DO WE WANT
100 YEARS OLD?
On New Year’s Eve WHO published 20 health tips for 2020 to start the new decade with good resolutions to improve quality of life. For sure, these tips are related to healthy lifestyle, like follow a healthy diet, be active, respect hygiene regulations and have regular medical check-ups (1). We all know that a healthy lifestyle may support healthy aging and may also increase our life expectancy. But are we prepared to live with the consequences? Are we prepared to become 100 years old?
Over the last decades, life expectancy has increased dramatically around the globe. The average person born today could expect to live 72 years (2). A key reason for the increase in life expectancy is the decline of child mortality. In addition, medical advances and accessibility to healthcare facilities have helped to increase the survival rates in various ages. Overall a safe environment, cleaner and better living and working conditions are the most important factors for longer human lifespan.
LET’S LOOK FIRST AT THE STATISTICS
New technologies, like gene editing or printed organs may push the boundaries of human lifespan even beyond 100 - even if today, people are more worried than enthusiastic about such human enhancement methods, which still remind them of a science-fiction movie.
A U.S. survey conducted by the Peer research center in the U.S. showed that over 60% of the population does not want synthetic blood or brain chip implants to improve physical abilities and 50% are worried about gene editing to reduce their risk to develop a disease (3).
In contrast, health foods or dietary supplements targeting well-aging are commonly consumed, with an increasing focus to maintain a healthy metabolism to slow down aging. Recently, the so-called “SIRT diet” is becoming popular, where natural foods, like mangoes, green leaves or grapes, activate key master switch enzymes, controlling metabolism and longevity (4). Two of the main metabolic enzymes described are Sirtuin 1 and AMPK (AMP-activated protein kinase). AMPK activation is also one mode of actions of the diabetes drug Metformin. Metformin is currently the most-prescribed medication for people with type 2 diabetes globally. There is an increasing number of human studies investigating the beneficial effects of Metformin on the biology of aging in humans. For example the MILES study, which explored if Metformin will restore the gene expression profile of older adults with impaired glucose tolerance to that of young healthy subjects (5). At the end of 2019 the exciting TAME trials led by Mir Barzilai started.
TAME (Targeting Aging with Metformin) investigates aging and age-related diseases from heart disease, cancer, and dementia. 6 years of clinical studies will engage over 3000 individuals between the ages 65-79 at 14 U.S.-based research institutes organized by the American federation for aging research, which raised approximately $55 million to fund the trial. The promise is to show that Metformin is extending healthy life span while saving trillions of dollars of health care costs (6).
LET’S LOOK AT THE SCIENCE
There is still a gap of approximately 7 years, were quality of life is affected from disability at the end of our fulfilled life (7).
This is causing the mixed feelings. On the one side we want to live as long as possible, but on the other side we fear unpleasant circumstances, like immobility, losing control of our life and loneliness.
So, what can we do, besides following our “healthy behaviors list”, to ensure that we can relax and enjoy our additional golden years?
- Be prepared to keep on working.
Most people are open to extend their life span even if they have to work the entire time and have to face the challenge to start something new. Pensioners’ university programs, act as work-life mentors, become an author or engage in social activities see an increasing demand.
- Close the saving gap caused by more years of retirement.
People do not want to live on, if this puts their family on financial burden.
To live in a state of relative poverty is a big fear.
- Set up a private healthcare service support plan.
Most people do not want to live longer under conditions of limited mobility, mental illness or chronic diseases. Knowing that there are people around, who help being conformable without pain, and making sure that wishing for care are followed, gives peace of mind.
- Set up and maintain a social network besides your family.
The only way to stay mentally fit and motivated is to carry out different hobbies and interact with new people and situation.
One will become a Sudoku-master by training daily, but this will have no additional benefits to cope with general life requirements.
Setting up a plan for the golden years is important and reviewing my own situation not all topics are covered. Sometimes it is difficult to think about future challenges when life is actually so exciting and busy.
I wish you all the best for 2020 and a little bit of time to arrange measures to enjoy the additional golden years.
LET’S LOOK AT THE HUMAN BEINGS
Vital Solutions GmbH | Germany
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sybille Buchwald-Werner is German and studied pharmacy at the Heinrich-Heine University of Düsseldorf. She did her PhD in pharmaceutical chemistry, specializing in molecular modeling and has over 20 years’ experience in the natural product industry. She is co-founder and managing director of Vital Solutions. Vital Solutions works globally in the field of natural ingredients for the nutrition and health industry.
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