My clinical belief and my academic belief are that a paleo lifestyle especially key dietary pillars are critical to compressing disease and expanding health as one ages. This is a new area of study because the paleo lifestyle is not commonly implemented by supercentarians so we may have to wait sixty plus years too see it's effects. It is critical to follow paleo community habits now to draw conclusions about the habits developed and types of foods eaten. This is an area that has me intensely interested in going forward........would love to hear some of your thoughts on this 30000 ft view of the paleo lifestyle and what the future may reveal.
Gompertz Law: risk of death increases exponentially with age.
I know one gentleman that lives in the community I do who is 99 years old and plays senior softball twice a week and bowls twice a week. One day at the ballfield, I asked him what is the key to his longevity and he told me, limit sugar, limit bread, be happy and get lots of sunshine every day and get out of the house and do something. He has been eating this way for 40 years and has been playing ball in the sunshine 19 years. Maybe the first paleo without know it.
I started paleo 3.5 years ago at age 63 and have never felt better, but can't remember my teens and 20s since back then I was going to live forever. I do know I abused my body mercilessly with 40 oz of Coke from 7-11 for years. But so far this paleo thing has turned into a lifestyle. It is amazing what happens when one's mortality slaps one up aside the head and says if you continue down this road, the end is near. Not for me now. I hope to break the record. The oldest living person just died yesterday in Montana at the age of 110.
I can't speak to the Gompertz law per se, as I imagine a large part of that equation has to do with things like "the more often you cross the street, the more likely it is a car will hit you" and so forth. When it comes to Paleo though, I wonder how much we will really be able to tell in this generation. Aren't there so many potential factors like sub optimal health of one's parents before your own birth, a childhood diet that was sub-optimal and particularly any viruses or illnesses that may have done their damage before a person found the primal diet? That said, I do believe a paleo diet goes a long way to rectifying these situations, so maybe if most of us live to 108 that will be all the more proof of its power.
Otherwise we might have to wait til our Paleo children are 108.
Personally I think focussing too much on morbidity and mortality is un-healthy and counter productive as it creates anxieties. Just enjoy being healthy now, there is no way of measuring now whether we are increasing our life span or not so we shouldn't worry too much about it. Just make good choices with what info we know and chill down and enjoy life.
If you had nothing better to do than look at the life expectancy tables used by actuaries, rather than supporting Gompertz' Law, they show the reverse. In fact, statistically, as people move towards the age of 60 their actual life expectancy increases quite dramatically.
A Gompertz curve is a mathematical function determined by several variables and one constant. The actual rate of growth, the "steepness" of the curve (of mortality, in this case) would be determined in part by any environmental factor that affects lifespan. Since there are too many of those factors to really count, and those factors are nearly impossibly to quantify this makes it a pretty useless tool for predicting real-world mortality rates in actual numbers.
The function itself, though, is consistent with the tautology that, the less dangerous your life is, the less chance you have of dying.
I wonder how you could design such a study. The population, even on this board, that is following any semblance of paleo is so scattered with so many different versions, that that would have to be part of the mathematical function. What would the control variable be? What sort of design for tracking would you put in place? In the larger scheme of things, IMO, a very worth-while subject to study with a really good logistical road-map.
I do think that the impact of this diet and way of living can be at least tracked with simple metrics regarding common disease incidence in Paleo vs. SAD, since an improved immune system is one of the benefits. We talk most frequently here about the big five (cancer, diabetes, hyper-tension, heart disease and high cholesterol), but what about the common cold and flu? For years, I had maybe one cold a year and in the last two years, I guess, I caught everything I came in contact with until the paleo benefits kicked in in January. I've been incredibly well since. I think with a good control group, a study of this sort is totally doable.
That being said, what is your threshold for "longevity"? I have a 99 year old aunt who smoked, ate SAD and bowled for exercise. I have a friend who's father is 105 and just had a second hip replacement. His diet most likely leans vegetarian. In both cases, getting to 85 in the family is perfectly normal. I suppose I'm asking regarding the initial hypothesis, is genetics going to be considered, because we all have family that abuse the heck out of their bodies and somehow live to tell the tale, albeit on anti-hyperintensives, chemo, insulin, etc.
I hope you do start such a study that tracks 2-3 generations on paleo or at least grain, legume and simple sugar (for the most part) free. I think the results would be fascinating.
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