Never say die….


In the past physical ageing was inevitable. Now, new scientific discoveries mean we can not only live longer but healthier and more enjoyable lives. Our longevity is not purely genetic – inherited factors account for only 30% of longevity. It is our health behaviour – that is, the choice of food, environment and physical activity that most importantly accounts for 70 percent of living longer. So our longevity is really in our own hands.

Improved healthcare and standards of living also mean we are seeing the growth of an active elderly population over the age of 65, and a new group of 85 years and older. Twenty percent of the world’s elderly population or 61 million people are 85+. By 2020, this group will double to 146 million. So if we are living longer we should all take preventative measures with out diet and exercise to ensure we not only live longer but that we are as happy and healthy as we can be.

So what causes ageing? The main causes of ageing and death are ageing of the heart and blood vessels (cardiovascular system), ageing of the immune system, and ageing caused by accidents and the environment.

Clogging of the arteries from a diet of highly saturated fat causes heart attacks and strokes. A weak immune system and environmental toxins may be the trigger for many forms of cancer and accidents that lead to early death.

But there are a number of factors that accelerate ageing. These are mainly lifestyle choices that we make that cut years off our natural lives and include: overeating and poor nutrition, smoking of whatever form, excessive alcohol intake, lack of exercise, lack of mental challenge, and feeling unloved or uncared for. Which is another reason why we should nurture the older members of our community.

The key to successful ageing is how well we can control these factors. Take control – see a doctor who can determine what measures you should be taking to improve your blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar and diet. Whether you need medication, sugery or special supplements. There are lists of experts on our site.

Doctors are learning more about how to extend human life through new discoveries such as stem cells. There are already a number of supplements available that can subsitute for the loss of hormones and other building blocks. One is human growth hormone (HGH) and another sex steroids. In theory, since HGH and testosterone (or estrogen) are responsible for the rapid growth and maturation in adolescence, replenishing them in old age will reverse the effects of ageing.

A recent study (Journal of the American Medical Association, November 2002), stated that combined HGH and sex steroids did just that – increased lean body mass and decreased fat in both men and women subjects. So is this the elixir of youth? Current research has not come up with the answer. There are long term risks and side-effects such as the increased risk of cancer with HGH. There is no one magic pill but there are a number of elixirs – elixir supplements, elixir antioxidents and elixir foods – which we can all take so that we can live life to the optimum. Even with the most serious diseases of ageing described below these elixirs can assist quality of life but their real value is in prevention. The aim of ElixirNews is to report on these new developments to help you make informed choices in living life to the optimum.