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Can we really slow down or reverse aging and live better, longer?

Updated: Mar 23, 2023

A recent docuseries starring Chris Hemsworth called 'Limitless' explores the human potential for living in good health for as long as possible. The series raises a few interesting questions about lifespan and what quality of life or function we want in the final years of our lives. And what would we need to do if we were to live better, longer?

Many people assume that aging equals ill health with the development of one or more chronic conditions or declining levels of function in their fitness, mobility, memory, vision, and hearing. This is not a surprise considering 80% of people above the age of 65 have at least one condition and 68% have two or more. The National Council on Aging has listed the top 10 common chronic conditions below:

What many people do not know is that biogerontologists, who study the biological basis of aging and age-related diseases, have helped us understand the process of aging. The molecular and cellular process of aging allows scientists to identify and explore ways in which this process can be stopped or even reversed with the potential to prevent or reverse aging and age-related diseases. An example, currently in early testing stages in animals, is the reversal of lost eyesight.

Another area of growing awareness is aging and the menopause transition, where research on the benefits of treating symptoms with body-identical hormone therapy shows promise in also protecting the heart, bones, and cognitive function in women.

The hallmarks of aging below describe 14 processes that change with biological age. Many of these processes overlap with age-related diseases. Fortunately, lifestyle changes have been shown to prevent cardiovascular disease, hypertension, and high cholesterol, and in the case of diabetes, reverse it in the early stages. Many of these conditions can be detected early and in combination with a personalized lifestyle plan with or without medical interventions, depending on the individual can prevent further deterioration.

Copyright: New Hallmarks of Ageing: a 2022 Copenhagen Ageing Meeting Summary

Longevity Physicians are trained to understand the complexity of human aging, identify the onset, and personalize prevention and intervention strategies to lengthen healthspan by preventing age-related diseases and preserving functional capacity or slowing down its decline.

You may also have heard that supplements (eg. NAD boosters, resveratrol, spermidine, fisetin), prescription drugs (eg. Metformin, Rapamycin), and even fasting or calorie restriction can prolong lifespan. But before you reach for some of these supplements or ask your doctor to prescribe these medicines, it is important to understand your baseline health status as there are potential risks and side effects with these interventions.

Our biological age can be measured using algorithms that identify patterns of epigenetic markers, called epigenetic clocks. Some of these clocks have good accuracy in predicting mortality. In addition, there are other clinical blood tests and functional biomarkers that are also an important part of a longevity assessment program, to identify early changes and help the physician tailor individualized nutrition, exercise, sleep, stress management, and supplement strategies. Since lifestyle habits have a significant impact on biological age and we see how smoking negatively impacts aging, establishing what is appropriate for you based on your unique profile is an important foundation before considering supplements or other therapies that stop or reverse aging.

Having baseline and objective data for biological, metabolic, and functional age allows long-term tracking and assessing the success of interventions and their potential side effects. As innovations and discoveries in therapies that target the process of aging (geroprotectors) become approved, this can help identify individuals with what they can benefit most. There are currently over 250 drugs and natural supplements being investigated for this purpose. Whilst many have shown results across different animal species, long-term human data is still needed.

Here are the top 6 tests for healthy longevity:

  1. Fasting glucose, insulin, HbA1c, lipids and nutritional markers

  2. Blood-based biological age testing using epigenetic methylation

  3. Omega 3 Index

  4. DEXA scan for bone density and lean body mass with grip strength

  5. VO2 Max Test for cardiorespiratory fitness, blood pressure, waist-height-ratio

  6. Health Type Assessment

Some may argue that many problems and issues can arise with increasing life expectancy and that it is 'unnatural', let's not forget that 15 thousand years ago, it was natural to only live until 30-35 years of age. In the last 200 years, life expectancy has increased to an average of 80 years and is projected to increase further in the next 30 years. There will be a greater aging population. Young people today will also have a higher life expectancy. Whether we like it or not, we are at a unique time in human evolution where we have an opportunity to mitigate age-related chronic disease and reduce the burdens on an overwhelmed medical system that will also require shifts in cultural, socio-economic, and governing bodies so that it can be widely available for all who can benefit from it.

Humans have a potential lifespan of 120-125 years and the opportunity to continue to have fulfilling and productive lives through the different age transitions.

To understand more about testing your biological, metabolic, and functional age, contact us to book in with our Longevity Physician.

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  1. Schmauck-Medina, Tomas et al. “New Hallmarks of Ageing: a 2022 Copenhagen Ageing Meeting Summary.” Aging (Albany, NY.) 14.16 (2022): 6829–6839. Web.

  2. Jett S, Malviya N, Schelbaum E, et al. Endogenous and Exogenous Estrogen Exposures: How Women's Reproductive Health Can Drive Brain Aging and Inform Alzheimer's Prevention. Front Aging Neurosci. 2022;14:831807. Published 2022 Mar 9. doi:10.3389/fnagi.2022.831807

  3. Wu, Jiachen et al. “Aging Conundrum: A Perspective for Ovarian Aging.” Frontiers in endocrinology (Lausanne) 13 (2022): 952471–952471. Web.

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