Longevity = a hereditary factor + lifestyle

  • 2010-08-11

Why do some people live longer than others? The answer may very well consist of a combination of several factors including a complex system of genes and one’s lifestyle.

Professor Johan Auwerx and Riekelt Houtkooper, a research assistant at the department of energy metabolism in the Nestle research center in Federal Polytechnical School of Lausanne (Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne - EPFL) in collaboration with Rob Williams of the University of Tennessee published an article on this subject in the journal “Cell”.

The researchers concluded that a network of about 750 genes is responsible for life expectancy. One third of them are especially important – these are the genes that determine the ability of cells to get energy from food. Experiments on mice have shown that the presence or absence of these genes can alter the life span in a wide range - from 350 to 900 days.
“Looking at the entire group of genes in all the complexity of their interactions in order to understand what determines the length of life is an original approach - Auwerx explains – because up until now, in their search for an answer to this question scientists were examining each gene individually.

Earlier, Dutch scientists reported that they have managed to find a part of the DNA, which “provides” longevity, even if a person leads an unhealthy lifestyle. According to the experts, the lucky holders of the so-called “Methuselah gene” were immune to the effects of smoking and other bad habits for several decades.

Scientists believe that the “Methuselah gene” contains a specific gene called ADIPOQ. Among young people only 10% have it, but among the elderly it was found in 30% of cases.

However, recent studies have shown that a single gene is not enough in the “struggle” for longevity. To get at least a little closer to the age of the Biblical prophet Methuselah who reached the age of 969, you need a specific set of genes. However, this combination of genes is extremely rare: only one person out of 10,000 reaches the age of one hundred years.

“The long-lived people don’t have fewer genes that trigger aging or diseases - says Eline Slagboom of the University of Leiden, head of a group of scientists who have conducted this research and have studied 3500 Dutch long-livers. - But they also have other genes that inhibit the work of the genes from the first group. Of course, longevity is a genetic, hereditary phenomenon.”

In their early studies Slagboom and her colleagues noted that the long-livers and their relatives are different from “ordinary” people on a number of physiological parameters. For example, the “age champions” absorb fats and glucose differently, their skin is aging much more slowly, and they are less prone to cardiovascular diseases and diabetes.
“All these features are under strict genetic control, therefore, it is likely that their children and grandchildren can inherit those features,” - says Slagboom.

However, the gene system is not the only one responsible for longevity. Genes function in combination with certain lifestyle factors. The essential condition for a long life is a well-balanced mental state, correct nutrition and physical activity. As for the healthy lifestyle – a whole bunch of books can be written about it. Let us focus on a few aspects that can improve our health and make our lives longer.

5 emotions that affect the health negatively
An Austrian scientist, expert in the field of psychology and psychosomatics, Wolfgang Gruber conducted a study, in which he observed two thousand volunteers for five years. As a result, he distinguished 5 most unhealthy feelings.

It was found that the envious people are under 2,5 times greater risk of heart attack than people who are happy for other people’s success. The scientist called envy “the poison for the human heart”.

The study showed that jealousy leads to a violation of the hormonal status of the organism and reduces the production of sex hormones, particularly testosterone, which is the cause of male impotence. The feeling of jealousy is typical for petty, tyrannical people.

The feeling of guilt in relation to yourself increases the risk of development of oncological processes. People, who practice self-flagellation often suffer from colds, are more prone to infections and accept it as completely normal. But scientists insist that the health is up to 80% dependent on the psychological state of the person.

Self-pity leads to problems with the liver, increased production of acetylcholine - the hormone of weakness, reduced sugar level in blood and there could be problems with food intake.

Greedy people often have problems with digestion, bulimia or anorexia may occur. Greediness often coexists with wastefulness.

Wine and Longevity
One of the oldest remedies that can preserve health and satisfactory quality of life in old age is grape wine. The secret lies in the chemical composition of the drink. Grape wine is a unique, inimitable biological complex that contains more than 100 substances like vitamins, trace elements, hormones, carbohydrates, antioxidants, enzymes and other biologically active substances needed for the body.

Statistics show that the representatives of ethnic groups, who drink wine on a regular basis, make up the majority of long-livers of the planet.

On the other hand we know that immoderate consumption of alcohol shortens life, causes many diseases and aggravates their course. Without a doubt, consuming wine in large amounts is dangerous and detrimental to health. However, large-scale epidemiological studies conducted in different regions of Europe show that individuals, who consume moderate doses of natural wines (even in adulthood and old age) have higher indicators of health and length of life, and most importantly, its quality, compared to not only those who abuse alcohol, but also to absolute teetotalers.
Therapeutic recommendations - 1 glass of natural grape wine per day for healthy people is not only harmless, but also useful.

Wine is particularly prescribed in the complex rehabilitation recuperation after debilitating diseases, surgery, chemo-radiation therapy, long-term psycho-emotional, stressful conditions. In these cases, it can activate the metabolic processes, improve mental alertness, digestive processes, increase energy metabolism and renal excretory function.

“Harmless” blue screen
More than 13,000 middle age group people that have no health problems took part in research conducted by scientists from Great Britain. The studies lasted about 10 years and showed that 1 hour spent watching television programs increases the probability of death from heart disease by 7%. The average citizen of Great Britain spends 4 hours a day watching TV, thereby being at 28% greater risk of dying from a heart attack.

Researchers took into account the connection of arising problems with the cardiovascular system, not only with watching TV, but with all sorts of adverse risk factors such as smoking, sedentary lifestyle, obesity and poor nutrition. But even considering all these factors, the connection between mortality and watching TV is undeniable.

In conclusion, lets repeat the common truth: the quality of life and its length is significantly increased with a positive approach to life and good mood, as well as with following simple recommendations such as limiting the consumption of salt, meat products, sugar, animal fats and eating more fresh vegetables and juices, fruits, berries, seafood. Periodical application of fasting diets, maintaining a balanced lifestyle, namely, moderate physical activity, often being in fresh air, regular bowel movements and adequate sleep.