Canadian Health&Care Mall Immortality Quest: Why Are We Not Designed To Live Forever?
The problem of eternal life has been one of the main humans’ concerns since Ancient times, and there’re still more questions than answers. However, scientists are getting closer to disclosure of the truth, they already provide us with different curious facts and proofs. What is the opinion of Canadian scientists? Let the specialists of Canadian Health&Care Mall explain some important information about aging and death.
Immortal Life: Is that possible?
To answer this question we should understand the mechanism of natural death: as our years advance, body accumulates cell damage leading to full or partial loss of organ functioning, not mentioning toxins and waste, and so on. Aging leads to irreversible processes, and when body loses powers to sustain itself, a person kicks a bucket. Some people live longer than the others due to the fact that the process of aging goes slower, but it cannot be stopped completely.
Or can it? Theoretically, a human being can live much, much longer, if aging mechanism and other processes are ceased. Some studies suggest that it’s reduction of telomeres length that makes mammals age and lose health. Comparative studies have also shown that turtles experience almost no reduction in telomeres: the length is the same in newly hatched species and ancient adults. Turns out, cellular replication in turtles is maintained at optimal level throughout their lives, and organ capacity together with reproductive function stay practically unaltered. Turtles cannot live forever (the oldest species discovered were about 300 years old), but given ideal conditions, they can go on for a few centuries!
Probably, one day scientists will find the way to influence the length of telomeres on a molecular level, but now our DNA is programmed differently.
Blame it on genes
Studies performed in 1990’s with round worms had groundbreaking results: scientists discovered that DAF-2 gene was responsible for aging and longevity. Worms with mutations of this gene lived twice as long as species without mutations who survived for 2-3 weeks only. How come one gene can affect the entire lifespan? DAF-2 gene appeared to regulate many other genes in body, including the ones responsible for stress resistance, metabolism, growth and development, as well as reproduction, distribution of enzymes and proteins. The gene in worms also turned out to be a form of insulin protein receptor in humans. Therefore, if genetic scientists learn to inhibit or control aging-related genes, we may experience a fascinating boost of life expectancy.
How does aging kill us?
“Why should we be aging at all?” – you may ask. In fact, heredity and genetics is not the only factor defining the process of aging. There’s certainly one thing that slowly kills us all: accumulation of molecular errors and cellular damage in body. Stem cell functions are inhibited due to environmental and lifestyle factors.
Throughout our lives, we go through so many things that cause damage of cells: diseases, radiation, drug treatment and exposure to chemicals, stress, harsh physical load, emotional experiences, etc. Summed up, all that contributes to aging of cells. Seems like resources of our bodies are limited, and at some point of life it isn’t able to restore cells anymore. It’s also evident that the amount of stem cells (cells that can perform the function of any organ and tissue) also diminishes with the time being. Like a car mechanism, human body also wears off sooner or later, even if a person keeps maintaining health and doing his best for preserving optimal metabolism and organ functioning.
However, it’s not tearing and wearing themselves that promote aging and death. Just like any other live organism, human body can restore its damaged parts: we’re able to regenerate every affected tissue (at least partially) except for brain neurons, some parts of heart and cells of pancreas. It’s rather limitations of our genetic program that play role. For some reason, the amount of resources for regeneration is limited, and it’s becoming more and more difficult to promote cell renovation.
Apparently, even if you try to minimize stress, follow healthy diet and keep exercising moderately, there’s one thing that’s still hard to prevent – diseases. While infections and viral diseases can be avoided or simply cured with modern medications, some hereditary conditions are almost inevitable. However, scientists claim it’s only a matter of time before they manage to deal with Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, degenerative conditions and other malaises alike.
Ethical side of the coin
Have you ever thought that the natural process of aging and death is a part of the grand design from Mother Nature?
We can grumble over shortness of our lives, but let’s make an unbiased look at these two scenarios.
- You’ve managed to find a remedy making you immortal. While you enjoy endless days passing by, you see your children age and die, your wife (or wives) go to another world, too. Friends, pets, your favorite actors and music bands, and even your house – time spares no one and nothing. Finally, you stay alone and have to keep up your hunt for new impressions and real reasons to survive for. Would you like to outlive everyone you love?
- Suppose, everyone lives eternally. We all understand that the resources of Earth are also limited, and it can accommodate some certain amount of human beings. Even if we manage to discover and conquer exoplanets that are suitable for life, the population will develop faster than scientific progress. We may regard death is a sacrifice for the sake of free space.
In fact, our souls get tired just like our bodies: many elderly people feel reluctant to die not because of permanent physical fatigue, but rather due to the fact they’ve already experienced everything they wanted to.
Ways to struggle death
The quantity of life directly depends on its quality, and there’s something in your power to prolong it.
These guidelines seem to be evident, but they do work.
- Cut on foods. Follow the example of Japanese people living in Okinawa: they consume less than 1200 calories a day, about 25% lower than a usual Western person does. Their diet is low in fat, and they take their time to smack meals while slowly operating their chopsticks. At the age of 25, a person needs around 1,600-2,200 calories a day to function normally, but by 65, this amount falls to 1,300-1,600 calories a day. A lot of people don’t realize that. Choice of products matters, as well: green tea, fish, fruits and vegetables boost lifespan considerably.
- Moderate exercising is a must. Just like a car mechanism, your body should be used on a daily basis to prevent failure and keep its parts in perfect condition. It applies to your brain, too: intellectual activity is especially crucial when you hit your 60-70s, because it helps to sustain neuron transmission at a normal level and avoid senile marasmus.
- Be a social person. What kills the elderly stronger than malaises is loneliness and sense of uselessness. Numerous studies suggest we should make friends throughout our lifetime to fight stress, depression and risky behavior. Researchers from Utah’s Brigham Young University even claim that close social connection increases your survival rate by 50%!
- Maintain the sense of purpose. No matter how old you are, you can live longer and more productively, if you have a certain goal instead of wandering aimlessly from day to day. If you have a reason to wake up for every morning, your body will mobilize powers to achieve the desired. Believe it or not, it works on both physical and spiritual levels.
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What if one day you learn that there’s no other world, and we have only one life to live? Would you spend your time obeying your boss, arguing with the dearest ones, working on a hated job and losing opportunities? Most likely, you’ll strive to add extra years to your life span and fill it up with positive emotions. With the right approach, that’s more than possible.