Photo by Tolga Ulkan on Unsplash

How does learning help for longer and healthier life?

It’s so weird how ignorant we are about aging or living longer. I don’t remember the last time I was questioning how I can support my body and mind to live a bit longer and in better health, or even understanding how aging works never occurred to me. Contrary to it, I always conceded that we are mortal and we mostly do not have an influence on the speed of aging. The former assumption is still valid, namely we have not yet found immortality. However, the latter thought of mine got shattered after the recent reads and researches. There is obviously a way of slightly increasing the probability of longer and healthier life.

The dream of living long, if not forever, began at the very early stages of civilization history. The Epic of Gilgamesh, Methuselah in Hebrew scriptures, Essential Formulas of Alchemical Classics in China, and many other stories on longevity, “Elixir of Life”, have given us hopes in science of finding the formula of immortality. Although there is no any scientific proof on anyone prolonging their lives more than a single century range, there is a promising stream of scientific studies on finding the roots of aging and longevity.

Stopping the progression of one disease doesn’t make it any less likely that a person will die of another. While lifespans have increased because of this approach, increases in health span haven’t kept pace.

David Sinclair

As David Sinclair, in his book “Lifespan“, mentions, our DNA that carries our genes and helps the protein build up to make us who we are breaks every time there is a copy of a cell. When copying, there can be many mistakes such as duplication of sequences, or missing letter and so on. This type of “epigenetic noise” creates a loss of analog information within DNA. To fight the errors, our primordial “survival kit” works hard. Sirtuin is one of the protein families that repairs DNA damage and controls overall cellular health by keeping cells on task. If it does help us so much, how can it contribute to aging? Sinclair argues that when the sirtuins get overwhelmed, cells get confused and misbehave as it loses the ability to interpret or translate the information from our genes. There are many more subsequent activities happening in our body on cellular level, but it all ends with the aging, which we can observe by the symptoms of organ failure, osteoarthritis or wrinkles.

It’s not under our control though to directly impact our “survival kit” I thought. So, we should just accept and enjoy it. Yes, it is true. We are still bound to the evolutionary development and the entropy increase will get us closer to being another historical example of Homo Sapiens who did not make it to the invention of immortality. However, assuming we are living this life only once, why not maximize the time we can experience it? There is a simple principle behind longevity, which is pushing some stress to our body so that the “survival kit” gets stronger. Does it remind us working out to improve our muscle strength?!

Indeed, exercising is one of the tools that shifts our cells to survival mode, that in turn gets our “survival network” in action which grows oxygen-carrying capillaries in muscles. That’s how the body is kept fresh and healthy. Especially High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) seems to be the most effective modus to adopt.

Another decisive tool is to eat less often in less amount. There are numerous studies that displays positive effect of restricting calories over long term. Again the main reason is the body’s reaction of survival mode against the threat of extinction. This fight can be upgraded to an optimal level when combined with intermittent fasting, where we restrict also the time of feasting within a given period.

Putting the body under stress trains its strength. However, it needs to rest as well as our muscles do. The paramount means of resting our body is by sleeping. When sleeping our body loosens the contracting muscles, cleans the toxic in the body and in our brain, and also helps us to store and process the information we acquire during the day. Putting an weight attention to sleeping is a no-brainer.

I have recently started experimenting all the methods mentioned above and beyond: sleeping constantly 7+ hours, ketogenic diet + intermittent fasting, cold showers, and daily exercises. I have been doing these rituals every day since couple of months. I do not know how long it will take me to recognize the longevity results, but I can already see the mental and health improvements.

What does this article have to do with learning then? Everything that I mentioned above is taken from reflecting what I have read in recent months. The collection of various information is linked via neural connections in our brains and over time with further enrichment of our mental database, we can identify the visible linked concepts and also learn identifying invisible or weakly visible semantic networks of knowledge. Over time the assumptions, thoughts and opinions may change and should change. Understanding and reflecting it is the only thing we should be continuously doing.

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