Do you know anybody who wouldn’t like more longevity? A longer life? But it’s not that simple.
We don’t just want a longer lifespan filled with existing and new health problems. What we really want is a longer life that is also healthy — a longer lifespan + a longer healthspan.
Time Is Relative for Your Cells
One of the world’s top experts on aging processes has an interesting take on longevity. As a boy, he decided along with his brother that they would do their best to discover what aging and longevity, and maybe even immortality, were all about. One brother decided to tackle the problem by studying how lifespan and healthspan happen (or don’t happen) in cells.
What Dr. Steve Horvath learned was astonishing and illuminating. It turns out that, at a cellular level, time itself is a relative thing. Time doesn’t occur in a second-by-second way for cells. Instead, it occurs in more of an event-by-event way for them.
Cells that are able to perform their normal repair and renewal don’t seem to notice the passage of time as much, so they look and act younger. Cells that, for various reasons, are unable to engage in these natural “rites of cell rejuvenation” gather junk and damage, and start to look and act older. In essence, cells of the same type and same age can either appear young or old depending on their living circumstances!
So what are the most crucial factors that make this life-and-death difference between younger rejuvenated cells and the older exhausted ones?
Perhaps the #1 difference is nutrition. Yes, cells are concerned about nutrition, too — maybe more than a lot of people are! Nutrition isn’t just a matter of what or how much. It’s also about balance. It turns out that too much overall nutrition ages cells very effectively, just like too little can. The essential balancing act is this — not getting too much energy yet getting enough of the right nutrients to use that energy. With the right amount and balance, cells can regularly rejuvenate and hold onto their original youthfulness longer.
The #2 difference goes right along with #1, and it’s what we would call “stress.” And just like nutrition, it’s not just the type or how much stress the cell experiences, but the balance between “positive” stresses that exercise healthy youthfulness and “negative” stresses that create excessive damage. For cells, positive stresses include brief vacations from nutrition that trigger cell renewal. Negative stresses include toxins, injuries, or excessive or imbalanced nutrition that keeps cells from repairing themselves as they would naturally do.
For a Deeper Dive
And here’s a groundbreaking article by Dr. Horvath that explains more about how time passes in a relative way for the cells that make up bodies.