Aging is a complex programmed process which is hastened or delayed by external factors including our lifestyle and the level of pollution. The human genetic program evolved over a million years ago and has remained relatively constant till date. However, our lifestyles and the environment have undergone massive changes in the last 100 years. Most of the changes are not in harmony with the natural programs that drive almost every aspect of our health and lifespan. In this article and many others on this site, you will see that living in harmony with nature’s design is the best way to prolong youth or increase healthy lifespan.
The same genetic programs have endowed us with a potential lifespan of 125 years or about 50 replications of embryonic stem cells before succumbing to senescence. The ends of chromosomes carry structures called telomeres. Every time a cell divides the telomeres become shorter, this loss being the basis of what Hayflick described not as a clock (the process is not dependent on measuring time) but as a counting device, a “replicometer”. This is known as the Hayflick Limit. 
To understand the whole process easily, let’s imagine that each cell in the body is like a computer with its own hardware (genetic structure), software (programs) and display (tissue type). There are over 50 trillion cells in the human body having the same hardware and software. All of them are in constant communication with each other and function as a unit, during our entire lifetime. A kidney cell has the same genetic programs as the brain cell, but a different software program is playing and the tissue type is different. This is reason why preserving embryonic stem cells is of great value. At some point in the future it can be used for regenerating any tissue in the body (hopefully) by triggering the appropriate programs and displays.
If we extend the analogy a bit deeper; each cell has its own batteries called ‘mitochondria’ to fulfil the energy needs of the cell. Depending on the type of cell and the energy needs to perform the functions, the number of mitochondria will be lower or higher. Typically, brain and muscle cells have a very high number of mitochondria. Oocytes have the highest number of mitochondria and could be as high as 200,000 per oocyte. Aging is accompanied by a gradual decline in mitochondrial function, which happens due to both the intrinsic (programmed) and extrinsic (external) factors. The extrinsic factors of aging can be controlled to a large extent by a healthy diet, exercise, adequate sleep and avoidance of pollution. Essentially, this means that if the mitochondrial function is preserved or increased, it reduces the morbidity of diseases and aging. Improving mitochondrial function leads to a healthy lifespan.
Prolonging youth or increasing healthy lifespan is thus mainly dependent on controlling the extrinsic factors of aging which in turn may have a beneficial impact on the intrinsic aging process. There are over 50 theories of aging and it could lead to a lot of confusion. Carlos Lopez Otin et al (2013) have used the term ‘hallmark of aging’ to identify factors that are common to intrinsic and external aging; and have the ability to accelerate or ameliorate the aging process. They have identified 9 Hallmarks of Aging, which could be the focus of the global anti-aging efforts.  This is a recognition and endorsement of the fact that it is feasible increase healthy lifespan, even though it is not possible to extend life beyond the Hayflick Limit.
Other articles on the Body Satva website will deal with each of the ‘Hallmarks of Aging’ separately. The focus of the Body Satva Team is on improving our lifestyles to match nature’s design and thereby increasing the healthy lifespan.
Prolong Youth by leading an ‘enlightened and balanced life’
Body Satva Team has taken maximum care to ensure authenticity of the information provided, by sourcing from reputed medical journals and books. Body Satva Team urges members to seek professional advice before commencing any regimen of diet, exercise and medication. The products sold on this site are not for treating any disease or medical condition, without medical supervision. We do not advice self-medication.
Ref 1: Geoff Watts, The Lancet, Volume 377, Issue 9783, Page 2075, 18 June 2011
Ref 2: Carlos Lopez Otin et al, Cell. 2013 June 6; 153(6): 1194–1217