Aging and Longevity

The average human life span in the industrialized countries has increased from 40-45 years to nearly 75 years over the past cen-tury.1 This is due to improved living standards, including better nutrition, medical care, and sanitation. The maximum human life span is thought to be 120 years. Although our genetic potential should allow most people to live to 100 and beyond, few survive to 100 and not many make it to 90. Moreover, living longer does not necessarily mean living better. Degenerative disease - arthritis, heart disease, osteoporosis, cataracts - plague the elderly. There is little sense in striving to extend maximum life span until ways can be found to live out our present-day life span in reasonably good health, with physical and mental vitality. A goal of preventive nutrition is to find ways to compress illness and the degenerative process of aging into a short period preceding death. Rather than dreaming about living to 200, the aim should be to live past 100 and do so in generally good health up until the end. That is the goal of the guidelines in this section.

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