Refocus Research to Delay Aging?

As a company who assists health and wellness educators, researchers and clinicians globally with our aging software, we are always interested in new developments and theories about aging.

It is predicted that by 2050, the number of people over the age of 80 will triple globally. These demographics could come at great cost to individuals and economies.   In a recent article in the journal Nature, two groups describe how research in animals and humans should be refocused to find ways to delay the onset of frailty.

Today's medicine works by treating the symptoms of aging as they arise in our body. Unsurprisingly it’s become a multi-billion dollar industry. However, according to researchers, if we instead decided to treat the metabolic and molecular (root causes) problems of human aging, that we could all live long and fruitful lives into our eighties. However, researchers say that in today's world, there’s more financial incentive for treating diseases and coming up with cures, rather than preventing chronic conditions in the first place by promoting  a good diet and healthy living. 

Fix the problem at the root, don’t just treat the symptoms

Dr. Luigi Fontana, a well-known professor of medicine and nutrition at the Washington University,  said,  "You don't have to be a mathematician or an economist to understand that our current health care approach is not sustainable.  As targeting diseases has helped people live longer, they are spending more years being sick with multiple disorders related to aging, and that's expensive." 

Common diseases humans face as they become older are heart attacks, diabetes, heart failure, dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease. It’s predicted that approximately 70 per cent of people who are 65 or older will have at least two types of chronic diseases. Researchers believe that targeting specific molecular pathways and studying patient diet, gene structures, and using certain drugs can actually reduce the chances or even delay the likelihood of diseases as we get older.

Fontana also stresses that heart failure doesn’t just happen overnight; it takes decades of an unhealthy lifestyle combined with activating aging-related pathways in the body that will cause our bodies to develop these diseases.  Providing people with a personalized diet and exercise program has been shown in some studies to lessen the aging process and help reduce the frequency of developing chronic diseases later in life.

Results to back the theory

In his research, Fontana found that people who were eating fewer calories, while still getting all their required vitamins and minerals, had “younger”, better performing hearts. The subjects were also said to have lower blood pressure, less inflammation, and their skeletal muscles operated the same way as bodies much younger than the subjects.   As already proven in animal research, reducing the amount of calories, while maintaining a healthy diet, has helped increase life expectancy.

Fontana and his team believe that eating a healthy diet and finding ways to reduce the pathways of aging are the most sensible long-term approach to staying healthy.

Dr. Fontana is a Research Associate Professor of Medicine and Co-Director of the Longevity Research Program at Washington University in St. Louis. He graduated with highest honors from the Verona University Medical School in 1994, where he completed his internship and residency in Internal Medicine (1999). He also received a Ph.D. in metabolism from the Padua University Medical School in 2004. Dr. Fontana is an internationally recognized scientist, author and expert in the fields of nutrition and healthy aging.