Regenerative medicine or anti-aging medicine have been increasingly gaining interest in the public eye. Rightly so, who would not like to stop the clock for some time or even change its direction.
Experts on biology of aging see current research so promising that some famous analysts of science, human events and geopolitics are predicting soon coming immortality. If this is so, how this new science can benefit us in the practical terms? Can we really get younger or regenerate cells and tissues and restore lost functions of our organs?
Before discussing how we can tap to the fountain of youth, let’s define aging and look why we age in the first place and is it all that bad?
We can define aging is a progressive degenerative disease that eventually affects all our cells and organs. With the passing of time, byproducts of metabolism, toxic load of heavy metals, chemicals, some pharmaceuticals that cannot be metabolized or removed will burden the cells. Oxidation of proteins and lipids, nutritional deficiencies (vitamin, minerals, essential amino-acids, fatty acids) make the situation even worse. Consequently, cells make metabolic errors and synthesize defective proteins and lipids which lead to degenerative changes of cells, dysfunction of the immune system, damage to connective tissue, brain and eventually all organs.
The toxic loads and metabolic or synthetic errors result from an endless list of causes. Here are the common ones:
- nutritional deficiencies
- essential amino-acids
- essential fatty acids
- pesticides, herbicides - one example worth to mentioned is glyphosate (Roundup) which is heavily used in GMO crops. Glyphosate is mistaken by cells for glycine a very common amino acid - a building block for many proteins in our bodies. Glyphosate become incorporated into these proteins instead of glycine making them dysfunctional
- toxic radiation such as ultraviolet, x-rays, gamma radiation
- some pharmaceuticals, such as anti-cancer medication which are designed to disrupt metabolism of cancer cells, however, they affect healthy cells as well especially immune system cells
- food and beverages - one of the biggest problems in our society. Our food not only has been deprived of essential nutrients by leaching of the soil but is also toxic
- electromagnetic radiation: cell phones, home appliances, power lines, wi-fi, “smart” meters
- cigarette smoking, alcohol, drug abuse
- prolonged stress, lack of sleep
To understand aging, we also need to look at our genome. The genetic code (DNA) is the book of life written in every cell of our bodies and contains the entire library of information how the human body is build and function.
This genetic code and the process of transcription (translation to a language that cells can understand) are so sophisticated that make even most devout evolutionists scratch their heads how this could have come about by chance. One single error would turn the entire synthesis of protein into shambles. To eliminate potential errors DNA is equipped with enzymatic repair mechanisms that continuously survey and repair errors. We were “perfectly made” indeed.
Nevertheless, the human race experiences about 60 mutations (genetic errors) per generation that will be inherited by posterity. As a result of these mutations, the entire human race is slowly degenerating, becoming weaker, more prone to disease and less intelligent. Please notice that the progress in science what we are witnessing is an accumulation of knowledge and has nothing to do with intelligence. Modern genetics tells us just that. John Sanford eloquently said: “man is perishing in the dying world” in his book “Genetic Entropy and the mystery of genome” which I highly recommend.
There is another “catch” when it comes to aging - telomeres. Telomeres are little tails on both sides of every chromosome which are the stabilizers essential for proper transcription of genetic information. These telomeres must be long to work well, but with each cell division, they become progressively shorter and before we reach adulthood, their length is about half. Also, every disease, toxic load, bad diet, nutritional deficiencies, stress, anger, hostility or fear shorten the telomeres even more.
The good news is that telomeres may be lengthened by an enzyme called telomerase that becomes activated when we live a healthy lifestyle: good diet, rest, positive states of mind such as happiness, gratitude, compassion, and kindness.
There are products on the market that supposed to activate telomerase and increase the length of telomeres if someone is willing to spend few hundred dollars per month. It may be some truth in it because some herbal extracts are telomerase activators, however, taking them will be futile without changing lifestyle, diet, and the state of mind.
In the center of the repair and regeneration processes are stem cells, the “omnipotent” cells that can take shape and function of any cells in the body. Stem cells are present in all tissues and can replace any dying cell - at least when we are young and healthy.
When we age, the stem cells age also. They are too subject to toxic load, metabolic errors, mutations, nutritional deficiencies and shortening of telomeres.
So, what is the answer to the question of longevity? First of all, we need to accept that we will have no immortality on this earth and genetic entropy (deterioration of human genome) tells us just that. We cannot save ourselves from death so let’s put this behind us. But by reversing the factors leading to fast aging which we have mentioned, we can get healthier and feel better, we can improve our cognition, regain energy and joy of life. This already will account into age reversal of about 10 years.
But if you belong the baby boomers like myself, do we really want to go back to our 20s or even 30s? Not me, God forbid, if I think about all the confusion of this age, because healthy aging brings pleasure in life. This is the time to gather fruits of life and enjoy experience we gained. Scientific research has shown that intelligence increases with age in healthy brain. Unfortunately, what we see most of the time is more sickness, pain, dementia, confusion, more doctors visits, more medications and fear of future.
There is no pill that will reverse aging. But most of us are aging much faster than we should and this can be changed by reversing all factors that accelerate aging which was described earlier.
Pillars of optimal health:
- Choosing the best diet
- Taking proper vitamins and supplements
- Doing fair amount of exercise
- Losing extra weight
- Giving up on bad habits
- Having enough sleep at night
- Embracing good emotions and avoiding bad emotions - we can only have either good or bad emotion at a time and they cannot mix
- Replacing hostility with empathy and love to others
- Replacing selfishness with charity
We also need to address our preexisting medical conditions. Most of them can be dramatically improved allowing cutting down on medications which have side effects.
Finally, some new technologies also come handy in cutting down on inflammation, controlling pain and improving functions of our limbs, organs, and cognition.