February 2, 2024

Longevity in 2024

Five trends we think will change the game this year

September 22, 2023

Longevity in 2024

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As we settle into 2024, we’ve been casting our thoughts ahead to what the year might hold for longevity science and lifestyle medicine. These are the five key trends that we think could change the landscape this year.

Home sauna use

In countries such as Finland, Estonia, Russia and Turkey, saunas have been a regular part of everyday life for centuries. Although they’ve been steadily growing in popularity in the rest of the world, they haven't fully reached the mainstream. But we think 2024 is the year that saunas go truly global!

Much like cold plunges, the intensity of saunas might seem uncomfortable to begin with, but once you’ve experienced the amazing benefits they become much more enjoyable. As we’ve written about on our blog previously, spending 15-20 minutes in a high-temperature (>95°C) sauna can improve sleep and mood, with studies showing it can actually alleviate symptoms of depression. [1] Regular sauna use also greatly improves long-term health, primarily because the heat causes your heart to beat faster and more powerfully and causes your blood vessels to dilate, all of which helps to maintain cardiovascular function. [2] A major barrier to sauna usage in many areas has been their scarcity and expense, but home sauna set-ups are becoming more effective and inexpensive, which may encourage many more people to take the plunge.

All Saunas | Clearlight® Saunas

Saunas' incredible health benefits, coupled with the increased accessibility of home set-ups, mean that we think they will become part of most longevity protocols in the coming year.

More mobility training

Typically the established choice of exercise has been between cardiovascular and resistance training. When considering how you can age as healthily as possible however, there’s a third form of exercise that is absolutely crucial: mobility training.

The ability to comfortably perform day-to-day movements - also known as functional fitness - becomes more and more important as you age. Bending, twisting, reaching, even just standing up and walking are all easy when you’re young, but without proper attention they gradually become more difficult. These activities rely heavily on the strength, resilience and flexibility of your joints and muscles, as well as your balance, and mobility training (sometimes called stability training) is exercise that focuses specifically on these attributes. This can include resistance training that works joints and builds stability, such as dynamic neuromuscular stabilization (DNS), as well as dedicated stretching protocols and holistic practices like yoga.

Easy Mobility Exercises to Help You Move & Feel Your Best

Longevity clinicians such as Peter Attia and Andrew Huberman are strong advocates of mobility training, and we think we’ll see more voices joining them this year.

A shift in our view of the importance of sleep

As an ever-expanding bank of research shows, maintaining good sleep is vital for both physical and mental health. Unfortunately, it’s still an aspect of life that many people overlook and fail to prioritize. In previous years, going without sleep or pulling all-nighters was seen as admirable, but thankfully attitudes are changing and prioritizing sleep hygiene is becoming much more 'hardcore' than going without sleep (in our opinion anyway!). We think this trend will continue throughout 2024, as more people prioritize getting good sleep and utilize sleep-enhancing products to help them.

We think this trend in prioritizing sleep will mean that specialist sleep masks will become much more widely used. Research shows that sleeping with even a small amount of ambient light disrupts your sleep and causes cognitive and cardiometabolic harm. [3, 4] But simply wearing a sleep mask can help prevent this, with a study from 2023 showing that it can significantly enhance learning and focus. [5] There are also many supplements that are touted as improving sleep, including magnesium, apigenin, ashwagandha and L-theanine. While some of these have shown promising results in small-scale studies, none has yet been found to be effective in larger, longer-term studies. If a sleep supplement can demonstrate robust results however, it could become the next big longevity compound.

We expect to see the positive shift in attitudes around sleep continue throughout 2024 and think we'll hear plenty about specialized, technology-packed sleep masks and effective sleep supplements.

Less of the carnivore diet (hopefully!)

The so-called ‘carnivore diet' saw a huge explosion in popularity over the last few years, driven largely by dramatic, impressive (but sometimes outright fake) social media coverage. Proponents claim that eating solely raw meat and animal products - with no carbohydrates, vegetables or fruit whatsoever - is optimal for health because it is closest to what humans would have eaten throughout most of our evolutionary history. On the surface it’s a compelling theory, but it’s not at all supported by science.

For one thing, the theory behind the carnivore diet is based on a misunderstanding of human evolution; the fossil record suggests that early humans ate plenty of fruits and plants, and that their diets actually contained more varied sources of nutrients than ours do today. [6] Also, while the carnivore diet’s high-protein and low-carbohydrate approach can help build the lean, muscular physique that makes it such a hit on social media, there is strong evidence to suggest that there will be serious negative long-term health consequences. Eating red meat is one of the most influential risk factors for cancer and cardiovascular disease, [7, 8]. On the other hand, a huge number of studies have proved that eating fruit, vegetables and a generally balanced (or even plant-based) diet significantly lowers your risk of chronic disease and improves your chance of a long, happy life. [9]

We’re hopeful that 2024 will see the carnivore diet fade away like other fad diets, as further evidence fails to support its claims and more influential voices come out against it.

Biotech breakthroughs to watch 

Longevity science is one of the fastest moving and most exciting fields of research and biotechnology. As we discover more about the cellular processes involved in aging, we learn more about how we can influence them to prevent disease and extend lives. 2024 could see huge breakthroughs in this regard, whether in the form of longevity therapeutics demonstrating efficacy in human trials or cutting-edge advances in reversing aging at the cellular level.

Many compounds that researchers believe can prevent disease and extend lifespan are currently undergoing human trials. Among the most promising are metformin, NMN (and other NAD+ precursors), sirtuin activators, GLP-agonists (like semaglutide/ozempic), spermidine and senolytics. [10] If any of these can show positive results then it could be a huge moment for longevity science.

We could also be on the verge of some game-changing advances towards actually reversing aging at the cellular level. The most promising avenue of research appears to be epigenetic reprogramming, which aims to wipe clean molecular marks that build up on genes and control their activation, thereby reversing cells’ age and reverting them to a stem cell-like state. In 2022 a lab demonstrated that partial reprogramming using gene therapy can reverse aging in a mouse model [11] and last year another team showed that it was possible by just exposing cells to specific molecules. [12] Now the race is on to apply these techniques to human cells, with a whole range of biotech companies currently running studies and clinical trials.

Gene therapies are also showing promise, which involves altered genetic information being introduced into cells. Genflow Biosciences, for example, has developed a technique that introduces a variant of the SIRT6 gene by intravenous injection. SIRT6 is a sirtuin gene which has been found in disproportionally high amounts in centenarians and which researchers believe could be key to extending lifespan.

Although much of the work going on in the biotechnology world is still a way off from reaching consumers or patients, 2024 could see some huge leaps forward that bring us closer to truly game-changing lifespan extension.

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Oscar Allan

SCIENTIFIC CONTENT WRITER & RESEARCHER

Oscar is a science writer and e-learning developer with a master's degree in longevity-related topics

As we settle into 2024, we’ve been casting our thoughts ahead to what the year might hold for longevity science and lifestyle medicine. These are the five key trends that we think could change the landscape this year.

Home sauna use

In countries such as Finland, Estonia, Russia and Turkey, saunas have been a regular part of everyday life for centuries. Although they’ve been steadily growing in popularity in the rest of the world, they haven't fully reached the mainstream. But we think 2024 is the year that saunas go truly global!

Much like cold plunges, the intensity of saunas might seem uncomfortable to begin with, but once you’ve experienced the amazing benefits they become much more enjoyable. As we’ve written about on our blog previously, spending 15-20 minutes in a high-temperature (>95°C) sauna can improve sleep and mood, with studies showing it can actually alleviate symptoms of depression. [1] Regular sauna use also greatly improves long-term health, primarily because the heat causes your heart to beat faster and more powerfully and causes your blood vessels to dilate, all of which helps to maintain cardiovascular function. [2] A major barrier to sauna usage in many areas has been their scarcity and expense, but home sauna set-ups are becoming more effective and inexpensive, which may encourage many more people to take the plunge.

All Saunas | Clearlight® Saunas

Saunas' incredible health benefits, coupled with the increased accessibility of home set-ups, mean that we think they will become part of most longevity protocols in the coming year.

More mobility training

Typically the established choice of exercise has been between cardiovascular and resistance training. When considering how you can age as healthily as possible however, there’s a third form of exercise that is absolutely crucial: mobility training.

The ability to comfortably perform day-to-day movements - also known as functional fitness - becomes more and more important as you age. Bending, twisting, reaching, even just standing up and walking are all easy when you’re young, but without proper attention they gradually become more difficult. These activities rely heavily on the strength, resilience and flexibility of your joints and muscles, as well as your balance, and mobility training (sometimes called stability training) is exercise that focuses specifically on these attributes. This can include resistance training that works joints and builds stability, such as dynamic neuromuscular stabilization (DNS), as well as dedicated stretching protocols and holistic practices like yoga.

Easy Mobility Exercises to Help You Move & Feel Your Best

Longevity clinicians such as Peter Attia and Andrew Huberman are strong advocates of mobility training, and we think we’ll see more voices joining them this year.

A shift in our view of the importance of sleep

As an ever-expanding bank of research shows, maintaining good sleep is vital for both physical and mental health. Unfortunately, it’s still an aspect of life that many people overlook and fail to prioritize. In previous years, going without sleep or pulling all-nighters was seen as admirable, but thankfully attitudes are changing and prioritizing sleep hygiene is becoming much more 'hardcore' than going without sleep (in our opinion anyway!). We think this trend will continue throughout 2024, as more people prioritize getting good sleep and utilize sleep-enhancing products to help them.

We think this trend in prioritizing sleep will mean that specialist sleep masks will become much more widely used. Research shows that sleeping with even a small amount of ambient light disrupts your sleep and causes cognitive and cardiometabolic harm. [3, 4] But simply wearing a sleep mask can help prevent this, with a study from 2023 showing that it can significantly enhance learning and focus. [5] There are also many supplements that are touted as improving sleep, including magnesium, apigenin, ashwagandha and L-theanine. While some of these have shown promising results in small-scale studies, none has yet been found to be effective in larger, longer-term studies. If a sleep supplement can demonstrate robust results however, it could become the next big longevity compound.

We expect to see the positive shift in attitudes around sleep continue throughout 2024 and think we'll hear plenty about specialized, technology-packed sleep masks and effective sleep supplements.

Less of the carnivore diet (hopefully!)

The so-called ‘carnivore diet' saw a huge explosion in popularity over the last few years, driven largely by dramatic, impressive (but sometimes outright fake) social media coverage. Proponents claim that eating solely raw meat and animal products - with no carbohydrates, vegetables or fruit whatsoever - is optimal for health because it is closest to what humans would have eaten throughout most of our evolutionary history. On the surface it’s a compelling theory, but it’s not at all supported by science.

For one thing, the theory behind the carnivore diet is based on a misunderstanding of human evolution; the fossil record suggests that early humans ate plenty of fruits and plants, and that their diets actually contained more varied sources of nutrients than ours do today. [6] Also, while the carnivore diet’s high-protein and low-carbohydrate approach can help build the lean, muscular physique that makes it such a hit on social media, there is strong evidence to suggest that there will be serious negative long-term health consequences. Eating red meat is one of the most influential risk factors for cancer and cardiovascular disease, [7, 8]. On the other hand, a huge number of studies have proved that eating fruit, vegetables and a generally balanced (or even plant-based) diet significantly lowers your risk of chronic disease and improves your chance of a long, happy life. [9]

We’re hopeful that 2024 will see the carnivore diet fade away like other fad diets, as further evidence fails to support its claims and more influential voices come out against it.

Biotech breakthroughs to watch 

Longevity science is one of the fastest moving and most exciting fields of research and biotechnology. As we discover more about the cellular processes involved in aging, we learn more about how we can influence them to prevent disease and extend lives. 2024 could see huge breakthroughs in this regard, whether in the form of longevity therapeutics demonstrating efficacy in human trials or cutting-edge advances in reversing aging at the cellular level.

Many compounds that researchers believe can prevent disease and extend lifespan are currently undergoing human trials. Among the most promising are metformin, NMN (and other NAD+ precursors), sirtuin activators, GLP-agonists (like semaglutide/ozempic), spermidine and senolytics. [10] If any of these can show positive results then it could be a huge moment for longevity science.

We could also be on the verge of some game-changing advances towards actually reversing aging at the cellular level. The most promising avenue of research appears to be epigenetic reprogramming, which aims to wipe clean molecular marks that build up on genes and control their activation, thereby reversing cells’ age and reverting them to a stem cell-like state. In 2022 a lab demonstrated that partial reprogramming using gene therapy can reverse aging in a mouse model [11] and last year another team showed that it was possible by just exposing cells to specific molecules. [12] Now the race is on to apply these techniques to human cells, with a whole range of biotech companies currently running studies and clinical trials.

Gene therapies are also showing promise, which involves altered genetic information being introduced into cells. Genflow Biosciences, for example, has developed a technique that introduces a variant of the SIRT6 gene by intravenous injection. SIRT6 is a sirtuin gene which has been found in disproportionally high amounts in centenarians and which researchers believe could be key to extending lifespan.

Although much of the work going on in the biotechnology world is still a way off from reaching consumers or patients, 2024 could see some huge leaps forward that bring us closer to truly game-changing lifespan extension.

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Oscar Allan

Oscar is a science writer and e-learning developer with a master's degree in longevity-related topics