Thursday, March 19, 2015

Nick Vujicic's life without limbs

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Nick Vujicic, a motivational speaker who was born with no arms and legs. We talked at length on BBC Radio Five Live and for the BBC Capital website.  At ease with his life and looking forward to becoming a father for the second time, Nick explains his passion for campaigning against bullying, his positive attitude and his love of action sports.  It was a humbling conversation which I hope you enjoy.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Loma Linda: The secret to a long healthy life?

In a world where the cost of the obesity crisis is widely acknowledged to be as damaging as smoking and armed conflict, it is refreshing to discover a community that bucks the trend.

It is all the more surprising that the California town of Loma Linda, which oozes good health amongst its inhabitants, is found amidst an urban landscape of fast food restaurants and convenience stores.
Betty with weights
But this is a place that has an enviable record of its residents living to a ripe old age, often without the burdens of chronic illness until very late in life. 101-year-old Betty Streifling (centre) is one of Loma Linda's long-living residents
Studies have shown that people here live up to 10 years longer than most Americans and enjoy better health in their golden years. 
The reason for this extraordinary longevity could be rooted in their faith. Seventh-day Adventists make up about half of the approximately 24,000 people who live here. It is an evangelical Christian community that follows strict guidelines about food, exercise and rest. 
"The data is clear, the data has been published, the data has been peer reviewed," says Dr Wayne Dysinger, chair of the preventative medicine department at Loma Linda University School of Medicine.
"There's really not a lot of argument that people [living] this lifestyle, live longer."
Full story at the BBC website | BBC World Service radio documentary - listen here

Sunday, October 26, 2014

The Ecuadorians that could hold vital clues to healthy aging

I have just returned from a fascinating day at the USC Davis School of Gerentology, which is currently playing host to a group of people from Ecuador with Laron syndrome.

The condition, a form of dwarfism, is characterized by stunted growth, but also an extraordinary resistance to cancer and diabetes.

These individuals are known to have mutations in the gene for the growth hormone receptor, resulting in exceptionally low levels of insulin-like growth factor (IGF) 1, which has been linked to aging.

Ongoing studies are exploring parallels with studies in mice - and humans in the wider population - and the aging process.

What a great group of people. Good humored and generous with their time.  They would rather not live with stunted growth, but they know that their body chemistry is special. So special that it could hold vital clues to the aging process for the rest of us.

Photo: Ecuadorian endocrinologist Jaime Guevara-Aguirre and USC cell biologist Valter Longo with the Laron subjects