Aging: The process of becoming older, a process that is genetically determined and environmentally modulated.

Research into aging: To sum up the state of research into aging is well beyond the confines of this space (and this writer’s talents). However, here is one type of research into the genetics of aging.

A gene has been discovered that helps determine the life-span of the fruit fly Drosophila. When the gene is mutated (altered), it can extend the life-span of fruit flies. It doubles their life-span. The gene has been named Indy (for I’m not dead yet). It appears that the protein encoded by this gene transports and recycles metabolic byproducts. Defects in the gene may lead to production of a protein that renders metabolism less efficient so that its body functions as if the fruit fly were dieting, even though its eating habits are unchanged. Mutations in Indy thus appear to create a metabolic state that mimics caloric restriction, which has been shown to extend life-span.

Reference: Rogina B, Reenan RA, Nilsen SP, and Helfand SL. Extended life-span conferred by cotransporter gene mutations in Drosophila. Science Dec 15 2000: 2137-2140.

Some useful suggestions for extending life: No known substance can halt aging or extend life, but here are some useful tips for improving the chances of living a long time and staying healthy:

Eat a balanced diet, including five helpings of fruits and vegetables a day.
Exercise regularly (check with a doctor before starting an exercise program).
Get regular health check-ups.
Don’t smoke (it’s never too late to quit).
Practice safety habits at home to prevent falls and fractures.
Always wear your seatbelt in a car.
Stay in contact with family and friends.
Stay active through work, play, and community.
Avoid overexposure to the sun and the cold.
If you drink, moderation is the key.
When you drink, let someone else drive.
Keep personal and financial records in order to simplify budgeting and investing.
Plan long-term housing and money needs.
Keep a positive attitude toward life.
Do things that make you happy.

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