Aging - live longer, healthier and happier
The Wall Street Journal recently published a comprehensive review of current concepts in anti-aging research. There appear to be three main disciplines of the current research. One is to utilize existing anti-inflammatory and immune modulating drugs like Rapamycin and Metformin to slow down the aging process and the associated inflammation which promotes diseases of old age.
Another strategy is cellular reprogramming where scientists hope to turn back the clock on aging cells, restoring functions characteristic of younger cells.
Lastly, we are learning that the deterioration of organ systems in older age is a result of accumulation of senescent, dying cells. As cells die, they often remain in place but lose the capacity for reproduction, “clogging” up the system. By removing this cellular debris, organ systems may function more like they do when younger.
But here’s the problem. Increasing life span is only part of the challenge. The key goal should be to maintain health as long as possible, a concept referred to as “Health Span”. In other words, the key is not just living longer, but to stay healthy longer. Someone put it this way: “No one wants to live to be 100, if they feel 100.
But I’ll take it a step further. As the Dalai Llama states, “God wants us to have joy. That is the purpose of life.” Therefore, the goal to living longer should be to find joy as long as possible. Maybe that joy comes from being able to do what one loves to do, giving back, creating, loving more, laughing more, or just enjoying every sunrise and sunset, underlying the need to optimize what I propose to call the “joyspan”.
I fully support the research to prolong life and health as long as possible, but as one seeks youth promoting therapies and practices, keep in mind your goal. Might I propose that the reason to prolong life and promote health is to maximize your Joyspan. Be mindful of the things in life that bring you joy, and then make lifestyle choices that will optimize your ability to partake of these as long as possible. Prolong your Joyspan!! Consequently, living more joyfully will also keep you healthier, and you’ll probably live longer as well!
Dr. John Monaco