Most people don’t want to think about how long they are likely to live. It’s not always a pleasant thought. But it is well worth considering because it affects how you live your life.
A century ago, the average westerner could expect to live around 60 to 65 years. Life expectancies were lower because standards of living were lower, people had less security and medicine wasn’t as good.
During the 20th century, life expectancies rose by around 10 to 15 years. And even today, despite all our problems with obesity, life expectancies continue to rise. Projections by the World Health Organization predict that people born after 2000 will likely live to see their one-hundredth birthday on average – a staggering forecast when you consider that only around one in 10,000 reach that age today.
Why are life expectancies predicted to rise? Well, forecasters aren’t actually doing anything particularly sophisticated. They’re looking at how life expectancies have risen already and simply projecting linearly into the future. If life expectancies rose by around 15 years in the 20th century then, they predict, something similar will happen in the 21st.
However, this approach seems a little naive. Why would life expectancies continue to rise at the same rate? There is no scientific basis for this. In fact, most of the gains in life expectancy came from reducing mortality earlier in life, not adding more years to the end of it. Since very few people in advanced societies die before the age of 60, there is hardly any room for further improvement.
Coupled with this is the reality that diets are appalling compared to what they used to be. In the past, people ate mainly whole foods. But, today, that’s no longer the case. The primary ingredients in most diets are sugar, oil, and refined carbohydrates. These are not healthy ingredients.
However, at the same time, we’re witnessing a slew of new technologies that purport to extend life. The most basic of these is the recently recognized benefits of fasting. Going without food for a while seems to kick the body into repair mode, allowing it to become healthier at any age.
Then there are prescription medications, such as rapamycin and metformin which also appear to make people live longer. Metformin, a drug for diabetes, reduces all-cause mortality substantially.
Lastly, there is a new range of supplements on the market. Some of these boost repairs enzymes in our cells while others allow our bodies to flush out damaged components which can cause aging in the long run.
Of course, as smart personal injury attorneys will tell you, injuries do still happen. So even if we succeed in living longer, there will always be a statistical risk to life. Nobody can guarantee immortality.
However, the field is changing dramatically. Life expectancy projections are almost certainly wrong. Experts predict that the first person to live to see their 150th birthday has probably already been born. So, in summary, many of us will probably reach the age of 100, but how long we actually will live remains a tremendous mystery.
What are your thoughts? Please share in the comments below. I really would love to know.
Until next time, shine amongst the stars!
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