By Tika Khan
From the dawn of civilization, human beings have been inspired solely by the intellectual curiosity and desired to understand the wonders and beauty of nature. They have sought answers to the questions produced in stimulated minds and have asked from their elders and wise men. These questions and answers have provided and paved base for the development of modern science and the scientific society. Among an unlimited number of mysteries, aging is one of the pronounced mystery and a universal fact, of which everyone experiences. Some of the interesting questions which come under the title are:
Why a person gets old?
Why not to prolong youth and longevity?
Do Hoors and Ghilmans are still young in the heaven?
Why not eternity?
Is there any end to the universe?
We start our life journey as a child and pass through a continuous process of change, physically and physiologically, called aging, and finally die. A taste has to be tasted by every existence. Birth to death, life span of an individual is termed longevity. Biologists have long been fascinated with the diversified longevity on the biosphere. In humanity, the highest longevity recorded shows 120 years (Schigechiyo Izumi, a Japanese man and Madam Jeanne Calment, a French lady). It is also said Musa Saad, an Egyptian, lived for 155 years. Whereas in plant kingdom this may exceed more than 5,000 years (Pinus aristata, California) and even 11,000 years (Creosote bush, California).
According to the second law of thermodynamics, the degree of randomness of universe is increasing every moment. Human being, being within the frame of time and space, this universal principle equally applies to the human sphere as well. Physicists call this randomness as entropy, whereas biologists call it aging. Biologists have put forward a number of theories in order to explain aging are classified into two main categories: how and why theories. These theories collectively try to explain the causes and effects of aging. Recent advancement in the field of biological sciences got a new turn along with new dimensions. Human genetic make up (genomic blue print) has encouraged scientists to be more optimistic towards aging. It is because these are the genes which control the entire biological systems. Although scientists have so far not been able to explain aging exactly but it is hoped that the research carried out in this field are the steps which have brought humanity closer to the marked destination.
It has been shown that with the passage of time DNA (core living material) in the living bodies changes slightly. It has also been observed that the geo-climatic variations and different nutritional habits also produce differences in longevity and aging process. For example, Japanese are famous for enjoying long life, similarly in Pakistan it was popular among several British, German and Japanese researchers and visitors that people in Hunza enjoy better health and long life. A common person was expected to live about 80s, 90s and even 100 years. A closer view and review of their lifestyle of the above races and societies will show that the only reason behind the fact is simplicity and purity in food they use. Question arises do food and geography influence the genetic activity (DNA)? Obviously yes e.g. the risk of developing breast cancer varies from one country to another. It is known that traditional Japanese diet contains little fat and the same is true for the traditional diet of Hunza. An abstract of the research carried out in this regard shows that American girls tend to enter into puberty earlier, women achieve greater height and more vulnerable to breast cancer as compared to Japanese women. These differences are because of different dietary factors.
According to a research survey report, ill habits (using tobacco, drinking, using chilies, etc) decrease life expectancy and naturally gifted life by 15 to 20 %. A team of scientists from University of Bristol has calculated that each cigarette smoked reduces 11 minutes life of the smoker. It is because that what we intake all are chemicals which affect genetic activity that in turn produces abnormal proteins which speed up the aging process. Table shows an average of life span and amount loss. Smoking period and decreasing years (average five cigarettes a day) Years of smoking life (average) decreased (years), Average cigarettes smoked, Average money spent:
10 9.2 36000 0.8
15 13.8 54000 1.1
20 18.3 72000 1.5
30 27.5 108000 2.3
35 32.1 126000 2.6
Studies of coronary heart diseases have pointed out major risk factors which contribute more than 40% life risk in the population as a whole are listed below;
Eat well but do not exceed
Avoid from using much oily substances
Do not smoke (there are at least nine chemical which cause cancer)
Exercise regularly but moderately
Stay out of sun
Use vitamin C and EUse vegetables instead of beef, butter etc.
Pliny, an early poet, praises the Apennines of Roman Empire, early in second century in the following words;
“Hence the number of elderly people living there — you can see the grandfathers and great-grandfathers of people — and hear stories and tales of the past — a visit here is like a return to another age.”
It is said that the inhabitants of the Apennines enjoyed long lives because they had access to good food and clean water. Years ahead, scientists are near to success in reducing senescence. It will allow humanity to routinely live to 100, 110, 150, 200 or even more. After all, a change in a single gene can greatly extend the longevity of humanity by decades. Although we have not carried out such a scientific research in this regard in Pakistan but considering other countries like USA, UK and Japan, it is said that in America since 1900, life expectancy has reached above 65 years of age. 11 to 15 years has increased in man, and from 12 to 19 years in women. Finally, although eugenics (science of improving the genetic make up) and genetic engineering can increase the longevity but is not possible at all to get eternity in a physical world. Rate of depreciation (aging, senescence) can be reduced to a minimum but cannot be stopped at all. Hoors and Gilmans are not physical (material) bodies, being spiritual symbols they are eternal. In the depth of imagination scientists again hear the echo! “Every soul shall taste death” 3:185 (Quran).
By Tika Khan