Chronological age constitutes the central risk factor for major pathologies that limit healthspan, including cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and neurodegenerative diseases.
However reaching an old age does not necessarily though result in a higher degree of age-related disability. In other words there is great heterogeneity in the health outcomes of elders. This is evidenced by long-lived individuals from families expressing extraordinary longevity and with a lower prevalence of age-related diseases. They show “youthful” profiles for many metabolic and immune-related parameters and are considered “decelerated” or “healthy agers”.
The rate of aging is malleable, and poor health in late life is not inevitable. Contrary to the previously held belief that increased risk of diseases and disability with advancing age results from inevitable, as well as genetically determined intrinsic aging processes, more recent studies indicate that many of the usual aging attributes are due to lifestyle and other modifiable factors.
Organ systems throughout the body for example, show age-dependent declines in integrity even among young healthy people in their 20s and 30s. Targeting aging in younger, still healthy individuals should allow earlier intervention and damage avoidance. By the time chronic diseases are diagnosed, much damage is done and undoing it is difficult. It also stands to offset the economic burdens of a skyrocketing aging population blighted by multiple chronic conditions.
Today biomedicine takes on conditions one at a time (e.g. Alzheimer’s), rather than attempting to stall incremental cellular damage and changes (caused by unhealthy aging) that lead to multiple conditions. Economic incentives in both biomedical research and healthcare reward treating diseases in isolation more than promoting true health.
For the past three decades reliable indicators of biological age, rather than chronological age, along with determinants of healthy aging, has been pursued. (Chronological age refers to the actual amount of time you’ve been alive. Biological age is therefore a truer measure of age than date of birth. Chronological age does not change, regardless of how healthy a lifestyle).
Only recently has there been success in quantification of biological age. Complimentary, findings that aging can be delayed in mammals have raised the credibility of prolonging human healthspan.
The target to identify aging biomarkers was to improve upon chronological age as a predictive risk factor and to enable earlier, proactive interventions; particularly lifestyle changes (additions, subtractions, modifications).
Methods to quantify biological processes of aging are now showing promise. Biological aging measures are designed to capture subtle, organism-wide shifts in physiological integrity. To be truly useful, such measures need to be able to tell exactly where a person is in their total lifespan (therefore must be predictive of the rate of aging).
While life expectancy has increased remarkably over the last two centuries worldwide (due to hygiene, antibiotics etc.), healthspan is not keeping pace because current disease treatment often decreases mortality without preventing or reversing the decline in overall health. People are now sicker longer, often coping with multiple chronic diseases simultaneously. Thus, there is an urgent need to extend healthspan
Human lifespan variation is mainly determined by environmental factors (with food choices and patterns being primary), whereas the genetic contribution is 25-30% and expected to be polygenic. Therefore personalized diets and fasting strategies offer promise in optimizing human healthspan and lifespan.
In this second episode, Joseph Antoun, Chairman of the Board and CEO of L-Nutra Incorporated, shares his personal mission to grow the concept of biological aging. He describes his vision that by quantifying biological age and by pushing for its widespread adoption, new lucrative and transformative markets will be created. Namely aging, healthspan and longevity markets.
These markets will ultimately tilt healthcare in the direction “true health” rather than disease diagnosis and treatment of symptoms (that are themselves the primarily manifestation of aging), health pro-activity rather than reactivity and passivity.
True health encapsulates health aging. He alludes that healthy aging can be achieved by slowing down the rate of biological aging. Biological age “deceleration” he states increases healthspan. And when healthspan increases, lifespan also does. He states that when you can quantify that a technology or product slows (or even reverses) biological aging, you can then put a price on it, you can seek insurance reimbursement for example, you can influence government policymaking and markets naturally spring forth.
He introduces the concept of Fasting Mimicking Diets (FMDs), focusing on his company’s FMD offering ProLon®. He considers this the best example of a technology today that can slow (or even reverse) the speed of aging, thereby considering it to have the potential to prevent, intercept and reverse age related diseases.
He shares his view that eating too frequently (I.e. not fasting) and unhealthy food choices are the primary drivers of accelerated aging, and therefore early onset of age-related disease. As such our food consumption patterns and food choices could be the main intervention to improve our healthspan and longevity.
He laments that although food is such an important determinant of health, the food market is presently driven “by moneymakers, by marketing, by misconcepts, and by no science”. He claims however that the food and nutrition market is poised for innovation.
He closes out the interview by stating that L-Nutra is working on quantifying biological age, labeling it the “aging score” and that it’s due out October, 2018. He makes clear that he’d like to see easy access to the score, as well as directionality (acceleration or deceleration of aging) via the smartphone. He said that you only want to measure biological age occasionally, but directionality every couple of weeks to assess the efficacy of your lifestyle choices.
Topics we discussed in this episode
- Fasting Mimicking Diets (FMDs) and the ProLon product from L-Nutra
- Quantification of biological age and how it will enable the creation of new markets
- Quantification of aging acceleration and deceleration
- Food choices and biological aging
- Fasting and biological aging
- Caloric-restriction and biological aging
- Healthspan vs lifespan, longevity vs biological aging
- Need for healthcare to focus on biological aging instead of diseases of aging
- Need for healthcare to become actual health care and enabling this by creating a market for aging, healthspan and longevity
- Governments and insurance will need to change policy to reimburse proven diet and nutrition lifestyle changes (“food-as-medicine”)
- The tragedy of healthcare system being reactive rather than proactive
- Aging, healthspan and longevity are not recognized tracks by the FDA
- The food market and the nutrition market is poised for innovation
- Food the most important determinant of health but market is presently driven by moneymakers, marketing, misconcepts, and by lack of science
- Physicians are not trained to see healthy people, nor how to keep people healthier, longer
- For prevention, biological age should be focus as well as the lifestyle factors that impact the speed of aging
- Curing age-related diseases such as cancer would not even have a great impact on longevity