Keeping your hearing, sight, mobility, flexibility, sex life are all aspects of having a quality of life. This article is about what supplements are associated with some of these other aspects rather than about disease prevention like cancer or immunity or heart disease.
I fear being like people you see who are walking crouched over, taking slow steps, almost falling over every step. I have tremendous respect for those who are older and suffering for whatever reason. I am not trying to put such people down and in many cases this is because of no fault of their own. Nonetheless, i hope to the extent possible to maintain mobility, senses, awareness and happy pain free life worth living.
Telomeres and Programmed death
Most good colleges now have a longevity specialty. It is a real study. What enables people to live longer and better quality of life?
Research shows that a part of all DNA called Telomeres shorten as you get older. These are caps on the end of your DNA that shorten with each cell division. Every creature has these Telomeres and studies show that creatures die soon after their telomeres reach a minimum length. Studies have shown it is possible to predict death by looking at how long your Telomeres are.
As these Telomeres fall off the DNA functions differently. New research shows that different genes are activated as the Telomeres shorten. These changes may be programmed to help as we age or it may be programmed death or some combination. It could be that many of the things we think are diseases are simply an artifact of the shortening of our Telomeres.
Nobody knows how all this genetic control information works but nature doesn’t want us living a long time. Evolution would prefer if we died soon after we gave birth to our last child and enough time to raise them to 12 or so. This would optimize the pace of evolution. So, it is likely nature programs death for 40s and in fact the average life span of a human prior to the 20th century was close to 40 years old. When people say if we just ate like we did before the 20th century it seems like these people don’t realize that the average lifespan was quite a bit shorter than it is today with all our modern medicine and toys.
It is my contention that the human body has an enormous capacity to repair itself. Sometime around 25 or 30 the body seems to switch into a mode where it stops growing, getting stronger, fixing things aggressively and switches to a less capable repair mode. This may be intentional or it may be a consequence of aging. Some theories of longevity are based around the accumulation of garbage in the cells, around the cells and that over time the gunking up of the various systems inevitably brings on death. However, up to 25 or 30 our bodies seem to be able to handle all the gunk and keep improving and fixing themselves quite well. I believe the body could repair and keep itself in pristine 25 year old condition for much longer than it does but that since there is no evolutionary advantage to doing so it lets these things start to fall apart after 25 or 30.
If you could lengthen your Telomeres would you live forever? It is not clear if that would actually happen. Nonetheless Telomere’s are a big interest to people studying longevity. There is only one chemical I know of that is potentially able to help restore Telomere length by promoting the production of Telomerase a molecule that helps put Telomeres on DNA. This chemical Astragalus is in studies
Since I first wrote this article there have been numerous tests of different chemicals in Astragalus. A company TA-65 has produced a proprietary substance called CycloAstragenol. This substance has been tested in clinical trials and found to increase Telomerase. However, translating that to actual increase in Telomeres or to longer life is yet to be tested. However, at least this substance has been proven to at least do what it claims.
It seems that it would take tons of Astragalus to produce the same amount of Cycloastragenol as in TA-65. The substance is very minute in the herb.
Another substance Astragaloside is another version of concentrated Astragalus key ingredients. This has also been tested and is not a proprietary substance. It is less costly.
Most of these supplements are still quite expensive and are well tested from what I can see.
These substances are the closest we know yet to a substance directly related to something that might have a real effect on overall aging. However, we don’t know yet if they will work.
Other Longevity considerations and things
By the age 45 your immune system is seriously damaged compared to a younger person. Injuries take much longer to recover from and all signs of youth from skin to energy, strength, sex capacity all are in decline. Numerous reasons have been put across for all these things including the decline in youthful chemicals in the body including: Testosterone, Melatonin. I take supplements which increase Testosterone and I take Melatonin for sleep not for longevity but if it helps with longevity great. I also take D3 for immune system function and Cialis regularly for lower blood pressure, better urine flow and better sex. These things categorically work, highly suggested.
There are numerous supplements which claim to raise Testosterone naturally. I am currently using baking soda but in the past have used Mdrive and ForgeMax. These are expensive supplements and I don’t believe they work any better than baking soda! My testosterone level is appropriate for someone half my age and that is very helpful for a number of things. There is controversy about Testosterone supplementation like this but I find it important to improve quality of life.
Continuous Repair and the need for continuous supply of nutrition
Your body has 100,000 chemicals in it. Many of these chemicals are manufactured by the body from the nutrition it gets. Numerous of the molecules are variations of other molecules and can be synthesized from basic components the body has. However, some chemicals the body cannot synthesize. Some of those are critical vitamins you need to ingest periodically. It is not known what the complete list of chemicals you need to take in to make everything or what is used for what in the body. We do not understand the operation of the body and chemistry well enough to make such a perfect list.
If you damage something it takes a LOT more work to fix it than to maintain the existing function. The damaged thing is rarely as good as the original equipment. This is an imperfect analogy to cars and things we build but in general I believe that it is best not to damage the body and the body needs numerous chemicals to keep itself in top condition. If you don’t eat or take in all the nutrition your body needs every day then some part of your body that is in disrepair may not get repaired that day. It is then harder to repair that the next day and at some point if the thing whatever it is progresses to a disease, such as diabetes, Alzheimers, hunched over, loss of hearing, … then you have failed.
There may be cures for diseases, ways to repair these conditions but by the time this has progressed to this point the body has obviously been mistreated for so long there is a LOT of repair to be done. It may never be able to repair and even if medicine can restore you it would have been infinitely better to have prevented such damage in the first place. This is common sense. I’m not blaming people who get disease. I am simply stating what I think are the facts of what is better and if possible what to avoid. Therefore, I do not want to be in the position that simply taking a pill could have kept my body repaired a little better and forestalled a disease.
Diabetes as an example
A good example of this is diabetes. Your body may not be able to keep the sugar glucose level of your blood well maintained. Continuous abuse of the sugar system in your body by overeating, eating too much sugur, dieting over and over can produce damage to this system. Once you have damaged this system enough your life is permanently damaged. You will not be able to eat things that are good for the rest of your life. You will have ups and downs and you will forever be at risk of numerous life threatening consequences of diabetes. This is a horrible situation to get into. There are a number of supplements which help your body keep its sugar system well regulated. Resveratrol, Fish Oils, Pine Bark and a few other chemicals that are easy to take make it possible for you to eat what you like and keep your glucose pretty much in good shape. Please consider taking some of these supplements. Diabetes is preventable and there is no doubt that supplements can make a big difference. Once you have diabetes it is a terrifying disease.
Taken to an extreme such a philosophy of preventing damage would lead to a very ascetic life and this is not what I believe is quality of life. I take supplements partly so that I can eat other things or not eat things today because I know my body is getting all the nutrition. It means I can do things because I believe my body has the stuff it needs to take the stress of whatever I am doing. If the choice is to live life as an ascetic and deny yourself all the time or to take some supplements and then be much more flexible and enjoy life I prefer the latter. I find taking supplements easy. It has allowed me to keep all kinds of things in balance and stay very healthy even when I do things an ascetic would consider bad. I think 99% of people are incapable of living the life that asceticism would require. Eating certain foods every day is hard. Not eating certain foods or not drinking this or that is hard. I prefer to take supplements and not worry as much about what else I do. Maybe the ascetic wins but there is a joke I am sure we’ve all heard about how it is really not worth it to live a life if you are living life without pleasure.
Variety is important
Some chemicals are stored by the body and can be called upon when needed by the body. Many chemicals aren’t. If those chemicals are valuable then every day you don’t take them your body doesn’t have a resource it needs. Sometimes the body can manufacture a chemical from other chemicals. The body is quite versatile. Understanding all this will take some time. In the meantime I prefer to take the small nuisance of swallowing a few pills to make sure my body always has whatever it needs available when it needs it.
I have never been much of an athlete. Yet I know that physical exercise is crucial to a quality life.
I like that a friend of mine changed her birthday on Facebook so she appears to be 94 years old. Instead of trying to pretend to be younger and seeming vain she took the other tack. By being ridiculously old she is just leaving it ambiguous which I think is fair.
I have exercised 3 to 4 times a week for 30 minutes or more for the last 20 years. I’ve never done it to excess and I try to be consistent rather than an athlete. Others may prefer more rigorous program. That will help some but I don’t think a lot. I also worry that huge exercise is actually damaging to the body. Some may believe otherwise and advocate much more exercise. I believe long term studies have shown the most benefit from a relatively small amount of exercise every day or frequently is the most important. I want to be strong and limber enough that I can still walk with speed and confidence, not fall over and be able to lift things and do work. I don’t want to feel like getting about life is harder than it ever was. I don’t. So far, my age has not limited me from doing anything I would have done at an earlier age.
I also mix up aerobic exercise and weight exercise. Initially a lot of people seemed convinced that aerobic exercise was the only way to go. Since then it has become clear to me that weight exercise programs achieve the same benefits for the body and sometimes more. Strength is important to maintaining a quality of life. Being able to lift things is crucial not only to feeling strong but also to prevent injury. Aerobics specifically targets the leg muscles and it does give endurance. I think you should mix it up and include both in your program.
I use a personal trainer and highly recommend them. Over the years they have been very helpful to teach me new exercises and also do many things I wouldn’t do otherwise.
My attitude to physical labor has changed over the years. Now, I look with glee at being able to help someone move or move myself, to go up 4 flights of stairs. I want to do these things because I always think it means a little exercise opportunity. If I have to climb stairs I grin. Great. A chance to get a little exercise. Attitude makes a huge difference. If I look at work as an opportunity to get a little exercise then it changes my attitude a lot.
There are supplements you can take to get a better workout. BCAA (branch chain amino acids) I have found absolutely help me get a longer and stronger workout.
Eyes, Ears, Mind, etc…
There are supplements you can take that are proven to help you maintain your eyes, ears, mental condition etc… It is critical to my mind that you maintain these senses as part of longevity as well.
I have another blog on quality of life that talks about these items that I will publish soon.