the Science of Living Well: Life Extension

This series of articles is dedicated to the investigation of those practices and procedures that pertain to the compression of morbidity and extension of human life as we know it in the 21st century. Strategies and measures revealed and verified by modern science, clinicians in the field and anti-aging physicians that live and work to that end.

Outside of responding with urgency by necessity to something like myocardial infarction, acute injury or infection with appropriate emergency medical care, I can think of no other phenomenon more significant than the extension of life itself, provided such life is adequately sustained by a measurable degree of quality equal to its length. This author is not interested in any technology that extends life at the cost of independence, freedom or moral dignity. Life is more than just a blip on a screen. Imagine a future without cognitive awareness.

My personal interest in this topic is both enormous and self-serving. I want to know how to extend my life as an athlete and functional human being. I want to live long without any evidence of disease, disability or degeneration. I want to preserve my mind and body but not for public display in a museum. Like nutrition and fitness, my brain and the house it lives in are equal in importance and value.

Since the dawn of my early youth, I can’t remember not being curious about life, as in knowing exactly what it is or where it goes when it disappears. I’m professionally trained as a naturopath and health practitioner, and I have a huge interest in physics, biology, biochemistry and physiology, but my oath of ‘do no harm’ is, by my own admission, directed mainly towards myself.

I want to live and I want to live well, so if there is a path that leads to James Hilton’s Shangri-La as depicted in The Lost Horizon and if it is possible to follow, then I will follow it no matter how difficult or challenging. Like freedom, the quest for life is worth the risk of losing it.

As a rational being of self-interest I want to know what to do to stay well. Freedom of disease is one thing, but the preservation of natural biological function long-term is another. I want to look good and feel good for as long as possible and therefore I definitely want to know what steps to take. But what does science have to say about longevity and healthy aging? Is it possible to remain free of chronic disease lifelong?

Are we designed by nature and the process of natural selection to be well or not? Did we evolve to simply crumble and fade away after fulfilling our purpose of reproduction? Is most chronic disease man-made or is natural medicine nothing more than an illusion for fools or a marketing scam?

To achieve a brilliant standard of optimum health and wellness, we have to know what optimum health and wellness is. But how do we know what optimum health is or looks like if we've never experienced or seen it?

To achieve optimum health and sustain it for a century, we obviously have to know what things to avoid and what habits to embrace. How else can one extend the virtue of one’s life? But as a philosopher, I know by experience that self-regulation, self-control and self-mastery are essential to this task. Without stability of mind and emotional self-control it simply isn't possible to attain the highest level of health and wellness.

Knowledge of health is useless without self-control or the desire to be well. Without the inner fortitude and cognitive capacity to control our behavior, the benefits of good health and life extension science are wasted on wishful thinking. How can we apply the principles known to provide the benefits of agelessness, youthfulness and vitality consistently if we can’t conduct ourselves accordingly with discipline? Do we really have what it takes to get the job done?

After observing an extensive surplus of aberrant human behavior worldwide it is blatantly obvious that most of us struggle with doing what’s right consistently. What do I mean by “doing what’s right?” I mean applying proven principles that preserve health, prevent disease and create harmony and balance in the soul. I mean not hurting or causing harm to other people. I also mean not doing anything to ourselves that we know in the spirit of true enlightenment and self-awareness is destructive, harmful or negative.

To live well long-term we must move forward in the spirit of selfish benevolence, progress and personal growth. We have to keep our head up, eyes open and find a solution for what some perceive as an inherent ‘self-destructive nature’. We have to create and sustain a true health-consciousness dedicated to the preservation and extension of life.

the science of living well

Science is the search for truth, but not for certainty. Big difference. Beware of anyone who is “certain” of anything, as all human knowledge is fallible and therefore uncertain.

Science, from the Latin word scientia, means "knowledge”. Knowledge is based on a continuous stream of data derived from the objective investigation of reality.

Our current understanding of everything therefore, and everything means "everything", must always be open to falsification.

If new knowledge or crucial “evidence” is presented, and it always is, we must move our prejudice aside and humbly accept our own misinterpretation of the truth, however naive, misguided or absurd! Keep that word evidence in the back of your mind, because without it you simply haven’t got a case!

“They’re can’t be a practical reason for believing what isn't true. Either the thing is true or it isn't and if it is true you should believe it, and if it isn't you shouldn't. If you can’t find out whether it’s true or whether it isn't, you should suspend judgment.”

~ Bertrand Russell

Well is the root of Wellness, but what does it mean? The scientific meaning is health and freedom from disease. But the intuitive alternative medical definition is much richer. Wellness means a balance of mind, body and spirit and results in an overall feeling of well-being. The National Wellness Institute defines wellness as an active process of becoming aware of and making choices toward a more successful existence.

Wellness is the currency of energy that sustains life. To be well is to be whole. Optimum health means functioning at our peak and highest level, allowing us to achieve our maximum potential. Dr. Emanuel Cheraskin MD described health as “the ability to achieve what you need to do and what you want to do, with energy and enthusiasm”.

Optimum health provides us with the insight necessary to define our goals and the motivation required to achieve them. When we are truly well, we are able to adapt to change and stress without significant damage.

The Science of Living Well a 21st century philosophy of wellness. It’s an integrated, diverse and eclectic approach to living that complies with rational thought and empirical evidence. It recognizes specific laws of health and constants that define our existence.

Life is a Sport. We are the athletes engaged in the game and the object is to play according to the rules. The rules are defined by nature and reality is our judge and jury. Those who play according to the rules live the longest and have the most fun.

The purpose of life is to live well. The meaning of life is to live with meaning. We are responsible for defining our own life purpose and discovering its true meaning, but during that process the pursuit of wellness must remain a constant, for without life, no purpose remains.

In subsequent articles I will explore numerous theories related to life extension and human aging including gene therapy, stem cell research, free radical pathology, glycation, hormesis, calorie restriction, blue zone philosophy, exercise, nutrition, dietary supplements and cognitive health.

"It is quite common here to live to a very ripe old age. Climate. Diet. Mountain water. But we like to believe it's the absence of struggle in the way we live" ~ The Lost Horizon 1937

Photo by Sam Jotham Sutharson from Burst

More on this topic...

the Science of Living Well: Telomeres
the Science of Living Well: Calorie Restriction
the Science of Living Well: Neuroplasticity
the Science of Living Well: Blue Zones

As always...Stay well and Live Free!