People have always dreamed of extending life indefinitely, and while our life expectancy has increased greatly over the past hundred years or so, new technologies are looking to forge ever further in the quest for longer, better and above all healthier lives.
Man has been dreaming of ways to extend life ever since he first came to terms with the concept of mortality. For most of the lifespan of our species on earth, we couldn’t expect to live much beyond the age of 50, but gradually, from the ancient civilisations through the Renaissance and the Industrial Revolution, improved living standards and medical advances combined to increase our life expectation to 80 and beyond.
There are more centenarians than ever before, and regardless of such advances, and the fact that many populations are greying, the quest for extended life continues unabated.
Technology and lifestyle
The fact that we – at least, in the more affluent parts of the world – can look forward to a much longer life than our ancestors and be healthier and fitter along the way, is the product of the interrelationship between technology and prosperity.
Scientific advances create great improvements in technology and medical knowledge, but they also impact the economy through enhanced efficiencies, growing prosperity and improved life expectancy.
However, the desire to live longer and better is not only driven by the simple wish for an improved life. In this age where the focus is so strongly on looks and external beauty, not to mention intense social competition in terms of status and sex appeal, one of the greatest forces behind rejuvenation is the fear of growing – and looking – old.
The choice of approaches to the subject therefore ranges from sensible health-based rejuvenation and anti-ageing products, techniques and above all lifestyles, to more drastic measures designed to produce immediate, if temporary, results.
Either way, the cosmetics and medical industries thrive on the phenomenon, while it has also stimulated bona fide research, the drive for healthier foods and lifestyles, and at its best a philosophical take on what is actually important in life. Here are some of the techniques used to stave off the dreaded ageing process.
The Quest to Slow Aging
From the moment we reach adulthood our body begins to age as the rate of dying or damaged cells increasingly outnumbers rejuvenated ones.
Today we have some means at our disposal to slow down the ageing process, but there is much hope that one day soon we will not only be able to do this more effectively but also be capable of reversing the process.
The ability to do this indefinitely would open up the now still imaginary spectre of eternal life – a phenomenon that would in itself have far reaching consequences for our planet and all living creatures upon it.
The main techniques currently promoted as anti-ageing agents range from the sensible to the ludicrous, with many in between. The former includes practical approaches that are mostly focused upon lifestyle, such as attempting to reduce stress in one’s life, exercising, taking in the fresh air of the great outdoors and following a healthy diet free of fat, processed foods and excesses of sugar and alcohol.
Together they have spurred on the creation of a large and growing trade in health foods, yoga centres, fitness clubs and detox retreats, all of which may not guarantee a longer life but are generally agreed to improve health and fitness…
Words Michel Cruz