The Longevity Collection

Phil Von Heydebreck
11 Sep 2019

At some point in life, we all come face to face with our own mortality. While few people like to contemplate death, it can be worthwhile if it means not dying prematurely. There has been incredible progress in extending human lifespans over the past 100-150 years. People are living longer and healthier lives on average. But living to older ages means we are facing new challenges, first and foremost chronic diseases like cancer, neurodegenerative and cardiovascular disease. Planning for longevity can lead to healthy lifestyle choices that can contribute to improvements in lifespan and most importantly healthspan, which is the proportion of one’s life spent in good health. Recent advances in aging research are a cause for hope that we will see continued increases in human lifespans in the future. 

The Longevity Collection takes a close look at longevity from different perspectives ranging from a practical approach to making longevity-optimized lifestyle choices to exploring tough questions like “why do we age?” and “why did aging evolve?”. Along the way, the collection examines aspects of aging and longevity through different lenses including biology, public policy, ethics, history, economics, etc. 

The purpose of this post is to give you an overview of the collection allowing you to pick and choose the topics most interesting to you. It also recommends a sequence in which the content could be consumed and learned. The collection is made up of five streams, each of them approaches the topics of aging and longevity from a different angle: 

  1. The Longevity Lifestyle — Practical Lifestyle Choices for Living a Longer and Healthier Life
  2. Destination Centenarian — Preparing for Life Beyond 100
  3. Extending Life — The Science, Business and Ethics of Life Extension
  4. Why We Fall Apart — Biological Theories of Aging
  5. Anti Aging Science — Methods to Slow or Reverse the Aging Process

The Longevity Lifestyle — Practical Lifestyle Choices for Living a Longer and Healthier Life

The Longevity Lifestyle is a good place to start your exploration of aging and longevity. The stream explains why longevity is something everyone should be thinking about. It provides a good general overview of some of the topics in aging and longevity that should interest individuals with a personal interest in the topic from a health and wellbeing perspective, without diving too deep into any specific topics. The stream takes a pragmatic approach by focusing on the decisions and actions people can take today that may influence their longevity. Healthy lifestyle choices are a major focus including nutrition, sleep, physical activity, stress, cognitive fitness, mental wellbeing, social connections, etc. Making healthy lifestyle decisions is a key factor in increasing healthspan, which is the number of years spent in good health. Much of chronic disease is avoidable by making choices that enable a long and healthy life.

Destination Centenarian — Preparing for Life Beyond 100

What will it be like to live for 100 years? What impact will it have on society, when more and more people achieve such advanced ages? Destination Centenarian begins by looking at demographic trends that clearly show that people are living longer. Centenarians are the fastest-growing demographic group in the world population. The stream explores the factors that may have contributed to the extraordinary longevity of today’s centenarians and supercentenarians. It probes the question of whether there is a maximum human lifespan and whether it has already been reached. The aging of societies will have a profound impact and we explore what effects it might have and how countries can prepare. Longer lifespans are likely to completely redefine how people view the stages of their lives, in particular, the concept of retirement is likely to undergo a transformation. Finally, the topic of healthspan and its importance both for individuals and aging societies is explored. 

Extending Life — The Science, Business and Ethics of Life Extension

After a very brief look at the fascinating history of human attempts to extend their lifespan, the stream Extending Life examines how aging science went from being a fringe interest to a respectable field of study. It goes on to investigate the different goals and beliefs of the scientists and businesspeople pursuing longer lifespans. While some are focused primarily on improving healthspan, some are convinced that radical life extension is possible. This stream includes a look at the philosophical and ethical considerations surrounding life extension and tackles some of the common objections: Isn’t life extension unnatural? What about overcrowding, inequality, social rigidity, poverty, starvation, and climate change — aren’t they all more important? 

Why We Fall Apart — Biological Theories of Aging

Get ready for a deep dive into the biology of aging. Why We Fall Apart aims to provide a deeper understanding of the process of aging and why it happens. The stream surveys the incredible variability in patterns of aging across species and attempts to identify the drivers behind this variability. It goes on to outline the debate between supporters of different theories of aging highlighting the arguments for or against aging as a programmed mechanism and aging as a random process of deterioration. The importance of genetics in the aging process is also explored. 

Anti Aging Science — Methods to Slow or Reverse the Aging Process

Probably the most challenging stream in the Longevity Collection, Anti Aging Science zooms in on the drivers of aging at the cellular and molecular levels including genetic and epigenetic factors, protein malfunctions, and metabolic effects like oxidative stress and inflammation. A deep understanding of these drivers is leading to research into promising new treatments for aging and chronic disease. Such potential treatments include drugs, gene therapy, and regenerative medicine. 

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