The idea of immortality has haunted mankind since time immemorial. Biologists who study how animals and plants survive, or what their aging processes are, offer the best clues for many years of disease-free survival. Nicklas Brendborg is a young biologist who has managed to explain the main findings in a book.immortal jellyfish (Fate broadcaster), It has become a well-deserved bestseller. We talk to him to explain what he discovered.
Based on what you have learned about nature and longevity, what are the key lessons we humans can learn to extend our lifespan?
It depends on how you approach this question. On the one hand, what we have learned from using animals to research drugs is not yet fully applicable to humans. On the other hand, we got tons of different things from direct studies on our species. So, if I had to give three unconventional tips for longevity, I would most likely be talking about flossing. Flossing is a tip that is widely described in my book. And then, a second important piece of advice would be to avoid loneliness. But it’s also something we learn mostly by studying people.
[En su libro, Brendborg explica que las personas portadoras del virus del herpes multiplican el riesgo de desarrolrar alzhéimer por 2,5 y que el virus se encuentra en las placas beta-amiloides en el cerebro, cuyo exceso es una de las características de la enfermedad. Hay otros patógenos relacionados con el alzhéimer. La bacteria Porphyromonas gingivalis vive en la boca y se ha encontrado en tejidos cerebrales de personas fallecidas con alzhéimer. Además, la periodontitis o inflamación de la boca, causada por el desequilibrio de la microbiota local y la acumulación de placa, se relaciona con mayor riesgo de padecer alzhéimer y enfermedades cardiovasculares). Todavía no se han establecido relaciones de casa y efecto entre virus, bacterias y alzhéimer, pero todo indica que vale la pena extremar el cuidado en la higiene de la boca, dice Brendborg].
Have you changed your lifestyle based on what you learned from nature and humans? Do you take certain foods, supplements, herbs or other products?
Yes, actually this book started out of my interest in the subject and as a guide to what I wanted to do for myself. Basically, I did everything I suggested in the book in the first place. And of course some of the advice or aspects that I thought about adding and therefore applying to my life as I was writing the book, I eventually decided not to do them because they didn’t have enough when I reviewed them. company database. But generally speaking, yes, there are loads of things I do every time I find something new. In this way, I change my life as I find new information.
Why do you say genetics is overrated?
I say this based on many different studies trying to determine the genetic influence on longevity. There’s a really great study that they took the Ancestry.com database, and they’re looking at the family trees of over a million people, trying to see how much correlation there is between the longevity of each relative. The result of these studies shows that there is no correlation. In fact, they show a higher correlation between couples than between genetic relatives. Therefore, given that couples are often not genetically related, the results of such studies suggest that a person’s longevity is more important than their genetics.
There are also studies in which identical twins are observed. Twins have exactly the same DNA, we can say, like genetic clones of each other. And that means they are very similar in many ways. They look alike physically, their personalities are very similar, they are just as tall and so on. But this rule does not apply to its longevity. Many even die at very different ages. So once again, these studies show that it’s the environment that determines longevity, not your genetics.
Are there any foods or food groups related to longevity?
Yes, that’s what I mean by “environment”. First of all, it is important to note that one of the important factors for longer life is luck. You must be lucky to be able to avoid all kinds of deadly diseases. But of course, another of the most important factors is the environment or lifestyle we are talking about. This could be, for example, what you eat and how much exercise you get, and other aspects such as your social life or occupation. All of this affects our physical health in many different ways, and often one that directly affects our bodies, like food. But our profession, our social life, our family life, etc. it is less visible but has an equally important mental impact. And of course, this mental influence also has consequences for our longevity. For example, there is research where it’s pretty clear that after someone loses a loved one, the risk of dying the next year is much higher. This is what we call dying of a broken heart. In conclusion, we also find that loneliness is another major risk factor for premature death.
How important are social relationships?
It cannot be said that any of these interpreted points is more important than the others, they are all equally important to reach clear conclusions. It’s really about balance. For example, you can go a long way by eating healthy, but if you don’t exercise at all or adopt a harmful habit like smoking, the amount of benefit you can gain from a healthy diet is of course limited. The more items you can fulfill, the better. In fact, I think we tend to overlook the benefits of social relationships and mental aspects. Normally, people who care a lot about their health only care about the physical part and take the right supplement, eat right, how much exercise they get etc. They focus on aspects that are easy to measure and perform, such as In the end, they leave out mental health, which is much more difficult to determine. It is more difficult to measure whether you have a good social life, but it is no less important for this.
Which do you trust more, natural products, drug discovery or gene therapy development?
From a scientific point of view, these are not always different things. There need not be a clear distinction between what is a supplement or a natural product and what is a medicine. Even official authorities sometimes exceed this limit. In many cases, something that used to be just a supplement is suddenly considered a drug. From my point of view, supplements, natural or not, are not always well-regulated. Sometimes you might think you’re getting the full amount, for example, fish oil, but in the end, you’re probably not getting the full amount because you don’t know what’s in the capsule. Supplements are not really regulated in many countries, whereas with drugs you pretty much know what you’re getting from the start. And if there are many studies supporting this drug, it is of course easier to trust it. Anyway, it is easier for a normal person to take supplements or natural products because you don’t have to go to the doctor to get them, you can just buy them.
According to his book, if we find the cure for the deadliest diseases, life expectancy won’t be long because we’ll die from other things. What concerns us is delaying aging. Really?
Yes, it is of course very important that research continues in the fight against cancer, dementia and cardiovascular diseases, which are three major diseases. But as you said, even if we struggle with these diseases, it does not mean that we will live forever. The biggest problem we find ourselves with is the effect of time on our body, it starts to get old and worn out after a certain age and an old and worn out body is more likely to succumb to something. If we really want to prolong life, we must fight not only the individual diseases that increase with aging, but also the aging process.
Taking very good care of ourselves, getting antioxidants, etc. Is it possible that we are making mistakes with strategies? You’re defending Hormesis, the saying “what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger”. Which habits or practices would be beneficial in this respect?
Well, the one with antioxidants is a good example that sometimes it’s easier to hurt yourself unconsciously than to help yourself, especially if you’re taking supplements thinking they’re safe and nothing bad will happen. But there are also studies trying to use antioxidants to improve people’s health. And what the results show is that, paradoxically, the risk of various diseases, including cancer that spreads more aggressively, is often increased if you use antioxidants. In fact, there is a phenomenon where many laboratory organisms somehow benefit from a challenge or a certain amount of stress. In that sense, it’s definitely more complicated than saying we have to remove all damage to live longer, because the body needs damage as a stimulus to stay strong.
If you had a lot of money to invest in longevity research, what ideas would you bet on?
A lot of investment has already come in, especially from very wealthy people in the United States. And what these guys are investing in is probably your best bet. But if I had a little more money, I think I’d fund more fundamental research on what aging is and why. There is so much we don’t know yet… We can look for solutions that are minimally correct, but we still have a lot to know. For example, we don’t know why some animals age faster than others. And I think it would be very exciting to have a deeper understanding of what really happens with age.
In the future, will living longer be a matter of money (for access to treatment, etc.) or will it be simple and healthy lifestyles?
No, I think it’s going to be expensive if you get therapy at first, but there will be huge social pressure to lower the price, and I’m sure it will eventually happen, because that’s what happens in medical science. . Something is very expensive and then its price tends to drop. Most of these, if they really work, will have a huge market ahead of them, so there will be a lot of incentive to lower the price and improve the products.
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What can be done to live longer?
On the pages of the Immortal Jellyfish you can find many recommendations for adopting healthy habits that strengthen the body’s resistance and slow down the aging process.
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