"They said rhesus monkeys on a strict, reduced-calorie diet were three times less likely to die from age-related diseases like heart disease, cancer and diabetes over the study period than monkeys that ate as they liked. [...] Most caloric restriction studies have found that a lifetime of deprivation is needed to achieve the longer-life benefits" - Reuters
In a series of studies conducted with various primate species, scientists have been rewarded by the discovery of multiple instances where simple, repeated behaviors, carried out religiously over a lifetime, can extend that lifetime. Some of their findings include:
The Constriction Effect: When one of a team of scientists jokingly suggested dressing some of their monkeys up in tight-pants, like little rock stars, most of his colleagues chalked it up to his "clown college" Harvard background. To everyone's surprise, though, after 20 years of tight pants, 65% of Professor Bowie's chimps were still alive, compared to just under half of their sweatpants-sporting peers.
Positing that near-continuous constriction of bloodflow might have a net positive effect on circulation, warding off age-related kidney and heart problems, the scientists repeated the study with a full-body suit designed of Spanx material, worn 23.75 hours a day, with ¼ hour allowed for cleaning and waste elimination. After 20 years, these monkeys had an 80% survival rate, compared to the 50% rate in the control group.
The scientists involved are currently working to design a flap-bottomed version of the suit for both primates and humans, warning, however, that some of the health benefits might be lost through said flap.
Rebreathing: After studying the lung capacity of Navy Seals and other groups forced to learn alternative breathing methods, scientists developed a technique that, in primate studies, raised life expectancy by an average of five years.
In the study, the scientists stuck small objects, between toy soldier and hot-wheel size, in the noses of the chimps, leaving them in until just the point where the body started to grow accustomed to them (early failed trials indicated that benefits can only be achieved if the body is working to breathe around the objects, not adapted to them). Repeating this exercise just four times a day, and once in the middle of the night, seems to open up new airways, improving lung function and helping ward off diseases like emphysema. It likewise helps maintains metabolism at more youthful levels.
With the chimps, approximately one in 10 of these insertions required minor surgery in order to extract the objects, but the majority of the time simple tweezers and very, very careful concentration were more than adequate to the task of removal.
Chinese Health Secrets: We're all aware that the Chinese were discovering natural and herbal health supplements thousands of years before the advance of Western civilization; recent primate studies have shown that yet another of these ancient processes pays off over time.
By exposing small areas of the body, specifically in the face region, to continuous, slow dripping of water for at least 6 consecutive hours daily, a process formerly referred to as "water torture," blood flow to the brain is vastly improved, dramatically reducing the incidence of such diseases as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's.
Scientists cautioned that while 97% of the monkeys exposed to the drip were still alive after 20 years, as opposed to only 50% of the non-exposed monkeys, their rates of throwing poop at things were over 2000% higher. The likelihood that they would start pulling out their own hair or rubbing a spot on their body until it began to bleed was also higher, occurring 3700% more often than with the control group.
Internal Cleansing: As Jamie Lee Curtis will tell you, occasional irregularity is not, in fact, normal. A twenty-year study on gorillas has indicated the same thing; those receiving daily hour-long enemas were not only more regular, they lived 7-10 years longer.
Scientists warn that, in human trials, as many as 5 of those extra years should be expected to be spent on the toilet.
White Noise: It should come as no surprise to those of us running the daily rat race that stress, even a slight amount, can have incredibly negative effects on important health factors like blood pressure, heart rhythms, and alcohol consumption.
In a study originally designed by Nielsen group, intended to find out what was going on, elementally, with community access cable channels, primates were divided into two groups, one of which was allowed to lead a normal life, while the other was exposed to a constant, 24-hour stream of community access programming.
Though early results seemed unpromising, as the multiple deeply-sleeping chimps in the study group were often mistaken for fatalities, it turned out that this sort of lifestyle can add between 5 and 7 years to the average chimp lifespan.
When the study was repeated with very, very slightly more involved programming, such as that found on the Food and Home & Garden networks, the study benefits disappeared.
Complete immobility: Having observed that many fatal age-related injuries in primates and humans alike could be traced to moving around and then falling, scientists devised a study of macaque monkeys in which, after the 12th year of life (roughly equivalent to middle age in a human) they were forced to remain completely immobile, in a laying position, with padded restraints in place in order to ensure that muscles, joints and bones weren't accidentally used.
Kept this way, the study group lived on average 30% longer than the control group. Though bedsores could not be fully eliminated, constant attendance by a pair of trained professionals kept them to a minimum. Scientists noted that those monkeys who did not succumb to infections via said sores often lived as much as 50-75% longer than their freely moving counterparts, and that the handful of premature deaths by infection "brought down the average."
Despite the fact that many of these behaviors could be easily self-administered by humans, scientists have opted, for some reason, to take the longer and costlier route of attempting to synthesize drugs to replicate the beneficial effects of the various behaviors.