More Aglet Please

Just how badly have we missed the microbial mark and what influence do these microflorae have on the overall balancing act we call life in our goal to make it to 120 years of age with a body that looks and feels no more than a robust 24?

Lifespan, healthspan, and life expectancy. Is any one of these more important than another? A long lifespan is not something I would enjoy if I were hindered from doing whatever I liked because of some physical impediment that I could have avoided. And this is where healthspan comes into play.

Currently, it appears that the human lifespan is about 120 years. In the United States, the current life expectancy in 2022 is about 78.5 years with a health span of about 63 good years of life without many physical limitations. So then what changes over time that results in a decline in functionality and better yet, can that decline be averted? I would like to think so.

Clearly, there will come a time in everyone’s life when there will be some form of decline in functionality. So what is stopping us from extending that decline or at least pushing it back to our 120th birthday or more?

It is us that are keeping this from happening. Our body has the functionality within it to make it to 120 years of age. And I am beginning to suspect that it is the overall condition of the microflora, primarily found in our intestinal tract that is the major contributing factor that determines how close we get to that end of 120 years. And if it is that microflora that is the mediator of that overall healthspan functionality, then what do those microorganisms need to get us to that fullness of life?

The microflora that lives on us and within us is much more at the forefront of our minds than it was just one generation ago. In all the years I spent in school I can’t say that I remember hearing anything about it at all. Yet a deviation in the functionality of this mass of living organisms about our being can have grave consequences in the individual creature.

Our body is a complex system. Within that individual system, there are many complex subsystems that are also complex within their own discrete functions. And yet I can see that we are very little different than a plot of topsoil that somehow figured out a way to wrap itself in a lipid bilayer, what we call skin so that it could get up and wander about the Earth.

Nonetheless, here I am again with this question. What are we doing wrong?

If our life was a shoelace, one of the most important aspects of the health span of that shoelace is the aglet at the end of the lace. Those little metal or plastic tubes that are affixed tightly around each end of the lace. A happy, healthy aglet makes for a well-functioning shoelace. Of course, the lace can always break somewhere in the middle, but barring that kind of failure those little aglets will ultimately determine the overall length of the functionality of that lace.

I suspect that our life is much like this aforementioned shoelace. If it is not overused it will last much longer than one that is abused by overuse. A shoelace can fail from overuse long before the aglet fails and in like manner our human body can fail long before our body loses the ability to regenerate the cells that ensure a full health span of 120 years.

So are we wearing out the aglets of life or abusing the lace of life that results in mechanical failure? Maybe both.


Post image by Ian W. Fieggen – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3716706

What Disease?

I will proclaim that there is no such thing as disease from this day forward. That is not to say that there aren’t disorders of function(disfunction) within the human experience. Indeed there is, and we have all experienced disorders to one degree or another.

In other words, I am going to do my best to remove the term disease from my linguistic arsenal because I believe it to be problematic. Problematic in that it allows for a continued building up of ideas and language that takes us further away from the truth of what disease truly is. An advanced state of aging. A problem resulting from our body lacking the vital energies needed to repair or replace the components that we are wearing out. To say it another way, we are using up our body’s resources faster than we can renew them.

And so in some sense, the word disease becomes an expensive paywall that prevents us from understanding what is really going on. And this disease is simply the first paywall or locked door that keeps us from really understanding what is really going on. Once you are convinced that you have a disease and you have gone through that door, it is further separated out into many other doorways and dim passages by which the initial problem becomes even more confused, obscured, blurred, and specialized into other, even scarier sounding disorders and diseases that become even more difficult to understand. This then ultimately leads us down the road to needing a doctor to guide us as blind people through the perilous straights of murky medical terminology. By the time the common man gets to this point they don’t know what to do. And in many cases, their doctor’s primary care doctors know little more. From this point, specialists who hold the keys of knowledge hidden behind the doors of specialties and specific diagnoses aren’t really able to help us better understand what is going on simply because they lack the time or skills needed to easily teach us in plain language what is really going on within our body. And thus we simply trust them in their decision-making processes that landed us in their care in the first place. And once most people get to this point there is little they can do other than say okay, submitting ourselves to a course of treatment that isn’t necessarily going to get us back to a state of homeostasis. To a place of normalcy where our body can once again be in its default state of organic and biological flow where everything is working with ease.

And this then leads us back to life…

There is only life and life exists regardless of our consciousness of it. We get to participate in it for a period of time. A span. A spectrum of existence that begins with what we humans call birth, and that existence has a temporal ending that we call death. Metaphorically speaking, we are simply an act if you will. A scene in a movie or play that makes up the whole of our individual lives. Our act or scene is a story that has many stages in between its temporal beginning and end. One story; yet two natures. One that is physical and the other that is spiritual. One is the story of our physical body and the other is that which we call our consciousness. Yet, both are a part of the same individual story that makes up each individual human life. And it is all an animated existence powered by electrical energy.

Our physical body is an organic, carbon-based life form that has been drawn up, gathered together, animated, and electrified as a utilitarian, beneficial, and necessary part of life here on Earth. We are here for a reason. In some sense acting as a counterbalance to another factor that exists within the realm of life on Earth.

So where does disease fit into all of this talk of man’s nature? What if I told you that disease is simply a metaphor for aging that has been used as a marketing tool in some sense? Well, that’s exactly what it is. The marketing of an idea that at the very least implies that there is something going on in our body that is out of our control that needs some form of external input, whether by ourselves or the hands of another.

So let’s remove the word disease from our common use of language and call it what it is then. Simply aging.

Beginning somewhere between conception and birth, aging has been defined as a steady decline or reduction of physiological function that leads to increased susceptibility to diseases that will ultimately end in biological death.

Beginning –> Aging –> Disease –> Death/End

When compared to other mammals, humans have what appears on the surface to be a longer lifespan. Approximately 120 years according to what humans have defined as a solar year consisting of 365 1/4 days.

Sidenote: I would like to argue that all mammals within their individual context from their own perspective experience the same amount of perceptible time known as a lifespan regardless of how humans define time. The idea that a day to a human would be something like a week to a dog, as an example. This might explain why a dog is so happy to see its human that has been gone on a two-week vacation. To us humans, it has only been two weeks, but to that dog, perhaps, it has been something akin to us having been gone for almost 2 months time.

Standard evolutionary models of aging are explained as the full potential of our body’s ability to repair or replace cells that would allow for continued existence. The idea is that over time, what we call natural selection, through a process called senescence, or the deterioration of age, begins to exert less effort in the removal of our spent cells. Our body loses its will to take out the trash, if you will.

This brings me back to the state that we have classically called disease. And this is the basis by which I would like to suggest that we stop using this negative, pejorative term for what is simply the process of aging.

linkRoll_2020.04.01

Can We Beat SARS-CoV-2? Lessons From Other Coronaviruses – When news broke that a novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 had emerged, scientists like myself were grimly aware of how difficult this novel coronavirus would be to control. For context, my research focuses on engineering bacteriophages for use as therapeutics, whereby bacterial viruses (phages) are used to infect and lyse bacteria as a replacement for traditional antibiotics. Read More…

A Huge Discovery in the World of VirusesGiant phages have been found in French lakes, baboons from Kenya, and the human mouth. – Your mouth is currently teeming with giant viruses that, until very recently, no one knew existed. Unlike Ebola or the new coronavirus that’s currently making headlines, these particular viruses don’t cause disease in humans. They’re part of a group known as phages, which infect and kill bacteria. But while many phages are well studied, these newly discovered giants are largely mysterious. Why are they 10 times bigger than other phages? How do they reproduce? And what are they up to inside our bodies? “They’re in our saliva, and in our gut,” says Jill Banfield of the University of California, Berkeley, who led the team that discovered the new phages. “Who knows what they’re doing?” Read More…

Animal Data Shows Fisetin to be a Surprisingly Effective Senolytic It is exciting to see animal data arrive for some of the potentially senolytic compounds that may turn out to destroy enough senescent cells in mammals to be worth using as first generation rejuvenation therapies. As a reminder, the accumulation of senescent cells is one of the causes of aging; countless cells become senescent every day in our bodies, but near all are destroyed. A tiny fraction linger to cause significant harm through the inflammatory signal molecules that they secrete. If these errant cells can be removed, then inflammatory diseases and numerous aspects of aging can be turned back to some degree. The results in mice stand head and shoulders above all of the other approaches to aging in terms of reliability and breadth of benefits…Of the 10 flavonoids tested, fisetin was the most potent senolytic. Acute or intermittent treatment of progeroid and old mice with fisetin reduced senescence markers in multiple tissues, consistent with a hit-and-run senolytic mechanism. Fisetin reduced senescence in a subset of cells in murine and human adipose tissue, demonstrating cell-type specificity. Administration of fisetin to wild-type mice late in life restored tissue homeostasis, reduced age-related pathology, and extended median and maximum lifespan. Read More…

Flavonoids: An Overview – Flavonoids, a group of natural substances with variable phenolic structures, are found in fruits, vegetables, grains, bark, roots, stems, flowers, tea and wine. These natural products are well known for their beneficial effects on health and efforts are being made to isolate the ingredients so called flavonoids. Flavonoids are now considered as an indispensable component in a variety of nutraceutical, pharmaceutical, medicinal and cosmetic applications. This is attributed to their anti-oxidative, anti-inflammatory, anti-mutagenic and anti-carcinogenic properties coupled with their capacity to modulate key cellular enzyme function. Read More…

Chemistry and Biological Activities of Flavonoids: An Overview – Flavonoids consist of a large group of polyphenolic compounds having a benzo-γ-pyrone structure and are ubiquitously present in plants. Flavonoids are hydroxylated phenolic substances and are known to be synthesized by plants in response to microbial infection. Many flavonoids are shown to have antioxidative activity, free radical scavenging capacity, coronary heart disease prevention, hepatoprotective, anti-inflammatory, and anticancer activities, while some flavonoids exhibit potential antiviral activities. In plant systems, flavonoids help in combating oxidative stress and act as growth regulators. Read More…

Fisetin is a senotherapeutic that extends health and lifespan The natural product fisetin has senotherapeutic activity in mice and in human tissues. Late life intervention was sufficient to yield a potent health benefit. These characteristics suggest the feasibility to translation to human clinical studies.