WHY DO WE AGE?

  • by: Valter Longo Foundation Editorial Staff
  • April 28th, 2020
Aging is the set of changes that occur in living organisms with time. In general, aging has had a negative connotation, since it is related to dysfunctions that compromise the proper functioning of the human body. In some cases, however, it results in improvements. In endurance sports, for example, performance improves with age, both physically and mentally. Instead of using the term “aging,” it would be wise to say “senescence,” because it does not carry negative connotations.

Over the years, scientists have identified several theories to explain the aging process. From Darwin and Wallace’s theory of evolution, to the mechanism of natural selection: the process according to which those organisms better adapted to their environment, survive and produce offspring. The previous scientists were the first to speculate that aging and death were planned processes, yet didn’t live to demonstrate it. Even the free radical theory, whichstates that oxidizing molecules, such as oxygen, can damage cells, proteins, and DNA, is aimed at the study of aging. Additionally, Kirkwood’s disposable soma theory tries to explain that organisms have a limited amount of resources, or “soma,” and thus maintain a balance between the resources they invest in, and maintenance of the body and reproduction.

PROGRAMMED LONGEVITY

Scientists have often ventured into the study of aging, mainly to understand its mechanisms and discover why humans age. Various theories have tried to explain the process, but never focus on how to live a long and healthy life. By studying aging from this point of view, it is possible to identify strategies that can help slow down the aging process without compromising well-being. Dr. Valter Longo was inspired by this idea and by Wallace and Darwin when he began to develop the theory of programmed longevity. He ran several experiments in the laboratory and published an article on Nature Review Genetics.

According to the theory of programmed longevity, it is possible to protect and repair systems of the human body in order to slow down aging, as well as make these systems work longer and better. Therefore, the body begins to slow down at the age of 60-70, instead of at the ages of 40-50 as is normally observed. Programmed longevity represents an evolved biological strategy capable of improving health and longevity, thanks to its protection and regeneration mechanisms.

THE STUDY OF YOUTH

To stay young and functional, the body needs to be programmed to last longer, and achieves this through various protective, restorative, and replacive processes. As a result, the theory of programmed longevity is closely related to the science that studies how to stay young: Juventology(Gerontology is the study of aging). Juventology is a new field of research identified by Dr. Valter Longo. Recently, Juventology has been approved by the scientific community thanks to publications in the Aging Cell Journal.

The programmed longevity theory is also related to youth span, or the period of life in which an organism is young and healthy, and has optimal function.Juventology is rather the novel study of the mechanisms that are responsible for youth span. The previous theories focused on the deterioration processes that lead to aging, which normally begins between the ages of 40-50. However, in order to have a more comprehensive approach, it is necessary to study life before this time period. Mechanisms that regulate youth span could lengthen the “healthy life” phase, and provide a “youthful life”.

SOURCES:

  1. Valter Longo, La dieta della longevità, Vallardi Editore 2016
  2. Longo VD, Mitteldorf J, Skulachev VP; Programmed and altruistic ageing; Nature Review Genetics 2005 Nov;6(11):866-72
  3. VD Longo; Programmed longevity, youthspan, and juventology; Aging Cell 2019 Feb.

By Fondazione Valter Longo Onlus editorial staff
Fondazione Valter Longo Onlus aims to make scientific dissemination by raising awareness among the scientific and non-scientific community of a healthy lifestyle and proper nutrition through the production of explanatory scientific articles, textual, infographics and multimedia content, and the dissemination of clinical activities scientific, informative and educational aspects of the Foundation and its team of professionals. Dietary pathways, scientific discoveries, clinical studies, treatments and technologies, national and international awareness events, prevention initiatives as well as Longevity recipes are just some of the topics addressed in articles and in-depth interviews published daily and written in collaboration with the Foundation’s specialists. Also active on social networks, Fondazione Valter Longo Onlus editorial staff also offers a monthly newsletter sent to all members, to stay up to date on the most interesting news related to the world of Health, Nutrition and Longevity.
Contributors:
Romina Inés Cervigni
Alessandra Fedato
Maria Liliana Ciraulo
Corinna Montana Lampo
Cristina Villa
Contact: press@valterlongo.com or + 39 02 2513 8307

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