Living in a beach town, I’m reminded every day of the fact that I’m getting older. The swimsuits seem to be getting smaller, and the bodies of the lovely girls wearing these suits seem to be perfect! No stretch marks, no extra skin hanging in the wrong places, no muffin tops. Yes, there are others on the beach with normal bodies, and in fact, there are more normal bodies than perfect ones.
I never looked that perfect when I was 20, and so I know I could never look like that now as a 50 something.
What You Can’t See
Actually, the looks don’t quite bother me as much as the performance factors that deteriorate with age. For a while, aging was on my side. Participating in races starting in my late 40’s actually made it easier to rank higher in the finish. But I’m finding that keeping up the training to get these results is getting harder.
Recently, the topic of discussion with a wise friend was about this very subject. As we shared a good bottle of red wine, soaking up the sun’s rays, we talked about how we just can’t train as hard as we used to. For me, every extra mile run or run harder, hurts. Overdoing the weight training leads to injuries that were never an issue before. My friend reminded me that it’s going to continue trending in this direction. The reality is that we must get older and can’t stop this process. My husband likes to say that getting older is better than the alternative of dying young.
Looking for Answers
The message from the health and beauty retailers is that we can fight the aging process through anti-aging creams, supplements, and other gadgets. I have preferred to follow a more natural approach to slowing down aging by staying physically active, eating healthfully, and nurturing close and meaningful relationships with others. Refer to the book, Younger Next Year: Live Like You’re 50 – Strong, Fit, Sexy – Until You’re 80 and Beyond as a reading source on this topic.
What Does Science Say?
With baby boomers getting older, aging has become an ever more popular research area for scientists. We continue to look for the Holy Grail for combatting aging, and the advances in science and technology just may provide an answer in the near future.
In the Epigenetics field, scientists are looking for answers to aging by looking at our genomes and how various “chemical groups glom onto DNA in response to environment and life experiences” and thereby affecting aging (Brian Alexander, April 21, 2016).
Several studies are being conducted on healthy older people to understand what factors and identifiable traits may contribute to ‘healthy’ longevity. One such study that begun in 2008 is called the “Wellderly Study” and they continue to look for participants who are 85 years or older to join the study.
There was also an article in MIT Technology Review in February 2015 that talked about scientific research on the subject of aging.
Leonard Guarente, an MIT biologist, believes that we can slow down aging in the human body by changing our metabolism. He created a product called Basis that “contains a chemical precursor to nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide, or NAD, a compound that cells use to carry out metabolic reactions like releasing energy from glucose. The compound is believed cause some effects similar to a diet that is severely short on calories—a proven way to make a mouse live longer.” (Weintraub, Feb 2015 )
Does It Work for Humans?
This is where the interesting twist comes into this story. Rather than taking the traditional route of performing numerous clinical trials that take decades to prove the product works on humans, Guarente chose to release the product as a nutritional supplement. The FDA does not require the stringent trials for these types of products. As long as the trials show that the products are safe for humans then they can be sold as nutritional supplements. Guarente’s company (Elysium), though, states that they will follow strict pharmaceutical standards for producing the product. The pills are sold online only through their website, and are expensive.
What Do You Think?
Is this a gimmick? Would you take these supplements?
I’m all for science and the wonderful things that scientific discoveries can do to improve our lives. Unfortunately, if there is no long-term proof that these supplements work, then I think buying the supplements is wasting money. Given my age, it’s too late to wait for the proof, so I guess it’s back to the treadmill workouts and healthy eating for me.
Like any other stage in life, our experience with it is what we make of it. I am determined to embrace aging with intention and purpose to keep (if not improve) my health and sanity.