Ah, the elusive fountain of youth. This tale is as old as time, based on the history of Ponce de Leon, a 16th century Spanish explorer who searched for the fabled wellspring that was believed to offer everlasting youth.
For anyone who has ascended the hill and crossed the threshold into the glorious afternoon of life, it is no secret the age-old question is, “How do I slow down the aging process? Is there really a fountain of youth?” If I had a direct answer to that question, as well as a location to which we could all easily navigate, I would be rich beyond my wildest dreams. It would be nice to think that we could ingest a pill and stay forever young. If that ever comes to fruition, it would be an investment-worthy business endeavor.
Nevertheless, some persistent and curious scientists around the world are pointing a finger toward advances in slowing the aging process by producing test results that indicate reversed signs of aging in mice, increasing their lifespan by 30 percent. These scientists believe that at some point, this could lead to increased life expectancy in humans. For example, at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in California, scientists have been hailed for turning back time through a unique process referred to as cellular reprogramming. This process extends an animal’s lifespan from 18 weeks to 24 weeks, all without the noticeable effects and byproducts of aging. While these studies are preliminary, they are opening doors to further studies on aging and how it occurs. Remember, though, these scientists are working with mice, not humans, so we do not recommend lining up at the door just yet!
As busy scientists the world over have been fast at work at seeking that magical pill or potion, another answer may rest in the sea urchin. Recent studies conducted by the MDI Biological Laboratory in Bar Harbor, Maine, observed the regenerative properties of three types of sea urchins, each of which has three different life spans, to understand how the process relates to aging tissues as well as lost or damaged body parts. Believe it or not, sea urchins share a close genetic makeup to humans. The scientists hypothesized that as these sea urchins advance in age, their capacity to regenerate must also decline; in other words, they simply “grow older.” However, what they discovered was that no matter how quickly the sea urchin aged, surprisingly the regenerative properties did not decline, and these urchins maintained youthful function even as they neared the end of their life expectancy! This has led scientists to rethink the evolution of aging and why aging actually occurs. However, this is not a call to go out and bathe yourself in any sea urchin serums, and if you see any on the market, buyer beware! Let’s just say it paves a path for further studies on how organisms function as they age.
Then there is the ambitious anti-aging industry, which truly is a phenomenal one. We hear about products, treatments and services, all promising to “defy aging.” But is that really possible? Globally, this particular industry is expected to exceed more than $216 billion by 2021. Such explosive growth points a finger at the increase in the aging population around the world. Among the many anti-aging products are hair restoration, chemical peels, liposuction, breast augmentation, anti-pigmentation therapy, anti-cellulite treatments, laser aesthetics and so much more. As people age, the demand for products and services that cling to the ideal of eternal youth continues to escalate.
As American novelist Mark Twain once quipped, “Life would be infinitely happier if we could only be born at the age of 80 and gradually approach 18.” Yes, as it has been said time and again, “Youth is wasted on the young.” While you may be tempted to take a sip or a huge swallow from the proverbial fountain of youth, please beware. Many anti-aging products and techniques are effective in helping you pursue that youthful essence and glow. In addition, the healthiest way to ensure your own fountain of youth experience is to maintain a healthy diet, a healthy weight and incorporate plenty of safe exercise into your daily routine.
Perhaps the fountain of youth is less of a product and more of a lifestyle and attitude. As always, be sure to consult with your physician for the best strategies for your abilities, current health and lifestyle.