Anti Aging Research
posted on May 26, 2008
Last week, I mentioned two simple techniques to reduce the deadly chronic stress that you can™t avoid in the first place. #1 is Deep Breathing
It™s fun and easy. It™s also a proven technique that has worked for thousands of years in virtually every culture in history.
Simply sit or lie in a comfortable position. Close your eyes, briefly clear your mind, and then take a slow deep belly breath through your nose. Then exhale slowly through your mouth. Repeat while focusing only on your breath. If other thoughts enter your mind, simply let them pass through, and keep focusing on your breath.
When I first tried this, I had a hard time focusing on¦ or visualizing¦ my breath. After some trial and error, I came up with a way that works “ at least for me.
I visualize the healing air I breathe in as gold and silver, relaxing recharging star dust. I see the exhaled air as smoky pollution¦ cleansing my body of toxins and stress.
I do this several times a day. To demonstrate how effective this simple technique can be, I did it last evening when I felt stress over an unpleasant task. When I started, my blood pressure was 117/75. Seven minutes later, I dropped it to 97/63. That™s simply amazing! Had I not taken my stress break, I would have eroded my health, functioning sub-par and frenzied. Instead, I jumped back into my task with renewed energy and motivation.
This is not a one-time event. I get these results regularly. Taking several stress-busting breaks every day could help you avoid 80% of all medical conditions. That™s the medical profession™s conservative estimate of the toll stress takes on you.
How often do you think what you are doing is so urgent and important that you can™t afford to take one minute off, let alone seven? Well I™ve got news for you. The best time to take a stress break is when you think you don™t have the time. That™s exactly when proactive relaxation breaks are the most productive way to spend your time. Not only will they improve your performance, but you could avoid a nasty hospital stay, or even a premature death as a side effect.
How about when you are hurting from muscle tension? Dr. Neil Fiore offers a 5 minute and 39 second solution. Here™s an outline, but even better, I have attached an MP3 file that walks you through it. Feeling tense now? Then listen and loosen up. You can find out more about Dr. Fiore at www.neilfiore.com/.
Dr. Fiore™s tension busting steps:
- Sit up straight with your feet on the floor.
- Notice your body, head to toe, starting at your scalp, to your jaw, neck, shoulders and so forth, down to your feet.
- Notice any areas of tension.
- Inhale fully, and hold your breath.
- Tighten all your muscles, clench your fists, lift your feet from the floor and press them together, and suck in your belly.
- Exhale and release completely letting all your muscles relax.
- Repeat several times.
There it is. It™s much easier to relax tense muscles by tightening them fully first than by just trying to relax them. The secret? Tension to relaxation by exhaling. Now listen to Dr. Fiore™s audio.
You're invited to AGING 2008 at UCLA
The Methuselah Foundation invites us all to the free Aging 2008 public symposium at UCLA Friday, June 27th:
"The speakers at Aging 2008 will argue that the near-term consequences of intense research into regenerative medicine could be the development of therapies that extend healthy human life by decades, even if the therapies are applied in middle age. Peter Thiel, president of Clarium Capital, initial investor in Facebook, and lead sponsor of Aging 2008, said, 'The time has come to challenge the inevitability of aging. This forum will provide an excellent opportunity to look at the scientific barriers that must be overcome to substantially extend healthy human life, as well as the ethical implications of doing so.'"
Speakers include Aubrey de Grey, Gregory Stock, William Haseltine, Michael West, and a brace of other folk you should recognize from the aging research and advocacy communities.
Remember that the Methuselah Foundation is still looking for additional volunteers in the UCLA area; here's a great chance to help raise the profile of longevity science:
"The difference between us and cars is that we know everything there is to know about repairing cars. Just as a Ferrari would have been impossibly complex to build two hundred years ago, so is the body today. The difference is that biology is quickly becoming an information science. As loyal readers of this column know, information technologies increase at an exponential rate. Just like computers, biotechnology such as DNA sequencing or fMRI imaging roughly doubles in capability every year. We will soon be able to deal with the nanoscale devices that make up the human machine and fix the damage that occur to them."
"The problems involved in conquering aging have not been solved. They will never be solved unless people decide that they want to conquer aging - that they want to extend their lives. History has shown that man is capable of solving monumental problems once he sets his mind to it. At the turn of the century heavier-than-air flight was believed to be impossible, but the Wright brothers wanted to fly; just a few years ago rocket travel to the moon was looked upon as a fantasy, but scientists such as Werner Von Braun wanted to go to the moon. If we truly want to extend our lives - to maintain youth, vigor, and vitality indefinitely, we must become emotionally involved in the project."
How to Manage Chronic Stress
posted on May 19, 2008
Last week, I showed you how to avoid chronic stress¦ or at least how to reduce it. The truth is, as long as you™re in action, you will always have some stress in your life.
In fact, we simply don™t grow without stress. Some stress is good for you. It evolved as a survival mechanism. You get a rush of adrenalin when you™re faced with a sudden life threatening situation. You react faster, often without even thinking. Your strength can suddenly double for an instant.
But now that we™re civilized (at least technologically) we seldom face life threatening events (unless you live in Detroit). However, modern day life puts other pressures on you. Instead of being attacked by a wild animal, escaping and then relaxing for a week, we get stressed by the multiple processes of living in a complex world that I listed last week. And this stress isn™t over as fast as it occurred. Stressful situations may stay with us for days, weeks and even years. Or they maypop up one after another. They can make us feel helpless as babies. Sometimes they spin our lives out of control. This chronic stress is what kills us instead of saving us.
This week, I™m going to show you how to manage chronic stress without dropping out and meditating in a cave.
All you need to do is stop and get off the horse once in a while. Relaxation is not only fun and easy to do, but it will extend your life and help keep you from getting sick. Focus and intentional practice are much more effective than passive relaxation though. You might try meditation, yoga, prayer, self-hypnosis, deep breathing exercises, creative visualization, biofeedback and tai chi. Stress management can measurably reverse much of your stress-induced damage very quickly. You can even restore over taxed immune systems in ninety days or less. Best of all, your benefits accumulate. The longer you practice stress management techniques, the healthier you become.
Next week, I™m going to show you two basic simple techniques that work like crazy with minimal time and effort. In fact, they are fun. They™ll take you from a dysfunctional, tied-up-in-a bundle-of-knots condition to the relaxed, happy and productive super star you are meant to be in a matter of minutes. For now, here are some simple tips from Lifehack.org.
1. Make quiet time: Whether you meditate daily or just spend an hour a night with a book, you need to create a space where you can clear your mind.
2. Eat better: A good diet can help your body better deal with the effects of stress.
3. Make family time: Try to eat at least one meal a day with your family (or with friends if you™re single).
4. Talk it out: Bottling up your frustrations, even the little ones, leads to stress.
5. Prioritize: Figure out what in your life actually needs attention and what doesn™t.
6. Accept interruptions gracefully: Leave enough wiggle room so you can adapt to changes in your day.
7. Pay attention to yourself: Notice when you feel stressed, and determine the cause.
8. Love: Build relationships. Share yourself. Feel human warmth.
9. Learn How to Relax and Center. We™ll cover this next week.
Two weeks ago, we discussed the subject of common objections to extreme life extension. Let™s revisit a few in this issue with short simple responses. We™ll start with:
Why would anyone want to live forever?
"Forever" is a long time, and we're not suggesting that. Most people who enjoy life want more of it. Even most of those who claim they don't want to live longer than "natural" will go to the ends of the earth to cure themselves of cancer, heart disease and injuries when they get stricken. Modern drugs, surgical techniques and diagnostic tools are life extension technologies that few refuse.
Most who welcome death suffer from the ravages of aging that usually make life miserable toward the end of our lives. But we aim to avoid or reverse the negative side effects of aging. As long as your life is fulfilling, now or in the future, why would you want it to end?
Wouldn™t stopping aging simply extend my decrepit frail years?
Not at all. Our goals are keeping the young youthful and reversing the damage aging does to you if you are already affected by the ravages of aging. No one is interested in spending endless years in a nursing home. Age reversal will eventually mean transforming the elderly to a healthy youthful state. We aim to reset our or biological clocks while our chronological clocks keep ticking.
Shouldn't we spend our resources feeding the hungry, rather than keep people alive longer?
A knowledgeable productive human being is the ultimate resource. The elderly are the most knowledgeable people we have. By making them productive for extra years, many of those resources can be channeled to solving problems such as hunger. Besides, our planet can accommodate over 12 billion people before resources are taxed. This doesn't even account for future technologies such as seabed farming, mining asteroids, clean energy-saving technologies, mile high buildings (Frank Lloyd Wright designed one in 1956 that could have housed all of downtown Chicago. Imagine the views!), enhanced food production, nanotechnology and genetic engineering.
What's more, the exponential growth of information technology will affect our prosperity as well. The World Bank has reported, for example, that poverty in Asia has been cut in half over the past decade due to information technologies and that at current rates it will be cut by another 90 percent over the next decade. That phenomenon will spread around the globe.
How can you expect to solve something as complex as aging, when we can't even cure cancer?
For a couple of reasons. First, it may not be necessary to solve something as complex as aging in the near future. Fixing the damage aging causes may not be nearly as hard. That may be all we have to do to build a œbridge between today and the day we can enjoy the benefits of technologies that control the aging process.
Second, we already have some pretty compelling clues as to what causes aging. Enough in fact, to put our version of a biological "Manhattan Project" to work right now. We even know how to extend average life spans by up to 20 years in many people using current low tech lifestyle modifications. Unraveling the aging mystery was an unrealistic project just a few years ago, but recent giant technology and computational leaps give us the tools to make it a reality. For example, some biological problems used to take years to solve, now they take about 15 seconds. These tools will only get better faster with exponential growth of knowledge and technology.
I™ll have a few more to share with you in the next issue. Meanwhile, keep your eye on the positive side of the pie.
This issue, we™re wrapping up common objections to extreme life extension
I send these to you for two reasons. First, you may have some of these questions lurking in the back of your mind. Second, some of your friends probably do, and if you decide to discuss longevity with them, now you are armed with responses if some of these come up.
Also, before I forget, if you have an interest in fitness, and specifically (but not exclusively) weight training, Shawn Phillips just published a must read book, Strength for Life www.SharetheStrength.com. It was released May 1 and is available on Amazon.com. I read his manuscript and endorse his book 100%.
Won't longer life spans threaten the Social Security system, Medicare and pension plans?
Yes, as they're structured today. But remember, average life spans have increased steadily and dramatically most of this century. In fact, U.S. average life spans increased by 29 years since 1900. Governments and industry successfully adjusted to it. The greatest burden on healthcare comes from the elderly. If aging is not tackled, societies will consist of a large portion of frail, elderly people, which will result in a serious financial burden. Our mission is to avoid having elderly patients and to keep them youthful and productive. So curing aging would be economically sound. People would live longer but also work longer and be more productive. Without the declining years of old age, healthcare and the economy would benefit from a cure for aging.
Sure, change sometimes hurts, but aren't millions of pre-mature deaths a high price to pay to keep retirement and entitlement plans static? Besides, shouldn't each individual be offered that choice for his or her life? Wouldn't it be immoral to suppress or withhold life extending technology, because some people want to protect the status quo?
What will we do with all the "old people"?
"Old people" can be our most valuable resources. We generally acquire more experience, knowledge, wisdom and skills as we age. Rather than putting us "out to pasture" or in nursing homes, wouldn't society be better off if we kept ourselves youthful and productive? On average, people spend more on medical bills during the last year of their lives than all the rest of their years combined.
You don't need modern technology. Won't meditation, yoga, exercise, supplements, faith and pure food, air and water accomplish the same thing?
Only to a degree. These can all help us live longer, but no one has ever been proven to live beyond 122 years. We hope to someday extend the maximum life span, while allowing people to be active and youthful well into "old" age. In the meantime, keep up your healthy habits. They will increase your chances of being alive and healthy long enough to benefit from amazing extreme life extension research.
Why hasn't the medical community gotten behind a treatment for "aging" by now?
Mainly because the vast majority of people don't see aging as a disease, let alone a solvable one. Imagine the urgency that goes into freeing victims trapped beneath a collapsed building. Aging is equally disastrous, but on a scale magnified by a factor of millions. Yet, because it sneaks up on us, and because hardly anyone recognizes aging as treatable, most people accept "natural" death... and die.
Won't only by the rich be able to afford extreme life extension technologies?
Maybe. But if so, only at first. Today, we experience about a 50% annual deflation factor for many, if not most technologies. And this factor keeps increasing. In other words, technologies get more affordable faster, at an ever increasing rate. Only the wealthy can afford many new technologies. But at that stage, they usually don't work very well. At the next stage, they are affordable to many people and work better. Soon, they work well and are affordable to most. Finally, they're almost free. The progression from mostly unaffordable technologies to very inexpensive is currently about a ten year process. Ten years from now, it will be about five years. And twenty years down the road it will only be about a two to three year lag.
Won™t life be boring if we live a long time?
If you™re bored now, maybe. But as we advance in every area of life, we see more and more opportunities and more and more diversity. This is continuing, not decreasing. Imagine the opportunity to spend active time with your children™s great, great grandchildren. How about embarking on a new career or going back to school and studying something you really love? I believe bored people have either lost hope or they are doing something outside of their passion. If you had an open-ended future to pursue your dreams, would you be bored?
I wouldn™t want to outlive all my friends.
This deathist phrase, at least to me, is an illogical reason for a death wish. First, if we have a choice, and your friends choose to die, why would you let them drag you along? Second, if you™re like me, you continually meet new people. Many become friends. And a few become close friends. How many new friends do you think you could make in several more lifetimes? How many people do you know who lost close friends or family members¦ or who went through emotional divorces and still found happiness and even new and better relationships? Heartbreak and loss eventually heal, and there are lots of interesting people in this world who would love to know you.
Simply put: Life is Good and Death is Bad.