Author

Maya Elhalal

Browsing

Charlie Munger has always had a brilliant mind. In fact, he is widely regarded as possessing one of the smartest brains of the 20th century. Yet, perhaps the most amazing thing about this amazing man is that, at 96 years of age, he hasn’t lost a single iota of his incredible cognitive ability. He still sits as vice president of the world’s most successful investment company, Berkshire Hathaway, alongside his lifelong pal, 90 year old Warren Buffet.

According to Buffet, Charlie . . .

Marches to the beat of his own music, and it’s music like virtually no one else is listening to.

Over the course of his nine decades, Charlie has gained expertise in the areas of meteorology, law, psychology, economics, physics, biology and history. He is a true polymath who is an expert in a wide range of fields. 

Charlie is famous for his Inversion Principle, epitomized by the statement . . .

All I want to know is where I’m going to die, so I’ll never go there.

At the rate that Charlie’s going, he may just be right. He is a poster child for the benefits of keeping your brain and body active as you age. Here is another quote from Charlie that we can all learn from . . .

Spend each day trying to be a little wiser than you were when you woke up. Discharge your duties faithfully and well. Systematically you get ahead, but not necessarily in fast spurts. Nevertheless, you build discipline by preparing for fast spurts. Slug it out one inch at a time, day by day. At the end of the day – if you live long enough – most people get what they deserve.

Exciting anti-aging  research has been taking place under the umbrella of TAME (Targeting Aging With Metformin), a six year long series of clinical studies conducted at 1t laboratories across the US . . . In addition to controlling diabetes, Metformin has shown great promise in helping to reverse the effect of aging.

Is there a diabetes medication out there that can reverse aging? 

Type 2 Diabetes is a condition in which blood sugar levels are dangerously elevated. It is often the result of obesity, lifestyle and genetic factors. This condition can lead to a number of serious health effects. It is, in fact, the seventh leading cause of death in the United States. In this article, we take a look at what causes diabetes and the warning signs. We’ll also identify what steps you can take to reverse the trends nd take a look at the latest research on Metformin, a diabetes medication which may help reverse aging. 

What Causes Diabetes?

Age – As we age the regenerative capacity of the pancreas slows down and it’s ability to make insulin declines. Despite the fact that an alarming number of people under 25 are developing the condition, most people who are diagnosed with Type-2 diabetes are aged between 55 and 60. (1)

* Family History – one in every three people with Type-2 diabetes has a close family member who also has the condition. 

* Race – We don’t quite know why, but people of certain ethnic origins, such as African Americans, Hispanics, American Indians and Asian-Americans, are more likely to develop Type-2 diabetes. 

* Pre-existing health conditions – High blood pressure, metabolic syndrome, impaired glucose tolerance along with heart disease and stroke all put you at higher risk of getting diabetes. 

* Viruses – Infections such as mumps, rubella, adenovirus, cytomegalovirus and coxsackievirus B can lead to the onset of Type-2 diabetes. 

* Bottle feeding – A number of recent studies have linked formula feeding with cow’s milk with Type-2 diabetes. Breastfeeding is highly recommended as is supplementing with vitamin D. 

* Liver or pancreatic disease – Any condition that impairs the ability of the pancreas and liver to do their job is going to make you more likely to become diabetic. 

There are some vital other factors that are major contributors to type-2 diabetes. These ones come under the category of lifestyle factors – they are things that we can control and make choices around. Here are the main avoidable risk factors: 

  • Obesity
  • Lack of exercise
  • Diet
  • Alcohol
  • Smoking

Warning Signs for Diabetes

There are a number of warning signs for diabetes. These include:

  • Uncommon thirst and appetite
  • Excessive urination
  • Weight gain or weight loss
  • Nausea
  • Irritation
  • Tingling of the extremities
  • Darkening of skin and possible skin infection

Pre-diabetes is a condition in which a person’s blood sugar levels are elevated. It is a precursor to diabetes. It is important for people who are at risk of developing diabetes to regularly have their blood sugar levels tested. 

The test that doctors use to assess blood sugar levels is called the A1C test. It is also known as the Haemoglobin A1C test and the HbA1C test. This test will provide you with an average of your blood glucose levels over the previous three months. (2)

The A1C test is a simple blood test that can be done in a doctor’s office or a lab. The following A1C test results provide a guideline as to your diabetes risk:

Normal: 5.7% or lower

Pre-Diabetes: 5.7-6.4%

Diabetes: 6.5% or higher

The key to preventing Type 2 Diabetes is to capture the trend in rising A1C levels before it gets into the pre-diabetes range. That requires getting a regular A1C test. If you are over the age of 45, we strongly recommend getting this done annually. 

Reversing the Diabetes Trend

Incorporating the following lifestyle habits into your routine will go a long way toward helping you manage your diabetes. 

  • Take a hot shower before going to bed: By doing so, you’ll be enhancing your circulation to such vital organs as the pancreas and kidneys. 
  • Exercise: Regular exercise, including strength training, will help to control blood sugar levels. It will even reduce the need for oral medications and insulin. (3)
  • Yoga: Many people have discovered that yoga, a mental, physical and spiritual discipline that originated in India more than 5,000 years ago, can do wonders in keeping diabetes in check while improving the diabetics overall quality of life.
  • Drink a daily detox liver cleanser every day.
  • Drink 10 8-ounce glasses of mineral water every day 
  • Eat a nutritious meals, consisting of lean proteins, fibrous and starchy carbs and healthy fats. (4)
  • Eliminate sugars from your diet –  use healthy substitutes such as Erythritol sweetener and stevia.
  • Get 8 hours sleep every night 

In conjunction with these positive steps, you should also remove the following from your life:

  • Sugar 
  • Alcohol 
  • Tobacco 
  • Red meat 
  • Artificial sweeteners 
  • MSG 
  • White flour, pasta and rice 
  • Instant and processed foods 
  • Canned foods 
  • Fruit and vegetable juices 

The TAME Trials: Can Metformin Reverse Aging?

Exciting anti-aging  research has been taking place under the umbrella of TAME (Targeting Aging With Metformin), a six year long series of clinical studies conducted at 1t laboratories across the US. The trials are led by AFAR Scientific Director Nir Barzilai, MD. 

The trial focuses on the ability of the FDA approved diabetes treatment drug Metformin. In addition to controlling diabetes, Metformin has shown great promise in helping to reverse the effect of aging. A number of studies have already shown that Netformin can significantly delay aging in animals. The TAME trials will determine whether Metformin has the ability to influence metabolic and cellular processes associated with the development of age-related conditions. 

This is the first major study to provide proof of concept that aging is a condition that can be reversed! (5)

Dr. David Sinclair is a world leader in the filed of anti aging research. He has done a lot of research regarding taking Metformin as an anti-aging hack. Dr. Sinclair, who is  professor of genetics, advocates taking 1 gram of Metformin per day, broken up into a morning and evening dosage of 0.5 grams. (6)

Research

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279339/
  2. https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/managing/managing-blood-sugar/a1c.html#:~:text=A%20normal%20A1C%20level%20is%20below%205.7%25%2C%20a,your%20risk%20is%20for%20developing%20type%202%20diabetes.
  3. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11570119/
  4. https://www.bmj.com/content/361/bmj.k2234
  5. https://www.afar.org/tame-trial#:~:text=Led%20by%20AFAR%20Scientific%20Director,disease%2C%20cancer%2C%20and%20dementia
  6. https://www.nextbigfuture.com/2019/02/anti-aging-researcher-david-sinclair-takes-metformin-nmn-nad-for-longevity.html

Did you know that there are 9 things (maybe 10) that are slowly killing you? For a long time, it was thought that there was nothing we could do about them, but healthspan hacking offers a way to fight back.

We’ve known since the dawn of mankind, that, as we get older, we also begin to slow down. But it wasn’t until 2013, that the specific mechanisms by which this takes place was quantified. In that year, a paper was published in the journal Cell under the title The Hallmarks of Aging. In that article, the 9 categories of molecular and cellular damage that occurs as we age were described. (1) 

Each of the nine hallmarks of aging come under the domain of the metabolism, which is the name we give to the conglomeration of biochemical reactions that keep us alive. The nine hallmarks can be divided into three categories:

  • Primary
  • Antagonistic
  • Integrative

It is believed that the three primary hallmarks are the triggers of biological aging. These hallmarks always have a negative impact. The antagonistic hallmarks are good for us so long as they are not excessive. The integrative hallmarks are the result of the damage caused by the previous two categories.

The 9 Hallmarks of Aging Defined

Genomic Instability

You can think of your genome as the blueprint of all the cells in your body. In each cell are all the instructions to make the protein that it requires. As we age, this vital information becomes unstable, which results in DNA damage, particularly in the cell’s mitochondria.

Telomere Attrition

Telomeres are a bit like the aglets on shoelaces. Their job is to protect our chromosomes from damage. When these telomeres disintegrate, the cell will stop functioning. Each time, cells divide, the telomeres get shorter. Telomere shortening has also been related to aging. 

Epigenetic Alterations

Your epigenome consists of a number of chemical changes to our DNA that act like switches. When the switch is on, the gene is expressed and a protein will be produced. When it is off, the protein will not be produced. Our epigenome changes over the course of our life. These changes can negatively affect our immunity and increase inflammation. 

Loss of Proteostasis

Proteostasis results from a series of cellular mechanisms to prevent damage from dysfunctional proteins. As we grow older, the ability to maintain proteostasis declines, which results in a buildup of broken proteins. This is believed to contribute to such age-related diseases Alzheimer’s and Parkinsons.

Mitochondrial Dysfunction

The mitochondria in your cells produce ATP, which is the body’s main energy source. Mitochondria can be damaged in a number of ways, including mutation and oxidative damage. Damaged mitochondria will produce less ATP, resulting in reduced energy supplies. Mitochondrial damage is believed to accelerate with aging.

Cellular Senescence

When a cell becomes senescent it is no longer able to divide. These cells can be useful in wound healing but a build up of too many senescent cells is damaging to the body. Senescent cells also produce what are known as Senescence Associated Secretory Phenotype (SASP), which is thought to encourage other cells to become senescent. As we get older, the mechanisms that clear out senescent cells begin to falter.

Deregulated Nutrient Sensing

Our cells have the ability to sense when nutrients are close by in order for it to consume those nutrients. The insulin pathway, for example, tells our cells that there is an accumulation of glucose in the bloodstream. As we age, this nutrient sensing becomes less efficient, which could lead to deregulation. 

Stem Cell Exhaustion

Stem cells are the originators of all other other cells. Stem cells can become any type of cell, from a heart cell to a blood cell. As we age, stem cells are vital in replacing cells as needed. However, there is also an age related stem cell decline. 

Altered Intercellular Communication

There is evidence that aging affects the way that various systems in the body interact with one another. Aging interferes with intercellular communication in a number of ways. These include age related chronic inflammation. 

A Potential 10th Hallmark of Aging

Extracellular Matrix Stiffening

When protein molecules become fused together, crosslinking occurs. As these crosslinks become more abundant, the extracellular matrix that results stiffens. This has a negative impact on the functioning of the cells. This stiffening of the matrix is believed to increase as we age. (2)

How to Reverse the Hallmarks of Aging

From the above it may appear that the hallmarks of aging are inevitable and unstoppable. While it may be true that we cannot stop these hallmarks completely, a 2018 paper in the journal Frontiers in Endocrinology details how exercise can positively impact all nine of the established hallmarks of aging. The paper showed that exercise makes significant improvements to our cells, and emphasizes the  . . .

positive anti aging impact of physical exercise at the cellular level, highlighting its specific role in attenuating the aging effects of each hallmark. Exercise should be seen as a polypill, which improves the health-related quality of life and functional capabilities while mitigating physiological changes and comorbidities associated with aging. (3)

The researchers recommend performing a combination of aerobic exercise, strength training and flexibility movements with the following regularity:

  • Aerobic exercise – 5 days per week for 30-60 minutes daily
  • Strength training – 2 days per week; 8-10 exercises for 3 sets of 10-15 repetitions
  • Flexibility training – 2 days per week – static and dynamic stretches

References:

  1. https://www.cell.com/fulltext/S0092-8674(13)00645-4
  2. https://www.longevity.technology/evidence-for-tenth-hallmark-of-aging-increases-with-new-paper/
  3. https://estudogeral.sib.uc.pt/bitstream/10316/80903/1/Aging_Hallmarks_The_Benefits_of_Physical_Exercise.pdf

If you thought that video gaming on YouTube was a young person’s pursuit, get ready to have your mind blown. At the tender age of 84, Shirley Curry has established herself as a gaming phenom. Dubbed the Grandma of YouTube, Shirely has uploaded more than 1,200 videos. She loves to play the game Skyrim and has been labeled the Skyrim Grandma.

Shirley began gaming in her early 60s when her son gave her a copy of Civilization II. She couldn’t stop playing the game and soon began branching out to other games. She mostly plays games put out by Bethesda. She started her channel in order to share her content with fellow gamers, never imagining that it would grow to the point that she has become famous to a generation of younger YouTube gamers.

Shirley has become so famous in the gaming world that a character based on her was added to the game Elder Scrolls IV, ensuring that her legacy will live on to be embraced by future generations.

At the age of 86, Sarah (Paddy) Jones is making the salsa great again. Sarah is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s oldest acrobatic salsa dancer. 

Born in Stourbridge, England in 1934, Sarah began classical dancing at the tender age of two. She left dance at the age of 22 when she married her husband David. The couple moved to Spain in 2001. Following David’s death in 2003, Sarah took up flamenco dancing. Shortly thereafter, she began the salsa dancing duo ‘Son del Timbal’. Her dance partner Nico is 40 years younger than her.

In 2009, Sarah and Nico won a Spanish nationwide TV talent show. Sarah received global attention and was compared to Susan Boyle. In 2014, Sarah and Nico competed in Britain’s Got Talent. They received a Golden Buzzer and made it straight through to the finals. Unfortunately, Sarah cracked a rib while rehearsing for the final. However, showing the grit that has been a hallmark of her life, she insisted on competing in the final. They came in 9th overall.

In 2019, Sarah and Nico were invited to compete in Britain’s Got Talent: The Champions. They advanced to the finals, thanks to another Golden Buzzer, to be eliminated in the finals.

Sarah continues to compete in salsa dance competition at the highest level, proving once and for all that age is not a barrier to active, sensual movement!

You may not have heard of Ken Bald but, if you are a lover of SuperHero comics, you have no doubt seen his work. For more than 70 years, Ken has been creating some of the most iconic covers and inner art work for DC and Marvel comics. Ken, who passed away on March 17th, 2019, is listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the world’s oldest comic book artist.

Ken got his start in the comic book business when a piece of fan art he drew at age 14 was published in issue #9 of More Fun Comics. Over the course of his seven decade career he has created some of the most iconic covers in the industry, including those of Dr. Kildaire, Dark Shadows and Captain America. 

At the age of 96, Ken came out of retirement at the request of Marvel executives to illustrate their Contest of Champions #2, which was published in January, 2016.

Gymnastics is  not a sport you traditionally associated with the elderly. After all, it involves a whole lot of jumping, bending and stretching – things which old folks are not meant to be good at. Johanna Quass turns that notion on its head. This German super ager is the world’s oldest gymnast. At the age of 95, she still competes in German amatuer competition.

Johanna has been a gymnast since the age of nine. In 1945 she began coaching gymnastics. Over the next twenty years she coached hundreds of athletes including several Olympic competitors. In 2012, 86 year old Johanna became a viral sensation on YouTube when a couple of clips of her doing gymnastics moves clocked up more than 3 million views each. 

Johanna’s healthy, vibrant lifestyle, which involves regular daily workouts, lots of fresh air and sound, balanced nutrition is a powerful testament to the ability of the human body to keep performing when it is properly nurtured!

At 99 years of age. Fashion icon and businesswoman Iris Apfel is as sprite, witty and fabulous as ever. Iris celebrated her birthday on August 29th, marking the event with the following Twitter post . . .

My old hourglass is doing just fine…

Sand’s dripping away, arriving at ninety plus nine.

Happy Birthday to Me, may I be of good cheer!

To give thanks for thriving & surviving one hell of a year!

In 1948, 27 year old Iris and her husband Carl launched the textile firm Old World Weavers. They ran the business until retiring in 1992. Over that time, Iris participated in a number of high profile restoration projects, including at the White House. In 2019, Iris signed a modeling contract with IMG at the spritely age of 97. She is also the oldest person to have a Barbie doll made in her image!
As she is knocking on the door of a century, Iris continues to inspire the world with her unique style and love of life. Earlier this year she released an adult coloring book to help people get through the COVID-19 lockdowns. Commenting on her inimitable style, Iris told NBC’s TODAY show ‘I always dressed for myself. I don’t care what anybody thinks. I’m not a rebel and I don’t do these things to shock anybody. Frankly, I don’t give a damn.’

Over the last hundred and fifty years, the human lifespan has doubled from 40 to 8- years. But the quality of life for the majority of our eldery folk has been severely impacted by chronic disease. It seems as if, by challenging the biological clock, we’ve run up against a limit to healthy aging that makes physical breakdown inevitable.

However, that’s not what we see in nature.

In this second part of our multi part series, we investigate aging in nature in order to understand whether illness in old age is inevitable in humans. 

In Nature, Ill Health in Old Age is Not Inevitable

In the interest of learning about alternatives to the aging process humans experience, in recent years, biologists have studied the healthspan mechanisms of animals and plants that don’t age in the same ways that we do. These species may die of a disease or an accident, but, unlike us, they barely suffer senescence (biological aging). From unicellular and multicellular organisms to vertebrates, some species enjoy plateaued existence, even as they age, until the very end of life.

Take the Great Basin bristlecone pine – a long-living tree species found in the taller mountains of California, Nevada, and Utah. One member of this species has been around since the very early days of recorded history. 

This tree is 5067 years old. 

Another example of extreme health span is Turritopsis Dohrnii, also known as the immortal jellyfish. Found in the Mediterranean Sea and in the waters of Japan, these jellyfish are able to undo their development, aging not towards death but rather backward to their youth, and begin a new cycle. 

If that were an option for humans, many would sign up for that in a heartbeat! It is one of the few known animals capable of reverting completely after having reached sexual maturity and, theoretically, this process can go on indefinitely. 

Mother Nature is not against healthy longevity; she is just extremely selective of it. There’s still a long way to go from where we stand now to healthy longevity in humans, but gaining a better understanding of the very rare conditions when it is made possible is a step in the right direction.

We find extreme healthy longevity in some clams, turtles, lobsters, sharks and other animals. One of the secrets to their longevity is that they mostly manage to avoid the accumulation of damage overtime. 

But, what about species that are biologically closer to us? Are there cases of mammals that age and maintain health simultaneously? 

If we are able answer these questions, it would take us another step toward understanding the possibility of improving human health span, and making it possible.

Good Health in Old Age is Possible in Animals, Too

Turns out mammals can age healthily too. Nature has provided an astonishing example of health in old age in the form of a wrinkled rat, and the mysteries of its biology have puzzled scientists for decades. While this particular species may not be considered “cute” by the human critic, there are many reasons to admire and envy the mammalian world champion of healthspan – the naked mole rat. It lives in a good reproductive and health state for the most part of its 30 years of life – outliving rodents of its size ten times over. The naked mole rat is a unique creature in many ways; going above and beyond hygiene standards when compared to most other mammals. In their tunnels, they delineate a separate toilet area, where feces and urine get stored. 

Yet, the characteristic perhaps most interesting for us in terms of healthy longevity research, is that naked mole rats are biologically at a risk of accumulating cellular damage as a result of metabolic processes similar to ours. The difference is that they seem to have found a way to overcome it. They are virtually resistant to cancer; there have been fewer than half a dozen recorded cases of cancer in the heavily studied naked mole rat. Even more interesting is the fact that, for them, the biological “cost of operating a life” does not rise exponentially with age. Rather, it has only negligible negative effect on their health. 

Implications for Humans

How is it possible for the naked mole rat not to accumulate the ‘costs of operating a life’ in the same way that humans do? In 2017, scientists working for Calico, an Alphabet (Google) research and development company whose public mission is to devise interventions that enable people to lead longer and healthier lives, presented evidence that the naked mole rat is time-resilient in more ways than we knew. The mortality of the naked mole rat, they say, does not increase with age. 

With discoveries like these, we are one small step closer to understanding the biology of healthy longevity. While, like naked mole rats, we, too, have figured out that separating the toilet from our bedroom is important, humans don’t have the longevity genes they do. 

The next question has to be, are there cases of extreme health span in humans?   We’ll explore the answer to that question in Part Three of this multi part series.

For Part Three: Is Living a Long Healthy Life Luck of the Draw? CLICK HERE

For Part One: Is Living a Long Healthy Life Luck of the Draw? CLICK HERE

From the beginnings of human existence, we’ve been desperately seeking a way to stave off the inevitability of death. In recent years, the research into longevity has proceeded at pace. What has been discovered has threatened to overturn long held ideas. 

Take longevity itself. We’ve long though that our lives are like an egg timer with a set number of grains of sand constantly being depleted. By the time we get to ninety or a hundred, we run out of grains of sand and we die. Yet, recent research challenges that notion. 

The ‘Mortality Plateau’ Study; Can You Live Forever?

A study of almost 4,000 ‘super elderly’ people in Italy suggests that there is no natural limit to aging. Each of the study subjects were aged 105 or older. The researchers found that the risk of mortality increases as we age but then tapers off after age 105. They referred to this phenomenon as a ‘mortality plateau.’ After the age of 105, the odds of dying over the next 12 months level to 50:50. (1)

According to Jean-Marie Robine, a demographer at the French Institute of Health and Medical Research in Montpellier, the study suggests that humans could actually live forever . . .

If there is a mortality plateau, then there is no limit to human longevity.

– Jean-Marie Robine

The research, which was published in a 2018 issue of the journal Science, comes on the top of years of debate among researchers as to what is the limit of human existence. The conventionally held view has been that the risk of mortality increases until the age of around 80. After that, there has been much debate about whether the risk increases or not. Scientists looking at the same data have come to opposing conclusions, with some concluding that mortality risk keeps increasing as we get into our ‘super golden’ years, with others being convinced that the risk of dying tapers off when we close in and go beyond being a centurion. 

Prior to the 2018 study, the largest study on mortality limits was conducted by a team of geneticists out of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City. They analyzed the ages of death of the world’s oldest people over the previous 50 years. Their conclusion was that human longevity peaked at between 115-125 years. They also found that there had been no significant increases in max life span since the 1990s. The overall conclusion of this study was that human aging had already peaked with the oldest record human. That was the French woman Jean Calment who died at the age of 122 in 1997. (2)

The Ongoing Debate: Upper Limit On Age or Not?

The results of this study were immediately challenged, with complaints being laid about the statistical methods which were used. One of the authors of the 2018 study, Ken Wachter, states that they went to great lengths to ensure that the records they collected were unimpeachable . . .

We have the advantage of better data. If we can get data of this quality for other countries, I expect we’re going to see much the same pattern.

– Ken Wachter

However, Robine is not so sure that the study is globally representative. He points to the fact that all of the participants were from Italy. He says that unpublished data from Japan, France and Canada does not support the idea of a mortality plateau. 

A global study of centurions is needed to provide a truly representative picture of what happens to our risk of dying in the super advanced years. 

 Jay Olshansky, a bio-demographer at the University of Illinois at Chicago, is another researcher who doubts the conclusions of the 2018 study . . .

You run into basic limitations imposed by body design.

– Jay Olshansky

Oshansky points to the fact that there are cells that do not replicate. These cells, such as neurons, will wither and die as we age and not be replaced. This in itself, he contends, places an upper limit on life span. 

There are around half a million people in the glocal centurion club. Researchers predict that that figure will double every decade to come. It has also been estimated that the age of the oldest person alive will increase by one year every decade going forward. 

Researchers are speculating as to the cause for the levelling off of the mortality rate in the super aged. A theory put forward by Siegfried Hekimi, a geneticist at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, is that the cells of the body reach a state where their ability to repair themselves offsets cellular damage. 

The 2018 study has  led to much debate among scholars with the inevitable result that more research will be forthcoming. Those of us who have a keen interest in longevity eagerly look forward to it. 

References

  1. Barbi, E., Lagona, F., Marsili, M., Vaupel, J. W. & Wachter, K. W. Science 360, 1459–1461 (2018)
  2.  https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27706136/