The purpose of this Blog is to provide a frequently-updated plain-language companion to my Anti-Aging Firewalls site http://www.vincegiuliano.name/Antiagingfirewalls.htm. This blog is for people interested in living longer and better lives by taking advantage of developments on the frontiers of longevity science. I plan to post comments on recent aging-related developments from time to time, and welcome any and all discussion by others.
First, a little introduction to Anti-Aging Firewalls site and myself.
I posted the original version of the Anti-Aging Firewalls document In May 2008, and it has evolved considerably since. The intent of that document was is to summarize what science knows about aging and what people can do to extend their lives by taking advantage of this knowledge. To keep up with the growing tide of relevant research knowledge I find myself updating that site at least weekly and sometimes every day. As a consequence, that document is becoming at the same time more comprehensive, longer, increasingly technical, and more difficult to follow by untrained people. Thus the possible usefulness of this plain-language blog.
During the last 15 years I have had an increasing interest in aging, what causes it and what might be done to retard, stop or even reverse it taking advantage of emerging research in a number of fields including cell and molecular biology, genomics, and nutrition. Delving into this field and communicating about it has become my full-time career.
There are a number of excellent self-help books out there that tell how it is possible to slow aging and enable a person to live a healthy and fulfilled life by taking advantage of a good diet, good lifestyle habits, good mental attitude, proper sleep and exercise This advice might facilitate living a full healthy life up to 95 years or perhaps even up to 105 years of age. My concern has been not only doing that, but going on to live 200, 300 or more good years. I recognized that this could only be possible through taking advantage of and then going far beyond the valuable conventional advice to be found in those books. It would require following, and understanding the implications of knowledge based on emerging research relevant to the science of longevity. This knowledge is becoming available in ever-increasing quantities but is not systematically synthesized or pulled together so it can be practically put to work for understanding or facilitating human longevity. Most researchers are rightfully concerned with delving deeper into their particular areas of specialization and do not look over their shoulders to see what is going on in other areas of longevity-related research. Some of pieces of emerging knowledge related to longevity comes from studying cell-cycle behavior; some of it is being found in studying biomolecular dynamics; some is to be found in discovery’s related to genetics and genomics. Some of the relevant knowledge originates in cancer research, research cardiovascular diseases, senile dementia, Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, etc. Some of the relevant research is in the field of nutrition proper and some comes from re-studying traditional Chinese and Indian herbal remedies from the viewpoint of current western science. Much of the relevant research comes from outside the United States and is published in foreign languages. One of the objectives of Anti-Aging Firewalls is to look across these fields to provide a current and constantly updated symphysis of the most important things known about aging and anti-aging interventions.
So, in a typical week, I will spend 30 to 60 hours scouring research literature abstracts and publications looking for new developments relevant to aging. When I find one that I feel is basic, I will study it further and think hard about how it fits into the matrix of existing knowledge. Sometimes, the new data will require rethinking an earlier more simplistic view of things. Often, more new questions are raised than one’s answered. Finally, I will update Anti-Aging Firewalls with what I believe I have learned, The process is akin to filling in a very large, multidimensional jigsaw puzzle, one that is still perhaps only 20% complete.
The first question to deal with about aging is What is aging? There is no single answer today. Aging is not like physics where there is a a comprehensive mainline theory that most scientists subscribe to. Looking at what science has to say about the fundamental mechanisms of aging, one finds not just one prevalent theory, but several of them that overlap in various ways. Remember the parable about the blind men asked to describe an elephant? Each blind man felt a different parts of an elephant. The blind man who felt the ear says the elephant is a flat floppy Harry animal; the one who felt the leg says the elephant is like a tree trunk ; the blind man who felt the trunk says the elephant is like a giant snake; the man who felt the tusk says the elephant is like a long curved javelin, etc. Only when you see the elephant as a whole can you see that all these seemingly incompatible descriptions are valid. We are not quite there yet with respect to the science of longevity.
It is more their or less the same with theories of aging. Each major theory of aging has its own strong proponents and each is supported by significant research evidence. Which one is the right one? Probably all of them, for they are all different parts of an overall systems view of aging (the elephant) that is only now materializing. In Anti-Aging Firewalls I take fourteen of the leading theories of aging, explain them briefly and then ask a simple question: “If this theory is valid, what could I do now practically to retard, stop or even reverse aging, given the causes of aging assumed by this theory?” In other words, “How can I construct a firewall against aging given the basic tenents of that theory? ” A firewall in this context consists of lifestyle behaviors and dietary supplements. Then the Anti-Aging Firewalls document combines the fourteen individual firewalls, one for each theory, to identify an overall anti-aging firewall. This is practically possible because the firewalls identified for the various aging theories exhibit a high degree of overlap.
My interest in longevity and the program identified in Anti-Aging Firewalls is both professional and personal. While the anti-aging program is grounded in research, it is also the program I personally follow at age 79. It is what I am depending on to keep me going, going, and going. It is also my career. The document and the firewalls identified in are also highly dynamic. When originally written, twelve theories of aging were included. Two new ones were since added to reflect advanced research viewpoints, and a number of revisions have been made in the regimen of supplements. I have added considerable discussion showing linkages between the various theories and the paper had grown in length by perhaps 50% since its first version 8 months ago.