Alexey Moskalyov: ‘We cannot afford believing in a pill that will help in old age’
Famous Russian biologist Alexey Moskalyov’s open lecture on Science and Practice of Longevity took place at B. Rameyev IT Park in Kazan. In this lecture, the director of the Institute of Ageing Biology of the Lobachevsky University, correspondent member of the Russian Academy of Sciences talked about different ways of not only living long but also improving the quality of life at an old age, which are, in his opinion, are different things. The scientist also explained how to find out your biological age, what products to avoid and what foods to add to one’s diet to live a long healthy life.
Where do long-livers come from?
Biologist, gerontologist Alexey Moskalyov became famous for his research on mechanisms and the speed of ageing. He is an author of a number of research papers in genetics and life span. The scientist has received several prestigious Russian and foreign awards for his accomplishments in science.
At his lecture in Kazan, Moskalyov started his speech presenting several positive trends. The life span and its quality has notably increased in the last few years. However, this also led to the situation where the amount of chronic diseases among people from 50 to 70 years has doubled. According to the scientist, this happens because metabolism errors lower the body’s adaptive capabilities, which bring to ageing and then to death. What has a little impact at an early age can kill in old age.
Ageing doesn’t imply age only, it is a holistic process at all stages, from cells to all body systems, the scientist noted. Why do some people on our planet live for so long and develop chronic diseases much later? Many think this is just a genetic predisposition and such people are simply lucky, however, this is not true, explained the speaker.
“The average life expectancy was 20-30 years for most of the history. By 1900, it reached 31 years. In 2003, it already totalled 66.8 years. Infant deaths and the death rate among young people suddenly decreased,” the scientist noted.
According to him, a higher quality of water and food, hygiene, antibiotics and vaccinations, early diagnostics and prevention of chronic diseases facilitated such a rise in the lifespan. In the last decades, scientific accomplishments have taken longevity medicine to a new level. Doctors study treatment with induced pluripotent stem cells, epigenetic aging clocks, ageing biomarkers, Deep AI ageing clocks and so on.
How to find out your biological age?
As Alexey Moskalyov explained, a person’s ageing and following death occur as a result of the loss of the body’s ability to eliminate errors throughout one’s life, which constantly take place in it, but at a young age our organism is still able to cope with them and recover homeostasis. Such failures can include failures in the performance of mitochondria when instead of removing free radicals through antioxidants they start to reproduce them, which increases their amount in the organism. Also, shorter telomeres in cell division can be added here, which leads to a situation in which they lose the ability of division. Or proteostasis disruption — an intracell protein balance, if the protein structure changes for some reason, they cannot perform necessary functions.
“Aged cells with shorter telomeres, damaged DNA, activated virus-like retroelements inside start inflammation factors. What for? They signal to the body that something is wrong. And the immune system should come to the rescue, influence this inflammation factors and destroy the damaged area. Unfortunately, the immune system itself gets old, it also accumulates aged cells and with time it can remove the existing old cells producing the inflammatory factory less effectively. This is why there is a systemic chronic inflammation,” the speaker explained.
All these failures, he says, make our body vulnerable to chronic diseases. Alexey Moskalyov also noted that there are a lot of biomarkers one can use to find out the biological age, but it is hard enough to choose one indicator that would meet all criteria. Each of them has advantages and limitations. Biomarkers are divided into clinical, functional, molecular and omics. Despite a huge number of biomarkers, the scientist talked about two affordable ways of figuring out one’s biological and cognitive clocks. The first one is an online calculator analyses indicators of the chronological age and blood to determine the biological age. The second one allows learning one’s cognitive abilities and compare them with one’s own age.
Can ageing be stopped?
According to the scientist, there aren’t yet evidence-based ways of stopping or reversing ageing at molecular and cell level. But there are ways that can help improve general health right now, thus slowing down biological ageing.
The recommendations will unlikely surprise somebody. But this doesn’t mean they don’t work:
- Diet for active longevity.
- Good sleep.
The diet should include at least 3 portions of vegetables and one portion of fruit a day. It is recommended to regularly eat olive oil, dark chocolate, wholegrain cereals and pulses and nuts as few as twice a week. Fish should be consumed one or two times a week. As the biologist noted, it is necessary to control the glycaemic index and the glycaemic load of the food, amount of fructose, lactose and oxysterol intake. It is advised to add anti-inflammatory polyphenols into the daily diet (veggies, berries and fruits), fill the magnesium deficiency (buckwheat, lentil, nuts), refuse desserts, soft drinks and potato chips.
A fasting interval, for instance, from 18.00 to 10.00, breaks between food intake — four hours (if there is not gallbladder sediment) can be beneficial. It is useful to replace refined and processed products with a big amount of foods rich in fibre. One should stop eating before you feel full. It is recommended to eat crude or cooked vegetables that aren’t rich in starch with virgin olive oil once or twice a week. One should eat slowly — this will help digest it better, satiate faster, improve the taste and pleasure of food.
An insufficient physical activity is the cause of 9% of early deaths around the world. A 17% higher risk of death from all causes and 11% of deaths from tumours are seen among inactive people.
The minimum physical activity should be at least 15 minutes a day, and additional 15 minutes of daily exercise help to reduce the death risk — by 4% from all causes and 1% from all tumours. Energy consuming exercise has a more positive effect than moderate.
The optimal physical activity is 30-60 minutes of exercise a day outdoors 3-5 times a week and a set of exercises with weight aimed at key muscle groups, twice a week.