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 Integrative Medicine: Longevity: What are the Chances of Life Extension 
Few of us would deny wishing we could live longer, especially if this could be achieved in reasonable physical and mental health.

If on the other hand life were to just be longer, but in a state of decrepitude or senility, it would be a very unattractive prospect.

What has emerged from years of research is the virtual certainty that not only are extra years of life available but that these can be gained along with increased vitality and well-being, by using tactics known as Calorie Restriction with Full Nutrition.

Is There Evidence to Support the Idea of Life Extension?
In one word - YES - abundantly so - at least in animals.

The evidence is now overwhelming that the same calorie restriction strategies which allow animals to live 30% to 40% longer than their mates, will produce human life extension and also better health.1,2

The evidence is so compelling that many scientists and technicians working in this area of research have enthusiastically adopted calorie restriction methods for themselves and their families.

In order to understand the evidence we need to swiftly establish how long we are 'supposed' to live, and what happens as we age.3

How Long Should We Live?
An accepted formula for calculating life expectancy in mammals is based on the multiplication by five of the time it takes the skeleton to mature.

This leads to a 15 year average lifespan for dogs (which take three years for skeletal maturity) and in humans, who stop growing at around 25 years of age, to the stunning thought that we should live in good health to around 125 years of age.

What happens when we age is clear enough but the question 'how?' and 'why?'we age have many different theories to explain them.

Aging Theories
Some researchers have concluded that the changes which take place in cells leading to damaged genetic material (DNA) are the main causes of aging. Others suggest that a decline in the efficiency of our organs, accompanied by lowered hormonal and immune function are the underlying cause of aging. There are also those who disagree, arguing that these changes are effects rather than causes of the process.

Many scientists blame a combination of accumulated toxins, free radical activity, declining efficiency of our protective anti-oxidant enzymes along with radiation damage and nutritional deficiencies as the causes, perhaps assisted by built in coding in our genes which 'switches us off' when a certain level of wear and tear becomes apparent.

The signs of aging include increasingly poor protein manufacture by the cells, accompanied by cross-linking of tissues (making it less elastic, hard and wrinkled) plus accumulating levels of age-pigments called lipofuscin (liver-spots) in the cells and tissues which prevents them from normal function. As this happens there is a dramatic drop in efficient defensive enzyme activity as well as lower levels of hormone production, such as the Growth Hormone (GH) from the pituitary (GH is associated with rebuilding and repairing tissues).4

Anti-Aging is Not the Same as Life Extension
If free radical activity, toxic accumulation, lack of nutrients (especially the anti-oxidants) were the cause of aging then a health-enhancing diet would be adequate as an anti-aging strategy.

We could simply ensure anti-oxidant nutrients, including enzymes, in our food or as supplements, avoid exposure to toxic factors such as radiation and pollution and take adequate exercise and rest.

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 About The Author
Leon Chaitow ND, DO, MROA practicing naturopath, osteopath, and acupuncturist in the United Kingdom, with over forty years clinical experience, Chaitow is Editor-in-Chief, of the ...more
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