of exercise, plus maintaining a healthy diet that also incorporates periods of calorie restriction and intermittent fasting – and don’t forget the importance of good sleep – these are all simple things we can all do that will go a long way to increasing our productivity and health long into old age.