Pic of the day: Unfortunately, this approach does not work. (Picture from anime Final Approach.)
Be cool - live longer
Unfortunately, this is not the kind of cool you can just choose. Fortunately for me, I seem to be born that way. We're talking body temperature here.
I fairly recently saw a small scientific article, barely more than a notice, really. For some reason I did not bookmark it - possibly it was written on dead trees, I still read a couple such magazines each month. Anyway, you know I've written about eating less to live longer? As far as we knew, the only way to increase maximum lifespan (rather than just probable lifespan) is to eat less than normally recommended. In effect, to starve oneself, but not to death. The optimal calorie intake seems to be closer to 2/3 of normal, but at least in the interval between 2/3 and ¾. One must take care to get enough vitamins, minerals etc, so it is not something random people should just decide to do in their kitchen. It has some pretty extreme side effects: You will always feel hungry, always feel cold, your muscles will grow weak. Your sex drive will disappear (as will most of the gonad activity, such as ovulation in women) and you will grow more body hair to try to stay warm. And still your body temperature will be lower than before.
Surprisingly, it may be the chill that is the key. The notice I saw involved mice whose body temperature was artificially lowered by two degrees. These mice grew old more slowly, just like mice on a diet, but they could eat what they wanted and generally do whatever they liked. I suspect that it was still uncomfortable… you know how you feel dazed and sluggish and tired if you grow too cold. But being mice, they did not talk about it, and it did not seem to leave them writhing in pain.
These are good news indeed, except for the people who have already for a few years now starved themselves in an attempt to live a little longer. Well, they will still live that much longer, I guess. But with this new discovery, it should become much simpler to increase your lifespan. Just burn your flame a little lower. I would not be surprised if there is already medication that can do this. (I did not see anything about how they did it with the mice. Keeping them in a cold room would probably be worse than nothing: The mice (and men) would react by shivering and moving restlessly to stay warm, and eat more than ever. Only when they were exhausted would their body temperature drop. So there are probably other ways to regulate it, although I can't think of any drugs at the moment. Ordinary fever-lowering drugs don't take the temperature further down than to normal.
Of course, normal is not the same for all. While the average body temperature (at least here in Norway) is 36.8 degrees Celsius, it varies both from person to person and from morning to evening. (Lowest in the morning before we wake up, highest in the evening before we go to sleep.) Somehow it does not surprise me that I am in the low end of the curve, with 36 degrees at best in the morning and 36.5 in the evening. It fits with the rest: Slower than average heartbeat, growing up more slowly, and coming from a family with a long natural lifespan. I would be surprised if my whole family is not slightly on the chilly side. We menfolk are certainly hairy enough…
Of course, even if this is what does it, it only gives us a small edge. Even my healthy ancestors broke down pretty quickly after 85 or so and rarely lived much longer than 90. And while they may have worn themselves out with hard work, they surely lived a healthier life in other ways. Fresh air, next to no pollution, a diet rich in fiber, strong family ties and lifelong marriage. Still, cool genes don't hurt! Even though they don't extend to clothes, furniture and slang…
Visit the archive page for the older diaries I've put out to pasture.