Vispi Speaks: What Are The Prospects for Human Immortality ?


December 3, 2019

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Vispi Kanga

The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2009 was awarded jointly to Elizabeth H. Blackburn, Carol W. Greider and Jack W. Szostak “for the discovery of how chromosomes are protected by Telomeres and the enzyme Telomerase.”

A new area of research on aging involves Telomeres. Geneticist Richard Cawthon and colleagues at the University of Utah found that “shorter telomeres are associated with shorter lives”.  Researchers at the University of California Berkeley have captured the most detailed images to date of Telomerase, the enzyme that lengthens the ends of chromosomes and plays a critical role in aging.

Humans have 46 chromosomes, and within each DNA strand are about 20,000 sequences, or genes, for determining our characteristics. Inside all your cells, at the ends of your DNA, are protective caps called Telomeres. They shorten with age as they do their job, which is to protect your genes and stop cells from replicating once they get too old. When they get too short, the cell can no longer divide; it becomes inactive or “senescent” or it dies. This shortening process is associated with aging, cancer, and a higher risk of death.

Telomeres have been compared with the plastic tips on shoelaces, because they keep chromosome ends from fraying and sticking to each other, which would destroy or scramble an organism’s genetic information.

Scientists have discovered different phytocompounds that activate telomerase. A major cause of aging is “oxidative stress.” These oxidants are produced normally when we breathe, and also result from inflammation, infection, and consumption of alcohol and cigarettes.

Fruits and vegetables packed with flavonoids have been at the forefront of health, and fighting the war with aging.  These fruits and vegetables have unique antioxidants , anti-inflammatory and cancer fighting immune system benefits.

Eat plenty of produce.  Try to eat at various times citrus, berries, apples, plums, carrots, green leafy vegetables, tomatoes. There are also antioxidants in beans, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and green tea.

Carotenoids are converted by the body to vitamin A, which is essential to vision and normal growth and development.  Foods rich in beta-carotene and other carotenoids  include: apricots, asparagus, beef liver, beets, broccoli, cantaloupe, carrots, corn, guava, kale, mangoes,..

Also for telomere health, equal emphasis is given to vitamins D, C, A, E, B3, B6, Folic acid,  lycopene and Pycnogenol ® from French maritime Pine tree bark.  Go for foods rich in omega-3 free fatty acids such as certain fish, seaweed, walnuts! These reduce oxidative stress and inflammation.

Avoid processed meat, processed food, and sugared drinks. When we eat a high sugar food with no fiber to slow it down (think soda!), we get a spike in glucose and inflammation

Human lifespan has increased considerably since the 1600s, when the average lifespan was 30 years.  Globally the life expectancy increased from an average of 29 to 73 years in 2019.

The new average life expectancy for Americans is 78.7 years, which puts the U.S. behind other developed nations and 1.5 years lower than the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) average life expectancy of 80.3 years.

According to the latest WHO data published in 2018, life expectancy in India is:  Male 67.4, female 70.3 and total life expectancy is 68.8 which gives India a World Life Expectancy ranking of 125.

Scientists predict average life expectancy will continue to increase, although many doubt the average will ever be much higher than 90. But Cawthon says that if all processes of aging could be eliminated and oxidative stress damage could be repaired, “one estimate is people could live 1,000 years.”