If you’ve ever been to a high school reunion twenty years after graduation, you’ll have noticed something: people age differently. Some of your classmates look pretty much the same as they did when you were a teenager. Perhaps they’ve bulked out a little and become more adult in shape – but other than that, they’re still recognizable. Other people, however, look nothing like they did – and it’s a shock.
These differences in appearance aren’t merely superficial. It turns out that the way that we look is intimately related to how our bodies age. Some people have longevity genes that are active all the time, while others don’t. Differences in outcomes, therefore, are to be expected.
How Longevity Works
Our bodies have innate mechanisms to slow down ageing and keep us youthful for longer. The more we activate them, the healthier we are.
Interestingly, it doesn’t seem to matter when you take actions to ramp up these cell maintenance and repair genes. You can boost them in your twenties or seventies and still experience profound benefits.
Our bodies have a choice in how they use energy. They can either dedicate it to growing rapidly and reproducing. Or they can use it for cell maintenance until reproduction is feasible. Researchers have found, for instance, that when people go hungry, they activate longevity pathways, potentially extending their lives. Their cells switch from divide-and-growth mode to maintenance and repair, helping them become healthier. It’s all about preserving scarce energy until the time comes to raise the next generation.
Starving yourself, though, isn’t fun. But new evidence suggests older people don’t have to go down this route to experience benefits. There are multiple ways to activate these pathways and remain more youthful for longer.
Activating Longevity In Old Age
One method is simply to fill your life with support. Moving into a care home like the one described at https://eastleighcarehomes.co.uk/locations/care-homes-north-devon/ could help. Research shows that when people are surrounded by caring and compassionate people, they live longer. They feel less stressed because their needs are being taken care of. And so their bodies are less likely to go into reproduction mode and more likely to feel secure. Social support is critical in practically all places around the world where people live longer.
Another strategy is to focus the diet on fruits and vegetables. These contain potent compounds that activate the same pathways as going without food. Researchers believe that our bodies respond to phytochemicals plants produce in response to stress. Our cells detect stress in our environment, provoking them to anticipate starvation in the future and hunker down.
You can also create positive stress in other ways. Regular walking, for instance, has been shown to improve health in older people because it encourages cellular adaptation.
As https://www.newyorker.com/magazine reports, it seems possible to live longer and stay younger while doing it. Living until old age, therefore, doesn’t have to be full of illness and disability. Lifestyle, it seems, plays an important role. Being rigorous with it, thus, could help tremendously. Even people with “poor” genetics could experience profound benefits.