Want to live longer? Experts offer their longevity tips
Want to live longer? We asked leading anti-ageing researchers for their tips on how to turn back the clock (and it doesn’t just involve quitting smoking)
- Scientists are developing drugs that remove ‘zombie cells’ which cause disease
- You can live 15 years longer by eating healthily, not smoking and exercising
Immortality may still be a concept in the realm of science fiction or the pipe dreams of billionaires.
But there are lifestyle changes you can do today that may help you turn back the clock.
Simple tips, like exercise and a healthy lifestyle, could extend our lives by 15 years, scientists say.
And experts have also revealed exciting developments in the pipeline that could eradicate the disease causing cells responsible for the aging process.
Here, MailOnline asks the world’s top anti-aging scientists what you can do to live longer.
Scientists are working with stem cells and ways of removing ‘zombie cells’ to keep people healthier for longer. Senescent cells — dubbed ‘zombie cells’ — are cells that eventually stop dividing, then accumulate, releasing compounds in the body that accelerate ageing
Dr David Clancy
Dr David Clancy from Lancaster University, who has spent decades researching how to delay the onset of age-related decline, has two tips for an longer life, calorie restriction and exercise.
It may seem simple, we’ve been told to eat healthy and exercise for years, but the mechanics of how this influences aging are a complex.
Dr Clancy explained that these measures can help clear the body of senescent cells, also called ‘zombie cells’.
These are cells that eventually stop dividing, and then accumulate, releasing compounds in the body that accelerate ageing.
Dr David Clancy from Lancaster University says says both exercise and diet restriction makes ‘zombie’ cells clean themselves up
The younger you are the better your body’s immune system is equipped to get rid of these ‘zombie cells’, but this capacity shrinks as we get older.
Some scientists think we will be able to slow down aging by taking medication that ‘cleans up’ these senescent cells.
But for now, Dr Clancy said grey hairs and aching joints could be held back through regular exercise and diet restriction.
‘When things go into a state of starvation or where they think there is going to be substantial energetic demand, the cell will go into a state where they start to clean up proteins that are not working properly,’ he said.
‘These proteins can hang around in normal conditions, but when the cell thinks there is going to be energy demands on it, then these things get cleaned up.’
Physical activity benefits the immune system by reducing the burden of senescent cells in skeletal muscle and fat cells, according to a review by researchers at the University of Birmingham in 2019.
But another recent study by researchers in Taiwan suggests this is only possible with grueling high-intensity exercise.
When it comes to a calorie restriction Dr Clancy, suggests a method that worked for his aunt who lived until she was in her 90s — a decade longer than the average life expectancy for a woman in the UK.
He says her secret was not exercise, but ‘Ashkenazi genes, a life of relative ease’ and a ‘liquid diet’ for one day of the week, every week.
‘Now, I don’t think the liquid included sherry or wine, but just tea and coffee or water,’ Dr Clancy said.
But he added: ‘The trouble with these behavioural changes is that they are very difficult to maintain.’
The Office for National Statistics predicts the life expectancy of men born in 2070 in the UK will reach the age of 85 on average, while women will be nearly 88 when they die
Dr Andrew Steele
It is never too late to start when it comes to reaping the anti-aging benefits of exercise, says Berlin based scientist and writer Dr Andrew Steele.
‘No start is too small. Obviously you should build up to to more, but it is best to take the first step than do nothing’, he said.
The scientist and author of ‘Ageless: The new science of getting older without getting old’, says exercise even has the power to improve the fitness of 90-somethings.
In his book he refers to a 2014 study published in the journal Age, which sees a group of pensioners in their 90s follow a 12-week resistance training programme.
Dr Andrew Steele, a computational biologist and author of Ageless: The New Science of Getting Older Without Getting Old
The results showed the pensioners increased their muscle strength and walking speed, implying some improvement to their health, and logically, their longevity.
Dr Steele said: ‘When you go out for a run you can feel your muscles working, you can feel your heart beating, your lungs going, you can imagine why it benefits your muscles and your cardiovascular system.
WHO WAS JEANNE CALMENT?
Jeanne Calment, pictured with her Guinness World Record
Jeanne Louise Calment holds the Guinness World Record for being the oldest person ever.
Born on February 21, 1875, she is reported to have lived to the age of 122 years and 164 days.
She passed away in a nursing home in Arles, in the south of France, on August 4, 1997.
Her unparalleled longevity has been the subject of numerous studies, both before and after her death.
She stunned doctors by continuing to smoke cigarettes and drink alcohol every day.
Jeanne enjoyed good health for the majority of her life, having even taken up fencing as a hobby at the age of 85.
Ms Calment also claimed to have met the artist Vincent van Gogh, to whom she sold painting canvasses in her father’s shop as a teenager.
‘He was ugly as sin, had a vile temper and smelled of booze,’ she said.
‘What is also known is that exercise reduces your risk of cancer and dementia, so clearly it is having a much broader effect on the body than we can imagine.’
Dr Steele also believes each hallmark of aging causes the next one to be triggered so interrupting this process via exercise, can help us live longer.
He explained that because our DNA tells our cells how to build and maintain our bodies if it starts to get damaged it can cause ‘typos’.
This can increase risk of diseases such as cancer as well lead to the build-up of senescent cells, restricting our life expectancy.
While Dr Steele said a cure is being developed to prevent this chain of processes, it may not be in the form of a miracle pill.
‘I think one of the difficulties when I use the word cure, is that people visualize what they’ll take, and you’ll just stop aging,’ he said.
‘That is absolutely not what I’m talking about.
‘It’s going to be a variety of different things.
‘We might, for example, use drugs to kill these senescent cells.
‘But there might be other things that involve gene therapies, or stem cell therapies, which can sound a bit more futuristic.’
For now, he said exercise remains the easiest way to add years to your life.
Professor Richard Faragher
A non-believer when it comes to anti-aging supplements is Professor Richard Faragher, an expert in biogerontology at University of Brighton.
The award winning scientist has spent decades researching aging and he is past chair of both the British Society for Research on Ageing and the International Association of Biomedical Gerontology.
He told MailOnline: ‘I am always cautious about supplements because you never know how much of it is placebo.
‘There is a plethora of stuff out there that has dubious evidence.’
Richard Faragher, a Professor of Biogerontology at University of Brighton, believes if we can tackle the build up of senescent cells, which build up as we age, we will be a step closer to managing aging
Although he believes there is no ‘one-size fits all’ approach when it comes to living longer he did say basic changes to lifestyle like watching your weight, exercising regularly, drinking in moderation and not smoking increase life expectancy.
Professor Faragher said: ‘If you do those the difference in your life expectancy is about 15 years.
‘But people don’t always like that advice.’
He also believes if we can tackle the build up of senescent cells we will be a step closer to managing aging.
‘These build up in your body as you get older as an accidental by-product of repair and fixing you,’ he said.
‘They have behaviours that are toxic to the body and your immune system should be able to get rid of them but it doesn’t.’
Although exercising can help the immune system and ward off aging, Professor Faragher advised people to focus on the basics first.
‘Worry about the bells and whistles if you are kind of the right weight, you are not waking up six days out of seven with a hangover, you are not gasping for a cigarette every ten minutes and your diet is healthy,’ he said.
‘Then you can start to move on to what you can do about exercising to enhance your immune system.’
WHAT ANIMALS LIVE THE LONGEST AND HOW DO THEY DO IT?
The turritopsis nutricula jellyfish is technically immortal and could live for 1000s of years
The turritopsis nutricula jellyfish is technically immortal and could live for 1000s of years.
This is because it has a unique trait allowing it to revert its cells back to childhood after reaching sexual maturity.
The jellyfish, which is no longer than a fingernail, is able to reverse its own ageing process.
It means, theoretically, the only thing stopping it living for millennia is predators.
Scientists are still studying the exact way it is able to reverse the ageing process, but it is believed stem cells may play a role in the process.
Stem cells are cells created by the body that can change into any other type of specific cell.
They are the focus of research for several chronic illnesses, like heart disease, because of their potential to turn into healthy blood vessels and repair the organ.
The Galapagos tortoise can live up to 120 years old
The Galapagos tortoise — discovered in the island group where Charles Darwin came up with the theory of evolution — can live up to 120 years old.
Scientists believe one of the reasons behind its long lifespan is the way its cells work.
All cells in the body divide up to a maximum number of times before they stop changing and become a senescent — or ‘zombie’ — cell.
Scientists believe ageing is caused by having more cells become senescent over time.
If you put a human cell in a petri dish, it would divide around 50 times, whereas a Galapagos tortoise see its cells can divide more than 100 times.
The tortoises also do not suffer any natural predators in their habitat, meaning they regularly enjoy their full lifespans.
Saltwater crocodiles tend to live to the age of around 70 in the wild but can live up to 100 in captivity
Saltwater crocodiles tend to live to the age of around 70 in the wild but can live up to 100 in captivity.
Like the Galapagos tortoise, crocodile’s cells are particularly resistant to senescence.
This means they are unlikely to ever die simply of old age, with limits on their lifespans usually caused by external factors, such as habitat degradation or hunting.
Studies on crocodile gut bacteria also found it to have cancer-fighting properties.
And crocodiles are also apex predators, meaning they are not generally killed by other animals — other than humans.
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