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8 Minute ReadFeature by Jess Lacey, Beauty Editor
10.09.21 (Updated 22.11.22)
Longevity doctors are a growing community of medical professionals who believe the solution to our current health crisis is treating diseases before they have the chance to manifest. They work on the premise that by detecting potential predispositions to disease and making lifestyle changes accordingly, we're now able to alter the course of our health journey. You can certainly make a difference to your healthspan, and you may also be able to make a difference to your lifespan too.
We’ve seen first-hand in the past year that healthcare systems across the globe are reactive in their management of illness because they’re limited in their capacity and infrastructure. It’s time to take our health into our own hands.
Aubrey de Grey is one of the chief protagonists exploring longevity to improve our ‘healthspan’ – the length of time for which we enjoy good health. Interviewed in 2018 he explained, “The longevity theory is essentially about preventing people from getting sick. The model takes an engineering approach to human life. The aim is to use rejuvenation biotechnologies directly to remove, repair, replace, or render harmless the cellular and molecular damage caused by the biological ageing process. Getting frail and miserable and dependent is no fun, and if you can reduce the process of degradation to the point where it never crosses the threshold of causing a life-threatening disease, we could effectively defeat ageing – and live to 1,000, or perhaps longer.”
But it’s far from Weird Science. The Milken Institute, Centre for the Future of Ageing, predicts that by 2030 more people worldwide will be over the age of 60 than under 10. Ageing well is a global concern, with the British Medical Journal calling for more investment in longevity tactics. “The hottest topic in medical science today is the Grand Unified Theory of Disease, which finds that nearly all disease is caused by chronic inflammation,” explains Prof. Paul Clayton, clinical pharmacologist and pharmaco-nutritionist. “This revolutionary new idea is accepted by most clinical scientists but has not yet reached the doctors who still rely on synthetic drugs. Most drugs treat symptoms rather than the root causes of disease and by the time symptoms emerge, the disease has already progressed a long way. Age-related diseases develop silently for many years before they finally emerge and start to cause pain or disability. The drug model fails to prevent the gathering tides of diabetes, dementia, allergy, cancer and osteoporosis.”
Dr Kien Vuu has fast become the face of longevity in the US. In his book, Thrive State: Your Blueprint for Optimal Health, Longevity, and Peak Performance, he sets out to redefine the relationship between health and success. “You are your best medicine,” Dr Vuu says. “You have within you, the power to access abundant health, wellbeing and vitality.”
Perhaps somewhat controversially, he insists that chronic diseases are diseases of our choices: “Our choices make up the environment of our cells which then dictate how our genes are activated or expressed.” What Vuu is talking about is the field of epigenetics, which is the field of study demonstrating that external factors can control how genes behave. “Over 95% of chronic diseases have lifestyle components – exercise, sleep, nutrition, quality of relationships and stress, even thoughts and emotions,” says Vuu.
Of course, some diseases also develop because of a genetic predisposition: diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, auto-immune disorders and insomnia to name a few. But with these diseases, there are also several other root causes including controllable lifestyle factors that make up the environment of our cells. “Modern medical care is so focused on managing symptoms with medications, that we often fail to eliminate the root causes of illness,” he states.
As we learn more about this new frontier, and with an increasing focus on climate and sustainability, the notion of living an aspirational life is changing. It is no longer about amassing possessions, but measured by experiences, ones you can only have through a strong body and a healthy mind. Now we measure wellbeing through energy levels, mental clarity, positive outlook and vitality. The concept of ageing and beauty is changing too: we are becoming less fixated on looking eternally young, and instead ‘ageing well’. Who isn’t inspired by Julianne Moore’s growing range, Daniel Craig’s weather-beaten face or wishes they were invited to Iris Apfel’s 100th birthday party?
So how do you start? Diagnostic testing is the scientific way to control your own health trajectory. This is predominantly done through assessing biological biomarkers. “Most biomarkers are compounds that are produced when a disease process is underway. By sampling the blood and in some cases, other tissues, levels of the compound can be measured over time and used to give an impression of how severe the disease is, whether it is progressing or going into remission, or if the disease is responding to treatment,” explains Dr Clayton. It’s also possible to future-proof yourself even further by undergoing genetic testing to investigate your DNA. This analysis evaluates your likelihood of developing genetically-linked diseases years in advance of them forming, so you can mitigate and manage the onset of those diseases through your lifestyle choices.
A significant revelation of the longevity movement is that emotional unrest can lead to physical illness. Emotional stress causes physical stress in the body, which in turn stores it as trauma; this then causes inflammation which exacerbates propensity for disease. “Chronic stress damages the immune system and affects brain function via an increase in glucocorticoids - stress hormones produced by the adrenal glands. This raises the risk of infections and, over the longer haul, cancers,” advises Dr Clayton. “Inflammation is also a disturbance of the immune system, originally designed to heal physical injury but if sustained, it leads to tissue damage and a host of disease states.” By managing your sympathetic nervous system and reducing your stress state, you can directly increase your chances of long-term health.
“Most of the chronic degenerative diseases are in fact the result of chronic dysnutrition. If you have good nutrition, most of them never occur,” says Clayton, whose book ‘Let Your Food Be Your Pharmaco-Nutrition, The New Road to Health, Healing and Happiness’, is the ultimate guide to longevity eating. “Better nutrition would mean going back as much as possible to the diet we evolved to live on, and cutting out all ultra-processed foods. It would be a diet with few, if any, empty calories, and with a far greater nutrient density. Learn to prepare dishes made from basic produce and eat (or eat more of), wild oily fish, berry fruits, olives, legumes and whole grains. Eating this anti-inflammatory diet would support a healthy microbiome and if you were to do all these things, the evidence indicates that your risk of degenerative disease would be reduced by 80-90%.”
Sleep is the final piece in the longevity matrix, because not only does it allow the body to repair itself, but it dictates the circadian rhythms that every one of our organs is set to. “Everything goes back to circadian rhythms; your liver synthesizes cholesterol, mass cellular repair occurs, gene expressions change and biochemical signals from every single hormone in the body, all happen over that 24-hour rhythm," explains Dr Michael Grandner, Professor of Behavioural Sleep Medicine at the University of Arizona, whose work focuses on how sleep relates to cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, neurobehavioral functioning, mental health and longevity. He insists that sleep touches every essential maintenance function of the body, be that the circulatory system, immune system fluctuations, insulin production in the pancreas, or managing how glucose gets transported across cell membranes to manage metabolism. “Bad sleep isn't passive sleep, it isn't just less wake, sleep is a totally different mode and by not allowing yourself to do that job, you're asking the body to cut corners and that’s dangerous."
As with the words ‘boutique’ and ‘bespoke’, the word ‘wellness’ has become somewhat muddied with superficial, disingenuous connotations. “We’re not wellness,” insists LYMA founder Lucy Goff. “We haven't got a woman in a kitchen in a Sweaty Betty tracksuit, eating goji berries and smiling, that's not what real wellness is. We prefer to call ourselves a well-tech company because we are a science-based at our core and our edge is in leading innovation and the team of scientists that work with us. These are the scientists that are working with government to help avert the health crisis. These are not token gesture doctors, these are not ‘cool people’, these are proper hard-core scientists.”
It’s this global collective of leading scientists that developed the LYMA Supplement, a nutraceutical specifically designed and proven to reduce anxiety, lift moods, increase immunity, reduce inflammation, sharpen cognitive function and get you sleeping better. The patented, peer-reviewed ingredients have been bio-engineered for ultimate absorption and compatibility with the body making it the perfect aid to living a longer, healthier life.