Can We Really Live Forever?
To date, Jeanne Louise Calment, who lived to the ripe old age of 122 years and 164 days, has the longest confirmed human lifespan on record. This super centenarian lived in France and when asked what her secret was to a long life, her response was olive oil, port wine and chocolate. Sounds great! Sign me up. But wait a minute, she also admitted to smoking until the age of 117. According to Wikipedia ‘her older brother François lived to the age of 97, her father to six days shy of 93, and her mother to 86.’ This information led researchers to believe that the key to a long life lies not only in living well, but more so, it is in the genes.
In a recent article published by The Economist magazine, the question was raised ‘is it possible for humans to live forever?’ Furthermore, do we want to? The answer to the last question is an obvious yes, humans want to live forever, we just don’t want to get old.
Scientists have spent decades trying to answer age old questions about lifespan – more recently the focus has been on genes. The research suggests that up to about the age of 80, a healthy lifestyle is required. This includes the obvious things; eat well, exercise, and don’t smoke (except in Calment’s case). Beyond that, your chances of becoming a centenarian are based largely on your genes.
In Life, Choose Quality and You’ll get Quantity
The term healthspan is the new lifespan. It is becoming far more important to focus less on extending the life of humans, and more on the good health of humans for the duration of that life. From the article we learn that there are ‘a number of biological components involved in the process of ageing. These cause the body to slowly degrade at the cellular level.’ Scientists are looking for the “protective gene” that wards off disease – the hope is to make it available to everyone. Any effort to slow or stop the progression of age-related diseases has the welcomed side effect of a longer, healthier life for us all.
As the article notes, ‘one of the characteristics of the very old is that they tend to be healthy right up until their deaths.’ So, get out there and get active. Make good choices for you. Your diet can slow aging in a number of ways – and here are some nutrient-rich foods that have the potential to slow aging in cells and will help promote longevity:
- Avocados – packed with anti-inflammatory monounsaturated fats – just like olive oil – eat like Jeanne Calment!
- Beets – loaded with cancer-fighting anthocyanins and they are packed with vitamins.
- Bran – help keep blood cholesterol and blood pressure in check and improve insulin action.
- Blackberries – high in fibre and vitamin C, also packed with anthyocanins.
- Cabbage – helps mop up free radicals and detoxify the liver of carcinogens.
- Lentils – plant protein and fibre – outstanding source of folate.
- Pomegranate – excellent source of antioxidants, fiber, folate and vitamin C.
- Pumpkin – excellent source of alpha-carotene, a phytochemical shown to block the growth of cancer cells
- Salmon – one of the best sources of omega-3 fats, salmon may protect from heart disease, Alzheimer’s and macular degeneration
- Spinach – high in lutein (for eye health) and vitamin K (for strong bones) – Popeye was right, eat your spinach!
Everything has balance and moderation, and I like to think that Jeanne Calment is somewhere raising her glass of port to you; “Cheers to your health”.