Living longer is more than just the age in our passports. It’s about feeling strong and healthy as long as we can. There are things we can take control of, like our lifestyle, diet, and everyday choices. But what about processes we can’t affect? Genetics, including the longevity gene, play a huge role in human lives, but how much do they impact longevity? We explain this in the article below.
What exactly is longevity
People’s longevity is influenced by various factors such as location, gender, lifestyle, genetics, and socioeconomic status. We have witnessed a steady increase in the average global life expectancy, surpassing 77 years in the United States in 2020. Although impressive, certain animal species, such as the bowhead whale, outlive us, with a lifespan of over 200 years.
Despite these advancements, age-related issues like cardiovascular diseases and cancer remain leading causes of illness and death. To improve life expectancy, the longevity industry focuses on understanding how different factors affect our health. This includes exploring the concept of longevity genes.
In summary, longevity refers to how long we can live, influenced by multiple factors. While progress has been made, challenges remain, and the longevity industry aims to improve health and extend lifespans.
What affects longevity
Understanding the factors that impact longevity is crucial in our pursuit of life-extending interventions. Three main elements come into play: lifestyle, environment, and genetics. The longevity of individuals remains a subject of debate as each factor’s influence is not fixed. Environments can change, lifestyles can alter, and even genes can activate or deactivate through gene regulation.
Among these factors, lifestyle is the most controllable. Individuals have the power to make choices that promote longevity. For instance, reducing or quitting alcohol and smoking can lower the risk of diseases. Adopting a balanced diet, engaging in regular exercise, and getting sufficient sleep all contribute to better health and a longer lifespan. But let’s not forget that our surroundings also impact our well-being.
People with higher socioeconomic status have more opportunities to access better healthcare, nutrition, education, and cleaner environments with abundant green spaces. Conversely, living in overcrowded areas or being exposed to polluted air can contribute to the development of chronic health conditions over time. It is crucial to comprehend and optimize these environmental factors in order to promote health and prolong life expectancy.
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What about longevity genes?
You can (and should) do your best to make the smartest lifestyle choices. However, genetics is where it gets more complicated. DNA that is found in all of our cells holds the key to our development, survival, and reproduction.
DNA is like a blueprint for our bodies. It’s made up of thousands of genes that control how we look and function. Genes determine things like our hair, skin, and eye colors. They can also influence whether we’re more likely to have certain health conditions. By studying our genes, scientists can learn about our family history and where we come from.
Not only that. Our genes also affect our health and lifespan. A family history of diseases can increase our susceptibility to similar conditions, while the age at which our parents passed away can influence our own longevity.
Have you ever wondered why some people live longer than others? It turns out that our genes play a significant role in determining our lifespan. In fact, about 25% of the variation in lifespan can be attributed to our genetic makeup. So, if you come from a family with a history of long life, there’s a good chance that you’ve inherited some of those longevity genes. Scientists are still exploring whether lifestyle factors also contribute to the equation.
In a previous study, researchers compared the survival rates of husbands of women who lived to be 100 years old with those of the brothers of these women. Surprisingly, the brothers outlived the husbands, even though they shared the same environment for most of their lives. This finding suggests that genetics exert a stronger influence on lifespan than the environment.
To identify the specific gene variants responsible for longevity, researchers conducted two approaches. First, they compared the genes of long-lived individuals with those of younger people living in the same area. Then, they used genome sequencing. It was discovered that there isn’t just one single “longevity gene.” Instead, it is believed that numerous combinations of genes play a role in controlling our health and lifespan.
Examples of genes responsible for longevity
First, we’d like to introduce you to CISD2, which is being hailed as the ‘anti-aging gene’.
To study the effects of CISD2, researchers used a technique called gene knockouts. This method allowed them to deactivate the CISD2 gene in mice.
Interestingly, the expression of CISD2 naturally decreases as mice age. However, in this study, when both male and female mice were genetically engineered to lack CISD2, they exhibited signs of premature aging. These signs included cell death, as well as degeneration in neurons and muscle cells.
Recent research further supports the notion that mice without the CISD2 gene have shorter lifespans. It is also suggested that CISD2 may impact genetic pathways related to lifespan and various aging indicators.
Based on these findings, maintaining the expression of CISD2 could potentially extend the human lifespan or slow down the signs of aging.
When talking about longevity, you’ll often hear about the Sirtuin genes, which have been around the block for quite some time and found in many different life forms. According to research, the expression of these specific genes often leads to age-related health issues, for instance, the development of cancer.
More research still needs to be conducted in order to fully understand the Sirtuin genes and their impact on longevity. However, in time, they could potentially help in finding drug and preventative treatments for age-related diseases.
Another gene that’s related to anti-aging properties is the Klotho gene. Unfortunately, once we reach the age of 40, the levels of the gene naturally drop. Since it plays a vital role in regulating a protein called Wnt5A, which affects the spread of cancerous cells, the lack of Klotho can cause a series of issues.
Thankfully, recent research has come to the conclusion that a specific diabetes drug can help the body increase Klotho expression. The best bit – this process happens simultaneously with the decrease of the Wnt5A protein. After more research has been done, these findings could help combat drug resistance and provide treatment for cancers impacted by Klotho.
Don’t lose hope just yet!
While these studies show that genes do play an important role in longevity, anyone wishing for a long life shouldn’t lose hope yet. Just because your grandpa’s genes aren’t ‘good’ enough doesn’t mean you won’t live a long and healthy life. Here’s a look at habits that could have more impact than you’d think.
The relationship between calorie intake and longevity is currently a subject of great interest. For example, research conducted on animals indicates that reducing normal calorie intake by 10-50% may increase the maximum lifespan.
What’s more, several studies focusing on human populations known for their longevity have also found associations between lower calorie intake, longer lifespan, and reduced risk of diseases.
You may want to read: The benefits of caloric restriction and longevity
Eat plenty of veggies and fruits
Consuming a diverse range of plant-based foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and beans can help lower the chances of getting sick and increase the chances of living a longer life.
For instance, many studies have shown that a diet rich in plants can decrease the risk of dying early and reduce the likelihood of developing conditions like cancer, metabolic syndrome, heart disease, depression, and brain deterioration.
Eating a diet rich in plant-based foods can have numerous positive effects on your health. These effects are attributed to the beneficial nutrients and antioxidants abundantly present in plants, including polyphenols, carotenoids, folate, and vitamin C. To support your longevity and overall well-being, consider incorporating scientifically-proven anti-aging supplements and vitamins into your daily routine. Explore the comprehensive list of such supplements here.
Remember to exercise
Did you know that even 15 minutes of daily exercise can make your lifespan longer? That’s right. Staying physically active is an important part of living a healthier and longer life. So if you ever lack motivation, try to remember your future self will thank you!
Recent studies on genes and longevity show promising results. The potential is huge! Gaining more knowledge in this area increases our chances of leading a higher quality of life. If you’re curious about longevity and want practical tips to extend your lifespan, we invite you to explore our blog.