In Part I of “Quest for Immortality,” Dr. S. Jay Olshansky spoke on the sought-after answer to the question: is it possible to avoid or delay dying? Perhaps less literal, but the Research Associate at the Center on Aging and Professor of Public Health at the University of Illinois at Chicago, provided enlightening data regarding current research in the field, as well as practical advice that is often disregarded amidst the search for the cure for aging.
Dr. Olshansky shared some interesting facts about caloric restriction based upon data from the U.K. and Japan. “The Golden Cohort” was the name given to people born in the U.K. during the 1930’s who lived longer than those who preceded and succeeded them. In Japan, the same phenomenon was recorded in the post World War II era. Research is ongoing, but it appears caloric restriction in these two circumstances may have had an effect on greater longevity.
In primate studies, caloric restriction has not resulted in longer lifespan, but positive health effects have been noted. Dr. Olshansky warned that this does not correlate directly to humans, and that a woman who is seventy years-old, for example, should not be thinking of shedding excess weight in order to live longer. In fact, quite the opposite is true. Excess weight is protective after a certain age, and any sudden fluctuation could be life-threatening.
Dr. Olshansky also touched on parabiosis, the anatomical joining of two individuals. In this case, he was referring to the the cardiovascular systems of older and younger animals. Studies have shown that older animals experience a form of rejuvenation while younger animals show signs of accelerated aging. In recent years, increased interest has been focused on umbilical cord blood and the potential to use those stem cells in an attempt to slow the aging process.
While parabiosis is up and coming in the anti-aging research community, Dr. Olshansky reminds us that the best chance we have for a longer life is both movement and genetics, or as he says, to “choose two parents who lived long lives”. Daily movement is important: walking, running, gardening, anything to keep you vertical. Sometimes the simplest answer is best.
For the full discussion, tune in to our “Quest for Immortality” episode.