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What’s The Difference Between General Health and Longevity Health?

Longevity Medicine

General health and longevity health are two distinct approaches to improving health outcomes, each with its own unique goals, scope, and methods. The article discusses the differences between these concepts and emphasizes that they should not be viewed as interchangeable. 

When looking at the goals of healthcare, it can be seen that general health and longevity health have many similarities. However, they are ultimately different concepts with distinct approaches to achieving improved health outcomes. We look at the differences between general health and longevity health, emphasizing the areas where they diverge in terms of their aims, scope, methods, and results. Additionally, this thought leadership piece is a deep dive into the distinctions between short-term health, physical and mental performance, and longevity.

The Scope and Challenges of General Health

General health is a broad concept, encompassing the overall well-being of an individual. It incorporates physical, mental, and social components, and is focused on the prevention and treatment of disease (World Health Organization, 2023). Its goal is to improve an individual’s quality of life by reducing the risk of illness or injury, and promoting healthy lifestyle choices. This includes providing access to medical care when needed, as well as preventive measures such as immunizations and screenings.

General health considers aging to be an immutable fact of life that cannot be altered. However, a wide range of scientific research has proven that aging can be sped up, slowed down, and in some cases, even reversed, as we thoroughly cover in this publication. General health’s passive approach to aging fails to unlock the greatest potential of preventive medicine: slowing down the rate at which we age.

Typically, general health is achieved by adhering to a handful of guiding principles, like following the government’s RDIs for nutrients, being physically active, and minimizing exposure to toxins. However, following these guidelines does not necessarily set you up for a longer healthspan and lifespan. For example, higher intakes of micronutrients than the government’s RDIs, specific amounts and types of exercise, distinct timing of meals and specific food intake, emphasizing healthy social relationships, and more, may be necessary to go beyond general health in order to achieve improved longevity: the extension of healthspan and lifespan.

Additionally, a shortcoming of the general health approach and modern medicine is the time it takes for scientific discoveries to make their way into clinical practice. One study found that it could take as long as 21 years to do so. A longevity approach to health accelerates this process, by synthesizing the latest scientific research into actionable guidance, as provided on NOVOS Flow.

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Longevity Health: Strategies for a Longer, Healthier Life

In contrast, longevity health is a more specialized approach to improving health outcomes. It has a longer time horizon, and is focused on the promotion of healthy behaviors and interventions that can extend both an individual’s healthspan and lifespan (Bischof et al., 2021), partly by looking through the lens of the 12 hallmarks of aging (like impacts on the epigenome, cellular senescence, and more), and phenotypic outcomes.

This includes dietary changes, exercise, supplements, tests, and other interventions designed to reduce cellular damage and slow the aging process. The study of longevity also takes into account genetic influences, and seeks to identify and address any underlying issues that could contribute to premature mortality (Morris et al., 2019).

It can be seen that while both general health and longevity health are aimed at improving health outcomes, their time horizon, capabilities, and approach differ significantly. General health focuses on short term health goals and outcomes, or short term treatment of disease, while longevity medicine looks beyond this to target the underlying causes of aging, diseases of aging, and mortality. As such, the specific approach and emphasis for general health compared to longevity health can be quite different.

Understanding General Health and Longevity Health

General health and longevity health are two distinct approaches to achieving improved health outcomes. While they share some similarities, their differing focuses, time horizons, and objectives mean that they cannot be viewed as interchangeable: while you will achieve general health by focusing on longevity, focussing on general health will not necessarily lead to improved longevity. It is important to understand the differences between these two concepts in order to ensure that you take the most appropriate approach.

In our estimation, longevity is the winning approach for preventive medicine. A great place to get started with human longevity is with our free resources, starting with NOVOS Flow.

References

  1. Bischof, E., Scheibye-Knudsen, M., Siow, R., & Moskalev, A. (2021). Longevity medicine: upskilling the physicians of tomorrow. The lancet. Healthy longevity, 2(4), e187–e188. https://doi.org/10.1016/S2666-7568(21)00024-6
  2. Morris, B. J., Willcox, B. J., & Donlon, T. A. (2019). Genetic and epigenetic regulation of human aging and longevity. Biochimica et biophysica acta. Molecular basis of disease, 1865(7), 1718–1744. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bbadis.2018.08.039
  3. World Health Organization. (2023). Health and well-being. World Health Organization. Retrieved January 29, 2023, from https://www.who.int/data/gho/data/major-themes/health-and-well-being 

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