Healthy Ageing: The Future
I have put these points (The Future – DNA, Stem cells and Telomere and The Future – Nanotechnology and Artificial Intelligence) together as this are all the new technologies that are evolving very fast and what I say now might change soon, even in the next few months.
They say the future of medicine is preventive, proactive and personalized. This definitely became true when we mapped out our genome in 2003. The era of DNA profiling began where we could look at our DNA variants and then put in place lifestyle changes to prevent disease and slow down the ageing process.
Looking at our inflammatory genes, antioxidant genes, detoxification genes, fat, carbohydrate and hypertension genes and learning how to ‘switch on’ and switch off’ these genes is making medicine more precise and individualized. We cannot change our genes yet (though in the future even this will be possible) but we can down regulate our bad genes and up regulate our good ones using lifestyle changes and supplements. The research is still new and changing very fast.
Next is the telomere. Found at the end of the DNA, this protects the DNA from damage. We now know that as the cell replicates the telomere length shortens and this corresponds to our age. The shorter the telomere the nearer we are to our end. The new research is into how we can slow down telomere breakdown or even lengthen it. For example stress increases telomere shortening while exercise lengthens it. This again is another exciting area to look at.
Stem cells are the other big breakthrough in this century. Stem cells are what repairs the damage in our body. However as we age our own stem cells become depleted and also become less effective. The belief is that if we can be given young stem cells taken from the baby cord and then cultured into millions of cells and injected, whether this can slow down the ageing process. This is all still in the research stage and we have to wait and see whether this works out.
Artificial intelligence and Nanotechnology – In the next ten years this will play a big role in healthcare and I believe in our ageing process.
Please remember that lifestyle still forms the foundation and the first 8 points (Purpose in life, social engagement, nutrition, exercise, managing stress and get proper sleep, combat free radicals, strengthen your immune system and balancing your hormones) are still very important. If the foundation is ‘rotten’ all the new technology will not help.
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