So what happened to that vital young adult so filled with energy and zest for living? One thing is certain in the minds of endocrinologists: it has to do with a decline in anabolic hormones. Hormones like DHEA, growth hormone, melatonin, testosterone, estrogen, progesterone, and others decline from the youthful peaks that occur in our early twenties. Well, doesn’t the same thing happen in longevity pockets around the globe as well? Yes, but to a much slower degree.
Take a man or woman with low stress and a vigorous lifestyle, be it working in the field picking tea leaves or making wine. Lifestyles with plenty of exercise are anabolic. In our modern society, just going to the gym for a workout will raise the level of secretion of human growth hormone and testosterone and will allow for a good night’s sleep, which entails melatonin as well as other vital hormones.
Recent studies at the Yale University School of Medicine indicate that estrogen replacement therapy can prevent heart disease by fifty to seventy percent. In our modern culture, that could save half a million women’s lives. And look at how many people who suffer from age-related Alzheimer’s disease could be saved, for example, if the studies on DHEA prove correct. Alzheimer’s sufferers were found to have forty-eight percent less DHEA in their blood. When ovarian production of DHEA slows with menopause, the drop in DHEA leads to osteoporosis. DHEA also increases testosterone production, which halts andropause in men. Why don’t seniors have the same strength and lean muscle mass they had in their athletic prime? Again, hormones. It has been proven over and over that by increasing your human growth hormone production, you can take at least twenty years off your biological age. Yes, you’ll reverse the fat-to-muscle ratio and appear younger–and stay younger–longer.
So are we aging ourselves to death? I suppose it’s based on how you live and who you are. I think our unquestioned belief in aging and death is killing us by draining us dry, not only of hormones but of spirit. Aging: A Natural History, a book by Robert Ricklefs and Caleb Finch, states, “Next to the miracle of life itself, aging and death are perhaps the greatest mysteries.” Yes, aging appears a mystery, because science can’t find a single reason for it except gross neglect for a lifetime. That’s the only way to age yourself to death.
From my personal perspective, each day as I get younger, stronger, and more vital, I’ll thank the role that supplying the essential elements of longevity plays in youthfulness. You do not need to age yourself to death; perhaps, in the words of Ray Kurzweil, you can “live long enough to live forever.”