Longevity: Li Ching-Yuen

I always asked myself why people die before reaching 100 years even if they enjoy "perfect" health. I'm no scientist but I found out that genes and cell reproduction have important roles to play along with maintaining a healthy and balanced lifestyle. My intuition tells me that we were designed to live longer in spite of what some scientists tell us and there seems to be evidence leading to this.

The gene therapy consisted of treating the animals with a DNA-­modified virus, the viral genes having been replaced by those of the telomerase enzyme, with a key role in aging. Telomerase repairs the extreme ends or tips of chromosomes, known as telomeres, and in doing so slows the cell's and therefore the body's biological clock. When the animal is infected, the virus acts as a vehicle depositing the telomerase gene in the cells.
- Science Daily / 14 May, 2012

The above quote is from a story in Science Daily about research in life extension in animals, in this case mice, and you can read the whole article here.

Another interesting piece of information and something that is more useful than some experimental genetic research is to be found here. It is an article about iron, mainly. Why women live longer than men on an average is explained here, or at least a part of the answer is presented.
While vitamin C increases iron absorption, there is no evidence that vitamin C leads to iron overload. Thus vitamin C should not be avoided by meat-eaters for this reason, since studies show high-dose vitamin C supplements are associated with a decreased risk for heart disease, cancer, cataracts and other disorders. A vegetarian diet does not generally cause iron-deficiency anemia because there is more vitamin C in plant-food diets, which enhances iron absorption.
- quote from the article on iron

I didn't propose to write an article about how to live longer... yet, I will come back to this in a century or two. Now I want to show some of the more unknown and controversial examples of people who passed 150 years and still had/have the power to work, learn, live.

Our first case is Li Ching-Yuen, a Chinese herbalist and  martial artist. Documents indicate that he was born either in 1677 or in 1683, while he always claimed he was born in 1736, nevertheless, the fact that he died in 1933 makes either one of the three years seem like a detail. In 1928 the New York Times had an article about him (couldn't verify, anyone who has access to their archives please let me know) and in 1933 an obituary. On May 15 The Times had their own article about the 250~ year old man.

His old age, will to live and power to work are documented by the Chinese government who congratulated him for his 150th and 200th birthdays. General Yang Sen invited Li in 1927 and as a result of this meeting he wrote the report "A Factual Account of the 250 Year-Old Good-Luck Man". What he learned from the "Good Luck Man" he passed on to T. T. Liang.

An interesting element to the story, and one that we also should keep in mind, is a thing called Gotu Kola, or more scientifically, Centella Asiatica. It seems that Li Ching-Yuen used it, obviously, he was a herbalist for all of his two centuries (give or take). You can read more about the properties of this herb here, University of Maryland Medical Center.  

Who wants to live forever?

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