There are two certainties in this life, goes the saying: Death and taxes. What if you could cheat one of them? Sure, we'd all love to put our money in our own pockets instead of the government's. But, given a choice, I'm betting most people would choose to change the second of these certainties by stopping the aging process. And I don't mean by injecting your face with fillers or sleeping in a cryotherapy chamber. I mean by doing simple things that we all can do, enjoyable things, that reportedly stop the aging process. I'm beginning to sound like an infomercial, but this is science.
The Lancet Journal, a medical journal, reports on a study it conducted with men who had prostate cancer. One group of men were allowed to continue on about their lives. The other was given a complete lifestyle overhaul: A plant-based (i.e., vegetarian) diet. Stress-reducing techniques like meditation and yoga. A moderate exercise plan. And weekly group meetings for social support.
It makes sense that the second group would probably end up healthier and looking and feeling better. But something extraordinary occurred at the molecular level.
The men actually stopped aging! Sorta.
See, the core part of aging is all about cellular turnover. Each time the cells in our body divide, something called the telomeres get shorter and shorter. Shorter telomeres mean more signs of aging: Sickness, cancers, vulnerability to infections, dementia, etc.
But with moderate exercise, stress reduction techniques, and a plant-based diet and social support, the telomeres did something incredible: They got LONGER!
No one is actually certain how this happened, but it happened. The lifestyle changes weren't meant to affect the men's prostate cancer and apparently they didn't.
But in the first group, the telomeres shortened by 3 percent; the second group saw their telomeres lengthen by 10 percent! So maybe this is why yoga fanatics like Jennifer Aniston, Lisa Rinna, Madonna, and Sting don't seem to age!
Naturally, it's too soon to tell whether these guys with the longer telomeres will live longer. But even if they don't, longer telomeres increase their chances of living much healthier.
All of this brings up the question as to whether we'd all WANT to live forever. Surely, the alternative is scary. But living forever would be kind of boring, wouldn't it?
Would you want to live forever?
Image via LuluLemonAthletica/Flickr