Aging + Longevity
A combined theory of aging
Imagine you owned a lab focusing in chemistry (or maybe you do, not trying to slim down my target audience, in which case read along).
You’d typically own test tubes, right? I know I would.
Now, imagine you started this lab ten years ago. And when you started you bought a few test tubes. Let's say you bought 10. And about five years ago you bought 10 more. And now, you’re feeling indulgent, so you buy 10 more.
Which test tubes do you think will be the most banged up?
Tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, ding!
That’s right! The ones you bought 10 years ago. Why?
Because they’ve had more time and opportunity to get banged up or be shattered/dropped. As a result, I’d expect the test tubes you’ve just bought to be pristine.
Similarly, with a six-year-old and a sixty-year-old, I’d expect the sixty-year-old to have suffered and have had their organs and genome suffer more.
Well, that all makes sense, right? Now, let me take this knowledge I’ve just given you (or maybe you’ve already had it) and transfer it over to the holy entropy theory of aging.
The Entropy Theory of Aging
Have you ever learned about the second law of thermodynamics?
It basically states this: Your entropy will always be higher than the initial state.
Your entropy is essentially your unavailable work potential.
This pretty much means the unavailability of your work potential that you derive from energy will always be higher than it was at first (at birth).
“But… what does this have to do with longevity?”
Think about it. As you age, your work potential, cognitive capacity, mobility and health decline. So as you age, it’s consistently going down.
Let’s take Bob as an example. Bob was a perfectly normal baby. and a very happy kid. He loved gymnastics and rugby. However, as he got older, he started forgetting things and wasn’t able to do gymnastics or rugby any more. At 65, he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.
This seems like an uncommon story, but it’s not. It’s actually quite common.
Now, this is a commonly accepted theory. And it’s pretty cool. However, I have something to add.
So, this theory doesn’t necessarily make sense alone when you really think about it. If this is the case for all living individuals, why don’t we all die at 79.8?
“Well, Nina. People are different genetically. They might have a longevity gene, or have a gene mutation associated with cancer.”
Exactly. Our genetics and genome play a large role in what we go through.
They decide what diseases we’ll get and a lot of what we'll have to go through in our life that might end up shortening or lengthening our lifespan.
So, this theory should account for the differences between each person genetically.
But, I still think it’s missing something.
Maintenance and the entire aging process
There are a few holes in the theory so far. If it’s just our genetics and the second general law of thermodynamics, where does our lifestyle come into play?
Now, you might be inclined to say:
“If I have a gene mutation that makes me live long, Nina, does it mean I can eat chips and burgers all day every day for the rest of my life? Because I’ll still live long.”
Plus, the reverse.
“If I have a gene mutation that makes me live for a shorter time, Nina, does it mean my efforts to eat healthily and live well are wasted? Am I doomed?”
Nope. Neither of you is right.
Sure, genes help. However, it’s your maintenance of the powers you’re given and your lifestyle that really determines when and how severe your diseases will be.
For example, senescent cells are cells that have stopped dividing (reached their finite dividing potential) and release harmful chemicals into your body. They cause diseases like Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and dementia.
You won’t believe the effect nutrition has on them. Good nutrition and meditation (stress-relieving) remove a lot of your senescent cells. This is because they better nurture your cells, and as a result your cells lose their division potential later.
Having less senescent cells increases your healthspan (amount of your life you spend healthy) and lifespan.
Having good genes can only do so much.
Let’s piece these separate sections together.
We have lifestyle, genetics, and entropy as the components to a theory of aging.
As Dr. Felipe Sierra once told me, “Your genetics determine what diseases you’ll get, but your aging process determines when you’ll get them.”
Your genetics determine a few of the struggles you’ll face. Your aging process and lifestyle determine when and the severity of which you’ll face these struggles. Your entropy explains why you decrease in ability and function as you age.
BAM! But… why is this important?
Why developing a theory of aging is important
We need to know the molecular mechanisms behind aging and unfortunately, at the moment, a lot of longevity is speculation.
The more fact-based and research-based speculation we have, the closer we can come to an ultimate theory of aging.
I don’t expect this to be a final theory of aging. Maybe tomorrow we’ll discover a huge mechanism behind aging. However, right now it’s helpful because of the need for research and attention to this important field.
This could create a future without aging. This is because when we know what to target, it’s much more feasible.
- Entropy, genetics, and lifestyle are all components that, together, contribute to aging and aging-related diseases.
- The molecular mechanisms of aging need to be more vastly studied.
Thank you for reading my article :). I hope you liked the tips and tricks I dropped. Sign up for my monthly newsletter. It updates you on my progress that month, articles I’ve made, videos I’ve created, and conferences I’ve attended/spoken at!
If you want to continue the discussion, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or connect with me on Linkedin!
Books for interested readers
Lifespan by Dr. David Sinclair and Matthew DeLaPlante — It provides a new theory and hope for curing aging.
Inheritance by Dr. Sharon Moalem. — This basically debunks genetics and genetic diseases!
The Gene: An Intimate History by Dr. Siddhartha Mukherjee. This talks about the history of cancer and genetics relating to it.