We hypothesize that many ailments are attributable to dysfunctions of autonomic balance. The autonomic system is a primitive, highly-adaptive response system that allows differential allocation of biologic effort under varying conditions. The autonomic system, however, can execute a response that is inappropriate for the system stressor due to evolutionary displacement. Evolutionary displacement is a situation in which a trait that evolved as an adaptive response to certain conditions now faces a new set of conditions.
Evolutionary theory has guided the development of antiaging interventions in some conscious and some unconscious ways. It is a standard assumption that the body's health has been optimized by natural selection, and that the most benign and promising medical strategies should support the body's efforts to maintain itself. The very concept of natural healing is a reflection of evolutionary thinking about health.
Calorie restriction is known to increase lifespan in many but not all species and may perhaps not do so in humans. Exceptions to life extension have been identified in the laboratory and others are known in nature. Given the variety of physiological responses to variation in food supply that are possible, evolutionary life history theory indicates that an increased investment in maintenance in response to resource shortage will not always be the strategy that maximises Darwinian fitness.
This article proposes that behavioural advancement during mammalian evolution had been in part mediated through extension of total developmental time. Such time extensions would have resulted in increased numbers of neuronal precursor cells, hence larger brains and a disproportionate increase in the neocortex. Larger neocortical areas enabled new connections to be formed during development and hence expansion of existing behavioural circuits.
An emerging central concept in evolutionary biology suggests that symbiosis is a universal characteristic of living organisms that can help in understanding complex traits and phenotypes. During evolution, an integrative circuitry fundamental for survival has been established between commensal gut microbiota and host. On the basis of recent knowledge in worms, flies, and humans, an important role of the gut microbiota in aging and longevity is emerging.
Many years ago, Alex Comfort experimentally refuted Bidder's hypothesis that fish potentially were immortal. Later morphological and physiological studies, together with observations from fish populations in the wild, revealed that fish age in a way similar to that in other vertebrates. More recently, assessments of the age of fish have been revised, and have shown that some species live much longer than was estimated.
Journal of Comparative Physiology. B, Biochemical, Systemic, and Environmental Physiology
The relationship of oxidative stress with maximum life span (MLSP) in different vertebrate species is reviewed. In all animal groups the endogenous levels of enzymatic and non-enzymatic antioxidants in tissues negatively correlate with MLSP and the most longevous animals studied in each group, pigeon or man, show the minimum levels of antioxidants. A possible evolutionary reason for this is that longevous animals produce oxygen radicals at a low rate. This has been analysed at the place where more than 90% of oxygen is consumed in the cell, the mitochondria.
There is a substantial distinction to be made between the genetics of aging and the genetics of exceptional longevity. Twin studies suggest that the average set of genetic variations facilitates the average human's ability to live well into their octogenarian years. Other studies indicate that taking full advantage of this average set results in spending the majority of those years in good health. However, many people counteract such genetic endowment with poor health habits, resulting in a substantially lower average life expectancy and relatively more time spent in poor health.
The purpose of this study is to test the prediction of the evolutionary theory of aging that human longevity comes with the cost of impaired reproductive success (higher infertility rates). Our validation study is based on the analysis of particularly reliable genealogical records for European aristocratic families using a logistic regression model with childlessness as a dependent (outcome) variable, and woman's life span, year of birth, age at marriage, husband's age at marriage, and husband's life span as independent (predictor) variables.