The quest for everlasting life has preoccupied human beings for thousands of years. But once reserved for the pages of science-fiction and the films of Hollywood, the mystery of life-longevity is being unlocked by a wave of new scientific research into the aging process.
WABC’s in-resident medical expert, Dr. Peter Michalos, joined The Cats Roundtable this Easter Sunday to explain how in-roads into gene research are leading to a renaissance of how we look at aging.
“Most disease occurs as we age,” Dr. Michalos explained. “So we’re not only interested in lifespan, but what we’re interested in is extending our healthspan—and how long we are healthy for, later in life.”
This new understanding in large part to genetic insights into telomeres, a compound that caps the end of a chromosome. Dr. Michalos characterized telomeres as “the little clock in our gene” that protects the chromosome’s DNA and shorten as a person ages. While there remains no such thing as eternal life, he told The Cats Roundtable the research into telomeres has real-world impact, particularly with dietary recommendations and the nutritional sciences.
According to Michalos, compounds, and proteins naturally found in the Mediterranean diet have been shown to slow the shortening of telomeres, such oleic acid, found in extra-virgin olive oil, not to mention the nascent research into red wine’s ability to lower the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
“Now there’s research being translated into how we can get humans, not only about how long we live, but the quality, the healthspan, and having health into our seventies and eighties,” Michalos explained.
He recommended lowering red meat and sugar consumption in favor of vegetables, mixed nuts, whole grains, and fish, citing a study in Italy that seemed to show a Mediterranean diet added nine years to a person’s life.
Striking a broader, hopeful tone with his parting words, Dr. Michalos took a moment to reflect on this Easter Sunday.
“I’m just telling people to be cautious and careful because I think our little third-wave blip is here,” Dr. Michalos told The Cats Roundtable. “So continue to be vigilant. Please get out there and get your vaccine so that the virus has fewer places to jump, and I hope that based on history and the direction of the number of people getting vaccinated, that by July we will have a turnaround and be close to ending the mass-scale of this pandemic and get things under control.”
Listen to the interview below