If you understand aging, you can change it!
People tend to think that nothing is to be done about ageing. However, the manner and speed of aging is flexible, in which our environment plays an important role. Aging is the result of a mismatch between ‘old’ genes and ‘modern’ setting. It’s in our genes to want to eat much and to save our energy. This behaviour used to be beneficial to our survival, but nowadays it provides many aging problems.
David van Bodegom works as an assistant professor at the Leyden Academy, a knowledge centre in the field of vitality and ageing, and teaches at the Leiden University Medical Center (LUMC). During his PhD research on an evolutionary explanation of our long post-reproductive lifespan in Ghana, Africa, he became intrigued by the variety and flexibility of aging.
Elderly Ghanaians enjoy a high status and are active and involved in their society. Physically, they have blood sugar and cholesterol levels of 18-year-olds, a BMI of 18.5. Age-related diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease are practically non-existent.
David decided to devote himself to research on aging, declining to become a practicing physician; ‘I would always have the idea that people would come to see me too late’. He is fascinated by the idea that on the one hand healthy aging is as simple as ‘eat less and sit less’ and that on the other hand behavioral change proves to be so difficult. Billions are invested in angioplasty, stents, operations and drugs, while in principle, we know how we can reach the age of 85 without diabetes or cardiovascular disease.
He does not believe in doctors prescribing people how to age. They can determine their aging processes by adapting their environment in such a way that they automatically make healthier choices. If your everyday routine is good, healthy choices are made effortlessly, and there is room for the occasional indulgence and pleasure. Healthy aging is not only easy, but can be fun too!
Friday 22 November 2013, 13.00-22.00 hrs.
Meelfabriek, Oosterkerkstraat 16, 2312 SN Leiden